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Calista241

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Hometown: Atlanta
Home country: US
Member since: Sat Jun 1, 2013, 01:19 AM
Number of posts: 3,619

Journal Archives

Kepler Space Telescope Is Almost Out of Fuel

Source: Popular Mechanics

After an extraordinarily durable run, NASA's Kepler space telescope is finally running out of gas. The agency expects Kepler to burn the last of its fuel within the next several months, ending nine years of incredible science searching for planets beyond the solar system. Trailing behind the Earth as it orbits the sun, the space telescope has located more than 2,500 confirmed exoplanets.

Launched in 2009, Kepler is designed to scan the skies for planets by detecting the dip in brightness of their host stars as the planets pass in front. The space telescope's primary mission was only to last three and a half years, but after "outstanding success," its mission was extended through 2016.

However, mechanical problems began to plague the space telescope in 2012 and 2013. Two of its reaction wheels failed, which are used to point the telescope at target stars and their orbiting planets. The telescope still works, but the craft carrying it could not stabilize the optical components, threatening to end the mission. But then NASA found a fix.

"Using the sun and the two remaining reaction wheels, engineers have devised an innovative technique to stabilize and control the spacecraft in all three directions of motion," NASA explained at the time. "To achieve the necessary stability, the orientation of the spacecraft must be nearly parallel to its orbital path around the sun."



Read more: https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/telescopes/a19444952/kepler-space-telescope-is-almost-out-of-fuel/



It's a good thing the TESS is set to launch next month. Kepler will be sorely missed.

NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot To Retire, White House Appointee Not Yet Confirmed

Source: Tech Times

NASA acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, will retire from his post starting April 30. Whether or not White House appointee Rep. Jim Bridenstine will be the next NASA administrator is still undetermined.

This week, Lightfoot penned a memorandum letter addressed to NASA employees announcing his retirement. He did not give a specific reason for leaving NASA, but he said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Long Career At NASA

Lightfoot, a rocket propulsion engineer and senior career civil servant started his term as the space agency's acting administrator on Jan. 20, 2017, under the Trump administration.

He replaced former NASA administrator Charles Bolden who served under the Obama administration. Before becoming acting director, Lightfoot had been with the space agency for the past 29 years

Read more: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/222893/20180313/nasa-acting-administrator-robert-lightfoot-to-retire-white-house-appointee-not-yet-confirmed.htm

Wreckage of U.S. aircraft carrier sunk in WWII found

Source: CBS News

A piece of prized World War II U.S. naval history, the wreckage of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which was sunk by the Japanese in a crucial sea battle, has been discovered by an expedition funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The expedition team announced that the wreckage of the Lexington, crippled by the enemy and then scuttled on May 8, 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, was found Sunday on the seabed in waters about 2 miles deep, more than 500 miles off Australia's east coast.

"To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor," Allen said on his web page. "As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice."

The battle helped stop a Japanese advance that could have cut off Australia and New Guinea from Allied sea supply routes and crippled two Japanese carriers, leading to a more conclusive U.S. victory at sea a month later at the Battle of Midway.

The sea battle is also famous for being the first in which the opposing ships did not come in sight of each other, carrying out their attacks with carrier-launched aircraft.

Read more: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/uss-lexington-aircraft-carrier-world-war-ii-japan-wreckage-found-australia/

In response to Trump budget, NASA ending separate technology plan

Source: ARS Technica

Even though Congress has yet to formally consider President Trump’s new budget for NASA, the space agency is already moving swiftly to implement some of its core principles. Among those is a White House desire to end a separate program within the agency focused on the development of advanced new spaceflight technologies intended to keep NASA at the cutting edge.

With an annual budget that has varied between $500 million and $1 billion, the Space Technology Mission Directorate was created in 2010 to develop the kinds of technology NASA needed to explore deeper into space, such as advanced propulsion and power systems, in-space manufacturing, and new means of landing on far-off worlds. If humans really were to really expand beyond low-Earth orbit, research and development of these new technologies was deemed critical.

The President’s fiscal year 2019 budget for the space agency seeks to realign the space technology program by folding it into NASA’s “Exploration” program, which is managing development of deep space hardware Congress has directed the space agency to build—the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and ground systems at Kennedy Space Center.

Some former space technology officials have begun sounding the alarm about these changes, being made without oversight from Congress. “Disastrous news!” tweeted Mason Peck on Thursday morning. He served as the space agency’s chief technologist earlier this decade. “NASA is already dismantling STMD even though the President's budget is only a month old. Don't give up. We need Space Technology if we want NASA to have a bold future. I hope Congress will reject this gutting of NASA's technology investments.”



Read more: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/03/in-response-to-trump-budget-nasa-ending-separate-technology-plan/

Trump Administrations Deregulation Push Heads for Outer Space

Source: Wall Street Journal

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce Wednesday new moves promoting private ventures in space, including easing launch rules and putting the Commerce Department in charge of broader deregulation initiatives.

The recommendations, which are awaiting President Donald Trump’s final approval, are intended to better coordinate federal efforts to spur commercial space projects, according to government and industry officials familiar with the details. With the primary goal of rolling back regulatory burdens on the budding industry, they cover new generations of advanced communications and Earth-observation satellites, space tourism and long-term plans for mining asteroids, among other things.

The actions, slated to be announced during a meeting of the White House Space Council at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, will be the most detailed moves yet to accelerate the development of commercial projects beyond the atmosphere.

Combined with earlier budget blueprints providing seed money for public-private partnerships for human space exploration, the Trump administration’s plans are focused on reducing government oversight and procedural delays for a broad range of space entrepreneurs and corporate investors, according to the government and industry officials, who have been told about the thrust of the policy shifts.

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-seeks-to-stimulate-private-space-projects-1519145536



I know the WSJ isn’t popular because of the paywall, but this article loaded for me with no subscription.

Milky Way ties with neighbor in galactic arms race

Astronomers have discovered that our nearest large neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, is roughly the same size as the Milky Way. It had been thought that Andromeda was two to three times the size of the Milky Way, and that our own galaxy would ultimately be engulfed by our supposedly bigger neighbour. But the latest research, published today, evens the score between the two galaxies.

The study found the weight of the Andromeda is 800 billion times heavier than the sun, on par with the Milky Way. Astrophysicist Dr Prajwal Kafle, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, said the study used a new technique to measure the speed required to escape a galaxy. "When a rocket is launched into space, it is thrown out with a speed of 11 km/s to overcome the Earth's gravitational pull," he said. "Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is over a trillion times heavier than our tiny planet Earth so to escape its gravitational pull we have to launch with a speed of 550 km/s. We used this technique to tie down the mass of Andromeda."

Dr Kafle said the research suggests scientists previously overestimated the amount of dark matter in the Andromeda galaxy. "By examining the orbits of high speed stars, we discovered that this galaxy has far less dark matter than previously thought, and only a third of that uncovered in previous observations," he said. The Milky Way and Andromeda are two giant spiral galaxies in our local Universe, and light takes a cosmologically tiny two million years to get between them.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-02-milky-ties-neighbor-galactic-arms.html#jCp

GOP senators to introduce immigration plan mirroring Trump framework

Source: The Hill

A group of GOP senators are preparing to introduce an immigration plan that lines up with President Trump's framework as the Senate barrels toward a heated debate over the issue.

Seven GOP senators, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), will file the bill, known as the Secure and Succeed Act, on Monday.

"Our proposal is supported by the President, who’s come a long way to reach a compromise. This is the only Senate proposal that has any chance of passing the House and being signed into law," Grassley said in a statement.

The legislation mirrors Trump's framework by offering a path to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought into the country as children illegally in exchange for $25 billion in border security.

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/373369-gop-senators-to-introduce-immigration-plan-mirroring-trump-framework

The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a commercially run ventu

Source: Washington Post

The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a kind of orbiting real estate venture run not by the government, but by private industry.

The White House plans to stop funding the station after 2024, ending direct federal support of the orbiting laboratory. But it does not intend to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether and is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector, according to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post.

“The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform,” the document states. “NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”

In its budget request, to be released Monday, the administration would request $150 million in fiscal year 2019, with more in additional years “to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS — potentially including elements of the ISS — are operational when they are needed.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/02/11/the-trump-administration-wants-to-turn-the-international-space-station-into-a-commercially-run-venture/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_iss-12pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.507df68abb67

Elon Musk's flamethrower makes $3.5 million in sales

Source: CNET

The Boring Company decided to start selling flamethrower weapons over the weekend, and it appears to have become an aspiring supervillain's newest shop. Elon Musk's company has made $3.5 million in sales after the CEO announced the weapon on social media Saturday.

The flamethrower has The Boring Company's logo emblazoned on it and sells for $500 (roughly £355 and AU$620). Musk announced early Monday on Twitter that 7,000 of the 20,000 available flamethrowers have already been ordered, bringing us to $3.5 million using a little multiplication.

Musk, who is also known for leading Tesla and SpaceX, promoted his new fiery toy with glee in an Instagram video featuring him turning on the flamethrower and then running at the cameraman (Please don't do this, EVER!).

And accompanying the flamethrower on the website is a branded fire extinguisher, which The Boring Company openly advises is overpriced at $30 (roughly £20 and AU$40). Those should decide to order one should expect to receive the weapon this spring, notes the store website.

Read more: https://www.cnet.com/news/elon-musk-the-boring-company-flamethrower-makes-3-5-million-in-sales/

The End of Men? Male Sex chromosome is slowly disappearing

Source: Newsweek

The Y chromosome may be a symbol of masculinity, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is anything but strong and enduring. Although it carries the “master switch” gene, SRY, that determines whether an embryo will develop as male (XY) or female (XX), it contains very few other genes and is the only chromosome not necessary for life. Women, after all, manage just fine without one.

What’s more, the Y chromosome has degenerated rapidly, leaving females with two perfectly normal X chromosomes, but males with an X and a shriveled Y. If the same rate of degeneration continues, the Y chromosome has just 4.6 million years left before it disappears completely. This may sound like a long time, but it isn’t when you consider that life has existed on Earth for 3.5 billion years.

The Y chromosome hasn’t always been like this. If we rewind the clock to 166 million years ago, to the very first mammals, the story was completely different. The early “proto-Y” chromosome was originally the same size as the X chromosome and contained all the same genes. However, Y chromosomes have a fundamental flaw. Unlike all other chromosomes, which we have two copies of in each of our cells, Y chromosomes are only ever present as a single copy, passed from fathers to their sons.

This means that genes on the Y chromosome cannot undergo genetic recombination, the “shuffling” of genes that occurs in each generation which helps to eliminate damaging gene mutations. Deprived of the benefits of recombination, Y chromosomal genes degenerate over time and are eventually lost from the genome.

Read more: http://www.newsweek.com/end-men-y-chromosome-slowly-disappearing-785043
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