Manned Mars mission isn't science fiction & could have 'reconciliatory' effect on the world – Russian cosmonaut Ryazansky

Sending humans to Mars isn't as far-fetched as it might sound, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky told RT, noting that a joint mission to the Red Planet would serve as a unifying triumph for people of all nations.

In an interview with SophieCo, the Russian cosmonaut and biochemist explained that manned space travel to Mars probably wouldn't be any more dangerous, from a health perspective, than current space missions. He pointed out that "the total amount of radiation an astronaut gets these days exceeds what a Mars mission crew would get," while stressing that more research on the matter was needed.

Ryazansky told host Sophie Shevardnadze that he was an enthusiastic supporter of an international mission to Mars, arguing that such a monumental joint endeavor would help to ease political tensions back on Earth.

I'm a huge fan of the idea and I really hope that a manned mission to Mars will be a joint effort signifying humanity's success rather than the success of a single nation.

The Russian scientist pointed out that the International Space Station (ISS) is already "living proof" that nations can overcome political divides and be "successful as a team."

 

 

Two-hour trip to space: Russian spacecraft will travel to ISS THREE TIMES faster

Russia's space agency says it has developed a new way of allowing Soyuz spacecraft to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) three times faster, reducing fuel burn and the impact on cosmonauts.

The innovation reduces the number of orbits a Soyuz craft makes around the Earth before reaching the ISS, Roscosmos explained. Usually, it takes up to two days to approach the station, or six hours if a "quick launch" is performed – and even then, a spacecraft has to circle the planet several times.

Eager to boost Soyuz's efficiency, Russian space engineers have found a way to get cosmonauts to the ISS in just one rotation around the Earth. Such space flights will take roughly two hours and will save plenty of fuel and resources required for each mission. More importantly, crews will have to spend less time inside a packed Soyuz capsule.

Roscosmos is set to start using the scheme in two or three years. The agency reckons that the location of Russia's new Vostochny cosmodrome will be more convenient for quick launches than the time-tested Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

The single-turn technology will play a vital role in Russia's Moon exploration program, Roscosmos said. It may also be used for rescue operations at the ISS, when time becomes a crucial factor in saving the station's crew.

NASA's treasure map for water ice on Mars

NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land?

A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what's already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.

NASA calls this concept "in situ resource utilization," and it's an important factor in selecting human landing sites on Mars. Satellites orbiting Mars are essential in helping scientists determine the best places for building the first Martian research station. The authors of the new paper make use of data from two of those spacecraft, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey orbiter, to locate water ice that could potentially be within reach of astronauts on the Red Planet.

"You wouldn't need a backhoe to dig up this ice. You could use a shovel," said the paper's lead author, Sylvain Piqueux of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We're continuing to collect data on buried ice on Mars, zeroing in on the best places for astronauts to land."

Buried Treasure on Mars

Liquid water can't last in the thin air of Mars; with so little air pressure, it evaporates from a solid to a gas when exposed to the atmosphere.

Martian water ice is locked away underground throughout the planet's mid-latitudes. These regions near the poles have been studied by NASA's Phoenix lander, which scraped up ice, and MRO, which has taken many images from space of meteor impacts that have excavated this ice. To find ice that astronauts could easily dig up, the study's authors relied on two heat-sensitive instruments: MRO's Mars Climate Sounder and the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey.

Why use heat-sensitive instruments when looking for ice? Buried water ice changes the temperature of the Martian surface. The study's authors cross-referenced temperatures suggestive of ice with other data, such as reservoirs of ice detected by radar or seen after meteor impacts. Data from Odyssey's Gamma Ray Spectrometer, which is tailor-made for mapping water ice deposits, were also useful.

As expected, all these data suggest a trove of water ice throughout the Martian poles and mid-latitudes. But the map reveals particularly shallow deposits that future mission planners may want to study further.

Picking a Landing Site

While there are lots of places on Mars scientists would like to visit, few would make practical landing sites for astronauts. Most scientists have homed in on the northern and southern mid-latitudes, which have more plentiful sunlight and warmer temperatures than the poles. But there's a heavy preference for landing in the northern hemisphere, which is generally lower in elevation and provides more atmosphere to slow a landing spacecraft.

A large portion of a region called Arcadia Planitia is the most tempting target in the northern hemisphere. The map shows lots of blue and purple in this region, representing water ice less than one foot (30 centimeters) below the surface; warm colors are over two feet (60 centimeters) deep. Sprawling black zones on the map represent areas where a landing spacecraft would sink into fine dust.

What's Next?

Piqueux is planning a comprehensive campaign to continue studying buried ice across different seasons, watching how the abundance of this resource changes over time.

The more we look for near-surface ice, the more we find," said MRO Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Tamppari of JPL. "Observing Mars with multiple spacecraft over the course of years continues to provide us with new ways of discovering this ice."

JPL manages the MRO and Mars Odyssey missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built both orbiters. JPL built and operates the Mars Climate Sounder instrument. THEMIS was built and is operated by Arizona State University in Tempe. The Gamma Ray Spectrometer was built and is operated by the University of Arizona in Tucson.


Story Source:

Materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid to pass Earth today, would leave 3-mile crater if it hit

A massive asteroid bigger than the Eiffel Tower is set to whizz by Earth on Friday, NASA has warned. The potentially hazardous space rock is so large it would leave a three mile crater and mass destruction if it hit our planet.

2019 GT3 is almost as big as a skyscraper, with a diameter of 1,247 feet and will hurtle past Earth at 30,500 miles per hour. If it were to head straight for our planet, it would be too large to break up in the atmosphere and would crash to the ground, likely causing massive damage. 

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The asteroid is due to come within 0.04996 astronomical units or around 4.6 million miles of Earth, placing it squarely in the potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) category used by astronomers to describe some near-Earth objects that could make “threatening close approaches,” NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) explains

Our close encounter with 2019 GT3 comes just weeks after another close call with a “city-killer” asteroid, 2019 OK, which scientists only detected mere hours before it sped by Earth. 

Asteroid Will Hit Earth Eventually, We Have No Defence Yet: Elon Musk

San Francisco: A huge asteroid will eventually hit the humanity and there will be no way out, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has predicted.

A monster asteroid called Apophis -- named after an Egyptian "God of Chaos" -- will come dangerously close to the Earth, about 19,000 miles (31,000 kms) above the surface.

"Great name! Wouldn't worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defence," Musk tweeted late Monday.

On April 13, 2029, a speck of light will streak across the sky, getting brighter and faster.

At one point it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute and it will get as bright as stars.

But it won't be a satellite or an airplane -- it will be a 1,100-foot-wide, near-Earth asteroid called "Apophis" that will potentially cruise harmlessly by Earth.

"The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science," said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who works on radar observations of near-Earth objects (NEOs).

"We'll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes. With radar observations, we might be able to see surface details that are only a few meters in size," she added.

It's rare for an asteroid of this size to pass by the Earth so close.

Although scientists have spotted small asteroids, on the order of 5-10 meters, flying by Earth at a similar distance, asteroids the size of Apophis are far fewer in number and so do not pass this close to Earth as often.

The asteroid, looking like a moving star-like point of light, will first become visible to the naked eye in the night sky over the Southern Hemisphere, flying above Earth from the east coast to the west coast of Australia.

It will then cross the Indian Ocean, and by the afternoon in the eastern US, it will have crossed the equator, still moving west, above Africa.

"Current calculations show that Apophis still has a small chance of impacting Earth, less than 1 in 100,000 many decades from now, but future measurements of its position can be expected to rule out any possible impacts," said NASA recently.

Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).

"It is possible that there will be some surface changes, like small avalanches," Davide Farnocchia, an astronomer at JPL, said in the blog post.

Gigantic ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ due to speed past Earth this week

A huge asteroid three times as long as a football field is set to speed by Earth on Thursday. The “potentially hazardous asteroid” is projected to whizz by our planet at over 25,400 mph (40,800 kph).

Asteroid ‘2008 KV2’ is estimated to measure 1,082 feet (330 meters) across and will be just 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers) from Earth when it flies by. 

The gigantic space rock is considered a Near Earth Object (NEO) and the center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for studying such close encounters considers 2008 KV2 to be a “potentially hazardous asteroid” because of its size and its relative proximity to our planet, passing within 0.045 astronomical units (AU) of Earth. One AU is about the distance between the Earth and the Sun. 

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As indicated in its name, the asteroid was first discovered in 2008 and scientists began to calculate how often to expect it to come near our planet. It orbits the Sun, like Earth, but doesn’t always get so close. It’s expected to pass Earth again in 2021.

World Watches Last Blue Moon of the Decade

"The Moon will not appear blue. Got it? Good,” NASA wrote on Twitter.

For the last time in this decade, a "Blue Flower Moon" will appear Saturday night at approximately 10:21pm (BST), science experts said.

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On Twitter, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wrote, “Since the 1940s, ‘Blue Moon’ has referred to the second full Moon in a month - but tonight’s Blue Moon is from the older definition, which is the third full Moon in a season that has an atypical four full Moons. And please note, the Moon will not appear blue. Got it? Good.”

Despite the colloquial phrase, “Once in a blue moon,” they are relatively common and appear once every two to three years. Still, this blue moon or "May Flower Moon" sighting is exceptional as it will be its last appearance for the decade until August 22, 2021.

Rome’s astrophysicist and the director of the Virtual Telescope Project, Gianluca Masi, told CNN, “[The moon] will put [on] its usual great show and we will show the moon rising above the legendary skyline of Rome … Every two to three years we have 13 full Moons within a year. This way, we can have four full Moons during a given season or two full Moons in a given month."

Since the 1940s, ‘Blue Moon’ has referred to the second full Moon in a month - but tonight’s Blue Moon is from the older definition, which is the third full Moon in a season that has an atypical four full Moons. And please note, the Moon will not appear blue. Got it? Good.

 

Major magnetic storm may displace satellites from orbit & hamper GPS navigation – scientists

The largest magnetic storm in two years, which hit Earth on Tuesday, is no joke, Russian scientists warned, saying that increased solar activity threatens electronics and people’s health.

The phenomenon may divert spacecraft from their orbit and create problems for satellite communications and GPS navigation, the Laboratory of X-Ray Astronomy at the Lebedev Institute of the Russian Academy of Science said.

Radio interference and Aurora Borealis in unusual places will be the other side effect of the magnetic storm. The Northern Lights may be seen in the sky, starting from the latitudes of 60 degrees – where Russia’s Saint Petersburg is located – and above.

“During such events, the voltage in electrical systems may require correction. False triggering of safety systems is also possible,” the scientists warned.

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But it’s not only hardware, but people as well, who will be affected. Those, who are aware that they are weather-sensitive, may feel discomfort and should take precautions.

The storm began early on Tuesday and will last during the day, with normalization only expected on Wednesday night, the researcher said.

The current event “is a large one compared to what was happening in recent years.” It was ranked at level three, with the strongest – level five – storm occurring once every 10 or 20 years.

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