A SpaceX capsule has successfully docked with the International Space Station

Despite the challenges, SpaceX was back at it in January with the successful launch of Falcon 9 which took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A SpaceX capsule has successfully docked with the International Space Station.

Just before 6 am, the Dragon space capsule was captured by a NASA Commander and European Space Agency Engineer, docking with the International Space Station(ISS). The great footage was captured using a robotic arm.

A previous attempt had to be aborted after the capsule developed navigational problems. This launch is the 10th Space mission that SpaceX has flown for NASA, and it was carrying around 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments for the six Astronauts who are on board the capsule. They include two Americans, three Russians, and one Frenchman.

In the past two years, SpaceX has encountered two major setbacks in its quest to dock at the ISS; in June 2015, a supply mission exploded and burst into flames just a few minutes after launching. While in September, another rocket exploded while being fuelled at the Kennedy Space Center.

Despite the challenges, SpaceX was back at it in January with the successful launch of Falcon 9 which took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was loaded with 10 Iridium communication satellites.

This Sunday’s launch did experience any hurdles as well. The journey took four days, and the Dragon spaceship approached the space station from below, pausing at some points for status checks from the ground crew.

After the cargo has been unloaded in Space by the capsules crew, it will be packed with trash and sent back to Earth. It is expected to crash into the Pacific Ocean just off Mexico around March.

German scientists creating artificial Sun

Scientists in Germany are turning on what is being described as ‘the world’s largest artificial sun.’

Scientists in Germany are turning on what is being described as ‘the world’s largest artificial sun.’

The massive honeycomb-like structure, known as the ‘Synlight’, uses 149 large spotlights typically employed in cinemas, to simulate sunlight.

The scientists will focus the enormous array of xenon short-arc lamps on a single 8/8 inch spot.

The scientists from the German Aerospace Centre hope that by doing so, they will be able to reproduce the equivalent of 10,000 times the solar radiation that would normally shine on a surface the same size.

“If you went in the room when it was switched on, you would burn directly,” said Professor Bernard Hoffschmidt, a research director at the DLR, where the experiment is sheltered in a protective radiation chamber.

The experiment consumes as much electricity in four hours as a four-person household would in a year.

The furnace-like conditions that will be created by this energy will reach up to 5,432 Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius.)

The German government is one of the world’s biggest investors in renewable energy.

The scientists will attempt to find ways of tapping the vast amount of energy that hits the earth in the form of light from the sun.

One of the primary areas of research will be on how to produce hydrogen efficiently. This will be the first step towards creating artificial fuel for airplanes.

According to Professor Hoffschimdt, billions of tons of hydrogen would be needed to drive airplanes and cars on CO2-free fuel.

Hydrogen is considered a promising future source of fuel. This is because it does not produce carbon emissions, therefore not contributing to global warming.

3D visualization of star-forming cloud helps scientists understand formation of our solar system

Vibrating gas cloud is at very early stage of star and planet formation.

The creation of a 3D visualization of a star-forming cloud is helping scientists understand the formation process of our own solar system and the birth of stars and planets.

Led by Aris Tritsis of the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, a team of scientists from ANU and from the University of Crete in Greece created the 3D visualization as part of their study of Musca, a needle-shaped star-forming cloud in the southern sky located several hundred light years from Earth.

Composed mostly of molecular hydrogen and dust, Musca extends about 27 light years across the plane of the sky. Its depth is approximately 20 light years while its width is just a fraction of a single light year.

“We were able to reconstruct the 3D structure of a gas cloud in its very early stages of making new stars and planets, which will ultimately take millions of years to form,” Tritsis said.

“Knowledge of the 3D shape of clouds will greatly improve our understanding of these nurseries of stars and the birth of our own solar system.”

To create the visualization, the researchers used data collected by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel space telescope.

Having visualized Musca’s 3D shape, the scientists now know the gas cloud is an active, complex structure surrounded by hair-like features known as striations. The latter are caused by trapped waves of gas and dust produced by the cloud’s vibrations.

“With its 3D shape now determined, Musca can be used as a laboratory for testing star formation, astrochemical, and dust-formation theories,” Tritsis stated.

Studying the model will also give scientists insight into the formation of molecules in gas clouds.

According to Konstantinos Tassis of the University of Crete, Musca was chosen for the study because it is the largest vibrating whole structure in the galaxy.

By analyzing the frequency of these vibrations, the researchers were able to convert them into songs or ringing tones and thereby determine Musca’s shape.

“This is a cloud in space that is singing to us–all we had to do was listen. It’s actually quite awesome,” said Tritsis.

A paper on the study will be published in the journal Science.

JAXA proposes possible Hayabusa 2 landing sites on asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid’s terrain and structure make site selection more difficult than anticipated.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has selected possible landing sites for its Hayabusa 2 probe on the asteroid Ryugu, from which it will gather samples that will be returned to Earth for analysis.

Selection of the sites required modeling and analyzing the shape of the 9,843-foot- (3,000-meter-) wide asteroid, identifying temperatures at various locations, and determining the density of boulders on its surface.

“We learned that that asteroid is not friendly to us, so [landing is] not as easy as we had supposed when we were planning the mission,” said Masaki Fujimoto, director of solar system exploration at JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.

During a day-long conference last week, JAXA officials announced a site designated L08 as its ideal landing location, with backup sites designated as L07 and M04. Additional, separate landing sites were given for Hayabusa 2’s MASCOT suite of science instruments and MINERVA-II-1, which holds two rovers that will be placed on Ryugu’s surface.

MASCOT carries an infrared spectrometer, a magnetometer, a radiometer, and a camera. The latter will image the distribution, structure, and texture of surface material.

All of the selected sites are flat regions located within 656 feet (200 meters) of the asteroid’s equator, have slopes less than 30 degrees, have flat regions with 328-foot (100-meter) diameters, contain boulders no higher than 20 inches (50 cm), and have temperatures below 206 degrees Fahrenheit (97 degrees Celsius).

These conditions are considered ideal for the size of Hayabusa 2’s sample device, its best operating temperature, and the direction of its solar panels.

Touchdown rehearsals for the 1,300-pound probe will be conducted on September 12 and in mid-October. Actual landing is currently planned for late October.

MINERVA-II-1 is scheduled to begin operations on September 20-21, followed by MASCOT on October 2-4.

After landing, the spacecraft will drill into Ryugu’s surface and collect subsurface samples in a capsule.

Studying Ryugu is valuable because the asteroid contains both water and the organic molecules that made up the building blocks of Earth.

Samples collected will be returned to Earth in late 2020.

Spitzer telescope has been in space 15 years

Observatory is now in an extended mission through November 2019.

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which observes in infrared wavelengths, has now been operating for 15 years and remains in good condition.

The observatory was launched on August 25, 2003, for a 2.5-year primary mission. Its high sensitivity and ability to observe in the infrared have enabled it to study some of the universe’s most distant galaxies, observe exoplanets, and make numerous discoveries, including Saturn’s largest known ring, stellar nurseries, massive galaxy clusters, and more.

While the telescope was not initially designed to study exoplanets, it has spent more than half its time doing so, noted Spitzer project manager Lisa Storrie-Lombardi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

One of NASA’s four Great Observatories in space, Spitzer has successfully peered through dust to study star-forming regions, black holes, and massive galaxy clusters.

By observing light that traveled 13.4 billion years from ancient galaxies, scientists can view these galaxies as they appeared just 400 million years after the Big Bang.

“In its 15 years of operations, Spitzer has opened our eyes to new ways of viewing the universe. Spitzer’s discoveries extend from our own planetary backyard, to planets around other stars, to the far reaches of the universe. And by working in collaboration with NASA’s other Great Observatories, Spitzer has helped scientists gain a more complete picture of many cosmic phenomena,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA’s Washington, DC, headquarters.

One particular Spitzer discovery that surprised scientists was its observation of young galaxies much larger than expected, indicating they formed very early in the history of the universe.

The telescope has also observed some of the most distant known exoplanets. It was instrumental in the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system, in which seven planets orbit close to one another, three of which are located in the star’s habitable zone, where temperatures allow liquid water to exist on their surfaces.

A key to the success of NASA’s four Great Observatories is each one’s ability to observe in different wavelengths. By combining all their observations, scientists have been able to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the universe.

“The Great Observatories program was really a brilliant concept. The idea of getting multi-spectral images or data on astrophysical phenomenon is very compelling, because most heavenly bodies produce radiation across the spectrum. An average galaxy like our own Milky Way, for example, radiates as much infrared light as visible wavelength light. Each part of the spectrum provides new information,” stated Spitzer project scientist Michael Werner, also of JPL.