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18/01/2020 15:46:19  

"SpaceX is setting out to prove a critical safety system will be able to save astronaut lives in the event of a launch emergency during ascent," reports CNET: The Crew Dragon in-flight abort test...is a required step before NASA will allow astronauts to fly to the International Space Station in the SpaceX capsule as part of the Commercial Crew Program. [UPDATE: Though they'd originally planned to launch Saturday, SpaceX tweeted early Saturday morning that "due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area" they're now targeting Sunday, January 19, "with a six-hour test window opening at 8:00 a.m. EST, 13:00 UTC." Watch SpaceX's livestream here.] NASA will also livestream the event... Backup test opportunities are set for Sunday or Monday if Saturday doesn't work out. Crew Dragon will take a ride on a Falcon 9 rocket, which won't survive the test. The launch will take place at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, which will allow the rocket to break up over the Atlantic Ocean. It could be quite an eye-opening experience. SpaceX shared an animated video showing how the test is expected to go. If all goes well, the Crew Dragon capsule will separate from the rocket, deploy parachutes and float gently down to the water.... SpaceX successfully sent an uncrewed Crew Dragon to the International Space Station in early 2019. The ultimate goal is to make a return trip with NASA astronauts on board. If the in-flight abort test works out, then the first launch of humans from U.S. soil since the end of the space shuttle era should finally happen in 2020.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

18/01/2020 13:46:17  

"SpaceX is setting out to prove a critical safety system will be able to save astronaut lives in the event of a launch emergency during ascent," reports CNET: The Crew Dragon in-flight abort test is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 18. This is a required step before NASA will allow astronauts to fly to the International Space Station in the SpaceX capsule as part of the Commercial Crew Program. NASA will livestream the event, with coverage starting at 4:45 a.m. PT on Saturday. SpaceX and NASA are targeting 5 a.m. PT for the launch, but the test has a four-hour launch window to work with... [And SpaceX tweeted Friday night that they're targetting "toward the end of the window." Watch SpaceX's livestream here.] Backup test opportunities are set for Sunday or Monday if Saturday doesn't work out. Crew Dragon will take a ride on a Falcon 9 rocket, which won't survive the test. The launch will take place at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, which will allow the rocket to break up over the Atlantic Ocean. It could be quite an eye-opening experience. SpaceX shared an animated video showing how the test is expected to go. If all goes well, the Crew Dragon capsule will separate from the rocket, deploy parachutes and float gently down to the water.... SpaceX successfully sent an uncrewed Crew Dragon to the International Space Station in early 2019. The ultimate goal is to make a return trip with NASA astronauts on board. If the in-flight abort test works out, then the first launch of humans from U.S. soil since the end of the space shuttle era should finally happen in 2020.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

17/01/2020 21:46:13  

NASA Graduate Student Research: FINESST ROSES-19 Program Element E.6 Updates
17/01/2020 21:46:12  

We've known since the 1980s that you don't need mega-constellations comprising thousands of satellites to provide global internet coverage to the world. Continuous worldwide coverage is possible with a constellation of just four satellites placed at much higher altitudes. So why don't we have that? The big obstacle is cost. Several factors work to degrade a satellite's orbit, and to combat them, you need a huge amount of propellant on the satellite to consistently stabilize its orbit. Manufacturing, launch, and operational costs are just too high for the four-satellite trick. An anonymous reader writes: A new study proposes a counterintuitive approach that turns these degrading forces into ones that actually help keep these satellites in orbit. Instead of elliptical, the satellites' orbits would be circular, letting them get by with less fuel while still providing nearly global coverage (at slower speeds). The team ran simulations and found two that would work -- but there are still too many other issues for it to ever happen.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

17/01/2020 18:46:23  

Honeywell And Lockheed Martin To Provide Critical Components For NASA's Orion Spacecraft
17/01/2020 18:46:19  

NASA ROSES-19 Amendment 61: Step-1 due date delay for E.5 Applied Information Systems Research
17/01/2020 18:46:13  

Alan Buis of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, writes: There's an old saying that "the proof is in the pudding," meaning that you can only truly gauge the quality of something once it's been put to a test. Such is the case with climate models: mathematical computer simulations of the various factors that interact to affect Earth's climate, such as our atmosphere, ocean, ice, land surface and the Sun. For decades, people have legitimately wondered how well climate models perform in predicting future climate conditions. Based on solid physics and the best understanding of the Earth system available, they skillfully reproduce observed data. Nevertheless, they have a wide response to increasing carbon dioxide levels, and many uncertainties remain in the details. The hallmark of good science, however, is the ability to make testable predictions, and climate models have been making predictions since the 1970s. How reliable have they been? Now a new evaluation of global climate models used to project Earth's future global average surface temperatures over the past half-century answers that question: most of the models have been quite accurate. In a study accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a research team led by Zeke Hausfather of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a systematic evaluation of the performance of past climate models. The team compared 17 increasingly sophisticated model projections of global average temperature developed between 1970 and 2007, including some originally developed by NASA, with actual changes in global temperature observed through the end of 2017. The observational temperature data came from multiple sources, including NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) time series, an estimate of global surface temperature change. The results: 10 of the model projections closely matched observations. Moreover, after accounting for differences between modeled and actual changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other factors that drive climate, the number increased to 14. The authors found no evidence that the climate models evaluated either systematically overestimated or underestimated warming over the period of their projections.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

17/01/2020 17:46:52  

The Earth may be burning, but have no fear – Elon Musk assures us there will be plenty of jobs on Mars

When humanity’s dying stragglers mark up the final tapes for the time capsule, I hope they’ll call this episode A Great Week to Bail Out an Airline. Even as David Attenborough warned of Earth’s “crisis moment”, the UK government rescued ailing airline Flybe on the basis that some people can’t get to work between Wales and Scotland or wherever any other way. Eventually, surviving businessmen will be able to row between mountain peaks, but for now corporate efficiency trumped the climate emergency. Or the “climate debate”, as some still have it, even though it’s the sort of debate that should ideally ensue when I tell my children not to run in the road – ie, none.

And so to the global backdrop. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, must be religious, on the basis he’s offered “thoughts and prayers” to the victims of Australia’s raging bushfires. In any reasonable theology, however, Morrison’s decision to serve in a cabinet that abolished the country’s climate commission, to slash fire and rescue budgets, and to ignore repeated concerns of fire chiefs would suggest he’s going to burn in hell. Or in Australia, which will probably be quicker.

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17/01/2020 13:46:52  

Baseball’s toothless response to the Astros sign-stealing scandal lays bare uncomfortable truths about how far teams are willing to flout the rules – and how willing we are to tolerate it

One of the harder-to-believe tales in American sports over the past decade involved the stunningly rapid transformation of the Houston Astros from a historically lousy baseball team to World Series winners and an emerging dynasty. The impetus behind the American League club’s dramatic reversal of fortune was the 2011 appointment of general manager Jeff Luhnow amid a three-year stretch where the Astros lost a combined 324 games. A former McKinsey consultant with dual degrees in engineering and economics, Luhnow expanded on the advanced sabermetric groundwork popularized by Oakland A’s executive Billy Beane to rebuild the organization into an analytics-driven powerhouse. He installed a former Nasa rocket scientist as the team’s director of decision sciences and marshaled a wholesale overhaul of the scouting department, synthesizing traditional methods of player evaluation with advanced statistical analysis. And it worked. A mere four years removed from a 111-defeat season, Houston captured the first championship in the team’s 56-year history – and came within a game of winning a second only three months ago.

Related: How the Houston Astros went from champions to a shamed shambles

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16/01/2020 21:46:13  

NASA Workshop: Grand Challenges in Soft Matter and Opportunities for Microgravity Research (DSOFT)
16/01/2020 21:46:09  

In December, scientists sent 40 very muscular mice to live temporarily at the International Space Station. The resulting research, they hope, could lead to new treatments for kids with muscular dystrophy, or cancer patients with muscle wasting. From a report: In early December at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, two anxious scientists were about to send 20 years of research into orbit. "I feel like our heart and soul is going up in that thing," Dr. Emily Germain-Lee told her husband, Dr. Se-Jin Lee, as they waited arm-in-arm for a SpaceX rocket to launch. A few seconds later the spacecraft took off, transporting some very unusual mice to the International Space Station, where they would spend more than a month in near zero gravity. Ordinarily, that would cause the animals' bones to weaken and their muscles to atrophy. But Lee and Germain-Lee, a power couple in the research world, were hoping that wouldn't happen with these mice. "It was worth waiting 20 years for," Lee said as the Falcon 9 rocket headed toward space. "And someday it may really help people," Germain-Lee added. The couple hope that what they learn from these mice will lead to new treatments for millions of people with conditions that weaken muscles and bones. Among those who might eventually benefit: children with muscular dystrophy or brittle bone disease, cancer patients with muscle wasting, bedridden patients recovering from hip fractures, older people whose bones and muscles have become dangerously weak, and astronauts on long space voyages.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

16/01/2020 15:46:44  

UK campaigners condemn ‘national scandal’ affecting ill and disabled claimants

Five thousand people died before they could be reimbursed for a government error that left chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants thousands of pounds out of pocket, it has emerged.

Approximately 70,000 claimants were originally estimated to have been underpaid about £340m between 2011 and 2014, after being transferred from older benefits on to the employment and support allowance (ESA) during a government overhaul of incapacity benefits.

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16/01/2020 01:45:16  

This teenager found a new planet on the third day of his internship at the US space agency.
15/01/2020 22:45:51  

Reminder: NASA Request for Information (RFI) on Impact of Dose-Rate on Space Radiation Health Risks Due Friday
15/01/2020 22:45:50  

NASA's ARIA Team Helps in Puerto Rico Quake Response
15/01/2020 21:45:52  

NASA Pays Tribute, Says Goodbye to One of Agency’s Great Observatories
15/01/2020 20:45:43  

The 2010s were the hottest decade ever measured on Earth, and 2019 was the second-hottest year ever measured, scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. From a report: After a year of flash droughts, rampant wildfires, and searing heatwaves that set all-time records across Europe and turned parts of Greenland's ice sheet into slush, the finding was not a surprise to researchers, or likely anyone else. But it capped an anxious decade that saw human-caused climate change transform from a far-off threat to an everyday fact of life. Last year was 1.8 degree Fahrenheit -- or just under one degree Celsius -- warmer than the 20th century average, Gavin Schmidt, the chief climate scientist at NASA, said at a briefing announcing the news. Almost everywhere on the planet's surface was warmer than average, though the Arctic was especially searing. "Every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the decade previous," he said. In short, it's bad, but you probably knew that already. At least four different groups of scientists, each working independently, have now concluded that the 2010s were the hottest decade of the modern era. (NASA and NOAA start this era at 1880, when they say weather record-keeping became reliable and widespread enough to trust, but the nonprofit research agency Berkeley Earth argues that 2019 was the second warmest year since at least 1850.) What's worse is that greenhouse-gas pollution from fossil fuels, which are the biggest driver of climate change, also surged to an all-time high last year, according to a preliminary estimate. Deke Arndt, a chief climate scientist at NOAA, said at a briefing today that "an obvious signal" of this greenhouse-gas-powered heating had appeared in the upper layers of the ocean, which broke the all-time heat record last year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

15/01/2020 17:45:47  

Bound for the Moon: Collins Aerospace signs $320 million contract with Lockheed Martin to provide critical subsystems for NASA's Orion spacecraft fleet
15/01/2020 06:47:18  

Negative torque didn't bring the plucky spacecraft down, thankfully

The European Space Agency’s Huygens probe, the farthest lander to ever make it in the outer solar system, spun wildly in the opposite direction as expected as it descended onto one of Saturn’s moons. Now, scientists have finally figured out what went wrong, 15 years after the probe’s landing.…

15/01/2020 06:46:53  

Health and climate concerns are behind the growth of plant-based diets which were once prevalent on the continent

In the meat-loving capital of Burkina Faso, customers at a small roadside joint eat bean balls, grilled tofu skewers and peanut butter rice while a report about chickens unfit for consumption being dumped on the street airs on the midday news.

A sign above the door proudly welcomes customers: “Vegetarian restaurant Nasa. Food for the love of health.” In Ouagadougou’s first plant-based restaurant, there are no knives on the tables.

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15/01/2020 02:45:40  

NASA to Provide Coverage of SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch Escape Test
14/01/2020 20:45:41  

Rocket Lab Expands Footprint with New Long Beach Headquarters and Production Complex
14/01/2020 12:43:04  
14/01/2020 09:46:31  

Also: Fancy a trip round the Moon? Of course you do, but there's a catch...

Roundup It's a been a busy start to the new year in this week's SpaceX-heavy round-up of news for rocket fanciers.…

14/01/2020 01:44:47  

Smoke from huge fires is expected to travel back to Australia after circling the globe, Nasa says.