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TESS delivers new insights into an ultrahot world – Phys.org

Measurements from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) have enabled astronomers to greatly improve their understanding of the bizarre environment of KELT-9 b, one of the hottest planets known.

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House appropriators extend middle finger to NASA’s 2024 moon landing goal | TheHill – The Hill

House Democrats have at least given NASA half a loaf for getting back to the moon at any date, not to mention 2024. Even so, the House NASA funding bill demonstrates that the House is willing to play partisan games, if not with the Artemis return to the moon …

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The Trump administration proposed in its budget submission for NASA for FY 2021 that $4.7 billion be allocated to exploration research and development (R&D), including the Human Landing System (HLS). The numbers were designed to assure that NASA could return astronauts to the moon by 2024.
However, the House Appropriators were pleased to disagree. The subcommittee that funds NASA marked up a bill that allocated $1.56 billion for exploration R&D. That means that the HLS would get just over $600 million for the next fiscal year, inadequate for achieving a 2024 moon landing.
NASA Administrator Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineNASA names DC headquarters after agency’s first Black female engineer Mary W. JacksonWhy the Trump ‘Make Space Great Again’ campaign ad went sidewaysSpace dominance by way of TexasMOREreacted to the news with his characteristic calm.
I want to thank the House Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee for the bipartisan support for NASAs Artemis program. The $628.2 million in funding for the human landing system (HLS) is an important first step in this years appropriations process. We still have more to do and I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure America has the resources the first woman and next man on the moon need in 2024.
Someone less even tempered than Bridenstine might have instead responded, You hacks in the House have no clue what it takes to return Americans to the moon. Hopefully, the Senate does.
The analysis by Eric Berger in Ars Technica suggests that the Senate is likely to be more generous where the HLS in particular and exploration in general are concerned. The House markup is just the start of a long budget process that will be informed, as Berger suggests, by the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.
Bridenstine is likely happy that the House Democrats have at least given him half a loaf for getting back to the moon at any date, not to mention 2024. Even so, the House NASA funding bill demonstrates that the House is willing to play partisan games, if not with the Artemis return to the moon program, at least with the 2024 landing date. The situation must be a source of frustration for the NASA administrator, who has been relentlessly nonpartisan in his pursuit of the 2024 moon landing goal.
The reason NASA wants to land the first woman and the next man on the moon just four years from now is the desire to avoid the ADD (attention deficit disorder) that led to the cancellation of the last two attempts to return Americans on the moon. Scheduling the next moon landing relatively soon would build up enough political momentum to sustain the establishment of a lunar base and the eventual missions to Mars.
House Democrats dont see the 2024 date in such broad terms. They regard it as a plot by President Donald Trump to burnish his greater glory by having Americans return to the moon by the end of his hypothetical second term. Nothing torques Democrats more than anything that might be of benefit to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: ‘If you can do Walmart,’ then ‘we absolutely can do schools’NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government’s ‘checkbook’Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone ‘remains a convicted felon, and rightly so’MORE. Hence, instead of a generous NASA budget that would accommodate a 2024 moon landing, the House appropriators have proposed a flat funding bill along partisan lines, with a return to the lunar surface happening perhaps in 2028, if at all.
Eric Berger is doubtlessly right that the final bill will not be hammered out until December. Not by coincidence, the date is after the presidential election, suggesting that what the 2021 NASA spending bill looks like will depend more on the elections outcome than wrangling between a Democratic House and a Republican Senate.
If Trump wins reelection, then he can claim a mandate concerning a wide variety of issues, space being just one of those. The final spending bill will have funding levels more to his liking and would support the 2024 moon landing.
If former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDonald Trump Jr. to self-publish book ‘Liberal Privilege’ before GOP conventionTom Price: Here’s how we can obtain more affordable careThe Memo: Democrats feel rising tide in FloridaMORE wins, then all bets are off. Team Biden has not yet presented a formal space policy proposal. The chances that Artemis will be curtailed or cancelled outright increase substantially in a Biden administration.
If Biden cancels Artemis, not all hope is lost. It is conceivable that someone like SpaceXs Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskThe Hill’s 12:30 Report- Presented by Facebook – Trump threatens schools’ funding over reopeningNASA, China and the UAE are scheduled to send missions to Mars in JulyKanye tweets he’s running for presidentMORE will try a lunar return commercially, either by using the Starship, which is still in development, or perhaps by using a plan recently proposed by Robert Zubrin and Homer Hickam using commercial spacecraft and a to-be-developed lunar lander. Of course, Musk would have to make the project pay to do it on his own. 
The last alternative is to wait for a Chinese moon landing, which would sound a death knell to the United States as a great power.
Mark Whittington, who writes frequently about space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration entitled Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? as well as The Moon, Mars and Beyond. He blogs at Curmudgeons Corner. He is published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, the LA Times and the Washington Post, among other venues.

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“Terra Incognito” –‘Ghost Galaxies’ of a Great Wall Discovered Hidden Beyond the Milky Way – The Daily Galaxy –Great Discoveries Channel

A ‘Holy Grail’ of astronomy is to provide a clear map of our galaxy –a perspective of Earth’s relationship to the physical universe where our solar system drifts between two spiral arms at its outer edges of the Milky Way, some 27,000 light-years from its opa…

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A Holy Grail of astronomy is to provide a clear map of our galaxy –a perspective of Earth’s relationship to the physical universe where our solar system drifts between two spiral arms at its outer edges of the Milky Way, some 27,000 light-years from its opaque central disk. Beyond that, like the maps of ancient sea-faring mariners, is a terra ingognito, the “zone of avoidance” where no space craft has yet to ever travel beyond the opaque central disk.
Astronomers have now discovered a vast structure, the “South Pole Wall,” — a cosmic curtain hidden behind the billions of stars, dust, and dark worlds of the Milky Way Galaxy in the “zone of avoidance” that forms an arc across some 700 million light-years along the southern border of the local cosmos.
Ghosts of the Zone
Lurking inside the zone is an enormous ghost galaxy, believed to be one of the oldest in the universe, was detected on the outskirts of the Milky Way in November of 2018 by a team of astronomers who discovered the massive object when trawling through new data from the European Space Agencys Gaia satellite. One of an untold number of galaxies that clump together in what’s known as the cosmic web, enormous strands of hydrogen gas in which galaxies are strung like pearls on a necklace that surround gigantic, dark empty voids.
The image at the top of the page shows the South Pole Wall near the southernmost part of the sky. ( © D. Pomarede, R. B. Tully, R. Graziani, H. Courtois, Y. Hoffman, J. Lezmy.)
The spectral object, named Antlia 2, avoided detection thanks to its extremely low density as well as a perfect hiding place behind the dusty shroud of the Milky Ways disc with its concentration of bright, ancient stars near the galactic center. Optically, the Zone of Avoidance is like trying to look through a velvet clothblack as black can be, says Thomas Dame, Director of the Radio Telescope Data Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Senior Radio Astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 2019. In terms of tracing and understanding the spiral structure, essentially half of the Milky Way is terra incognito.
“Enormous Ghost Galaxy” –Hidden In the Milky Way’s ‘Zone of Avoidance’
The New Wall
An international team of astronomers, reports Dennis Overbye for the New York Times, led by Daniel Pomarède of Paris-Saclay University and R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii announced this new addition to the local universe on Friday in a paper in Astrophysical Journal, joining the earlier discoveries of other structures of our universe like the Great Wall, the Sloan Great Wall, the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall and the Bootes Void. The paper –based on measurements, performed by Dr. Tully and his colleagues, of the distances of 18,000 galaxies as far away as 600 million light-years–includes a video tour of the South Pole Wall.
“Monsters & Dragons?” –Mapping the Terra Incognito of Milky Way’s Unseen Far Side
The galaxies in the wall cannot be seen, but Pomarède and his colleagues were able to observe their gravitational effects by assembling data from telescopes around the world. As a result, writes Overbye, “they found that the galaxies between Earth and the South Pole Wall are sailing away from us slightly faster than they otherwise should be, by about 30 miles per second, drawn outward by the enormous blob of matter in the wall. And galaxies beyond the wall are moving outward more slowly than they otherwise should be, reined in by the gravitational drag of the wall.”
One might wonder how such a large and not-so-distant structure remained unnoticed, said Pomarède in a statement issued by Paris-Saclay University.
“Hyperion” –Titanic Structure From the Early Universe Unveiled: ‘Largest Proto-Supercluster of Galaxies Ever Found’
The discovery has joined what astronomers call our long address writes Overbye: “We live on Earth, which is in the solar system, which is in the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is part of a small cluster of galaxies called the Local Group, which is on the edge of the Virgo cluster, a conglomeration of several thousand galaxies.” In 2014, Dr. Tully suggested that these features were all connected, as part of a giant conglomeration he called Laniakea Hawaiian for open skies or immense heaven. It consists of 100,000 galaxies spread across 500 million light-years.
“We Exist Within a Colossal Sphere” –The Void that Harbors the Milky Way
But it appears the our adddress doess not stop there –in 2013, astronomers discovered that the Milky Way exists in void one of the vast holes of the Swiss-cheese structure of the cosmos with a radius measuring roughly 2 billion light years in diameter the largest void known to science, shaped like a sphere with a shell of increasing thickness made up of galaxies, stars and other baryonic matter. As with other voids, it is not completely empty but contains our own galaxy, the Milky Way (a few hundred million light-years from the voids center), the Local Group, and a larger part of the Laniakea Supercluster.
The Daily Galaxy, Max Goldberg, via Paris-Saclay University, New York Times, and University of Hawaii

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NASA wants a return to the moon in 2024. New human spaceflight chief makes no guarantees. – Space.com

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Putting astronauts back on the moon by 2024 will be no small feat, and NASA’s new human spaceflight chief Kathy Lueders has been careful not to make any promises she may not be able to keep.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Lueders said in a teleconference with reporters on June 18, when asked about the feasibility of a 2024 moon landing. “I wish I knew that answer. That’d make my job a lot easier. We’re going to try,” she said. 
Lueders, who recently became the associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate after Doug Loverro’s abrupt resignation, was a bit more pragmatic about the timeline of NASA’s Artemis program than her predecessor. While Lueders seems cautiously optimistic about getting astronauts to the moon by 2024, Loverro was confident and unwavering in his assertion that NASA would make the deadline. At a NASA town hall in December, Loverro even said that “it is going to be easy to make this happen.” 
Related: Putting astronauts on the moon in 2024 is a tall order, NASA says 
Before Lueders became the head of human spaceflight at NASA, she served as the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, where she oversaw the first flights of a private crew-carrying spacecraft to the International Space Station. 
After a successful uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft in March 2019 — and Boeing’s unsuccessful first attempt at doing the same with its Starliner spacecraft nine months later — the first commercial crew mission, SpaceX’s Demo-2, successfully delivered NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the space station in May. (Meanwhile, Boeing is preparing for a second attempt at the uncrewed test flight before astronauts can start flying on Starliner.) 
Those missions have faced years of delays and other challenges. When NASA created its Commercial Crew Program in 2010, the agency planned to have its astronauts regularly riding private vessels to and from the space station by 2015. Now, five years later, the first commercial crew mission has only just arrived at the orbiting lab.  
Related: NASA completes investigation on flawed Boeing Starliner capsule test flight 
Kathy Lueders, who was the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program when SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission launched, is pictured  in firing room four of the Launch Control Center at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida after the opening of the hatch between SpaceXs Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken onboard and the International Space Station, on May 31, 2020. (Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA)
“It’s very important to have an aggressive goal,” Lueders said in the June 18 teleconference. “We had an aggressive goal in commercial crew, and I think that aggressive goal ensured that we were able to accomplish things as quickly as we could.” 
“But I also think what’s important is when you come across technical challenges … you’re focused on making sure you’re achieving your aggressive goal in the right manner,” Lueders added. “Yes, it’s taken us a little bit longer to be able to get Bob and Doug up there. But I do think we’ve done it carefully, and doing it right is better than doing it faster.”
While ensuring the safety of its astronauts is NASA’s No. 1 priority when it comes to human spaceflight missions, the agency must also take extra precautions now to protect its workforce on Earth from the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, NASA has already faced delays in the testing of its new Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and Orion crew capsule, which the agency plans to use for its Artemis moon missions. 
Related:  NASA suspends work on SLS megarocket and Orion capsule due to coronavirus outbreak 
“I just went through a mission where the last two months of it, we were in COVID,” Lueders said, referring to the SpaceX Demo-2 mission. “It is tough to work during this period of time, but we have a strong team. And I know that they’re happy to have a goal and they’re happy to be moving towards the goal. And it’s a pretty great goal for us to be working towards.”
“If things come up along the way, where technically it takes us longer… then we’ll go figure it out. But right now the team’s trying. It is tough,” Lueders added.
Email Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on [email protected] on Facebook.
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