The Science & Technology Thread

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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:54 am

NASA assigns commercial crews to fly on Boeing, SpaceX spacecraft

But what will they wear?

Commercial Crew Astronauts Prepare for Launch — What Will They Wear?
By Chelsea Gohd, Space.com Staff Writer | August 4, 2018 07:52am ET

SpaceX and Boeing are working to launch commercial crewed vehicles into space — so what will the astronauts wear?

As part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX and Boeing will fly crewed test flights in 2019, according to new schedule changes. These flights will follow uncrewed test flights that are scheduled for late 2018. Today (Aug. 3), NASA announced the astronauts who will make up the first commercial crew for these missions.

It will be exciting to follow the journey of these astronauts, from their training to their launch to the International Space Station. But what will they wear on their epic journey into orbit? Boeing has designed bold, blue spacesuits, whereas SpaceX has taken a more futuristic approach to space-travel fashion — although currently short on details.

Keep in mind that Boeing and SpaceX's suits are designed for traveling in spacecraft to the space station; they are not created to be worn in the vacuum of space. For spacewalks, astronauts will continue to use the large, protective, recognizable white suits that are stored aboard the space station.

Story continues: https://www.space.com/41380-what-will-s ... -wear.html

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Former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson tries on the "Boeing Blue" spacesuit.
Credit: Boeing


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SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted this photo to Twitter, revealing the full head-to-toe design of the company's spacesuit that astronauts will wear aboard the Crew Dragon.
Credit: SpaceX/Instagram
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:39 pm

Tonight's 1:18am ET launch of a Falcon 9 rocket features the first reflight of a Block 5 booster.

SpaceX set to re-fly a Block 5 rocket for the first time tonight
Mission success would open the door to the third flight of a Falcon 9 rocket.
ERIC BERGER - 8/6/2018, 8:53 AM

On May 11, SpaceX launched the new, optimized-for-reuse Block 5 variant of its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time. Just before the flight, Ars asked company founder Elon Musk how long it would be before we saw the first reflight of a Block 5 booster.

"We are going to be very rigorous in taking this rocket apart and confirming our design assumptions to be confident that it is indeed able to be reused without taking it apart,” Musk said at the time. “Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm it does not need to be taken apart.”
Apparently it did not take that long to tear the first stage of this rocket apart, because less than three months later, this booster is back on the launch pad for a geostationary mission set to launch late Monday night. SpaceX is targeting launch of the Merah Putih satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit during a two-hour launch window that opens at 1:18am ET Tuesday (5:18 UTC). The launch will occur from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The first stage will attempt to make a landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship after completing its primary mission. Weather conditions appear favorable.

Although company officials have not said much about the teardown process of the first Block 5 core, they appear to have found no showstoppers, given the quick turnaround. A successful launch this week of the 5.8-ton Merah Putih raises the possibility that SpaceX will be able to launch one of its Falcon 9 first stage rockets on three separate missions for the first time later this year.

It is worth recalling that SpaceX only flew a "used" booster for the first time in March 2017. On that occasion, the launch of the SES-10 satellite, it flew a Block 4 core of its rocket that had launched nearly 12 months earlier. Thus, a less-than-three-month turnaround of its first Block 5 rocket suggests that the modifications SpaceX made to optimize the reusability of the Falcon 9 rocket have had some success.
As always, SpaceX will broadcast the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket live. The webcast should begin about 15 minutes before the launch window opens.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:38 pm

NASA Launches Daring Solar Probe Mission to Kiss the Sun
By Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer | August 12, 2018 04:18am ET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A historic and audacious mission to probe some of the sun's deepest secrets is underway.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe lifted off this morning (Aug. 12) at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT) from a pad here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, its powerful United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carving an arc of orange flame into the predawn sky.

If all goes according to plan, the Parker Solar Probe will end up traveling faster than any craft ever has, and getting unprecedentedly close to the sun; indeed, it will fly through our star's outer atmosphere, known as the corona. And the measurements the probe makes there will reveal key insights about our star's inner workings that have eluded scientists for decades. [NASA's Parker Solar Probe Mission to the Sun in Pictures]

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifts off from from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on Aug. 12, 2018, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT).
Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA


"It's going to be absolutely phenomenal," NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green told Space.com. "We've been wanting to do this for 60 years, ever since Eugene Parker got up and said, 'I believe the sun is outgassing.'"

That prediction was met with much skepticism back in the 1950s, but time proved Parker, a pioneering University of Chicago astrophysicist, right. We now know that outgassing as the solar wind, the stream of charged particles that flows constantly from the sun. And Parker, who turned 91 in June, became the first living person ever to have a NASA mission named after him.

Photos of Parker and a digital copy of his seminal 1958 solar-wind paper are flying on the newly launched spacecraft, aboard a memory card that also bears the names of more than 1.1 million people. These folks — who include "Star Trek" icon William Shatner — responded to a March 2018 NASA invitation to kiss the sun along with the Parker Solar Probe.

This morning's launch was initially supposed to occur on July 31, but several technical issues pushed the attempt back to yesterday (Aug. 11). And that try was scuttled after a Delta IV Heavy gaseous-helium pressure alarm went off less than 2 minutes before the scheduled liftoff.

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1028550218201985026
NASA

@NASA
Nothing compares to watching a rocket launch live, says Dr. Eugene N. Parker who watched his first rocket launch this morning as his namesake spacecraft, #ParkerSolarProbe, launched to the Sun.
3:54 AM - Aug 12, 2018


Our mysterious star

The solar wind is very fast, zooming along at between 900,000 mph and 1.8 million mph (1.45 million and 2.9 million km/h) by the time it reaches Earth's orbit. But the particles start out pretty much motionless at the solar surface, said Parker Solar Probe mission scientist Adam Szabo, who's based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

"Something happens in the corona where it steps on the accelerator and shoots out at supersonic speeds," Szabo told Space.com.

But scientists aren't sure what that "something" is. The same is broadly true for solar energetic particles (SEPs), even faster-moving flecks that are associated with solar flares and gigantic eruptions of plasma called coronal mass ejections. It's unclear exactly how SEPs — which can pose a threat to astronauts and wreak havoc with spacecraft software — attain such tremendously high energies, Szabo said.

And the corona itself is deeply mysterious. Temperatures there range between 1.8 million and 5.4 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million to 3 million degrees Celsius) on average — far hotter than the solar surface, which is a pedestrian (by comparison) 10,000 degrees F (5,500 degrees C).

This doesn't make sense, at least not intuitively.

"You would expect that things should cool off" as distance from the nuclear-fusion action increases, Szabo said. "This is one of these big unknowns: What's going on there?"

The sun's incredibly powerful magnetic field and convective motion apparently work together to generate the energy driving these phenomena, said Lika Guhathakurta, the lead program scientist for new initiatives at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and former lead for the space agency's Living With a Star program.

"But how you bring that energy to the surface and propagate it is the challenge," Guhathakurta told Space.com. "And that's why we have to go there and measure it."

Kissing the sun

That's just what the Parker Solar Probe will do. Over the next seven years, the $1.5 billion mission will perform 24 close flybys of the sun, getting within just 3.83 million miles (6.16 million km) of the solar surface at its closest approach — far nearer than the previous record-holder, the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft, which got within 27 million miles (43 million km) in 1976.

During such tight passes — the first of which will occur in early November — the sun's powerful gravity will accelerate the Parker Solar Probe to top speeds of around 430,000 mph (690,000 km/h), NASA officials have said. That will obliterate the mark of 165,000 mph (265,000 km/h), which was set by NASA's Juno probe during its arrival at Jupiter in July 2016.

(The encounters will get closer and closer as time goes on; the Parker Solar Probe will gradually shrink its elliptical orbit from about 150 Earth days to 88 Earth days, using seven "gravity-assist" flybys of Venus. The record-breaking numbers cited above are for the final flybys.)

Conditions at and around closest approach will be extreme; the Parker Solar Probe will have to withstand about 500 times the solar radiation load we experience on Earth. And the spacecraft's sun-facing side will be heated to about 2,500 degrees F (1,370 degrees C), according to NASA officials. (Most of this heat will come from sunlight; the toasty plasma in the corona is spread so thinly that it won't play much of a role.)

"It's going to get hammered," Green said.

To deal with heat, the solar-powered probe is equipped with a 7.5-foot-wide (2.3 meters), 4.5-inch-thick (11.4 centimeters) shield made of advanced carbon-composite material, which will keep most of the spacecraft's scientific instruments at a comfortable 85 degrees F (29 degrees C).

These instruments will, among other things, measure the sun's electric and magnetic fields and waves; observe superenergetic particles in the solar atmosphere and beyond; count and characterize solar-wind particles; and photograph the corona and inner regions of the heliosphere (the giant bubble of solar plasma and magnetic fields that extends far beyond Pluto's orbit).

The observations made by this gear could help solve the coronal-heating and particle-acceleration puzzles, mission scientists have said. And it will give us a better idea of how stars tick in general.

"How can we possibly understand stellar systems if we don't understand the star next door?" Szabo said.

There should be considerable practical applications as well, he and others stressed. For example, mission data should yield significant insights into space weather, potentially allowing researchers to better predict and plan for the intense solar storms that can cause big disruptions here on Earth.

Such information could also help humanity push out into the solar system, by giving us the knowledge we need to leave our planet's protective magnetic field behind, Guhathakurta said.

"There's going to be no looking back after this mission," she said.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:03 am

They Made It! Japan's Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu
By Meghan Bartels, Space.com Senior Writer | September 22, 2018 09:30am ET

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This spectacular photo shows the view from asteroid Ryugu from the Minerva-II1A rover during a hop after it successfully landed on Sept. 21, 2018. The probe is one of two that landed on Ryugu from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 spacecraft. It's the first time two mobile rovers landed on an asteroid.
Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency


The suspense is over: Two tiny hopping robots have successfully landed on an asteroid called Ryugu — and they've even sent back some wild postcards from their new home.

The tiny rovers are part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission. Engineers with the agency deployed the robots early Friday (Sept. 21), but JAXA waited until today (Sept. 22) to confirm the operation was successful and both rovers made the landing safely.



HAYABUSA2@JAXA
@haya2e_jaxa
We are sorry we have kept you waiting! MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, 1a & 1b. Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface. #asteroidlanding

8:47 AM - Sep 22, 2018
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The rovers are part of the MINERVA-II1 program, and are designed to hop along the asteroid's surface, taking photographs and gathering data. In fact, one of the initial images sent home by the hoppers is awfully blurry, since the robot snapped it while still on the go.

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Minerva-II1 rover captured this view of asteroid Ryugu (bottom) and the Hayabusa2 spacecraft (at top right) just after the rover separated from the spacecraft on Sept. 21, 2018.
Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency


In order to complete the deployment, the main spacecraft of the Hayabusa2 mission lowered itself carefully down toward the surface until it was just 180 feet (55 meters) up. After the rovers were on their way, the spacecraft raised itself back up to its typical altitude of about 12.5 miles above the asteroid's surface (20 kilometers).

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The MINERVA-II1B rover captured this view of asteroid Ryugu on Sept. 21, 2018 shortly after separating from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The asteroid appears at lower right.
Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency


The agency still has two more deployments yet to accomplish before it can rest easy: Hayabusa2 is scheduled to deploy a larger rover called MASCOT in October and another tiny hopper next year. And of course, the main spacecraft has a host of other tasks to accomplish during its stay at Ryugu — most notably, to collect a sample of the primitive world to bring home to Earth for laboratory analysis
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:06 pm

A game changer?

09.29.1812:01 AM
Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web
With an ambitious decentralized platform, the father of the web hopes it’s game on for corporate tech giants like Facebook and Google.

BY KATRINA BROOKER5 MINUTE READ

Last week, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, asked me to come and see a project he has been working on almost as long as the web itself. It’s a crisp autumn day in Boston, where Berners-Lee works out of an office above a boxing gym. After politely offering me a cup of coffee, he leads us into a sparse conference room. At one end of a long table is a battered laptop covered with stickers. Here, on this computer, he is working on a plan to radically alter how all of us live and work on the web.

“The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.

This week, Berners-Lee will launch, Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.

“We have to do it now,” he says, displaying an intensity and urgency that is uncharacteristic for this soft-spoken academic. “It’s a historical moment.” Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.

A NETSCAPE FOR TODAY’S INTERNET
If all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.

“I have been imagining this for a very long time,” says Berners-Lee. He opens up his laptop and starts tapping at his keyboard. Watching the inventor of the web work at his computer feels like what it might have been like to watch Beethoven compose a symphony: It’s riveting but hard to fully grasp. “We are in the Solid world now,” he says, his eyes lit up with excitement. He pushes the laptop toward me so I too can see.

On his screen, there is a simple-looking web page with tabs across the top: Tim’s to-do list, his calendar, chats, address book. He built this app–one of the first on Solid–for his personal use. It is simple, spare. In fact, it’s so plain that, at first glance, it’s hard to see its significance. But to Berners-Lee, this is where the revolution begins. The app, using Solid’s decentralized technology, allows Berners-Lee to access all of his data seamlessly–his calendar, his music library, videos, chat, research. It’s like a mashup of Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Spotify, and WhatsApp.

The difference here is that, on Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod–which is an acronym for personal online data store. These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations.

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[Image courtesy of Tim Berners-Lee]

For example, one idea Berners-Lee is currently working on is a way to create a decentralized version of Alexa, Amazon’s increasingly ubiquitous digital assistant. He calls it Charlie. Unlike with Alexa, on Charlie people would own all their data. That means they could trust Charlie with, for example, health records, children’s school events, or financial records. That is the kind of machine Berners-Lee hopes will spring up all over Solid to flip the power dynamics of the web from corporation to individuals.

A NEW REVOLUTION FOR DEVELOPERS?
Berners-Lee believes Solid will resonate with the global community of developers, hackers, and internet activists who bristle over corporate and government control of the web. “Developers have always had a certain amount of revolutionary spirit,” he observes. Circumventing government spies or corporate overlords may be the initial lure of Solid, but the bigger draw will be something even more appealing to hackers: freedom. In the centralized web, data is kept in silos–controlled by the companies that build them, like Facebook and Google. In the decentralized web, there are no silos.

Starting this week, developers around the world will be able to start building their own decentralized apps with tools through the Inrupt site. Berners-Lee will spend this fall criss-crossing the globe, giving tutorials and presentations to developers about Solid and Inrupt. (There will be a Solid tutorial at our Fast Company Innovation Festival on October 23.)

“What’s great about having a startup versus a research group is things get done,” he says. These days, instead of heading into his lab at MIT, Berners-Lee comes to the Inrupt offices, which are currently based out of Janeiro Digital, a company he has contracted to help work on Inrupt. For now, the company consists of Berners-Lee; his partner John Bruce, who built Resilient, a security platform bought by IBM; a handful of on-staff developers contracted to work on the project; and a community of volunteer coders.

Later this fall, Berners-Lee plans to start looking for more venture funding and grow his team. The aim, for now, is not to make billions of dollars. The man who gave the web away for free has never been motivated by money. Still, his plans could impact billion-dollar business models that profit off of control over data. It’s not likely that the big powers of the web will give up control without a fight.

When asked about this, Berners-Lee says flatly: “We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission.”

Game on.


This article may have been equally at home in the Everything Busness thread.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby paco74 » Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:37 pm

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They built the outer shell. Promise to have a passenger ready one by 2019.

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/hyperloop-capsule/index.html
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:47 am

At its fastest, this baby will be traveling over 134,000 mph.
BepiColombo's Path: Why Does It Take So Long to Get to Mercury?
By Meghan Bartels, Space.com Senior Writer | October 20, 2018 08:54am ET

The European and Japanese space agencies launched their first mission to Mercury yesterday (Oct. 19, Oct. 20 GMT), but now, the mission's engineers and admirers have to endure a seven-year wait before the project's science begins in earnest.
The BepiColombo mission has such a long cruise time because it's actually really difficult to successfully orbit our tiniest planetary neighbor. It's so difficult that it took until 1985 before an engineer figured out any way to make the orbital trajectories work out properly.

The problem arises because Mercury is so small and so close to the sun. That means it orbits the sun incredibly quickly, and a spacecraft hoping to visit the innermost planet has to travel pedal-to-the-metal in order to catch up to the swift world. But there's a big catch: The sun's gravity will pull the spacecraft so strongly toward the star that a craft like BepiColombo actually needs to brake throughout its cruise to avoid getting tugged off course. [BepiColombo in Pictures: A Mercury Mission by Europe and Japan]

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This European Space Agency graphic depicts the path to Mercury for the BepiColombo spacecraft after its launch o n Oct. 19, 2018. The spacecraft will fly by Earth once, Venus twice and Mercury six times before entering orbit in December 2025.
Credit: ESA


In order to tackle this dual challenge, BepiColombo's drivers have carefully devised a combination of solar power, chemical fuel and planetary flybys, which will work together to steer the spacecraft through this celestial obstacle course. All told, the spacecraft will expend more energy than it would trying to reach Pluto, which resides over near the edge of the solar system. But those planetary flybys will bring BepiColombo's cruise time to a total of just over seven years.

The mission's series of flybys — one of Earth in April of 2020, two of Venus in 2020 and 2021, and six of Mercury itself between 2021 and 2025 — will each tweak the spacecraft's orbit just a little, nudging it closer and closer to the mission's target. These flybys will also give engineers a chance to make sure many of the instruments on board BepiColombo are working as they should be, because more than half of them will be turned on.

Then, in December of 2025, BepiColombo will slip into orbit around the tiny planet. Once the probe does so, it will separate into the two science spacecraft that are currently joined together for the long ride: Europe's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and Japan's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). Those two spacecraft will fly in complementary orbits, with the MPO circling the planet every 2.3 hours and MMO doing so every 9.3 hours.

If everything goes according to scientists' plans, those careful twirls will let the 16 instruments that make up BepiColombo gather plenty of eyebrow-raising data about tiny, strange Mercury and how our entire solar system came to be.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:17 pm

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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 8:39 am

Four llama antibodies and a harmless virus: This outlandish recipe could be the basis of a nasal spray designed to foil infection from all strains of influenza. The spray, containing a virus engineered to make a protein derived from the llama antibodies, has passed its first animal test, protecting mice from every known flu strain that infects humans, a research team reports.

Although the strategy must go through more testing before human trials can begin, researchers who have struggled to develop a "universal" vaccine against the highly mutable flu virus say it merits serious attention. The nasal spray could prove a boon to the elderly, who typically suffer most from flu and get only weak protection from existing vaccines. And unlike traditional influenza vaccines, which are tailormade each flu season to match the viruses in circulation, it could be stockpiled as protection against a flu pandemic. "This is a great story and shows the power of antibody engineering," says immunologist Antonio Lanzavecchia, a leading flu vaccine researcher at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

Continued here: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/ ... -types-flu
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:53 am

This Company Will Send You to the International Space Station for 10 Days
By JOE MCGAULEY
Published On 11/09/2018

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Axiom Space

Cruising through space with a birds-eye view of our little old planet is the sort of dream very few people ever get to experience. The rest of us just have to settle for watching First Man on IMAX. That is, unless you've got about $55 million burning a hole in your pocket, in which case you can now buy yourself a ticket for a 10-day trip to the International Space Station.

Axiom Space, a company that builds space stations, has teamed up with a luxury travel company to put together a special trip to the International Space Station, complete with with training, rocket rides, and a 10-day stay inside the giant floating laboratory hovering above Earth. This isn't some outrageous and overly ambitious project, either. It's being overseen by the guy who used to run NASA's ISS programs, and takeoff is currently scheduled for 2020.

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Habitation module interior | Axiom Space

Now, you might be wondering what all a $55 million space vacation comes with. Well, in this case, you get a round-trip ride to and from the ISS on a SpaceX rocket, accommodations in a one of Axiom's "habitation modules," which feature big observation windows for you to longingly stare down at Earth, and a trip to training camp to prepare you for life out of this world. Specifically, you'll be privy to a 15-week training program (spread out over two years) alongside actual astronauts, during which you'll learn the ins and outs of handling weightlessness, basic safety, launch procedures and on-board systems, and, importantly, how to use the bathroom.

It's fair to assume that simply floating and gawking out at the great beyond won't get boring, but you'll also get to experience a number of other things while you're up there. Axiom will help curate a customized activity plan, which could include everything from fitness to filmmaking to biological research.

If you're interested and have the cash, you can request more info and book your seat with the travel company Roman and Erica Inc. Otherwise, now may be a good time to hit up any wealthy benefactors you may have in your Rolodex, or start playing Powerball.

Then again, if you'd rather an Earthbound vacation option that doesn't actually cost money, you have options too.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby DreadNaught » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:57 am

Big if true..

Claim of CRISPR’d baby girls stuns genome editing summit

HONG KONG — A Chinese scientist’s claim that he used the genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the DNA of human embryos, resulting in the birth a few weeks ago of twin girls, stunned organizers of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, leaving them scrambling to evaluate the claim two days before the scientist is scheduled to speak at the meeting.

“I don’t know the details” of the claim by He Jiankui, said David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology, chairman of the organizing committee of the summit, which begins on Tuesday in Hong Kong. “We don’t know what will be said” when He speaks at a session on human embryo editing.

The summit’s organizing committee issued a statement Monday saying they had only just learned of He’s research in Shenzhen, China. “Whether the clinical protocols that resulted in the births in China conformed with the guidance” of leading scientific bodies for conducting clinical trials of heritable genome editing “remains to be determined,” the statement said. “We hope that the dialogue at our summit further advances the world’s understanding of the issues surrounding human genome editing. Our goal is to help ensure that human genome editing research be pursued responsibly, for the benefit of all society.”

Harvard biologist and genetics pioneer George Church said the claims were “probably accurate.

“I’ve been in contact with the Shenzhen team and have seen the data,” he said by email from Indianapolis. “The sequencing assays used are generally unambiguous especially when done in multiple cell types at different developmental stages and in two children.”

Church added: “Is the genie really out of the bottle? Yes.”

Dr. George Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School and a member of the organizing committee for the summit here, said He had been invited to speak because of a 2017 talk he gave at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory about genome editing in human, monkey, and mouse embryos. At that session, He described altering target DNA in human embryos created through in vitro fertilization, resulting in few unintended edits (“off-target effects“). The most serious problem was that only some of the embryos’ cells were successfully edited, resulting in what’s called mosaicism.

But He said then that he was able to increase the proportion of edited cells by injecting the very early embryos with CRISPR-Cas9 twice: once when they consisted of only a single cell, and again when they consisted of two cells.

In his 2017 talk, He had not said he planned to use the edited IVF embryos to initiate a pregnancy. He ended his presentation by citing the case of Jesse Gelsinger, whose 1999 death in a trial of gene therapy — the much less precise forerunner of genome editing — set that field back by more than a decade. He urged scientists who are contemplating embryo editing to proceed slowly and “with caution,” since “a single case of failure will kill the entire field.”

The Chinese university where He is an associate professor issued a statement saying that it had been unaware of his research project and that He had been on leave without pay since February. The work has “seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct,” Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen said in the statement. The university called on international experts to investigate.

He’s claim, first reported by the Associated Press, has not been backed up by a scientific paper, leaving scientists in the dark about how well the genome editing worked. He used CRISPR-Cas9 to disable a gene called CCR5, which produces a receptor that allows HIV, which causes AIDS, to enter cells. People who lack functional CCR5 genes are therefore immune from HIV infection.

A 2017 National Academies report on genome editing identified CCR5 as a potential target for embryo editing by CRISPR-Cas9. “We did discuss that, but it wasn’t a focus of the report,” said bioethicist R. Alta Charo of the University of Wisconsin, who co-chaired the Academies panel that produced the report. Because editing an embryo changes its sperm- or egg-producing cells, or germline, the changes would be passed on to any future progeny.

Germline editing is considered more ethically fraught than using genome editing to treat a child or adult, which would alter only, say, the blood-making cells in someone with sickle cell disease and not heritable DNA. Germline editing therefore has to clear a higher ethical bar, Charo said on the eve of the genome editing summit: The risks and potential benefits to the child who would develop from an edited embryo must be carefully evaluated, she said.

In the case of the twin girls, any benefits are not clear. Their father is HIV-positive, and semen can carry HIV, said Daley. But there are other ways to prevent a father from transmitting HIV to his children, such as washing sperm.

And HIV is both preventable and treatable, said biologist Richard Hynes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is attending the Hong Kong meeting and co-chaired the National Academies panel: “We set out stringent criteria that would need to be met” to justify embryo editing, he said. “It should only be for serious unmet medical needs, and informed consent has to be in place. All of those things need to be looked into” to see if He’s experiment met the criteria. For instance, on consent forms parents were asked to sign, He called his work “AIDS vaccine development,” the AP reported, so it is not clear if the parents of the girls understood what he planned to do.

The risks of genome editing in general include altering DNA other than the targeted genes, which could have unintended health consequences, and without a detailed scientific paper, no one knows whether CRISPR altered the girls’ DNA anywhere except in their CCR5 gene. The specific risks of having a disabled CCR5 gene include a higher chance of infection with the West Nile virus and of dying from influenza. He has not said whether he clearly communicated those risks to the parents.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., said in a statement, “The concept of altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes has been debated over many years from many different perspectives, and has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed.”

Watchdog groups quickly denounced He’s work. “If true, this amounts to unethical and reckless experimentation on human beings, and a grave abuse of human rights,” Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, said in a statement. “We wish the best for the health of these babies, but strongly condemn the stunt that threatens their safety, and puts the rest of us at risk. Throwing open the door to a society of genetic haves and have-nots undermines our chances for a fair and just future.”

The concern about “haves and have-nots” refers to fears that embryo editing for desirable traits will one day become available to parents who can afford it, exacerbating social inequality.

“It’s possible that in the circumstances [the experiment] was felt to be justifiable,” Robin Lovell-Badge of the London-based Francis Crick Institute told reporters Monday ahead of the genome editing summit. “But we just don’t know that. We have to wait to hear from him,” he said, referring to He’s upcoming summit presentation.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby DreadNaught » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:00 pm

This genome editing stuff is fascinating to me. The potentials evils are obvious, but the potential to rid the world of genetic childhood disease is a game changer.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby IronDog » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:05 pm

Unfortunately, history has shown us, that any time someone begins to play God, the potential to twist that capability to the dark side grows exponentially.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Nano » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:01 pm

Seriously, haven't these people seen Jurassic Park before?
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Rocker » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:29 pm

DreadNaught wrote:This genome editing stuff is fascinating to me. The potentials evils are obvious, but the potential to rid the world of genetic childhood disease is a game changer.



The good will outweigh the bad.


Or, in twenty years we’ll have real world Orcs. It’s a toss up.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby terrytate » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:28 am

Rocker wrote:
DreadNaught wrote:This genome editing stuff is fascinating to me. The potentials evils are obvious, but the potential to rid the world of genetic childhood disease is a game changer.



The good will outweigh the bad.


Or, in twenty years we’ll have real world Orcs. It’s a toss up.


I wouldn't mind having a few Orcs running around. Maybe some Xmen too.

It is a fascinating subject too. Genetic editing is going to become commonplace at some point, the only question is in what form. Will the world become Gattica, where untweaked babies are treated as handicapped? Are you going to have to book a flight to North Korea to get an outlawed procedure done to insure your baby has blue eyes and blond hair? The implications for sports is real too. Will white guys start winning the 100 at the Summer Olympics? Will the NFL ban enhanced genome players?
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby bahamian:bucfan » Thu Nov 29, 2018 4:49 pm

terrytate wrote:
Rocker wrote:

The good will outweigh the bad.


Or, in twenty years we’ll have real world Orcs. It’s a toss up.


I wouldn't mind having a few Orcs running around. Maybe some Xmen too.

It is a fascinating subject too. Genetic editing is going to become commonplace at some point, the only question is in what form. Will the world become Gattica, where untweaked babies are treated as handicapped? Are you going to have to book a flight to North Korea to get an outlawed procedure done to insure your baby has blue eyes and blond hair? The implications for sports is real too. Will white guys start winning the 100 at the Summer Olympics? Will the NFL ban enhanced genome players?


Wow! It is truly amazing that only a few years ago, the things you mentioned were nothing more than a dream. Now, its reality!

Just the sports implication of this is astronomical! I can just picture scientist "designing" a baby boy that will grow into a running back with the abilities of: Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, Erik Dickerson, Barry Saunders, Emmit Smith, Ladanian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk rolled into one!
To think, this was a pipe dream but now scientist are able to design what a player's physical attributes will be!

Again, wow!
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby terrytate » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:58 pm

bahamian:bucfan wrote:
terrytate wrote:
I wouldn't mind having a few Orcs running around. Maybe some Xmen too.

It is a fascinating subject too. Genetic editing is going to become commonplace at some point, the only question is in what form. Will the world become Gattica, where untweaked babies are treated as handicapped? Are you going to have to book a flight to North Korea to get an outlawed procedure done to insure your baby has blue eyes and blond hair? The implications for sports is real too. Will white guys start winning the 100 at the Summer Olympics? Will the NFL ban enhanced genome players?


Wow! It is truly amazing that only a few years ago, the things you mentioned were nothing more than a dream. Now, its reality!

Just the sports implication of this is astronomical! I can just picture scientist "designing" a baby boy that will grow into a running back with the abilities of: Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, Erik Dickerson, Barry Saunders, Emmit Smith, Ladanian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk rolled into one!
To think, this was a pipe dream but now scientist are able to design what a player's physical attributes will be!

Again, wow!


Suddenly, Madden create a player is reality.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:59 pm

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrives at asteroid Bennu
Date: December 4, 2018
Source: NASA
Summary: NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its 1.2 billion-mile (2 billion-kilometer) journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu Monday. The spacecraft executed a maneuver that transitioned it from flying toward Bennu to operating around the asteroid.

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This image of Bennu was taken by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a distance of around 50 miles (80 km).
Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona


NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its 1.2 billion-mile (2 billion-kilometer) journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu Monday. The spacecraft executed a maneuver that transitioned it from flying toward Bennu to operating around the asteroid.

Now, at about 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) from Bennu's Sun-facing surface, OSIRIS-REx will begin a preliminary survey of the asteroid. The spacecraft will commence flyovers of Bennu's north pole, equatorial region, and south pole, getting as close as nearly 4 miles (7 kilometers) above Bennu during each flyover.

The primary science goals of this survey are to refine estimates of Bennu's mass and spin rate, and to generate a more precise model of its shape. The data will help determine potential sites for later sample collection.

OSIRIS-REx's mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. Asteroids are remnants of the building blocks that formed the planets and enabled life. Those like Bennu contain natural resources, such as water, organics and metals. Future space exploration and economic development may rely on asteroids for these materials.

"As explorers, we at NASA have never shied away from the most extreme challenges in the solar system in our quest for knowledge," said Lori Glaze, acting director for NASA's Planetary Science Division. "Now we're at it again, working with our partners in the U.S. and Canada to accomplish the Herculean task of bringing back to Earth a piece of the early solar system."

The mission's navigation team will use the preliminary survey of Bennu to practice the delicate task of navigating around the asteroid. The spacecraft will enter orbit around Bennu on Dec. 31 -- thus making Bennu, which is only about 1,600 feet (492 meters) across -- or about the length of five football fields -- the smallest object ever orbited by a spacecraft. It's a critical step in OSIRIS-REx's years-long quest to collect and eventually deliver at least two ounces (60 grams) of regolith -- dirt and rocks -- from Bennu to Earth.

Starting in October, OSIRIS-REx performed a series of braking maneuvers to slow the spacecraft down as it approached Bennu. These maneuvers also targeted a trajectory to set up Monday's maneuver, which initiates the first north pole flyover and marks the spacecraft's arrival at Bennu.

"The OSIRIS-REx team is proud to cross another major milestone off our list -- asteroid arrival," said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. "Initial data from the approach phase show this object to have exceptional scientific value. We can't wait to start our exploration of Bennu in earnest. We've been preparing for this moment for years, and we're ready."

OSIRIS-REx mission marks many firsts in space exploration. It will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth and the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era. It's the first to study a primitive B-type asteroid, which is an asteroid that's rich in carbon and organic molecules that make up life on Earth. It is also the first mission to study a potentially hazardous asteroid and try to determine the factors that alter their courses to bring them close to Earth.

"During our approach toward Bennu, we have taken observations at much higher resolution than were available from Earth," said Rich Burns, the project manager of OSIRIS-REx at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "These observations have revealed an asteroid that is both consistent with our expectations from ground-based measurements and an exceptionally interesting small world. Now we embark on gaining experience flying our spacecraft about such a small body."

When OSIRIS-REx begins to orbit Bennu at the end of this month, it will come close to approximately three quarters of a mile (1.25 kilometers) to its surface. In February 2019, the spacecraft begins efforts to globally map Bennu to determine the best site for sample collection. After the collection site is selected, the spacecraft will briefly touch the surface of Bennu to retrieve a sample. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to return the sample to Earth in September 2023.

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team and the mission's science observation planning and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about OSIRIS-REx, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:31 pm

Wow! This could be a huge coup in the fight against cancer.

Blood test to detect cancer within just 10 minutes developed by scientists

A blood test can detect cancer within just 10 minutes, scientists have found, raising hopes that hard-to-spot diseases could be picked up early when treatment is most effective.

Currently doctors use symptoms and a raft of tests and biopsies to determine if cancer is present which can sometimes take months.

The new method from the University of Queensland looks for differences in the genetic code of cancerous and healthy cells.

The team found that the DNA of cancer cells sticks strongly to nanoparticles of gold giving a quick indication whether disease is present or not to the naked eye.

And because the same changes occur in all cancerous cells, the test should work on all cancer types, the team believes.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications Dr Matt Trau, Professor of Chemistry, said: “Our approach enabled non-invasive cancer detection, i.e a blood test, in 10 min from plasma derived DNA samples with excellent specificity.

“We believe that this simple approach would potentially be a better alternative to the current techniques for cancer detection.”

Although currently the test cannot determine where the cancer is, or how advanced it might be, it could give doctors an early warning that disease is present so they can carry out more detailed tests.

For cancers like pancreatic and ovarian which have few warning signs, it could mean the disease is picked up before it has spread, and while there is still time for surgery and drugs to be effective.

Dr Ged Brady, from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: “This approach represents an exciting step forward in detecting tumour DNA in blood samples and opens up the possibility of a generalised blood-based test to detect cancer.

“Further clinical studies are required to evaluate the full clinic potential of the method.”

The method was tested used tissue and blood samples from patients with different kinds of cancer which was compared to 31 healthy individuals.

Researchers now want to carry out further testing with a larger number of samples, are are hopeful that the method could be refined to distinguish the stage of the cancer.

Commenting on the study Paul Pharoah, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, said: “The test is promising, but it really needs to be applied from some carefully collected and characterised samples in order to be able to judge its potential usefulness as a diagnostic test.

“As it stands it is just one more technological innovation that may or may not be useful in the clinical setting.”
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:01 pm

Some exciting times coming soon. Beginning with the first SpaceX demo flight of their crew capsule in January.

NASA and SpaceX reschedule the first crew capsule test flight
A ten-day bump will let Dragon return from its current ISS mission.
Richard Lawler, @Rjcc
7h ago in Space

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We're a few weeks away from the first uncrewed Demo-1 flight test to the Space Station, but NASA and SpaceX have pushed the mission back slightly. According to a post from the Commercial Crew Program, switching the date back ten days from January 7th to January 17th will allow time for the Dragon capsule to return from its 16th ISS supply run (if you're quick, you can catch the spacecraft docking live this morning, two days after it launched). Its competition, Boeing's Starliner, is scheduled for a test in March.

Getting this test done to gather data and test the in-flight abort function ahead of a flight with the Crew Dragon capsule that carries astronauts onboard is critical, as Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders said "The upcoming steps before the test missions are critical, and their importance can't be understated. We are not driven by dates, but by data. Ultimately, we'll fly SpaceX Demo-1 at the right time, so we get the right data back to support the in-flight abort test and the next test flight when our astronauts are aboard."


At the same time, we've got a nice little space race happening between Boeing & SpaceX to see who gets astronauts to the ISS first.

Boeing and SpaceX embroiled in different kind of space race
BY MYNORTHWEST STAFF
DECEMBER 7, 2018 AT 4:40 PM

A veritable space race is underway between Boeing and SpaceX, and it all involves a little American flag.

For seven years, we’ve been relying on Russia for rides to the International Space Station. Boeing wants to become the first company to carry American astronauts there as soon as next summer, but so does SpaceX. Both companies will operate competing space taxis for NASA, reports Mark Strassman at CBS.

Whoever gets there first will get the chance to ceremonially carry back a small American flag that was left in 2011 when Space Shuttle Atlantis took its last flight. Shuttle commander Chris Ferguson placed the flag as symbol, but now sees it as a goal.

“The next astronaut that launched from American soil that docked at the space station would get to bring the flag home,” he told CBS’s Mark Strassman. Boeing is producing a capsule that will carry Ferguson, and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Eric Boe, meaning that Ferguson could recover the same flag he left.

That is, unless SpaceX gets there first. The company is developing their own ship called Crew Dragon, which is expected to carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the Space Station. Hurley piloted the flight that took the flag up in the first place.

“I have no problem with a little healthy competition,” Hurley told CBS. “It makes you better and it makes him better and it makes both companies better. And in the end, who benefits? The country. We get redundant access to space.”

A recent study from the Puget Sound Regional Council concluded that “Washington state and the central Puget Sound region are positioned to lead commercial space exploration and development.” They currently constitute about $1.8 billion in economic activity, with about 6,221 jobs supported across the entire economy.

Whether Boeing or SpaceX gets there first, it’s safe to say the astronauts will be doing a little more than just picking up a tiny flag.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:56 am

Long Journey
More than 40 years after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft is now in interstellar space.

A region called the heliosphere surrounds the planets in our solar system. It’s essentially a massive bubble formed by solar wind — a constant stream of charged particles that emit from the Sun — hitting the matter and radiation that floats between solar systems in a galaxy.

On November 5, Voyager 2 became the second human-made object to exit the heliosphere — but it’s already delivering first-of-its-kind insights into our universe.

Second Time’s the Charm
Voyager 2 now is slightly more than 18 billion kilometers (11 billion miles) from Earth. To put that in perspective, that distance is equivalent to more than 164 round-trip journeys between Mars and Earth.

And while it might be the second spacecraft to reach this distance milestone, Voyager 2 has the potential to teach us far more than we could learn from its sibling craft, Voyager 1, which became the first to reach interstellar space in 2012.

That’s thanks to the Plasma Science Experiment (PLS), an instrument designed to provide valuable data about the boundary between the heliosphere and interstellar space. Voyager 1 also had a PLS onboard, but it failed long before the craft exited the heliosphere.

“Even though Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in 2012, it did so at a different place and a different time, and without the PLS data,” principal investigator for the PLS instrument John Richardson said in a NASA press release. “So we’re still seeing things that no one has seen before.”

Reaching Out
Humanity is getting better and better at exploring the planets in our solar system and the star at the center of it. We can now listen to Mars, and we’re on track to “touch” the Sun by 2025.

But this region accounts for just one very small part of the universe, and by extending our reach into the solar system with Voyager 2, we now have the opportunity to expand our understanding of the world beyond our little corner of space.

READ MORE: NASA’s Voyager 2 Probe Enters Interstellar Space [NASA]
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