Sunday, October 17News That Matters

Tag: Space and Astronomy

Russian Film Crew Wraps Space Station Shoot and Returns to Earth

Russian Film Crew Wraps Space Station Shoot and Returns to Earth

Technology
A Russian actress and a film director landed safely on Earth early Sunday after spending 12 days aboard the International Space Station shooting scenes for the first feature-length drama made with scenes shot in space.Yulia Peresild, the actress, and Klim Shipenko, a film director, launched to space with a Russian astronaut on Oct. 5 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. They used the orbital laboratory as one of the main sets for their movie, “The Challenge,” a drama in which Ms. Peresild plays a surgeon embarking on an emergency mission to save the life of an ailing cosmonaut.The 12-day journey, backed by Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, was the latest act in a race among spacefaring countries to generate public excitement about human spaceflight and demonstrate that destinations like the s...
How to Watch Nasa’s Launch to Jupiter

How to Watch Nasa’s Launch to Jupiter

Technology
NASA embarked on a 12-year mission to study a group of asteroids on Saturday with the launch of Lucy, a robotic explorer that will meander through the unexplored caverns of deep space to find new clues about the creation of our solar system.The 5:34 a.m. Eastern time liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop an Atlas 5 rocket from United Launch Alliance was the first step of Lucy’s four-billion mile path into the orbital neighborhood of Jupiter. There, two swarms of asteroids known as the Trojans have hid for billions of years, leftover debris from the solar system’s early formation.The spacecraft launched before dawn, setting off toward the orbit that will begin its elaborate trajectory. Lucy separated from the rocket’s second stage booster roughly an hour after liftoff and about ...
Space Station Emergency Prompted by Russian Thruster Firing

Space Station Emergency Prompted by Russian Thruster Firing

Technology
On Sunday, the same spacecraft that experienced the thruster incident is expected to bring back to Earth a Russian film crew that was flown to the station on a different Soyuz spacecraft on Oct. 5. NASA mission control, heard on a livestream of mission control audio, indicated that the thruster firing incident delayed a planned film shoot in the station’s cupola, a room with six windows facing Earth. Ms. Cheshier said the MS-18 spacecraft’s undocking with the crew inside would occur at 9:14 p.m. Saturday, as planned.In July, Russia docked its Nauka module to the orbital base, adding a new room for science experiments on the Russian segment of the station. Hours later, Nauka’s thrusters suddenly started firing, spinning the station one and a half revolutions — about 540 degrees — before it ...
Why NASA Is Launching a Robotic Archaeologist Named Lucy

Why NASA Is Launching a Robotic Archaeologist Named Lucy

Technology
NASA is scheduled on Saturday to launch a probe toward clusters of asteroids along Jupiter’s orbital path. They’re known as the Trojan swarms, and they represent the final unexplored regions of asteroids in the solar system. The spacecraft, a deep-space robotic archaeologist named Lucy, will seek to answer pressing questions about the origins of the solar system, how the planets migrated to their current orbits and how life might have emerged on Earth.“We have never gone this far to study asteroids,” said Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA. “In so doing, we’re going to be able to better understand the formation of the solar system, and better understand ourselves and our development.”After a six-year cruise, Lucy will fly close to seven Trojan asteroids through 2033, completing wild ci...

Meteorite Crashes Through Ceiling and Lands on Woman’s Bed

Technology
Ruth Hamilton was fast asleep in her home in British Columbia when she awoke to the sound of her dog barking, followed by “an explosion.” She jumped up and turned on the light, only to see a hole in the ceiling. Her clock said 11:35 p.m.At first, Ms. Hamilton, 66, thought that a tree had fallen on her house. But, no, all the trees were there. She called 911 and, while on the phone with an operator, noticed a large charcoal gray object between her two floral pillows.“Oh, my gosh,” she recalled telling the operator, “there’s a rock in my bed.”A meteorite, she later learned.The 2.8-pound rock the size of a large man’s fist had barely missed Ms. Hamilton’s head, leaving “drywall debris all over my face,” she said. Her close encounter on the night of Oct. 3 left her rattled, but it captivated t...
In a Blue Origin Rocket, William Shatner Finally Goes to Space

In a Blue Origin Rocket, William Shatner Finally Goes to Space

Technology
Mr. Bezos, who has said he was inspired by “Star Trek” as a boy, listened, still as a statue. He may have been giving Mr. Shatner some space, but it was a sharp contrast to his appearance after his own brief spaceflight in July, when he was aboard the same spacecraft. Then, Mr. Bezos held forth from a stage, rousing condemnation from critics of the vast company he founded as he thanked Amazon’s employees and customers for making it possible for him to finance his private space venture.Mr. Shatner shared the capsule on Wednesday with three other passengers: Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice president who oversees New Shepard operations, and two paying customers: Chris Boshuizen, a co-founder of the Earth-observation company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, a co-founder of a company that buil...

Astronomers Found a Planet That Survived Its Star’s Death

Technology
When our sun enters its death throes in about five billion years, it will incinerate our planet and then dramatically collapse into a dead ember known as a white dwarf. But the fate of more distant planets, such as Jupiter or Saturn, is less clear.On Wednesday in the journal Nature, astronomers reported observing a tantalizing preview of our solar system’s afterlife: a Jupiter-size planet orbiting a white dwarf some 6,500 light years from here.Known as MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb, the planet occupies a comparable orbit to Jupiter. The discovery not only offers a glimpse into our cosmic future, it raises the possibility that any life on “survivor” worlds may endure the deaths of their stars.“While there is quite a lot of evidence of rocky planetary debris orbiting around white dwarfs, we have very f...

Many ‘Star Trek’ Fans Are Eager to See William Shatner Go to Space

Technology
The voyages of Captain James T. Kirk and the starship Enterprise in the 1960s created a fandom that has expanded exponentially over the decades, much like the cute but deadly tribbles of the original “Star Trek” television series. Now many “Trek” fans are excited as William Shatner, the man who embodies that role, readies himself to venture into space — for real.“I think this is fantastic for the ‘Star Trek’ mythos, to have the guy who really started it all to go into space,” said Russ Haslage, who co-founded the fan organization The Federation, also known as the International Federation of Trekkers, with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of “Star Trek,” in the 1980s.Through the lens of “Star Trek,” human space travel has typically had a rosy tint. Much of the show’s universe takes place hundr...
William Shatner’s Star Trek Moment With Jeff Bezos

William Shatner’s Star Trek Moment With Jeff Bezos

Technology
A half-century ago, a television show told young people that space travel would be the coolest thing ever. Some of them were even inspired to work toward that goal. Science fiction met reality on Wednesday as one of those fans, now one of the richest people in the world, gave the show’s leading actor a brief ride up into the ether.The mission went according to plan. The aftermath appeared unscripted, and all the better for it.William Shatner, eternally famous as Captain James T. Kirk on the original “Star Trek,” returned to Earth apparently moved by the experience beyond measure. His trip aboard Jeff Bezos’ rocket might have been conceived as a publicity stunt, but brushing the edge of the sky left the actor full of wonder mixed with unease:It was unbelievable … To see the blue cover go wh...
Who Are William Shatner’s Crewmates Aboard the Blue Origin Launch?

Who Are William Shatner’s Crewmates Aboard the Blue Origin Launch?

Technology
Three other passengers will join Mr. Shatner on Wednesday’s flight:Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice president who oversees New Shepard flight operations; like Mr. Shatner, she did not have to pay for her seat.Chris Boshuizen, a co-founder of Planet Labs, a company that builds small satellites, also known as CubeSats, that are used by assorted clients for monitoring Earth from orbit.Glen de Vries, a chief executive and co-founder of Medidata Solutions, a company that built software for clinical trials.Fortunately for all three, none will be wearing a red Starfleet uniform during the flight.Dr. Boshuizen or Mr. de Vries are the second and third paying passengers to fly on a Blue Origin flight. The first was Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old man from the Netherlands. The company has not said how...