Connect with us

Science & Technology

NASA launches revolutionary space telescope to give glimpse of early universe

Published

 on

(Last Updated On: December 25, 2021)

NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope, built to give the world a glimpse of the universe as it existed when the first galaxies formed, was launched by rocket early Saturday from South America’s northeastern coast, opening a new era of astronomy.

The revolutionary $9 billion infrared telescope, described by NASA as the premiere space-science observatory of the next decade, was carried aloft inside the cargo bay of an Ariane 5 rocket that blasted off at about 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT) from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) launch base in French Guiana.

The flawless Christmas Day launch, with a countdown conducted in French, was carried live on a joint NASA-ESA webcast.

“From a tropical rain forest to the edge of time itself, James Webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the universe,” a NASA commentator said as the two-stage launch vehicle, fitted with double solid-rocket boosters, roared off its launch pad into cloudy skies.

After a 27-minute, hypersonic ride into space, the 14,000-pound instrument was released from the upper stage of the French-built rocket about 865 miles above the Earth, and should gradually unfurl to nearly the size of a tennis court over the next 13 days as it sails onward on its own.

Live video captured by a camera mounted on the rocket’s upper stage showed the Webb gliding gently away after it was jettisoned, drawing cheers and applause from jubilant flight engineers in the mission control center.

Flight controllers confirmed moments later, as the Webb’s solar-energy array was deployed, that its power supply was working.

Coasting through space for two more weeks, the Webb telescope will reach its destination in solar orbit 1 million miles from Earth – about four times farther away than the moon. And Webb’s special orbital path will keep it in constant alignment with the Earth as the planet and telescope circle the sun in tandem.

By comparison, Webb’s 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, orbits the Earth from 340 miles away, passing in and out of the planet’s shadow every 90 minutes.

Named after the man who oversaw NASA through most of its formative decade of the 1960s, Webb is about 100 times more sensitive than Hubble and is expected to transform scientists’ understanding of the universe and our place in it.

Webb mainly will view the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to gaze through clouds of gas and dust where stars are being born, while Hubble has operated primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.

The new telescope’s primary mirror – consisting of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-coated beryllium metal – also has a much bigger light-collecting area, enabling it to observe objects at greater distances, thus farther back into time, than Hubble or any other telescope.

That, astronomers say, will bring into view a glimpse of the cosmos never previously seen – dating to just 100 million years after the Big Bang, the theoretical flashpoint that set in motion the expansion of the observable universe an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.

Hubble’s view reached back to roughly 400 million years following the Big Bang, a period just after the very first galaxies – sprawling clusters of stars, gases and other interstellar matter – are believed to have taken shape.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, speaking during the launch webcast by video link, hailed the new telescope as a “time machine” that will “take us back to the very beginnings of the universe.”

Aside from examining the formation of the earliest stars and galaxies, astronomers are eager to study super-massive black holes believed to occupy the centers of distant galaxies.

Webb’s instruments also make it ideal to search for evidence of potentially life-supporting atmospheres around scores of newly documented exoplanets – celestial bodies orbiting distant stars – and to observe worlds much closer to home, such as Mars and Saturn’s icy moon Titan.

The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. Northrop Grumman Corp was the primary contractor. The Arianespace launch vehicle is part of the European contribution.

Webb was developed at a cost of $8.8 billion, with operational expenses projected to bring its total price tag to about $9.66 billion, far higher than planned when NASA was previously aiming for a 2011 launch.

Astronomical operation of the telescope, to be managed from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, is expected to begin in the summer of 2022, following about six months of alignment and calibration of Webb’s mirrors and instruments.

It is then that NASA expects to release the initial batch of images captured by Webb. Webb is designed to last up to 10 years.

Science & Technology

NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann first Native American woman to travel to space

Published

on

(Last Updated On: August 18, 2022)

When NASA launches its next crew aboard a SpaceX Dragon this fall, the mission commander, astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann, will become the first Native American woman to travel to space.

Mann will be heading to the International Space Station, with liftoff currently targeted for Sept. 29. She will be joined on the Crew-5 mission by NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina.

NASA says this will be her first spaceflight, CBS News reported.

Born in California, Mann graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and now holds the rank of colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. She earned her wings as a Navy aviator and deployed twice aboard aircraft carriers, flying missions in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford.

Mann was selected by NASA in June 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class intended to focus on space station operations before possible assignments to future missions to the moon, near-Earth asteroids or, eventually, Mars.

In a recent interview with Indian Country Today, Mann said “it’s very exciting” to be the first Native woman in space. “I think it’s important that we communicate this to our community, so that other Native kids, if they thought maybe that this was not a possibility or to realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to get broken down,” she told the publication, which noted that she is an enrolled member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California, CBS reported.

While Mann will earn a place in the history books, NASA astronaut John Herrington, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, became the first Native American in space when he flew aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2002.

Mann’s NASA training includes intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks, Russian language training, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training, CBS reported.

Mann has achieved numerous awards, including two Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

Full-scale nuclear war could kill 5 billion people, study shows

Published

on

(Last Updated On: August 17, 2022)

Five billion people would die in a modern nuclear war with the impact of a global famine — triggered by sunlight-blocking soot in the atmosphere — likely to far exceed the casualties caused by lethal blasts.

Scientists at Rutgers University mapped out the effects of six possible nuclear conflict scenarios. A full-scale war between the US and Russia, the worst possible case, would wipe out more than half of humanity, they said in the study published in the journal Nature Food, Bloomberg reported.

The estimates were based on calculations of how much soot would enter the atmosphere from firestorms ignited by the detonation of nuclear weapons. Researchers used a climate forecasting tool supported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which allowed them to estimate productivity of major crops on a country-by-country basis.

Even a relatively small-scale conflict would have devastating consequences for global food production. A localized battle between India and Pakistan would see crop yields decline by an estimated 7% within five years, the study suggested, while a US-Russia war would see production fall by 90% within three to four years.

The study comes after the specter of conflict between the US and Russia was raised following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in April that there was a “serious” risk of nuclear war breaking out, Bloombergy reported.

“The data tell us one thing,” said Alan Robock, the study’s co-author and a professor of climate science in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. “We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening.”

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

Europe drought: German industry at risk as Rhine falls

Published

on

(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

Germany’s main industry lobby group warned Tuesday that factories may have to throttle production or halt it completely because plunging water levels on the Rhine River are making it harder to transport cargo.

Water levels on the Rhine at Emmerich, near the Dutch border, dropped by a further four centimeters in 24 hours, hitting zero on the depth gauge, AP reported.

Authorities say the shipping lane itself still has a depth of almost 200 centimeters, but the record low measurement Tuesday morning highlights the extreme lack of water caused by months of drought affecting much of Europe.

“The ongoing drought and the low water levels threaten the supply security of industry,” said Holger Loesch, deputy head of the business lobby group BDI.

Loesch said shifting cargo from river to train or transport was difficult because of limited rail capacity and a lack of drivers.

“It’s only a question of time before facilities in the chemical and steel industry have to be switched off, petroleum and construction materials won’t reach their destination, and high-capacity and heavy-goods transports can’t be carried out anymore,” he said, adding that this could lead to supply bottlenecks and short-time work might result.

Loesch warned that energy supplies could also be further strained as ships carrying coal and gasoline along the Rhine are affected.

He echoed concerns that climate change could make droughts more frequent in the future, and urged the government to help closely monitor water levels and react early to potential transportation problems on Germany’s waterways.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2022 Ariana News. All rights reserved!