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Puzzling Point in Earth’s Magnetic Field Explained After Almost 100 Years – Newsweek

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UAE to make history with launch of Mars probe – Hindustan Times

A rocket carrying the unmanned spacecraft is due to take off from Japan’s remote Tanegashima Space Center at 5:51 am local time although poor weather could delay lift-off until later in a launch window that runs until August 13.

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The United Arab Emirates plans to make history Wednesday with the scheduled launch of the “Hope” mission, which will make it the first Arab nation to send a probe to Mars.
A rocket carrying the unmanned spacecraft is due to take off from Japan’s remote Tanegashima Space Center at 5:51 am local time (2051 GMT Tuesday) although poor weather could delay lift-off until later in a launch window that runs until August 13.
The Emirati project is one of three racing to Mars, including Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States, taking advantage of the period when the Earth and Mars are nearest: a mere 55 million kilometres (34 million miles) apart.
But unlike the two other ventures, the UAE’s Mars probe will not land on the Red Planet.
“Hope” — or Al-Amal in Arabic — is expected to reach Mars’s orbit by February 2021, marking the 50th anniversary of the unification of the United Arab Emirates, an alliance of seven sheikhdoms.
Once there, it will loop the planet for a whole Martian year — 687 days.
The probe is expected to detach from the launch rocket about an hour after blast-off, which is when the UAE Mars mission’s deputy project manager Sarah al-Amiri said the real excitement will begin.
“In my heart of hearts, I’m looking forward to the initial 24 hours after separation, and that’s where we see the results of our work,” said Amiri, who is also Minister of State for Advanced Sciences.
“It is when we first get the signal, when we know that every part of the spacecraft is functioning, when the solar panels are deployed, when we hit our trajectory and are headed towards Mars,” she told AFP earlier this month.
Keiji Suzuki from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is carrying the Hope probe into space, said that with thunderstorms forecast there was doubt over whether the launch would take place on schedule.
“The weather is going downhill,” he said during a briefing Monday. “However, the current forecast is not for severe thunderstorms all the way through, so our current assessment is that there are chances for a launch.”
Big ambitions
The UAE — which is better known for its skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands and mega attractions — has in recent years been pushing to expand its space sector.
While the objective of the Mars mission is to provide a comprehensive image of the weather dynamics in the Red Planet’s atmosphere and pave the way for scientific breakthroughs, the probe is a foundation for a much bigger goal — building a human settlement on Mars within the next 100 years.
The UAE also wants the project to serve as a source of inspiration for Arab youth, in a region too often wracked by sectarian conflicts and economic crises.
Dubai has hired architects to imagine what a Martian city might look like and recreate it in its desert as “Science City”, at a cost of around 500 million dirhams (135 million dollars).
And last September, Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Emirati in space, part of a three-member crew that blasted off on a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan, returning home after an eight-day mission in which he became the first Arab to visit the International Space Station.
Several dozen probes — most of them American — have set off for the Red Planet since the 1960s. Many never made it that far, or failed to land.
The drive to explore Mars flagged until the confirmation less than 10 years ago that water once flowed on its surface.
“What is unique about this mission is that for the first time the scientific community around the world will have an holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at different times of the day at different seasons,” the mission’s project manager Omran Sharaf told Monday’s briefing.
“We have a strategy to contribute to the global effort in developing technologies and science work that will help one day if humanity decides to put a human on Mars.”

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Humanity on Mars? Technically possible, but no voyage on horizon – Bangkok Post

WASHINGTON – Robotic landers and rovers have been touching down on Mars since the 1970s, but when will humanity finally set foot on the Red Planet?

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WASHINGTON – Robotic landers and rovers have been touching down on Mars since the 1970s, but when will humanity finally set foot on the Red Planet?
Experts believe the technical challenges are nearly resolved, but political considerations make the future of any crewed mission uncertain.
NASA’s human lunar exploration program, Artemis, envisions sending people back to the Moon by 2024 and using the experience gained there to prepare for Mars.
Plans have been proposed for a crewed exploratory mission of our neighboring planet since before NASA was created in 1958, but have never taken off.
In the spring of 1990, then president George Bush Sr announced the most audacious promise to date — a man on Mars before July 20, 2019, the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing.
The commitment clearly never came to pass, and similar goals articulated by presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have not led to concrete programs.
“I have seen maybe 10,000 graphs, charts, proposing various ideas about how to get to Mars, for humans,” G. Scott Hubbard, an adjunct professor at Stanford and former senior NASA official, told AFP.
“But putting the money behind it to make it a reality has not occurred.”
The mission itself would last two or three years.
Today, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are building heavy rockets capable of sending tens of tons toward Mars.
– Alone, and far –
For the seven-month journey, twenty years of living and working in the International Space Station (ISS) has reassured scientists about the dangers posed by radiation and by weightlessness, such as muscle atrophy.
The body does not emerge unscathed, but the risks are deemed acceptable.
Then there is the stay on Mars itself, which would last 15 months so that the planets are once more on the same side of the Sun.
The surface temperature will average -63 degrees Celsius, and though radiation is a factor, suits and shelters exist that would shield astronauts.
In case of medical emergencies, distance would make an evacuation impossible.
What mishaps should astronauts anticipate?
First of all fractures, but plaster casts would often suffice, says Dan Buckland, an engineer and emergency room doctor at Duke University, who is developing a robotic intravenous needle with support from NASA.
Diarrhoea, kidney stones and appendicitis are generally treatable, except for 30 percent of appendicitis cases which must be operated and could therefore be fatal.
With extensive screening of astronauts’ genetics and family history, you can greatly reduce the probability of having a crew member who develops cancer over the course of a three-year mission.
“I have not found a showstopper for going to Mars, in terms of a health condition,” said Buckland.
One major issue would be protecting the habitats and vehicles from the ravages of the fine dust that covers the surface.
“Mars is unique in that there’s also a concern about dust storms,” said Robert Howard of the NASA Johnson Center.
These hellish planet-wide tempests can block out the Sun for months, rendering solar panels useless.
Small nuclear reactors would therefore be needed.
In 2018, NASA and the Department of Energy successfully completed a demonstration project, the Kilopower Project.
Ultimately, the goal will be to manufacture materials on site using mined resources, probably with 3D printing machines.
Development is embryonic, but the Artemis program will be a testing ground.
– Colonies? –
Musk has proposed colonizing Mars, with a first expedition to build a factory that converts Martian water and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into oxygen and methane fuel.
“Becoming a multi-planet species,” he said in a 2017 speech, “beats the hell out of being a single-planet species.”
Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, likewise advocates for the creation of “new branches of human civilization.”
That no progress has been made since humanity last walked on the Moon in 1972 is, to him, shameful.
“It was as if Columbus had come back from the New World the first time and then (king and queen) Ferdinand and Isabella had said, ‘so what, we’re not interested,'” he said.
Not everyone is convinced.
“Enough of the nonsense!” said exobiologist Michel Viso from CNES, the French space agency.
“We have an amazing planet with an atmosphere, with oxygen, with water…It’s criminal, you don’t have the right to fool people into thinking there is a ‘Plan B,’ a ‘Planet B,’ that we will have a Martian civilization.”
Whether humanity installs a colony or permanent bases, the most important obstacle, for a lasting human presence on Mars, will be to convince people to accept a higher level of risk than for the Moon or the ISS, argues Buckland.
In the long run, not everyone will return.

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Astronomers perplexed by “Odd Radio Circles,” a freshly discovered, quite unusual room phenomenon – Sprout Wired

Astronomers feel they have found out a new, weird form of cosmic item that is invisible to all wavelengths of…

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Astronomers feel they have found out a new, weird form of cosmic item that is invisible to all wavelengths of light except radio. 
The odd circular objects in query have been unofficially dubbed “Odd Radio Circles” (ORCs) three of them were uncovered in a new information gathered during a preliminary study by the Australian Sq. Kilometre Array Pathfinder, a radio telescope array in Western Australia. A fourth Odd Radio Circle was learned when researchers sifted by means of previous details from 2013.
The new phenomenon is the concentrate of a new paper posted on the preprint internet site arXiv, which was submitted to Nature Astronomy by a team of global astronomers. It is still to be peer-reviewed.
“Listed here we report the discovery of a class of round element in radio images that do not appear to correspond to any of these acknowledged types of object or artefact, but somewhat seem to be a new class of astronomical item,” the authors of the paper publish.
The ORCs are mostly circular in form, with the exception of 1 formed like a disc, and they can’t be witnessed with infrared, optical, or X-ray telescopes. A few of them are brighter close to the edges. 
The round mother nature of the ORCs has led to some curiosity around their genuine character. “Circular features are perfectly-recognised in radio astronomical illustrations or photos, and normally signify a spherical item this kind of as a supernova remnant, a planetary nebula, a circumstellar shell, or a deal with-on disc this kind of as a protoplanetary disc or a star-forming galaxy,” the scientists write. 
Astronomers initially thought the ORCs might have been a telescope glitch which is why the discovery of the fourth ORC, from data that was collected in 2013 by the Big MetreWave Radio Telescope in India, was important to the locating. That observation ruled out the chance that the phenomenon was just an artifact of the certain Australian radiotelescope array.
So what could these strange, circular radio objects be? In the paper, the researchers propose a list of scenarios. To start with, they rule out that ORCs could be remnants of a supernova, largely since of how uncommon ORCs are. Galactic planetary nebulas are ruled out, much too, for the exact same purpose. “[I]f the ORCs are

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