Two Chinese astronauts returned to Earth early Friday morning (Nov. 18) after a month-long space lab mission that set a new record for their country's human spaceflight program and advanced preparations for China's first space station.
Jing Haipeng, 50, and Chen Dong, 37, who launched on board China's Shenzhou 11 spacecraft on Oct. 16, landed at 12:59 a.m. EST (0559 GMT or 1:59 p.m. Beijing time) in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Their 32 days in space more than doubled China's previous longest crewed mission.
Jing, who is now China's first veteran of three spaceflights, and Chen, who was on his first mission, spent 30 days on board the Tiangong-2 space lab, working on maintenance techniques, conducting science experiments and speaking with students and government leaders on the ground. [China's Tiangong-2 Space Lab Explained (Infographic)]
On Wednesday (Nov. 16), the two taikonauts boarded their Shenzhou 11 spacecraft and undocked from the Tiangong-2, beginning a two-day journey back to Earth. Descending under a parachute on Friday, the Shenzhou capsule fired retro-thrusters just before safely touching down and tipping onto its side.
Soon they will all be gone: the last participants in the human race's most astonishing, most audacious, most wonderfully inspirational adventure to date.
Gone with them will be the memory of a U.S.A. that could accomplish such marvels, in those last years of heroic national vigor, before we turned our energies to guilt and rancor and divisive social crusades, and to persuading ourselves and each other that in the human sphere, everything is equal to everything else.
...Bruce Charlton, professor of Theoretical Medicine at the University of Buckingham in England, wrote that "that landing of men on the moon and bringing them back alive was the supreme achieve- ment of human capability, the most difficult problem ever solved by humans." That's a good way to look at it: the political class presented the boffins with a highly difficult and specific problem, and they solved it—in eight years. Charlton continued:
'Forty years ago, we could do it—repeatedly—but since then we have not been to the moon, and I suggest the real reason we have not been to the moon since 1972 is that we cannot any longer do it. Humans have lost the capability.
'Of course, the standard line is that humans stopped going to the moon only because we no longer wanted to go to the moon, or could not afford to, or something.... But I am suggesting that all this is BS. . . . I suspect that human capability reached its peak or plateau around 1965-75—at the time of the Apollo moon landings—and has been declining ever since.'
John Glenn must surely have wondered, as all the astronauts weathered into geezers, how a great nation grew so impoverished in spirit.
Our heroes are old and stooped and wizened, but they are the only giants we have. Today, when we talk about Americans boldly going where no man has gone before, we mean the ladies' bathroom. Progress.
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China has claimed it is in the process of testing an EmDrive in space, a key experiment that could prove whether the controversial thruster works or not.
As reported by IBTimes UK, China reportedly has an EmDrive on its Tiangong-2 satellite, which was visited by two Chinese astronauts (taikonauts) in October this year. It’s not entirely clear what the experiment is doing exactly, but it’s sure to cause a stir in EmDrive circles.
China has apparently been testing out EmDrive technology for the last five years. That’s according to an article titled “Electromagnetic drive: Arabian Nights or a major breakthrough” in the official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, called Science and Technology Daily.
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Now, we don’t know the veracity of all this. It’s also not certain what China is testing, nor whether they are saying it works or not. They may simply be checking out the various claims that have been made so far.
And, what’s more, the EmDrive remains controversial. It’s a purported reactionless engine dreamed up by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 2006 that works by bouncing electromagnetic waves inside a cone-shaped cavity. This is said to produce a tiny force, but over time this force could be used to power spacecraft on deep space missions, for example.
It came back into the fore recently with a peer-reviewed paper published in the AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power in November by NASA’s Eagleworks laboratory. However, that paper only sought to rule out several possible experimental errors, and there is still no proof that the technology actually does anything.
Astronomers have found the source of a deep space radio wave burst for the first time
After a decade of bewilderment, astronomers have pinpointed the source of a mysterious blast of radio waves coming from deep outside the Milky Way: a dwarf galaxy located 3 billion light years from Earth. It’s a remarkable first in the study of what has been a tremendous astronomical puzzle. Scientists still don’t know what causes these deep space pulses, but locating the galaxy that spawned one brings us closer to figuring out where they come from.
First discovered in 2007, only 18 of these phenomena have ever been detected. They’re called fast radio bursts, or FRBs, because they occur for just milliseconds; their fleeting nature makes it tough to catch one in action, and even tougher to figure out the exact spot in the sky they’re coming from.
A REMARKABLE FIRST IN THE STUDY OF WHAT HAS BEEN A TREMENDOUS ASTRONOMICAL PUZZLE
But astronomers got lucky when they found a particular burst known as FRB 121102: it is the only one known to repeat, meaning multiple radio bursts have been detected coming from the same location in the sky. That makes it easier for scientists to catch again, Shami Chatterjee, an astronomer at Cornell University who discovered the repetition, tells The Verge. That discovery gave Chatterjee the idea to continually observe FRB 121102 with a huge network of radio telescopes. And sure enough, he and his team were able to get high-resolution images of multiple bursts after many hours of observation, allowing them to track down the source of FRB 121102. Their work is detailed today in three studies published in Nature and The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Now that researchers know the cosmic neighborhood generating the FRBs, they can study the galaxy more closely — which may help figure out the origins of these fast pulses. There may be other uses for FRBs, too. Since FRBs originate so far away, they have to pass through a lot of interstellar junk, such as gas and plasma, to reach Earth. Once scientists know which exact galaxy the signal comes from, the radio waves could help scientists determine just how much gas and plasma they had to pass through to get here. “The analogy I use is that until now, we could potentially know the country it came from,” Heino Falcke, a radio astronomer at the Radboud University Nijmegen who wrote an accompanying editorial about the discovery, tells The Verge. “Now we know the home address.”
During a recent calibration exercise, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a remarkable view of Earth and its moon from a distance of 127 million miles (205 million kilometers). It’s so clear, you can even make out our planet’s continents.
To calibrate the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Orbiter, NASA scientists needed to scan an object other than the Red Planet. Seeing as Earth is right next door, that was an obvious choice.
The image is a combination of two separate exposures taken on November 20, 2016, and have been moderately adjusted to make both objects appear equally as bright (otherwise the Earth would have appeared too dark). The combined view shows the correct positions and sizes of the two celestial bodies relative to each other.
That said, the Earth and Moon appear closer than they actually are in this image because the observations were made when the Moon was almost directly behind the Earth (from the perspective of Mars). The distance between the Earth and Moon is in reality about 30 times the diameter of Earth, or about 230,000 miles (370,000 km).
(Read the rest atGizmodofor another image that shows the true distance between earth and the moon)
Wow. Glad I caught that... a successful launch of Falcon 9, the 2nd stage now en route to satellite deployment (Iridium new internet satellite system), and the first stage made it back to a safe -bullseye!- landing on the drone ship in the Atlantic. And for the first time, the video on the first stage remained active all the way from re-entry to landing. Thrilling!
No doubt it'll be up on YouTube (here!) or SpaceX's own site by the time you read this... check it out, worth it!