A concentrated three-day search for a mysterious, unseen planet in the far reaches of our own solar system has yielded four possible candidates. The search for the so-called Planet 9 was part of a real-time search with a Zooniverse citizen science project, in coordination with the BBC’s Stargazing Live broadcast from the Australian National University’s Siding Spring Observatory.
Researcher Brad Tucker from ANU, who led the effort, said about 60,000 people from around the world classified over four million objects during the three days, using data from the SkyMapper telescope at Siding Spring. He and his team said that even if none of the four candidates turn out to be the hypothetical Planet 9, the effort was scientifically valuable, helping to verify their search methods as exceptionally viable.
“We’ve detected minor planets Chiron and Comacina, which demonstrates the approach we’re taking could find Planet 9 if it’s there,” Tucker said. “We’ve managed to rule out a planet about the size of Neptune being in about 90 per cent of the southern sky out to a depth of about 350 times the distance the Earth is from the Sun.
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Tucker said he and his team at ANU will work to confirm whether or not the unknown space objects are Planet 9 by using telescopes at Siding Spring and around the world, and he encouraged people to continue to hunt for Planet 9 through Zooniverse project, Backyard Worlds: Planet 9.
The Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft successfully completed automated docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab at 12:23 p.m. Saturday, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
It is the first docking between the spacecraft and space lab.
Tianzhou-1, China's first cargo spacecraft, which was launched Thursday evening from Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China's Hainan Province, began to approach Tiangong-2 automatically at 10:02 a.m. Saturday and made contact with the space lab at 12:16 p.m.
The Tianzhou-1 cargo ship and Tiangong-2 space lab will have another two dockings.
The second docking will be conducted from a different direction, which aims to test the ability of the cargo ship to dock with a future space station from different directions.
In the third docking, Tianzhou-1 will use fast-docking technology. It normally takes about two days to dock, while fast docking will take only six hours.
Refueling will also be conducted, a process with 29 steps that takes several days.
Tiangong-2, which went into space on Sept. 15, 2016, is China's first space lab "in the strict sense" and a key step in building a permanent space station.
Cargo ships play a crucial role maintaining a space station and carrying supplies and fuel into orbit.
China’s first cargo spacecraft docked successfully with the Tiangong-2 space lab on Saturday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, marking a major step towards Beijing’s goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022.
President Xi Jinping has prioritised advancing China’s space programme to strengthen national security.
The Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft made the automated docking process with the orbiting space lab after it had taken off on Thursday evening from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre in the southern island province of Hainan.
Professor He Qisong, a space security expert from Shanghai Normal University, said that successful docking is an important step in the future plan to send astronauts into space station by 2022.
“The Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft is to deliver goods, but that is only the first step,” He said, “in the future we are going to send astronauts, and that is our final goal.”
China's lunar ambitions keep growing: Beijing and the European Space Agency are discussing potential collaboration on a human outpost on the moon, reports the AP. The secretary general for China's space agency, Tian Yulong, first disclosed the talks about the envisioned lunar base in Chinese state media, and they were confirmed Wednesday by an ESA spokesman. The director general of the 22-member ESA, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, has previously described its proposed "Moon Village" as a potential international launching pad for future missions to Mars and a chance to develop space tourism or even lunar mining.
China arrived relatively late to space travel but has ramped up its program since its first manned spaceflight in 2003, more than 42 years after a Soviet cosmonaut became the first to reach orbit. Last week, the China National Space Administration launched an unmanned spacecraft on a mission to dock with its currently unoccupied space station. I
t plans to launch a mission to collect samples from the moon by the end of this year, and next year it plans to conduct the first mission to the moon's far side to bring back mineral samples. China was excluded from the International Space Station mainly due to US legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program's strong military connections.
And this morning SpaceX launched a US Military spy satellite - with new camera views on the rocket that were simply amazing. Once first stage separation occurred, we were not permitted to see the 2nd stage and further orbital mission deployment, but the 1st stage return and landing is really something to see with a new ground-based camera. Check it out:
The Falcon Heavy has been on Elon Musk’s mind for years: A rocket bigger than anything else currently in operation, only outstripped by the moon rockets of the Apollo program.
Too many years, in the minds of his critics. He’s been plotting the rocket since 2005, when he first mused about strapping three nine-engine booster rockets together to put huge amounts of cargo into space. When SpaceX’s first rocket, the Falcon 9, flew in 2008, strapping a trio together as a Falcon Heavy by 2013 seemed feasible to the company.
But the schedule kept slipping, and major accidents in 2015 and 2016 that destroyed Falcon 9 rockets forced the company to focus on returning that vehicle to flight. The goal is now to fly in fall 2017, but skeptics remained.
In April, keen observers of the rocket company’s operations spotted a large rocket stage in Arizona, en route from the company’s Los Angeles headquarters to its engine-testing facility in Texas. On Tuesday (May 9), the company shared a video of the first test of the rocket....