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La NASA lanzó misión que pondrá a prueba primer vuelo en Marte

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 21 jul. 2020 5:38 por Plataforma Sites Dgac

Desde tiempos inmemoriales, la Humanidad ha alzado la vista al cielo y puesto sus ojos sobre Marte, que junto a Venus son los planetas más cercanos a la Tierra y que han encendido nuestra imaginación en lo que respecta a la búsqueda de vida en el espacio y a visitar otros mundos.
Así lucirá el helicóptero marciano Ingenuity, que realizará los primeros vuelos de un vehículo humano propulsado en el Planeta Rojo.
Poco a poco, los secretos de Marte han comenzando a ser revelados gracias a varias misiones al Planeta Rojo desde mediados de 1965, cuando la sonda Mariner 4 de la NASA realizó el primer sobrevuelo y envió las primeras imágenes de cerca de la superficie marciana.

En un comienzo, Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética eran los únicos países capaces de enviar misiones al espacio, pero con los años se fueron sumando nuevos países.

Para este 2020 hay varias misiones programadas para Marte por parte de Estados Unidos, China, la Unión Europea, Rusia y Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

El helicóptero marciano

Uno de los proyectos más ambiciosos lanzados este año es el del llamado Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, que pondrá a prueba el primer artefacto volador propulsado en el Planeta Rojo.

Se trata de una pequeña aeronave autónoma de 49 centímetros de alto y 1,8 kilos de peso que es transportada a Marte adherida a la sonda Perseverance, que fue lanzada desde la Estación de la Fuerza Aérea de Estados Unidos en Cabo Cañaveral, Florida, el 29 de julio de 2020.

Los expertos de la NASA prevén que ambos vehículos alcancen la superficie marciana el 18 de febrero de 2021 en el cráter Jezero.

La misión de Ingenuity, de naturaleza experimental, será completamente independiente de la misión científica del Perseverance, que es un vehículo que se desplazará por el suelo marciano. Durante los meses posteriores al aterrizaje, el helicóptero realizará pruebas de vuelo en la delgada atmósfera marciana.

Su desempeño durante esos vuelos experimentales contribuirá a la toma de decisiones y a considerar el uso de pequeños helicópteros para futuras misiones en Marte, donde podrían tener un papel de respaldo como exploradores robóticos, examinando el terreno desde la altura, o como un vehículo científico propiamente tal que llevará una carga de instrumentos.

De acuerdo a la NASA, poner un vehículo en el aire dará a los científicos una nueva perspectiva sobre la geología de la región e incluso los ayudará a explorar áreas que son demasiado inclinadas o resbaladizas como para que pase un vehículo que se desplace por el suelo.

El proyecto es solamente una demostración de tecnología; no está diseñado para respaldar la misión Perseverance de Marte 2020, que buscará señales de vida ancestral y recolectará muestras de rocas y sedimentos para su posible regreso a la Tierra en misiones posteriores.

Vuelos de prueba

Luego de su despliegue entre 60 y 90 días marcianos después de que Perseverance llegue a la superficie del Planeta Rojo, el vehículo terrestre avanzará aproximadamente 100 metros para alejarse del helicóptero, de modo que Ingenuity comience a realizar sus vuelos de prueba. El vehículo volaría en hasta cinco oportunidades, y no más de una vez por día, durante su campaña de pruebas de 30 días.

Cada vuelo no duraría más de tres minutos, a una altitud de entre 3 y 10 metros sobre la superficie, y podría cubrir 300 metros de distancia en cada una de estas pruebas.

La hélice del helicóptero rotará a 2.400 revoluciones por minuto en un vehículo especialmente diseñado para sostenerse y desplazarse por la atmósfera marciana, que es menos densa, donde hay menos presión y temperaturas extremas.

La demostración tecnológica podría forjar los cimientos a partir de los cuales podrían desarrollarse aeronaves más capaces para la exploración aérea de Marte y de otros planetas con atmósferas.

Ingenuity usa rotores coaxiales contrarrotatorios de alrededor de 1,1 metros de diámetro. Como carga, los responsables del proyecto lo dotarán de una cámara de alta resolución enfocada hacia abajo para la navegación, descenso y escudriñamiento del terreno, además de un sistema de comunicaciones para enviar datos a Perseverance.

El artefacto también incluye sistemas resistentes a la radiación y capaces de operar en el ambiente gélido de Marte y usará paneles solares para recargar sus baterías.

NASA will send probe to impact an asteroid

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 3 jul. 2020 7:06 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 9 oct. 2020 11:28 ]

For decades, astronomers around the world have been scrutinizing the cosmos with some unease. Although it does not appear to occur regularly, there can be instances in which asteroids could impact the Earth with devastating effects.
An artist's conception of NASA's DART Mission.

Another artist's image from NASA's DART Mission just before the probe crashes against Didymos asteroid's smaller body.
Scientists believe it was such an incident that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and more recent of such events have occurred, as the Tunguska explosion in the Russian steppe on June 30, 1908, which left a lot of destruction locally, but thankfully they have not gone beyond that. 

Hollywood has also been responsible for installing the theme in the collective imagination with films such as Armageddon and Deep Impact, both released in 1998. 

Science protects the planet 

But beyond the fiction of the cinema, scientists scan the neighborhoods of our Solar System in search for potentially dangerous asteroids heading our way, also devising plans and projects to implement in case of an imminent threat. 

One such initiative is the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), a mission that the US space agency, NASA, will execute in 2021.

Specifically, DART is conceived as a test of planetary defense technologies to prevent the Earth from being hit by a dangerous asteroid. 

The scientists in charge envision DART as the first demonstration of the “kinetic impact” technique for changing the motion of an asteroid in space. 

To test this technique through the DART probe, the heads of the Applied Physics Laboratory, NASA's Solar System Exploration Program and NASA's Office for the Coordination of Planetary Defense chose the binary asteroid Didymos, which is nearby to the Earth. 

The main body Didymos is 780 meters wide, but its secondary body, or small moon, is about 160 meters in size, which is closer to the size of asteroids that could pose a threat to the planet.

According to the mission plan, the DART probe will achieve the deflection with a kinetic impact by crashing into the small moon at a speed of approximately 6.6 kilometers per second with the help of an onboard camera and a sophisticated autonomous navigation program. 

An international team of astronomers coordinated by researcher Cristina Thomas, from the University of Arizona, in the United States, has been observing the asteroid Didymos since 2015.

The most recent studies were carried out from Cerro Paranal, in Northern Chile, where scientists used the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). 

From fiction to reality

Experts expect the collision to change the speed of the small moon in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent, but that would change the orbital period of the secondary body by several minutes, enough to be observed and measured using telescopes.

“Even though we are performing ground-based observations, we don’t know much about Didymos B in terms of composition and structure,” said about the asteroid Angela Stickle, DART’s Impact Simulation Working Group Lead from APL.

“We need to anticipate a wide range of possibilities and predict their outcomes, so that after DART slams into Didymos B we’ll know what our measurements are telling us,” she added.

The window for the launch of the DART probe will begin in late July, 2021. The device will reach space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will take off from the United States Air Force Base in Vandenberg, California.

Once in space, the DART probe will deploy a set of solar panels that will power its electric propulsion system. According to NASA, by using an electric propulsion system, DART could benefit from great flexibility in the mission schedule and at the same time it would be able to demonstrate in practice the new generation of ion thruster technology, which could be used in future NASA missions.

After a year-long journey through space after its launch, the probe will intercept Didymos' secondary body in late September, 2022, when the asteroid is going to be about 11 million kilometers from Earth.

That will allow observations to be made from telescopes and planetary radars to measure the change in the speed and trajectory of the small moon after the DART’s impact. 

Sources: NASA and BBC Mundo en Español.

The world’s largest radio telescope will search for signs of life in space

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 8 jun. 2020 6:40 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 9 oct. 2020 11:18 ]

In addition to space agencies and private companies such as NASA and SpaceX, astronomers and space technicians continue to work tirelessly to have better tools to scrutinize the secrets of the cosmos.

Images of the FAST radio telescope, the largest in the world, located at Guizhou, in Southeast China.
On January 11, 2020, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua revealed that the world’s largest radio telescope had begun to operate to its full potential. The colossal instrument was named FAST and is located in a natural depression in Guizhou, in southwestern China.

FAST is the acronym for “Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope”. Its construction, which cost 180 million dollars, began in 2011 and although it began to operate for the first time in 2016, since then it has been carrying out tests, adjustments and improvements. 

Eye in the sky

FAST’s nickname is “Tianyan”, which means “Eye in the Sky.” One of its scientific goals is the study of pulsars (highly magnetized rotating neutron stars) and in August, 2017, it discovered two of them.

Because it is a huge and very powerful radio telescope, scientists believe it will be able to make great astronomical discoveries, especially during its first years of operation at its full potential, said Jiang Peng, chief engineer of the radio telescope. In fact, during its testing period, in just two years, FAST has identified 102 new pulsars.

As it is half a kilometer in diameter, it is larger than the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, which at 305 meters in diameter was the largest in its category before FAST began to operate.

Its creators hope that the signals captured by the radio telescope will serve to unravel mysteries related to the origin and evolution of the Universe. Its scientific goals include the search for gravitational waves, dark matter probes and even the detection of interstellar communication signals from eventual extraterrestrial civilizations. 

Long-term work 

FAST will do two complete scans of the sky that will take about five years and it will take scientists another 10 years just to analyze all the collected data, although it will also have operational flexibility for use on other issues that arise.

The mappings will take about half the radio telescope’s observation time, allowing for targets such as searching for exoplanets with magnetic fields, which are likely essential for the existence of life. 

One of the aspects that most interests scientists is the ability of the FAST to detect “rapid radio bursts”, intense energetic events that last only thousandths of a second.

The origin of these bursts is still an enigma for astronomers, so any advance in this matter will be very well received. 

The FAST has the ability to collect radio waves in an area twice as large as the Arecibo telescope, in Puerto Rico, and “it will be an excellent tool to detect and study the faintest fast radio bursts,” told Victoria Kaspi, an astrophysicist at McGill University in Canada, to BBC World.

The X-37B space plane begins its sixth mission to space

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 20 may. 2020 6:12 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 9 oct. 2020 11:18 ]

On Sunday, May 17, 2020, United Launch Alliance launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, an Atlas 5 rocket that put into orbit the United States Air Force X-37B space plane, thereby launching its sixth mission.
The X-37B space plane has a design that resembles the now decommissioned space shuttles'. On Sunday, May 17. 2020, it began its sixth trip to space in another secret and classified mission for NASA and the American military.
The X-37B is a reusable space vehicle that undertakes long missions —secret and classified — that can last up to two years. The mission launched on Sunday carries several military and NASA science experiments.

The aircraft, built by Boeing, has a design very similar to the already decommissioned American space shuttles. 

US Air Force Secretary, Barbara Barrett, told reporters that the X-37B is “worthy of disclosure” and an asset that the American public should become familiar with. However, the specific tasks that the vehicle performs in space are classified. In its live broadcast of the launch, United Launch Alliance (ULA) was only able to show the first seven minutes of the flight.

“The details of the vehicle, the mission it will do on orbit, and where it will go, all that is classified,” ULA’s CEO Tory Bruno told reporters. “We have to stop the live broadcast early so we don’t provide adversaries too much data about the flight,” he added. 

Experiments 

The peculiar plane will be in space for months and will deploy a small research satellite called FalconSat-8, Barbara Barrett explained earlier this month. “This X-37B mission will carry more experiments than any previous mission,” Barrett said. 

However, it is known that among the experiments to be carried out, the X-37B will test the effect of radiation on seeds and other materials and that it will transform solar energy into microwave radio frequency energy that could be transmitted to the ground. 

The chief of space operations for the US Space Force, General John Raymond, was at Cape Canaveral with Barbara Barrett to observe the launch of the mission codenamed USSF-7. 

In a conference call with reporters, General Raymond stated that the US military is gaining valuable information with each new X-37B mission. “We learn a lot about the value of reusability and autonomy,” he said. In its five flights so far, the X-37B spent 2,865 days in orbit.

Upon completing its mission, the aircraft returns to Earth and lands autonomously. 

Previous missions

The first mission of the X-37B took place in 2010 and on Sunday, October 27, 2019, the vehicle landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ending its fifth mission with which it scored a record 780 days in orbit. 

The space plane has a small cargo bay and gets the power to operate from a deployable solar device. 

The vehicle weighs almost five tons, is 8.8 meters long, just under 4.5 meters from one wingtip to the other, and was designed to stay in orbit for 270 days. 

Source: Spacenews.com

After 10 years, the USA returns to space in a spaceship of its own

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 24 abr. 2020 6:26 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 8 oct. 2020 10:52 ]

On May 27, after 10 years, two North American astronauts will return to space in a spaceship manufactured in that country. Since July 21, 2011, only Russian Soyuz capsules have been used to travel to the International Space Station.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon space capsule will carry two astronauts to the International Space Station on May 27, 2020. It will be the first manned mission launched from US soil in almost 10 years.

NASA's traditional "worm logo" has been used again, this time in SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket that will carry two astronauts to the International Space Station on board a Crew Dragon capsule.
On May 27, aerospace company SpaceX will launch astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the “Demo-2” mission to the International Space Station, in what will be the first manned mission in NASA's commercial crew program.

The launch of the Crew Dragon capsule with the two astronauts will mark an important milestone for NASA’s Manned Commercial Program, which involves the development by SpaceX and Boeing of spacecraft capable of carrying humans to the International Space Station (ISS). With that, NASA wants to end its reliance on the Russian Soyuz space capsule for such purposes.

The US space agency has paid up to 86 million dollars per seat and about 55,4 million on average to carry its astronauts aboard the Russian capsules. 

SpaceX’s “Demo-1” mission took place in early 2019, when an unmanned Crew Dragon space capsule successfully made the trip to the International Space Station and then returned to Earth. 

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will take off from Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will sport the old and traditional NASA “worm” logo. They will then be in space up to 110 days, although NASA said that “the specific duration of the mission will be determined at the station based on the preparation of the next launch by a commercial crew.”

End of the space shuttles 

After a 30-year flight program —between 1981 and 2011— and with two great tragedies in its history, NASA’s space shuttles were taken out of commission, thus marking the end of manned flights into space from American territory. 

On July 21, 2011, the space shuttle Atlantis landed on the runway of the John Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a 13-day mission.

It flew into space 33 times out of a total of 135 trips made by NASA space shuttles since Columbia’s first voyage on April 12, 1981. 

The history of these vehicles was struck by tragedy twice, in January 1986 and February 2003, when, for different reasons, the Challenger and Columbia shuttles disintegrated with seven astronauts on board each, adding to the martyrs and pioneers who have lost their life on trips to outer space.

Impact of Coronavirus 

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there will be no spectators on the beaches and viewing sites to watch the rocket lift off to the ISS, as was customary for US manned missions since Alan Shepard became the first US citizen to reach outer space in 1961. 

NASA has canceled many of its activities as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, but has kept those linked to the Space Station. On Friday, April 17, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan returned to Earth aboard a Soyuz capsule. 

The ISS has had a crew of astronauts from around the world continuously since 2000. The United States and Russia are its main operators, but since 2011 Russia has been the only country capable of transporting astronauts to and from the space station. 

Artemis Program 

NASA and SpaceX hope that the “Demo-2” mission will usher in a new era in human spaceflight that will be followed by regular crew launches to the International Space Station. 

But that is not all. The US space agency also works on the Artemis Program, whose mission is to take the first woman to the Moon in 2024, accompanied by a male astronaut. 

According to information provided by NASA, to achieve this goal it will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than has been done so far. 

“We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration in 2028. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant step - send astronauts to Mars,” the US space agency states at Artemis Program's website.

Diseases and space exploration

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 27 mar. 2020 9:24 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 8 oct. 2020 10:38 ]

Viruses are presumed to have been around for at least 300 million years, according to findings in wasps’ studies. However, there are researchers who claim that they could have originated before or after the emergence of the first cells.
The relationship between health and protracted flights into space has become a great worry for NASA scientists.

(Fuente: NASA)

Scientists look for ways to keep astronauts healthy during long periods for future missions to deep space..

(Fuente: NASA)
Since the rise of hominids, that is, about three to four million years ago, great epidemics have struck Humanity, caused by viruses and bacteria. 

Some historians claim that about three thousand years ago, the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses V would have died due to the virus that causes smallpox.

But what are viruses? That’s a difficult question. Viruses are said to be on the border between living and non-living, since they behave like living organisms in the presence of cells that they can attack, but before that they are like crystals, inactive, made up of genetic material and proteins. 

They are incapable of self-reproduction and only replicate when they enter a living cell. They need a living cell to multiply. They are much smaller than bacteria and are considered a disease-causing agent.

Like them, bacteria have also attacked humans, producing great epidemics. Since Athens, some 400 years before the birth of Christ, when the plague, caused by a bacterium decimated thousands and then the Black Death in the Middle Ages, between 1347 and 1352, which caused the death of between 30 and 50 percent the European population. 

A big challenge 

Regarding these epidemics and the coronavirus pandemic that plagues the planet and our country, this subject has been studied for decades in Russia, the United States and Europe in regards to space exploration: how to face diseases on long trips to the space. 

The evidence obtained from research carried out so far on space physiology indicates that astronauts subjected to strong physiological and psychological stress can reactivate latent viruses in their bodies. 

Both launches and landings of spacecraft on Earth are affected by conditions of micro and hypergravity that cause dysfunctions in the astronauts’ immune systems. 

Increased levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which suppress the immune system, are known to awaken the action of latent viruses and diseases after a trip into space. 

Doctors have established that the reactivation rate of varicella zoster in astronauts is more frequent than any other viruses, even the flu.

Immune system

The United States, Russia, China, the European Community and India have set ambitious space exploration programs to the Moon, Mars and beyond. 

Besides of all the technological challenges of space exploration, there’s the human response capacity to diseases that could be triggered in prolonged trips outside the planet. 

NASA is carrying out an ambitious program called “Functional Immune”, an investigation that takes place on the International Space Station and that has to do with the immune response of the human body in weightless conditions to external and biological threats from a crew traveling through space. 

Microgravity has been shown to cause changes in the immune system, a situation that can affect some astronauts in various ways, from skin rashes and unusual allergies to the reactivation of a latent virus. 

Virus reactivation 

The researchers found that viruses found in blood, urine and saliva samples have been reactivated in healthy astronauts. 

This situation can be triggered anytime the immune system weakens in a microgravity environment or even during stressful situations on Earth. 

Considering the above, scientists have directed their studies in a different line, this time in healthy individuals to define - and, perhaps, develop - mitigations for immune problems before embarking on missions to deep space, where the immune system will be subjected to conditions of microgravity for very long periods of time. 

Healthy organisms 

Until now, the only measures at hand for space travel are preventive, the use of protective vaccines, good nutrition, physical exercise, pasteurization of food and filters in the air that astronauts breathe. 

For missions to deep space, where crew members will not have access to quick-return options, staying healthy is important for both astronaut safety and mission success. 

The current studies have been aimed to the investigation of healthy organisms in order to discover and treat a disease before it occurs.

Coronavirus has reactivated, fueled and motivated new lines of research to protect the human species on our planet and in future explorations and colonization of other worlds.

US tests first vaccine against Coronavirus

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 19 mar. 2020 5:40 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 8 oct. 2020 10:33 ]

BBC News said that the first clinical trials of a Coronavirus vaccine were applied on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Chile Health Ministry's recommendations to avoid the spreading of Coronavirus.

A pharmaceutical professional injects Jennifer Haller the first dosis from the first clinical trial stage for a safety study for a possible vaccine against COVID-19, the disease provoked by the new Coronavirus, on March 16 in Kaiser Permanente Research Center in Seattle, Washington, United States of America.

(Source: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The vaccine will be tested in a group of 45 healthy volunteers at Kaiser Permanente Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
 
According to a news bulletin from the center, the first four volunteers received a dose for a clinical trial supported by President Donald Trump’s Government.

The vaccine can’t infect with Covid-19, but it contains a harmless genetic code copied from the virus that causes the disease.

18 months

According to the experts, it will take several months, maybe up to 18, to know if this vaccine, or others under development, work.

In the case of the first trials on humans, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), they are overstepping a previous stage that is normally used in this type of studies: make sure that the vaccine is capable of provoking an immune response in animals.

However, the biotech company responsible for the investigation, Moderna Therapeutics, says that the vaccine was created using a process of proved reliability.
 
“This vaccine uses a preexistent technology. It was created with a high standard, using things that we know that are safe for people, and those participating in the trial will be subjected to a very rigorous study”, said doctor John Tregoning, a infectious diseases expert from London’s Imperial College.

“Yes, this is very fast, but it’s a race against the virus, not against other scientists, and it’ being done for the sake of Humankind”, Tregoning added.
 
Usually, vaccines against viruses, like measles, are done with weakened or dead samples of the virus.

Two shots

But the mRNA-1273 vaccine was not created with the virus that causes Covid-19.

Instead, it includes a small segment of a genetic code copied from the virus that scientists have been able to create in the lab.

Hopefully, this will prepare the body immune system to fight the real infection.
 
The volunteers will receive different doses of the experimental vaccine. Each one of them will receive a shot in the arm on two occasions, with a 28 days interval between doses.

But even if those initial tests go well, it might take up until 18 months for a possible vaccine to be available to the general public.

International Space Station, the “star” that orbits around the Earth

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 3 ene. 2020 3:32 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 8 oct. 2020 10:24 ]

The dead of night. Suddenly, when we look up at the sky or while watching the stars, we detect a point of light moving in a straight path through the celestial vault, with constant speed, until it is out of sight.
A NASA image of the International Space Station orbiting around Earth.

Former astronauts and twin brothers Mark and Scott Kelly, in an image by Derek Storm (www.derekstorm.com)
Sometimes, those who observe the phenomenon are left with the impression of having spotted an unidentified flying object (UFO), but in reality they have witnessed the passage of the International Space Station (ISS).

The station will be visible from the central zone of Chile, from the Southwest, on January 3 between 22:38 and 22:42; Saturday, January 4, between 9:50 p.m. and 9:56 p.m., also from the Southwest; Sunday, January 5, between 10:40 PM and 10:43 PM, from the West; and Monday, January 6, between 9:51 p.m. and 9:57 p.m., from the West-Southwest. 

The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite that moves around the Earth in a low orbit (on average, at about 410 kilometers above the surface of the planet) and that serves for astronauts of different nationalities to carry out scientific experiments on biology, meteorology, physics, astronomy and other disciplines in a microgravity habitat.

One of its main objectives, apart from contributing to the development and well-being of Humanity, is to add experience and knowledge for the next leap: the trip to Mars and beyond. 

Into orbit 

The first component of the International Space Station was launched in 1998 and its first long-term residents, astronauts Sergei Krikalev (Russia), William Sheperd (United States) and Yuri Pavlovich (Russia), arrived on November 2, 2000, and remained there for 136 days, until March 18, 2001. 

The ISS is the largest structure that Humanity has put in space and, due to its size, it had to be sent in parts and then built or assembled in orbit. Its cost is also estimated to be astronomical, at about 100 billion dollars. 

It is the ninth space station inhabited by crews. Previously, there were smaller space stations, such as the Russian Salyut, Almaz and Mir, and the American Skylab. 

The station is supplied by several visiting spacecraft, such as the Russian Soyuz and Progress, the American Crew Dragon and Cygnus and the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle. The Crew Dragon spacecraft allows the return of pressurized cargo to Earth, which is used, for example, to repatriate scientific experiments for further analysis.

The program for the ISS is a joint project between NASA, the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Japan's JAXA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The station has been continuously manned for 19 years and has been visited by astronauts, cosmonauts and space tourists from 19 different countries, including Italy, France, Germany, South Africa, Denmark, Brazil, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few.

It is divided into two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS), operated by Russia, and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS, which is shared by several countries.

Twin experiments 

At the ISS, dozens of experiments are carried out simultaneously to better understand different phenomena and mechanisms, from Parkinson’s disease to combustion, which helps life on Earth and prepares the ground for future missions to the Moon and Mars. 

In one of the most interesting studies, 10 teams from different parts of the United States observed the changes that occurred in a person subjected to the rigors of space travel and microgravity. 

The so-called “Study of the Twins,” published in an article in Science magazine in April 2019, compared various samples and measurements made on retired astronaut Scott Kelly, to his twin brother's, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth. 

The idea was to determine what physiological, molecular and cognitive changes could occur to people over long periods in space. According to NASA, it was the first study of its kind that compared molecular profiles of identical twin astronauts. 

Because they share the same genetic makeup, twin studies give scientists the ability to explore how health is influenced by the environment, regardless of the physical variations that naturally occur between individuals. 

One of the results included the observation of the lengthening of Scott Kelly’s telomeres, which are formations at the tips of each DNA strand that usually shrink with age. 

Another study found that artificial light affects the behavior of urban wildlife, in which animals were examined in the laboratory and in the field.

The Falcon Lake legend

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 23 dic. 2019 3:27 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 7 oct. 2020 8:04 ]

In the history of the UFO phenomenon there are cases that, due to their spectacularity or strangeness, go down in history and become true legends among interested parties, fans and scholars.
A drawing by Stephen Michalak of the object that he claimed to have seen in Falcon Lake, Canada, on May 20, 1967.

Stephen Michalak rests after suffering burns provoked by an object of unknown origin. In the image there can be seen the grid-shaped burns on his abdomen.
The Falcon Lake case is probably the most famous in Canada, as it has a relatively rare element in UFO cases: the witness would have suffered burns when he was very close to a strange object of unknown origin. 

On May 20, 1967, around noon, amateur geologist and mining explorer Stephen (or Stefan) Michalak was in the vicinity of Falcon Lake, Manitoba, Canada, inspecting a quartz vein. 

While doing these tasks alone, he was startled by the sound of geese that were agitated by something that was happening in the vicinity. Looking up, Michalak reported seeing two disk-shaped objects flying overhead, one of which had descended about 45 meters from where he was. 

For the next 30 minutes he devoted himself to drawing the object and then he approached it. However, when he was very close, the object suddenly took off, releasing an exhaust of hot air that provoked burns in Michalak’s abdomen and chest. 

Subsequently, investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian military found radioactive debris at the scene and authorities were unable to explain the incident. 

Medical report 

In the mid-1970s, the American writer and consultant Chris Rutkowski became interested in investigating and documenting UFO sightings in his country, which has led him to give lectures, collaborate on radio and television programs, write articles and publish books on the most prominent ufological incidents that have taken place in his country.

In that context, Rutkowski studied the Stephen Michalak case for decades. “He was treated at Misericordia Hospital, he was examined by doctors. He went to Mayo Clinic”, the researcher told the CTV News channel in Winnipeg. 

The witness suffered first-degree burns to his abdomen, which sported grid pattern marks, but his shirt and hat were also scorched. Michalak's burns turned into weals, and for several weeks afterward he suffered from headaches, diarrhea, weight loss, nausea and fainting.

When he finally completed a physical evaluation at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, that medical facility determined that Michalak was sane and not hallucinating. 

Years later, a small piece of highly radioactive metal was found at the site. 

Archives collection

Last November, Chris Rutkowski donated around 30,000 archives to the Archives and Special Collections of the University of Manitoba. That includes personal documents and more than a thousand books from the author’s personal collection, reports made by various agencies and documents on UFOs from the Canadian Government. 

Among the donated items are Stephen Michalak’s personal items that were burned during his strange encounter, as well as Rutkowski’s files on the incident. 

The voluminous collection of photographs, research notes, reports, publications and other documents will be available to the public for the first time from May 31, 2022, so that interested parties will be able to reexamine first-hand accounts.

“This unique and intriguing historical collection will add much to our understanding of the study of UFOs and will attract students and researchers to study this phenomenon for a wide range of reasons,” said the Head of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Manitoba, Shelley Sweeney. 

Chris Rutkowski and Stan Michalak, son of the witness, wrote and published a book about the experience, titled “When They Appeared” and subtitled “Falcon Lake 1967: the inside story of a close encounter”, which is available through the Amazon platform.

“Blue Book”: the most controversial UFO investigation in history

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 18 dic. 2019 3:38 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 7 oct. 2020 7:59 ]

50 years ago, on December 17, 1969, the United States Air Force decided to end “Project Blue Book”, its official investigation into the UFO Phenomenon that had existed since 1952.
Astronomer Josef Allen Hynek, scientific advisor of Project Blue Book and considered by some scholars as the "father" of ufology.

Aidan Gillen plays Hynek in History Channel's TV series "Project Blue Book".
Project Blue Book was an undertaking that ufologists still discuss today. For some, it was just a public relations exercise to handle the demands of the US citizenry while the actual investigation would have been carried out by other agencies hidden from public scrutiny.

The truth is that Blue Book was the last, and the most enduring, of a series of research projects on UFOs by the United States Air Force that began in 1947 after the beginning of the “modern age” of ufology after civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold’s sighting of June 24 of that year, which led the press to coin the term “flying saucers”. 

Blue Book’s predecessors

Following the sighting of Kenneth Arnold and several others that occurred in different countries from June, 1947, on, US Air Force Lieutenant General Nathan Twining sent a secret memorandum on “flying discs” to the Pentagon, stating that “the phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious.”

Thus, a project called “Sign” was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, with the mandate to collect reports on flying discs’ sightings and assess whether the phenomenon was a National Security threat.

In a secret document called “Estimate of the Situation”, Project Sign’s staff ruled out the Soviet origin of the phenomenon and, based on available evidence, stated that it most likely had an interplanetary origin. 

However, that document was rejected by the Air Force chief of staff, General Hoyt Vandenberg. In February, 1949, “Project Grudge” was created as a successor to Project Sign, but the new initiative operated until December of that year and then continued to operate at minimal capacity until the end of 1951. 

Edward Ruppelt 

In March, 1952, Project Blue Book finally came into operation, led by Air Force Captain Edward Ruppelt. He was the one who coined the term “Unidentified Flying Object”, or UFO and in 1956 he published the book Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. 

The Blue Book Project was advised, among others, by Professor Josef Allen Hynek, an astronomer at Northwestern University who had also collaborated with the Sign and Grudge projects.

Hynek was originally skeptical of UFOs and his job was to debunk sightings and offer conventional explanations, but over the years he became convinced that the unexplained cases pointed to the existence of a real and unknown phenomenon. Hynek is regarded by many scholars as the “father” of modern ufology. 

The Condon Committee

After Ruppelt, Project Blue Book had several directors, including Captain Charles Hardin, Captain George Gregory, Major Robert Friend and Major Hector Quintanilla.

In 1966, after UFO sightings in the states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, a hearing was held by the Armed Services Commission of the House of Representatives of the US Congress. That led to a mandate for a university to review the information and files on the subject compiled by Project Blue Book.

To that end, in 1966 a team from the University of Colorado headed by physicist Edward Uhler Condon was commissioned for this task. The “Condon Committee” studied files, reports and footage for three years and concluded that there were no merits to carry out further studies on UFOs, in a decision that divides scholars and critics until today.

Faced with that conclusion, the Air Force decided to end its official investigation of UFOs on December 17, 1969. At the time of its closure, Project Blue Book had collected 12,618 reports on UFO sightings, of which 701 remain unexplained. 

On December 16, 2017, US newspapers The Washington Post and The New York Times and the multimedia company Politico reported that the Pentagon allocated 22 million dollars for a secret investigation into UFOs or “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP) between 2007 and 2012. 

TV series 

In January, 2019, The History Channel premiered its fictional series “Project Blue Book”, based on the real initiative and starring astronomer Josef Allen Hynek, played by actor Aidan Gillen (known for his role as Petyr Baelish in the acclaimed series Game of Thrones). 

Although the characters of the astronomer and his wife, Mimi Hynek, are based on real people, the others —such as Captain Michael Quinn, played by actor Michael Malarkey— are the brainchild of the team led by director and producer Robert Zemeckis, while the ufological stories it presents are moderately inspired by real cases investigated by Project Blue Book.

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