Connect with us

Science & Technology

China completes historic Mars spacecraft landing

Published

 on

(Last Updated On: May 16, 2021)

An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft successfully landed on the surface of Mars on Saturday, state news agency Xinhua reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site on a vast plain known as Utopia Planitia, “leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time,” Xinhua said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a message of congratulations to all the people involved in the mission.

“You were brave enough for the challenge, pursued excellence and placed our country in the advanced ranks of planetary exploration,” he said. “Your outstanding achievement will forever be etched in the memories of the motherland and the people.”

The craft left its parked orbit at about 1700 GMT Friday (0100 Beijing time Saturday). The landing module separated from the orbiter three hours later and entered the Martian atmosphere, the official China Space News said.

It said the landing process consisted of “nine minutes of terror” as the module decelerates and then slowly descends.

The official landing time was 2318 GMT (0718 Beijing time), Xinhua said, citing the China National Space Administration. The rover took more than 17 minutes to unfold its solar panels and antenna and send signals to ground controllers more than 320 million kilometres away.

The rover, named Zhurong, will now survey the landing site before departing from its platform to conduct inspections. Named after a mythical Chinese god of fire, Zhurong has six scientific instruments including a high-resolution topography camera.

It will study the planet’s surface soil and atmosphere. Zhurong will also look for signs of ancient life, including any sub-surface water and ice, using a ground-penetrating radar.

Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven”, after a Chinese poem written two millennia ago, is China’s first independent mission to Mars. A probe co-launched with Russia in 2011 failed to leave the Earth’s orbit.

The five-tonne spacecraft blasted off from the southern Chinese island of Hainan in July last year, launched by the powerful Long March 5 rocket.

After more than six months in transit, Tianwen-1 reached the Red Planet in February where it had been in orbit since.

If Zhurong is successfully deployed, China would be the first country to orbit, land and release a rover in its maiden mission to Mars.

Tianwen-1 was one of three that reached Mars in February, with U.S. rover Perseverance successfully touching down on Feb. 18 in a huge depression called Jezero Crater, more than 2,000 km away from Utopia Planitia.

Hope – the third spacecraft that arrived at Mars in February this year – is not designed to make a landing. Launched by the United Arab Emirates, it is currently orbiting above Mars gathering data on its weather and atmosphere.

The first successful landing ever was made by NASA’s Viking 1 in July 1976 and then by Viking 2 in September that year. A Mars probe launched by the former Soviet Union landed in December 1971, but communication was lost seconds after landing.

China is pursuing an ambitious space programme. It is testing reusable spacecraft and is also planning to establish manned lunar research station.

In a commentary published on Saturday, Xinhua said China was “not looking to compete for leadership in space” but was committed to “unveiling the secrets of the universe and contributing to humanity’s peaceful use of space.”

Science & Technology

NASA launches test mission of asteroid-deflecting spacecraft

Published

on

(Last Updated On: November 24, 2021)

A spacecraft that must ultimately crash to succeed was launched late on Tuesday from California on a NASA mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defense system, designed to deflect an asteroid from a potential doomsday collision with Earth.

The DART spacecraft soared into the night sky at 10:21 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday (1:21 a.m. Eastern/0621 GMT Wednesday) from Vandenberg U.S. Space Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, carried aboard a SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch was shown live on NASA TV.

The DART payload, about the size of a vending machine, was released from the booster a few minutes after launch to begin a 10-month journey into space, some 6.8 million miles (11 million km) from Earth.

Moments later the rocket’s reusable lower stage flew back to Earth and safely touched down on a landing vessel floating in the Pacific in what has become a routine part of the cost-cutting launch sequence pioneered by SpaceX.

DART will fly under the guidance of NASA’s flight directors until the last hours of its odyssey, when control will be handed over to an autonomous on-board navigation system.

The mission’s finale will test spacecraft’s ability to alter an asteroid’s trajectory with sheer kinetic force, plowing into it at high speed to nudge the space boulder off course just enough to keep our planet out of harm’s way.

Cameras mounted on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft to be released from DART about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images of it back to Earth.

The asteroid that DART is aiming for poses no actual threat and is tiny compared with the cataclysmic Chicxulub asteroid that struck Earth some 66 million years ago, leading to extinction of the dinosaurs. But scientists say smaller asteroids are far more common and of greater theoretical concern in the near term.

DART’s target is an asteroid “moonlet” the size of a football stadium that orbits a chunk of rock five times larger in a binary asteroid system named Didymos, the Greek word for twin.

The team behind DART, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, chose the Didymos system because its relative proximity to Earth and dual-asteroid configuration make it ideal for observing the results of the impact.

The plan is to fly the DART spacecraft directly into the moonlet, called Dimorphos, at 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph), bumping it hard enough to shift its orbital track around the larger asteroid.

Cameras on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft released from DART about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images back to Earth. Ground-based telescopes will measure how much the moonlet’s orbit around Didymos changes.

The DART team expects to shorten Dimorphos’ orbital track by 10 minutes but would consider at least 73 seconds a success. A small nudge to an asteroid millions of miles away would be sufficient to safely reroute it.

DART is the latest of several NASA missions of recent years to explore and interact with asteroids, primordial rocky remnants from the solar system’s formation 4.6 billion years ago.

Last month, NASA launched a probe on a voyage to the Trojan asteroid clusters orbiting near Jupiter, while the grab-and-go spacecraft OSIRES-REx is on its way back to Earth with a sample collected last October from the asteroid Bennu.

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

Mexico prepares exhibition of Ice Age mammoths

Published

on

(Last Updated On: November 18, 2021)

Mammoth bones, skulls and an entire mammoth replica will be available for public viewing when the paleontological museum of Santa Lucia opens in March next year, Reuters reported.

In addition to the mammoth replica, mammoth bones and skulls will also be on display.

The director of the archaeological project in Santa Lucia, Ruben Manzanilla, said the aim of the project was to find out more about these extinct animals through DNA testing.

“The idea of this project is to study the (mammoth) collection for several years to find out about the health and diseases of these animals.

“We want to find out through their DNA what other species or groups of mammoths they are related to and also explain why they became extinct in this area. (We also want to find out) about their diet. And well, all the information that we can get by the studies that are being done.

“We already have the samples for radiocarbon to find out the true age (of the bones),” he said.

Most of the mammoth skeletons on display were unearthed
during the construction of Mexico City’s new airport.

Mammoth herds roamed the area around 24,000 years ago. It is believed that early humans may have also hunted the 20-ton animals.

Continue Reading

Science & Technology

Google invests $1 billion in Australian digital infrastructure

Published

on

(Last Updated On: November 16, 2021)

Google said on Tuesday it will spend A$1 billion ($735 million) in Australia over five years, calling the investment its biggest to date in the country it recently threatened to pull its services from as it looks to mend relations with the government.

The main operating unit of Alphabet Inc said it would spend the money expanding cloud infrastructure, setting up a research hub staffed by Australian researchers and engineers and partner with science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

“Australia can help lead the world’s next wave of innovation, harnessing technology to improve lives, create jobs, and make progress,” said Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai in a statement.

The spending plan was intended “to strengthen local capabilities and help build Australia’s digital economy for the future”, added Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva in the statement.

The move marks a change from earlier this year when Silva threatened in Australia’s parliament to block Google’s search engine to avoid laws forcing the company and social media operator Facebook Inc to pay news outlets for content posted to their websites.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Ariana News. All rights reserved!