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Graduate student first to spot asteroid speeding past Earth
A still image of an asteroid (circled), which has the temporary designation of ALA2xH captured Wednesday, Nov. 18 by Western University graduate student Cole Gregg. Credit: University of Western Ontario

For as long as he can remember, Cole Gregg has been interested in space. Last week, the Western University graduate astronomy student had a night he'll never forget as he spotted a previously undiscovered asteroid flashing through the night sky.

Studying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gregg is one of a number of astronomers with remote access to a based in Nerpio, Spain at an observatory known as Astrocamp.

While operating the telescope, located on a mountaintop in Spain, Gregg noticed a bright dot moving rapidly across his field of view. Upon further investigation with Western astronomy professor Paul Wiegert, the object proved to be a small asteroid estimated at 50 to 100 meters in diameter passing through near-Earth space.

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Research provides new insights on health effects of long-duration space flight
Professor Susan Bailey and Dr. Kjell Lindgren, NASA astronaut, during a visit to Bailey's lab in 2016. Lindgren is an alumnus of Colorado State University. Credit: CSU Photography

The historic NASA Twins Study investigated identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly and provided new information on the health effects of spending time in space.

Colorado State University Professor Susan Bailey was one of more than 80 scientists across 12 universities who conducted research on the textbook experiment; Mark remained on Earth while Scott orbited high above for nearly one year. The massive effort was coordinated by NASA's Human Research Program.

Bailey has continued her NASA research and now joins more than 200 investigators from dozens of academic, government, aerospace and industry groups to publish a package of 30 scientific papers in five Cell Press journals on Nov.

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Fruit flies reveal new insights into space travel's effect on the heart
Scientist holds fruit fly vial next to box sent to ISS. Credit: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have shown that fruit flies that spent several weeks on the International Space Station (ISS)—about half of their lives—experienced profound structural and biochemical changes to their hearts. The study, published today in Cell Reports, suggests that astronauts who spend a lengthy amount of time in space—which would be required for formation of a moon colony or travel to distant Mars—could suffer similar effects and may benefit from protective measures to keep their hearts healthy. The research also revealed new insights that could one day help people on Earth who are on long-term bed rest or living with heart disease.

"For the first time, we can see the cellular and molecular changes that may underlie the seen in astronaut studies," says Karen Ocorr, Ph.D.

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Caenorhabditis elegans
Caenorhabditis elegans. Credit: Wikipedia

Living at low gravity affects cells at the genetic level, according to a study of worms in space.

Genetic analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans worms on the International Space Station showed "subtle changes" in about 1,000 genes.

Stronger effects were found in some genes, especially among neurons (nervous system cells).

The study, by the University of Exeter and the NASA GeneLab, aids our understanding of why living organisms—including humans—suffer physical decline in space.

"We looked at levels of every gene in the worms' genome and identified a clear pattern of genetic change," said Dr. Timothy Etheridge, of the University of Exeter.

"These changes might help explain why the body reacts badly to space flight.

"It also gives us some therapy targets in terms of reducing these , which are currently a major barrier to deep-space exploration."

The study exposed worms to on the International Space Station, and to high gravity in centrifuges.

The high-gravity tests gave the researchers more data on gravity's genetic impacts, and allowed them to look for possible treatments using high in space.

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Conscientiousness key to team success during space missions
Analog astronauts Joao Lousada and Stefan Dobrovolny before sunset. Credit: ÖWF/Florian Voggeneder

NASA is working toward sending humans to Mars by 2030. If all goes according to plan, the flight crew's return trip to the red planet will take about two-and-half years. That's a long time to spend uninterrupted with co-workers. But imagine if the astronauts don't get along with each other.

To ensure that doesn't happen, a new study led by Western University tested team dynamics of five astronauts during an analog Mars mission staged by the Austrian Space Forum in 2018 in Oman, a country that shares borders with Yemen, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The study found that conscientiousness is a key requirement for a crew to achieve its extraterrestrial tasks, outdistancing other potential traits like honesty, humility, emotionality, extraversion, openness and agreeableness.

"Conscientiousness, an individual personality trait, can be thought of as a pooled team resource," said Julia McMenamin, a Western psychology Ph.D. candidate and first author of the paper published by Astrobiology.

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Boca Chica

WASHINGTON — As SpaceX prepares for the first high-altitude test flight of its Starship reusable launch vehicle, the Federal Aviation Administration is starting a new environmental review required for the company’s future launch vehicle plans.

Here's Looking at You, MKID

Tuesday, 24 November 2020 09:29
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Santa Barbara CA (SPX) Nov 24, 2020
In the years since astronomers discovered the first exoplanet - a planet that orbits a star outside the solar system - more than 4,000 have been observed. Usually, their presence is given away by the slight effects they have on their parent stars, which vastly outshine them. For a decade and half, scientists have been trying to image exoplanets directly, but the Earth's atmosphere presents a maj
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Move over plastic: desktop 3D printing in metal or ceramics Image: Move over plastic: desktop 3D printing in metal or ceramics
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Washington DC (UPI) Nov 24, 2020
SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 first-stage boosters for a record seventh time Tuesday night as the company launched more of its Starlink satellites from Florida. The 16th batch of 60 satellites headed toward orbit at 9:13 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch marks the 100th such mission for a Falcon 9 rocket, and boosts the number o
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Beijing (XNA) Nov 25, 2020
Space experts and educators from around the world are closely following the Chang'e 5 mission and are optimistic it can achieve its targets. Professor Martin Sweeting, a fellow of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom and a distinguished professor of space engineering at the University of Surrey, said the international science community has been looking forward to the mission and the first col
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Beijing (XNA) Nov 25, 2020
The Chang'e 5 lunar mission will need to overcome a succession of challenges and difficulties before it can be declared a complete success, project insiders said. Mission spokesman Pei Zhaoyu said Chang'e 5 will be the first Chinese spacecraft to carry out sample collection and launch operations on an extraterrestrial body, and these maneuvers will be extremely demanding and sophisticated
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Beijing (XNA) Nov 25, 2020
China's Yutu 2 rover has been operating on the lunar surface for 692 Earth days, cementing its status as the second-longest-working rover on the moon, the China National Space Administration said. The second Chinese lunar rover, Yutu 2 is part of the ongoing Chang'e 4 mission, humanity's first endeavor to land on and closely observe the far side of the moon. The rover has traveled nearly 5
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Wenchang, China (Sputnik) Nov 25, 2020
China is set to begin construction of its orbital space station next year, deputy head of the Chang Zheng 5 (Long March 5) launch vehicle project of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Qu Yiguang, told reporters. "Since the appearance of the Chang Zheng 5 launch vehicle, it has been determined that it will carry out the mission of launching China's largest spacec
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Gold Coast, Australia (SPX) Nov 25, 2020
Australian rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with global aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corporation to work on developing sovereign space capabilities in Australia. "Northrop Grumman aims to lead industry support in developing Australian sovereign space capabilities to help meet the needs of defence and realise the Australian Space
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Pasadena CA (JPL) Nov 25, 2020
NASA's Perseverance rover carries a device to convert Martian air into oxygen that, if produced on a larger scale, could be used not just for breathing, but also for fuel. One of the hardest things about sending astronauts to Mars will be getting them home. Launching a rocket off the surface of the Red Planet will require industrial quantities of oxygen, a crucial part of propellant: A crew of
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