Tag Archives: lost

Japans Troubled X-Ray Satellite Is Dead

The Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, has announced that it is not possible to recover its ASTRO-H X-ray astronomy satellite, Hitomi. The sad news follows several weeks of uncertainty after the satellite was found to be out of control in orbit.

In a statement, JAXA said they would now try to find out what went wrong with the satellite, rather than attempting to restore communications. We will carefully review all phases from design, manufacturing, verification, and operations to identify the causes that may have led to this anomaly including background factors, they said.

Launched on February 17, 2016, Hitomi was set to be a groundbreaking mission that would use four X-ray telescopes and two gamma-ray telescopes to probe black holesand the distant universe. Costing an estimated $286 million, the project was a joint collaboration between JAXA, NASA, and other partners.

But on March 26, things started to go wrong. While being pointed towards the center of a distant galaxy, the spacecraft began to spin wildly out of control. Observations from the ground suggested bits of the satellite may have broken off. Preliminary investigations indicate that the planned rotationcaused its solar panels to snap, with some reports saying human errorcaused the breakage, possibly due to an errant command being sent to the spacecraft.

The team thought the mission might be salvageable, because they were receiving what they thought were signals from Hitomi. But in their statement, JAXA said these were likely from a different source, and the satellite has long been dead.

Takashi Kubota (right), space program director of JAXA, at a press conference in Tokyo yesterday announcing the end of the Hitomi mission. STR/AFP/Getty Images

JAXA expresses the deepest regret for the fact that we had to discontinue the operations of ASTRO-H and extends our most sincere apologies to everyone who has supported ASTRO-H believing in the excellent results ASTRO-H would bring, the agency announced solemnly.

This failed mission goes to show that space travel, no matter how successful we continue to be, is hard. Hitomi joins a host of failed spacecraft that have been launched over the last few decades. Some, like Japans Akatsuki Venus mission or NASAs Kepler spacecraft, have been recovered thanks to a bit of luck and/or ingenuity. Others, like Hitomi or Phobos-Grunt, are lost for good.

It will be 12 years until a similar satellite,ATHENA, is launched in 2028 by the European Space Agency (ESA). For Japan, and scientistsaround the world, it will be a long time to mourn this major loss to astronomy.

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Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/japan-s-troubled-x-ray-satellite-dead

NASA Set To Make Huge Announcement On Thursday Regarding Mars’ Atmosphere

In September, NASA teased us with a major announcement regarding Mars, ultimately revealing evidence for the presence of liquid water on the surface of the Red Planet. Now, they’reat it again.

On Thursday this week, NASA is going to reveal key science findings about the fate of the Martian atmosphere that remains, the majority of which has been lost over time. The data comesfrom the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft, which is currently in orbit around Mars. The agency isn’t releasing any more information at the moment.

The event will take place at 2 p.m. EST (7 p.m. GMT) on Thursday at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. It will be broadcast live on NASA TV, which weve handily embedded below, so dont forget to bookmark this page.

Taking part in the news conference are Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA; Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator, from the University of Colorado; Jasper Halekas, MAVEN Solar Wind Ion Analyzer instrument lead, from the University of Iowa; MAVEN science team member Yaxue Dong; and MAVEN co-investigator Dave Brain.

If you want to get involved during the event, you can tweet questions to be answered via #AskNASA.

The MAVEN spacecraft was launched on November 18, 2013 and entered orbit around Mars on September 22, 2014. Its goal has been to study how the planet has lost the majority of its atmosphere over the last few billion years.This announcement heralds the first major findings from the spacecraft.

So, what has it discovered? Youll have to wait and see.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/nasa-announce-key-findings-fate-martian-atmosphere

Large African Cat Spotted On Vancouver Island

Over the weekend, a couple who live in Sooke on Vancouver Island took a picture of what appeared to be an African serval walking down the road. The picture was then posted to social media, cautioning other residents to stay alert.  

Servals are medium-sized African cats with a shoulder height of up to 66 cm (26 inches) and males weighting up to 18 kg (40 lbs). Servals cost about $8,000, and due to their status as exotic animals, the rules of owning these cats are controlled by local governments. These regulations exist to prevent non-native animals from getting out and affecting the local environment.

The identity of the serval’s owner is unknown, as they have not reported the animal missing to the authorities. Local serval breeder Doug Nelson believes he might know who is responsible for the cat. He sold a serval to someone nearby, and the cat has a history of escaping from the owner’s home. Over the summer, the cat was missing for several weeks before it was captured and returned by the SPCA.

If this is indeed the cat Nelson sold to the Sooke resident, it should be wearing a tracking collar. All servals from Nelson are sold wearing such a collar in order to quickly retrieve them, should they escape.

“There’s no excuse for losing a serval and not notifying anybody,” Nelson told Katie DeRosa of the Times Colonist. “It’s actually illegal to set them free, we don’t want them out there.”

Though servals can be domesticated to be loving pets, they could revert back to their wild instincts if left out in the wild. There is no indication that they pose a threat to humans, as there have never been reported human injuries caused by servals in North America. However, the real threat comes with the serval needing to feed.

Servals naturally feed on small rodents, birds, and fish—similar to ordinary domestic cats who live outdoors—but if they become desperate, they may go after larger prey. Introducing a foreign predator to the area could potentially disrupt the balance of the local ecosystem. 

“These are pets, they’re very friendly and affectionate cats,” Nelson continued. “They’re a non-aggressive cat but that changes if they’re out and they’re scared and they’re threatened.”

The serval is presumed to still be loose, though it is not known how long this cat has been outdoors and away from its owner. Residents in the area are urged to call British Columbia Conservation officials at 1-877-952-7277 if they see the animal, and should not try to approach it themselves.

UPDATE – 12/15/2014 9:13 a.m. MST: Sadly, the serval described in this article was struck and killed in Sooke on Monday afternoon. Peter Henry, the man driving the pickup that hit the cat, claimed that the serval jumped in front of his truck. He contacted local conservation authorities. The identity of the cat’s owner is still unknown. -LW

[Via: Times Colonist]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/african-cat-spotted-vancouver-island