Tag Archives: record

Scott Kelly To Retire From NASA After Spending A Year In Space

There are many impressive ways to bow out of your job, but perhaps breaking the record for the longest single U.S. spaceflight and becomingone of the first two humans to spend a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS) tops them all.

Yes, NASA has announced that one-year crew member Scott Kelly, 52, will retire from being an astronaut with the agency as of April 1 this year. He will still take part in research related to his year-in-space mission, namely the Twins Study in partnership with his brother Mark, but his days of actually going to space are now over.

This year-in-space mission was a profound challenge for all involved, and it gave me a unique perspective and a lot of time to reflect on what my next step should be on our continued journey to help further our capabilities in space and on Earth, Kelly said in a statement.

Kellys career was glittering, to say the least. In total, he spent 520 days in spacethe most for any American astronaut (so far), across four missions. It was his latest mission that really threw him into the limelight, though, where Kelly became known not only for his prolific tweetingfrom space (700 in total), buttogether with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko, he alsobecame the first to spend 12 months on the ISS. Previous missions lasted just six months.

Missions like this are a vital step towards sending humans to Mars, and NASA has more plans for similar (oreven more ambitious) missions on the ISS in the future. Our universe is a big place, and we have many millions of miles yet to explore, Kelly said in a personal blog post onFacebook.

Kelly is seen here during a spacewalk on November 6, 2015. NASA

His 520-day record wont last forever, though, as NASA astronaut Jeff Williams is set to launch to the ISS on March 18, and on this mission he will reach a total of 534 days.

Nonetheless, Kellys achievements, particularly with regards to setting humans towards Mars, will not be forgotten. When honoring Kelly, perhaps NASA Administrator Charles Bolden summed it up best:

When the first Americans set foot on Mars, they will be following in the footsteps of one of the finest astronauts in the history of the space program, my friend, Commander Scott Kelly. After spending an American record 520 days in space including his Year in Space I can think of no one more deserving of some well-deserved rest and time on the same planet as his family and friends.

Photo Gallery

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/scott-kelly-retire-nasa-after-setting-humanity-course-mars

Papyrus Reveals Ancient Egyptian Astronomical Knowledge

Researchers from the University of Helsinki have proposed that ancient Egyptians 3,000 years ago were the first to record the variability of a distant star and their records could provide useful information for astronomers today.

A new paper published in PLOS ONE explains how the Egyptian Cairo Calendar from 1244 to 1163 B.C. describes the variability of a binary star system called Algol. In the calendar, there are two significant periods of time for two gods 29.6 and 2.85 days. The former relates to the period of the Moon, while the latter almost perfectly matches the variability of Algol which today is 2.867 days, or two days, 20 hours, and 49 minutes.

This theory had been proposed in 2013 but, understandably, had been met with some skepticism. However, the researchers now say they are more confident in their claims, and say that Algol relates to the deity Horus.

I would have serious doubts, if someone claimed, for example, that the Bible contains information about water in Mars, said lead author Lauri Jetsu in a statement. We claimed that Ancient Egyptian religious texts contain astrophysical information about Algol. It was no surprise to us that there were, and there still are, sceptics.

Shown is an extract of the Cairo Calendar papyrus, used courtesy of Lauri Jetsu

An eclipsing binary is a pair of stars that, as viewed from Earth, rotate around each other and block each other’s light. Thus, this particular star dims regularly in brightness as it orbits its companion. Algol is found in the constellation Perseus about 92.8 light-years from us; the larger star is about 3.5 times the radius of the Sun, and the smaller about 2.7. They are separated by about 0.062 astronomical units (AU, one AU is the Earth-Sun distance).

The variability of Algol, which can be seen with the naked eye, was thought to have been first recorded by Italian astronomer Geminiano Montanari in 1667, although it was not until 1783 that British astronomer John Goodricke suggested another object may be the cause of the dimming. Based on this latest assumption, however, the record for discovery of this star’s variability may have to be re-awarded.

Perhaps most interestingly, the discovery reveals that the variability of the star has decreased very slightly over three millennia, by about 0.017 days. Rather than being an error, the researchers postulate that this could be due to the transfer of mass between the two stars affecting their orbits.

In fact, this would be the first observation that confirms the period increase of Algol and it also gives an estimate of the mass transfer rate, added Jetsu, possibly providing an important tool for astronomers today to learn more about eclipsing binaries.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/ancient-egyptians-knew-about-distant-flashing-star-3000-years-earlier-thought