Space Exploration

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Friday, September 22, 2017

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The full eclipse of the moon started at 6:25 a.m. EDT and lasted until 7:24 a.m, according to NASA. Full lunar eclipses are often called "blood moons" because of the reddish tint they adopt as sunsets and sunrises seen from Earth reflect onto the surface of the moon.

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Because this eclipse happened two days after a lunar perigee, which is the point when the moon is nearest to Earth, NASA says the moon appeared 5.3 percent larger than the previous "blood moon," which occurred on April 15, 2014.

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Europe's Rosetta probe has arrived at a comet after a 10-year chase. In a first for space history, the spacecraft was maneuvered alongside a speeding body to begin mapping its surface in detail. The spacecraft fired its thrusters for six and a half minutes to finally catch up with comet 67P.
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"We're at the comet!" said Sylvain Lodiot of the European Space Agency (Esa)  operations centre in Germany. "After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion km, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here',"  said Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of Esa.

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Starting in the fall of 2014, astronauts on the International Space Station won't have to wait months for replacement parts to be launched from Earth. Instead, they can use a newly arrived 3D printer to fabricate the tools and materials they need.
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"The 3D printer that we're going to fly on space station will actually be the first-ever 3D printer in space," Niki Werkheiser, 3D Print project manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said about the space station 3D printer.  "It is the first step toward the 'Star Trek' replicator," Werkheiser added, referring to the machine in the science-fiction franchise capable of creating meals and spare parts.The 3D printer headed to the space station in August 2014 — a joint project between NASA Marshall and the California-based company Made in Space — would be limited to parts only, rather than edible objects.

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SpaceX unveiled its Dragon Version 2 spacecraft, the next generation spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to Earth orbit and beyond. The spacecraft will be capable of carrying up to seven crewmembers, landing propulsively almost anywhere on Earth, and refueling and flying again for rapid reusability. As a modern, 21st century manned spacecraft, Dragon V2 will revolutionize access to space.

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Elon Musk, the chief executive of Hawthorne-based SpaceX, revealed its new Dragon V2 capsule on May, 2014.  Musk hopes it will one day ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and expects its first manned test flight by the end of 2016.   "I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's certainly possible for that to occur," he said. "But the thing that really matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars. To make life multi-planetary," expressed Musk.

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The universe is huge. Travelling at light speed to the nearest star would take more than four years. Venturing to the other side of the galaxy? More than 100,000 years. So what's an intrepid space traveller to do?

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One option is a cosmic shortcut called a wormhole, a tunnel through the fabric of space and time that can connect far-flung corners of the universe. It's the chosen route of many fictional space travellers, including the characters in the upcoming film "Interstellar,"  directed by Christopher Nolan. Hopping through a wormhole would be incredibly difficult, say scientists, but they have yet to rule it out. So, what would it take in reality, and what exactly is stopping us now?