Day: October 16, 2020

Un système d'approvisionnement en oxygène du côté russe de la station spatiale a échoué

  • Le système d’approvisionnement en oxygène du segment russe de la Station spatiale internationale a échoué cette semaine.
  • Les membres d’équipage ne sont pas en danger, puisque la station dispose d’un autre système d’oxygène sur son segment américain.
  • Mais le problème est le dernier d’une chaîne du côté russe de la station – il y a aussi eu une toilette cassée et une fuite d’air.
  • Visitez la page d’accueil de Business Insider pour plus d’histoires .

La ​​Station spatiale internationale commence à montrer son âge, en particulier du côté russe. Au cours des derniers mois, une toilette de ce segment a fait faillite , une fuite d’air s’est agrandie et les températures ont mystérieusement augmenté .

Mercredi, le système d’approvisionnement en oxygène du segment russe est tombé en panne, selon l’agence spatiale Roscosmos. Le module de service Zvezda, où se trouve le système, est en orbite depuis 20 ans.

L’échec a coïncidé avec l’arrivée de trois nouveaux membres d’équipage, dont l’astronaute de la NASA Kate Rubins – portant la population de la station à six. L’équipage n’est cependant pas en danger puisque la station dispose de deux systèmes d’approvisionnement en oxygène: un côté américain et un côté russe. L’autre système fonctionne normalement, selon l’agence spatiale russe Roscosmos.

“Rien ne menace la sécurité de l’équipage et de l’ISS”, a déclaré à l’AFP un porte-parole de Roscosmos .

La ​​station garde également de l’oxygène supplémentaire à bord en cas de panne des deux systèmes.

Pourtant, l’échec est un autre signe que le côté russe du laboratoire en orbite a besoin de mises à niveau. La station a déjà survécu à son espérance de vie de 15 ans .

“Tous les modules du segment russe sont épuisés”, a déclaré le cosmonaute Gennady Padalka à Ria Novosti , une agence de presse d’Etat russe.

Roscosmos n’a pas immédiatement répondu aux questions de Business Insider sur l’échec.

Une panne du système d’oxygène, une toilette cassée et une fuite insaisissable

transferchamber

L’astronaute Jeffrey Ashby passe par la trappe de la chambre de transfert dans le module de service Zvezda de la station spatiale avec une caméra vidéo, le 25 mai 2011.

NASA


L’ISS a deux côtés: le segment orbital russe et le segment orbital américain. Le segment russe contient le module le plus ancien de la station, le module de commande Zarya, lancé en 1998.

Son module de service Zvezda , qui lancé en 2000 , est le module russe module principal du segment. Il abrite les quartiers d’habitation des cosmonautes: la cuisine, la salle de bain et les systèmes de survie, y compris le système de filtration de l’eau et le système d’alimentation en oxygène qui vient de se casser.

Le rapport de la panne d’oxygène est venu après que les membres d’équipage aient passé des mois à essayer de trouver la source d’une fuite d’air sur la station spatiale. L’ISS a des fuites à un taux supérieur à la moyenne depuis septembre 2019, mais les membres d’équipage n’ont commencé à enquêter sérieusement qu’au cours de l’été.

En septembre, la NASA et Roscosmos ont déterminé que la fuite provenait du module Zvezda .

Daniel Huot, un porte-parole de la NASA, a déclaré à Business Insider qu’il n’était “au courant d’aucune relation entre cet échec et la fuite”. L’agence s’efforce cependant d’obtenir des informations supplémentaires.

Les membres d’équipage n’ont toujours pas identifié l’emplacement exact de la fuite d’air, ce qu’ils devront faire pour la réparer. Les officiels soutiennent que la fuite n’est pas majeure, bien qu’elle semble avoir contribué à la décision de repousser Crew-1 , la première mission officielle de SpaceX pour la NASA.

Une récente augmentation de température que les cosmonautes ont signalée, entre-temps, se trouvait également dans le module Zvezda, SpaceDaily a rapporté . Ainsi était la toilette qui est tombée en panne, bien qu’elle ait été réparée, selon Ria Novosti.

Les cosmonautes corrigent une petite fuite d'air sur la Station spatiale internationale: rapports

Les cosmonautes font des progrès dans la lutte contre la petite fuite d’air qui a assiégé la Station spatiale internationale pendant des mois, selon aux rapports russes.

La fuite a été détectée pour la première fois en septembre 2019, mais était une priorité trop faible pour la NASA et Roscosmos pour y remédier jusqu’en août de cette année étant donné le manque de personnel et les taux d’activité élevés au laboratoire en orbite, selon une déclaration précédente l’agence spatiale américaine. En août, la NASA a annoncé quelques mesures que Roscosmos, l’homologue russe de l’agence américaine, entreprenait pour localiser la fuite . Ces étapes comprenaient deux soirées pyjama de l’équipage sur le segment russe pour isoler les composants de la station. A aucun moment la fuite n’a menacé la station spatiale ou les astronautes qui y vivent, selon les déclarations des deux agences.

Maintenant, les cosmonautes de la station spatiale rapportent qu’ils ont retrouvé la fuite hier (15 octobre) et ont tenté de la corriger, selon les rapports du service de presse gouvernemental russe, Tass.

Connexes: Station spatiale internationale à 20: Une visite photographique

La fuite est situé dans un compartiment du module russe Zvezda, comme l’avaient suggéré des travaux antérieurs sur le laboratoire en orbite. Le cosmonaute russe Ivan Vagner, qui vit dans l’établissement depuis avril, l’a qualifié de «rayure», selon le rapport Tass, qui suggère également que l’équipage a utilisé un sachet de thé pour localiser précisément la fuite, mais n’a pas fourni des détails supplémentaires sur le processus.

Les cosmonautes ont également tenté de réparer la fuite, mais leurs rapports au contrôle de mission aujourd’hui (16 octobre) suggèrent que cela pourrait ne pas tenir, Tass a rapporté: perte d’air a ralenti, mais le module perd toujours de la pression d’air, selon leurs mesures. L’équipage a suggéré de contacter ses collègues américains – actuellement Chris Cassidy et Kate Rubins – pour un autre type de mécanisme de patch.

“Peut-être devrions-nous essayer les correctifs de nos partenaires? Nous pouvons parler avec eux. C’est parce que le correctif actuel n’est pas aussi efficace”, ont déclaré les cosmonautes, selon le Tass rapport .

Pendant ce temps, Roscosmos fait maintenant face à un système d’alimentation en oxygène défectueux sur le même module, selon l’AFP . Le système a échoué mercredi 14 octobre, après que trois nouveaux membres d’équipage se soient déplacés ce matin-là et ne représentaient pas une menace pour l’équipage, a déclaré à l’AFP un représentant de Roscosmos.

Les deux numéros représentent le laboratoire en orbite montrant son âge: La station a été constamment en personnel pendant près de 20 ans et les pièces les plus anciennes du complexe ont été lancées en 1998.

Envoyez un courriel à Meghan Bartels à mbartels@space.com ou suivez-la sur Twitter @meghanbartels. Suivez-nous sur Twitter @Spacedotcom et sur Facebook.

18 membres de l'équipe masculine de hockey sur glace de Yale testés positifs pour Covid-19

Collectivement, le groupe a élevé le statut d’alerte Covid-19 de l’école du vert, qui note «un risque plus faible» au jaune, qui signale «un risque faible à modéré de transmission virale».

Mardi, la communauté universitaire a été informée que six membres d’une équipe sportive universitaire avaient été testés positifs pour le virus. Au cours des deux derniers jours, 12 cas positifs supplémentaires ont été détectés, a confirmé l’école de l’Ivy League à CNN.

“Tous les autres membres de l’équipe masculine de hockey sur glace qui se trouvent dans la région de New Haven , ainsi que le personnel d’athlétisme qui a travaillé directement avec eux, ont reçu pour instruction de mettre en quarantaine et de participer au programme de contrôle universitaire, qu’ils aient ou non été identifiés comme des contacts étroits des membres de l’équipe infectés, “Stephanie Spangler, vice-provost pour Affaires de la santé et intégrité académique, a déclaré jeudi soir dans une lettre à la communauté de Yale.

Spangler a déclaré aux étudiants que des efforts «rigoureux» de recherche des contacts étaient en cours pour identifier d’autres personnes qui auraient pu être en contact étroit avec les athlètes, et a déclaré que toutes les équipes sportives universitaires et les programmes intra-muros arrêteraient les activités en personne pendant une semaine. .

La patinoire de hockey de l’école serait également fermée pour nettoyage jusqu’au lundi 19 octobre.

Pourquoi les patinoires de hockey sur glace peuvent permettre la transmission

[19459014 ] L’annonce est intervenue un jour après que le rapport hebdomadaire des Centers for Disease Control and Prevention des États-Unis a suggéré que les jeux de sport en salle pourraient se transformer en événements à grande diffusion .

Dans le rapport, les fonctionnaires du département de la santé de la Floride ont détaillé un incident dans lequel un joueur a infecté jusqu’à 14 autres lors d’un seul match de hockey sur glace en salle le printemps dernier.

Le hockey sur glace implique un effort physique vigoureux avec une forte respiration pendant le match et des contacts fréquents entre les joueurs, ont noté les chercheurs dans le rapport.

“La patinoire offre un lieu qui est probablement bien adapté à la transmission COVID-19 comme un environnement intérieur où la respiration profonde se produit, et les personnes sont à proximité les unes des autres », dit-il.

“L’espace intérieur et le contact étroit entre les joueurs pendant un match de hockey augmentent le risque d’infection pour les joueurs et créent un potentiel pour un événement de grande diffusion, en particulier avec la transmission communautaire continue du COVID-19”, conclut l’étude.

“La patinoire offre un lieu qui est probablement bien adapté à la transmission du COVID-19 en tant qu’environnement intérieur où la respiration profonde se produit et les personnes sont à proximité les unes des autres”, ont-ils déclaré.

Pourquoi nous ne savons pas exactement ce qui s'est passé lors d'une quasi-collision dans l'espace

LeoLabs, qui utilise ses propres radars au sol pour suivre les objets spatioportés, met les chances de collision à 10% ou plus. C’est élevé, mais pas rare, a déclaré jeudi le PDG de LeoLabs Daniel Ceperley à CNN Business.

Mais l’armée américaine, qui utilise les données du plus grand réseau mondial de radars et de télescopes, a déclaré que son équipe de contrôle du trafic spatial avait détecté une «probabilité de collision de presque zéro pour cent».

En réponse, Ceperley de LeoLabs a déclaré dans une déclaration vendredi matin: “Nous avons évidemment beaucoup de respect pour le 18e Escadron de contrôle spatial [de l’armée américaine] et leurs estimations. Personne ne conteste que ces objets se sont rapprochés de un autre.”

Pendant ce temps, Moriba Jah, astrodynamicien à l’Université du Texas à Austin qui tente depuis longtemps de sensibiliser le public à l’abondance de déchets sur l’orbite terrestre au risque constant de collision, a déclaré que l’épreuve n’était que la dernière preuve que le monde a besoin d’un effort de collaboration internationale pour suivre le trafic spatial.

Ses données , une fusion de toutes les informations publiques sur le trafic spatial en temps réel, montrent des dizaines de collisions potentielles se produisant à un moment donné. Jah a suggéré que le satellite soviétique et le propulseur de fusée mis au rebut devaient s’approcher à moins de 72 mètres l’un de l’autre. Cependant, il ne pouvait pas dire avec certitude si une collision était même «probable».

Les objets dans l’espace sont suivis avec des télescopes et des radars exploités par des gouvernements et des entreprises privées. Mais toutes ces organisations du monde entier hésitent à partager leurs données entre elles. Ainsi, lorsqu’il y a un risque que deux choses dans l’espace se heurtent, les experts ont beaucoup de mal à déterminer exactement l’ampleur des risques. LeoLabs ne partage pas ses données publiquement.

Ceperley a déclaré à CNN Business jeudi que la société avait décidé de sensibiliser le public à cet événement particulier parce que les deux objets sont tous deux volumineux et parce qu’ils se trouvent dans une zone d’orbite encore relativement propre par rapport aux orbites proches. La société tente également de sensibiliser davantage le public au problème des débris, a-t-il déclaré, afin d’encourager le secteur privé à développer des moyens de le nettoyer.

“Plusieurs fois par semaine, nous voyons des satellites morts s’approcher à moins de 100 mètres les uns des autres, se déplaçant à des vitesses énormes”, a déclaré Ceperley.

Ce qui s’est passé jeudi

Le satellite soviétique, qui a été lancé dans l’espace en 1989 et a été utilisé pour la navigation, pèse près de 2000 livres et mesure 55 pieds de long, selon Jonathan McDowell, astronome au Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Le propulseur de fusée, qui fait partie d’un lanceur chinois de longue marche qui a probablement été lancé en 2009, mesure environ 20 pieds de long. Aucun des objets n’est encore utilisé.

Si la fusée et le satellite entraient en collision, ce serait la première fois en plus d’une décennie que deux objets se heurtaient spontanément dans l’espace – une situation que les experts du trafic spatial espéraient désespérément éviter.

La dernière collision, en 2009, a vu un satellite militaire russe mort percuter un satellite de communications actif exploité par la société américaine de télécommunications Iridium. Cet événement a produit un énorme nuage de débris, dont la plupart sont trop petits pour être suivis du sol. Et l’épave est toujours en orbite, ce qui constitue une menace constante pour les satellites à proximité.

Il y a aussi déjà des centaines de milliers – peut-être des millions – d’objets tourbillonnant en orbite incontrôlée, y compris de minuscules débris, des propulseurs de roquettes usés, des satellites morts et des détritus provenant de démonstrations de missiles antisatellites militaires. La jonque est fortement concentrée dans les zones d’orbite les plus proches de la surface de la Terre. Et, bien que cela ne présente pas beaucoup de risque pour les humains sur le terrain, il menace des hordes de satellites actifs qui fournissent toutes sortes de services, y compris le suivi de la météo, l’étude du climat de la Terre et la fourniture de services de télécommunications. Les débris menacent également la Station spatiale internationale , où vivent des équipages d’astronautes depuis 2000, et qui a dû ajuster sa propre orbite trois fois cette année à cause des débris spatiaux.

McDowell a expliqué sur Twitter qu’une nouvelle collision serait “très grave”. Le satellite soviétique et le propulseur de fusée chinois auraient pu conduire à une augmentation de 10% à 20% de la quantité de débris dans l’espace, et chaque nouveau morceau de débris augmente les chances que plus de collisions continuent de se produire.

Cela pourrait même déclencher une réaction en chaîne désastreuse , laissant l’espace jonché d’un champ impénétrable d’ordures qui arrête les lancements de nouvelles fusées et l’exploration spatiale.

Une partie du problème est que l’espace extra-atmosphérique reste largement non réglementé. Le dernier traité international largement accepté guidant l’utilisation de l’espace extra-atmosphérique n’a pas été mis à jour depuis cinq décennies, ce qui a pour la plupart laissé l’industrie spatiale se contrôler.

La montée en popularité des mégaconstellations – incarnée par la constellation Internet Starlink que SpaceX d’Elon Musk est en train de construire – a déclenché une nouvelle vague de discussions sur les risques de congestion en orbite. Le PDG de Rocket Lab, Peter Beck, a déclaré le mois dernier à CNN Business que la congestion croissante dans l’espace rend déjà plus difficile pour les fusées de son entreprise de trouver une voie claire vers l’orbite pour livrer de nouveaux satellites.

Yale augmente le niveau d'alerte, ferme les installations et les musées, alors que 18 joueurs de hockey sont testés positifs au COVID-19

Après une épidémie de coronavirus parmi 18 membres de son équipe masculine de hockey sur glace, l’Université Yale de New Haven est passée d’un niveau d’alerte vert à jaune, entraînant la fermeture des installations sportives et des musées du campus. (Mark Mirko / Mark Mirko)

Facing Many Unknowns, States Rush To Plan Distribution Of COVID-19 Vaccines

While coronavirus vaccine trials are ongoing and a U.S. vaccine has yet to be approved, state health officials are planning ahead for how to eventually immunize a large swath of the population.

Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images


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Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

While coronavirus vaccine trials are ongoing and a U.S. vaccine has yet to be approved, state health officials are planning ahead for how to eventually immunize a large swath of the population.

Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Even the most effective, safest coronavirus vaccine won’t work to curb the spread of the virus unless a large number of people get immunized. And getting a vaccine from the manufacturers all the way into people’s arms requires complex logistics — and will take many months.

Now, public health officers across the country are rushing to finish up the first draft of plans for how to distribute a coronavirus vaccine if and when it is authorized, and they’re grappling with a host of unknowns as they try to design a system for getting the vaccine out to everyone who wants it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave state immunization managers only 30 days to draft a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Friday is the day those plans are due.

The timing of vaccine research and planning is politically fraught with the presidential election a few weeks away. When the CDC announced the October deadline last month, critics worried that political pressure was tainting the process, since President Trump has repeatedly promised a vaccine will be ready soon.

“If you listen to the White House, [vaccine distribution] could be just a matter of weeks away,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Thursday. He and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson sent a letter to Trump on behalf of the National Governors Association asking for a meeting to talk through the many unanswered questions about the process.

“We need to know: What is the plan? What does the federal government do, what do you expect the states to do? When does it start? Who funds it?” Cuomo said. “Let’s figure it out now because this virus has been ahead of us every step of the way — it’s about time this country catches up.”

Planning fast with changing expectations

For dozens of public health officials across the country, the process over the past month has been like “herding a lot of cats,” says Claire Hannan, director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “It’s really cramming three to six months worth of strategic discussions … into 30 days,” she says.

States need to lay the groundwork for distribution now, says James Blumenstock, vice president for pandemic response and recovery for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. That means deciding who’s in charge of responsibilities such as ordering supplies, signing up vaccine providers, training staff, and running mass vaccination clinics and outreach campaigns, he explains. They’ll also need a data management system to track who received an initial vaccine dose and to remind them to come back for their second dose.

“We have been working feverishly over the past few weeks,” says Decrecia Limbrick, assistant director of the Department of Health in Houston, which is one of several large cities that receives funding directly from the CDC. “I think we’re ready to submit a plan — a ‘Version 1’ of a plan.”

Then there are conflicting messages from the Trump administration. “Originally there had been talk about hurrying up and getting your plan done because the vaccine will be ready before the election,” says Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for Minnesota’s Department of Health. When the Food and Drug Administration recently said that vaccine trials must allow two months after the last experimental dose is administered, that guidance “changes the timeline” again.

“It’s pretty much like being in a continuous earthquake,” she adds. “The ground is constantly moving.”

Overcoming logistical hurdles

Nobody knows which vaccine will be authorized first, when that will happen, which populations it will be authorized for, and how many initial doses will be available.

Adding to this uncertainty is the likelihood that the first coronavirus vaccines will be extremely challenging to handle. The CDC playbook notes that the vaccines will likely require cold chain storage (possibly “ultra-cold” storage, which is colder than Antarctica), must be given in two doses a certain number of days apart, and could have a minimum order of 1,000 doses.

“For routine vaccines, [providers] will order 10 doses at the time or 20 doses at a time,” explains Michigan Department of Health and Human Services immunization director Bob Swanson. “It makes it more difficult to think about — how are we going to use a thousand doses for at risk populations across a rural county?”

Initially, the focus will be on the priority groups who will be first in line to get immunized. The specifics of who that will be are still getting worked out by a CDC advisory committee, although front-line health workers will almost certainly be at the top of the list. There are also concerns about distributing the vaccine equitably to communities that, for instance, speak different languages or are difficult to reach, especially at first when doses are limited.

As immunization managers look ahead to the coming year, different places around the country face a range of challenges.

Then there are seasonal issues. During a North Dakota winter, freezing temperatures and snowfall make outdoor drive-through clinics untenable, says Molly Howell, North Dakota’s immunization program manager, so they’re considering using warehouses or sporting venues for mass vaccination campaigns so that people can gather indoors while maintaining physical distance. “Those are some of the ways that we’re trying to be creative about vaccinating people safely during the pandemic,” she says.

In Houston, officials are thinking ahead to the complications of the hot and humid summer. “If we get those hot days, we want to obviously ensure that we maintain the integrity of the vaccine,” says Limbrick of the Houston Department of Health, and they have to think about taking care of the medical staff who have to administer the vaccine in those conditions.

“After [health officials] push that button on Friday afternoon, on Saturday morning, they’re going to continue to work on their planning efforts going forward over the days and weeks and months ahead,” says Blumenstock of ASTHO. And when the first vaccine is authorized, “it’s going to be close to a yearlong effort,” he says, to immunize everyone across the country who wants to be vaccinated.

Finding the money to execute plans

CDC Director Robert Redfield told Congress last month that states are going to need about $6 billion to distribute vaccines.

“This is going to take substantial resources,” Redfield told lawmakers. “The time is now for us to be able to get those resources out to the state[s].”

On Thursday, ASTHO and the Association of Immunization Managers wrote a letter formally requesting $8.4 billion from Congress for these efforts.

The letter notes that so far the CDC has distributed $200 million to states, territories and a few large cities to fund the vaccine planning process — but it describes this sum as “merely a down payment.” And with the election looming, the chances of a new COVID-19 relief bill getting through the legislature anytime soon are dim.

“The funding I don’t have control over, but I do have control over how we’re going to get vaccines out when they’re available,” says Swanson. “And I will tell you, public health is strong, and public health works hard, and immunizations are public health’s bread and butter.”

Michigan has received $5.9 million so far, and Swanson says that money has gone to getting the state’s immunization registry up to speed, and to local health departments for staffing.

The lack of clarity about funding troubles Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of immunization education at the Immunization Action Coalition and the former director of Tennessee’s immunization program.

States need additional funds to be able to carry out the plans they’re submitting to the CDC, she says. “They need to be able to invest in manpower, in I.T. systems and in the people to use them,” she explains, adding that those who are brought in to run the vaccination campaigns from other parts of the health department like STD clinics and family planning will also need to be backfilled.

“A lot of things need to be paid for with these billions of dollars,” she says. “Even the best laid plans can’t be executed if you don’t have the resources to do so.”

Japan to release 1m tonnes of contaminated Fukushima water into the sea – reports

Japan’s government has reportedly decided to release more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, setting it on a collision course with local fishermen who say the move will destroy their industry.

Media reports said work to release the water, which is being stored in more than 1,000 tanks, would begin in 2022 at the earliest and would take decades to complete.

An official decision could come by the end of the month, the Kyodo news agency said, ending years of debate over what to do with the water, with other options including evaporation or the construction of more storage tanks at other sites.

The government, however, has long indicated it prefers the option of releasing it into the nearby Pacific, despite opposition from local fishermen who say it will undo years of work rebuilding their industry’s reputation since the plant was wrecked by a huge tsunami in March 2011.

In response, the government has said it will promote Fukushima produce and address concerns among fishermen that consumers will shun their seafood once the water is released.

Environmental groups also oppose the move, while neighbouring South Korea, which still bans seafood imports from the region, has repeatedly voiced concern, claiming that discharging the water represented a ”grave threat” to the marine environment.

Pressure to decide the water’s fate has been building as storage space on the nuclear plant site runs out, with the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), estimating all of the available tanks will be full by the summer of 2022.

As of last month, 1.23m tonnes of water, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting, were being stored in 1,044 tanks, with the amount of waste water increasing by 170 tonnes a day.

Tepco’s Advanced Liquid Processing System removes highly radioactive substances from the water but the system is unable to filter out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that nuclear power plants routinely dilute and dump along with water into the ocean.

A panel of experts advising the government said earlier this year that releasing the water was among the most “realistic options”.

Experts say tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, is only harmful to humans in very large doses, while the International Atomic Energy Agency says it is possible to dilute filtered waste water with seawater before it is released into the ocean.

The water at Fukushima Daiichi will be diluted inside the plant before it is released so that it is 40 times less concentrated, with the whole process taking 30 years, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

Hiroshi Kishi, president of a nationwide federation of fisheries cooperatives, voiced opposition to the move in a meeting with the chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, this week.

Kato told reporters that a decision on the water “should be made quickly” to avoid further delays in decommissioning the plant – a costly, complex operation that is expected to take around 40 years.

Oxygen supply on the ISS ‘fails’ after leak discovered using teabag

A KEY oxygen air supply system aboard the International Space Station broke down this week as crew members tracked down the source of a major air leak using TEA BAGS.

The failure within a module on the Russian segment of the station – which orbits 260 miles above Earth – has not put the crew in danger, Russian space agency Roscosmos said Thursday.

An oxygen supply failure hit the International Space Station this week

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An oxygen supply failure hit the International Space Station this weekCredit: AP:Associated Press

While oxygen was lost from the Zvezda module, a second supply system in the American segment was operating as normal, a spokesperson told AFP.

“Nothing threatens the security of the crew and the ISS,” said the spokesperson.

The news broke as Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin reported that ISS crew had located the source of an air leak that has plagued the ISS for months.

Space travellers accidentally stumbled upon the probable cabin breach after a tea bag had flown in weightlessness in the direction of the leak.

The failure within a module on the Russian segment of the station has not put the crew in danger

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The failure within a module on the Russian segment of the station has not put the crew in dangerCredit: EPA

“We have several photos and videos showing the direction of travel of the tea bag,” Ivanishin told the state-owned Russian TASS news agency.

It’s not clear whether the oxygen failure and air leak – also located in the Zvezda module – are linked.

According to Roscosmos, the oxygen mishap occurred late on Wednesday. Repair work to fix the issue was carried out Thursday.

The issue arose after three new crew members – two cosmonauts and an astronaut – boarded the ISS on Wednesday, taking the total to six.

Three ISS crew members (inset) have pinpointed an air leak to the Zvezda workstation within the Russian segment (left) of the station

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Three ISS crew members (inset) have pinpointed an air leak to the Zvezda workstation within the Russian segment (left) of the stationCredit: Nasa

The problem is the latest entry to a saga of recent issues surrounding the ISS, including an air leak that crew have been trying to locate since August.

The problem briefly forced the station’s crew into its Russian segment as a safety precaution while Nasa scouted for clues – only to realise the leak’s source was coming from the Russian segment.

Thanks to some floating tea bags, crew now believe they have finally found the source, which Russia’s Flight Control Center has suggested that cosmonauts patch up with tape for now, TASS news reports.

Flight controllers also instructed crew to send photos and the video of the possible air leak area for further instigation.

What is the ISS?

Here’s what you need to know about the International Space Station…

  • The International Space Station, often abbreviated to ISS, is a large space craft that orbits Earth and houses astronauts who go up there to complete scientific missions
  • Many countries worked together to build it and they work together to use it
  • It is made up of many pieces, which astronauts had to send up individually on rockets and put together from 1998 to 2000
  • Ever since the year 2000, people have lived on the ISS
  • Nasa uses the station to learn about living and working in space
  • It is approximately 250 miles above Earth and orbits around the planet just like a satellite
  • Living inside the ISS is said to be like living inside a big house with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gym, lots of science labs and a big bay window for viewing Earth

The last major air leak on the station was discovered two years ago and sparked a rare public war of words between Nasa and Roscosmos.

A drop in pressure led to the identification of a hole in a Russian Soyuz capsule attached to the orbital station overnight on August 30, 2018.

The station crew quickly patched the breach by plugging it with strong glue and gauze.

Initially it was thought the damage could have been caused by a micrometeorite piercing the spacecraft.

A hole in the hull of a Russian spacecraft docked to the ISS was found in August 2018

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A hole in the hull of a Russian spacecraft docked to the ISS was found in August 2018Credit: NASA

But in September 2018 a space source speaking to Russia’s official Tass news agency claimed that signs of drilling had been found around the hole.

Russia’s space agency head Dmitry Rogozin — a close ally of Vladimir Putin — then raised the possibility of sabotage.

He said the hole was made by a drill, either while the capsule was on Earth or in space, by someone with a “wavering hand”.

Nasa issued a counter statement arguing that ruling out defects “does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent”.

Then-ISS commander Alexander Gerst later confirmed the hole was the result of a faulty repair job that was inadequately performed by mechanics on the ground.

A formal Russian investigation concluded in September 2019 but the results are top-secret, with even Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine expressing frustration at being kept out of the loop.

Astronauts embark on spacewalk from the International Space Station

In other news, Nasa has finally set a date for its first proper crewed flight from US soil aboard a SpaceX rocket.

SpaceX blew up a Starship rocket tank on purpose last week during a dramatic “pressure test”.

The rocket company completed its second successful Starship test flight earlier this month.

What do you think of the ISS hole mystery? Let us know in the comments!

New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles

New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles
University of Delaware researchers are part of collaboration studying cosmic rays. In addition to Cherenkov detector tanks filled with water, the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina has a second kind of cosmic-ray catcher — fluorescence detectors. The charged particles in a cosmic-ray air shower interact with atmospheric nitrogen, causing it to emit ultraviolet light through a process called fluorescence, which is invisible to the human eye — but not to this optical detector. Credit: University of Delaware

Particles smaller than an atom hurtle through the universe nearly at the speed of light, blasted into space from something, somewhere, in the cosmos.

A scientific collaboration of the Pierre Auger Observatory, including researchers from the University of Delaware, has measured the most powerful of these particles—ultra-—with unprecedented precision. In doing so, they have found a “kink” in the that is shining more light on the possible origins of these subatomic space travelers.

The team’s findings are based on the analysis of 215,030 cosmic ray events with energies above 2.5 quintillion electron volts (eV), recorded over the past decade by the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina. It is the largest observatory in the world for studying .

The new spectral feature, a kink in the cosmic-ray spectrum at about 13 quintillion electron volts, represents more than points plotted on a graph. It brings humanity a step closer to solving the mysteries of the most energetic particles in nature, according to Frank Schroeder, assistant professor at the Bartol Research Institute in UD’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, who was involved in the study with the support of the University of Delaware Research Foundation. The research is published in Physical Review Letters and Physics Review D.

New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles
In this pre-pandemic photo, UD Professor Frank Schroeder works with colleagues to install a radio antenna on one of the cosmic ray detector stations of the Pierre Auger Observatory, located near Malargüe, Argentina. Credit: University of Delaware

“Since cosmic rays were discovered 100 years ago, the longstanding question has been, what accelerates these particles?” Schroeder said. “The Pierre Auger Collaboration’s measurements provide important hints about what we can exclude as the source. From previous work, we know the accelerator is not in our galaxy. Through this latest analysis, we can further corroborate our earlier indications that ultra-high-energy cosmic rays are not just protons of hydrogen, but also a mix of nuclei from , and this composition changes with energy.”

Between the “ankle” and the “toe”

Schroeder and UD postdoctoral researcher Alan Coleman, who contributed to the data analysis, have been members of the Pierre Auger Collaboration for several years. UD officially joined the collaboration as an institutional member in 2018. This team of more than 400 scientists from 17 countries operates the observatory, which occupies a 1,200-square-mile area, about the size of Rhode Island.

New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles
An array of cosmic ray detector stations of the Pierre Auger Observatory near Malargüe, Argentina. The University of Delaware is a member of the international collaboration that operates the observatory, which includes more than 400 scientists from 17 countries. Credit: University of Delaware

The observatory has more than 1,600 detectors called water-Cherenkov stations spread across the high plains of the Pampa Amarilla (Yellow Prairie), overlooked by 27 fluorescence telescopes. Collectively, these instruments measure the energy that an ultrahigh-energy cosmic ray particle releases in the atmosphere and provide an indirect evaluation of its mass. All of these data—energy, mass and the direction from which these extraordinary particles arrived—yield important clues about their origins.

Previously, scientists thought these ultra-high-energy cosmic ray particles were mostly protons of hydrogen, but this latest analysis confirms that the particles have a mix of nuclei—some heavier than oxygen or helium, such as silicon and iron, for example.

Plotted on the curving graph representing the cosmic-ray energy spectrum, you can see the kink—a steep, flattened section—between the area referred to by scientists as “the ankle,” and the beginning point of the graph, called “the toe.”

New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles
In this pre-pandemic photo, UD postdoctoral researcher Alan Coleman stands by one of the Pierre Auger Observatory’s 1,600 cosmic ray detector stations, which are spread out across 1,200 square miles of the Pampa Amarilla. The corrugated metal on top, called a scintillator panel, and the spherical radio antenna are both sensors for cosmic rays, while the rectangular antenna is for communication with the observatory’s central building. Credit: University of Delaware

“We don’t have a specific name for it,” said Coleman, who was on the 20-person team that wrote the computer code and did the number crunching required for the extensive . “I guess we are running out of parts of the anatomy to call it,” he said, joking.

Directly involved in the finding, Coleman improved reconstruction of the particle cascade, which cosmic-rays create when impinging the atmosphere, in order to estimate the energy. He also performed detailed studies to ensure that this new inflection point was real and not an artifact of the detector. The data group’s work took more than two years.

“Obviously, it’s pretty slight,” Coleman said of the spectral kink. “But every time you see a bump like this, that signals the physics is changing and that’s very exciting.”

It’s very hard to determine the mass of incoming cosmic rays, Coleman said. But the collaboration’s measurement is so robust and precise that a number of other theoretical models for where ultra-high-energy cosmic rays are coming from can now be eliminated, while other pathways can be pursued with more vigor.

  • New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles
    Scientists speculate that active galactic nuclei may be a source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. Active galactic nuclei are supermassive black holes in the center of galaxies, which feature gigantic jets of matter that escape falling into the black hole. Centaurus A, shown here, is an example of this galaxy class in our galactic neighborhood less than 20 million light-years from Earth. Credit: University of Delaware
  • New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles
    The flux of cosmic rays is dependent on their energy. The higher the energy, the rarer the cosmic rays. However, the larger figure shows this relationship is not smooth. Several features indicate something is happening at different energies, referred to informally by scientists as the “knee,” the “ankle” and the “toe,” along with the “new kink,” measured by the Pierre Auger Observatory Collaboration. The inset shows this new measurement in detail. Each feature can be interpreted as a change in the composition of cosmic rays at the respective energies. Credit: University of Delaware

Active galactic nuclei (AGN) and starburst galaxies are now in the running as potential sources. While their typical distance is some 100 million light years away, a few candidates are within 20 million light years.

“If we learned what the sources were, we could look into new details about what is going on,” Coleman said. What’s happening that allows these incredibly high energies? These particles may be coming from something we don’t even know.”

Ongoing research by the UD team focuses on further increasing the measurement accuracy of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays and extending the precise measurement of the cosmic ray spectrum down to lower energies. That would create a better overlap with other experiments, Schroeder said, such as the cosmic ray measurements of IceCube at the South Pole—another unique astroparticle observatory with major involvement of the University of Delaware.


New data shows cosmic rays are more complex than expected


More information:
A. Aab et al. Features of the Energy Spectrum of Cosmic Rays above 2.5×1018 eV Using the Pierre Auger Observatory, Physical Review Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.121106

A. Aab et al. Measurement of the cosmic-ray energy spectrum above 2.5×1018 eV using the Pierre Auger Observatory, Physical Review D (2020). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.102.062005

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New feature found in energy spectrum of universe’s most powerful particles (2020, October 16)
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Japan reportedly decides to release treated Fukushima water into the sea

Japan will release more than a million tons of treated radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea in a decades-long operation, reports said Friday, despite strong opposition from environmentalists, local fishermen and farmers. The release of the water, which has been filtered to reduce radioactivity, is likely to start in 2022 at the earliest, said national dailies the Nikkei, the Yomiuri, and other local media.

The decision ends years of debate over how to dispose of the liquid that includes water used to cool the power station after it was hit by a massive tsunami in 2011.

A government panel said earlier this year that releasing the water into the sea or evaporating it were both “realistic options.”

“We can’t postpone a decision on the plan to deal with the… processed water, to prevent delays in the decommission work of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Friday, without commenting directly on the plan or its timing.

There are around 1.23 million tons of waste water stored in tanks at the facility, according to plant operator TEPCO, which also declined to comment on the reports.

Environmental activists have expressed strong opposition to the proposals, and fishermen and farmers have voiced fear that consumers will shun seafood and produce from the region.

South Korea, which bans imports of seafood from the area, has also repeatedly voiced concern about the environmental impact.

A decision has been getting increasingly urgent as space to store the water — which also includes groundwater and rain that seeps daily into the plant — is running out.

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An aerial view shows the earthquake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture on March 12, 2011. The quake triggered a massive tsunami.

JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images


Most of the radioactive isotopes have been removed by an extensive filtration process — but one remains, tritium. It can’t be removed with existing technology.

The expert panel advised in January that discarding the water into the sea was a viable option because the method is also used at working nuclear reactors.

Tritium is only harmful to humans in very large doses, experts say. The International Atomic Energy Agency argues that properly filtered water could be diluted with seawater and then safely released into the ocean.

The Yomiuri reported that the water would be diluted inside the facility before its release, with the whole process taking 30 years.

The treated water is currently kept in a thousand huge tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site, where reactors went into meltdown nearly a decade ago after the earthquake-triggered tsunami.

Plant operator TEPCO is building more tanks, but all will be full by mid-2022.