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Rocket Lab successfully launches its 12th Electron, carrying NASA and NRO payloads

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Rocket Lab successfully launches its 12th Electron, carrying NASA and NRO payloads

After halting its work for sometime due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Rocket Lab finally has come back to an active launch position from its 1st launch-pad located in New Zealand. On June 13, it launched its twelfth launch vehicle, Electron from its Mahia Peninsula launch site in NZ, carrying payloads in behalf of NASA, University of the New South Wales and the United States national Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

The launch took place at 5:13pm local time and went smoothly, without any hitch. Later, Rocket Lab confirmed that the payload deployment went as planned as well once Electron reached the target orbit.

The American aerospace manufacturer and small sat launch service provider has been preparing for major expansion of the company’s launch capabilities, using a new US launch site on Virginia’s Wallops Island. The launch site is open now and its first ever mission was scheduled to take off previously this year. However, the launch had to be postponed in part due to delays caused by the NASA’s attempts to contain spread of coronavirus with facility closure as well as focus on vital missions.

The lockdown has been lifted completely from NZ, however, the nation’s quick action and comparatively small population let it contain coronavirus cases fairly quickly as well as lower the rate of infection to zero.

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Spacewalkers complete penultimate set of battery upgrades for space station

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Spacewalkers complete penultimate set of battery upgrades for space station

Two astronauts from NASA have successfully completed the penultimate set of battery upgrades on the outside of ISS (International Space Station), moving forward a multi-year power system upgrade project for the ISS.

Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy, the commander of Expedition 63 who launched the Crew Dragon rocket of SpaceX late in May, did their 2nd spacewalk on 1 July, just 5 days after starting the battery upgrade work for the orbiting laboratory.

The spacewalk started at 7.13am as Behnken and Cassidy swapped their spacesuits onto internal power.

The two astronauts, while working alongside one pallet supported by the robotic arm, Canadarm2 of the ISS, retrieved as well as installed a new lithium-ion battery & an adapter plate. They also removed the 6th and last, old nickel-hydrogen battery.

Every new battery measures around half the dimension of a standard refrigerator while the older nickel-hydrogen batteries weigh around 165 kilograms each. The lithium-ion battery replacements weigh around 194 kilograms.

Because the new installed batteries have higher capacity, a lithium-ion replacement can take the place of two old nickel-hydrogen batteries.

Notably, the astronauts, since January 2017, have been trying to upgrade every power channels of the ISS with 3 lithium-ion batteries, thus replacing the original 6 nickel-hydrogen batteries.

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Mercury pollution has reached the deepest ocean trenches

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Mercury pollution has reached the deepest ocean trenches

Researchers have discovered that human-made mercury pollution has reached the deepest region of the Marianas Trench Ocean. The new discovery puts forth new questions on how mercury might affect the ocean environment and if it has affected the food cycle.

Mercury consists of poisonous properties and a few kinds of fish assimilate methylmercury in the contaminated water. The marine animals that are on the higher level of food chain likely gather even higher mercury levels via a procedure called biomagnification.

Two teams of researchers have independently discovered evidence of methylmercury and human-made mercury pollution both 11,000 metres deep down the Pacific Ocean.

As per Dr Ruoyu Sun, who led a researchers’ team from China’s Tianjin University, previous study had revealed that methylmercury was produced mostly in the ocean’s top few meters. This might have restricted mercury bioaccumulation as the fish that forage deep down this level would have little chances of methylmercury ingestion, added Dr Sun. However, with this discovery, the researchers now believe the old theory is not true, continued Dr Sun.

The new study reveals that manmade mercury pollution now has reached the food chains in even the remote marine ecosystem on our planet than what was previously thought.

The study findings were presented at Goldschmidt Conference 2020.

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The ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse of 2020 occurs Sunday. Here’s how to watch online

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The 'ring of fire' solar eclipse of 2020 occurs Sunday

This weekend, a ring of fire solar eclipse would be visible from a few parts of Asia and Africa, and those who cannot see it in-person can still enjoy the incredible view online.

The solar eclipse on Sunday is what’s called as an ‘annular eclipse’ wherein the Moon doesn’t entirely cover the Sun while it passes through the Earth and the star. Instead, only a ‘ring of sunrays’ would shine bright around the exterior edge. This is the reason why it’s referred to as ring of fire eclipse.

The ring of fire event would take place at 2.40am on Sunday, 21 June, when the Moon passes into the middle of the Sun’s sphere, from the perspective of the Earth. The eclipse begins at 11.45pm on Saturday, 20 June and ends around 5:43am on 20 June, as per NASA.

While you’ll need to consider all the necessary precautions for protecting your eyes if you’re seeing the eclipse in-person, there is no need to worry when you see it online.

While the public can stream the event on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, the paid Slooh subscribers can be a part of the live discussion at the Slooh official website.

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