Tag Archives: historic

State of the Union 2019: 5 things to look out for ahead of Trump's historic address

State of the Union 2019: 5 things to look out for ahead of Trump's historic addressIf Donald Trump’s State of the Union address is at all similar to the speech he delivered to the US Congress last year, Americans can expect more false facts and fresh new controversies on Tuesday night. This time, however, there is a catch: the Democratic Party has assumed control of the House of Representatives, making its reaction to the president’s upcoming policy proposals and statements more prominent — and powerful — than ever before. The 2019 State of the Union address was pushed back a week from the originally anticipated date following a federal government shutdown — the longest of its kind in US history — triggered by Mr Trump’s demands $ 5.7bn towards building a US-Mexico border wall.



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Why is it so cold? Split in polar vortex brings historic deep freeze to US

Why is it so cold? Split in polar vortex brings historic deep freeze to USThe US is currently experiencing historically cold weather, with Chicago dropping to a low of around -23F (-30C) on Wednesday – but what is the cause of this extreme drop in temperature? A split in the polar vortex has been identified as the cause of the bitter cold that continued to sweep parts of the country on Thursday. The polar vortex is a mass of cold air that usually stays bottled up in the Arctic.



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Trump uses historic Native American massacre to mock 2020 opponent Elizabeth Warren

Trump uses historic Native American massacre to mock 2020 opponent Elizabeth WarrenDonald Trump faces a backlash after once again mocking 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, with a joke referencing one of the worst massacres of Native Americans in US history. During a series of controversial late-night tweets, the president taunted one of the first major Democrats to enter the upcoming race for the White House by referring to the Wounded Knee massacre, duing which hundreds of Sioux Indians were killed at the hands of US soldiers. Mr Trump posted a recent video Ms Warren shared online in which she drinks a beer in her kitchen shortly after announcing her intention to run in 2020.



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China lunar mission: probe makes historic landing on far side of moon

China lunar mission: probe makes historic landing on far side of moonA Chinese spacecraft has made the first successful landing ever on the far side of the moon, a mission seen as an important step as the country looks to push forward its space programme.  The lunar explorer Chang'e 4 touched down at 10:26 am and relayed a photo of the "dark side" of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, the official China Central Television reported on Thursday. The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side – or the "dark side" – is never visible from Earth. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon, but none has landed on it. The landing "lifted the mysterious veil" from the far side of the moon, and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration", the broadcaster said.  China launched the Chang'e-4 probe earlier this month, carried by a Long March-3B rocket. It includes a lander and a rover to explore the surface of the moon. An image taken by China's Chang'e-4 probe after its landing Credit: AP "The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth," mission spokesman Yu Guobin said, according to Xinhua. "This probe can fill the gap of low-frequency observation in radio astronomy and will provide important information for studying the origin of stars and nebula evolution." Unlike the near side of the moon that offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged. The tasks of the Chang'e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon's terrain, landform and mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon. The near side (l) and far side (r) of the Moon show marked differences China aims to catch up with Russia and the United States to become a major space power by 2030. It is planning to launch construction of its own manned space station next year. However, while China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the US Defence Department has accused it of pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis. Apart from its civilian ambitions, Beijing has tested anti-satellite missiles and the US Congress has banned Nasa from bilateral cooperation with its Chinese counterpart due to security concerns. A simulated landing process of Chang'e-4 lunar probe is seen through the monitor at Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing Credit: AP The United States is so far the only country to have landed humans on the moon. US President Donald Trump said in 2017 he wants to return astronauts to the lunar surface and establish a foundation there for an eventual mission to Mars. It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the moon's mysterious and heavily cratered "dark side". No lander or rover has ever previously touched the surface there, and it is no easy technological feat – China has been preparing for this moment for years. The first image of the moon's far side taken by China's Chang'e-4 probe Credit: Barcroft images A major challenge for such a mission was communicating with the robotic lander: as there is no direct "line of sight" for signals to the far side of the moon. As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it at a 'Lagrange point' so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and Earth. A Lagrange point is a location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as Earth and the sun or Earth and the moon, equal the centrifugal force felt by a much smaller third body. The interaction of the forces creates a point of equilibrium where a spacecraft may be "parked" to make observations. In another extreme hurdle, during the lunar night – which lasts 14 Earth days – temperatures drop to as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 Fahrenheit). Long March-3B rocket carrying Chang'e 4 lunar probe takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre Credit: Reuters During the lunar day, also lasting 14 Earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F). The rover's instruments have to withstand those fluctuations and it has to generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night. The pioneering landing demonstrates China's growing ambitions as a space power.  In 2013, Chang'e 3 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976. China plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe to the moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples – the first time that will have been done since 1976.



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After historic flyby, New Horizons probe treks deeper on hunt for moons

After historic flyby, New Horizons probe treks deeper on hunt for moonsThe piano-sized probe is travelling deep into the ring of celestial bodies known as the Kuiper Belt looking for small, icy moons that spun off the snowman-shaped Ultima Thule formation, a pair of icy space rocks that fused in orbit billions of years ago. “If we’ve seen bodies one and two, the question is what about bodies three, four and five?” Mark Showalter, a New Horizons investigator, said during a news conference at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. New Horizons on New Year’s day came within 2,200 miles (3,500 km) of Ultima Thule, which represents a pristine time capsule dating to the birth of the solar system.



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New Horizons: Nasa spacecraft makes historic flyby of Ultima Thule, four billion miles away

New Horizons: Nasa spacecraft makes historic flyby of Ultima Thule, four billion miles awayA Nasa spacecraft has conducted a historic flyby of the farthest, and quite possibly the oldest, cosmic body ever explored by humankind. The US space agency was hoping to take a closer look at a tiny, distant world called Ultima Thule early on Tuesday, hoping the frozen cosmic object will reveal some clues as to how planets took shape 4.6 billion years ago.   It rang in the New Year with a live online broadcast to mark New Horizons' zoom past the mysterious object located about four billion miles away in a dark and frigid region of space known as the Kuiper Belt. The flyby at 12.33 am on Tuesday (5.33am GMT) took place about a billion miles beyond Pluto, which was until now the most faraway world ever visited up close by a spacecraft. "Go New Horizons!" said lead scientist Alan Stern as a crowd including kids dressed in space costumes blew party horns and cheered at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland to mark the moment when the spacecraft aimed its cameras at the distant space rock. Real-time video of the actual flyby was impossible, since it takes more than six hours for a signal sent from Earth to reach the spaceship and another six hours for the response to arrive. "Anything's possible out there in this very unknown region," John Spencer, deputy project scientist for New Horizons, told reporters on Monday at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. Brian May discusses the upcoming New Horizon's flyby of the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule Credit: Reuters A solo track recorded by legendary Queen guitarist Brian May – who also holds an advanced degree in astrophysics – was released just after midnight to accompany a video simulation as Nasa commentators describe the close pass. "This is a night none of us are going to forget," May said. What could mission reveal? Hurtling through space at a speed of 32,000 miles per hour, the spacecraft aims to make its closest approach within 2,200 miles of the surface of Ultima Thule. Dr Stern, the lead planetary scientist on the New Horizons mission, told reporters that Ultima Thule is unique because it is a relic from the early days of the solar system and could provide answers about the origins of other planets. In less than 48 hours, New Horizons will make history! The team at @JHUAPL is preparing for the #NewYears flyby of #UltimaThule, the farthest object explored by a spacecraft ever – 4 billion miles from the Sun and ~1 billion miles from Pluto. pic.twitter.com/3EiB2bmOKy— NASA New Horizons (@NASANewHorizons) December 30, 2018 Temperatures are freezing – almost absolute zero or -273C - which means scientists hope it proves to be a time capsule. "The object is in such a deep freeze that it is perfectly preserved from its original formation," he said. "Everything we are going to learn about Ultima – from its composition to its geology to how it was originally assembled, whether it has satellites and an atmosphere and those kinds of things – are going to teach us about the original formation conditions of objects in the solar system." Huge challenges The encounter itself is risky, and if the spacecraft were to collide with a speck of space debris as small as a grain of rice, it could be destroyed instantly, mission managers warned. For that reason, Dr Stern said he and his colleagues are "on pins and needles to see how this turns out." The first signal back to Earth should come about 10 hours after the flyby, around 9.45 am (1445 GMT). Only then will Nasa know if New Horizons survived the close pass. Seven instruments on board will hopefully record high-resolution images and gather data about its size and composition. The Kuiper Belt object nicknamed "Ultima Thule," indicated by the crosshairs at center, with stars surrounding it on Aug. 16, 2018 Credit: AP But the flyby will be fast – at a speed of nine miles per second. As a result, many of the pictures taken will likely be of empty space. That's because the team on the ground will be trying to capture a 12- to 22-mile-wide world some four billion miles away.  At closest approach, New Horizons is expected to take nearly 900 photos at the highest resolution – and Ultima Thule is expected to appear in a few. "We're rendezvousing with something that's a mountain draped in black velvet in almost pitch-dark conditions, and we're screaming up to it [..] within 2 seconds of perfection," Dr Stern told the Washington Post. "You can't get any better than that." Despite the tough task, the team is confident. “I think we're good,” Marc Buie, an astronomer working to pin down Ultima Thule’s position, told the New York Times. “I think we're better than good.” What does it look like?  Scientists are not sure what Ultima Thule (pronounced TOO-lee) looks like – whether it is cratered or smooth, or even if it is a single object or a cluster. It was discovered in 2014 with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, and is believed to be 12-20 miles in size. A blurred and pixelated image released on Monday, taken from 1.2 million miles away, has intrigued scientists because it appears to show an elongated blob, not a round space rock. Astronomers believe it is either made up of two objects touching each other, or perhaps even a binary system, in which two objects orbit each other. “It’s really puzzling, because we know the shape is irregular,” Dr Stern said. Even clearer images should be in hand over the next three days. Scientists decided to study it with New Horizons after the spaceship completed its main mission of flying by Pluto in 2015, returning the most detailed images ever taken of the dwarf planet. Dr Stern said the goal is to take images of Ultima that are three times the resolution the team had for Pluto. Launched in January 2006, New Horizons embarked on a 4 billion mile journey toward the solar system's frigid, faraway edge to study the dwarf planet Pluto and its five moons. During a 2015 fly-by, the probe found Pluto to be slightly larger than previously thought. In March, it revealed that methane-rich dunes were on the icy dwarf planet's surface. Frontier of planetary science Ultima Thule is named for a mythical, far-northern island in medieval literature and cartography, according to Nasa. "Ultima Thule means ’beyond Thule’ – beyond the borders of the known world – symbolising the exploration of the distant Kuiper Belt and Kuiper Belt objects that New Horizons is performing, something never before done," the US space agency said in a statement. According to project scientist Hal Weaver of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, humans didn’t even know the Kuiper Belt – a vast ring of relics from the formation days of the solar system – existed until the 1990s. "This is the frontier of planetary science," said Weaver. "We finally have reached the outskirts of the solar system, these things that have been there since the beginning and have hardly changed – we think. We will find out." New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern speaks during an overview of the New Horizons Mission Credit: Getty In an editorial in The New York Times, Dr Stern recalled that December 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the first time humans ever explored another world, when US astronauts orbited the Moon aboard Apollo 8. "New Horizons will continue in that legacy," Dr Stern wrote. "As you celebrate New Year’s Day, cast an eye upward and think for a moment about the amazing things our country and our species can do when we set our minds to it." Listen to Brian May's new music The Queen guitarist  is releasing his first official solo work in two decades to mark the occasion. May, who is as passionate about science as he is about music, said he didn't know if "anyone's going to like it yet". Dr Stern, who first suggested creating the track, was among the few who had listened to it. “I have been bouncing it off Alan all the way," he told Newsweek. "He's made some comments – some very interesting comments, because of course he comes from a completely different world from me. And he's been liking it, which is great. “I find myself in an unusual place because I’m deeply immersed in music – and have been all my life – but I’m also deeply immersed in astronomy and astrophysics.” Creating a single inspired by the New Horizons probe was “an amazing opportunity for me to combine the two,” May added. Woven into the recording are words from Stephen Hawking, including a message from the scientist to the New Horizons team in 2015 after the successful Pluto mission. “He said exactly what was in my mind,” May said. “In another part of his message – which actually nobody has heard yet – he said, ‘we do this because we are human and because we need to know.'" What comes next? The huge trove of data that New Horizons sends back is hoped to keep scientists busy for the next one and a half years.  But its journey is far from over – barring any disasters.  Nasa is hoping New Horizons can go on to investigate other objects in the Kuiper Belt. "The spacecraft is very healthy, it's not using any of its back-up systems and it has power and fuel to operate for close to 20 more years," Dr Stern said. "There's a lot of future exploration ahead for New Horizons."



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Nasa sends final commands to New Horizons probe before historic flyby of Ultima Thule

Nasa sends final commands to New Horizons probe before historic flyby of Ultima ThuleNasa flight controllers have sent their final set of commands to the space agency’s New Horizons spacecraft ahead of its planned historic flyby of the icy Ultima Thule. The spacecraft is on a path to pass by the 30-kilometre-wide body on Tuesday, marking a new record for the furthest object ever explored in the Solar System — roughly 6.5 billion kilometres from the Earth. “The spacecraft is healthy and we’re excited!” Alice Bowman, the mission operations manager, told reporters at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Maryland.



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2nd man nears end of historic solo trek across Antarctica

2nd man nears end of historic solo trek across AntarcticaA British adventurer was close to becoming the second person to traverse Antarctica completely unassisted just a few days after an American became the first to conquer the feat, which was previously said to be impossible.



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Arizona's historic Senate race too close to call

Arizona's historic Senate race too close to callRepublican Martha McSally or Democrat Kyrsten Sinema will make history as Arizona's first female Senator.



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Democrats Worry They're Facing A Stacked Deck For Historic Senate Hearing

Democrats Worry They're Facing A Stacked Deck For Historic Senate HearingWASHINGTON ― No one knows what to expect at Thursday's highly anticipated



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