Amidst fresh explosions in Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego, toll rises to 75 with more than 200 missing

The biggest explosions ever in four decades of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala, the devastations took lives of around 75 till date with at least 192 missing. The fresh rounds of powerful explosions scattered ashes over a wide area and forced authorities to order further evacuations. The news relayed gripping stories of whole families being devastated by the disastrous explosions.

Satellites could not take proper images of such devastation because they were removed too far. Still, some of them took images to locate such eruption. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, which is a joint mission of NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Defense, took some images of the ash plume, which went above the overlying clouds.

The Associated Press while speaking with Lilian Hernandez, a weeping and distraught woman from the town of San Miguel Los Lotes, found that her 36 member family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, and grandchildren are all missing and presumed to be dead in the disaster.

One of the most active volcanoes in Central America, the Fuego volcano had ashes reaching to around 16000 ft. and sending lava flows through nearby towns on Tuesday afternoon. Two days have passed by since the eruption on Sunday. Still, the terrain has been too hot in many places for rescue crews to look for bodies, which is unlikely to find any survivor with each passing day.

Guatemala’s Seismology and Volcanology Institute reported and warned people of new pyroclastic outflow of hot and toxic gasses along with debris from the volcano. The AP reports of volcanic material descending the mountains southern side, forcing an evacuation order and closure of the national highway nearby.

Guatemala’s National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction, David De Leon, said that due to the increased activity of the volcano, evacuation process on war footing are being carried out of the nearby communities and on which the AP reported saying – “the evacuations have been setting off a panicky flight by people that stalled traffic in some areas.” The official report increased the death toll from Sunday’s eruptions to 75. 

The Disaster Relief Agency chief, Sergio Cabañas told the France-Presse news agency that they now have an account of people’s names and towns from where they have gone missing and 192 people in total till date has been unaccounted for. 

Volcan de Fuego, meaning ‘Volcano of Fire’ in Spanish, is one of the several active volcanoes among 34 others in the Central American country. It lies very close to the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several significant eruptions, in the past. 

In the past the latest activities have all been mostly on the farthest side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast. The eruption on Sunday had sent columns of ashes and smoked almost 10 kilometers into the sky, blanketing several regions of the area.

NASA Puts Cap on Future Space Telescope Budget

NASA is telling scientists working on the four telescope to reduce cost on the project. The agency is giving the scientists limits to work within. NASA has announced that scientists would have to work towards lowering their missions to at most $5 billion. 

As a result of the limitations, scientists might have to alter some designs to lower cost. NASA is currently preparing for its 2020 Decadal Survey for Astrophysics, and four teams of scientists are designing telescope concepts for the survey. 

This survey compiles a list of missions suggested by the astrophysics community. Every ten years, the community gets to make suggestions based on a wide variety of topics and NASA works on the proposals. 

NASA commissioned four teams to design four separate telescopes. The teams which were commissioned in 2016 did not have any financial restrictions back then. One team had a design that costs almost $20 billion, and the team would have to cut down on it. 

The four telescope missions include HabEx, Lynx, LUVOUR, and OST. The scientists now have to lock at cheaper options for the design of the telescope. The agency wants to make enough money available for essential astrophysics projects.

The most recent upcoming is the James Webb Space and Telescope. The launching of the project which the company scheduled for the late Spring has now been delayed to May 2020. Most of the delay is as a result of the mistakes during the building of the telescope. 

The delays have pushed back the launch date of the JWST. These delays are also increasing the financial commitments of the mission. The mission has a financial limitation of $8 billion; Congress imposed this limitation. 

Over the last two decades, NASA has invested most of the funds meant for astrophysics into the construction of the JWST. 

The telescope mission was proposed in 1996, at that time, the project was expected to cost between $1 billion and $3.5 billion. The Government Accountability Office released these figures. They also scheduled launch for between 2007 and 2011. The situation has changed over the years, now the project exceeds $8.8 billion and may launch in May 2020. 

The delay in the JWST made NASA consider delaying the Decadal Survey. However, the agency has decided to proceed with the Decadal, and that is why they are effecting a cap on the budget for the construction of the telescope.  

Can The Space Crystals Be The Next Cancer Drug?

Drug companies want to make and grow protein crystals that can replicate and unveil the essential protein structures found in the human body. They have chosen the space for developing such crystals which have the theoretical potential to be the next big cancer drug. To form such a crystal, a person has to travel into space and insert 10 microliters of the fluid in a microplate and let the crystal grow by itself. Every 10 microliters form one single droplet, and hence, it does not just involve balancing oneself in space but also be extremely precise in the protein crystal formation process. 

What Makes Space Crystals Special?

The craze for growing crystal in space irrespective of how difficult it is surfaced when the researchers found that these crystals grown in space are more perfect than the ones inside the human. The mechanics for fewer imperfections has been explained, and in a nutshell, it is due to the slow and steady growth from a single droplet to a full-fledged crystal under the microgravity. The protein molecules crystalize through a randomized diffusion, and hence, the crystal growth takes place in a more orderly way with fewer impurities. These nearly perfect space crystals open up the opportunity for the researchers to study the specific protein structures vividly and cure them when they get deformed during the cancerous case or other diseases.

How Can Space Crystals Unveil New Cancer Drugs?

Proteins are essential for proper functioning of the human body. Understanding the structure of the different protein molecules is extremely important to resurrect them when they get deformed. But the natural protein structures are so small and imperfect that they are almost impossible to study. That is why the researchers have found out the way to create space crystals from protein molecules. This helps to create repetitive structures of the proteins in the crystal for convenience in studying the structures. 

Once the researchers understand the complete structure of different essential body proteins, they can develop medicines to get them back in the previous state when they start to rattle in a cancerous patient. As a matter of fact, the researchers believe that knowing the structure of the protein molecules will help them create better design molecules that can prevent cancer. There are high hopes that these orderly crystals developed in space can help to formulate cancer immunotherapy drugs. Certain crystals are already used to develop antidotes for nerve gas, drugs for Parkinson’s disease, and the future possibilities are limitless.

NASA’s JUNO

Juno was sent out to study Jupiter on August 05, 2011 and has been orbiting the giant planet for about two tears. This mission was supposed to end when JUNO would crash into Jupiter’s clouds after July 2018. But there has been news of some changes in the schedule of this $1 billion mission. NASA has confirmed that the mission has been extended through July 2021. 

JUNO has actively penetrated the thick layers of the clouds on Jupiter and sent dazzling pictures of colossal storms and cloud bangs. It has been searching for a core of the planet while performing other activities. Juno is no ordinary space mission; however, it is only the size of a tennis court, but it has performed functions no other satellite ever could do in the history of space expeditions. It was planned that in 2018, NASA would bid goodbye to JUNO in the same manner as Cassini probes.

Europa – the moon of Jupiter which is in frozen conditions, maybe a habitat for alien life, hence it was crucial to carefully end this mission without posing any threat to the moon or life present there. Europa’s ocean has double water than there is on Earth, if Juno collided with the moon of Jupiter, the possibility of contaminating it with earthly microbes was quite high. 

Since the date of demise of Juno has been postponed for three years, the full and final will be done in September 2022. This has been done to fulfill the primary objective set for Juno which was mapping the gravitational field of Jupiter by taking data from perijoves. Juno has the data of 14 perijoves out of 32 and needs time to complete this mission.

Jupiter’s orbits are occupied by gases, and longer duration may damage the sensitive electronic devices installed on it. That’s why it moves around in a path which keeps it away from any harmful radiations. The route being long is covered by Juno in about 54 days. NASA tried to increase the speed but then decided to play it safe since there were specific issues with the engine valves. The challenge of performing the work in the defined timeline was met by extending the date of completion of the mission. However, NASA has not publically announced the final decision, but an inside agency had mentioned that such discussions are burning inside the organization. NASA may be soon declaring the results of Juno’s space flight. 

Amidst fresh explosions in Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego, toll rises to 75 with more than 200 missing

The biggest explosions ever in four decades of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala, the devastations took lives of around 75 till date with at least 192 missing. The fresh rounds of powerful explosions scattered ashes over a wide area and forced authorities to order further evacuations. The news relayed gripping stories of whole families being devastated by the disastrous explosions.

Satellites could not take proper images of such devastation because they were removed too far. Still, some of them took images to locate such eruption. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, which is a joint mission of NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Defense, took some images of the ash plume, which went above the overlying clouds.

The Associated Press while speaking with Lilian Hernandez, a weeping and distraught woman from the town of San Miguel Los Lotes, found that her 36 member family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, and grandchildren are all missing and presumed to be dead in the disaster.

One of the most active volcanoes in Central America, the Fuego volcano had ashes reaching to around 16000 ft. and sending lava flows through nearby towns on Tuesday afternoon. Two days have passed by since the eruption on Sunday. Still, the terrain has been too hot in many places for rescue crews to look for bodies, which is unlikely to find any survivor with each passing day.

Guatemala’s Seismology and Volcanology Institute reported and warned people of new pyroclastic outflow of hot and toxic gasses along with debris from the volcano. The AP reports of volcanic material descending the mountains southern side, forcing an evacuation order and closure of the national highway nearby.

Guatemala’s National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction, David De Leon, said that due to the increased activity of the volcano, evacuation process on war footing are being carried out of the nearby communities and on which the AP reported saying – “the evacuations have been setting off a panicky flight by people that stalled traffic in some areas.” The official report increased the death toll from Sunday’s eruptions to 75. 

The Disaster Relief Agency chief, Sergio Cabañas told the France-Presse news agency that they now have an account of people’s names and towns from where they have gone missing and 192 people in total till date has been unaccounted for. 

Volcan de Fuego, meaning ‘Volcano of Fire’ in Spanish, is one of the several active volcanoes among 34 others in the Central American country. It lies very close to the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several significant eruptions, in the past. 

In the past the latest activities have all been mostly on the farthest side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast. The eruption on Sunday had sent columns of ashes and smoked almost 10 kilometers into the sky, blanketing several regions of the area.

Mars and its Curiosity

The red planet often gathers news and attention. Nasa just wrote a fantastic reply to NTS’s funky email about offering them free parking on NASA. The space mission Curiosity has raised everybody’s curiosity since the day it left planet earth and reached Mars. Space exploration has reached a level where there is no more looking back. This Thursday on June 07, 2018 NASA will discuss the achievements and progress of the mission in a press conference. 

Probably, NASA wishes to reveal a discovery, that’s why for announcing the news publically a proper channel has been chosen. Curiosity has taken a selfie in February 2018 while it was hovering upon Vera Rubin Ridge, a place on Mars.

During the live discussion, NASA will unveil what is being kept a secret. At 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) this Thursday you can watch the live broadcast of this press release on Space.com (courtesy NASA TV). However, NASA has revealed the list of scientists who would be discussing the discovery during this press release.

Michelle Thaller, the assistant director of science for communication in the Planetary Science Division of NASA, will host the event. Paul Mahaffy who is the director of the Solar system Exploration division at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; Jen Eigenbrode, a research scientist at Goddard center;  Chris Webster, Sr. Research fellow Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; Ashwin Vasavada, Project scientist at JPL – Mars Science Laboratory will adorn the event with their remarkable theories and understanding of Mars.

Speculations are being made that scientists have probably found water on the Red Planet. Any news other than that doesn’t fit into the concept. If something were threatening like an attack by the aliens, NASA would have either declared that instantaneously or not told us at all. Organizing a press conference sounds like good news. A planet in our reach having water looks like an inviting escape from a polluted planet. Hopefully, we don’t ever need to escape from our beloved earth. 

Curiosity Rover’s complete name is Mars Science Laboratory. The project is worth $2.5 billion. Everybody is awaiting the telecast of this event. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or Upstream, the live telecast will be seen everywhere. Social media will be used as a platform to get an opinion of the masses. The drilling of the surface of Mars has proved to be a successful mission.

SpaceX launches SES-12 after a 4-day delay

SpaceX has finally launched the SES satellite after a four-day delay. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:45 EDT on Monday, June 4. Earlier, the space company delayed the launch of this satellite due to technical issues. 

This launch is the fifth SES satellite that SpaceX has launched successfully. This launch is the 56th launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, and the firm has launched for the eleventh time this year.

The first stage shut down two minutes forty-five seconds after the booster lifted off, the propellants burned out and fell off leaving the second stage to continue with the launch. SpaceX will not recover the first stage since they planned this launch of the first stage of the block 4 booster. 

The first stage of the block 4 booster can only fly twice. However, with the new upgrade, the Block 5 can be reused up to 100 times with significant repairs. The Block 5 variant launched last month carrying a communication satellite for the Bangladesh government. 

Airbus Defense and Space built the SES-12 satellite for the SES communication company. The SES-12 satellite will deliver direct-to-home TV and internet services across the Asia Pacific region. The satellite will replace the NSS-6 and will be co-located with the SES-8. The satellite has a service life of 15 years.

The company launched the SES-14 at the beginning of this year. The satellite launched on January 26, 2018, also has a service life of 15 years. The SES-14 was designed by Airbus Defense and Space as well, and its launch vehicle was Ariane 5 ECA. 

The satellite replaced the NSS-806 satellite and will support SES’s cable services in Latin America. This satellite features KU-band with wide beams which will help SES to support the increasing demand for broadband delivery, cellular backhaul, VSAT services, and aeronautics and maritime applications. 

SES-14 also carries NASA’s Global-scale Observations of the Limbs and Disks popularly called GOLD. 

SES recently launched an OB3 medium orbit satellite. The satellite manufactured by Thales Alenia Space launched aboard the Soyuz rocket on March 9, 2018. The company seeks to deliver fiber-like connectivity to people. 

The company’s next launch is scheduled for the first half of 2019. This satellite is also another OB3 satellite which will also launch aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle. 

SES is replacing its aging satellites with advanced options to increase the capacity of their satellites. The company has planned launches till the year 2021.  

Asteroid disintegrated up above in the sky

On Saturday night, June 02, 2018, an asteroid disintegrated after it lit up above the surface of the earth, in the sky. It lasted only a few hours and was lost forever. In Botswana, a fireball was seen in the sky by the natives. The fireball was identified as an asteroid hurling down towards the earth at a speed of 10 miles per second. There was instant chaos amongst the people as it indicated a big disaster if the asteroid had hit the surface of the earth.

In the West of Johannesburg, a webcam in the rural area captured an ignited object moving quickly with a bright flash. NASA immediately started investigating the purpose and determined that the asteroid may collide with earth. The locations identified for collision were the Southern Africa, The Indian Ocean, and New Guinea. Soon the name of the asteroid was declared – 2018 LA. 

Speculations were made how much damage could be caused, and what can be done, but the end of this whole dramatic event was something unexpected. If it had been some melodramatic movies, it would have been termed a miracle of the Almighty. Probably the asteroid didn’t come with an intention to mean any damage, and it was itself burning and at the verge of self-annihilation.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory could have come under its impact, but the good news is it burned up several miles above the surface of the earth. Generally, scientists do not get the opportunity to witness such an event. This 2018 LA was only the third asteroid discovered falling on the impact trajectory. The last one discovered was 2014 AA. This asteroid too was discovered only some hours before it came into contact with the earth’s atmosphere on the New Year’s day in 2014. The area of impact included the Atlantic Ocean.

NASA’s Planetary Defense team keeps an eye in the sky to monitor such events. Asteroids are formed when planets or stars violently collide with each other. The asteroids we know were created some 4.5 billion years ago. These are like rocks having properties of certain minerals and metals.    

In the belt between Mars and Jupiter, there are hundreds of thousands of asteroids moving along with several other objects.

The asteroid seen was discovered by Catalina sky survey in the first place. The organization is operated by the University of Arizona and funded by NASA. They even released a video for the same. 

Spaceship Two Of Virgin Galactic Successfully Completes It’s Second Test

During a power flight test conducted by the Virgin Galactic company over Mojave Desert in California, the Spaceship Two rocket plane established a fresh record in height and speed. The test was conducted on Tuesday , May 29th.

This test flight of the rocket has inched it a bit closer to the fact that eventually the Spaceship will be used to take passengers on the rim of the space on mini trips. Earlier this privately funded program was delayed owing to the the unsuccessful flight of the first Spaceship Two of Virgin Galactic, that unfortunately killed one of the test pilot while the second one was severely injured and the spacecraft was destroyed.

The rocket was launched from the Mojave Air and Spaceport situated in Mojave desert, California. It was carried in the sky by a carrier jet named VMS Eve. The mothership VMS Eve vehicle dropped the rocket plane which then boosted it’s engines around 12:34 EDT.

The rocket plane is fueled with two types of fuels, one being nitrous oxide while the other is a rubber based solid fuel which is known as HTTB. The rocket motor of VSS Unity Spaceship Two was fired just for 31 seconds and in that time both the aeronauts Dave Mackay and Mark “Forger” Stucky took the aircraft to a steep height. According to the Virgin Galactic officials, the rocket plane Spaceship Two attained the maximum speed of Mach 1.9 and a height of 114,500 feet in the May 29th test flight.

The two pilots Dave Mackay and Mark “Forger” Stucky then steered the rocket plane back to Earth by initiating the ‘feathering’ mechanism that boosted the twin tail of the craft helping it in orientation and slowing down on it’s way while landing. After gearing up the feathering mechanism, the pilots then modified the plane for it’s landing and deployed the landing gear of the plane. The craft then touched down the runway at the Mojave Spaceport to finally finish it’s testing.

In an earlier powered test flight of VSS Unity Spaceship Two,on April 5th, the aircraft achieved a maximum speed of Mach 1.87 and the top altitude of 84,271 feet.

The typical flight, the Spaceship Two will carry six passengers along with two pilots commanding the rocket plane.

The spaceship of Virgin Galactic is already in a neck to neck competition with the Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin that is going to be the first company to initiate a commercial business in space tourism.

Attention – the spacecraft is running late from its schedule. Inconvenience is regretted

SpaceX has been in the news for the plans of launching an orbital to take the tourists for a trip around the moon. But the fortunate travelers, whosoever they might be, will have to wait a bit longer as the mission is supposedly postponed. 

Earlier in 2018, it was announced that Elon Musk would in 2019 send a tour for solar exploration. But because of technical challenges, it won’t be possible to complete the project in the pre-defined timeline. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, now known as SpaceX is still planning to carry out this project of sending civilians and not the astronauts to the moon. Many people have shown interest in that mainly because this trip would be much safer than the one planned for Mars.

James Gleeson, the spokesman, declared through an email that the private moon launch had been postponed. Not just this project, nearly 40% of anticipated launches for 2018 are also going to experience a delay. Commercial space activities have just begun, and challenges in them are expected, but disappointment was evident on Musk’s face when this news was made public.

Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and other payloads launching missions are in queue and competitors are seriously taking the competition. This return to moon concept by Musk has been eyed upon since the beginning, and the mere thought of commercializing the space industry gets you awe-struck. 

Launching hundreds of satellites and establishing them in orbits does need help from the financially stronger sectors. However, Charles Miller, a consultant and space entrepreneur stated that the latest version of Falcon 9 had eliminated much of the financial help needed for the Falcon Heavy.

SpaceX has revolutionized the space exploration industry by slashing the cost involved in launching a rocket. This has been achieved by developing reusable rocket parts. And flying with them up to ten times. This was considered impossible earlier and so is sending a space expedition with the vision of taking two paying customers enjoy a trip around the moon and return to Earth using an automated Dragon Capsule. Although there is no identification of who are those two lucky individuals, the preparations are silently being done including the health tests and training.

SpaceX had planned to send unmanned spacecraft to test this mission before sending astronauts repeatedly and then the ordinary humans, but his idea of sending humans to the deep space cannot be realized in its planned time. 

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