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China to send Mini-Ecosystems to the Moon

China is planning to send mini-ecosystems comprising of potato seeds and silkworm eggs to the Moon by next year. The move is aimed at studying how the organisms develop in Moon.

Salient Highlights

The 3-kilogramme mini-ecosystem will be developed by research teams under the leadership of Chongqing University in China.

The mini-ecosystems would be sent to the moon by Chang’e 4 which is scheduled to be launched in 2018.

The potato seeds and silkworm eggs would be placed in an 18-centimetre-tall cylinder. According to the researchers, the silkworms will hatch and create carbon dioxide, while the potato plants will generate oxygen.

The main objective behind this mission is to prepare for future moon landings and possible human inhabitants. China is preparing for a planned mission to the Moon.

In addition, the researchers have decided to live stream the development of plants and insects to the whole world.


NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Clears Safety Tests

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft which has been designed to carry astronauts to deep space destinations like Moon and Mars has successfully carried out a series of tests to test its critical safety systems.

Salient Highlights

NASA test fired Orion’s launch abort system by firing the 17-foot tall motor for five seconds. The test was successful as the motor produced enough thrust and thus qualifying for future missions with astronauts.

The launch abort system which is positioned on top of the Orion crew module is a vital component of Orion’s spacecraft making sure crew members remain safe on the launch pad. It plays a critical role in making sure the crews travelling to deep space destinations remain safe inside the Orion spacecraft.

The launch abort model is responsible for propelling the crew module away from the Space Launch System rocket in case of an emergency, The launch motor will send the crew module to a safe distance away from a failing rocket and will orient the module for a safe descent into the Atlantic Ocean in case such an eventuality ever occurs.

During the test, the researchers also evaluated the performance of the parachutes which will ensure that the crew module safely descends to earth.

Orion Spacecraft

The Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle was announced to be built by NASA on May 24, 2011. The new spacecraft is currently under development. NASA has named the Orion spacecraft after the largest constellation in the night sky. NASA is building the Orion spacecraft by making use of its 50 years experience in spaceflight research and development.

The Orion spacecraft will be designed to cater to NASA’s deep space exploration programs. According to NASA, it will be the safest and most advanced spacecraft ever built and will offer emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and will offer safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.


Fact Box: James Webb Space Telescope & its First Targets

Mission officials for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have announced the initial science targets for the James Webb Space Telescope. The JWST has been scheduled to look at a large number of things in the universe including icy moons, distant exoplanets and galaxy clusters. It will look at very first galaxies after the Big Bang, search for fingerprints of life on Enceladus, Europa, and exoplanets like TRAPPIST-1e etc. As a part of the initial observations, 2100 observations has been planned for the JWST by the mission handlers.

JWST, being the most powerful telescope designed and built on Earth is scheduled to be launched in October 2018 on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana.

James Webb Space Telescope

JWST is a joint project of the NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore will conduct Webb science operations.

The JWST will be the successor of 26-year-old Hubble Space Telescope. JWST is 100 times powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and will be the largest telescope ever sent into space. JWST will have a very large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. Its sun shield is 22 metres which is roughly the size of a tennis court and has a mirror 6.5 metres which is over twice the size of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The JWST is named after the former NASA administrator, James Webb. JWST was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST).

In November 2016, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had completed the construction of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) after more than 20 years of work.

Instruments of JWST include Cameras and spectrometers that are able to record extremely faint signals. NIRSpec having programmable micro-shutters for observation of up to 100 objects. Cryocooler for cooling the mid-infrared detectors.