NASA launches test mission of asteroid-deflecting spacecraft

NASA launches test mission of asteroid-deflecting spacecraft
The so-called DART spacecraft soared into the night sky from the Vandenberg US Space Force Base. NASA via AP)
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Updated 24 November 2021

NASA launches test mission of asteroid-deflecting spacecraft

NASA launches test mission of asteroid-deflecting spacecraft
  • NASA mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defense system

LOS ANGELES: A spacecraft that must ultimately crash to succeed was launched late on Tuesday from California on a NASA mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defense system, designed to deflect an asteroid from a potential doomsday collision with Earth.

The DART spacecraft soared into the night sky at 10:21 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday (1:21 a.m. Eastern/0621 GMT Wednesday) from Vandenberg US Space Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, carried aboard a SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch was shown live on NASA TV.

The DART payload, about the size of a small car, was released from the booster minutes after launch to begin a 10-month journey into deep space, some 11 million kilometers from Earth.

Once there DART will test its ability to alter an asteroid’s trajectory with sheer kinetic force, plowing into it at high speed to nudge the space boulder off course just enough to keep our planet out of harm’s way.

Cameras mounted on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft to be released from DART about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images of it back to Earth.

The asteroid DART is aimed at poses no actual threat and is tiny compared with the cataclysmic Chicxulub asteroid that struck Earth some 66 million years ago, leading to extinction of the dinosaurs. But scientists say smaller asteroids are far more common and pose a greater theoretical danger in the near term.

DART’s target is an asteroid “moonlet” the size of a football stadium that orbits a chunk of rock five times larger in a binary asteroid system named Didymos, the Greek word for twin.

The team behind DART, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, chose the Didymos system because its relative proximity to Earth and dual-asteroid configuration make it ideal for observing the results of the impact.

The plan is to fly the DART spacecraft directly into the moonlet, called Dimorphos, at 24,000 kilometers per hour, bumping it hard enough to shift its orbital track around the larger asteroid.

Cameras on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft released from DART about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images back to Earth. Ground-based telescopes will measure how much the moonlet’s orbit around Didymos changes.

The DART team expects to shorten Dimorphos’ orbital track by 10 minutes but would consider at least 73 seconds a success. A small nudge to an asteroid millions of miles away would be sufficient to safely reroute it.

DART is the latest of several NASA missions of recent years to explore and interact with asteroids, primordial rocky remnants from the solar system’s formation 4.6 billion years ago.

Last month, NASA launched a probe on a voyage to the Trojan asteroid clusters orbiting near Jupiter, while the grab-and-go spacecraft OSIRES-REx is on its way back to Earth with a sample collected last October from the asteroid Bennu.

The Dimorphos moonlet is one of the smallest astronomical objects to receive a permanent name and is one of 27,500 known near-Earth asteroids of all sizes tracked by NASA.

Although all none poses a foreseeable hazard to humankind, NASA estimates many more asteroids remain undetected in the near-Earth vicinity.

The DART spacecraft, cube-shaped with two rectangular solar arrays, is due to rendezvous with the Didymos-Dimorphos pair in late September 2022.

NASA put the entire cost of the DART project at $330 million, well below that of many of the space agency’s most ambitious science missions.


New Zealand politician cycles to hospital in labor, gives birth

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter rides a bicyle to the hospital while in labour, in Wellington, New Zealand, November 28, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter rides a bicyle to the hospital while in labour, in Wellington, New Zealand, November 28, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
Updated 28 November 2021

New Zealand politician cycles to hospital in labor, gives birth

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter rides a bicyle to the hospital while in labour, in Wellington, New Zealand, November 28, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media. (REUTERS)
  • Amazingly now we have a healthy, happy little one sleeping, as is her dad,” said Genter, a dual New Zealand-US citizen who was born in Minnesota and moved to the Pacific country in 2006

MELBOURNE: New Zealand Member of Parliament Julie Anne Genter got on her bicycle early on Sunday and headed to the hospital. She was already in labor and she gave birth an hour later.
“Big news!” the Greens politician posted on her Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JulieAnneGenter page a few hours later. “At 3.04am this morning we welcomed the newest member of our family. I genuinely wasn’t planning to cycle in labor, but it did end up happening.”
The island nation of 5 million already has a reputation for down-to-earth politicians. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern famously took maternity https://www.reuters.com/article/us-newzealand-politics-ardern-idUSKBN1KN0A8 leave while in office and brought her three-month old to a United Nations https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-assembly-leaders-idUSKCN1M30XW meeting as she was still breastfeeding.
“My contractions weren’t that bad when we left at 2am to go to the hospital — though they were 2-3 min apart and picking up in intensity by the time we arrived 10 minutes later,” Genter wrote.
“Amazingly now we have a healthy, happy little one sleeping, as is her dad,” said Genter, a dual New Zealand-US citizen who was born in Minnesota and moved to the Pacific country in 2006.
Genter — her party’s spokesperson for transport issues and whose Facebook profile includes “I love my bicycle” — also biked to the hospital in 2018 to give birth to her first-born, local media said.


French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0

French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0
Updated 28 November 2021

French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0

French Guianese team travel 7,000km to lose 14-0
  • C.S.C. de Cayenne were only trailing 1-0 when they were reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute before collapsing in the second half
  • Saint-Denis made the most of their trek from the island of Reunion, beating Canet Rousillon on penalties to reach the last 64

PARIS: C.S.C. de Cayenne traveled over 7,000 kilometers from the capital of French Guiana for their French Cup eighth-round tie against Paris FC on Saturday, but lost 14-0.
The visitors were only trailing 1-0 when they were reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute before collapsing in the second half, conceding 12 goals after the break.
Cayenne will make the return trip across the Atlantic Ocean after seeing their cup run end in remarkable fashion.
Moustapha Name, Lamine Diaby Fadiga and Morgan Guilavogui, the brother of former France midfielder Josuha, all scored hat-tricks for second-tier side Paris FC.
Elsewhere, though, Saint-Denis made the most of their trek from the island of Reunion, beating Canet Rousillon on penalties to reach the last 64, where the 20 Ligue 1 teams enter the draw.


Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday

Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday
Updated 27 November 2021

Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday

Activists block Amazon warehouses in Europe on Black Friday
  • Members of Extinction Rebellion targeted 13 Amazon fulfilment centers in the UK with the aim of disrupting 50% of the company's deliveries on Black Friday
  • They staged similar protests in Germany and the Netherlands

DUBAI: Climate activists blockaded Amazon warehouses in three European countries on Friday.
This was part of a global effort to pressure the ecommerce giant on one of its busiest days of the year to improve working conditions and end business practices that hurt the environment.
Members of Extinction Rebellion targeted 13 Amazon fulfilment centers in the United Kingdom with the aim of disrupting 50 percent of the company’s deliveries on Black Friday, which marks the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. They staged similar protests in Germany and the Netherlands.
“The action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices, disregard for workers’ rights in the name of company profits, as well as the wastefulness of Black Friday,” the group said. It vowed to remain at the scene
At least 30 people were arrested at multiple UK locations, with some held on suspicion of aggravated trespass or public nuisance, police forces said.
Extinction Rebellion and dozens of other activist groups in the US and around the world are organizing a day of global protests and strikes on Friday against Amazon to demand the company provide better working conditions, commit to operating sustainably, and pay its fair share of tax.
In the US, labor activists planned a small protest at Amazon’s fulfilment center on Staten Island, New York.
Activists in the UK blocked the entrance to Amazon’s warehouse in Tilbury, just east of London, with an effigy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sitting on top of a rocket.
At Amazon’s distribution center in Dunfermline, Scotland, about 20 Extinction Rebellion members strung banners across the entrance road that said “Make Amazon Pay” and locked themselves together, stopping trucks from entering and some from leaving.
Amazon did not directly address the protests in response to a request for comment, but said the company takes its responsibilities “very seriously.”
“That includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040 — 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement — providing excellent pay and benefits in a safe and modern work environment, and supporting the tens of thousands of British small businesses who sell on our store,” the company said.
Extinction Rebellion activists also blocked an Amazon logistics center in the central German town of Bad Hersfeld by erecting a makeshift bamboo scaffold that they used to suspend themselves in the air. Authorities later removed them with the help of a fire department ladder truck, according to video posted on the group’s German Facebook page.
The group staged a similar protest at an Amazon facility at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport.


Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak

Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak
Updated 26 November 2021

Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak

Egypt revives ancient road connecting Luxor and Karnak
  • The procession to reopen the 2.7 km road included a reenactment of the ancient Opet festival
  • Pharaonic chariots and more than 400 young performers dressed in pharaonic costumes paraded along the avenue

LUXOR, Egypt: A restored road connecting two ancient Egyptian temple complexes in Karnak and Luxor was unveiled on Thursday in a lavish ceremony aimed at raising the profile of one of Egypt’s top tourist spots.
The procession to reopen the 2.7 km (1.7 mile) road included a reenactment of the ancient Opet festival, where statues of Theban deities were paraded annually during the New Kingdom era in celebration of fertility and the flooding of the Nile.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi marched along the road at the start of the ceremony. Pharaonic chariots and more than 400 young performers dressed in pharaonic costumes paraded along the avenue.
The 3,400-year-old road linking the ancient centers of Karnak and Luxor, also known as Road of the Rams or the Avenue of the Sphinxes, is lined with hundreds of ram- and human-headed sphinxes, though over the years many have been eroded or destroyed.
The road has undergone several restoration efforts since being discovered in 1949, and the latest began in 2017.
Tourism is a crucial source of jobs and hard currency for Egypt, which has made a concerted effort to lure back the travelers kept away by the coronavirus pandemic.
In April, 22 ancient royal mummies from Luxor and the nearby Valley of the Kings were borne in procession Egyptian mummies paraded from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
Egypt’s tourism revenues plunged to about $4 billion in 2020, down from $13 billion in 2019.


Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy

Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy
Updated 25 November 2021

Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy

Bryan Adams tests positive for COVID in Italy
  • The Canadian rock ‘n roller disclosed the positive test in an Instagram post
  • “I’ve tested positive for the second time in a month for COVID,’’ Adams said in the post

MILAN: Bryan Adams tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at Milan’s Malpensa Airport on Thursday, ahead of the unveiling of the 2022 Pirelli calendar that he photographed.
The Canadian rock ‘n roller disclosed the positive test in an Instagram post that included a photograph of him in a room after being tested and then sitting in an ambulance, being taken for a more reliable PCR test. He was seated normally, wearing a surgical mask.
“Here I am, just arrived in Milano, and I’ve tested positive for the second time in a month for COVID,’’ Adams said in the post. “So it’s off to the hospital for me.” He thanked fans for his support.
Adams, who also enjoys a career as a photographer, has shot the 2022 Pirelli calendar, after initially being engaged to shoot the 2021 version that was canceled due to the pandemic. Adams was expected to appear at in-person press events promoting the calendar Sunday and Monday, but that was now uncertain.
Normally the unveiling of the Pirelli calendar is a gala event attended by those who appear and other VIPS, but this year was already a scaled-back affair due to the ongoing pandemic, with a tight guest list for an evening cocktail.
Adams chose as his subjects for the calendar called “On the road,” other musical talents, including Iggy Pop, Cher, Jennifer Hudson, Saweetie and St. Vincent.