How a 2nd-Grade Class Sent a Science Experiment to Space

Back in 2015, students in Maggie Samudio’s second-grade class at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette, Ind., were contemplating an offbeat science question: If a firefly went to space, would it still be able to light up as it floated in zero gravity?

Ms. Samudio said she would ask a friend of hers, Steven Collicott, an aerospace professor at nearby Purdue University, for the answer.

“He teaches a class on zero gravity, and he would be the perfect person to answer the question,” Ms. Samudio recalled in an email.

A day later, Dr. Collicott replied, and Ms. Samudio was surprised by his answer: Instead of guessing, why not actually build the experiment and send it to space?

Blue Origin, the rocket company started by Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, was planning to offer the ability for schools to fly small experiments on its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft for

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Asteroid Bennu Could Shed Light on How Ingredients for Life Reached Earth | Smart News

A series of studies published last week in the journals Science and Science Advances offer a new, detailed look at the makeup of a small asteroid called Bennu. The studies come just before NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft plans to pick up a sample from the asteroid’s surface on October 20 and return with it to Earth in 2023.

Before the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached the asteroid in 2018, astronomers could only study it with telescopes that couldn’t make out details smaller than cities or states, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. OSIRIS-REx allows astronomers to map details the size of basketball courts, sheets of paper and postage stamps, depending on the imaging tool they used.

“The reason there’s so much interest in asteroids is a lot of them are very primitive, from when the Solar System formed, and they didn’t change with wind and water, or weather like on Earth,” planetary

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Record-Breaking Bird Just Flew Nonstop From Alaska to New Zealand

A bar-tailed godwit in Australia.

A bar-tailed godwit in Australia.
Image: JJ Harrison/Wikimedia

A conservation group has tracked a migration for the ages, in which a male bar-tailed godwit flew from Alaska to New Zealand without taking a single break.

As the Guardian reports, the bar-tailed godwit departed southwestern Alaska on September 16 and arrived 11 days later at a bay near Auckland, New Zealand. The bird, designated 4BBRW (for the blue, blue, red, and white identification rings attached to its legs), was tracked by Global Flyway Network, a conservation group that studies long-distance migrating shorebirds.

Bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica) are exceptional birds, featuring some mind-bogglingly long migratory routes. The wading birds spend their summers in the arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere (where they breed) and then fly south for the winter, in some cases as far as Australia and New Zealand. Bar-tailed godwits are fast and lightweight, with

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Rappelling NASA rover could split in two to explore Mars’ deep craters

NASA JPL took the DuAxel out for a test run in the Mojave Desert.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/J.D. Gammell

NASA’s car-size Mars rovers are awesome, versatile machines capable of traversing rugged terrain. But they’re not made to descend down the sides of craters. For that, NASA would need something like its DuAxel prototype rover, a wild concept that is two rovers in one.

When all together, DuAxel is a four-wheeled rover. The rear can anchor itself to the ground while the front goes free on two wheels. A tether holds the pieces together while the front section rappels down a steep slope. This could work well for exploring currently inaccessible crater walls on Mars.

NASA put a DuAxel prototype through its paces in the Mojave Desert in California. “DuAxel performed extremely well in the field, successfully demonstrating its

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NASA announces eight-nation space coalition under ‘Artemis Accords’

While NASA is leading the Artemis program, it has emphasized the need for international partnerships in building up a sustainabl
While NASA is leading the Artemis program, it has emphasized the need for international partnerships in building up a sustainable presence on the Moon, something the agency views as key for building up its expertise ahead of a human mission to Mars

NASA announced on Tuesday that eight countries have signed an international agreement called the Artemis Accords that outlines the principles of future exploration of the Moon and beyond.


The treaty paves the way for its founding members—Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States—to participate in NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return humans to Earth’s nearest neighbor by 2024.

“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners

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NASA animation tracks the end of Tropical Storm Delta

NASA animation tracks the end of Tropical Storm Delta  
NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image to forecasters of Tropical Storm Delta moving through the southeastern U.S. on Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. At the time of the image, the storm was centered over northern Alabama. Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).

NASA’s Terra satellite obtained visible imagery as Tropical Storm Delta made landfall in Louisiana and moved northeastward soaking the U.S. southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.


NASA satellite view: Delta’s organization

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument that flies aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Delta on Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The storm still appeared circular in imagery. At the time, it was centered over northern Alabama. At the time Terra passed overhead, Delta had weakened to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds near 25 mph (35 kph).

Visible imagery from NASA’s Terra

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NASA astronaut set to launch on Russian rocket as US transitions to private spacecraft

A new crew of three astronauts are launching to the International Space Station late tonight, blasting off on a Russian Soyuz rocket out of Kazakhstan. The trio are heading to the station about a month ahead of SpaceX’s next crewed Dragon launch, which will bring another set of four astronauts aboard the ISS in mid-November.

Heading up on this Soyuz flight are two Russian cosmonauts — Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov — and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second trip to space. The trio will join three crew members who have been living on the ISS since April: Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. However, their living arrangement won’t last long. Cassidy and his cosmonaut crew mates are slated to head back to Earth on October 21st, riding inside the Soyuz capsule that brought them to the space station.

Just a few weeks

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16 Amazing Winners, In Photos

‘A welcome embrace,’ a rare glimpse of a Siberian tigress hugging a tree has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 competition, #WPY56.

The moving image by Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov shows an Amur tigress hugging an ancient Manchurian fir tree at the Land of the Leopard National Park in Russian Far East.

Amur, or Siberian, tigers are found only in this region and it took more than 11 months for the photographer to capture this moment with

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Restoring California’s Forests to Reduce Wildfire Risks Will Take Time, Billions of Dollars and a Broad Commitment | Best States

By Roger Bales and Martha Conklin

Many of California’s 33 million acres of forests face widespread threats stemming from past management choices. Today the U.S. Forest Service estimates that of the 20 million acres it manages in California, 6-9 million acres need to be restored.

Forest restoration basically means removing the less fire-resistant smaller trees and returning to a forest with larger trees that are widely spaced. These stewardship projects require partnerships across the many interests who benefit from healthy forests, to help bring innovative financing to this huge challenge.

The California Wildfires in Photos

california wildfires

We are engineers who work on many natural resource challenges, including forest management. We’re encouraged to see California and other western states striving to use forest management to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

But there are major bottlenecks. They include scarce resources and limited engagement between forest managers and many local, regional and state

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Astronomers Observe Star Being ‘Spaghettified’ by a Supermassive Black Hole

Artist’s impression of a star undergoing spaghettification near a supermassive black hole.

Artist’s impression of a star undergoing spaghettification near a supermassive black hole.
Image: ESO

A star 215 million light-years away has been obliterated by a supermassive black hole, making it the closest observation to date of stellar spaghettification.

Spaghettification doesn’t sound very scientific, but it’s a fairly accurate description of what actually happens.

A doomed star caught in the orbit of a supermassive black hole will eventually hit a kind of gravitational sweet spot that turns everything to shit. No longer capable of keeping its physical integrity, the star begins to rapidly collapse in a process known as a fast-evolving tidal disruption event. When this happens, stellar debris bursts out from the star, forming a long, thin stream, half of which gets sucked toward the black hole; the other half is blown back into space. The thin stream eventually catches up to and slams into itself, releasing energy and

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