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By Ather Fawaz
James Webb Telescope completes environmental testing ahead of 2021 launch
by Ather Fawaz
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s largest, most powerful, and complex space science telescope ever and is slated for launch next year. In the march to launch of this $9.8 billion venture, the telescope is undergoing the final stages of testing after completing assembly back in August.
Yesterday, it successfully completed its environmental testing, indicating that that the telescope is ready to thrive in the harsh conditions that it will be subjected to once it's launched into space.
The environmental testing comprised of two stages in two separate facilities at the Northrop Grumman’s Space Park in Redondo Beach in California. In the first stage, the Webb was transported to the acoustic testing chamber where it was subjected to sound pressure levels above 140 decibels to mimic a rocket's ascent to space. Close to 600 individual channels of motion data were observed and recorded, and the test was marked as a success. In the second stage of the test, the telescope was transported to a separate facility to simulate low-frequency vibrations that occur during liftoff. This too was a success.
The James Webb Telescope. Image via NASA While the telescope has been meticulously tested throughout its assembly and developmental stages, last night's tests, were a milestone achievement. This is because they are the last tests of their kind before the telescope will be ferried to South America for launch. However, the complete verification of flight worthiness will occur after the telescope has successfully completed final deployment tests.
These should be around the corner as the completion of the environmental tests put Webb into the pipeline for a final systems evaluation before it receives a go for launch. Should the things go according to plan and weather permitting, the James Webb Telescope will take flight atop the Ariane V rocket from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on October 31, next year.
Europe's telescopes can handle broadband satellite interference
by Paul Hill
A new study has found that European telescopes will be “moderately affected” by internet satellite constellations being launched by SpaceX, OneWeb and others but that the effect of the additional satellites will be manageable. Critics have argued that firms haven’t sought public consensus to fly the satellites and that they could impact astronomy.
According to the authors of the paper, Olivier Hainaut and Andrew Williams, the private satellite constellations will have varying impacts in the field of astronomy. Fortunately, most of the impact is negligible with work in the first and last hours of the night being most impacted when more of the satellites will reflect the light of the Sun, which will be either rising or setting.
Discussing the visibility of the satellites, the authors wrote:
They also found that flares and occultations by the satellites will only have a small impact on observations. They found that light trails will ruin around 1% of telescopic exposures using narrow to normal field imaging and spectrotelescopic techniques in the visible and near-infrared during the first and last hours of the night.
More impacted will be wide-field exposures and long medium-field exposures which will be affected about 3% of the time during the first and last hours of the night. The biggest impact will be on ultra-wide imaging exposures done by very large telescopes such as the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. They will be significantly impacted with 30 to 40% of exposures being compromised during the first and last hours of the night.
To mitigate these problems, the researchers recommend that the astronomical community, satellite companies, and government agencies conduct co-ordination and collaboration.
Source: Astronomy & Astrophysics via BBC News
By Stergios Georgopoulos
Slooh offers Its live telescope feeds of outer space to everyone for free
by Stergios Georgopoulos
Slooh, a robotic telescope online service that provides live streams of outer space, announced that it has opened its live telescope feeds to the public for free. The company was the first service to offer live viewing through a telescope via the web but its feeds were previously available to paying members only.
The firm owns several telescopes both at its main observatory on the Canary Islands and at a secondary observatory in Chile, which offers views from the Southern Hemisphere. It also has partnerships with many other observatories around the world.
Paige Godfrey, Slooh's director of research, said in a statement:
As of today, all you have to do to view the live streams is to sign up for a free account. However, you will still have to pay if you want to control the telescopes and point them at the space objects of your choice. There are two types of paid accounts; ‘Apprentice’ members can point the telescopes at 500 popular objects in the night sky for $4.95 per month, while ‘Astronomer’ accounts can point the telescopes at any object in the sky and cost $24.95 per month.
Source: Space.com | Image via Slooh
Telegram 4.0 released, bringing several major additions
by Paul Hill
Telegram 4.0 has officially been released and is available right now from iOS and Android’s respective app stores. The release is a major one bringing with it video messages, Telescope, Instant View support on most websites, and bot payment support.
Video messages on Telegram work in exactly the same way audio recordings work. To record a message, you tap the audio record button to flip to video record mode, then press and hold the record button. The update also allows you to swipe up on the record button if you want to record a video without having to keep your thumb pressed on the button. This now works when recording audio, too.
Telescope extends video messaging. When channel owners publish video messages to their followers, it is also given a public URL for non-Telegram users to access and watch the content; the URL can be found on the channel's Telescope page. The full library of a channel’s video messages can be found at telesco.pe/channel_name. Telescope allows content to spread outside of the Telegram network and attract new followers.
Instant View has been available for a while now on Telegram, but was limited to Telegram’s own website and articles posted on the telegra.ph blogging platform. Now, many more compatible websites will be able to be cached on Telegram's servers giving users faster access to the content within Telegram, rather than having to open a web browser. Instant View has also gained more functionality, it allows you now to adjust the font, font size, theme colour, and brightness.
The last major addition to Telegram in version 4.0 is the inclusion of bot payments. Bots have been around for a while, but now vendors which run bots can build in payment options allowing for a more streamlined purchasing experience. Payments on Telegram aren’t actually processed through Telegram itself, and thus the service stores none of your data; instead, it ties in with other services such as Stripe.
Even after dismissing witchcraft with a rational mind this is still really, really weird.
Dubbed the Black Ring of Leamington Spa, the strange phenomenon was captured by Georgina Heap, 16, on her iPhone on Friday evening near Warwick Castle.
Fire services have said no fires were reported at the time and the Met Office have said it does not appear to be weather-related.
Heap said it was "the weirdest thing I have ever seen".
"I looked up at it and thought 'what the hell?', it was amazing.
"It was just floating there like a cloud and then it disappeared. It wasn't birds either.
"There were about ten of us who stopped what we were doing and watched."
UFO expert, Nick Pope, described the video as "truly bizarre" and ruled out it being a smoke ring.
He added: "One other possibility is that the shape is made up of millions of bees or other insects, but I've never heard of insects behaving in this way before, so if this is the explanation, it's a real-life X-File."