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20 Dec

Canadian Astronaut Sideboard Social

Posted by Blog Master in CSA, space, Space Matters

Welcome back to the blog!

We're taking a little off-topic adventure at Trailer Blocks: The Canadian Astronaut Sideboard Social. In this article, we wish to acknowledge and pay homage to some of the exciting developments underway at The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and take a look at some of the people who make it all possible.

Launch Photo Credit: NASA

First off, many are familiar with Canadian friend Chris Hadfield, past commander of The International Space Station and spacewalker.

Astronaut Photo Credit: CSA

Hadfield commanded the I.S.S. in 2013 before his return to Earth, the first Canadian to do so. He also gained further notoriety via social media with his widely popular rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" which garnered over 40 million views on Youtube, turning him into a Canadian cultural icon practically overnight.

Upon his return, Hadfield wrote an autobiography and went on many speaking engagements further expanding on his experiences onboard the I.S.S. as well as highlighting the importance of space travel to humanity. Commander Hadfield's contributions to increasing the public's investment in space news and developments cannot be understated.

You can read more about Chris Hadfield at: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronauts/canadian/former/bio-chris-hadfield.asp

Less known but equally heroic is relative CSA newcomer David Saint-Jacques.

Astronaut Photo Credit: CSA

Saint-Jacques is part of the first team to fly the Soyuz rocket-pod again after the mission MS-10, carrying American Nick Hague and Russian Aleksey Ovchinin, suffered a stage 1 booster failure and subsequent launch abort earlier this year.

David flew aboard Soyuz mission: MS-11 with American Anne McClain and Russian Oleg Kononenko and successfully reached man's most remote outpost on December 3rd 2018.

You can read more about David Saint-Jacques over at: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronauts/canadian/active/bio-david-saint-jacques.asp

Astronaut Crew Photo Credit: NASA

SpaceX followed-up with Mission CRS-16, launching the Dragon spacecraft into orbit and then rendezvousing with the ISS orbiting laboratory. Apparently, the Dragon brought Christmas treats for the holiday season to be enjoyed and celebrated in space!

CanadaArm Photo Credit: CSA

Cool footage of the Dragon Rendezvous from SpaceX can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDJ6A-0jpkE

We're also closely watching the developments of Canada's only commercial spaceport with hopeful interest.The site will be located near Canso, Nova Scotia on Canada's eastern shores. 

Canso Launch Site Photo Credit: CBC

Canada stands at an important juncture in its national development where advancement in domestic aircraft production has been widespread but the development of spacecraft has been lacking.

It is of vital importance that humanity becomes a space-faring civilization and it's our responsibility to contribute to that long-term goal, no matter the size of that contribution. 

Cyclone-4M Photo Credit: Maritime Launch Services

Share your thoughts below on how Canada can become more advanced in space, we welcome you to join the story and comment. Thanks for your interest!

 

17 Dec

Space Matters: The James Webb Space Telescope

Welcome back to the blog!

For this entry of Space Matters, we're taking a look at an incredible project years in the making, the James Webb Space Telescope. Scheduled for launch in late 2018, Webb will reveal a universe we have never seen before and is poised to answer questions that have intrigued us for thousands of years: How did the universe begin? Where did we come from? Are we alone?

In development since 1996, the project represents an international collaboration of the European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency and teamwork from members of other countries although led by NASA in the U.S.A. The telescope is named after James E. Webb, the second administrator of NASA, who played an integral role in the Apollo program. The James Webb Space Telescope was originally called the "Next Generation Space Telescope," or NGST. It was called "Next Generation" because Webb will build on and continue the science exploration started by the on-orbit work of the Hubble Space Telescope. Discoveries by Hubble and other telescopes have caused a revolution in astronomy and have raised new questions that require a new, improved, and more powerful orbital space telescope.

JWST will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity into the infrared wavelengths of light. While the Hubble Space Telescope has a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) diameter mirror, the JWST features a larger segmented gold 6.5-meter-diameter (21 ft 4 in) primary mirror and will be located near the Earth–Sun L2 point. To see deeply into the infrared a large multi-layer sunshield will keep its mirror and four science instruments below 50 K (-220 °C; -370 °F). JWST's capabilities will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy. One particular goal involves observing some of the most distant events and objects in the universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies. In the deep dark of outer space these types of targets are beyond the reach of current ground and space-based instruments. Ground telescopes and unshielded orbital telescopes glow themselves, from the internal heat within the instruments. Another goal is furthering our understanding of the formation of stars and planets. This will include direct imaging of supernovas, extra-solar objects, such as exoplanets - the worlds around other stars, that could be brought to life with vivid detail through the imagery provided by The James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA has described JWST as the scientific successor of the Hubble Space Telescope, but not a replacement, because the capabilities are not identical and the Hubble will not be taken offline. JWST has an objective lens large enough to see high-redshift objects, typically both older and farther away than previous instruments could assess. This radical design for JWST will put it beyond the capabilities of all other telescopes currently in operation.

We'll be keeping an eye on the development and launching of this monumental project and you should too, as we seek to expand our knowledge of the cosmos collectively as a species. We'll have more to come, thanks for reading!

07 Jun

Space Matters: Mars, Part One

Welcome to the Blogs in Motion series: Space Matters!

For this entry, we’ll be taking a look at one of our close planetary neighbors: Mars. This planet has held a place in our collective consciousnesses ever since it was first noted by Christian Huygens in 1659. From science fiction to practical research, Mars has been a consistent point of interest for many people and organizations. In recent years, Mars has become a hot topic of discussion, ranging from the various forms of water both on and under the planet’s surface to the various organizations and countries planning to send manned missions in the coming decade. We’ll be taking a look at Mars and humanity’s relationship with it. Let’s begin by taking a look at a few facts about the red planet.

Mars, named after the Roman God of War, is the fourth planet in our Solar System. It orbits around the Sun every 687 days at a distance of 227 million kilometers. Nearly 95% of its atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, with the rest consisting of small amounts of other elements such as oxygen, argon and nitrogen. Commonly referred to as the “red planet”, Mars’ iconic hue is the result of iron oxide dust on the planet’s surface, which is also dispersed in the air by intense dust storms. Two small moons orbit the planet, Demios and Phobos. These moons have long suspected to be not typical moons, but in fact asteroids that were caught in Mars’ gravity during the formation of the Solar System. Mars is also home to a few notable landmarks, including Olympus Mons (the largest known mountain in the Solar System, standing nearly three times higher than Mount Everest) and the region of Cydonia, which contains the infamous “Face on Mars”. In spite of the many interesting observations made about Mars over the years, perhaps the most significant is the presence of both frozen and liquid water.

Water in its various forms on Mars has been reported on several times in the last 15 years.  Thanks to the Martian probe missions, we know that ice exists on the surface in the north polar cap and under the surface at the south cap. Despite the success of the missions, the presence of liquid water was yet to be confirmed and only hypothesized on. However, on September 28, 2015, NASA scientists announced that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had collected sufficient evidence to support the theory that liquid water flows on Mars. Announcements like this are sometimes met with skepticism or dismissal by some. Many are often left asking why they should care about such things. First, it is important to remember just how vital water is to the formation and sustaining of organic life. All living things on Earth require water for survival and as we’ve seen in our own system, it’s not always easy or convenient to find. By locating water elsewhere; we begin to overcome one of the biggest hurdles of humanity’s journey into space: the dependence on Earth for a life-sustaining resource. The colonization of Mars allows us to expand our reach in the Solar System by becoming a secondary source of food, water and breathable air. Studying water where we find it strengthens the on-going effort to discovering and understanding new forms of life, as well as the development of life itself. Since we know water sustains organic life, observing it on other planetary bodies can lead to discovering new microscopic organisms in different stages of development and evolution. Reflecting on this, we encourage you to keep an eye on the developments on Mars in the years to come. The existence of life elsewhere in space is one of humanity’s great unanswered questions and Mars presents an ideal stepping stone for discovery.

21 Mar

Blogs in Motion: Space Matters

Welcome back to Blogs in Motion!

A few months ago, our multi-part series on differing forms of alternative energy came to a conclusion. Since then, we’ve been pondering on what kind of topic we could tackle next. We wanted something that could allow us to learn and talk about other matters relevant to humanity at large. In light of the recent string of astronomical discoveries and developments, the choice became increasingly clear.

Our new Blogs in Motion series, Space Matters, will cover any and all topics related to astronomy, ranging from our closest planetary neighbours to the far reaches of the cosmos. To say that space is large is one of the biggest understatements that could be made. The observable universe has an estimated diameter of 92 billion light-years and is estimated to be 14 billion years old. There are stars that dwarf our Sun in size, such as VY Canis Majoris (the largest known star) which is 1,400 times bigger and would extend beyond Jupiter’s orbit if placed in the Sun’s location. Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own, is 25 trillion miles away and would take an incredibly long time to reach with our current propulsion technology. The scale of our universe is indeed vast and can seem daunting. However, as Lao Tzu said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

One of our goals with this on-going series is to help put astronomical news and information into context and to show you how water on Mars or the discovery of gravitational waves is relevant to humanity. We also intend to feature articles on phenomena we find particularly interesting, such as Titan (the only moon in the Solar System with a dense atmosphere) and Kepler 452-b (the most Earth-like exoplanet discovered so far). We’ll also take a look at organizations ranging from the CSA and NASA to SpaceX and Mars One, who have been taking steps forward on humanity’s journey into outer space, from putting human feet on Mars to observing all manner of stellar phenomena.

Our first entry will be about Mars, specifically the liquid water that’s been found there and what impact this has on colonization projects. We’re very excited to share out takes on this vast subject matter with you and we’ll have more for you in the days in come. If you have any suggestions for future topics, reach out to us in the comments below and/or on our social media channels.

 



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