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launched rover

Mars rover launched to look for signs of past life – DAWN.com

CAPE CANAVERAL: Nasa’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbour.

The robotic rover — a car-sized six-wheeled vehicle carrying seven scientific instruments — also is scheduled to deploy a small helicopter on Mars and try out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. Its arrival at Mars is planned for Feb 18 at the site of an ancient river delta.

It soared into the sky from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:50am under clear, sunny and warm conditions carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance. The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) facility in Pasadena, California, where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an earthquake.

JPL mission controllers established its first communication signal with the spacecraft some 90 minutes after liftoff, an affirmation that prompted applause and cheers in the California control room.

This marked NASA’s ninth journey to the Martian surface.

“It’s really kind of a key of a whole bunch of new research that we’re doing that is focused on the question … is there life out there?” the space agency’s science division chief Thomas Zurbuchen said on a NASA live stream after the launch.

Jet Propulsion Labora­tory Director Mike Watkins quipped about the Califo­rnia quake: “It was just the Earth being excited about going to Mars. It was a very minor event. Everything’s fine, and we’re on our way to Mars.”

Perseverance is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep crater called Jezero, site of a former lake and water system from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life.

Scientists have long debated whether Mars — once a much more hospitable place than it is today — ever harboured life. Water is considered a key ingredient for life, and Mars billions of years ago had lots of it on the surface before the planet became a harsh and desolate outpost.

According to a late night report, the spaceship developed technical problems hours into the flight and was running on essential systems only, the agency said.

When a vessel enters safe mode, it shuts down all but essential systems until it receives new commands from mission control. “Right now, the Mars 2020 mission is completing a full health assessment on the spacecraft and is working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars,” added Nasa.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020

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launched SpaceX

SpaceX just launched a Space Force satellite with brand new Falcon 9 booster – CNET

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, perched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, takes off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on May 30. 


SpaceX

SpaceX sent a military GPS satellite into space Tuesday afternoon for the US Space Force using a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This is the company’s third launch since its historic flight of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on May 30, and for the first time it has landed and recovered one of its rockets after lifting a military satellite towards orbit. The Falcon 9 first stage landed on the droneship Just Read The Instructions eight minutes after launch. SpaceX also reported it was able to recover both halves of the fairing, or nose cone, for reuse on a future mission.

The mission is the company’s 11th launch of 2020. Continuing this intense pace of launches would allow Elon Musk’s commercial space startup to pretty easily set a company record for most launches in a year. 

The company launched another military GPS satellite in 2018. At the time, the US Air Force determined that SpaceX would not be able to perform the needed flight trajectory and also land the first-stage booster, according to SpaceNews.

Since then, SpaceX and the US military have negotiated changes in its GPS mission requirements and the cost of launch to enable SpaceX to recycle the booster.

The Falcon 9 booster used during launch today was brand new and this was its first mission. Two previous launches in June utilized boosters that had previously been flown. On Tuesday, the booster (designed B1060) successfully landed on the Just Read The Instructions droneship, around 10 minutes after launching.

More to come soon

SpaceX had also scheduled its second Starlink ride-share mission for last week, but the launch was postponed, with July 8 as the new targeted launch date.

“Team needed additional time for prelaunch checkouts, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy,” SpaceX tweeted a couple of hours before the scheduled launch time on Friday. 

Standing down from today’s Starlink mission; team needed additional time for pre-launch checkouts, but Falcon 9 and the satellites are healthy. Will announce new target launch date once confirmed on the Range

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 26, 2020

From the lab to your inbox. Get the latest science stories from CNET every week.

SpaceX had its most active year so far in 2018 with 21 launches. It’s now on pace to eclipse that mark in 2020, perhaps hitting 38 launches for the year if its plans pan out. The company hopes to continue packing its calendar with more liftoffs, aiming for 70 missions in 2023, according to a draft filing with the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year. 

Many of the launches will be Starlink missions, as SpaceX looks to put tens of thousands of its small satellites in orbit this decade. The company has also begun conducting ride-share launches, making room for a few commercial payloads alongside a batch of Starlink birds. 

The next Starlink launch is set to be the second Starlink ride share, this time with two Earth-observing microsatellites for Black Sky, a company that provides high-def satellite imagery.

SpaceX is trying expand the size of its growing constellation to nearly 600 satellites and closer to the threshold of 800 flying routers that Musk has said would allow for limited broadband service to begin.  


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Facebook launched

Facebook launched its Bitmoji-like Avatars. Here’s how to make yours – CNN

(CNN)Say goodbye to the days of only being able to express your emotions through the generic sad, happy, angry or thumbs up emojis on Facebook.

Facebook rolled out its Avatar feature to users in the US this week, after launching it last year in other countries.
Similar to Snapchat’s Bitmoji, the feature allows Facebook users to create a cartoon avatar of themselves. They can use the avatar in comments, Facebook stories and messenger.
“So much of our interactions these days are taking place online, which is why it’s more important than ever to be able to express yourself personally on Facebook,” Fidji Simo, the head of Facebook’s app, said in a post.
“With so many emotions and expressions to choose from, avatars let you to react and engage more authentically with family and friends across the app,” Simo added.
If you can’t wait to try out the new feature, follow the steps below to create your own Facebook avatar. These screenshots were taken in the Facebook app on iOS, but the steps are similar in the Android version.
Step 1: Open up the Facebook app on your iOS or Android phone. Then tap on the three horizontal lines in the bottom-right of your screen.
Step 2: Scroll down and tap “See More.”
Step 3: Tap on “Avatars.”
Step 4: Tap “Next” then “Get Started.”
Step 5: Choose a skin tone that best fits yours and then tap “Next.”
Step 6: Now go through each section of hairstyle, hair color, face shape, eye shape and color, makeup, eyebrows, nose shape, facial hair, body shape, outfit, etc. and customize your avatar to your liking. There’s even a section for face lines and complexion if you want to get down to the extreme details.
If you need to a reminder of what you actually look like, just tap on the mirror icon at the top right of the screen to open your phone’s front-facing camera.
Step 7: When you’re done customizing your avatar and are happy with how it looks, tap the check mark in the top right corner of your screen.
Step 8: Once the screen finishes loading, tap “Next.”
Step 9: Tap “Done.”
Yay! Now that you’ve finished making your avatar, you can tap on the arrow sign in the top right to share it to your Facebook feed or set it as a temporary profile picture.
To see the different Avatar stickers, tap on the sticker icon (the smiling square below the arrow) or if you’d like to make any changes to your avatar, click on the pencil icon.
To use your avatar when making comments, simply tap on the smiley face next to the gif icon, and then tap on the avatar icon on the bottom of the screen (fourth from the left).

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