Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Update

Despite a recent vaccine breakthrough for Covid-19, new strains of the virus have been identified worldwide. News of the new mutations has heightened concern for healthcare workers worldwide. Still, they remain vigilant and confident that the current vaccine can battle the strain without issue. The Pfizer vaccine is in use in the UK, Europe, and the United States, with production expected to ramp up in massive quantities this year. Approximately 2 billion doses are expected to be available by the end of 2021. Pfizer has helped open six manufacturing sites to help meet demand. One area in Germany is expected to open in early February of this year. Other than the Pfizer vaccine, there is also the Moderna variation of the shot. Both versions of the vaccine needing two doses given 21 days apart to be fully effective against Covid-19.  

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, herd immunity with Covid is undoubtedly possible. Still, it would require as many people as possible that can get the vaccine do indeed get it. For many states now, vaccine rollout will be in three phases. Phase I will be essential workers, first responders, and people over 65; the second phase is a high-risk population. The final step would be the entire remaining population of an area. Even though this rollout is slow to begin, any positive progress is good, and Lenox Laser is proud of the ongoing effort. 

If you would like to read more, click here

SpaceX Early 2021 Launch Highlights

               2020 was a great year of success for Elon Musk’s SpaceX program. For example, some of the things his company has launched in the past have been Dragon and XirusXM satellites. The new year of 2021 is expected to be of no difference in the measure of success. The first launch of a Turkish satellite intended to expand television services throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa was a magnificent success. It took place on Thursday, January 7. One of the company’s next missions is called Transporter 1, which will carry dozens of smaller satellites into orbit as soon as the week of January 11.

               Even this year, SpaceX has plans to launch even more. In the spring of this year, a four-man crew mission called Crew 2 will be launching to meet with the International Space Station, increasing the staff to seven. Two Russian cosmonauts and three American astronauts are already aboard the station. These accomplishments have been a dream for years for the US NASA space program. Another launching of a multitude of Falcon rockets is a plan for this year to expand an ever-growing satellite network to bring information to the masses. With the launch of more satellites planned and building more ground stations, the Starlink program plans to expand its reach even further. One of its big goals is to improve its network latency by 16 to 19 ms within 2021.

               2021 looks to be a big year yet again for SpaceX, with up to three crewed space missions planned. At Lenox Laser, we are just as excited about the wonderful potential impact that all this innovation on their part could have. We wish them the most tremendous success.

                If you would like to read more, please click here.

Stellar Flares and Life Beyond Earth

When we think of space, it may be questioned if there is life beyond our world and how life can be sustained or even exist? With the help of stellar flares, that is a question that a new study conducted at the University of Colorado is trying to answer. A stellar flare is a sudden interruption of magnetic energy on or near the sun’s surface, sometimes associated with sunspot and electromagnetic radiation bursts. The idea of using flares to take life is because scientists believe that flares can increase the life-sustaining gases such as nitrogen oxide, nitric acid, and nitrogen dioxide to readable levels when they were previously non-detectable. The flares matter because they can take several hours or several days to form. This gives scientists an idea of the range of their effects on the exoplanet’s environment. The impressive study will explore the planet with inhabitable loans of M class and K class stars. An M class star is a spectral class having stars with weak hydrogen absorption and red color. A K class star is a main-sequence hydrogen-burning star that lived for between 17 to 70 billion years.

Study findings asserted that both the weather in space itself and these exoplanets may help or hinder the chances of harbor life. The distance between the planet and the stars also affects the planet’s ability to sustain life. However, in some cases, on other planets, solar flares can diminish any chance of life by destroying the planet’s ozone layer, wiping out life-sustaining gases. 

Using 3-D models and data from 2018 by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey, the team determined atmosphere properties such as gases, water vapor, oxygen levels, and more. Our planet Earth has a strong magnetic field that prevents dangerous solar winds and other hazards from entering our atmosphere and ultimately breaking down I ozone layer. For exoplanets farther away from stars, this is not the case, as there is no protective magnetic barrier to stop anything harmful from coming into the atmosphere and wiping out chances of life.

Lenox Laser gives our best to all involved in the study. If you would like to read more, click here for an article from ScienceDaily or here for a report from Phys.org

James Webb Sunshield Passes Final Tests

               When completed, the famous James Webb telescope will be the world’s premier observatory for exploring galaxies. Webb will explore our galaxy’s makeup and beyond, studying inside stars and help map and explore undiscovered, uncharted areas of our solar system and universe.

However, the telescope’s most recent achievement is the final deployment test of its massive football-field-sized sunshield. It is designed to handle the harshest temperatures in space, enduring temperatures of -380°F to 85°F. The sunshield is intended to protect the telescope optics and internal mechanisms while keeping them cold while exploring galaxy and star readings properly.

Courtesy of NASA/Chris Gunn

               The sunshield’s successful unfolding completes Webb’s final tremendous milestone before the expected October 2021 launch. Altogether the telescope is costing NASA an estimated $10 billion, with potentially higher costs coming if any further delays happen. Not only will the sunshield protect Webb’s many internal optics from the sun’s heat, but it will also protect them from the light, which could help avoid potentially false readings upon exploration. Past tests included folding and unfolding the telescope’s many massively sized mirrors, tests of its optics, the sunshield tests, and interior and exterior components.

               The teams involved in creating James Webb were scientists from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. Partnerships were also formed with Northrop Grumman, who helped design some onboard computers and the telescope. Thus far, everyone is extremely pleased with the progress made, and they cannot wait to see the outcome of all the hard work done for the project. However, the James Webb project has faced many hurdles and delays in its continuous journey towards a successful launch. Some of those delays include government funding, the most recent Covid-19 pandemic, equipment malfunction, and multiple ongoing tests that were postponed. Barring any other unforeseen circumstances or uncertainties, the James Webb telescope mission is expected to launch Halloween 2021. 

Lenox Laser is proud of everyone involved in this undertaking. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for the project. If you would like to read more about this development with James Webb, please click here.

SIMPLEx Mission to the Moon

The Moon has been vastly explored by mankind for several decades. Despite the progress, it is believed that its geography has not fully mapped. That is the potential goal of the new Lunar Trailblazer built by NASA. One of its primary functions will be to determine the amount of water on the Moon that could be hidden inside football-sized craters on the surface. This massive venture was an idea in partnership with NASA and Caltech University; its construction began in early 2019. The images that are taken will be the highest resolution possible. Now in the approval process, Trailblazers flight systems are expected to be delivered in October 2022. Altogether the satellite will measure 3.5 m in length upon full deployment of its onboard solar panels.

The most significant part of this endeavor is to find out if there is water on the Moon and why. Temperatures on the Moon can be up to 260°F in sunlight and can drop to -280°F; this could lead to ice pockets and formations around the Moon’s surface. Trailblazer’s design team includes some brilliant scientists from Lockheed Martin that will test the satellite’s design and instrument functionality. They are also joined by scientists at Oxford University who will be designing the instruments which enable Trailblazer to do the necessary water studies on the Moon. Some of the questions about the study needing to be answered are the following: Is there water found in rock? Does the temperature change of water happen during the day-night cycle? Most importantly, does water exist in the shadow covered areas of the Moon? If all goes well, the mission is planned to launch in 2025.

Full mapping of the Moon would allow scientists to understand its geological makeup, surface area, water, and rock formations. Some of the events in the timetable of the lunar Trailblazer started in 2018 when it was announced as a candidate for NASA’s Planetary Small Satellites program. Last year Trailblazer was selected for the upcoming mission; beyond this, no further information is available at this time. The previously mentioned high-resolution images taken by the satellite will give scientists a more real-time feel of what is being dealt with on the Moon surface. Lenox Laser wishes all the teams involved the very best of luck and cannot wait to see the study results. If you would like to read more, click here.

We here at Lenox Laser also wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

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