NASA Planning a Possible Venus Mission

The attempt to explore the vast mystery that is space has quite the storied history. In years past, exploring space has been with humans traveling to these new locations — such as Apollo 11 — and flyovers with semi-autonomous spacecraft. One of the first flyovers of a planet was done by Mariner 1 over Venus. Mariner 1 was the first scheduled to do its mission in July of 1962, but it failed to navigate correctly. In August of 1962, however, Mariner 2 launched and was able to do a successful flyover of Venus — marking the first surveillance pass of Venus done by the United States. Since then, there have been 42 missions to Venus.  

Courtesy of NASA

While flyovers of Venus have continued to this day — such as the BepiColumbo spacecraft, NASA plans to send a rover to the fiery planet. NASA, in the past, has used the Mars rover to explore Mars, for example. With so much success with rovers in aiding the exploration of Mars, NASA is looking to use this same concept to search the surface of Venus, proving to be a challenge. With a tentative launch time set in 2026, scientists and researchers hope to understand Venus’s environment better. 

The environment of Venus has earned quite a reputation. The surface of Venus has been nicknamed Hell because of its temperatures. Scientists have even said it is where they send landers to die because the environment’s heat destroys them. They will need a new rover that will withstand the planet’s massive temperatures of close to 1000°F and last for more than two hours before being destroyed. Only three Russian landers have lasted longer than an hour on the surface. Scientists have concluded that building a rover that will rely on electronics is not necessarily the correct choice. Instead, they wish to use mechanics that can withstand thermal expansion. Engineers may use stainless steel and titanium alloys to build the rovers. There are three missions planned to explore the planet. Da Vinci+ would explore the planet’s noble gases and structures; Veritas determined to study the planet’s geological history; and Llisse to monitor the planet’s meteorology. These missions would be a combined effort by America, India, Europe, and Russia. Scientists want to use the day-night cycle of Venus, which entails 117 days per one cycle, to study such things as the surface temperature and pressure. If successful, this may mean that humans can remotely further explore the hellish planet. 

Lenox Laser has our fingers crossed for all involved in this endeavor and wish them all the best of luck. If history has taught humankind anything, it is that imagination can never be held back. If you would like to read more, click here

New Type of Superconductor Discovered

               Scientists believe that other types of superconductors have yet to be discovered. Superconductors are solid substances that allow for the near 100 percent transfer of electricity through them. Researchers at Cornell University believe that they have found a new superconductor. Still, they stress that it’s only a hypothesis at this point.

Currently, there are two known superconductivity types – s-wave and d-wave. However, through resonant ultrasound spectroscopy, researchers have found the metal strontium ruthenate contains a g-wave pattern. A g-wave superconductor, in effect, has distinct types of angular momentum than current known waves. This new superconductor could be used in more modern TVs to improve efficiency in energy and lifecycles. However, it is still quite some time away from being used in commercial products. It is hoped that this new energy wave can go through things like hardened crystal and harder metals than ever before without canceling each other out and possibly providing new energy sources and the ability to work at higher temperatures without faults.

               Once this new superconductor’s true potential is harnessed, the possibilities of the future could be huge. Circuit boards that last longer and power grids can be maintained without fluctuation and higher heats. This is indeed a unique endeavor with hugely promising potential. If you would like to read more, click here.

Phase-III Trial of Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine

As we move closer to a publicly available vaccine, it is essential to focus on the remarkable strides that have occurred and the teams behind those efforts.  Currently, 40 vaccines are in the works against Covid-19, with nine of them in phase 3 clinical trials. Oxford University’s vaccine partnering with drug maker AstraZeneca continues to show increasing promise in this ongoing battle.

The Oxford vaccine has recently shown very positive immune responses with minimal side effects in a study done by the University of 1077 adults between the ages of 18 and 55, with about 70% developing the side effects of a low-grade headache or fever. AstraZeneca’s CEO is currently predicting the vaccine will be ready by the end of 2020 or early 2021 despite a setback that involved a person in the UK contracting an unknown illness on September 11 from the vaccine. The company was given permission to resume testing on September 15. The patient is now on the mend and doing well. Another faith retest of the vaccine is set to begin the week of September 28 in Pune, India, where around 150 to 200 volunteers will be given the test vaccine at the Sassoon General Hospital.

As for a vaccine timeline, it started for Oxford earlier this summer and has continued to gain momentum ever since. Many companies in phase 3 trials are confident that they would have a vaccine no later than 2021. We at Lenox Laser wish the candidates all the very best and give our sincere thanks to all doctors and medical professionals during this pandemic. If you wish to read more, you can click here.

James Webb Space Telescope Solar Array Update

The James Webb space telescope — a marvel of engineering since its inception —is now set to launch on October 31, 2021. Up until now, it has gone through the successful test of its computer equipment to the deployment of its gigantic reflecting mirrors. Now, its solar arrays have been reconnected to the telescope. Five solar arrays can be folded up to fit onto James Webb’s launch vehicle — the Ariane 5 rocket. The arrays measure roughly 20 feet long. To test the arrays successfully while avoiding friction, they conducted the tests on the arrays by putting them on their side in the spring of 2019. The arrays’ purpose and the telescope itself are to go deeper into the universe and hopefully study it in more detail than ever before possible.

The mirrors onboard James Webb will allow it to capture clearer images of the universe. Its instruments will also help give readings to help provide a better map of the universe. With its improved accuracy and depth, the telescope will provide scientists and mankind a better understanding of space. Its first mission will be to study the light of space using infrared technology. The study of light could also help give us an understanding of gases in space.

The telescope will tell us about galaxies and planets that we’ve not yet discovered with the full potential telescope set on studying light. If you would like to read more about this update on the James Webb space telescope, click here.

SpaceX and Their “Mighty Mice”

               With the incredible success of the most recent SpaceX launches this past summer, they have completed another study. This time, it involves an experiment to inject genetically engineered mice with drugs to prevent muscle mass loss when in space for a prolonged period. This experiment aimed to find better treatments to help avoid muscle loss, loss of bone density, and muscle fatigue for astronauts while in space.

               In Connecticut, a research lab sent 40 young female mice up in the space in December aboard a SpaceX rocket. However, eight of these mice were genetically engineered — dubbed “mighty mice,” and were also given certain protein-blocking drugs. Upon return, it was discovered that 24 of the control mice lost roughly 18% of their muscle mass while in zero gravity. However, the eight “mighty mice” sent up to space were comparable to the “mighty mice” that stayed on Earth. It was also found that some eight normal mice were given the “might mouse” treatment and had recovered their lost muscle faster than the others.

As far as results, all scientists were able to say this time was that specific molecules and signaling pathways were worth exploring in the mice. Scientists also state that while human testing and the use of these drugs for future astronauts would be a fantastic thing, experimentation is nowhere near ready for human trials.

               In the end, this experiment gave scientists a massive amount of hope for continuing to improve upon the safety measures and overall health of space astronauts of the present and future. We cannot wait to see the result of this groundbreaking study. If you would like the read more, click here.

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