All Posts Tagged With: "space"
Retired astronaut will research fainting spells
WATERLOO, Ont. The former Canadian astronaut who gained a global audience with his musical performances in space will be taking on a new job as professor of aviation at an Ontario university.
The University of Waterloo says Chris Hadfield’s first task on campus will be assisting research into why some astronauts get fainting spells when they return to Earth—knowledge it says will also be useful for elderly people prone to falling.
- An excerpt from Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
- Chris Hadfield on the view from above and his fear of heights
- Behind the scenes on our Bowie-inspired Chris Hadfield cover
The school on Tuesday announced the appointment of the guitar-playing ex-astronaut, who retired in July shortly after getting back from five months on the International Space Station.
During the mission, Hadfield became the first Canadian commander of the space station and performed more than 130 science experiments.
He also earned millions of Earth-bound fans through social media with his dramatic photos, tweets and a slightly reworded cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” that became a popular YouTube video.
It was believed to be the first music video made in space, according to NASA.
The university says Hadfield’s first public appearance at the school will be at a special guest lecture Dec. 3.
It expects he will take on some teaching and advising duties in aviation and similar programs beginning in the fall 2014.
The university says Hadfield, 54, has a long history in Waterloo, earning a postgraduate degree at the school and marrying his wife there, while Hadfield’s eldest son was born in nearby Kitchener.
Hadfield had a 21-year career as an astronaut and his recent journey on the International Space Station was his third trip to outer space.
He was the only Canadian to visit the Russian space station Mir in 1995, and the first Canadian to perform a spacewalk when he installed Canadarm 2 in 2001.
Hadfield has called his career the culmination of “an incredible adventure” that began when he was a nine-year-old dreaming of flying in space.
Born in Sarnia, Ont., and raised on a corn farm in Milton, Ont., he became a military pilot before being selected in June 1992 as one of four new Canadian astronauts.
Hadfield has been working on a book that will offer stories, lessons and experiences from his time in space. “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” is due out later this month.
These folks are fine with leaving Earth behind
An ambitious project that aims to put boots on Mars in 10 years may have fallen short of the expected number of Martian wannabes, but there is no shortage of Canadians willing to live on the red planet — and die there.
With the Aug. 31 deadline almost here, nearly 7,000 Canucks have applied to join Mars One — a $6-billion project that plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2023.
They are among more than 165,000 applicants from 140 countries who have paid an application fee ranging between $5 and $75, depending on the country, in hopes of being selected for the one-way trip.
Lex Marion, of Vancouver, is one of them.
“My entire life I have always wanted to be a part of something that really makes a huge difference,” the 26-year-old said in an interview.
“Having my life mean something, for me, is just so important and this is the ultimate expression of that.”
Mars One — the brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur Bas Landorp — says the first four settlers would be followed by more groups, every two years.
If the project ever makes it off planet Earth — and many are skeptical it will — it won’t be without risks.
What students are talking about today (February 15th)
1. Toronto’s Payam Rajabi had to leave his girlfriend Clare behind when he moved to San Francisco for a job, so on Valentine’s Day he did something extra special for his long-distance love. NPR reports that he “jumped on his bike, opened his iPhone to a map of San Francisco, and tracking himself with a GPS, he rode 27 miles around the city, taking 2 1/2 hours, burning 1,135 calories and carefully etching a heart shape onto a city map.” After his bike shop shared the story, Verizon Wireless called and asked him to do it again for an advertisement.The commercial is on YouTube already where it has 230,000 views.
2. Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and soon-to-be Commander of the International Space Station talked to University of Waterloo students live from space today. It’s worth watching the whole thing, but here are some highlights. Asked to describe how he felt leaving earth, he said: “My apprehension was low. I was more concerned about not going to space than going to space because there are so many complexities leaving Earth. I had a lot of eagerness to put all that training into practice. So it was with a sense of buoyant energy and readiness that I left Earth’s protective sheath.” Asked what feature on Earth’s surface he was most surprised to be able to see, he said noctilucent clouds, which are hard to see from down here too and may be useful for tracking climate change. He took photos that he says “may be one of the most enduring legacies of our time up here.” He also offered advice for wannabe astronauts: stay healthy, get an advanced education and be able to “make big decisions when consequences matter.” Oh, and don’t be boring: “Are you going to be an interesting person to go to Mars with or not?”
3. A political science professor at West Liberty University in the U.S. recently gave his students an assignment where they were to record their reactions to various new articles and the professor listed two sources they couldn’t use: The Onion, which is a satire, and Fox News because, she says, it’s “biased.” Biased it undoubtedly is but uncovering biases is sort of the point of analyzing news, isn’t it? Robin Capehart, the school’s president, thought so, telling Inside Higher Education that the professor was wrong. “Isn’t the idea that you use what sources you can and then you have to defend the facts?” he said. “To me that’s what college is all about — being able to conduct your research and conduct your own conclusions, and the professor needs to be able to challenge it.” The rule has been changed.
4. Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau continues to travel across the country stopping on university campuses. The Queen’s Journal got a shot of him looking like a sasquatch (scroll down after the link to see it) when he spoke in Kingston, Ont. earlier this week. He spent Valentine’s Day at Trent University where 250 people showed up. One interesting policy idea he floated is a gap year between high school and university during which young people could be funded to serve their country through programs like the now-canned Katimavik, in other countries or in the military.
4. The Harlem Shake trend continues to capture attention from Canadian university students. The University of Guelph’s version has now shot to first place in the competition for the most views of any student version at 1.85 million views compared to Western University’s 1.39 million. The University of Toronto is at 334,000 and Brock University is at 200,000—not bad for late entrants.
Canadian astronaut to embark on doomsday ISS mission
MONTREAL – If next week’s end of the Mayan calendar really does happen to mark the end of the world, look at the bright side: One of the few people to live beyond the apocalypse would be a Canadian.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield is about to leave on a lengthy space mission — and he’s set to skip the planet just in time for the decisive date.
Hadfield will blast off in a Russian space capsule next Wednesday and is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on the declared doomsday: Dec. 21.
Scientists simulate rover mission
Canada’s last asbestos mine, now winding down its operations, may have a new celestial calling — as a stand-in for planet Mars.
Quebec’s Jeffrey Mine hosted nearly two-dozen scientists recently for a simulated Mars mission initiated by Canada’s space agency.
The scientists from four universities made a pair of trips to the Asbestos region, this year and last year, accompanied by a micro-rover.
“There are definitely areas (on Mars) that are much more like what we have at Jeffrey Mine,” said Ed Cloutis, a University of Winnipeg professor who participated in the project.
The new vocation won’t exactly replace the once-mighty asbestos industry as an economic lifeblood for the region.
The mine had been counting on a $58 million government loan to renovate and keep operating. The simulated Mars mission, on the whole, cost $800,000 — and some local officials, including an alderman and the town’s director general, didn’t even appear to be aware of the project when contacted by The Canadian Press.
Canadian vehicles could explore moon, Mars
The Canadian Space Agency has rolled out a fleet of about a half-dozen prototype rovers that are the forerunners of vehicles that may one day explore the moon or Mars.
There are knee-high mini-rovers that can work side-by-side, helping astronauts to dig or scout out small spaces like caves.
There are also larger rovers, like a six-wheeled lunar exploration version, which can be upgraded to transport astronauts around the moon.
The space agency says the terrestrial rovers bring it one step closer to developing the next generation for space exploration.
Flying futons, Carly Rae Jepsen & where students want to work
1. We knew futons were bad for your back, but apparently they can be even more dangerous than that. A New York City college student was walking to class when he was hit by a flying futon mattress that fell 30 floors from an apartment building. It rendered him briefly unconscious and injured his neck. Worst of all, the poor schmuck says he can’t afford both tuition and medical bills.
2. Yesterday, we learned that 42 per cent of 20- to 29-year-old Canadians live with their parents—higher than ever. Today, the Edmonton Journal points out that booming Alberta is bucking the trend. In Lloydminster, just 20 per cent live at home. In Fort McMurray, it’s 22 per cent. Compare that to economically-depressed Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and Cornerbrook, N.L., where the number of 20-somethings at home is—yikes—52 per cent.
3. Universum asked 7,234 Canadian post-secondary students where they want to work after graduation. In the top 100 list, Apple is #1 (duh), Google is #2 (obviously), the Government of Canada is #3 (not surprising if you know anything about their pensions), #4 is the Bank of Canada, #5 is Microsoft and #6 is Royal Bank. My benevolent employer, Rogers, is a respectable #40.
Think they’ll both take engineering? Wrong.
The two grade 12 students from Toronto constructed a helium-filled weather balloon and launched a LEGO man holding a Canadian flag into space, more than 24 kilometers up.
The LEGO man’s space adventure was recorded and a GPS device allowed Ho and Muhammad to relocate their plastic astronaut.
In fact, you probably already know this. Their video has more than 2.6 million views on YouTube.
Robert Thirsk accepts honorary doctorate of laws from U Calgary
Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk has received an honour that’s out of this world.
Connected by video link as he floated 400 kilometres above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, Thirsk accepted an honorary doctorate of laws degree from the University of Calgary.
He even donned a crimson and yellow convocation cape, but had to take it off as it repeatedly floated up in front of his face.
The astronaut answered questions from children after the degree presentation, pulling out props such as water bottles and garbage cans to explain his day-to-day life.
Thirsk, who is the first Canadian to spend six months in space, earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Calgary in 1976.
University president Harvey Weingarten says it’s a privilege to honour Thirsk while he’s at the pinnacle of his career and able to inspire so many students.
- The Canadian Press
Thirsk says it would be hard to send his honorary degree through space
Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk is getting an honorary degree from the University of Calgary for his out-of-this-world achievements, but he won’t be able to sport a cap and gown.
Thirsk’s current six-month stint in space means the July 8 ceremony will be beamed aboard the International Space Station via a video link.
Astronauts train for decades for their shot in space, and it seemed only fitting to recognize Thirsk while he’s actually in orbit, University president Harvey Weingarten said Tuesday.
“We’re acknowledging the contribution this fellow has made to space exploration. We’re acknowledging a prominent Canadian we can all take pride in,” he said.
“It just seemed like a natural and neat thing to do, to recognize him while he’s actually doing his work in space.”
Thirsk, a native of New Westminster, B.C, earned his first degree at the University of Calgary in mechanical engineering. He followed that with two master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a medical degree from McGill.
The 55-year-old astronaut arrived at the station May 29 on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft along with a Russian and a Belgian, bringing the station up to a full-time crew of six.
He could soon be joined by a familiar face – Canadian Julie Payette and six other astronauts are scheduled to blast off Wednesday for a quick rendezvous with the station.
It will be the first time Canada has had two astronauts on board the space station at the same time, and will bring the number of people simultaneously to a record 13.
Thirsk is laying the groundwork for the deployment of Canadian robots on other planets and figuring out how to help people adapt to extreme environments.
Teacher said radio feat never before done by students at the college level
Some 18 months of hard work came down to just one chance for success Monday as four college students tested an ambitious project that pretty much everyone in their school thought was impossible – making contact with the International Space Station.
Operation First Contact involved beaming a signal from their class-project radio to the outpost orbiting about 440 kilometres above Earth. The Humber College students had only a 10-minute window to make contact with the station, which travels through space at nearly 28,000 kilometres an hour.
“NA1SS this is VA3JUV Humber College checking in for scheduled contact, do you copy?” 34-year-old Gino Cunti inquired as a crowded room of faculty, students and reporters held their collective breath.
The room was filled with nothing but static, followed by silence.
As the students’ hearts skipped a beat another attempt at contact was made and the barely audible voice of astronaut Sandra Magnus emerged through the crackling static.
“Hello, I have you a little bit weak. Can you try again?” Magnus responded as the room burst into applause.
The team of Cunti and Paul Je, both 34, of Toronto, Patrick Neelin, 25, of Welland, Ont., and 21-year-old Kevin Luong of Mississauga, Ont., pulled off what their teacher said had never been accomplished by students at the college level.
Je burst into tears when contact was made.
While school contacts with the space station are routinely made through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program, many of those communications are made using a traditional ham radio.
“We had to build this system to NASA specifications … this isn’t one of your parents’ CB radios. It’s a much more complex device than that,” said teacher Mark Rector.
“The cabling, antennas, tracking systems and software was done by these guys and it’s an incredible feat of undertaking and technology.”
The project got off the ground about a year ago as the students looked for a way to apply knowledge gained from their radio communication courses.
“Somebody basically said, ‘Let’s talk to space,’ and we all kind of laughed, yeah, when cows fly,” said Neelin. “But we ended up saying maybe that’s not such a bad idea.”