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[l] at 4/18/24 6:30am
Enlarge / Is that sooty rocket lifting off with the CRS-3 mission in 2014 a reused booster? No, it is not. (credit: SpaceX) Ten years ago today, when a Falcon 9 rocket took off from Florida, something strange happened. Dramatically, as the rocket lifted off, a fountain of dirty water splashed upward alongside the vehicle, coating the rocket in grime. Following the ultimately successful liftoff of this third cargo Dragon mission to the International Space Station, SpaceX founder Elon Musk was asked about the incident during a news conference. He offered a fairly generic answer without going into the details. "We sprayed a bunch of water all around the pad," Musk said. "Essentially what happened is we splashed dirty water on ourselves. So it’s a little embarrassing, but no harm done."Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, crs-3 launch, falcon 9, huge plume of water, space]

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[l] at 4/17/24 4:26pm
Enlarge / A rat looks for food while on a subway platform at the Columbus Circle - 59th Street station on May 8, 2023, in New York City. (credit: Getty | Gary Hershorn) A life-threatening bacterial infection typically spread through rat urine sickened a record number of people in New York City last year—and this year looks on track for another all-time high, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports. The infection is leptospirosis, which can cause a range of symptoms, including non-specific ones like fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and cough. But, if left untreated, can become severe, causing kidney failure, liver damage, jaundice, hemorrhage, bloody eyes (conjunctival suffusion), respiratory distress, and potentially death. The bacteria that causes it—spirochete bacteria of the genus Leptospira—infect rats, which shed the bacteria in their urine. The germs jump to people through direct contact with open wounds or mucous membranes.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Health, Science]

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[l] at 4/17/24 1:30pm
Enlarge / Three female skeletons found in a Neolithic storage pit in France show signs of ritualistic human sacrifice. (credit: . Beeching/Ludes et al., 2024) Archaeologists have discovered the remains of two women in a Neolithic tomb in France, with the positioning of the bodies suggesting they may have been ritualistically murdered by asphyxia or self-strangulation, according to a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances. (WARNING: graphic descriptions below.) France's Rhône Valley is home to several archaeological sites dating to the end of the Middle Neolithic period (between 4250 and 3600/3500 BCE in the region); the sites include various storage silos, broken grindstones, imported ceramics, animal remains (both from communal meals and sacrifices), and human remains deposited in sepulchral pits. Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux is one such site.Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Uncategorized, anthropology, Archaeology, cultural evolution, forensic archaeology, neolithic, ritual sacrifice]

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[l] at 4/17/24 1:06pm
Enlarge (credit: Frame Studio) Almost from the start, arguments about mitigating climate change have included an element of cost-benefit analysis: Would it cost more to move the world off fossil fuels than it would to simply try to adapt to a changing world? A strong consensus has built that the answer to the question is a clear no, capped off by a Nobel in Economics given to one of the people whose work was key to building that consensus. While most academics may have considered the argument put to rest, it has enjoyed an extended life in the political sphere. Large unknowns remain about both the costs and benefits, which depend in part on the remaining uncertainties in climate science and in part on the assumptions baked into economic models. In Wednesday's edition of Nature, a small team of researchers analyzed how local economies have responded to the last 40 years of warming and projected those effects forward to 2050. They find that we're already committed to warming that will see the growth of the global economy undercut by 20 percent. That places the cost of even a limited period of climate change at roughly six times the estimated price of putting the world on a path to limit the warming to 2° C.Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, adaptation, climate change, Earth science, Economics, green, mitigation, sustainability]

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[l] at 4/17/24 8:09am
NASA has confirmed that the object that fell into a Florida home last month was part of a battery pack released from the International Space Station. This extraordinary incident opens a new frontier in space law. NASA, the homeowner, and attorneys are navigating little-used legal codes and intergovernmental agreements to determine who should pay for the damages. Alejandro Otero, owner of the Naples, Florida, home struck by the debris, told Ars he is fairly certain the object came from the space station, even before NASA's confirmation. The circumstances strongly suggested that was the case. The cylindrical piece of metal tore through his roof March 8, a few minutes after the time US Space Command reported the reentry of a space station cargo pallet and nine decommissioned batteries over the Gulf of Mexico on a trajectory heading forward the coast of southwest Florida.Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, Florida, NASA, space debris, space junk]

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[l] at 4/17/24 8:09am
NASA has confirmed that the object that fell into a Florida home last month was part of a battery pack released from the International Space Station. This extraordinary incident opens a new frontier in space law. NASA, the homeowner, and attorneys are navigating little-used legal codes and intergovernmental agreements to determine who should pay for the damages. Alejandro Otero, owner of the Naples, Florida, home struck by the debris, told Ars he is fairly certain the object came from the space station, even before NASA's confirmation. The circumstances strongly suggested that was the case. The cylindrical piece of metal tore through his roof March 8, a few minutes after the time US Space Command reported the reentry of a space station cargo pallet and nine decommissioned batteries over the Gulf of Mexico on a trajectory heading forward the coast of southwest Florida.Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, Florida, NASA, space debris, space junk]

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[l] at 4/16/24 3:10pm
A package of counterfeit Botox. (credit: FDA) At least 19 women across nine US states appear to have been poisoned by bogus injections of Botox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported late Monday. Nine of the 19 cases—47 percent—were hospitalized and four—21 percent—were treated with botulinum anti-toxin. The CDC's alert and outbreak investigation follows reports in recent days of botulism-like illnesses linked to shady injections in Tennessee, where officials reported four cases, and Illinois, where there were two. The CDC now reports that the list of affected states also includes: Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Washington. In a separate alert Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration said that "unsafe, counterfeit" versions of Botox had been found in several states, and the toxic fakes were administered by unlicensed or untrained people and/or in non-medical or unlicensed settings, such as homes or spas. The counterfeit products appeared to have come from an unlicensed source, generally raising the risks that they're "misbranded, adulterated, counterfeit, contaminated, improperly stored and transported, ineffective and/or unsafe," the FDA said.Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Health, Science, botox, botulism, CDC, injection, outbreak]

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[l] at 4/16/24 2:55pm
Enlarge / SEM Micrograph of a tardigrade, more commonly known as a "water bear" or "moss piglet." (credit: Cultura RM Exclusive/Gregory S. Paulson/Getty Images) Since the 1960s, scientists have known that the tiny tardigrade can withstand very intense radiation blasts 1,000 times stronger than what most other animals could endure. According to a new paper published in the journal Current Biology, it's not that such ionizing radiation doesn't damage tardigrades' DNA; rather, the tardigrades are able to rapidly repair any such damage. The findings complement those of a separate study published in January that also explored tardigrades' response to radiation. “These animals are mounting an incredible response to radiation, and that seems to be a secret to their extreme survival abilities,” said co-author Courtney Clark-Hachtel, who was a postdoc in Bob Goldstein's lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which has been conducting research into tardigrades for 25 years. “What we are learning about how tardigrades overcome radiation stress can lead to new ideas about how we might try to protect other animals and microorganisms from damaging radiation.” As reported previously, tardigrades are micro-animals that can survive in the harshest conditions: extreme pressure, extreme temperature, radiation, dehydration, starvation—even exposure to the vacuum of outer space. The creatures were first described by German zoologist Johann Goeze in 1773. They were dubbed tardigrada ("slow steppers" or "slow walkers") four years later by Lazzaro Spallanzani, an Italian biologist. That's because tardigrades tend to lumber along like a bear. Since they can survive almost anywhere, they can be found in lots of places: deep-sea trenches, salt and freshwater sediments, tropical rain forests, the Antarctic, mud volcanoes, sand dunes, beaches, and lichen and moss. (Another name for them is "moss piglets.") Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, animals, Biology, Extremophiles, Genetics, proteins, tardigrades]

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[l] at 4/16/24 2:18pm
Enlarge / The star's orbit, shown here in light, is influenced by the far more massive black hole, indicated by the red orbit. (credit: ESO/L. Calçada) As far as black holes go, there are two categories: supermassive ones that live at the center of the galaxies (and we're unsure about how they got there) and stellar mass ones that formed through the supernovae that end the lives of massive stars. Prior to the advent of gravitational wave detectors, the heaviest stellar-mass black hole we knew about was only a bit more than a dozen times the mass of the Sun. And this makes sense, given that the violence of the supernova explosions that form these black holes ensures that only a fraction of the dying star's mass gets transferred into its dark offspring. But then the gravitational wave data started flowing in, and we discovered there were lots of heavier black holes, with masses dozens of times that of the Sun. But we could only find them when they smacked into another black hole. Now, thanks to the Gaia mission, we have observational evidence of the largest black hole in the Milky Way outside of the supermassive one, with a mass 33 times that of the Sun. And, in galactic terms, it's right next door at about 2,000 light-years distant, meaning it will be relatively easy to learn more.Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, astronomy, astrophysics, black holes, Gaia, stars]

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[l] at 4/16/24 7:53am
Enlarge / NASA's existing plan for Mars Sample Return involves a large lander the size of a two-car garage, two helicopters, a two-stage bespoke rocket, a European-built Earth return vehicle, and the Perseverance rover already operating on the red planet. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) NASA's $11 billion plan to robotically bring rock samples from Mars back to Earth is too expensive and will take too long, the agency's administrator said Monday, so officials are tasking government and private sector engineers to come up with a better plan. The agency's decision on how to move forward with the Mars Sample Return (MSR) program follows an independent review last year that found ballooning costs and delays threatened the mission's viability. The effort would likely cost NASA between $8 billion and $11 billion, and the launch would be delayed at least two years until 2030, with samples getting back to Earth a few years later, the review board concluded. But that's not the whole story. Like all federal agencies, NASA faces new spending restrictions imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, a bipartisan budget deal struck last year between the White House and congressional Republicans. With these new budget headwinds, NASA officials determined the agency's plan for Mars Sample Return would not get specimens from the red planet back to Earth until 2040.Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, Commercial space, jet propulsion laboratory, Mars, Mars Sample Return, NASA]

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[l] at 4/16/24 5:30am
I’d wager a guess that we are, as a species, rather fond of our home planet (our wanton carbon emissions notwithstanding). But the ugly truth is that the Earth is doomed. Someday, the Sun will enter a stage that will make life impossible on the Earth’s surface and eventually reduce the planet to nothing more than a sad, lonely chunk of iron and nickel. The good news is that if we really put our minds to it—and don’t worry, we’ll have hundreds of millions of years to plan—we can keep our home world hospitable, even long after our Sun goes haywire. A waking nightmare The Sun is slowly but inexorably getting brighter, hotter, and larger with time. Billions of years ago, when collections of molecules first began to dance together and call themselves alive, the Sun was roughly 20 percent dimmer than it is today. Even the dinosaurs knew a weaker, smaller star. And while the Sun is only halfway through the main hydrogen-burning phase of its life, with 4-billion-and-change years before it begins its death throes, the peculiar combination of temperature and brightness that make life possible on this little world of ours will erode in only a few hundred million years. A blink of an eye, astronomically speaking.Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Features, Science, Earth, habitable zone, solar system, Sun]

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[l] at 4/15/24 10:29am
Enlarge (credit: Henrik Sorensen) From ‘80s new wave to ‘90s grunge to the latest pop single, music has changed a lot over the decades. Those changes have come not only in terms of sound, though; lyrics have also evolved as time has passed. So what has changed about the lyrics we can’t get out of our heads? After analyzing 12,000 English-language pop, rock, rap, R&B, and country songs released between 1970 and 2020, researcher Eva Zangerle of Innsbruck University and her team have found that lyrics have been getting simpler and more repetitive over time. This trend is especially evident in rap and rock, but it applies to other genres as well. Another thing Zangerle’s team discovered is that lyrics tend to be more personal and emotionally charged now than they were over 50 years ago. Know the words… “Just as literature can be considered a portrayal of society, lyrics also provide a reflection of a society’s shifting norms, emotions, and values over time,” the researchers wrote in a study recently published in Scientific Reports.Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Human behavior, lyrics, music, songs]

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[l] at 4/14/24 5:22am
Enlarge (credit: OsakaWayne Studios) As if we didn’t have enough reasons to get at least eight hours of sleep, there is now one more. Neurons are still active during sleep. We may not realize it, but the brain takes advantage of this recharging period to get rid of junk that was accumulating during waking hours. Sleep is something like a soft reboot. We knew that slow brainwaves had something to do with restful sleep; researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have now found out why. When we are awake, our neurons require energy to fuel complex tasks such as problem-solving and committing things to memory. The problem is that debris gets left behind after they consume these nutrients. As we sleep, neurons use these rhythmic waves to help move cerebrospinal fluid through brain tissue, carrying out metabolic waste in the process. In other words, neurons need to take out the trash so it doesn’t accumulate and potentially contribute to neurodegenerative diseases. “Neurons serve as master organizers for brain clearance,” the WUSTL research team said in a study recently published in Nature.Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Biology, brain, Neuroscience, sleep]

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[l] at 4/14/24 4:55am
Enlarge / Scientists are homing in on how navigation skills develop. (credit: Knowable Magazine (CC BY-ND)) Like many of the researchers who study how people find their way from place to place, David Uttal is a poor navigator. “When I was 13 years old, I got lost on a Boy Scout hike, and I was lost for two and a half days,” recalls the Northwestern University cognitive scientist. And he’s still bad at finding his way around. The world is full of people like Uttal—and their opposites, the folks who always seem to know exactly where they are and how to get where they want to go. Scientists sometimes measure navigational ability by asking someone to point toward an out-of-sight location—or, more challenging, to imagine they are someplace else and point in the direction of a third location—and it’s immediately obvious that some people are better at it than others. “People are never perfect, but they can be as accurate as single-digit degrees off, which is incredibly accurate,” says Nora Newcombe, a cognitive psychologist at Temple University who coauthored a look at how navigational ability develops in the 2022 Annual Review of Developmental Psychology. But others, when asked to indicate the target’s direction, seem to point at random. “They have literally no idea where it is.”Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, navigation, syndication]

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[l] at 4/13/24 4:33am
Enlarge / The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station. Geothermal power has long been popular in volcanic countries like Iceland, where hot water bubbles from the ground. (credit: Gretar Ívarsson/Wikimedia Commons) Glistening in the dry expanses of the Nevada desert is an unusual kind of power plant that harnesses energy not from the sun or wind, but from the Earth itself. Known as Project Red, it pumps water thousands of feet into the ground, down where rocks are hot enough to roast a turkey. Around the clock, the plant sucks the heated water back up to power generators. Since last November, this carbon-free, Earth-borne power has been flowing onto a local grid in Nevada. Geothermal energy, though it’s continuously radiating from Earth’s super-hot core, has long been a relatively niche source of electricity, largely limited to volcanic regions like Iceland where hot springs bubble from the ground. But geothermal enthusiasts have dreamed of sourcing Earth power in places without such specific geological conditions—like Project Red’s Nevada site, developed by energy startup Fervo Energy.Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Energy, geothermal power, syndication]

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[l] at 4/12/24 4:20pm
Enlarge (credit: Getty | George Frey) Drug shortages in the US have reached an all-time high, with 323 active and ongoing shortages already tallied this year, according to data collected by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The current drug shortage total surpasses the previous record of 320, set in 2014, and is the highest recorded since ASHP began tracking shortages in 2001. "All drug classes are vulnerable to shortages," ASHP CEO Paul Abramowitz said in a statement Thursday. "Some of the most worrying shortages involve generic sterile injectable medications, including cancer chemotherapy drugs and emergency medications stored in hospital crash carts and procedural areas. Ongoing national shortages of therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] also remain a serious challenge for clinicians and patients."Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Health, Science, adderall, ASHP, cancer drugs, DEA, drug shortages, fda, generic drugs, pharmacists, pharmacy]

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[l] at 4/12/24 1:41pm
Enlarge (credit: LinkedIn) An accomplished and prominent transplant surgeon in Texas allegedly falsified patient data in a government transplant waiting list, which may have prevented his own patients from receiving lifesaving liver transplants, according to media reports and hospital statements. Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center halted its liver transplant program on April 3 after finding "irregularities" with donor acceptance criteria, the Houston Chronicle reported based on a statement from the hospital. At the time there were 38 patients on the hospital's wait list for a liver. Earlier this week, the hospital also halted its kidney transplant program, telling the Chronicle that it was pausing operations to "evaluate a new physician leadership structure." Memorial Hermann has not named the surgeon behind the "inappropriate changes," but The New York Times identified him as Dr. Steve Bynon, a surgeon who has received numerous accolades and, at one point, appears to have been featured on a billboard. Bynon oversaw both the liver and kidney transplant programs at Memorial Hermann.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, data manipulation, kidney, liver, texas, transplant]

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[l] at 4/12/24 11:51am
Enlarge / File photo of a Falcon 9 rocket rolling out of its hangar at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. (credit: SpaceX) For the first time, SpaceX launched one of its reusable Falcon 9 boosters for a 20th time Friday night on a flight to deliver 23 more Starlink Internet satellites to orbit. This milestone mission lifted off at 9:40 pm EDT Friday (01:40 UTC Saturday) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. Falcon 9 blazed a familiar trail into space, following the same profile as dozens of past Starlink missions. The rocket's first-stage booster shut off its nine kerosene-fueled Merlin engines about two-and-a-half minutes into the flight, reaching a top speed of more than 5,000 mph (8,000 km per hour). The first stage detached from the Falcon 9's upper stage, which continued firing into orbit. The 15-story-tall Falcon 9 booster, meanwhile, followed an arcing trajectory before braking for a vertical landing on a drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, b1062, cape canaveral, Commercial space, falcon 9, launch, reusable rocket, spacex, starlink]

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[l] at 4/12/24 5:00am
Enlarge / The Angara A5 rocket launched this week from Vostochny for the first time. (credit: Roscosmos) Welcome to Edition 6.39 of the Rocket Report! The big news this week came from United Launch Alliance, and the final mission of its Delta IV Heavy rocket. Both Stephen and I had thoughts about this launch, which is bittersweet, and we expressed them in stories linked below. It's been a little less than 20 years since this big rocket debuted, and interesting to think how very much the launch industry has changed since then. As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar. Rocket Lab to reuse flight tank. On Wednesday Rocket Lab said it is returning a previously flown Electron rocket first stage tank to the production line for the first time in preparation for reflying the stage. The company characterized this as a "significant" milestone as it seeks to make Electron the world's first reusable small rocket. This stage was successfully launched and recovered as part of the ‘Four of a Kind’ mission earlier this year on January 31.Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, rocket report]

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[l] at 4/12/24 3:00am
Enlarge / Artist's visualization of GRB 221009A showing the narrow relativistic jets—emerging from a central black hole—that gave rise to the brightest gamma-ray burst yet detected. (credit: Aaron M. Geller/Northwestern/CIERA/ ITRC&DS) In October 2022, several space-based detectors picked up a powerful gamma-ray burst so energetic that astronomers nicknamed it the BOAT (Brightest Of All Time). Now they've confirmed that the GRB came from a supernova, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy. However, they did not find evidence of heavy elements like platinum and gold one would expect from a supernova explosion, which bears on the longstanding question of the origin of such elements in the universe. As we've reported previously, gamma-ray bursts are extremely high-energy explosions in distant galaxies lasting between mere milliseconds to several hours. There are two classes of gamma-ray bursts. Most (70 percent) are long bursts lasting more than two seconds, often with a bright afterglow. These are usually linked to galaxies with rapid star formation. Astronomers think that long bursts are tied to the deaths of massive stars collapsing to form a neutron star or black hole (or, alternatively, a newly formed magnetar). The baby black hole would produce jets of highly energetic particles moving near the speed of light, powerful enough to pierce through the remains of the progenitor star, emitting X-rays and gamma rays. Those gamma-ray bursts lasting less than two seconds (about 30 percent) are deemed short bursts, usually emitting from regions with very little star formation. Astronomers think these gamma-ray bursts are the result of mergers between two neutron stars, or a neutron star merging with a black hole, comprising a "kilonova." That hypothesis was confirmed in 2017 when the LIGO collaboration picked up the gravitational wave signal of two neutron stars merging, accompanied by the powerful gamma-ray bursts associated with a kilonova.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, astronomy, astrophysics, B.O.A.T., Gamma ray bursts, nucleosynthesis, Physics, Webb telescope]

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[l] at 4/11/24 6:05pm
Enlarge / Artist's illustration of two satellites performing rendezvous and proximity operations in low-Earth orbit. (credit: True Anomaly) The US Space Force announced Thursday it is partnering with two companies, Rocket Lab and True Anomaly, for a first-of-its-kind mission to demonstrate how the military might counter "on-orbit aggression." On this mission, a spacecraft built and launched by Rocket Lab will chase down another satellite made by True Anomaly, a Colorado-based startup. "The vendors will exercise a realistic threat response scenario in an on-orbit space domain awareness demonstration called Victus Haze," the Space Force's Space Systems Command said in a statement. This threat scenario could involve a satellite performing maneuvers that approach a US spacecraft or a satellite doing something else unusual or unexpected. In such a scenario, the Space Force wants to have the capability to respond, either to deter an adversary from taking action or to defend a US satellite from an attack.Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[Category: Science, Space, Commercial space, military exercise, military space, rocket lab, space domain awareness, true anomaly, US Space Force, victus haze]

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