6th Man on Moon Edgar Mitchell, Dies at 85 on Eve of 45th Lunar Landing Anniversary

Apollo 14 astronaut crew, including Moonwalkers Alan B. Shepard Jr., mission commander (first) and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot (last), and Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot (middle) walk out to the astrovan bringing them to the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.    Credit: Julian Leek

NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the 6th man to walk on the Moon, passed away on Thursday, Feb. 4, on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his Apollo 14 mission lunar landing.Mitchell passed away in West Palm Beach, Fla., just 1 day prior to the 45th anniversary of the Feb. 5, 1971 landing of Apollo 14’s Lunar Module “Antares.” Mitchell was accompanied by Apollo 14 commander Alan Shephard, Jr., the first American in space, for the descent to the Moon’s surface inside “Antares.”Meanwhile the third Apollo 14 crewmember command module pilot Stuart A. Roosa, flew solo in orbit around the moon while remaining inside the Command and Service Module “Kitty Hawk” during the lunar landing trek by his two crewmates.Shephard and Mitchell safely touched down in the Fra Mauro highlands on Feb. 5, 1971 and spent a record 33 hours on the Moon. “It’s the 45th Anniv of the #Apollo14 landing on the moon & yesterday we lost another Lunar Pioneer Edgar Mitchell,” tweeted Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon along with humanities first moon walker Neil Armstrong, during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.Apollo 14 marked NASA’s third successful lunar landing mission, following the ill fated Apollo 13 mission, which abandoned its originally planned third moon landing flight after a sudden in flight emergency and explosion in the service module on the way to the Moon.Apollo 14 launched on Jan. 31, 1971 from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.Altogether only 12 humans, all American’s, have walked on the Moon during a total of six NASA lunar landing missions in the 1960s and 1970s. No human has visited the Moon since the Apollo 17 lunar landing in 1972.”On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my condolences to —> Read More

N. Korea launches space rocket in defiance of sanctions threats

Seoul (AFP) Feb 7, 2016

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday, violating UN resolutions and doubling down against an international community already determined to punish Pyongyang for a nuclear test last month.

North Korea had labelled the launch part of a purely scientific space programme, but most of the world viewed it as a disguised ballistic missile test and the nuclear-armed state’s latest step t —> Read More

The forgotten moon landing that paved the way for today’s space adventures

Birmingham UK (SPX) Feb 07, 2016

Crashing into a planet is seldom a good idea. If you’re trying to travel to another world, you’re likely to land at tens of kilometres per second unless you do something serious to slow down. When Neil Armstrong famously became the first man on the moon in 1969, he piloted a lunar module onto the surface using thrusters that slowed the craft’s descent.

But far less remembered is that the S —> Read More

Millisecond pulsars are likely to account for dark matter signal in galactic centre

Amsterdam, Netherlands (SPX) Feb 07, 2016

The puzzling excess of gamma rays from the centre of the Milky Way probably originate from rapidly rotating neutron stars, or millisecond pulsars, and not from dark matter annihilation, as previously claimed. This is the conclusion of new data analyses by two independent research teams from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Princeton University/Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The rese —> Read More

Dawn now circling Ceres in its final orbit

Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 07, 2016

A veteran interplanetary traveler is writing the closing chapter in its long and storied expedition. In its final orbit, where it will remain even beyond the end of its mission, at its lowest altitude, Dawn is circling dwarf planet Ceres, gathering an album of spellbinding pictures and other data to reveal the nature of this mysterious world of rock and ice.

Ceres turns on its axis in a li —> Read More

Protecting Nicaragua’s Natural Paradise for Jaguars and Other Wildlife

Habitat loss and fragmentation have contributed to the currently endangered status of the Central American tapir. Large wild areas such as Bosawás are important for the species' survival. Photo ©John Polisar.

By John Polisar

Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in northeastern Nicaragua is home to extraordinary natural areas and abundant wildlife. Covering close to 20,000 square kilometers, the reserve features more than 300 types of trees, at least 368 bird species (representing close to half of all the birds found in the country), and a variety of large mammals that includes jaguars, pumas, white-lipped peccaries, and Baird’s tapirs in addition to a great number of amphibian and reptile species.

Habitat loss and fragmentation have contributed to the currently endangered status of the Central American tapir. Large wild areas such as Bosawás are important for the species’ survival. Photo ©John Polisar.

In addition to lowland species, Bosawás has mountainous areas with cloud forests that hold amphibian and plant species adapted to live exclusively in these high natural forests. Bosawás constitutes one of the last forested strongholds where it is possible to find all the medium and large mammal species that originally occurred along the entire length of Mesoamerica’s Caribbean region.

But despite the plenitude of fauna and flora in the core areas of Bosawás, the reserve faces serious threats to its long-term survival, including deforestation of natural forest areas for cattle ranching and unsustainable levels of wildlife hunting. Without attention and action, Bosawás’s magnificent wild resources face an uncertain future.

The St. Louis Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) worked together on the first jaguar camera trap survey in Nicaragua in 2006. WCS has conducted a number of surveys since. Photo ©Fabricio Diaz Santos.

A decade ago, WCS, where I work as coordinator for the Jaguar Conservation Program, joined up with the St. Louis Zoo to conduct the first camera-trap studies of jaguars and their prey in Nicaragua, in coordination with indigenous groups and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Nicaragua (MARENA).

The studies, conducted in —> Read More

Space Station Back At Dusk / See Orion’s Curlicue and Five Dawn Planets

Rays of aurora borealis reach 60 miles and higher over the Pacific Northwest on Jan. 20, 2016 in this photo taken by astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Peake from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

I hadn’t been paying attention, so I was pleasantly surprised two nights ago to see the International Space Station (ISS) made a bright pass in the southwestern sky. A quick check revealed that another round of evening passes had begun for locations across the central and northern U.S., Canada and Europe. I like the evening ones because they’re so much convenient to view than those that occur at dawn. You can find out when the space station passes over your house at NASA’s Spot the Station site or Heavens Above.The six-member Expedition 46 crew are wrapping up their work week on different types of research including botany, bone loss and pilot testing. Plants are being grown on the International Space Station so future crews can learn to become self-sustainable as they go farther out in space. While they work their jobs speeding at more than 17,000 mph overhead, we carry on here on the surface of the blue planet.U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly regularly tweets photos from the station and recently noted the passing of Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who died Thursday at age 85 on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing on February 5, 1971. Mitchell was one of only 12 people to walk on the moon and described the experience to the UK Telegraph in 2014:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1NGXL3wc0M Relive the Mitchell’s Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 9 minutes and 57 seconds“Looking at Earth from space and seeing it was a planet in isolation … that was an experience of ecstasy, realizing that every molecule in our bodies is a system of matter created from a star hanging in space. The experience I had was called Samadhi in the ancient —> Read More

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