US spacecraft touches asteroid surface for rare rubble grab

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A NASA spacecraft descended to an asteroid Tuesday and, dodging boulders the size of buildings, momentarily touched the surface to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for return to Earth.

“Touchdown declared,” a flight controller announced to cheers and applause. “Sampling is in progress.”

Confirmation came from the Osiris-Rex spacecraft as it made contact with the surface of the asteroid Bennu more than 200 million miles away. But it could be a week before scientists know how much, if much of anything, was grabbed and whether another try will be needed. If successful, Osiris-Rex will return the samples in 2023.

“I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do.”

Osiris-Rex took 4 1/2 hours to make its way down from its tight orbit around Bennu, following commands sent well in advance by ground controllers near Denver.

Bennu’s gravity was too low for the spacecraft to land — the asteroid is just 1,670 feet (510 meters) across. As a result, it had to reach out with its 11-foot (3.4-meter) robot arm and attempt to grab at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of Bennu.

The University of Arizona’s Heather Enos, deputy scientist for the mission, described it as “kissing the surface with a short touch-and-go measured in just seconds.” At Mission Control for spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin, controllers on the TAG team — for touch-and-go — wore royal blue polo shirts and black masks with the mission patch. The coronavirus pandemic had resulted in a two-month delay.

Tuesday’s operation was considered the most harrowing part of the mission, which began with a launch from Cape Canaveral back in 2016.

A van-sized spacecraft with an Egyptian-inspired name, Osiris-Rex aimed for a spot equivalent to a few parking spaces on Earth in the middle of the asteroid’s Nightingale Crater. After nearly two years orbiting the boulder-packed Bennu, the spacecraft found this location to have the biggest patch of particles small enough to be swallowed up.

After determining that the coast was clear, Osiris-Rex closed in the final few yards (meters) for the sampling. The spacecraft was programmed to shoot out pressurized nitrogen gas to stir up the surface, then suck up any loose pebbles or dust, before backing away.

By the time flight controllers heard back from Osiris-Rex, the action already happened 18 1/2 minutes earlier, the time it takes radio signals to travel each way between Bennu and Earth. They expected to start receiving photos overnight and planned to provide an update Wednesday.

“We’re going to be looking at a whole series of images as we descended down to the surface, made contact, fired that gas bottle, and I really want to know how that surface responded,” Lauretta said. “We haven’t done this before, so this is new territory for us.”

Scientists want at least 2 ounces (60 grams) and, ideally, closer to 4 pounds (2 kilograms) of Bennu’s black,

Read more

Lakers reportedly want career-ending injury exception on Luol Deng’s salary, but are facing an uphill battle

Luol Deng hasn’t played for the Lakers since Oct. 19, 2017, but for the next several weeks, he is perhaps the single most important player to their offseason plans. The Lakers signed Deng to a four-year, $72 million contract in 2016. In 2018, they used the stretch provision to waive that contract and spread the remaining cap hit over several years. The Lakers still owe Deng $10 million, which is split into $5 million increments over the next two seasons and is guaranteed to be paid to Deng no matter what, but according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Lakers have requested a career-ending injury application in the hopes of clearing that money off of their cap sheet. 

Why does that matter? There are two major reasons, one for each of the next two offseasons:

  • If the Lakers want to use the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception on a free agent this offseason, they would be hard-capped at the luxury tax apron, which was $138.9 million last season. That exception would allow the Lakers to sign a starting-caliber player in free agency. Last season, the first-year salary of that exception was just under $9.3 million, whereas the Taxpayer equivalent was only around $5.7 million. Assuming a new max contract for Anthony Davis and a frozen cap, the Lakers would enter the offseason with around $102.1 million committed (including their first-round pick). That is almost $37 million below the potential hard cap, money that vanishes quickly with a Mid-Level Player and a new contract for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Clearing $5 million would allow the Lakers far more flexibility in finishing off its roster around those two signings. 
  • The Lakers intentionally signed players to short-term contracts in 2019 with the intention of keeping their cap clean for 2021 and a potential run at Giannis Antetokounmpo. Given the pandemic’s impact on that cap, it would have been nearly impossible for the Lakers to get to true max space in 2021 with Deng on the books. LeBron James has a $39.2 million player option, Anthony Davis, on the second year of a max contract, would be at around $35.3 million, and Deng is still stuck on the books at $5 million. That’s $79.5 million for three players, only two of which actually contribute. Throw in around $10 million on Incomplete Roster Charges, and the cap would need to come in at around $125 million for the Lakers to have any chance at true max space, and that’s with literally every other player off of the books (which won’t happen either). If Deng is cleared, though, there might be a more feasible scenario in which James, Davis and Antetokounmpo (or another potential third star) all leave a bit of money on the table. It’s not likely, but it’s worth considering. 

So those are the stakes here. The more pertinent question is, how likely is it that the Lakers actually succeed in getting this career-ending injury waiver? The answer is… not very, but it’s possible. 

On paper, the Lakers

Read more

DeVos says it isn’t Department of Education’s job to track schools’ coronavirus reopening plans

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump creates federal council on global tree planting initiative | Green group pushes for answers on delayed climate report | Carbon dioxide emissions may not surpass 2019 levels until 2027: analysis Trump creates federal government council on global tree planting initiative Private schools prove reopening learning institutions safely can be done MORE said Tuesday it is not the job of her department to track school districts’ reopening plans or the number of coronavirus cases they are grappling with as districts look for guidance as to how to conduct classes safely during the pandemic. 

“Well I’m not sure there’s a role for the Department of Education to compile and conduct that research,” DeVos said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Milken Institute in response to a question about the role of the federal government to boost confidence regarding in-person schooling. 

“The data is there for those who want it,” she added, referring to figures kept by local and state government.

The remarks come as public school districts across the country scramble to figure out how to provide safe, in-person instruction during the pandemic and assure anxious parents that reopening won’t help spread more cases of COVID-19.

Top education groups have formed a dashboard of school infection rates that has collected information from over 2,000 schools thus far, though educators have called on the federal government to take a more proactive role in providing guidance from Washington. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: ‘The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it’ Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and other administration officials have been bullish that schools should reopen, expressing doubts that the coronavirus could spread among younger students who could more effectively combat the illness.

But that stance has received pushback from top activists across the country, saying the White House is downplaying the risks of reopening and should work more closely with state and local governments regarding how to safely resume schooling.

“Donald Trump’s disregard for science has already cost 200,000 American lives during this pandemic. Secretaries Alex Azar and Betsy DeVos are accomplices in this malicious incompetence,” National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle wrote in a September letter, referring to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Source Article

Read more

Texas college student flies home from California to cast his ballot as voter turnout surges

When Texas Sen. John Cornyn saw the latest Texas early voting numbers on Monday, he asked his Twitter followers a simple question: “Who says voting in Texas is hard?”

Bradley Bain, a 23-year-old senior from Dallas at Pomona College in California, is one Texan taking exception because they’re finding it very difficult to vote.

“I’m literally spending >$400 to fly to Dallas and vote in person because you ‘accidentally’ flagged me as committing voter fraud in 2018, took me off the voter rolls, and made me ineligible to vote by mail in 2020,” Bain responded to the Republican in a tweet that has more than 176,000 likes as of Tuesday evening.

Bain hadn’t received a response for weeks after sending his absentee ballot application to the Dallas County Elections Department, so he booked a last-minute flight on Monday home to Dallas so he could vote in person.

“It’s been such a saga just to figure out how to vote,” said Bain, who cast his ballot Tuesday during early voting. “I wasn’t going to waste my opportunity to do so.”

Bain’s trip across half the country to cast his ballot captures the enthusiasm of Texas voters this election cycle — even in the midst of a pandemic.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 4.6 million Texans had cast their ballots after seven days of early voting.

In each of Texas’ 10 largest counties, that voter turnout was higher than at the same point in 2016.

Harris County, which had 566,741 votes after seven days four years ago, had more than 720,000 votes this year. Dallas County had 326,149 at this time four years ago. This election, it’s up to 392,774.

Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties — all battleground areas — also have higher turnout this year than at the same time in 2016.

Texans have until Oct. 30 to cast their ballots early after Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period in response to COVID-19. But it is unclear whether that high turnout will keep up or die down as the end draws closer.

Thomas Gray, a political scientist at UT Dallas, cautioned against reading too much into the uptick in early voting. The pandemic, he said, had changed the dynamics of voting and some groups, like the Democratic Party, had placed an emphasis on encouraging voters to cast their ballots early to avoid possible exposure in long lines.

“As a result we’re seeing huge numbers across the country but also in Texas of early voting at levels that are higher than before,” Gray said. “The main question is how much of this is cannablized voting? People who are voting now but would have voted on Election Day. That’s why we’re so cautious of overinterpreting.”

Democrats have hung their hopes on new and younger voters, like Bain, flocking to the polls during a crucial presidential election.

Bain suspects he was blocked from voting by mail due to complications from having his name stripped from the Texas voter rolls during a

Read more

Elation as Nasa’s Osiris-Rex probe tags asteroid Bennu in sample bid

Artwork: Osiris-Rex approaching the surface of Asteroid Bennu
Artwork: Osiris-Rex approaching the surface of Asteroid Bennu

America’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft has completed its audacious tag-and-go manoeuvre designed to grab surface rock from an asteroid.

Radio signals from 330 million km away confirm the probe made contact with the 500m-wide object known as Bennu.

But the Nasa-led mission will have to wait on further data from Osiris-Rex before it’s known for sure that material was actually picked up.

The aim was to acquire at least 60g, perhaps even a kilo or more.

Because Bennu is a very primitive space object, scientists say its surface grit and dust could hold fascinating clues about the chemistry that brought the Sun and the planets into being more than 4.5 billion years ago.

“The team is exuberant; emotions are high; everyone is really proud,” said principal investigator Dante Lauretta from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

“This was the key milestone of this mission. Now it’s a few days to figure out how much of this amazing sample we got that we’ve been thinking about for decades,” added Thomas Zurbuchen, Nasa’s associate administrator for science.

Assuming there is a suitable sample safely aboard, the probe will be able to package it for return to Earth, scheduled for 2023.

If not, the mission team will have to configure Osiris-Rex for another go.

Bennu size comparison with Empire State Building
Bennu size comparison with Empire State Building

The spacecraft made its sample bid in a narrow patch of northern terrain on Bennu dubbed Nightingale.

The probe descended slowly to the 8m-wide target zone over a period of four-and-a-half hours, squeezing past some imposing boulders on the way, including a two-storey-high block that had been dubbed Mount Doom.

Osiris-Rex used what some have described as a “reverse vacuum cleaner” to make its surface grab.

More properly called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism, or Tag-Sam, this device is a long boom with a ring-shaped collection chamber on the end.

The idea was to push the ring into the surface and at the same moment express a stream of nitrogen gas to kick up small fragments of rock.

Sensors on Osiris-Rex reported back to mission controllers every successful action in the sampling sequence, and also told them that the spacecraft had backed away from Bennu as planned after a few seconds of contact.

But the science and engineering team will need time to assess precisely what might have been caught in the sampling ring.

One way to do this is to photograph the ring. This will be done in the coming days.

But controllers will also command the spacecraft to spin itself around with the boom and Tag-Sam ring outstretch. Any extra mass on board will change the amount of torque required to turn the probe, compared with the amount needed to perform the same action prior to sample acquisition.

This measurement technique is precise to within a few 10s of grams.

Osisris-Rex took pictures all the way through its descent but could not send any of these back at the time because its high-gain

Read more

What Is the Difference Between a Job, an Occupation and a Career?

Often the terms "job", "occupation", and "career" are used interchangeably. However, in actual fact, these terms have quite different meanings so it is important to distinguish between these terms.

A "job" is work for which you receive pay. It is there before a means to live and may or may not be long-term or lead to anything else by way of work. For this reason a job can be seen as one large task or a series of tasks that is typically performed in return for money. Contract work and project work often contain "jobs" that have to be done, usually on a fixed-term basis (even if they are repeated over many months and even years). Individuals tend to talk about their work as "just a job" when it does not give them much long-term career satisfaction.

An "occupation" is a wide category of jobs with similar characteristics. In other words, an occupation is a broad title for what someone does on a continuous basis. This means that all of their work tend to fit into a professional category that most people recognize. There are many examples in this category but some might be an accountant, doctor, engineer, nurse, plumber, police officer, scientist or teacher. As you can see, most occupations are fairly well-understood in concept, if not specific terms, and there is therefore lots of good information to be collected on them (online, for example) as a future career option. Job satisfaction is often greater in an occupational role, but in modern times, it is far less likely than it used to be that people stay in only one occupation. Today, many of us will change occupations several times in our lives.

Finally, a "career" is a lifetime journey of building and making good use of your skills, knowledge and experiences (where these are invested). Put another way, a career is a period of long-term employment typically in a given area or industry. An individual will therefore typically spend many years in an area or industry and perform what may be different different bars. A career is clearly similar to an occupation but is often much clearer, as it may involve several linked occupational jobs in the same or similar fields. For example, a doctor might start as a resident at a hospital, become a surgeon, act as a specialist, become a medical director and eventually become a hospital administrator. These are four very directly linked occupations but can be considered a career in the medical field.

Of course, in a more general sense, there is nothing stopping individuals from pursuing quite a varied career in which he or she starts as an accountant for instance, works his or her way up to a Chief Financial Officer, later becoming a Chief Executive. S / he may even end his or her career on the board of an entirely different company in an unfamiliar field – still very much a career!

So in summary, a job is work for which …

Read more

How NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft lands on asteroid to collect rock

  • NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft landed on an asteroid called Bennu and collected samples of its rock on Tuesday.
  • The probe, which is the size of a 15-passenger van, maneuvered around hazardous boulder fields to reach its small landing zone.
  • NASA does not yet know whether Osiris-Rex scooped up enough rock. If it did, the sample could help scientists learn how life arose on Earth.
  • The mission could also help NASA deflect the asteroid if it is found to be at risk of crashing into Earth.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NASA just landed a spacecraft on an asteroid.

If everything went as planned, the probe also sucked up a sample of dust and rock from the surface.

From 200 million miles away, NASA and its engineering partner, Lockheed Martin, instructed the Osiris-Rex spacecraft to descend to the surface of a space rock called Bennu, touching it for just five to 10 seconds on Tuesday evening. In that time, the probe should have collected samples from the asteroid’s surface, though NASA won’t confirm success in that maneuver for several more days. It’s set to bring these pieces of Bennu back to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft’s name is short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. It beamed back confirmation that it had landed on Bennu’s surface, and the signal reached Earth at 6:11 p.m. ET — about 18 minutes after the actual touchdown.Mission Control erupted in cheers and applause.

“Transcendental. I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” Dante Lauretta, the mission’s principal investigator, said during NASA’s live broadcast of the operation. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do.”

osiris rex asteroid bennu landing sample collection touch and go

An artist’s rendering of OSIRIS-REx touching down at the Nightingale site on asteroid Bennu.

NASA/Goddard/SVS/CI Lab

The goal was for Osiris-Rex to pick up at least one 2.1-ounce (60-gram) sample, which is about a small bag of potato chips’ worth of mass.It will take a few days to determine whether the probe did indeed snatch up enough rock. 

The spacecraft has been orbiting Bennu since December 2018. It’s set to leave in March 2021, samples in tow, then reach Earth on September 24, 2023.

The mission’s research could be crucial over the next 100-plus years, since Bennu’s path puts it at risk of crashing into Earth.

“Bennu is one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids, with a non-negligible chance of impacting the Earth at some point in the 22nd century,” Lauretta said in September. “Part of our science investigation is about understanding its orbital trajectory, refining the impact probability, and documenting its physical and chemical properties so that future generations can develop an impact-mitigation mission, if that’s necessary.”

There are other important reasons to study Bennu as well: As new missions go deeper into space, they will need to make pit stops to mine asteroids for resources like water, which can be split into oxygen and hydrogen for rocket fuel. The data NASA is gathering from Bennu could help inform future asteroid-mining attempts.

osiris rex asteroid bennu touch and go sample collection

An artist’s rendering of

Read more

Field hockey players get creative in gaining the attention of college coaches

But when those events were either cancelled or modified (including the MIAA shifting to 7 vs. 7 play in a truncated 10-game regular season because of COVID-19 concerns), Crowley had to get creative. So she, like many other recruits, put together highlight packages from previous high school games or club tournaments to send to college coaches.

“It was all about sending film, emailing, making yourself known, and making your presence known to all these coaches because you can’t play [in front of] them,” said Crowley, a forward who recently confirmed her commitment to attend Bryant, a Division 1 program in the Northeast Conference.

Fellow Westwood senior Hannah Blomquist re-created various stickhandling videos she found on the internet to send to coaches.

“This spring was so crucial to coaches to see who is able to motivate themselves when you are not actually being forced to go to practice, or signing up for tournaments,” said Blomquist, a center midfielder who will attend Bentley, a Division II program in the Northeast-10.

Barb Weinberg, in her fifth season as head coach at the University of Massachusetts, said she and her staff diligently sort each message, evaluating the videos they are sent.

“Work rate and athleticism, for us, are always the two biggest things we are looking for,” Weinberg said. “If we see that athleticism in the skill set on a first video, then we ask for more footage, even just in a training environment.”

During the pandemic, . NCAA Division I coaches are prohibited from in-person visits with recruits until January; all communications must be done virtually. The most impactful change, however, involves eligibility. Fall and winter athletes have been granted an extra year of eligibility. Also, the NCAA Division 1 Council last week introduced a proposal that would allow all D1 athletes to transfer one time and be eligible immediately without a waiver. These changes are forcing schools to accept smaller recruiting classes.

“It made it confusing because you are communicating with these coaches, you are starting to form relationships with other recruits and coaching staff, but they are just like, ‘We don’t know if we can take you,’ ” Crowley said. “It leaves you wondering. It made it a very different experience for our grade.”

Former Boston College coach Ainslee Lamb, who now runs field hockey showcases and tournaments for 3Step Sports, said, “It is going to take a four-year cycle to have this completely clean itself out.

“Colleges are going to get backed up and it is going to take four years for them to get their classes back in line.”

Once all the hurdles are cleared, an athlete concludes the COVID recruiting process by determining if they would fit into a team’s chemistry, using social media to communicate with future teammates, and deciding if they like a campus during a virtual, or adapted, college tour.

“You are just going off the information you do have access to,” said Andover senior goalie Paige Gillette, who committed to Assumption

Read more

Facing more allegations, Gregg Marshall’s run as an elite college basketball coach appears to be over

If you were Gregg Marshall, hunkered down in the metaphorical castle he’s built at Wichita State while the entire narrative of his career collapses around him, you would almost certainly be asking: Why now?

a man standing in front of a crowd: Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall yells during a February game against Tulsa.

© Brett Rojo, USA TODAY Sports
Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall yells during a February game against Tulsa.

Why are former players at not just one but two schools publicly accusing him of abusive behavior, as outlined in new reporting Tuesday in The Athletic about Marshall’s time at Winthrop? Why is the coaching style that brought him from obscurity to a Final Four and was rewarded with wealth beyond belief suddenly inappropriate and over the line? Why is the mob only coming for him now after 22 years as a college head coach?

It must be stunning and confusing to Marshall to see his treatment of players exposed now, after dragging Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament seven times in nine years and then turning Wichita State into a national brand, churning out a lot of good basketball players and good citizens along the way.

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

But even if Marshall hasn’t changed, the rest of us have. And if there’s corroboration to the growing pile of allegations, including a damning account initially published Oct. 9 by Stadium, Wichita State would be foolish to keep him — if only because he can no longer credibly run a program in 2020. 

Forget for a moment that his alleged behavior is just wrong — choking an assistant, racially-charged taunts toward players, language so demeaning that former players still resent him years later — having it exposed to the public will cripple his ability to recruit, to relate, to lead. And no amount of university-level enablement, support from billionaire booster Charles Koch or ambiguity resulting from an investigation can make that stain go away. 

In that sense, calling for Marshall to be fired is either too obvious or too redundant. Even if he keeps his job — and the fact Wichita State hasn’t even suspended him yet suggests he’ll get the kid-glove treatment to the bitter end — his ability to do it effectively is already done. 

Who would knowingly send their son to play for a coach who, according to former Winthrop players who spoke with The Athletic, asked a player if he was “stupid or just retarded?” Who would knowingly send their son to play for a coach who told a player he’d “send him back to Africa” or frequently used a derogatory term for female anatomy to address players? 

That’s not what anyone should want their children to endure, and it’s certainly not coaching. 

But maybe to Marshall, it was. Try to look at it through his eyes. You’re talking about somebody who started as an under-talented, undersized player at Randolph-Macon College in the early 1980s who only stood out because of his tenacity — and his temper. 

In fact,

Read more

The pandemic affected a seamstress’ career. Now she uses a pushcart for her innovative side hustle.

Right from the tailor shop she fashioned out of a pushcart that was once used to roast nuts, Makayla Wray sews new life into customers’ clothing and into New York City. The 29-year-old seamstress began her sidewalk side hustle after the pandemic ripped away her freelance jobs in the fashion industry.

“During this pandemic you are proof that New York City is still alive,” CBS News told Wray.

“I think it definitely is,” she responded. “I feel like this gives people the time to be creative. I definitely have allowed the city to push me and move me just to, like, survive.”

Wray refashions threads, zippers and buttons, and creates tailor-made memories, like an elephant she created from a COVID-19 victim’s shirt as a keepsake for his widow.

“The elephant choice came to mind because that was her – their last vacation together,” said Wray. “So I was like, ‘We’re doing a elephant.’ Like, I’ve never made a elephant before, but I’m gonna make one for you.”

“I feel like it tells a better story if you just keep wearing something that you were already living through,” said Aren Johnson, a client.

This seamstress is stitching together New York nostalgia, ingenuity and resilience.

“You could get creative,” said Wray. “And you can figure out how, you know, it works for yourself. I can’t afford a studio; I want one. But now I have a studio on the street, so that’s kinda cool.”

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Source Article

Read more