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Biggest piece of ISS space junk will tumble down to Earth in a few years



(Planet-Today) An enormous lump of space junk that the International Space Station (ISS) dumped on March 11 is slated to fall back to Earth in two to four years, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

(Article by Virgilio Marin republished from

The 2.9-ton piece of space junk, a pallet of old nickel-hydrogen batteries given the name “Exposed Pallet 9” or “EP9,” is the largest thing that the ISS has ever jettisoned. NASA is assuring that it will burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere when it makes its descent to Earth. But not everyone is convinced that that will be the case.

“This strikes me (haha, a pun given the circumstances) as dangerous. It seems big and dense so unlikely to burn up completely,” astronomer and author Phil Plait, who previously worked at NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, tweeted on March 12.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, agreed with Plait but noted that China’s Tiangong-1 was even bigger at more than eight tons. The bus-size prototype space station burned up on its way down to Earth in 2018, breaking apart into several pieces as it crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

“I would say given how dense EP9 is, it’s concerning, albeit at the low end of concerning,” McDowell tweeted in reply to Plait.

How a rocket launch failure led to ISS space dump

The ISS did not intend to dispose of its old batteries this way. It sent previous batches back to the planet aboard Japan’s disposable supply spaceships, the H-II Transfer Vehicles (HTVs), which burned up in the atmosphere along with the batteries they carried.

But the 2018 launch failure of a Russian Soyuz rocket that carried American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin disrupted this pattern. Both astronauts safely landed after a launch abort sequence, but Hague was supposed to assist in the battery swaps. With Hague still on Earth, managers had to adjust and send an HTV away without an old battery pallet.

EP9 was intended to be flown home through the ninth and final HTV. But the battery pallet that came immediately before it had to take its ride because of the adjustment. At the same time, Japan had already stopped making HTVs because it is developing a next-generation supply spaceship. As such, there were no more HTVs coming to the station to retrieve and get rid of EP9.

The ISS then decided to maroon the ninth battery pallet to space. Ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston commanded the station’s robotic arm to jettison EP9. The space junk moved safely away from the outpost and entered orbit around Earth.

Threats posed by space pollution

The SUV-sized pallet joined some 3,000 dead satellites and 34,000 discarded objects that are at least four inches wide. Though these objects are defunct, they can still collide with each other or with active satellites. In 2009, for example, a retired Russian satellite destroyed an operational American satellite after crashing into it. Initial estimates showed that the collision scattered around 500 pieces of debris.

To avoid damage, live satellites have to move out of the way through collision avoidance maneuvers. In the ISS’s case, the space station has carried out 25 debris avoidance maneuvers since 1999.

The United Nations has urged all organizations to remove their satellites from orbit within 25 years after the end of their mission. But there is currently no established method of doing this, though experts have proposed various removal mechanisms, such as firing lasers to heat up the satellite and using magnets.

Organizations are also exploring ways to reduce space waste. The European Space Agency, for example, plans to launch a suicide robot that will pull space debris out of orbit. Moreover, Elon Musk’s SpaceX aims to equip its next-generation reusable rocket Starship with the ability to collect debris.

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Former US Air Force fighter pilot: UFOs use Star Trek-style warp drive




A former US Air Force fighter pilot asserts that he has deciphered
the method behind the extraordinary maneuvers of UFOs, reports

the past two decades, numerous military encounters with these enigmatic
crafts have been reported, prompting a significant investigation by the

One of the most renowned sightings occurred during the
USS Nimitz encounter, where fighter pilots witnessed a UFO descending
from 28,000 feet to just above sea level in less than a second.

astonishing movement would imply that the craft reached a staggering
speed of 19,000 miles per hour, a velocity that would be fatal to any
human pilot.

to Chris Lehto, a former USAF pilot, the craft exhibits two key
characteristics: it moves without inertia, essentially lacking weight,
and it accelerates at an incredibly rapid pace without affecting its

Image: NATO Allied Air Command/Facebook

believes that the explanation lies within a technology that seems
straight out of science fiction. He proposes that the answer to the UFO
enigma lies in the Alcubierre Drive, a theoretical interstellar engine
conceptualized by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre in 1994.

Alcubierre Drive employs a form of “space warp” technology, reminiscent
of what has been depicted in episodes of Star Trek. By bending space, a
craft inside a “warp bubble” could potentially travel at or even
surpass the speed of light without violating the known laws of physics.

the Alcubierre Drive remains a hypothetical concept with challenges to
overcome, Chris notes that the required energy is no longer believed to
be unattainably large.

filed with the US patent office outline the potential workings of the
drive, as well as another groundbreaking technology theorized by
American aerospace engineer Salvatore Pais.

Pais suggests that
high-powered rotating magnets could theoretically eliminate an object’s
inertia, and he has filed a patent for a starship based on this

However, Chris maintains skepticism regarding Pais’
theory. He explains that while Pais’s patent applications for the US
Navy attracted attention for their potential energy-related
applications, doubts have been raised about their feasibility. There is
speculation that they may be scams, pseudoscience, or disinformation
intended to mislead adversaries of the United States.

rival theories propose that the “Tic Tac” UFO is a classified Pentagon
project testing similar advanced technologies discussed by Chris.

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A Mysterious Earth-Like Planet Has Just Appeared in Our Solar System, Scientists Say




Scientists say they have found evidence of a new Earth-like
planet that has suddenly appeared in our Solar System and is orbiting
the Sun.

Physicists, including those from the National Astronomical Observatory
of Japan, said the planet is likely to be the mysterious ‘Planet Nine’
that was hypothesised to exist in the far outer edges of the Solar

Several studies in the past have suggested there is likely an
undiscovered planet beyond the Kuiper Belt – a stellar disk of materials
such as asteroids, space rocks, comets around the Sun in the outer
Solar System past the orbit of Neptune. reports: In the new research, published recently in The Astronomical Journal, scientists
found that some of the objects in the Kuiper Belt behave in a way
indicative of the presence of a small planet among them.

One such object, they said, is about 500 astronomical units (AU) from
the Sun, where 1 AU is the distance between the Sun and the Earth.

In comparison Neptune is at a distance of 30 AUs from the Sun.

Some of these were also found to have “odd” orbits suggesting they
are being pull by the gravity of a cosmic entity larger than those that
typically influence such objects.

Computer simulations run by the scientists indicate that the most
likely explanation for the observations was another hidden planet in the
Kuiper Belt.

“We predict the existence of an Earth-like planet,” researchers wrote in the study.

“It is plausible that a primordial planetary body could survive in
the distant Kuiper Belt as a Kuiper Belt planet (KBP), as many such
bodies existed in the early solar system,” they added.

If such a planet exists, researchers say it would have a mass about
1.5 to 3 times that of Earth with an inclination of about 30 degrees.

They say the theorised planet’s orbit would likely place it between 250 and 500 AU from the Sun.

Researchers say the discovery of such a planet close to the Kuiper
Belt can unravel new constraints on planet formation and evolution.

“In conclusion, the results of the KBP scenario support the existence
of a yet-undiscovered planet in the far outer solar system,” scientists

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