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NASA spacecraft hurtles toward tiny, icy world beyond Pluto

NASA spacecraft hurtles toward tiny, icy world beyond Pluto

Technology
The NASA spacecraft that yielded the first close-up views of Pluto hurtled toward a New Year's Day rendezvous with a tiny, icy world a billion miles farther out, in what would make it the most distant cosmic body ever explored by humankind. New Horizons was on course to fly past the mysterious, ancient object nicknamed Ultima Thule at 12:33 a.m. Tuesday. The close encounter comes 3½ years after the spacecraft swung past Pluto. This time, the drama was set to unfold more than 4 billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) from Earth, so far away that it will be 10 hours before flight controllers at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel find out whether the probe survived the flyby. A few black-and-white pictures of Ultima Thule might be available following that ...
Tyndall Air Force Base on path toward normalcy post-hurricane

Tyndall Air Force Base on path toward normalcy post-hurricane

Business
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Nearly two months after Hurricane Michael rocked the Florida Panhandle, Tyndall Air Force Base is on the path toward resuming normal operations, officials said. Some 90 percent of debris has been removed and assessors have determined 20 percent of the base's facilities need to be demolished, 325th Fighter Wing Vice Cmdr. Jefferson Hawkins told the Panama City News-Herald newspaper. "The base is actually doing really well," Hawkins said. "We've got a lot of assets that the community doesn't have, which is unfortunate for the community." Rebuilding the decrepit facilities, however, will likely take up to five years, Hawkins said. Most airmen will return to the base on Dec. 10 and that they will "work at full capacity." Before the storm hit in October, the base contained mor...
2018 world's strongest storm: Mangkhut barrels through Philippines toward China

2018 world's strongest storm: Mangkhut barrels through Philippines toward China

World
The strongest storm on Earth in 2018 barreled through the northern Philippines before dawn on Saturday, bringing with it ferocious winds and torrential rain. Typhoon Mangkhut, known locally as Ompong, made landfall in Cagayan province on northeast Luzon island at 1:40 a.m. local time, according to the country's weather agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. It's estimated that the tropical cyclone put at least five million people at risk. Mangkhut, considered the strongest storm on the planet so far this year, was the 15th to hit the Philippines. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center U.S. Navy-U.S. Air Force command, located in Hawaii, had downgraded Mangkhut from a "super typhoon," when it had peak wind speeds of 180 mph, prior to landfall ...
OSIRIS-REx begins approach toward asteroid Bennu

OSIRIS-REx begins approach toward asteroid Bennu

Science
Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The asteroid approach phase of NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission has officially begun. Last week, the spacecraft's PolyCam camera photographed the target asteroid Bennu from a distance of 1.4 million miles, inaugurating the asteroid operations campaign. Bennu appears as a blurry white speck in the grainy image. "Many of us have been working for years and years and years to get this first image," Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, told reporters during a press briefing on Friday. The Security-Regolith Explorer spacecraft, which launched almost two years ago, boomeranged around Earth in 2017, setting the craft on its proper course. Now, Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group, is within view. "When we flew by the earth, the f...
Parker Solar Probe heads toward sun after morning liftoff

Parker Solar Probe heads toward sun after morning liftoff

Science
Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The Parker Solar Probe's second launch attempt in a mission to touch the sun was successful early Sunday. At 3:31 a.m. EDT, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, part of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The engines were blazing golden in the clear night sky during ascent. "It was a very quiet launch countdown, it went off like clockwork," NASA Launch Director Omar Baez said. "Parker Solar Probe has been one of our most challenging missions to date." About four minutes into flight, the Delta IV port and starboard booster engines shut down and separated from the second stage. After second stage engine ignition, the payload fairing also was jettisoned. The second stage main engine cut o...