ETTECHX – 05 – 06 – 07 December 2024 – Hyderabad – Telengana

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Ed Tech News

Breaking boundaries: Gopichand Thotakura set to become first Indian tourist to soar to space

In pursuit of soaring beyond Earth’s confines, Indian aviator Gopichand Thotakura has been chosen to journey into space aboard Blue Origin’s spacecraft. Thotakura’s selection marks a significant milestone as he becomes the first Indian tourist to venture into space. He joins a select crew for Blue Origin’s New Shepard-25 (NS-25) mission, comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds around the globe.

Although the exact launch date remains undisclosed, Thotakura’s involvement in this mission signifies the seventh human flight for the New Shepard program and the 25th in its storied history.

Pilot Hailed from Vijayawada

Hailing from Vijayawada, Gopichand Thotakura, aged 30, is not only an entrepreneur but also a seasoned pilot whose passion for flying was ignited at a tender age. Co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a pioneering hub for holistic wellness and applied health situated near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Thotakura’s aviation prowess is highlighted by his diverse experiences.

Described on the Blue Origin website as someone who “learnt to fly before he could drive,” Thotakura boasts a remarkable repertoire, from piloting commercial jets to navigating bush planes, aerobatic aircraft, seaplanes, gliders, and even hot air balloons. His career has also seen him serve as an international medical jet pilot, showcasing his versatility and commitment to aviation excellence.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Thotakura is an avid traveler and adventure enthusiast. A graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, his recent conquest of the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro exemplifies his adventurous spirit and determination.

Pioneering Blue Origin’s NS-25 Mission

Joining Thotakura on this extraordinary journey are five other distinguished individuals carefully selected for Blue Origin’s New Shepard-25 (NS-25) mission. Among them are Mason Angel, a notable venture capitalist, Sylvain Chiron, a dynamic entrepreneur, Kenneth L Hess, an accomplished software engineer and entrepreneur, Carol Schaller, a retired CPA, and Ed Dwight, a seasoned astronaut.

As part of their mission, each astronaut will carry a postcard to space on behalf of Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future. Noteworthy is the remarkable sustainability of the New Shepard spacecraft, with nearly 99% of its dry mass being reused, including the booster, capsule, engine, landing gear, and parachutes. Fueled by highly efficient liquid oxygen and hydrogen, the spacecraft’s engine produces only water vapor during flight, thereby leaving no carbon emissions.

As anticipation mounts for this historic voyage, Gopichand Thotakura and his fellow crew members stand poised to make their mark on the annals of space exploration, representing the spirit of human ingenuity and exploration.

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K -12 Education

New ‘super-Earth’ discovered 137 light-years away: NASA

Rocky planets larger than our own, so-called super-Earths, are surprisingly abundant in our Galaxy, and stand as the most likely planets to be habitable. Astronomers are searching for Earth 2.0, a replica of our own system somewhere out there in the cosmos.

In a ground-breaking discovery, a new “super-Earth” has been found in a nearby solar system’s habitable zone, according to the American space agency NASA. The planet, designated as TOI-715 b, is “about one and a half times as wide as Earth” and in a system that is only a measly 137 light-years from Earth.

What is a super-Earth?

Super-Earths are a class of planets unlike any in our solar system – are more massive than Earth yet lighter than ice giants like Neptune and Uranus, and can be made of gas, rock or a combination of both. They are between twice the size of Earth and up to 10 times its mass.

They are rocky planets larger than the Earth, orbiting within the Habitable Zones of their parent stars – the place where liquid water can potentially exist on a planetary surface and where life like our own has the best shot of surviving.

Most of these mysterious planets are discovered when they transit in front of small stars and cause the starlight to dim. From this, researchers can work out the mass and the radius of the planet and the evidence suggests that these worlds are incredibly diverse in their make-up.

Exploring Space with James Webb Telescope

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) played a crucial role in identifying TOI-715 b. The satellite’s ability to detect planets with shorter orbital durations facilitates efficient study and analysis. NASA plans to delve deeper into understanding the newfound planet using the James Webb telescope, with much depending on TOI-715 b’s specific properties.

The term “Super-Earth” refers only to the mass of the planet, and so does not imply anything about the surface conditions or habitability. This does not always mean that they are similar to our planet, meaning not always considered habitable.

The alternative term “gas dwarfs” may be more accurate for those at the higher end of the mass scale, although “mini-Neptunes” is a more common term. In comparison to planets orbiting stars like the Sun, red dwarfs are smaller and colder, which allows planets to cram closer while remaining safely inside the star’s habitable zone.

TOI-715 b revolves around its parent star in the conservative habitable zone, which could give the planet the right temperature for liquid water to form on its surface.

The findings mark another step forward in astronomers’ mission to understand what atmospheric conditions are needed to sustain life and further explore the characteristics of exoplanets beyond our solar system, NASA said.

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Ed Tech News

‘Ham’ The First Chimpanzee launched into Space 63 years ago

With the space race in full swing during the early 1960s, American scientists were determined to be the first to send a person to the moon. But what if the operating systems failed? Could a human carry out tasks during launch, the state of antigravity, and re-entry?

Before sending a person into space, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) trained several chimpanzees to participate in flight simulations.

Chimpanzees are amongst the most intelligent animals on the planet and share 98 percent of their DNA with humans. This makes them obvious candidates for scientific research. The decision was made to launch 3 ½ year old baby chimp HAM into space.

On January 31, 1961, HAM was propelled into space at Cape Canaveral. When Ham was two years old, he was purchased by the US Air Force and was trained to complete simple tasks. They included hitting simple levers to get a treat – they concluded that Ham was pretty smart. He was also a faster learner than many of the other chimps that they had worked with.

His rocket (the Mercury-Redstone rocket) was launched successfully and reached 252km in height. Despite the fact that the NASA scientists lost control of it at one stage, it spent 16 minutes in space and then returned to earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. His rocket
capsule gently came down into the water supported by three brightly coloured parachutes.

It was rescued by a helicopter and carried onto a ship. As the rescuers gathered around, they were astonished to find that Ham was alive and well. Later, he was sent to a zoo. HAM is an acronym for the laboratory that trained him for his historic mission: the Holloman Aerospac