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Flood threat from melting snow forces Yosemite Park to close | California



Much of Yosemite Valley – the tourist hub of the famed national park – will be closed this weekend as the region is threatened by warmer temperatures. with an expected burst of snowmelt push the Merced River over its banks. Forecasters have warned that runoff from California’s historic snowpack, perched high on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada range, could cause widespread flooding.

“There will be problems down the slope,” National Weather Service meteorologist David Spector said, adding that the area around the Pohono Bridge east of the park’s main entrance would reach flood levels by Friday. “It is expected that only parts of the valley will be affected at the moment,” he said. “But by Sunday or Monday it could get worse.”

Small spring floods are not uncommon and Spector said they typically hit the area every five or six years. But this year has been different.

Debilitating storms that hit the park during the winter and spring forced Yosemite to close for several weeks and left behind a mess of scattered trees, high snowbanks and flooded infrastructure that needed to be fixed before visitors could return. The intense winter was just the latest in a string of extreme weather events affecting the park, which also spent sections of the summer shrouded in smoke as wildfires threatened treasured attractions. Officials have had to turn away hundreds of thousands of visitors, many of whom have waited years to get scarce camping or hotel reservations in the valley.

And this shutdown, which officials have extended through the weekend from Friday to next Wednesday, probably won’t be the last of the season. “It is very likely that the Merced River will go into a flood stage from time to time from late April to early July,” officials said in an update on the park’s website, adding that when the Merced River exceeds 10 feet (3 meters) at the bridge Pohono. roads and other critical infrastructure are beginning to flood, making Yosemite Valley unsafe for visitors.”

The Merced is expected to reach a height of 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) on the Pohono Bridge by Sunday afternoon, according to forecasts released by the California Nevada River Prediction Center. If it rises a foot higher, major roads in Yosemite Valley will be flooded. It is still unclear how high the river will reach as the weather continues to warm.

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“It will last a long time — until the summer,” Spector said. “Parts of the park will be closed due to flooding.”


Japanese lander most likely crashed, Ispace reports



A Japanese company has lost contact with a small robotic spacecraft it was sending to the moon. Analysis of data from the craft indicates that it ran out of fuel on its final approach and instead of landing, it crashed softly into the lunar surface.

After the launch of the main engine, the lander Hakuto-R Mission 1, built by the Japanese company Ispace, descended from the lunar orbit. About an hour later, at 12:40 pm ET Tuesday, the about 7.5-foot-tall lander was due to land in Atlas Crater, which formed in the 54-mile-wide northeast quadrant of the moon’s near side.

But after the moment of landing, no signal was received from the spacecraft. In a video broadcast live by the company, a shroud of silence shrouded the control room in Tokyo, where Ispace engineers, mostly young from around the world, looked worriedly at their screens.

In a statement released on Wednesday morning in Japan, the company said Ispace engineers noticed that the estimated remaining fuel capacity was “at the low end and the rate of descent increased dramatically shortly thereafter.”

In other words, the spacecraft ran out of fuel and crashed.

After that, communication with the spacecraft was lost. “Based on this, it has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the lunar surface,” the company said.

The investigation will now have to determine why the spacecraft appears to have misjudged its altitude. Analysis shows that he was still high up when he should have been on the ground.

In an interview, Takeshi Hakamada, chief executive of Ispace, said that he was “very, very proud” of the result nonetheless. “I’m not disappointed,” he said.

With data from the spacecraft, the company will be able to apply “lessons learned” to its next two missions, Mr Khakamada said.

The Hakuto-R spacecraft launched in December and took a circuitous but energy-efficient route to the Moon, entering lunar orbit in March. For the past month, engineers have been testing the lander’s systems before embarking on a landing attempt.

The Ispace lander could be the first step towards a new space exploration paradigm, with governments, research institutes and companies sending scientific experiments and other payloads to the Moon.

The start of this lunar transport transition will now have to wait for other companies later this year. Two commercial landers built by US companies and funded by NASA are scheduled to launch to the moon in the coming months.

NASA established its Commercial Lunar Payload Servicing Program, or CLPS, in 2018 because buying private spacecraft flights for tools and equipment to the Moon promises to be cheaper than building your own vehicles. In addition, NASA hopes to stimulate new commercial industry around the moon, and competition between lunar companies is likely to drive down costs even further. The program was modeled in part on similar efforts that successfully provided transportation to and from the International Space Station.

For now, however, NASA has little to show for its own efforts. The first two missions later this year, by Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology and Houston-based Intuitive Machines, are years behind schedule, and some of the companies selected by NASA to participate in the CLPS missions have already gone out of business.

Ispace is planning a second mission using a lander of much the same design next year. In 2026, the larger Ispace lander is due to carry NASA payloads to the far side of the Moon as part of the CLPS mission led by the Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Two countries – Japan and the United Arab Emirates – lost payloads aboard the lander. The Japanese space agency JAXA wanted to test a two-wheeled transformable lunar robot, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai sent a small rover to explore the landing site. Each of them would be the first robot explorer of this country on the lunar surface.

Other payloads included a solid-state battery test module from NGK Spark Plug Company, an AI onboard computer, and 360-degree cameras from Canadensys Aerospace.

During their space race more than 50 years ago, the United States and the Soviet Union successfully sent robotic spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. Most recently, China has landed an undamaged spacecraft on the Moon three times.

However, other attempts were unsuccessful.

Beresheet, a project of the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL, crashed in April 2019 when a crew sent to the spacecraft inadvertently turned off the main engine, causing the spacecraft to plummet and disintegrate.

Eight months later, the Indian lander Vikram veered off course about a mile above the surface during a landing attempt, then silently left.

If the Ispace lander does crash, it may take some time to figure out from the telemetry sent from the spacecraft to figure out what happened. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was eventually able to locate the crash sites of Bereshit and Vikram, and may also be able to find M1’s resting place in Atlas Crater.

Ispace isn’t the only private space company struggling in the first few months of 2023. New rocket models built by SpaceX, ABL Space Systems, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Relativity all failed on their first flights, although some have gone further into space than others. . Virgin Orbit’s last rocket launch failed and the company later filed for bankruptcy, although it continues to work on a new launch.

At the same time, the frequency of launches is higher than ever: the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has already made dozens of successful launches in 2023. The Arianespace rocket also sent the European Space Agency probe to Jupiter.

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Comet-like tail of near-Earth asteroid Phaeton does not consist of dust, astronomers say



A new study shows Phaeton’s comet-like activity cannot be explained by any dust.

Near-Earth asteroid Phaethon’s comet-like tail isn’t made of dust, astronomers say, first appeared on Sci.News: Breaking Science News.

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