This week in science saw the failed launch of Elon Musk's starship Super Heavy, a rare solar eclipse being witnessed by Australians, and a new "experimental" mission by the ISRO. And of course, the Covid numbers continue rising in India.
The hybrid solar eclipse of April 20 is a super-rare celestial event that is cool enough to warrant a quick read, even though you will not be able to see it if you are in India.
A hybrid solar eclipse was observed on April 20 with scientists calling it a "super-rare celestial event". What makes it unique is that the eclipse included both a total eclipse and an annular eclipse (commonly known as a "ring of fire" effect by nature photographers).
Of course, these multiple stages didn't happen simultaneously and the eclipse first transitioned from an annular eclipse to a total eclipse. And then, it became an annular eclipse again. The eclipse was however visible only from limited areas on the planet. The total solar eclipse, in fact, was viewed only by the people of Exmouth, a town on Australia's Western coast.
Elon Musk's SpaceX was aiming to send its Starship Super Heavy on a round-the-world trip from southern Texas, US. However, the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built failed in its mission moments after liftoff.
So, what went wrong? According to SpaceX's official statement, the failure in the rocket's launch was due to "rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation". In layperson terms, every rocket lets go of specific parts while going upwards. But this is a meticulous process that needs to be accurately timed. And the timing and disassembling process is where Super Heavy failed.
Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 20, 2023
Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months. pic.twitter.com/gswdFut1dK
The trouble started when the rocket's 33-enginge boosters stopped firing up as the rocket began ascending. This eventually led to loss in altitude and the 120-meter tall rocket tumbled back on Earth. No humans or satellites were involved in the project so the whole ordeal resulted in minimal damage. Meanwhile, SpaceX continues to work on another launch attempt in the near future.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has managed to launch several four-stage rockets called Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) in the past. But its latest PSLV launch on April 22 (Saturday) will be accompanied by a project, interestingly titled Poem.
Poem is actually short for PSLV Orbital Experimental Module. The mission involves launching a PSLV-C55 along with two Singaporean satellites into orbit. These two satellites aren't the only payload as the mission also involves an Orbital Experimental module to conduct tests in space.
As Covid cases rise in India, scientists are pointing fingers on XBB.1.16, an Omicron subvariant that causes conjunctivitis in the eyes. Leave alone sanitisers and masks, it's high time you took care of "optic hygeien". Avoid pink eyes at all costs!
ALSO READ: The Covid surge in India is caused by new conjunctivitis-causing Omicron subvariant called Arcturus
The Omicron strain been found in 22 countries including the US, UK, Singapore, and Australia. And with it causing conjunctivitis, this is a brand new symptom for Covid patients that was hardly found in earlier cases.