On May 15, 1963, the last mission of Project Mercury got under way. Astronaut Gordon Cooper closed out things in style as his flight stretched the capabilities of the Mercury spacecraft to its limits.

The Mercury Seven, also referred to as the Original Seven, were a group of seven astronauts selected to fly spacecraft for Project Mercury - the first human space flight program by the U.S. Even though there were some hiccups, the project, initiated in 1958, was largely successful in its three goals of operating a human spacecraft. investigating an astronaut's ability to work in space, and recovering spacecraft and crew safely.

Youngest of the Mercury Seven

The final flight of Project Mercury took place in May 1963. The youngest of the Original Seven, astronaut Gordon Cooper, went on to become the first American to fly in space for more than a day during this mission.

Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr. was born in 1927 and served in the Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army after attending the University of Hawaii.

He was called to active duty in 1949 and completed pilot training in the U.S. Air Force. He was a fighter pilot in Germany from 1950 to 1954 and earned a bachelor's degree at the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1956. He served as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California until he was selected as an astronaut for Project Mercury. Cooper flew Mercury-Atlas 9, the last Mercury mission, which was launched on May 15, 1963. He called his capsule Faith 7, the number indicating his status as one of the Original Seven astronauts.

Conducts 11 experiments

 Longer than all of the previous Mercury missions combined. Cooper had enough time in his hands to conduct 11 experiments. These included monitoring radiation levels, tracking a strobe beacon that flashed intermittently, and taking photographs of the Earth.

When Cooper sent back black-and-white television images back to the control centre during his 17th orbit, it was the first TV transmission from an American crewed spacecraft. And even though there were plans for Cooper to sleep as much as eight hours, he only managed to sleep sporadically during portions of the flight. After 19 orbits without a hitch, a faulty sensor wrongly indicated that the spacecraft was beginning re-entry. A short circuit then damaged the automatic stabilisation and control system two orbits later. Despite these malfunctions and the rising carbon dioxide levels in his cabin and spacesuit. Cooper executed a perfect manual re-entry.

Lands without incident Cooper had clocked 34 hours and 20 minutes in space, orbiting the Earth 22 times and covering most of the globe in the process. This meant that he could practically land anywhere in the globe, a potential pain point that the U.S. State

Department was nervous about. In fact, on May 1, 1963, the country's Deputy Under Secretary fuel, venting gas that made the spacecraft roll, and more in what felt like a never-ending series during their eight-day mission. They, however, completed 122 orbits, travelling over 5.3 million km in 190 hours and 56 minutes, before safely making their way back to Earth.

After accumulating more than 225 hours in space, Cooper served as the backup command pilot of Gemini 12, which was launched in November 1966, and the backup command pilot for Apollo 10 in May 1969. By the time Cooper left NASA and retired from the Air Force in July 1970, human beings had set foot on the moon, further vindicating the Mercury and Gemini projects that Cooper had been involved with.

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Sound can only travel through a solid, liquid or gas and not through vacuum. As there is near complete vacuum in space, sound cannot travel and be heard through the ears like on Earth. Other forms of electromagnetic radiation including radio waves, however, can travel through vacuum. When astronauts are in a space shuttle or a space station, they can speak normally there are enough air particles to vibrate and take the sound to their ear drum. But when they are conducting a spacewalk, they need a special device to communicate with each other The helmets of astronauts are fitted with a device which converts the sound waves generated by their speech into radio waves and transmits them to other astronauts. When the headset of another astronaut receives the radio waves, it translates the signal into the sound form. The same principle is used to send and receive messages from Earth.

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Constellations are the 88 recognized patterns and groups of stars. These groups and patterns are usually associated with mythology. Today, constellations are not only the groups of stars, but now refers to the entire region of the sky that it takes up.

Asterisms are groups of stars that do not form their own constellations, but instead, are inside of constellations. The Big Dipper is an example of this. The Big Dipper is an asterism inside of the constellation Ursa Major. So I believe that asterisms are smaller than the constellations that they're in, but not necessarily bigger than all constellations. 

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An asterism is an observed pattern or group of stars in the sky. Asterisms can be any identified pattern or group of stars, and therefore are a more general concept then the formally defined 88 constellations. Constellations are based on asterisms, but unlike asterisms, constellations outline and today completely divide the sky and all its celestial objects into regions around their central asterisms. For example, the asterism known as the Big Dipper comprises the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa Major. Another is the asterism of the Southern Cross, within the constellation of Crux.

Asterisms range from simple shapes of just a few stars to more complex collections of many stars covering large portions of the sky. The stars themselves may be bright naked-eye objects or fainter, even telescopic, but they are generally all of a similar brightness to each other. The larger brighter asterisms are useful for people who are familiarizing themselves with the night sky.

The patterns of stars seen in asterisms are not necessarily a product of any physical association between the stars, but are rather the result of the particular perspectives of their observations. For example the Summer Triangle is a purely observational physically unrelated group of stars, but the stars of Orion's Belt are all members of the Orion OB1 association and five of the seven stars of the Big Dipper are members of the Ursa Major Moving Group. Physical associations, such as the Hyades or Pleiades, can be asterisms in their own right and part of other asterism at the same time.

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The smallest constellation is Crux, the Southern Cross. A small group of four bright stars that forms a Latin cross in the southern sky, Crux is visible from latitudes south of 25 degrees north and completely invisible in latitudes above 35 degrees north (in the United States, roughly north of Texas).

Originally it was part of the constellation Centaur, but became its own constellation during the 16th century when it was used as a valuable navigation tool by explorers. Its area is calculated at about 68 square degrees.

Blue-white ? Crucis (Acrux) is the most southerly member of the constellation and, at magnitude 0.8, the brightest. The three other stars of the cross appear clockwise and in order of lessening magnitude: ? Crucis (Mimosa), ? Crucis (Gacrux), and ? Crucis (Imai). ? Crucis (Ginan) also lies within the cross asterism. Many of these brighter stars are members of the Scorpius–Centaurus association, a large but loose group of hot blue-white stars that appear to share common origins and motion across the southern Milky Way.

Crux contains four Cepheid variables, each visible to the naked eye under optimum conditions. Crux also contains the bright and colourful open cluster known as the Jewel Box (NGC 4755) on its eastern border. Nearby to the southeast is a large dark nebula spanning 7° by 5° known as the Coalsack Nebula, portions of which are mapped in the neighbouring constellations of Centaurus and Musca.

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Hydra is the largest of the 88 modern constellations, measuring 1303 square degrees, and also the longest at over 100 degrees. Its southern end borders Libra and Centaurus and its northern end borders Cancer. It was included among the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Commonly represented as a water snake, it straddles the celestial equator.

Despite its size, Hydra contains only one moderately bright star, Alphard, designated Alpha Hydrae. It is an orange giant of magnitude 2.0, 177 light-years from Earth. Its traditional name means "the solitary one". Beta Hydrae is a blue-white star of magnitude 4.3, 365 light-years from Earth. Gamma Hydrae is a yellow giant of magnitude 3.0, 132 light-years from Earth.

Hydra has one bright binary star, Epsilon Hydrae, which is difficult to split in amateur telescopes; it has a period of 1000 years and is 135 light-years from Earth. The primary is a yellow star of magnitude 3.4 and the secondary is a blue star of magnitude 6.7. However, there are several dimmer double stars and binary stars in Hydra. 27 Hydrae is a triple star with two components visible in binoculars and three visible in small amateur telescopes. The primary is a white star of magnitude 4.8, 244 light-years from Earth. The secondary, a binary star, appears in binoculars at magnitude 7.0 but is composed of a magnitude 7 and a magnitude 11 star; it is 202 light-years from Earth. 54 Hydrae is a binary star 99 light-years from Earth, easily divisible in small amateur telescopes. The primary is a yellow star of magnitude 5.3 and the secondary is a purple star of magnitude 7.4. N Hydrae (N Hya) is a pair of stars of magnitudes 5.8 and 5.9. Struve 1270 (?1270) consists of a pair of stars, magnitudes 6.4 and 7.4.

The other main named star in Hydra is Sigma Hydrae (? Hydrae), which also has the name of Minchir, from the Arabic for snake's nose. At magnitude 4.54, it is rather dim. The head of the snake corresponds to the ?shlesh? Nakshatra, the lunar zodiacal constellation in Indian astronomy. The name of Nakshatra (Ashlesha) became the proper name of Epsilon Hydrae since 1 June 2018 by IAU.

Hydra is also home to several variable stars. R Hydrae is a Mira variable star 2000 light-years from Earth; it is one of the brightest Mira variables at its maximum of magnitude 3.5. It has a minimum magnitude of 10 and a period of 390 days. V Hydrae is an unusually vivid red variable star 20,000 light-years from Earth. It varies in magnitude from a minimum of 9.0 to a maximum of 6.6. Along with its notable color, V Hydrae is also home to at least two exoplanets. U Hydrae is a semi-regular variable star with a deep red color, 528 light-years from Earth. It has a minimum magnitude of 6.6 and a maximum magnitude of 4.2; its period is 115 days.

Hydra includes GJ 357, an M-type main sequence star located only 31 light-years from the Solar System. This star has three confirmed exoplanets in its orbit, one of which, GJ 357 d, is considered to be a "Super-Earth" within the circumstellar habitable zone.

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There are 88 modern constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The list of the modern constellations was adopted by the IAU in 1922. The constellation boundaries as we know them today were set in the late 1920s. 36 modern constellations lie principally in the northern celestial hemisphere, while 52 are found in the southern sky.

The list of the modern constellations and the abbreviations used for them were produced by American astronomer Henry Norris Russell and approved by the IAU in May 1922. Russell’s list corresponded to the constellations listed in the Revised Harvard Photometry star catalogue, published by Harvard College Observatory in 1908. The constellation boundaries were drawn by Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte and officially adopted in 1928.

The 88 modern constellations have different origins. Most of them are roughly based on the 48 ancient constellations catalogued by the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria in his Almagest, an ancient astronomical treatise written in the 2nd century CE. These constellations are mostly associated with figures from Greek mythology. They include Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Pegasus, Hercules, Orion, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Eridanus, and the 12 zodiac constellations.

However, Ptolemy did not create these constellations. They were already well-known to observers long before his time. Even though they are called Greek constellations, they were not necessarily created by the Greeks. Depictions of some of the ancient constellations or the asterisms they are known for go back to prehistoric times and their creators are unknown.

Fifty of the modern 88 constellations are based on the Greek ones. Only one of Ptolemy’s constellations – Argo Navis – is no longer in use. Once the largest constellation in the sky, Argo Navis represented the ship of Jason and the Argonauts. It was divided into three smaller constellations – Carina, Puppis and Vela – by the French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. The three smaller constellations remain in use.

Credit : Constellation-guide

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In 2018, seismometers around the world detected mysterious rumbles emanating from a usually quiet area in the Indian Ocean between Comoros and Madagascar. At the time, researchers were astonished to find a 2,690-foot-tall underwater volcano, which is about 1.5 times the height of the One World Trade Center in New York.

The volcano was formed after the largest underwater eruption ever detected and now, scientists suspect that the volcano draws its lava from the deepest volcanic magma reservoir known to researchers.

Scientists first took notice of volcanic activity about 31 miles east of the French island of Mayotte in 2018 when seismic hums, or low-frequency earthquakes, were detected by seismometers all over the globe. However, the huge underwater volcano shocked scientists because only two seismic events had been recorded near Mayotte since 1972. Before that, a layer of 4,000-year-old pumice in a lagoon nearby is the only additional evidence of an eruption ever found. After researchers noticed that the island was moving eastward about 7.8 inches a year, they installed ocean-bottom seismometers and GPS systems to track the island's fascinating geological activity. To understand the origin of the tremors that began in 2018, the study’s lead author Nathalie Feuillet, a marine geoscientist at the French National Center for Scientific Research, along with her team embarked on a mission—dubbed MAYOBS1—aboard the French research vessel Marion Dufrense in 2019.

Credit : Smith sonian magazine

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Any mention of our polar regions - the Arctic and Antarctica - perhaps conjures up images of floating icebergs and blindingly white ice sheets. Sure, that's common to them but they are also different from each other in many ways.

The Arctic: A variety of landscapes and animals

Home to the North Pole, the Arctic lies in the Northern Hemisphere, and is the northernmost region of Earth. The Arctic usually refers to the area within the Arctic Circle, and spans the Arctic Ocean and parts of Scandinavia, Russia, Canada, Greenland, and Alaska (a U.S. State). It is not always covered in ice, and comprises mountains, rivers, lakes, hills, etc. It hosts several types of land animals and vegetation.

Antarctica: Just ice cover and barely any land animal

Our planet's southernmost continent, Antarctica is where the South Pole is situated. It is almost entirely covered in ice, and hardly has any vegetation or large rivers or lakes to boast of. With barely any land animals, the largest creature to dwell on land is a wingless insect that's about half an inch. There are hardly any trees there but Antarctica has its share of lichens, moss, algae, etc.

No penguins in the Arctic

Considering videos show glistening penguins diving into the water and launching themselves back on to ice-covered land adorably, it is easy to imagine that they inhabit both the polar regions. However, these flightless birds are found only in the Southern Hemisphere, and predominantly in Antarctica. None in the Arctic!

No polar bears in Antarctica

It is called a polar bear, after all, but the name is slightly misleading. It is an animal that lives in just one polar region - the Arctic. So, there are none in Antarctica. And, the next time someone asks you if polar bears hunt penguins in the wild, you can confidently tell them that can never happen because the two never get to meet each other!

A continent without permanent residents

Only a country can have permanent residents. And since Antarctica, though a continent, has no country, it has no permanent residents. It is not home to any indigenous community either. That does not mean Antarctica has just tourists. It hosts researchers and scientists at research stations set up by many countries for experiments, especially in summer. In winter, the numbers dwindle. Hard to imagine people queuing up to be a resident in a place with punishing temperatures! On the other hand, the Arctic does host permanent residents, especially indigenous groups, since it spans several countries. In fact, it has been inhabited for thousands of years.

Summers and winters

Due to the way our planet is tilted, the poles receive less light and heat from the sun than other regions of the world. The two seasons- summer and winter - are unique. Both the polar regions have long and cold winters and short summers. During summer, the poles have daylight since the sun does not set, and in winter, it is dark since the sun does not rise. However, since the Arctic and Antarctica are in the opposite directions, when one region experiences summer, the other experiences winter, and vice-versa.

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The essence of flash fiction in a single sentence is perfectly delivered by the famous line from Shakespeare's Hamlet "Brevity is the soul of wit”.

This type of fiction refers to a very specific kind of short stories that usually abide by a word limit of around 1500 words. In some cases, these pieces can even feel closer to poetry than prose. The limited vocabulary of these pieces which is many a time misunderstood as a weakness, is actually what enables them to be impactful tools of storytelling.

The best examples of this kind of writing often evoke complex characters, complete worlds and lots of clear themes in a simple and concise way, with every word significantly contributing to the progression of the story towards an all-revealing end

Unique characteristics of flash fiction

  • Unlike the longer formats of prose like novels and plays that prioritise plot, flash fiction gives more importance to the movement/change in a story or narrative.
  • In this kind of writing the climax (or the peak of action) usually comes at the end instead of the middle.
  • In good flash fiction every sentence has multiple roles and adds to the layered quality we associate with good writing. This is essential to open up the scope for multiple interpretations of a story.
  • Some written pieces of this format can be as concise as a single line.
  • Like this famous six word short story credited to Ernest Hemingway: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
  • These stories heavily rely on tools like spacing and punctuation for impactful delivery of the final product.

Many creative writing coaches regard writing flash fiction as a vital exercise to learn any form of prose or poetry, as it not only helps one polish their writing but also offers a lot of opportunities to practise one's editing skills which are really beneficial in the long run.

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The newly hatched, or neonate, ghost shark was found at a depth of 1200m off the east coast of New Zealand's South Island. The rare discovery of a juvenile ghost shark off New Zealand's South Island coast will help researchers better understand the biology and ecology of this mysterious deep water fish.

Ghost sharks or chimaeras are one of the most elusive fish species in the world. They have existed for hundreds of millions of years, but not much is known about them because they usually reside at depths of up to 2,000 metres. The neonate or hatchling was found at a depth of 1,200 metres.

Ghost sharks, also known as ratfish, spook fish or rabbitfish, are not actual sharks but are closely related to sharks and rays. They are cartilaginous, meaning their bodies have stiff armour-like plates and bone-like cartilage. Adult ghost sharks have venomous spines in front of their dorsal fins. Embryos grow inside their egg capsules on the sea floor and feed off the capsules until ready to hatch (between 6 to 12 months).

Critical missing details about the species' life cycle makes monitoring chimaera populations difficult. Sixteen per cent of all ghost shark species are threatened or near threatened.

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I study in Std 10 and I am confused about my career. I am an average student. I am interested in law but people say it is very difficult. My parents, too, are not keen on me taking up law. But I find law very interesting. How can I make my parents understand that I would like to make my career in law?

The courtroom drama of a lawyer examining witnesses on the stand and asking dramatic questions looks very glamorous and exciting on prime time television. Make sure that you are not just fascinated by this picture, as law requires a lot of hard work. You'll spend hours poring over facts, previous cases and changes in the law. It also requires lot of research... which can mean collecting and raking through large amounts of written material to find the answers, and carefully analyzing the client's needs.

Law can be studied in two ways: B.A.LL.B., a 5-year integrated course after 10+2, or L.L.B., a 3-year course after graduation. It is quite easy to get into an LLB course; almost all universities offer this course. B.A.L.L.B. is available at only few universities and usually there is an entrance test for admission.

In order to convince your parents, you must show your work. Try to find details of this field, know more about the subjects taught, find out details of the entrance tests and talk to a lawyer, if possible.

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I am a Std 8 student and want to be a space scientist. Please guide me as to what direction I should take after Std 10. Which stream should I choose? What are the qualifications, courses, colleges needed to pursue this career?

To make a career in Space Science, an expertise of the science subjects Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics is a must. These subjects can be pursued at Bachelor's level, i.e., 4-year B.Tech. programme or 3-year B.Sc. course, for which eligibility is 10+2 in Science stream. After completing a Bachelor's degree, go for post-graduation in Space Science and Technology and other space-related fields. To become an expert in any specialized field, pursuing a Ph.D. degree is compulsory. In fact, most professionals working in Space Science are Ph.D. holders.

Some of the good institutes are: Indian Institute of Space science and Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore,Indian Institutes of Technology at various places.

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I'm a Std 12 (Humanities) student interested in Neuropsychology. What courses will I have to do to become a neuropsychologist and how much time will it take?

Neuropsychologists evaluate and treat people with various types of nervous system disorders. They may spend much of their day assessing patients for mental deficits or treating the psychological bases of mental health issues.

To enter into this field, go for a degree in Psychology, after which you should go for a Masters, followed by a doctoral degree in Neuropsychology. So you need at least 9-11 years of further study after 10+2.

Some of the institutes are: National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, Amity Institute of Psychology and Allied Sciences, Indian Institute of Psychology & Research, Bangalore, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Please note that Neuropsychologists are not medical doctors and can't prescribe medications or operate on patients. Although they investigate the brain and nervous system, they do so with statistical or psychological methods. Neuropsychiatrists are qualified and licensed medical doctors who also have psychological training.

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My son is in grade 8. He is not sure what he wants to pursue after the Std 10. We need help to understand how we can guide him and resources we have to look at options. Please advise.

"Which career should your child go for?" There is no straight answer. The reason being that "Each child is unique, with unique set of abilities, potentials and skills." The best career is when we match our preferences to the realities of a job.

Start by checking what your son is good at. His hobbies, the subject he likes most in school, his favourite books, magazines and TV programmes, what he does in his spare time these are all important clues to what kind of career would suit him best. His school results can also give some clues as to what his strong subjects are - is he better in theoretical work or practical work?

He still has two more years before deciding on subject streams. Depending on the subjects he takes, you can explore various career opportunities. You may also contact agencies that conduct aptitude tests.

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