TIME space

Watch 3 Astronauts Launch for the International Space Station

Three astronauts who will spend the next five months in space launched from the desert in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

The astronauts launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz rocket at 5:02 p.m. EST. Over six hours, the crew orbited the Earth four times before catching up to the space station, docking at 10:46 p.m. EST.

The astronauts’ launch was delayed after two consecutive failures of cargo vehicles that were meant to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

The first setback occurred in April when the Russian Federal Space Agency was not able to regain control of a vehicle after launch. As a result, the Progress vehicle and the cargo it was carrying burned up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The second failure occurred on June 28 when the SpaceX Falcon exploded just two minutes after the launch.

The unsuccessful supply missions created a ripple effect through the public and private agencies that work with the International Space Station, delaying American astronaut Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren’s planned first spacewalk, which was supposed to occur between Aug. 10 and Labor Day. The failures also delayed work on the reconfiguration of the space station for the arrival of commercial cargo and crew vehicles.

The three astronauts arriving at the International Space Station on Wednesday include Lindgren and Kimiya Yui, who are flying for the first time. They are led by Soyuz commander Oleg Kononenko. The crew is slated to stay in space for five months, returning on Dec. 22.

The trio will join Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka, who have already been in space for 117 days. They launched in the early hours of March 28.

TIME is following the yearlong mission between American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Click here to watch the series, or watch Episode 1, “Leaving Home,” below.

TIME space

Exclusive: Astronaut Talks About Going to Space for the First Time

He'll be in space for five months

Today is a big day for American astronaut Kjell Lindgren. He’s going to space for the first time.

TIME spoke with Lindgren just days before he left the United States for the launch in Kazakhstan.

“I’ve been counting down the days to the launch ever since I got assigned,” he said. “You start to have very real thoughts about what it means to climb into a rocket, to launch into orbit, and spend the next five months on the space station.”

Lindgren is board certified in emergency medicine and aerospace medicine. When he’s not training to spend time in space, he is also a husband and father of three.

He recently started an Instagram account where he’ll be posting updates from his mission.

You can watch the launch live on Time.com starting at 4pm EST Wednesday.

TIME is following the yearlong mission between American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, who are nearly four months into a yearlong mission aboard the international space station. Click here to watch the series, or watch Episode 1, “Leaving Home,” below.

TIME space

New Horizons Finds Second Mountain Range in Pluto’s Heart

New Horizons Pluto Heart Mountain Range
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto’s heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain.

The newly discovered peaks are as high as the Appalachian Mountains

Pluto’s heart continues to divulge its secrets as NASA announced the discovery of a new mountain range on the lower-left edge of the planet’s heart-shaped region.

These frozen peaks are estimated to be one-half mile to one mile high, which is about the same height as the Appalachian Mountains, NASA has revealed in a new image.

The newly discovered peaks, which have yet to be named, are located about 68 miles northwest of the Norgay Montes, the frozen mountains that were discovered on July 15 in the first series of photographs that New Horizons beamed back to Earth.

“There is a pronounced difference in texture between the younger, frozen plains to the east and the dark, heavily-cratered terrain to the west,” said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “There’s a complex interaction going on between the bright and the dark materials that we’re still trying to understand.”

NASA believes that Sputnik Planum, the left lobe of Pluto’s heart-shaped region, was formed less than 100 million years ago while the darker region, seen on the newly-released image, is probably older by billions of years.

TIME World

See a Lake in Turkey That Naturally Turned Completely Red

Evaporation has allowed the algae to thrive

A salt lake in Turkey turned completely red as a result of an algae bloom.

Lake Tuz Gola, the country’s second-largest lake, has been evaporating in the hot summer, Stony Brook University marine ecology research professor Christopher Gobler told ABC News. The evaporation has killed plankton, which eat algae, allowing the sea organisms to thrive.

“The algae is thriving and will probably [be] red until the lake fully evaporates, probably next month during the peak of summer heat,” he said.

Tourists often walk across the dry lake during summer, and water returns in the winter.

TIME animals

Armadillos Are Giving People Leprosy in Florida

Nine-banded Armadillo
Getty Images

There have been nine cases in humans so far this year

Heath officials in Florida warned people to avoid armadillos because they can pass leprosy to humans. Nine cases of leprosy in humans have already been reported so far this year in the state—close to the annual average of 10 cases, officials said.

“It is still very, very unlikely to cause problems but be aware of armadillos and stay away from them,” Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society, told WJAX-TV. He told USA Today that all nine of the Florida cases involved people who had come into close contact with armadillos.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns on its website that humans can contract the disease from armadillos but says “the risk is low.”

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a bacterial disease that harms human skin, making it dryer and thicker and causing lesions and growths. It remains rare in the U.S. and can be cured with antibiotics.

TIME climate change

How the Recession Accidentally Helped the Planet

A new study finds offers new understanding of what caused the decline in carbon emissions

From the White House to the ivory tower, climate change experts have cited a 10% decline in carbon emissions in the United States as a sign that the country is on the right track to reducing emissions. Increased reliance on natural gas has been cited as the cause of the improvement.

But new research suggests carbon emissions declined largely as a result of a drop in economic activity during the Great Recession. Overall, the economic downturn led to more than 80% of the total reduction in carbon emissions between 2007 and 2009, according to a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

The finding casts doubt on the ability of policymakers to encourage reduced emissions while also growing the economy, says study author Dr. Klaus Hubacek, an ecological economist at the University of Maryland. Whether it’s possible to do both at the same time has been central to the debate over climate-change policy.

“The higher the income, the higher the carbon emissions per capita,” Hubacek says. “One has to think about what increase in income can we afford in a world that has a finite capacity to absorb carbon.”

Read more: Here’s Where to Buy a House In the U.S. That Will Be Resilient to Climate Change

Economic growth fueled 71% of the increase in carbon emissions between 1997 and 2007, according to the study. Researchers attribute the remainder of the emissions spike during that period to population growth. Between 2007 and 2009, 83% of the decrease in carbon emission can be attributed to economic decline. The remaining 17% was the result of changing energy sources, the study found.

Between 2009 and 2013, during the economic recovery, the decrease in carbon emissions amounted to less than 1%, a decline that can be attributed to a variety of origins.

The research casts a new light on the Obama administration’s ambitious goal of dramatically reducing carbon emissions in the coming decades. Officials frequently cite the emissions reduction of the last decade as the first step in long-lasting improvement. The White House has said the U.S. will decrease carbon emissions by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

In response to an inquiry about the study, the White House attributed the decline in green house emissions to “first-term policies that increased renewable energy and vehicle fuel economy, as well as energy market factors.”

TIME space

Stephen Hawking Endorses New Hunt for Alien Life, Despite Fear of Being ‘Conquered and Colonized’

Britain Extraterrestrials
Matt Dunham—AP Russian tech entrepreneur Yuri Milner, left, speaks next to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking during a press conference in London on July 20, 2015

"We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know"

Stephen Hawking has long made his concerns about the search for extraterrestrial life clear. But after his appearance with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner on Monday to announce Breakthrough Listen, the new $100 million initiative looking for signs of intelligent life, the famous physicist seems to have at least partially reconsidered.

Hawking famously revealed his worry that any aliens advanced enough to contact earth would be “looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach” during a 2010 episode of the miniseries Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking. And he clearly hasn’t changed his mind completely. “If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms have often been disastrous from their point of view, and encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced,” he told reporters at the Breakthrough announcement. “A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”

Still, he said, the initiative is of special importance in a moment when humanity’s achievements in space are in the spotlight. “We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know,” he said of the search for life beyond earth.

Breakthrough Listen will provide funding explicitly for the search for extraterrestrial life, scanning the million stars closes to Earth and portions of 100 neighboring galaxies but not for sending messages or signals to communicate with that life, an important distinction for scientists like Hawking, who are concerned with the possible consequences of contact. Instead, a second program, Breakthrough Message, will host a competition in which anyone can submit ideas for potential interplanetary messages.

TIME climate change

The First Half of 2015 Was the Hottest Ever

It's been a hot one

Correction appended, July 22, 2015

 

The average temperature around the globe was 1.58°F (0.88°C) higher than the 20th century average during the first six months of 2015, making it the hottest start to the year in the era of modern record keeping.

The announcement, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the latest news showing record temperatures across the planet in recent years. The 2015 record easily surpassed a record for high temperatures in the first six months of the year set last year. The record highs occurred on both land and in oceans.

 

global surface temperature
Courtesy of NOAA

In the month of June, the entire world was warmer than average with the exception of the area in the Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and the United Kingdom. Scientists noted record warmth in Pacific areas along the ocean, in addition to other areas.

NOAA also notes that climate phenomenon El Niño, which began earlier this year, is expected to last into spring 2016. El Niño typically brings an onslaught of rain and raises global temperatures.

Read More: 2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the average temperature increase around the world in 2015 in Celsius. It was 0.88 degrees Celsius

TIME climate change

Arnold Schwarzenegger Named Environmental Advocate Ahead of U.N. Climate Meeting

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ken Ishii — Getty Images Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the Tokyo Premiere of 'Terminator Genisys' at the Roppongi Hills Arena in Tokyo, on July 6, 2015

"Climate change is not science fiction"

Arnold Schwarzenegger has added climate change advocate to his resume.

The actor and former California governor has been selected by the French government to join Nobel Peace Prize winners, U.N. secretary generals and Pope Francis to advocate on behalf of the environment ahead of the U.N. climate change meeting in Paris in December.

“I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and, let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction, this is a battle in the real world, it is impacting us right now,” Schwarzenegger said on Tuesday at the first “summit of conscience for the climate.”

Schwarzenegger addressed an audience that included spiritual leaders from many religions, as well as climate change experts.

“I believe the science is in. The debate is over and the time for action is now,” Schwarzenegger continued. “This is bigger than any movie, this is the challenge of our time. And it is our responsibility to leave this world a better place than we found it, but right now we are failing future generations.”

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