The continuation of the collaboration after 2024 will hinge on a technical inspection, Rogozin said at a press briefing.
He pushed back on the suggestion that a Russian departure would be abrupt. “We are talking about our gradual exit from this project,” he said on Facebook in reply to a user comment, TASS reported.
If it happens, a Russian departure would be a blow to decades of US-Russia collaboration in space. Russia and the US, along with other partners, have collaborated to keep the space station operational since 1998.
Rogozin had previously criticised the US plan as too “US-centric” and a “departure of our American partners from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that developed during cooperation on the ISS,” The Verge reported.
China and Russia also refused to sign the Artemis Accords, a US-drawn agreement that aims to govern the rules of space exploration.
Narrator: Did you know that Earth has two North Poles? There’s the geographic North Pole, which never changes. And there’s the magnetic North Pole, which is always on the move. And right now it’s moving faster than usual.
Over the past 150 years, the magnetic North Pole has casually wandered 685 miles across northern Canada. But right now it’s racing 25 miles a year to the northwest.
This could be a sign that we’re about to experience something humans have never seen before: a magnetic polar flip. And when this happens, it could affect much more than just your compass.
Alanna Mitchell: Right now on the surface of the planet, it looks like it’s just a bar magnet. Our compasses are just pointing to one pole at a time because there’s a dominant two-pole system.
But sometimes, Earth doesn’t always just have a single magnetic North and South Pole. Evidence suggests that, for hundreds to thousands of years at a time, our planet has had four, six, and even eight poles at a time. This is what has happened when the magnetic poles flipped in the past. And when it happens again, it won’t be good news for humans.
Now you might think, eight poles must be better than two. But the reality is that: Multiple magnetic fields would fight each other. This could weaken Earth’s protective magnetic field by up to 90% during a polar flip.
Earth’s magnetic field is what shields us from harmful space radiation which can damage cells, cause cancer, and fry electronic circuits and electrical grids. With a weaker field in place, some scientists think this could expose planes to higher levels of radiation, making flights less safe.
This could also disrupt the internal compass in many animals who use the magnetic field for navigation. Even more extreme, it could make certain places on the planet too dangerous to live. But what exactly will take place on the surface is less clear than what will undoubtedly happen in space.
Satellites and crewed space missions will need extra shielding that we’ll have to provide ourselves. Without it, intense cosmic and solar radiation will fry circuit boards and increase the risk of cancer in astronauts.
Our modern way of life could cease to exist. We know this because we’re already seeing a glimpse of this in an area called the South Atlantic Anomaly. Turns out, the direction of a portion of the magnetic field deep beneath this area has already flipped! And scientists say that’s one reason why the field has been steadily weakening since 1840.
As a result, the Hubble Space Telescope and other satellites often shut down their sensitive electronics as they pass over the area. And astronauts on the International Space Station reported seeing a higher number of bright flashes of light in their vision, thought to be caused by high-energy cosmic rays that the weaker field can’t hold back.
Since experts started measuring the Anomaly a few decades ago, it has grown in size and now covers a fifth (20.3%) of Earth’s surface, with no signs of shrinking anytime soon. This is so extreme that it could be a sign we’re on the brink of a polar flip, or we may already be in the midst of one!
But scientists remain skeptical, mainly because …
Mitchell: They don’t know. The last time the poles reversed was 780,000 years ago so it’s not like we have a record for this.
Turns out 780,000 years is over double the time Earth usually takes between flips.
Mitchell: In the past 65 million years since the last mass extinction there have been reversals roughly every 300,000 years.
So what gives? Well, scientists haven’t figured it out yet. It’s unnerving to think that our modern way of life – banking, the stock exchange, missile tracking, GPS – relies on the outcome of something we can neither predict, nor control. One study went so far as to estimate that a single, giant solar storm today could cost the US up to $41.5 billion a day in damages.
And that’s with Earth’s magnetic field at its current strength. It’s frightening to imagine the devastation a storm would bring to an Earth with a magnetic field only 10% as strong.
We may not be able to stop a polar flip, but we can at least start to take measures to minimize the damage. The first step? Figure out what’s going on with this whacky field.
On the hunt are the European Space Agency’s SWARM satellites, which are collecting the most precise data on the strength of Earth’s magnetic field. Right now, they could be our greatest hope for solving this riddle.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on April 9, 2018.
No one likes spending Christmas at work – but sometimes there’s just no getting out of it. For example, if you are stationed in orbit 250 miles above the planet.
But despite being as far away as it’s humanly possible to get from Earth – where Christmas was invented – astronauts aboard the International Space Station manage to keep their workplace pretty festive. They festoon the station with decorations, put up Christmas trees, open presents, and even get Christmas dinner.
The crew currently aboard the ISS shared a holiday video with the world on December 22. The astronauts, four of whom arrived in November aboard the SpaceX spacecraft “Resilience,” said they’d named the craft after the people who helped get them up there in a year of unprecedented challenges.
“There couldn’t be a more fitting name to describe 2020, the resilience of the human spirit is something we can truly celebrate in this special season,” NASA astronaut Victor Glover said.
Here are some amazing moments from the many Christmases which have been celebrated aboard the ISS.
Of course to have a real Christmas you need a Christmas tree.
Astronauts may not be able to pick their own real fir tree, but for years they’ve been bringing up fake ones and adorning them with tinsel and decorations.
Over the decades astronauts have sometimes had to improvise.
This Christmas tree is fashioned from empty food containers, and was made by three astronauts aboard the ISS on the Skylab 4 mission in 1973.
For years astronauts have been decorating Christmas cookies in zero-gravity.
In November this year a specially designed “space oven” was shipped to the astronauts on the ISS to experiment on the impact intense heat and zero-gravity would have on baking cookies, however NASA confirmed that the astronauts will only be baking five experimental cookies in this oven and will not eat them.
The astronauts get Christmas dinner.
It’s impossible to prepare a full roast meal on the ISS, but astronauts still get an approximation of a Christmas dinner.
For Christmas 2018 crew members got a meal of smoked turkey, candied yams, corn, green beans, mac and cheese, and potatoes au gratin. This was followed by dessert options of strawberries, bread pudding, butter cookies, and shortbread cookies.
This feast was shipped up to the astronauts a few weeks ahead of Christmas aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.
A NASA spokesperson sent Business Insider a list of what’s on the menu for the ISS crew this Christmas.
The main course for the astronauts’ Christmas meal includes:
Last year the astronauts were sent gingerbread men, some of which ended up floating around in zero gravity.
Stockings have also become a regular feature – although the lack of gravity means they don’t necessarily hang the way they usually do.
On Christmas morning astronauts emerge from their sleeping quarters to find their stockings and presents just like on Earth.
Presents from the astronauts’ families are shipped up to the ISS ahead of Christmas day. Their families have to be organized, sometimes sending presents up as early as November to coincide with cargo ships travelling to the station with new supplies and science experiments.
Santa Claus hats are another staple, as exemplified in this photo of astronaut Scott Kelly (2010).
This picture from Christmas 2011 shows that elf hats are also permitted.
And of course decorations are a must, as proven by this photo taken in the run-up to Christmas aboard the Russian segment of the ISS in 2012.
The decorations can get pretty space-specific.
Stuffing empty space suits and putting hats on them appears to have caught on, in 2014 US astronaut astronaut Terry Virts shared this picture.
Virts and his team also left some “powdered milk and freeze dried cookies” for Santa according to ABC — although without a chimney, they had to settle for leaving them by the airlock.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is famous for his orbital musical renditions, and Christmas is no exception.
This photo was taken on Christmas day 2012, and according to NASA Hadfield later joined the rest of the crew for an “assortment of Christmas carols.”
Sometimes astronauts get the day off, but not always.
In 2018 two out of the three crew members got the whole day off, while a third had to carry out a few odd jobs. “The only tasks on their schedule for Xmas besides meals and exercise are some blood and saliva sample draws for human research studies,” a spokesperson told Space.com.
Sometimes the astronauts have more serious Christmas duties to attend to. On Christmas Eve 2013 NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio ventured outside the ISS on a space walk to fix a broken cooling system.
This year NASA confirmed to Business Insider the astronauts onboard will get to take Christmas day off work.
Even though the ISS might lack a few home comforts, being in space is a pretty unique way to spend the holiday.
Astronaut Anne McClain shared what it feels like to look down on the Earth at Christmas time during her stay on the station in 2018.