Telescopes have come a long way in a little over four hundred years! It was 1608 that Dutch spectacle maker Hans Lippershey who was said to be working with a case of myopia and, in working with lenses discovered the magnifying powers if arranged in certain configurations. Now, centuries on and we have many different telescope designs and even telescopes in orbit but none are more incredible than the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Images las year revealed the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Galaxy and around M87 but now a team of astronomers have explored the potential of an even more powerful system the Next Generation EHT (ngEHT).Continue reading “What Could a Next Generation Event Horizon Telescope Do?”
Despite popular opinion, the first animals in space were not dogs or chimps, they were fruit flies launched by the United States in February 1947. The Soviet Union launched Laika, the first dog into space in November 1957 and now, it seems Iran is getting in on the act. A 500kg capsule known as the “indigenous bio-capsule” with life support capability was recently launched atop the Iranian “Salman” rocket. It has been reported by some agencies that there were animals on board but no official statement has been released.Continue reading “Iran Sent a Capsule Capable of Holding Animals into Orbit.”
In the 1920s, Edwin Hubble and Georges Lemaitre made a startling discovery that forever changed our perception of the Universe. Upon observing galaxies beyond the Milky Way and measuring their spectra, they determined that the Universe was expanding. By the 1990s, with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists took the deepest images of the Universe to date and made another startling discovery: the rate of expansion is speeding up! This parameter, denoted by Lambda, is integral to the accepted model of cosmology, known as the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (LCDM) model.
Since then, attempts to measure distances have produced a discrepancy known as the “Hubble Tension.” While it was hoped that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) would resolve this “crisis in cosmology,” its observations have only deepened the mystery. This has led to several proposed resolutions, including the idea that there was an “Early Dark Energy” shortly after the Big Bang. In a recent paper, an international team of astrophysicists proposed a new solution based on an alternate theory of gravity that states that our galaxy is in the center of an “under-density.”Continue reading “If Our Part of the Universe is Less Dense, Would That Explain the Hubble Tension?”
The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. More specifically, it is a barred spiral galaxy, meaning that within its central region, there is a bar shape off of which the spirals emanate. About two-thirds of spiral galaxies are barred spirals, and astronomers have thought this difference is just a variance in how density waves cluster stars in a galaxy. But a new study suggests that the bar of the Milky Way may have been caused by an ancient collision with another galaxy.Continue reading “Did the Last Great Galactic Merger Create the Milky Way's Bar?”
There’s an alien red giant star orbiting in the center of our galaxy. It’s called S0-6 and has chemical fingerprints from its birthplace far outside the Milky Way. This ancient star is spiraling slowly in toward the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) at the heart of the Milky Way. Eventually, it could get drawn into the black hole and destroyed after traveling for tens of thousands of years to get there.Continue reading “A Star Near the Center of the Milky Way is a Visitor from Beyond”
NASA recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the International Space Station (ISS) with a space-to-Earth call between the 7-person Expedition 70 crew and outgoing NASA Associate Administrator, Bob Cabana, and ISS Program Manager, Joel Montalbano. On December 6, 1998, the U.S.-built Unity module and the Russian-built Zarya module were mated in the Space Shuttle Endeavour cargo bay, as Endeavour was responsible for launching Unity into orbit that same day, with Zarya having waited in orbit after being launched on November 20 from Kazakhstan.Continue reading “The International Space Station Celebrates 25 Years in Space”
Enceladus is blasting water into space from the jets at its southern pole. This makes it the ideal place to send a dedicated mission, flying the spacecraft through the plumes with life-detection instruments s. A new study suggests that a spacecraft must proceed carefully through the plumes, keeping its speed below 4.2 km/second (2,236 miles per hour). Using a specialized, custom-built aerosol impact spectrometer at these speeds will allow fragile amino acids to be captured by the spacecraft’s sample collector. Any faster, they’ll shatter, providing inclusive results.Continue reading “Fly Slowly Through Enceladus' Plumes to Detect Life”
On September 24, 2023, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission returned a precious sample of rocky material from asteroid Bennu to Earth. The capsule landed safely under its main parachute, but it arrived more than a minute early. The cause: a small drogue parachute, designed to slow the spacecraft down prior to the main chute’s deployment, failed to open. After an investigation into the mishap, NASA believes they have determined the cause of the (happily non-catastrophic) failure.Continue reading “OSIRIS-REx Failed to Deploy its Drogue Chute Properly. Now NASA has Figured out Why”
Imagine a solar storm generating auroral displays across the entire sky. No, we haven’t quite seen them that strong in the current solar cycle. But, back in February 1872, people around the world reported seeing brilliant northern and southern lights. The culprit? A medium-sized sunspot group that unleased a torrent of charged particles in a coronal mass ejection directed toward Earth.Continue reading “In 1872, a Solar Storm Hit the Earth Generating Auroras from the Tropics to the Poles”
On August 23, ISRO’s Vikram lander detached from its propulsion module and made a soft landing near the Moon’s south pole region. The lander then deployed its Pragyan rover, and for two weeks the endearing little solar-powered rover performed marvelously, detecting water ice and characterizing the makeup of the lunar regolith before succumbing to the darkness and cold of the lunar night.
But since the rover mission ended, the propulsion module that brought it to the Moon has made a detour, performing a series of complex maneuvers that took it from a tight lunar orbit back to Earth orbit. This was possible because the module still had more than 100 kg of fuel, allowing scientists to conduct additional maneuvers and experiments.Continue reading “For its Final Trick, Chandrayaan-3 Brings its Propulsion Module to Earth Orbit”