James Webb delivers scientific results, SLS and Starship go closer to their maiden flights, remote surgery robot is going to the ISS, Perseverance continues to find weird stuff on Mars, and Hubble is still going strong. All this and more in this week’s episode of Space Bites. All this and more in this week’s episode of Space Bites.
All the most important space and astronomy news in a convenient bite-size format are being videoed at you by Fraser Cain himself.
The Science Behind JWST Pictures
James Webb Space Telescopes provides much more than just wallpaper material. We’ve all seen the first images, but now scientists start releasing actual scientific results that are based on the data from JWST. There’s obviously much more to come, but it’s already clear that JWST will change our perspective on the early Universe. Early galaxies seem to be much more developed than we expected, early stars have more heavy elements. Now cosmology has to come up with explanations for all that. And who knows what else will James Webb find.
SpaceX Test Fires Booster 7’s Engine
The SpaceX Starship has demonstrated that it can fly and land safely, so it’s time to get the much larger Super Heavy booster working. The company performed a Super Heavy static fire test this week, blasting just one of its Raptor 2 engines for a few seconds. This time, no explosion. With this test successful, SpaceX will continue to scale up its operations, eventually using 33 of these engines on this massive booster rocket. Elon Musk said that they’d make an orbital flight sometime in the next one to twelve months, but you’ll want to convert that into “Musk time.”
SLS Approaches Launch Date
NASA’s Space Launch System is quickly approaching its launch date for the Artemis I mission. It is set for the 29th of August and this time there might be no more delays. During the preparation, NASA were releasing multiple interesting documents that specify the details of the upcoming missions, including the Moon landing, which should come with the Artemis III.
Percy Finds ‘Cat Hair’ on Mars
Perseverance has discovered all sorts of unusual objects on Mars, including its parachute and backshell and other fragments of its landing system. After instructing the rover to take its 12th core sample, NASA engineers were surprised to see what looked like cat hair inside its drill chuck. Once again, this is probably a piece of Perseverance’s landing system that got into its inner workings, and hopefully, it’ll be the last.
Curiosity Celebrates 10 years on Mars
It feels like yesterday when NASA’s Curiosity Rover arrived at Mars, ready to search the planet for evidence of past water. But the hardworking rover has been on Mars for ten years, arriving on August 5th, 2012. In that decade, it found many examples of ancient water action, producing minerals that could only be formed in the presence of water. Even though its wheels are experiencing wear and tear, the rover is still in great shape, with plenty of power, and ready to continue its mission on Mars.
South Korea’s Mission to the Moon
Last week, South Korea joined the small group of nations that have sent a mission to the Moon. The spacecraft is named Danuri, meaning “enjoy the Moon,” and was launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket on August 4th, 2022. It’ll fly to the Moon, orbiting it about 100 km above the surface, mapping it, and searching for future landing sites. They’re hoping to send a follow-up lander to the Moon by 2030.
Remote Surgery Robot Going to the ISS
If a life-threatening medical emergency is on board the International Space Station, the only option is to abort, sending the sick astronaut down to Earth for treatment. NASA will send a surgical robot to the International Space Station that doctors on Earth can use remotely to perform surgery on astronauts in space. The prototype is due to fly to the station in 2024, where it will go through tests to see how well it’ll work in microgravity, operated remotely from the Earth.
Dwarf Galaxies Without Dark Matter
It’s believed that there is five times as much dark matter in the Universe as ordinary matter. Observations show that it’s collected into huge halos around galaxy clusters, serving as a gravitational anchor that holds large-scale structures together. Astronomers have found a collection of dwarf galaxies in a distant galaxy cluster that doesn’t seem to have any dark matter surrounding them. Instead, the gravitational interaction from nearby galaxies has warped and distorted them.
Hubble Is Still Going Strong
All eyes are on the new pictures from James Webb but don’t forget about Hubble. As a reminder of this incredible telescope, here’s a beautiful image of the globular cluster NGC 6638, captured by Hubble. This is a collection of millions of stars held together by mutual gravity. Stars are an average of 1 light-year apart within this cluster, which could be almost as old as the Universe itself.
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