Splashdown! Artemis I has returned home. Webb has made its first Deep Field survey. Listen to the sound of a dust devil on Mars, and a Space journalist is going to the Moon.
Splashdown! On December 11th, 2022, after almost 26 days in space, NASA’s Orion capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California. It had completed a multi-million-kilometer journey flying past the Moon and testing the techniques and technologies that would eventually carry humans to the Moon and back. The entire mission had almost no problems, but its payload of Cubesats wasn’t so lucky – half had already failed. With Artemis I over, NASA is preparing for Artemis II, which is expected to fly in 2024.
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We also did a full overview of the entire Artemis 1 mission from start to end. Enjoy!
Hakuto-R and Lunar Flashlight launch
While the Orion capsule was going from the Moon to the Earth, two other missions were going in the opposite direction. Those are NASA’s Lunar Flashlight and the Japanese Hakuto-R lander. Lunar Flashlight is designed to map out deposits of water ice near the Moon’s poles. This will be very useful for future human missions. Hakuto-R is a lander originally designed for the Google Lunar XPrize. But it got a chance to launch only in 2022, long after the competition was over.
Accident On The ISS. Soyuz Coolant Leak
The Soyuz spacecraft attached to the International Space Station is leaking coolant into space. Mission controllers aren’t sure how it happened, but it’s possible that it was caused by a micrometeorite strike to the station. This is a big problem since the Soyuz is the only way for the three Russian cosmonauts to return to Earth. The temperature inside the Soyuz is rising, and it’s unclear if it can be used safely on a return flight. Russia may need to send up a new Soyuz as quickly as possible.
JWST’s First Real Deep Field
The Hubble Deep Field is one of the most famous results from the long-lived space telescope, peering more deeply into the Universe than had ever been done before. Once James Webb launched, we wondered when we’d get a JWST version of the Deep Field using its vastly more sensitive instruments. A first survey has been completed, using 9 hours of Webb observing time to stare at a single region of space. As you can imagine, the survey turned up some interesting results.
Percy Heard a Dust Devil on Mars
We’ve seen images of dust devils on Mars, both from the surface and from space, but we’ve never heard them before. Until now. NASA’s Perseverance Rover is equipped with a microphone and has already listened to the wind blowing, the sand shifting, and its own mechanical noises on Mars. And now the rover has captured a whirling dust devil that passed directly over its location. Check out the article, and you can hear it for yourself.
BANG! Sierra Space Inflatable Module Test
Pop goes the space habitat. Engineers at Sierra Space pushed their new LIFE habitat to destruction in a recent Ultimate Burst Pressure (UBP). They filled the inflatable habitat with gaseous nitrogen to test its materials’ strength. NASA required them to reach 182.4 PSI, but they made it past that milestone, eventually reaching 204 PSI when the module blew apart. Their next step will be to test a full-scale model in 2023 and then fly a working module to space a few years later.
Asteroid As a Space Habitat
Space habitats are a fixture in science fiction, with humans living and working far away from Planet Earth. But space is a harsh environment, and humans are fragile compared to robots, needing artificial gravity, protection from radiation, and resources like air and water. What’s a realistic way to build a space colony? According to a new study, rubble pile asteroids like Ryugu or Bennu might hold the key. A strong, lightweight mesh could enclose an asteroid and then be spun up, with the debris forming a habitable ring in space.
Everyday Astronaut is going to the Moon!
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has announced the eight people who will join him on SpaceX’s first private lunar mission, called the DearMoon project. The mission, which is planned for 2023, will see Maezawa and the eight crew members travel to the moon on a SpaceX Starship rocket for a six-day journey around the moon without landing on its surface. The eight primary crew members include electronic dance music artist Steve Aoki, South Korean rapper TOP, Czech choreographer Yemi A.D., Irish photographic artist Rhiannon Adam, science communicator Tim Dodd, photographer and filmmaker Karim Iliya, American documentary filmmaker Brendan Hall, and Indian television actor Dev D. Joshi. The mission is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, and perhaps over $100 million.
Fusion Ignition Breakthrough
Researchers at the National Ignition Facility have made a historic breakthrough, releasing more energy in a fusion experiment than was pumped in. They fired 192 high-powered lasers at a tiny capsule that contained a mix of deuterium and tritium, using 2.05 megajoules of energy. They extracted 3.15 megajoules of neutron-producing fusion energy, a gain of 1.5. This is a tremendous accomplishment, demonstrating that the technique works, but we’re still a long way to commercial fusion plants.
This was a significant news story, so we decided to make a separate video dedicated just to it.
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