Perseverance has been on Mars for two years. Are black holes the source of dark energy? Universe-breaking galaxies found. And an early warning system for asteroids.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover is about to begin its third year exploring Mars. NASA released this cool two-year animation of images from the rover’s Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera to celebrate. During the timelapse, you can see various rocks that Perseverance stopped to study with its robotic arm and sensors. The rover initially landed in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18th, 2020, and has now travelled almost 15 km and taken 18 samples of rocks, regolith, and even the Martian atmosphere.
“The Universe Breakers”: Six Galaxies That are Too Big, Too Early
New images from JWST show six galaxies at a time when the Universe was only 3% of its current age, 500-700 million years after the Big Bang. They should be baby galaxies, but they contain 100 times more stellar mass than astronomers were expecting to see soon after the beginning of the Universe. If true, this calls the current thinking of galaxy formation into question or challenges most models of cosmology.
A 500-Meter-Long Asteroid Flew Past Earth and Astronomers Were Watching
An asteroid the size of the Empire State Building flew past Earth on Feb. 3rd, coming within 1.8 million km of our planet. For context, that’s about five times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Astronomers turned the Goldstone Solar System Radar dish on the space rock, mapping its surface. The asteroid, called 2011 AG5, is one of the most elongated objects ever seen, with a length-to-width ratio of 10:3. It’ll have another close flyby in 2040 when it comes within three times the Earth-Moon distance.
Source of Dark Energy
A new paper was released suggesting that there might be a link between dark energy and the growth of supermassive black holes. Researchers speculate that, in fact, black holes can be the source of dark energy. If true (which we yet need to prove) this can be ground-breaking.
To shed more light on the research here’s an in-depth interview with Dr Chris Pearson from STFC RAL Space, who is a co-author of the paper.
New Spacecraft Can See Into the Permanently Shadowed Craters on the Moon
The permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s south pole are exciting because they contain vast reserves of water ice that future human explorers could use. But studying these craters is difficult because they’re in shadow and have no direct illumination falling inside them. NASA’s new ShadowCam instrument is at the Moon, flying with Korea’s Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter. ShadowCam can see in such low light that it can reveal incredible details in these shadowed craters as if they were lit in sunlight.
ESA’s Early Warning System for Asteroids
ESA is considering their own mission to search for potentially dangerous asteroids. The spacecraft will be called NEOMIR and it will go to the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange point. This way it will be able to see incoming space rocks that will otherwise be missed because of the Sun blinding the telescopes. NEOMIR will also operate in the infrared, which will make its task even easier.
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