Space Bites

China’s Giant Rocket, Dark Big Bang, Next Bright Comet

The official verdict on Artemis 1. Canadian kids discovered something NASA didn’t know. Was there a Dark Big Bang? The next bright comet for 2024.

SLS Good For Humans. Artemis 2 in 2024

NASA released the results of the analysis of the Artemis 1 mission. Surprise-surprise, it was a success. Apart from some damage to the ground systems infrastructure, everything went close to perfect. This means that SLS and Artemis are now officially good to fly humans. The next flight will be Artemis 2 taking a crew of 4 on a trip around the Moon but without a landing. According to NASA, we should expect it in the fall of 2024.

More about Artemis 1 analysis.

Canadian Kids Discover Things About Space NASA Didn’t Know

Canadian school students made a potentially life-saving discovery. They participated in the NASA’s Cubes in Space program and sent samples of epinephrine to the edge of space on a balloon. After the samples got back it turned out that epinephrine has lost some of its purity and even turned into benzoic acid, which is poisonous. This is happening because of the exposure to space radiation, meaning that epipens can’t be used in space without shielding. More research is required to develop proper procedures, but it’s definitely an important discovery for the future of space exploration.

Dark Big Bang

What is dark matter? This is a mystery that continues to puzzle astronomers. A new paper suggests that the presence of dark matter in the Universe was caused by another dark big bang that co-occurred with the Big Bang that spread regular matter across the cosmos. If true, this would allow astronomers to disconnect matter and dark matter from each other in their theories. Although this is theoretical, it makes some concrete predictions. There should be powerful gravitational waves reverberating across the Univese, detectable in modern experiments.

More about the possibility of a Dark Big Bang.

China’s Huge 10-Meter Fuel Tank

China plans to send humans to the Moon in the next decade, but they’ll need a powerful rocket to make the journey. This week, the Chinese Space Agency revealed images of the fuel tank for the Long March 9. This rocket can launch 165 tonnes into low-Earth orbit and carry heavy payloads to the Moon. It will also have a fully reusable first stage and maybe even a reusable upper stage. The height and width of the Long March 9 will be similar to the Saturn V or SpaceX Starship.

More about the Long March 9.

Japan’s H3 Failure

Japan’s H3 rocket experienced a failure on its maiden flight. The first stage worked well but the second stage engines just didn’t light up, so the command centre had to send a self-destruct signal and terminate the flight. H3 is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ attempt to cut the launch cost to compete with players like SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Hopefully, they will be able to find the cause of the failure and come back with another successful launch.

Space Balloons

A Japanese startup has announced a new balloon venture that will fly to an altitude of 25 km, high enough to see the curvature of the Earth beneath you. The airtight capsule is big enough to seat two passengers, carrying them to the stratosphere for about an hour and then descending to the ground again. They plan to charge $180,000 USD but hope to bring prices down to tens of thousands of dollars in the coming years.

More about balloon space tourism.

Mysterious Blob in The Center Of Our Galaxy

Astronomers have been observing a mysterious elongated blob near SagA* named X7. The latest observations suggest that it is actually a result of a collision of two stars. They formed a gas cloud that is being torn apart by the black hole’s tidal forces, meaning that the event is short-lived and may only last for several decades or so. Estimates suggest that it will reach its closest point to the black hole in 2036 and be devoured by it. So, we’re lucky to see it before it’s gone.

More about Milky Way’s X7.

Hubble Drops Below Starlink

With the rise in satellite constellations, astronomers are finding that more and more of their images have a satellite trail obscuring some of their data. Just use space telescopes? Unfortunately, it appears that space telescopes like Hubble are having the same problem. Hubble’s orbit has been decaying for years, and it’s now so low that it’s beneath Starlink shells. A new study reveals some of the satellite trails passing through science images.

More about Hubble dropping its orbit.

Hubble VS Roman

Speaking of Hubble, we’re still waiting for the launch of its proper successor, the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope. Many people say that James Webb is “the next Hubble”, but the Roman telescope is much more similar to the HST. However, it will be better than Hubble in almost every way. The main advantage is that it will have a much wider field of view and will be able to cover much more area. So, by current calculations, it would take Hubble 85 years to match what Nancy Grace Roman will see in just 63 days. That alone is a very good reason to be excited about its future launch.

More about the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope.

Juno’s Flyby of Io

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has spent years orbiting Jupiter, sending home thousands of photographs of the giant planet. With its primary science work complete, mission planners are sending it on my ambitious orbits, exploring the Jovian moons. This week we got a new set of images of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io from a distance of 51,500 km. This is the closest view of Io since New Horizons visited back in 2006. Scientists could detect changes on the planet’s surface during this time due to its active volcanism.

More about Io.

A Bright Comet for 2024

We’re still waiting for the Universe to deliver another bright comet to grace the night sky. A newly discovered comet might be just what we’re hoping for. It’s called C/2023 A3 Tsuchinshan-ATLAS and is taking a trajectory that could brighten significantly in September 2024. It could reach zero magnitude (or more likely +3), making it one of the brighter comets in recent memory. Come on, Universe, don’t fail us again.

More about the next bright comet.

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