Odysseus Is Going to Sleep After Sending Snapshots From Moon Landing

Image of Odysseus moon landing
This image shows one of the Odysseus lander's legs breaking due to the shock of first contact on the moon. (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

Intuitive Machines says it’s putting its Odysseus moon lander to bed for a long lunar night, with hopes of reviving it once the sun rises again near the moon’s south pole.

The Houston-based company and NASA recapped Odysseus’s six days of operation on the lunar surface, shared pictures showing its off-kilter configuration, and looked ahead to the mission’s next phase during a briefing today at Johnson Space Center in Texas.

The original plan called for the solar-powered spacecraft to be turned off when the sun fell below the lunar horizon, but Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus said mission controllers would instead put the Odysseus into hibernation and try restoring contact in three weeks’ time. “We are going to leave the computers and the power system in a place where we can wake it up and do this development test objective, to actually try to ping it with an antenna and see if we can’t wake it up once it gets power again,” he told reporters.

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Dwarf Galaxies Banished the Darkness and Lit Up the Early Universe

The JWST used gravitational lensing to search for the sources of light that triggered the Epoch of Reionization and brought darkness to an end. The white hazy blobs are galaxies in Pandora's Cluster, which acts as the gravitational lens. The red objects are the distant and ancient objects magnified by the lens, some of them warped into arcs. Many of them are early dwarf galaxies, some of them responsible for the Epoch of Reionization. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA JWST

During the Universe’s Dark Ages, dense primordial gas absorbed and scattered light, prohibiting it from travelling. Only when the first stars and galaxies began to shine in energetic UV light did the Epoch of Reionization begin. The powerful UV light shone through the Universe and punched holes in the gas, allowing light to travel freely.

New observations with the James Webb Space Telescope reveal how it happened. The telescope shows that faint dwarf galaxies brought an end to the darkness.

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Watch the Varda Capsule’s Entire Fiery Atmospheric Re-Entry

Screenshot from the Varda W-1 capsule's reentry to Earth.

Here’s a front row seat on what it would be like to return to Earth inside a space capsule. Varda Space Industries’ small W-1 spacecraft successfully landed at the Utah Test and Training Range on February 21, 2024.  A camera installed inside the cozy 90 cm- (3 ft)-wide capsule captured the entire stunning reentry sequence, from separation from the satellite bus in low Earth orbit (LEO) to the fiery re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere, to parachute deploy, to the bouncy landing.

At the end of this 5-minute video, you’ll see a pair legs with mud-caked shoes approach to gather the parachute and retrieve the capsule. Not only is there video, but sound as well. And the sounds of reentry and landing are what grabs you!  

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An AI Simulated Interactions Between Different Kinds of Advanced Civilizations

Simulation of interactions with alien civilisations

The possibility for life beyond the Earth has captivated us for hundreds of years. It has been on the mind of science fiction writers too as our imaginations have explored the myriad possibilities of extraterrestrial life. But what would it really be like if/when we finally meet one; would it lead to war or peace? Researchers have used a complex language model to simulate the first conversations with civilisations from pacifists to militarists and the outcomes revealed interesting challenges.

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Ingenuity Won’t Fly Again Because It’s Missing a Rotor Blade

NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/Simeon Schmauß

Ingenuity has been the first aerial vehicle on another world. NASA announced the end of the Martian helicopter’s life at the end of its 72nd flight. During the flight there had been a problem on landing and, following the incident a few photos revealed chips in one of the rotor blades but nothing too serious. New images have been revealed that show the craft is missing one of its rotor blades entirely! 

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Comets: Why study them? What can they teach us about finding life beyond Earth?

Image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft on Jan. 31, 2015. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Universe Today has explored the importance of studying impact craters, planetary surfaces, exoplanets, astrobiology, and solar physics, and what this myriad of scientific disciplines can teach scientists and the public regarding the search for life beyond Earth. Here, we will explore some of the most awe-inspiring spectacles within our solar system known as comets, including why researchers study comets, the benefits and challenges, what comets can teach us about finding life beyond Earth, and how upcoming students can pursue studying comets. So, why is it so important to study comets?

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DART Made a Surprisingly Big Impact on Dimorphos

Artist's illustration of DART

NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission was hailed a success when it collided with its target asteroid Dimorphos last year. The purpose of the endeavour was to see if it could redirect an asteroid and, since the impact, astronomers have been measuring and calculating the impact on the target. It is incredible that the 580kg spacecraft travelling at 6 km/s was able to impart enormous kinetic energy to the 5 billion kg asteroid.

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See the Dramatic Final Moments of the Doomed ERS-2 Satellite

The ESA's ERS-2 Earth observation satellite was destroyed when it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on February 21st 2004. Image Credit: Fraunhofer FHR

When a satellite reaches the end of its life, it has only two destinations. It can either be maneuvered into a graveyard orbit, a kind of purgatory for satellites, or it plunges to its destruction in Earth’s atmosphere. The ESA’s ERS-2 satellite took the latter option after 30 years in orbit.

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Mars Had its Own Version of Plate Tectonics

Plate tectonics is not something most people would associate with Mars. In fact, the planet’s dead core is one of the primary reasons for its famous lack of a magnetic field. And since active planetary cores are one of the primary driving factors of plate tectonics, it seems obvious why that general conception holds. However, Mars has some features that we think of as corresponding with plate tectonics – volcanoes. A new paper from researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) looks at how different types of plate tectonics could have formed different types of volcanoes on the surface of Mars.

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Planets in Binary Star Systems Could be Nice and Habitable

An AI-generated artist's concept of a planet in a binary star system where the orbits may not yet be in alignment. Credit: Michael S. Helfenbein.
An AI-generated artist's concept of a planet in a binary star system where the orbits may not yet be in alignment. Credit: Michael S. Helfenbein.

The Star Wars world Tatooine is one of the most recognizable planets in the realm of science fiction. It’s a harsh place, and its conditions shaped the hero Luke Skywalker in many ways. In the reality-based Universe, there may not be many worlds like it. That’s because, according to a new study out from Yale researchers, the Universe likes to be more orderly, and that affects planets and their environments.

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