Nature’s Ultra-Rare Isotopes Can’t Hide from this New Particle Accelerator

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at the University of Michigan will study rare isotopes that last only fractions of a second. Image Credit: FRIB/University of Michigan.

A new particle accelerator at Michigan State University is producing long-awaited results. It’s called the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and it was completed in January 2022. Researchers have published the first results from the linear accelerator in the journal Physics Review Letters.

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OK, Artemis. Now You’re Just Showing Off. A Stunning View of the Moon Eclipsing Earth From the Orion Spacecraft

Screenshot of the Moon eclipsing Earth, via NASA's livestream from Orion.

Have you ever seen a lunar eclipse of the Earth from the far side of the Moon? Now we have.

On Monday (November 28, 2022) NASA’s Orion spacecraft streamed back live video showing the Earth and Moon right next to each other, followed by a stunning view of the Moon eclipsing the Earth.

What a time to be alive! Image editor Kevin Gill might have said it best:

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Gaze Slack-jawed at the Haunting Beauty of Galaxy NGC 1566, Captured by JWST, Processed by Judy Schmidt

NGC 1566, as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument. Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/Judy Schmidt.

Here’s an absolutely stunning new view from the James Webb Space Telescope of a dusty spiral galaxy, NGC 1566. Amateur (but expert!) image editor Judy Schmidt took the raw data from JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and teased out this eerie, spider-web-like view of this distant galaxy. The swirling and symmetrical arms are so full of dust that not many stars are visible.

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What’s Next for China’s Lunar Exploration Plans?

China is starting to become a force in space exploration. Its main focal point of lunar exploration has started bearing fruit, with several successes, including a sample return mission and the first-ever craft to land on the far side. So what’s next for the Lunar Exploration Program? Establishing a research base may be on the cards, but the country doesn’t just plan to stop at the Moon – they are looking far beyond.

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Astronomers Spotted a Tiny Asteroid A Few Hours Before it Impacted the Earth, and Predicted Exactly Where and When it Would Crash

Humanity is getting better a planetary defense. At least from external threats from outer space. As long as they’re just dumb rocks that follow the laws of physics. And a group of extraordinary humans proved it last week when the planetary defense community jumped into action to accurately track and predict exactly where a relatively small meteor would fall on November 19th.

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Many Clouds on Mars are Driven by Dust, not Water

One of the benefits of having a cluster of satellites orbiting another planet is that scientists can then analyze that planet’s weather. Sometimes in that process, they find patterns that are strikingly similar to those found on our home planet. That was the case recently when a group of scientists from ESA used data from Mars Express to analyze cloud formation on Mars. To no one’s surprise, dust seemed to be at the core of that formation. But the resultant clouds looked very much like those found here on Earth – in the tropics. 

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Based on the JWST Controversy, NASA is re-Evaluating the way it Names Spacecraft

Artist conception of the James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

In 2015, the naming of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) became the subject of controversy when it was revealed that the namesake (NASA’s administrator between 1961 and 1968) was involved in the infamous “Lavender Scare.” This refers to the period in the late 1940s and early 50s when the U.S. State Department purged thousands of individuals from their positions due to allegations of homosexuality. In 2021, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson requested a formal and public report and tasked NASA’s Chief Historian Brian C. Odom with investigating the matter.

In their final report, titled “NASA Historical Investigation into James E. Webb’s Relationship to the Lavender Scare” (aka. the NASA James Webb Historical Report). In it, NASA claimed that their investigation found no direct evidence that Webb was a “leader of or a proponent” of the policy; therefore, they would not be renaming the JWST. In a surprise twist, it appears that NASA may reexamine its naming policy and recommend changes. According to a statement released by the American Astronomical Society (AAS), Administrator Nelson agreed that the policy needs to be reevaluated.

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Air-Breathing ion Engines can Continuously Boost Spacecraft Anywhere There’s an Atmosphere

Staying in orbit can be challenging, at least for lower orbits that are more affected by Earth’s atmosphere. But, such orbits also come with advantages, such as better vantage points for new commercial operations such as Earth Observation and telecommunications connections. So there is an incentive for anyone who can figure out how to functionally keep a satellite in orbit at those lower altitudes for long periods. One of the best paths toward that goal seems to be an ion engine that takes in atmospheric particles and uses them for thrust. Now, a recently released paper explores potential use cases for such an engine and suggests a path toward their commercialization.

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Subaru Telescope can now Analyze 2,400 Galaxies Simultaneously

First light is an exciting time for astronomers and engineers who help bring new telescopes up to speed. One of the most recent and significant first light milestones recently occurred at the Subaru Telescope in Hawai’i. Though it has been in operation since 2005, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s (NAOJ) main telescope recently received an upgrade that will allow it to simultaneously observe 2400 astronomical objects at once over a patch of sky the size of several moons.

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