Launched on April 14, 2023, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice; formerly known as JUICE) spacecraft has finally completed the unfurling of its solar panel arrays and plethora of booms, probes, and antennae while en route to the solar system’s largest planet.Continue reading “Juice is Fully Deployed. It’s Now in its Final Form, Ready to Meet Jupiter’s Moons in 2031”
China’s Rover Found Evidence of an Ancient Ocean on Mars
In a recent study published in National Science Review, a team of researchers led by the China University of Geosciences discuss direct evidence of an ancient ocean and its shoreline that existed in the northern hemisphere of Mars during the Hesperian Period, or more than 3 billion years ago. This finding is based on data collected by the China National Space Agency’s (CNSA) Zhurong rover in the Vastitas Borealis Formation (VBF), which lies within southern Utopia Planitia on Mars.Continue reading “China’s Rover Found Evidence of an Ancient Ocean on Mars”
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When Black Holes Merge, They'll Ring Like a Bell
When two black holes collide, they don’t smash into each other the way two stars might. A black hole is an intensely curved region of space that can be described by only its mass, rotation, and electric charge, so two black holes release violent gravitational ripples as merge into a single black hole. The new black hole continues to emit gravitational waves until it settles down into a simple rotating black hole. That settling down period is known as the ring down, and its pattern holds clues to some of the deepest mysteries of gravitational physics.Continue reading “When Black Holes Merge, They'll Ring Like a Bell”
ESA Has a Playground for Mars Rovers to Learn how to Explore the Red Planet
NASA makes successful rover missions seem mundane. Spirit and Opportunity were wildly successful, and Curiosity and Perseverance would both be considered successes even if they stopped working today. But complex missions don’t succeed without rigorous testing.
The ESA takes that lesson to heart, and when it comes to their Mars rover, they’ve built a ‘rover playground’ to test it in.Continue reading “ESA Has a Playground for Mars Rovers to Learn how to Explore the Red Planet”
Amazing Views From ESA’s New MeteoSat Weather Satellite
The European Space Agency’s latest third generation Meteosat-I 1 weather satellite shows its stuff, with more to come.
You’ve never seen the Earth and its complex weather systems like this. The European Space Agency (ESA) recently unveiled views from their latest weather satellite in geostationary (GEO) orbit, Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 (MTG-I 1).Continue reading “Amazing Views From ESA’s New MeteoSat Weather Satellite”
Chandra and JWST Join Forces in a Stunning Series of Images
New images that combine data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) JWST have just been released! The images feature four iconic astronomical objects, showcasing the capabilities of these observatories by combining light in the visible, infrared, and X-ray wavelengths. These include the NGC 346 star cluster located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), the NGC 1672 spiral galaxy, the Eagle Nebula (Messier 16, or M16), and the spiral galaxy Messier 74 (aka. the Phantom Galaxy).
These objects were made famous by the venerable Hubble Space Telescope, which took pictures of them between 1995 and 2005. Since it commenced operations, the JWST has conducted follow-up observations that provided a sharper view of these objects that captured additional features. Hubble and the JWST even teamed up to provide a multi-wavelength view of the Phantom Galaxy last year. By adding Chandra’s famed X-ray imaging capabilities to Webb’s sensitivity and infrared light, these latest images provide a new glimpse of these objects, revealing both faint and more energetic and powerful features.Continue reading “Chandra and JWST Join Forces in a Stunning Series of Images”
Researchers Are Building a Simulated Moon/Mars Research Station Deep Underground
In the early days of spaceflight, just getting a satellite into Earth’s orbit was an accomplishment. In our era, landing rovers on other planets and bringing samples home from asteroids is the cutting edge. But the next frontier is rapidly approaching, when astronauts will stay for long periods of time on the Moon and hopefully Mars.
But before we can send people to those dangerous environments, the Artemis partner space agencies have to know how to keep them safe. An important part of that is simulating the conditions on the Moon and Mars.Continue reading “Researchers Are Building a Simulated Moon/Mars Research Station Deep Underground”
Want to be an asteroid miner? There’s a database for that.
Asteroid mining is slowly but surely coming closer to reality. Many start-ups and governmental agencies alike are getting in on the action. But plenty of tools that would help get this burgeoning industry off the ground are still unavailable. One that would be particularly useful is a list of potential candidate asteroids to visit. While the information has been available in various places, no one has yet combined it into a single, searchable database until now.Continue reading “Want to be an asteroid miner? There’s a database for that.”
Virgin Galactic’s Space Plane Rises Again for Final Flight Test
After a two-year hiatus, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity resumed flying crew members beyond a 50-mile-high space milestone, marking the end of a years-long flight test program and setting the stage for the start of commercial service as soon as next month.
It was the first launch of the Unity rocket plane from its VMS Eve carrier airplane since July 2021, when company founder Richard Branson took a ride. Branson said he was “proud” to be watching from Spaceport America in New Mexico when Unity took flight.
During today’s suborbital flight test, known as Unity 25, the rocket plane sent two pilots and four other Virgin Galactic employees to a maximum height of 54.2 miles, at a top speed of Mach 2.94.Continue reading “Virgin Galactic’s Space Plane Rises Again for Final Flight Test”
NASA May Have Found Hakuto-R’s Crash Site
New images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) appear to show the crash site where the Japanese Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander impacted the surface of the Moon a month ago.
The refrigerator-sized HAKUTO-R was built by the startup company iSpace and was launched in December 2022 with the goal of becoming the first commercial lunar lander to touch down safely on the Moon. However, during landing operations on April 25, 2023, communications ceased just moments before touchdown should have occurred, and the lander was presumed lost.Continue reading “NASA May Have Found Hakuto-R’s Crash Site”