In New Zealand, Space Starts with Sheep; a new season is about to open for exoplanets as scientists discover an efficient method to predict microlensing; Earth’s Moon to be used as a giant radio telescope; “Hello, Andromeda calling”, gravitational waves might be used to carry information; 1500 km long water cloud appears on Mars after the planet-wide storm from last month, while InSider probe has only one month left hurling through space, and will land on Mars in November; scientists narrow down the landing sites for Mars 2020 rover; change of plans, why not land among the clouds of Venus? Hubble and Chandra telescopes have been repaired, mostly by switching them on and off and stay tuned for the position of Uranus in the sky.
BepiColombo is due to launch on Saturday on an Ariane 5 rocket. The mission will get to Mercury in 2025 helping us learn a lot more about the planet that is the closest to the Sun.
This Saturday night is International Observe the Moon Night so hopefully the weather will be great and we can all catch a glimpse of the Moon.
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory has developed a glitch and gone into safe mode. The 19 year old spacecraft is well past it’s design life but continues to produce incredible science so hopefully it’ll be back to full serviceability very soon.
The aborted launch of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with Expedition 57 to the International Space Station reminded the world that space flight can still be dangerous. Fortunately both Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin return safely to the surface of the Earth.
The amount of interstellar particles being detected by Voyager 2 may indicate that the spacecraft is about to pass through the heliopause into interstellar space.
Riding on Elon Musk’s muscle power earthlings are preparing to invade the Moon again. There they will find that some of its craters have been renamed to honour the Apollo 8 mission, the first to orbit our natural satellite 50 years ago. Venus is hailed by the Parker Solar probe that swings by it, Jupiter’s Moon Europa has 15 meters ice spikes on the surface and Saturn’s rings are not just water nor all the lost airline luggage. Mars has to resign to the idea that earthlings have figured out how to grow plants on it. Not even perchlorates can stop them. And last but not least, New Horizons is unstoppable going towards Ultima Thule.
Some interesting news about space in the last week.
A summary of the week in space in a minute. This week it was the return of Expedition 55 from the International Space Station, a meteorite puts on a display over Botswana and SOFIA arrives in New Zealand.
Stellar evolution is a fascinating topic and what happens in the last phases of a star’s life is mind boggling. Some stars are so big that their collapsing core turns straight into a black hole that suppresses the supernova.
The 2018 Space and Science Festival, held at Onslow College in Wellington was fantastic, with great talks from NASA and Rocket Lab and plenty of interesting displays.
This short video has a look at the current missions that are either on Mars or whizzing around it.
A wrap up of interesting space related news over the last week.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has released the second batch of data collected by the Gaia satellite revealing the positions of around 1.7 billion stars.
TESS was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX on 18 April. The satellite will survey the whole sky to look for exoplanets that transit their stars.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set for launch on 31 July to begin it’s journey to the Sun’s corona to help us understand more about the solar wind and why the corona is so hot.
The Chinese Tiangong-1 space station is predicted to conduct an uncontrolled re-entry sometime during 1 April 2018, NZ time.
Asteroid mining is seen as a lucrative source of income and, on the surface, it appears to be a way of accessing almost limitless resources. It’s not that simple though, it’s difficult, expensive and at the edge of our technological ability. But it won’t be that way forever.
The US has two options for getting to Mars within the next decade and a half with the ambitious plans from SpaceX and the more risk adverse plans of NASA. Both Russia and China also have some plans for Mars and have design work underway to build large rockets to support missions to Mars and to the Moon.
It looks like NASA is going to get a good amount of funding in a bill set to fly through the US Congress and Senate. This is great news for programmes such as Europa Clipper that have dependencies on the SLS programme.
NASA’s plans to get to Mars are a bit slower than Elon Musk’s. They have many more steps and have plans to achieve some quite impressive things such as space station orbiting the Moon and capturing an asteroid.