News from space in January and February 2019
OSIRIS-REx has been at Bennu for about a month on its mission to examine the asteroid and get a sample to bring back to Earth in 2023.
Hopefully in June next year NASA will launch Exploration Mission 1 on the SLS, which will be the first step in getting humans back to the Moon.
Unfortunately we will miss the Lunar Eclipse this Monday night/Tuesday morning and the programme for the next couple of years for eclipses is very light for this part of the world.
The Starship/Super Heavy combination that is the new name for SpaceX’s BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is taking shape in Texas with construction of a test vehicle known as Starhopper.
Hot on the heals of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 trip to the Moon we have the real time fly past of Ultima Thule on New Years Day, only this time the distance […]
The question of who owns the Moon has always been an interesting topic. Fortunately we have a treaty system to say that no one can own the Moon – but before this there were some very interesting and somewhat crazy claimants.
This Christmas it is 50 years since the first humans got an up close and personal look at the Moon. Apollo 8 was launched on 21 December 1968 and entered lunar orbit on 24 December, just in time for the crew to celebrate Christmas further from the Earth than anyone had ever celebrated Christmas, or anything else, ever.
Recent research suggests there may be a link between a supernova about 2.6 million years ago and the extinction of a large number of marine megafauna on the Earth at the time.
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.
The Hubble Space Telescope is currently in safe mode while technicians at NASA figure out what has gone wrong with a gyroscope that was found to be not performing properly. Hopefully it’s an easy fix and Hubble will be back to full operations soon.
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.