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.
The burden of too much information is heavy, come and find out with us and Julian Priest, artist in residence at Space Place what you can do about it, if only complain, The Royal Society of New Zealand warns about blue light at night, NASA will land Mars 2020 at Jezero, an ancient delta on Mars, gravitational waves might or might not exist, the king is dead, Kepler run out of power, long live the king, TESS is the new kid in town. And last but not least, InSight is due to land on Mars.
Aside from the Big Bang, Gamma Ray Bursts are the most powerful releases of energy in the universe, sometimes releasing over 100 times the entire energy of the Sun over it’s 10 billion year lifespan.
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.
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.
Last month, the New Zealand Government – The New Zealand Space Agency together with the US Embassy have announced four scholarships at NASA Ames, the same place I have been in 2014. There were media outlets in New Zealand that publicised this as an astronaut training opportunity, but this internship is no astronaut training school although it might lead to becoming one. This, and the knowledge that you don’t need to be an astronaut to work in the space industry, prompted me to want to share from my experience at NASA and give an overview of what to realistically expect from these internships.
Vesta reached opposition on the 20 June but is still quite easy to see and well worth a look if you get the chance.
The game changer for access to space will be humanity moving away from the use of chemical rockets to get into orbit. The disrupters to the space industry will be the ones that perfect the alternative technologies.
A really quick round up of the week in space including a black hole swallowing a star, the Mars dust storm and Hayabusa’s journey to Ryugu.
Hayabusa2 is about to have a close up and personal experience with the asteroid Ryugu. In this mission the spacecraft will collect a bit of the asteroid and return to Earth.
New Horizons will make its next encounter on 1 January next year as it approaches the Kuiper Belt Object Ultima Thule, formerly known as 2014 MU69.
Orbital ATK is one of the commercial providers of transport services to the International Space Station (ISS) with its Cygnus spacecraft.
The Japanese and Russia are the only non-US nations currently routinely sending cargo to the ISS. ESA did a few missions with the ATV.
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.
NASA launched Juno to look at Jupiter in 2011 and since 2016 it has been sending back fantastic images of the Solar System’s biggest planet.
Space exploration drives a lot of technological development that has spinoffs for Earth-bound applications.
The week in space includes the launch of the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, the planned helicopter for Mars and the BepiColombo mission is getting closer to launch.
In the 1960s and 1970s the Soviet Union and the United States launched a number of spacecraft to Venus that greatly increased our understanding of Earth’s twin.
A short video highlighting some of the events in the last week in space, including this morning’s launch of Mars InSight.