With Martian air, Dirt, and Sunshine, It Should be Possible to Make Iron on Mars When the first humans reach Mars, they’ll probably live in habitats that were there ahead of time or in habs made from their landers. Eventually, though, if people are going to settle on Mars in large numbers, they’ll need to become self-sufficient. A group of researchers at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia is looking at ways to make it happen. Their goal is in-situ resource utilization on the planet for solutions to building out the materials needed for Mars cities. They’ve come up with a proposal to produce metals forRead More →

A Remote Surgical Robot is Going to the International Space Station In the near future, NASA and other space agencies will send astronauts beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the first time in over fifty years. But unlike the Apollo Era, these missions will consist of astronauts spending extended periods on the Moon and traveling to and from Mars (with a few months of surface operations in between). Beyond that, there’s also the planned commercialization of LEO and cis-Lunar space, meaning millions of people could live aboard space habitats and surface settlements well beyond Earth. This presents many challenges, which include the possibility that theRead More →

What part of a space rock survives all the way to the ground? When a small asteroid enters Earth’s atmosphere from space, its surface is brutally heated, causing melting and fragmenting. Therefore, why the rocks near the surface survive to the ground as meteorites has been somewhat of a mystery. That mystery is solved in a new study of the fiery entry of asteroid 2008 TC3, published online today in Meteoritics and Planetary Science. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

Hubble can Still Impress and Inspire. Here’s Globular Star Cluster NGC 6638 Wow, what a beauty! While we’ve all turned our attentions to the new James Webb Space Telescope, this image proves Hubble has still has got it where it counts.   This new image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the heart of the globular cluster NGC 6638 in the constellation Sagittarius. This star-studded cluster contains tens of thousands to millions of stars, all tightly bound together by gravity. Globular clusters have a higher concentration of stars towards their centers, and this observation highlights that density. This image was taken with Hubble’s Wide FieldRead More →

Exploring how stars determine their own masses Last year, a team of astrophysicists including key members from Northwestern University launched STARFORGE, a project that produces the most realistic, highest-resolution 3D simulations of star formation to date. Now, the scientists have used the highly detailed simulations to uncover what determines the masses of stars, a mystery that has captivated astrophysicists for decades. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

UPK 39 and UPK 41 form a primordial binary open cluster, study finds Using data from ESA’s Gaia satellite and the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST), astronomers have investigated three open clusters near the Aquila Rift cloud. They found that two of them, designated UPK 39 and UPK 41, constitute a primordial binary open cluster. The discovery is reported in a paper published July 28 on arXiv.org. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

Will Europa finally answer, ‘Are we alone?’ While NASA’s much-lauded Space Launch System stands ready for its maiden flight later this month with the goal of sending astronauts back to the Moon in the next few years, our gazes once again turn to the stars as we continue to ask the question that has plagued humankind since time immemorial: Are we alone? While there are several solar system locales that we can choose from to conduct our search for life beyond Earth, to include Mars and Saturn’s moons, Titan and Enceladus, one planetary body orbiting the largest planet in the solar system has peaked theRead More →

Watch OSIRIS-REx’s Complex Orbital Path Around Bennu in This Cool Animation The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft conducted a two-year reconnaissance and sample collection at the asteroid Bennu, providing crucial data about the 500-meter-wide potentially hazardous rubble pile/space rock. When OSIRIS-REx arrived on Dec. 3, 2018, it needed some tricky navigation and precise maneuvers to make the mission work. Experts at NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio created an amazing visualization of the path the spacecraft took during its investigations. A short film called “A Web Around Asteroid Bennu” highlights the complexity of the mission, and the film is being shown at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in Vancouver,Read More →

Dwarf Galaxies Found Without Influence From Dark Matter Ask astronomers about dark matter and one of the things they talk about is that this invisible, mysterious “stuff” permeates the universe. In particular, it exists in halos surrounding most galaxies. The mass of the halo exerts a strong gravitational influence on the galaxy itself, as well as on others in the neighborhood. That’s pretty much the standard view of dark matter and its influence on galaxies. However, there are problems with the idea of those halos. Apparently, some oddly shaped dwarf galaxies exist that look like they have no halos. How could this be? Do theyRead More →

Interstellar Meteorite, Shortest Day Ever, Magnetosphere Collapse An interstellar meteorite could be hiding in the ocean. Why doesn’t Jupiter have rings like Saturn. The time when Earth’s magnetic field almost collapsed. The shortest day on Earth, and Planet 9 is running out of places to hide. All this and more in this week’s episode of Space Bites. If you prefer to watch the most exciting space and astronomy news of this week, here’s a video version. They come in a bite-size format, so you can relax and watch them being videoed at you. Why Jupiter Doesn’t Have Massive Rings Saturn has vast rings made ofRead More →

Jupiter Missions Could Also Help Search for Dark Matter In a recent study published in the Journal of High Energy Physics, two researchers from Brown University demonstrated how data from past missions to Jupiter can help scientists examine dark matter, one of the most mysterious phenomena in the universe. The reason past Jupiter missions were chosen is due to the extensive amount of data gathered about the largest planet in the solar system, most notably from the Galileo and Juno orbiters. As stated, dark matter is one of the most mysterious phenomena in the universe. One reason is because it’s invisible and does not emitRead More →

I Asked an AI to Dream the Solar System as Food As soon as I saw these new artificial intelligence image creation tools, like DALL-E, I wanted to see how well they’d work for generating space and astronomy images. I’m still on the waiting list for DALL-E 2, so I don’t have any feedback to give there, but I signed up for Midjourney AI, played around with the free account, and then signed up for a full paid account, so I could test out its capabilities. How well does it work? It’s okay, I guess. I’m still learning to craft prompts to get the bestRead More →

Masten Space is Building a Lunar Lander for NASA. Also, They Just Filed for Bankruptcy If you’re a fan of the commercial space industry (aka. NewSpace), then the name Masten Space Systems is sure to ring a bell. For years, this California-based aerospace company has been developing delivery systems to accommodate payloads to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. This included Xoie, the lander concept that won the $1 million Northrop Grumman Lunar X-Prize in 2009, their Xombie and Xodiac reusable terrestrial landers, and the in-Flight Alumina Spray Technique (FAST) that would allow lunar landers to create their own landing pads. But perhaps their biggest featRead More →

Hubble gazes at a star-studded skyfield This star-studded image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the heart of the globular cluster NGC 6638 in the constellation Sagittarius. The star-strewn observation highlights the density of stars at the heart of globular clusters, which are stable, tightly bound groups of tens of thousands to millions of stars. To capture the data in this image, Hubble used two of its cutting-edge astronomical instruments: Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

NASA’s ShadowCam launches aboard Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter NASA’s ShadowCam is heading to the Moon aboard Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)’s Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) mission. KPLO, also known as Danuri, launched at 7:08 p.m. EDT on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 on the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on August 4. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

AI helps discover new space anomalies The SNAD team, an international network of researchers including Matvey Kornilov, Associate Professor of the HSE University Faculty of Physics, has discovered 11 previously undetected space anomalies, seven of which are supernova candidates. The researchers analyzed digital images of the Northern sky taken in 2018 using a k-D tree to detect anomalies through the ‘nearest neighbor’ method. Machine learning algorithms helped automate the search. The paper is published in New Astronomy. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

No trace of dark matter halos According to the standard model of cosmology, the vast majority of galaxies are surrounded by a halo of dark matter particles. This halo is invisible, but its mass exerts a strong gravitational pull on galaxies in the vicinity. A new study led by the University of Bonn (Germany) and the University of Saint Andrews (Scotland) challenges this view of the Universe. The results suggest that the dwarf galaxies of Earth’s second closest galaxy cluster—known as the Fornax Cluster—are free of such dark matter halos. The study appeared in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. phys.org GoRead More →

Researchers report solar energetic particle event observed by China’s Tianwen-1 mission Researchers from the Institute of Modern Physics (IMP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and their collaborators have reported a solar energetic particle (SEP) event observed by the Mars Energetic Particle Analyzer (MEPA) carried on China’s Tianwen-1 (TW-1) spacecraft. As the first scientific report based on MEPA, the paper was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. phys.org Go to SourceRead More →

NASA’s Space Launch System Gets Tentative Launch Date of August 29th NASA has announced tentative placeholder launch dates for its beast of a rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), on its maiden flight to deep space. While work still needs to be accomplished to ensure its launch, the tentative dates are currently August 29th, September 2nd, and September 5th. While NASA stressed these are not set dates, the announcement nonetheless puts SLS closer than ever to flight. The maiden launch of the most powerful rocket ever built comes after years of budget increases and delays. Funding for SLS was approximately $1.5 billion in 2011 butRead More →