Venus, once billed as Earth’s twin, is a hothouse (and a tantalizing target in the search for life) | Space

Our view of Venus has evolved from a dinosaur-rich swamp world to a planet where life may hide in the clouds.

As Earth’s sister planet, Venus has endured a love-hate relationship when it comes to exploration. Now, new results suggest the presence of a signal of potential habitability on Venus, and the long-forgotten sibling may find itself back in the spotlight.

With its orbit near the rising or setting sun, Venus shone clearly to the first ancient astronomers. As humanity began to explore the solar system, a world with nearly the same mass and radius as Earth seemed like the most promising target. Venus sits on the border of our sun’s habitable zone, the region around a star where a planet should be able to host liquid water on its surface, and ideas of a veritable twin planet swam before the eyes of scientists and the public alike.

Related: Venus clouds join shortlist of places to search for alien life
More: The greatest mysteries of Venus

Source: Venus, once billed as Earth’s twin, is a hothouse (and a tantalizing target in the search for life) | Space

Asteroid news: ‘Near-Earth’ rock just came closer than the Moon | Science | News | Express.co.uk

A NEWLY discovered asteroid whizzed past Earth last night, coming closer to our planet than the Moon.

Asteroid 2020 RF3 flew within one lunar distance – the distance between the Earth and the Moon – making it the 61st asteroid to do so this year. Astronomers only discovered the asteroid on September 12, 2020, shortly before it made its close approach last night.

The space rock, which was found by astronomers using the PAN-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, came within just 0.24 lunar distances, or 92,000 kilometres, of Earth.

Asteroid RF3 is a small space rock with an estimated diameter between 5.3 and 12 metres.

The asteroid belongs to the Aten group of space rocks, which are asteroids which have an orbit with a close proximity to Earth.

According to NASA, there are more than 1,100 Aten asteroids in the solar system.

asteroid

Asteroid news: ‘Near-Earth’ rock just came closer than the Moon (Image: GETTY)

Source: Asteroid news: ‘Near-Earth’ rock just came closer than the Moon | Science | News | Express.co.uk

SpaceX launches space station resupply mission, lands rocket on drone ship – Spaceflight Now

Less than nine minutes later, the rocket’s first stage booster fell from the sky and executed a pinpoint propulsive landing just offshore, setting the stage for another resupply mission for NASA using the same rocket this summer using the same vehicle. The 213-foot-tall (65-meter) rocket lifted off with a flash from its nine Merlin 1D … Continue reading “SpaceX launches space station resupply mission, lands rocket on drone ship – Spaceflight Now”

Less than nine minutes later, the rocket’s first stage booster fell from the sky and executed a pinpoint propulsive landing just offshore, setting the stage for another resupply mission for NASA using the same rocket this summer using the same vehicle.

The 213-foot-tall (65-meter) rocket lifted off with a flash from its nine Merlin 1D main engines at 2:48:58 a.m. EDT (0648:58 GMT), roughly the moment Cape Canaveral rotated under space station’s orbital plane.

The Falcon 9 tilted toward the northeast to align with the space station’s flight path, riding 1.7 million pounds of thrust as roared into a starry sky. Less than two-and-a-half minutes later, the rocket’s first stage booster shut down and separated to begin a descent back to Earth, targeting SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” parked around 14 miles (22 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean.

The first stage lit three of its engines to begin a boost-back burn to reverse course and head back toward Florida’s Space Coast, while the Falcon 9’s upper stage continued with the primary objective of Saturday’s mission — the delivery into orbit of a Dragon cargo craft packed with 5,472 pounds (2,482 kilograms) of supplies, provisions and experiments for the station and its six-person crew.

The interaction exhaust plumes from the Falcon 9’s first and second stage Merlin engines produced a spectacular lighting effect, giving the appearance of a cosmic nebula high above the Florida spaceport.

Source: SpaceX launches space station resupply mission, lands rocket on drone ship – Spaceflight Now

Expert reveals why the idea of alien life no longer seems like science fiction | Daily Mail Online

According to a researcher from the University of Melbourne, the idea of alien life is not as far-fetched as it used to seem, thanks to remarkable discoveries over the past two decades.

While life is a special kind of complex chemistry, the elements involved are nothing special: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and so on are among the most abundant elements in the universe. Complex organic chemistry is surprisingly common.

Amino acids, just like those that make up every protein in our bodies, have been found in the tails of comets. There are other organic compounds in Martian soil.

And 6,500 light years away a giant cloud of space alcohol floats among the stars.

Habitable planets seem to be common too. The first planet beyond our Solar System was discovered in 1995. Since then astronomers have catalogued thousands.

Based on this catalogue, astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley worked out there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized exoplanets in the so-called ‘habitable zone’ around their star, where temperatures are mild enough for liquid water to exist on the surface.

Source: Expert reveals why the idea of alien life no longer seems like science fiction | Daily Mail Online

NASA was sold faulty aluminum in 19-year scam – CNET

NASA on Tuesday revealed that a pair of failed missions were caused by a 19-year aluminum scam.

The space agency previously said the 2009 Orbiting Carbon Observatory and 2011 Glory missions malfunctioned when the protective nose cones on the Taurus XL rockets failed to separate on command.

However, a joint investigation involving NASA and the Justice Department revealed that the problem was caused by aluminum extrusion maker Sapa Profiles, which falsified critical tests over 19 years.

Employees at the company’s Portland, Oregon, facilities tweaked failing tests so materials appeared to pass from 1996 to 2015, according to the Justice Department.

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Source: NASA was sold faulty aluminum in 19-year scam – CNET

NASA needs a camera to spot killer asteroids — Quartz

Forget aliens. We’ve got to find the asteroids. Astronomers tend to be patient people. When it comes to stars, much of what they examine happened millions of years ago, and when it comes to space probes, even pre-launch prep can take a decade or more. But they are getting impatient about launching an infrared space telescope called … Continue reading “NASA needs a camera to spot killer asteroids — Quartz”

Forget aliens. We’ve got to find the asteroids.

Astronomers tend to be patient people. When it comes to stars, much of what they examine happened millions of years ago, and when it comes to space probes, even pre-launch prep can take a decade or more.

But they are getting impatient about launching an infrared space telescope called NEOCam. It has a very specific mission: Spotting near-Earth objects—astronomical bodies, most commonly asteroids, whose orbits around the sun could pass close to Earth and potentially collide with our planet, some of which could damage or destroy civilization itself.

It’s not speculative; a major meteoric impact is inevitable, and we need to keep a better eye on the solar system.

Source: NASA needs a camera to spot killer asteroids — Quartz

‘I saw a UFO’ Buzz Aldrin PASSES lie detector test revealing truth about aliens

The Institute of BioAcoustic Biology in Albany, Ohio, carried out complex computer analyses of the astronauts’ voice patterns as they told of their close encounters.

Although the technology is still top-secret, these studies are claimed to be more reliable than current lie detector tests and could soon replace those used by the FBI and police.

One of the first tested was Apollo 11 pilot Buzz Aldrin, now 88 – the second human to set foot on the lunar surface in 1969.

Aldrin has always maintained he spotted a UFO on the way to the moon, saying: “There was something out there that was close enough to be observed, sort of L-shaped.”

Source: ‘I saw a UFO’ Buzz Aldrin PASSES lie detector test revealing truth about aliens

‘Luxury Space Hotel’ to Launch in 2021

Well-heeled space tourists will have a new orbital destination four years from now, if one company’s plans come to fruition.

“Affordable” is a relative term: A 12-day stay aboard Aurora Station will start at $9.5 million. Still, that’s quite a bit less than orbital tourists have paid in the past. From 2001 through 2009, seven private citizens took a total of eight trips to the International Space Station (ISS), paying an estimated $20 million to $40 million each time. (These private missions were brokered by the Virginia-based company Space Adventures and employed Russian Soyuz spacecraft and rockets.)

“We are launching the first-ever affordable luxury space hotel,” said Orion Span founder and CEO Frank Bunger, who unveiled the Aurora Station idea today (April 5) at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California. [In Pictures: Private Space Stations of the Future]

“There’s been innovation around the architecture to make it more modular and more simple to use and have more automation, so we don’t have to have EVAs [extravehicular activities] or spacewalks,” Bunger said of Aurora Station.

Source: ‘Luxury Space Hotel’ to Launch in 2021

Tiangong 1: Chinese satellite falls to Earth, mostly burns up on re-entry

China’s defunct space station re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere after 8 p.m. ET Sunday, mostly burning up over the central South Pacific

The disintegrating lab hurtled from orbit toward the South Pacific waters at about 8:16 p.m. ET, Space.com reports.

Scientists say the disintegrated debris that survived the fiery descent was likely small and relatively harmless, reports NPR’s Rebecca Hersher.

18 SPCS@18SPCS

UPDATE: confirmed reentered the atmosphere over the southern Pacific Ocean at ~5:16 p.m. (PST) April 1. For details see http://www.space-track.org  @US_Stratcom @usairforce @AFSpaceCC @30thSpaceWing @PeteAFB @SpaceTrackOrg

Below are some questions and answers about the station, its re-entry and the past and future of China’s ambitious space program

No one knows for sure. However, on Friday, before updating the latest time window, the Aerospace Corp. said the debris would most likely descend into the Pacific Ocean.

When the space station’s fall was forecast for noon EDT on Sunday (Aerospace has since moved its forecast back four and a half hours), an expert told Space.com that Tiangong 1 would likely begin its re-entry over Malaysia, and rain debris into the Pacific Ocean.

Earlier, the Aerospace Corp. also said it could land along a strip of the U.S. that includes the southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. That prompted Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to activate the state’s Emergency Operations Center to monitor the station.

Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Michigan’s deputy director of emergency management and homeland security, said “the chances are slim that any of the debris will land in Michigan, but the state is monitoring the situation and is prepared to respond quickly if it does.”

What will happen and how great is the danger?

China’s chief space laboratory designer Zhu Zongpeng has denied Tiangong was out of control, but hasn’t provided specifics on what, if anything, China is doing to guide the craft’s re-entry.

Based on Tiangong 1’s orbit, it will come to Earth somewhere between latitudes of 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south, or roughly somewhere over most of the United States, China, Africa, southern Europe, Australia and South America. Out of range are Russia, Canada and northern Europe.

Based on its size, only about 10 percent of the spacecraft will likely survive being burned up on re-entry, mainly its heavier components such as its engines. The chances of anyone person on Earth being hit by debris is considered less than one in a trillion.

“This is a big thing the size of a school bus. Most of the stuff in it will just burn up in the atmosphere,” Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, curator of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, told CBS New York.

Ren Guoqiang, China’s defense ministry spokesman, told reporters Thursday that Beijing has been briefing the United Nations and the international community about Tiangong 1’s re-entry through multiple channels.

How common is man-made space debris?

Debris from satellites, space launches and the International Space Station enters the atmosphere every few months, but only one person is known to have been hit by any of it: American woman Lottie Williams, who was struck but not injured by a falling piece of a U.S. Delta II rocket while exercising in an Oklahoma park in 1997.

Most famously, America’s 77-ton Skylab crashed through the atmosphere in 1979, spreading pieces of wreckage near the southwestern Australia city of Perth, which fined the U.S. $400 for littering.

The breakup on re-entry of the Columbia space shuttle in 2003 killed all seven astronauts and sent more than 80,000 pieces of debris raining down on a large swath of the Southern United States. No one on the ground was injured.

In 2011, NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite was considered to pose a slight risk to the public when it came down to Earth 20 years after its launching. Debris from the 6-ton satellite ended up falling into the Pacific Ocean, causing no damage.

China’s own space program raised major concerns after it used a missile to destroy an out-of-service Chinese satellite in 2007, creating a large and potentially dangerous cloud of debris.

What is Tiangong 1 and what was it used for?

Launched in 2011, Tiangong 1 was China’s first space station, serving as an experimental platform for bigger projects such as the Tiangong 2 launched in September 2016 and a future permanent Chinese space station.

The station, whose name translates as “Heavenly Palace,” played host to two crewed missions that included China’s first female astronauts and served as a test platform for perfecting docking procedures and other operations. Its last crew departed in 2013 and contact with it was cut in 2016. Since then it has been orbiting gradually closer and closer to Earth on its own while being monitored.

The station had two modules, one for its solar panels and engines, and one for a pair of astronauts to live in and conduct experiments. A third astronaut slept in the Shenzhou spaceships that docked with the station, which also contained facilities for personal hygiene and food preparation.

How advanced is China’s space program?

Since China conducted its first crewed mission in 2003 – becoming only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so – it has taken on increasingly ambitious projects, including staging a spacewalk and landing its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon.

China now operates the Tiangong 2 precursor space station facility, while the permanent station’s 20-ton core module is due to be launched this year. The completed 60-ton station is set to come into full service in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.

China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program’s strong military connections. China’s space program remains highly secretive and some experts have complained that a lack of information about Tiangong 1’s design has made it harder to predict what might happen upon its re-entry.

A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is set to launch in 2020. China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

Source: Tiangong 1: Chinese satellite falls to Earth, mostly burns up on re-entry

Visitors sit beside a model of China’s Tiangong-1 space station in 2010, at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai in southern China’s Guangdong Province. As forecast, China’s defunct Tiangong 1 space station re-entered Earth’s atmosphere Sunday. Kin Cheung/AP

Tiangong 1: Tracking the Chinese satellite falling to Earth

European Space Agency releases new information about the spacecraft that is plunging toward Earth

Tiangong 1, China’s defunct and reportedly out-of-control space station, is about to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and on Saturday the European Space Agencyreleased new tracking information on the falling spacecraft. ESA officials are now targeting 7:25 p.m. EDT (2325 GMT) Sunday as the likely time for re-rentry.

Meanwhile, the Aerospace Corp. is now forecasting a 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) crash on Sunday, give or take eight hours.

The tumbling spacecraft poses only a slight risk to people and property on the ground, since most of the 8.5-ton vehicle is expected to burn up on re-entry, although space agencies don’t know exactly where that will happen.

Below are some questions and answers about the station, its re-entry and the past and future of China’s ambitious space program.

Source: Tiangong 1: Tracking the Chinese satellite falling to Earth