The commercial spaceflight company launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a crewed Dragon on top. About 90 seconds into the flight, the Falcon 9’s engines switched off. Detecting that an anomaly had taken place, the Crewed Dragon fired its Draco rocket engines, separating it from the Falcon 9. As the Falcon 9 broke apart in midflight, the crewed Dragon soared away in safety. The spacecraft eventually splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean using parachutes. NASA and SpaceX will spend the next several months examining data garnered by the flight.
While the possibility of an inflight abort is an extreme event, it is not a theoretical one. In October 2018, a crewed Soyuz launch suffered an unplanned inflight abort. After the booster failed, the Soyuz capsule broke away and eventually landed near the launch site with its crewmembers, Russian cosmonaut Alexsey Ovchinin and American astronaut Nick Hague, shaken but alive and well.
Cosmic rays are tiny charged particles accelerated to nearly the speed of light through some of the most violent events in the universe. By themselves they’re not too awful, but in big enough numbers they can start to wreak havoc on entire galaxies.
A team of researchers recently released simulations of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) — a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way — and found that cosmic rays from a starburst event are starting to rip it apart. For now, thankfully, the LMC seems to be holding itself together.
Surprisingly, the results contradicted some expectations that scientists had regarding how solar winds behave. According to the results, there are flips in the Sun’s magnetic field direction called “switchbacks”, which can sometimes even point the winds back at the Sun. At the moment, the cause of these “switchbacks” is still unknown to scientists, but through the understanding of them, we could learn a deeper understanding of how stars are born. Scientists were again shocked at the discovery of solar winds traveling at speeds that are “nearly ten times larger than predicted by the standard models”, said Justin Kasper, principal investigator at the University of Michigan. Scientists also discovered that the Sun’s radiation vaporizes dust particles at about 3.5 million miles around itself. The Parker Probe is at the moment suffering in terribly hot conditions, but scientists say the information that it is providing them is revolutionary.
Knowing how these so-called Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) behave could one day save our planet from a devastating impact. But a peculiar cosmic phenomenon known as the Yarkovsky effect renders some of NASA’s asteroid tracking efforts futile. Thanks to the Yarkovsky effect, NASA scientist Steve Chesley said there are thousands of asteroids that could potentially change their orbit.
Humanity first left the solar system in 2012 when the Voyager 1 probe passed into interstellar space decades after leaving the planets behind. Now, there’s a second spacecraft beyond the limits of our solar system: Voyager 2. Luckily, Voyager 2’s instruments are in somewhat better shape than Voyager 1’s, so scientists were able to observe the transition from the heliosphere, which is dominated by the sun, to the interstellar medium (ISM).
Both Voyager probes launched in 1977, with Voyager 2 heading into space a few weeks before Voyager 1. The two probes are physically identical, but they took different paths through the solar system. They took advantage of the “Grand Tour,” an alignment of the planets that occurs only once every 175 years. Voyager 1 visited and got gravity assists from Jupiter and Saturn before heading off toward the edge of the solar system. Voyager 2 swung past Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. It made its last planetary observation of Uranus in 1989, almost a decade after Voyager 1 had started its long march toward the edge of the solar system.
When Voyager 1 reached the edge of our solar system, known as the heliopause, it no longer had a functional plasma spectrometer. As a result, there was some debate about when, exactly, the probe left our solar system. So, we missed the expected transition from warm solar plasma to the denser cold plasma of the ISM. Eventually, measurements of local electrons and magnetic field shifts confirmed it was in interstellar space.
The Voyager 2 mission has released its first scientific measurements of interstellar space, according to newly published research.
Interstellar space exploration has long been the stuff of science fiction, a technological challenge that many engineers believe humans just aren’t up to yet. But an ongoing study by a group of NASA-affiliated researchers is challenging this assumption. The researchers have a vision for a mission that could be built with existing technology. Indeed, the group says that if their mission is selected by NASA it could fly as soon as 2030.
“This is humanity’s first explicit step into interstellar space,” says Pontus Brandt, a physicist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory who is working on the interstellar probe study.
The lab kicked off its Interstellar Probe study last summer at the behest of NASA’s Heliophysics division. A year in, they are now hashing out the nitty-gritty engineering details of such a mission. At the end of 2021, Brandt and his colleagues will submit it for inclusion in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Heliophysics decadal survey, which determines sun-related mission priorities for the next 10 years.The basic idea for the interstellar mission is to launch a spacecraft weighing less than 1,700 pounds on NASA’s massive Space Launch System rocket, which is expected to be ready by 2021. That will get it traveling across our solar system like any other probe. To give it another boost, it will then use a gravity assist to sling the craft to speeds well over 100,000 miles per hour. The team at the Applied Physics Lab is currently considering two types of gravity assists—a “plain vanilla” assist that swings the probe around Jupiter and another that swings it around the sun.
The Full Hunter’s Moon may appear larger and more orange than a normal full moon due to the so-called moon illusion.
Full moons occur roughly every once a month when the Earth is positioned directly between the sun and the moon. In these instances, it is fully illuminated, appearing like a perfect circle.
The October full moon will reach its peak on Sunday, October 13, at 5:08 p.m. EDT, although it will appear full to the naked eye for about a day on either side of this date, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The moon will only be really visible after sunset, however, and it will set close to sunrise the next day. (On that date, sunset in New York, for example, occurs at around 6:20 p.m.) In fact, the night of October 13 and 14 is the only one of the month in which the moon will remain in the sky from sunrise to sunset.
This Full Hunter’s Moon is particularly intriguing because it may appear larger and more orange than a normal full moon due to the fact that it rises around sunset.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac said: “Some folks believe that this Full Moon was called the Full Hunter’s Moon because it signalled the time to go hunting in preparation for winter.
“Since the harvesters had recently reaped the fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the fattened deer and other animals that had come out to glean – and the foxes and wolves that had come out to prey on them.
What just happened? On Saturday at the Boca Chica Beach, Texas, Elon Musk showed off the first shiny steel prototype of SpaceX’s deep-space bound ‘Starship’ rocket, just a few moments after the company’s employees had finished assembling it. Musk gave a presentation on “the most powerful rocket in history” and discussed Starship’s stainless steel design as it stood next to the Falcon 1, the company’s first rocket that made it to orbit eleven years ago.
Earlier this month, SpaceX confirmed plans to begin testing its orbital-class ‘Starship’ rocket whose first prototype was completed over the weekend. A 200-ton, 165 ft-tall stainless steel rocket that will use three of SpaceX’s next-gen Raptor engines to test out its flight capabilities through a series of propulsive landing tests.
You can start watching the asteroid online in the hour before it gets closest to Earth on Saturday at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT)
An asteroid known as 2000 QW7 is expected to pass by Earth closely, but safely, at 3.3 million miles (5.3 million kilometers) from Earth, or about 14 times the average distance between Earth and the moon. (NASA sent out a statement reassuring people that this happens all the time, and there’s no need to panic.) The asteroid’s closest approach will be at 7:54 p.m. EDT (2354 GMT) on Saturday (Sept. 14).
President Trump is holding a Rose Garden event to commemorate the establishment of the U.S. Space Command, as the president pushes for the creation of his sixth branch of the military, the Space Force.Since the Space Force the president wants to create requires congressional authorization, the administration is establishing a U.S. Space Command that will draw from other parts of the armed forces. One “Space Command” already exists. The Air Force Space Command reports to STRATCOM, which reports to the Pentagon, just as the Pacific Command and the European Command do.
AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND FACTS
Air Force Space Command, activated Sept. 1, 1982, is a major command with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. AFSPC provides military focused space capabilities with a global perspective to the joint warfighting team.
1. Build Combat Readiness
2. Innovate and Accelerate to Win
3. Develop Joint Warfighters
4. Organize for Sustained Success
More than 26,000 space professionals worldwide.
Spacecraft powered by such engines could conceivably reach Mars in just three to four months — about half the time of the fastest possible trip in a vehicle with traditional chemical propulsion, said Rex Geveden, the president and CEO of BWX Technologies Inc.
Asteroid 2006 QQ23 is scheduled to zoom by Earth on August 10 and, at an estimated diameter of up to 1,870 feet, it’s easy to see why people are worried.But Lindley Johnson and Kelly Fast of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office say there’s nothing to fear. Both Johnson and Fast help track what they label as “near Earth objects,” such as asteroids and comets that orbit our sun along with the other planets.
SpaceX won’t be the only company reusing its rockets for payload deliveries. Rocket Lab has unveiled plans to recover the first stage of its Electron vehicle. The strategy’s first phase will have Rocket Lab recovering the stage from the ocean and refurbishing it for later. A second phase will be more… audacious. The company intends to have the stage “captured mid-air” by a helicopter, with the aircraft hooking on to the rocket’s parachute array during the descent. It won’t be as elegant as SpaceX’s rocket landings, but it will be efficient if it works as planned.