Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 6

All the latest Science, Space, Health & Robotics news with plenty of coverage on space launches, discoveries, rockets & plenty more - Page 6.

Sustained life on Mars will require humans to jumpstart the planet

Jak Connor | Mon, Nov 22 2021 1:34 AM CST

Humans are looking towards Mars as the next spot to settle down on, but being a barren wasteland with minimal habitable options, the Red Planet is a bit of a fixer-upper.

Sustained life on Mars will require humans to jumpstart the planet 01 | TweakTown.com

A new paper spotted by Universe Today on the pre-print server arXiv looks at how humans can achieve a sustained presence on the Red Planet that would include factors such as travel, research, visiting, tourism, etc. The paper states that for that level of colonization to take place, Mars would need a strong magnetic field capable of deflecting solar wind blasts from the Sun, which are deadly to humans. Earth's magnetic field comes from its core, but Mars' core is different from Earth's and would require either its core to be started up (as its cooler) or an artificial magnetic field to be created around the planet's surface.

Since the latter of the two options is more feasible, the team of scientists, including NASA's own chief scientist James Lauer Green, proposes a ring of charged particles to be built around the planet. The study details using Mars' moon Phobos to create a magnetic field by ionizing particles from the moon's surface and then accelerating them to create a plasma torus, a doughnut-shaped region around the orbit that is filled with hot ionized gas (a plasma).

Continue reading: Sustained life on Mars will require humans to jumpstart the planet (full post)

NASA will launch its asteroid-deflecting spacecraft soon, watch here

Jak Connor | Mon, Nov 22 2021 1:03 AM CST

NASA is currently gearing up for its very first planetary defense mission that will include launching a spacecraft directly towards an asteroid in an attempt to redirect it.

NASA is targeting a binary asteroid system that features two asteroids; one smaller asteroid named Didymos and one larger asteroid named Dimorphos. Didymos, the smaller of the two asteroids, is orbiting its larger companion and will be the target of NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The space agency plans to launch a vending machine-sized asteroid towards Didymos in an attempt to change its orbit slightly. The results from this test will answer the question if NASA is capable of redirecting an asteroid if it's on route to hit Earth.

The DART spacecraft will be traveling at 15,000 mph and will collide with Didymos, which is about the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza. NASA expects that the impact should change Didymos' orbit by more than 1%, and if it does, the mission is considered a success. As the DART spacecraft is flying towards the asteroid, it will be taking images rapidly and relaying them back to Earth before it's completely destroyed.

Continue reading: NASA will launch its asteroid-deflecting spacecraft soon, watch here (full post)

NASA's space telescope caught a prawn drifting through deep space

Jak Connor | Mon, Nov 22 2021 12:32 AM CST

The Hubble Space Telescope has peered out into the void and snapped an image of a celestial prawn drifting throughout deep space.

Located around 6,000 light-years away, the Prawn Nebula (IC 4628) is a massive stellar nursery that's located within the constellation Scorpius. A stellar nursery is a molecular cloud that houses all the ingredients that will eventually form into stars. The Prawn Nebula is 250 light-years across and doesn't emit light in wavelengths the human eye can detect, but Hubble can see it quite clearly.

The pristine image snapped by Hubble showcases the nebulas structure of energized, or ionized gas caused by the radiation of a nearby star. The radiation from the nearby star strips the hydrogen atoms located within the nebula, energizing the electrons and changing them from a higher-energy state to a lower-energy state. If you are interested in reading more about this story, check out NASA's blog post on the Prawn Nebula here.

Continue reading: NASA's space telescope caught a prawn drifting through deep space (full post)

NASA's Mars rover just photographed a creepy and eerie Martian sunset

Jak Connor | Mon, Nov 22 2021 12:02 AM CST

NASA's Perseverance rover is asking the public to take a second to marvel at its first-ever Martian sunset viewing.

NASA has posted the image of the Mars sunset on the Perseverance Twitter account while also detailing the observation on its website. Perseverance snapped the image of the Martian sunset using its Mastcam-Z camera system on November 9, 2021, and according to the blog post, Mars sunsets are usually blue due to the fine dust throughout the atmosphere allowing blue light to penetrate it more effectively than other wavelengths of light.

However, the sunset seen above is different, and NASA explains, "less dust in the atmosphere resulted in a more muted color than average. The color has been calibrated and white-balanced to remove camera artifacts." Perseverance will continue its search for signs of microbial life on the Red Planet, and throughout its journey, it will collect rock samples that will eventually be transported back to Earth for researchers to analyze. If you are interested in reading more about this story, check out this link here.

Continue reading: NASA's Mars rover just photographed a creepy and eerie Martian sunset (full post)

This solar sail has been orbiting successfully for more than 2.5 years

Adam Hunt | Sun, Nov 21 2021 3:08 AM CST

The LightSail 2, a small CubeSat fitted with a solar sail spanning 32 square meters (433 square feet), is still sailing through Earth's orbit two and a half years after launch.

This solar sail has been orbiting successfully for more than 2.5 years 01 | TweakTown.com

LightSail 2 is a crowdfunded project which amassed $7 million and is run by The Planetary Society, a U.S.-based space education and outreach non-profit organization. Much like sails on a boat catch the wind to move them forward, the solar sails are used to catch photons from the sun in space to propel the LightSail 2 forward and demonstrate their viability for space travel.

"We're going to a higher orbital altitude without rocket fuel, just with the push of sunlight. This idea that you could fly a spacecraft and could get propulsion in space form nothing but photons, it's surprising, and for me, it's very romantic that you'd be sailing on sunbeams," said The Planetary Society's CEO Bill Nye at a press conference following LightSail 2's launch.

Since LightSail 2's journey began in June 2019, NASA has implemented solar sails into the designs of its upcoming NEA Scout, Solar Cruiser, and ASC3 missions. Orbiting at an altitude of 687 kilometers (426 miles) above the Earth, friction in the atmosphere is working against the craft to slow it down. Generally, the propulsion provided by the sails allows it to overcome this. However, the spacecraft is currently descending through the atmosphere as the sails don't always generate enough thrust to maintain the same altitude.

"Thanks to optimized sail pointing over time, altitude decay rates during recent months have been the best of the entire mission. Thrust even occasionally overcame atmospheric drag, slightly raising the spacecraft's orbit." said Jason Davis of The Planetary Society in a statement.

Continue reading: This solar sail has been orbiting successfully for more than 2.5 years (full post)

Got an idea for a nuclear reactor on the moon? Talk to NASA

Adam Hunt | Sun, Nov 21 2021 2:32 AM CST

NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (IDL) are collaborating to create a power source on the moon that doesn't rely on the Sun.

Got an idea for a nuclear reactor on the moon? Talk to NASA 01 | TweakTown.com

The duo have issued a request for proposals regarding a nuclear fission power plant, something Rolls Royce is also working on in collaboration with the UK Space Agency.

"Providing a reliable, high-power system on the moon is a vital next step in human space exploration, and achieving it is within our grasp," said Sebastian Corbisiero, the Fission Surface Power Project lead at IDL.

With a successful implementation on the moon's surface, aiming to support a sustained human presence, the next goal would be to do the same on Mars.

Continue reading: Got an idea for a nuclear reactor on the moon? Talk to NASA (full post)

NASA will livestream Cygnus spacecraft's departure from the ISS

Adam Hunt | Fri, Nov 19 2021 7:00 AM CST

Northrop Grumman's unmanned Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station on August 12th, 2021, and after more than three months, it is scheduled for departure on November 20th, 2021.

NASA will livestream Cygnus spacecraft's departure from the ISS 01 | TweakTown.com

Upon arrival, it delivered nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies, research, hardware, commercial products, and an assortment of other cargo to the station. The mission was Northrop Grumman's 16th commercial resupply for NASA.

Cygnus' departure is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. EST (15:45 UTC), and a livestream of the event will be available on NASA television, NASA's website, and the NASA app.

To initiate the process, flight controllers on Earth will issue commands to Canadarm2, a robotic arm on the space station that will detach Cygnus from the Unity module's Earth-facing port. After moving the craft into position, the arm will release it at 11 a.m. EST (16:00 UTC).

Continue reading: NASA will livestream Cygnus spacecraft's departure from the ISS (full post)

SpaceX is primed to break its annual launch record by the year's end

Adam Hunt | Fri, Nov 19 2021 6:32 AM CST

In 2020, SpaceX set its record for the most Falcon 9 flights in a calendar year at 26. In the first half of 2021, SpaceX was on track to outpace this record significantly with 20 Falcon 9 launches, averaging a launch every nine days.

SpaceX is primed to break its annual launch record by the year's end 01 | TweakTown.com

However, the launch rate has slowed to only five launches so far in the second half of 2021, as SpaceX focuses on its new generation of Starlink satellites. As their production finalizes at the SpaceX factory in Redmond, Washington, the Falcon 9 launch schedule has picked up to accommodate at least five missions before the year's end.

The first of these, scheduled for November 24th in California, will tie the company's record, and the subsequent launch planned for December 1st will break it. Another three launches have confirmed December dates, with additional launches for Starlink possible at some point.

The most recent launch on November 13th carried 53 Starlink satellites into orbit. The prior launch on November 11th was SpaceX's third Crew Dragon flight, carrying NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Raja Chari, and German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer to the International Space Station.

On November 24th, the Falcon 9 booster will carry NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, marking the first attempt to redirect an asteroid. The launch is scheduled for 6:20 UTC and will set the spacecraft on a collision course to the surface of the 65803 Didymos asteroid's moon.

Continue reading: SpaceX is primed to break its annual launch record by the year's end (full post)

New phase of matter synthesised, could be found in some planet cores

Adam Hunt | Fri, Nov 19 2021 4:33 AM CST

A new study has been published where for the first time, water has been turned into a new phase of matter referred to as superionic ice or superionic water, long enough to be studied.

New phase of matter synthesised, could be found in some planet cores 01 | TweakTown.com

"It's a new state of matter, so it basically acts as a new material, and it may be different from what we thought," said co-author Vitali B. Prakapenka, a University of Chicago geophysicist and a beamline scientist at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.

Also known as ice XVIII, superionic ice is one of the nineteen known crystalline phases of ice. By compacting a water droplet between two diamonds and hitting it with a powerful laser, scientists subjected the droplet to such extreme temperatures and pressures. The water molecules then break apart, allowing the oxygen ions to crystallize and form an evenly spaced lattice through which the hydrogen ions may then float freely. As a result, superionic ice can conduct electricity, with hydrogen ions and electrons migrating towards anodes and cathodes, respectively.

Continue reading: New phase of matter synthesised, could be found in some planet cores (full post)

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launch window now under a month away

Adam Hunt | Fri, Nov 19 2021 4:03 AM CST

After years of waiting due to technical and funding issues, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch on December 18th, 2021, aboard Ariane flight VA256.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launch window now under a month away 01 | TweakTown.com

"We're going to look at everything there is in the universe that we can see. We want to know, how did we get here? The Big Bang, How does that work? We'll look, yes, and we have predictions. But we don't honestly know [how]" said John Mather, senior project scientist for the telescope, at a press conference on November 18th.

Set to survey worlds in our solar system and the greater universe, the James Webb Space Telescope will succeed NASA's esteemed Hubble Space Telescope. It is destined for the Lagrange point, a gravitationally stable area roughly a million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth. After a month-long journey to arrive, the observatory will require another six months before it becomes fully operational. Onboard systems must find all instruments in working order, especially the giant folded mirror that must unfold and arrange itself.

Continue reading: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope launch window now under a month away (full post)

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