Space Exploration

Science • Space
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Roscosmos, states Venus is a Russian planet
Dmitry Rogozin
Dmitry Rogozin Credit: Government.ru (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Following the announcement that phosphine had been detected in the atmosphere of Venus, Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin stated Tuesday that "Venus is a Russian planet." Russia plans to send its own mission to Venus in addition to "Venera-D," the planned joint mission with the US.

During an interview, Rogozin said: "We think that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn't lag behind," and "Projects of Venus missions are included in the united government program of Russia's space exploration for 2021-2030."

Studies carried out in Russia between 1967-1984 were at the forefront of international research into Venus.

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Scientists detect phosphine in Venus' atmosphere - a possible sign for life
Scientists detect phosphine in Venus' atmosphere - a possible sign for life
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Public Domain)

In a new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy researchers from Cardiff University, the UK around Prof Jane Greaves presents their finding of phosphine 50km up in the clouds of Venus.

Dr William Bains from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has stated that "in principle, a more water-loving life could hide itself away inside a protective shell of some sorts inside the sulphuric acid droplets" adding that "we're talking bacteria surrounding themselves by something tougher than Teflon and completely sealing themselves in. But then how do they eat? How do they exchange gases? It's a real paradox".

Further investigation into the matter needs a probe to be send to Venus.

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Rocket Lab launches Earth-observing satellite for Capella Space
"I Can't Believe It's Not Optical" launch
"I Can't Believe It's Not Optical" launch Credit: RocketLab (Twitter Reproduction)

Rocket Lab successfully launched Monday, from their New Zealand launch facility, a satellite on behalf of client Capella Space. In just over a month, Rocket Lab was able to identify what went wrong with the previous Electron launch, that caused the loss of seven satellites.

"I Can't Believe It's Not Optical" was the 14th orbital launch for the Electron booster, which debuted in May 2017. The rocket had strung together 11 consecutive successful missions until the July 4 failure.

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SpaceX successfully launches Earth-observation satellite for Argentina
SpaceX successfully launches Earth-observation satellite for Argentina
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

SpaceX launched three satellites Sunday, including the SAOCOM-1B for the Argentine Space Agency. The mission was the first polar launch from Cape Canaveral since 1969.

The company reused a Falcon 9 booster that previously flew on two separate commercial resupply missions to the International Space Station, and one mission to deploy Starlink's internet satellites.

SpaceX originally planned two launches to be performed on Sunday, but the weather earlier in the day forced the first launch to be rescheduled.

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Rocket Lab sets next Electron launch to August 27
Rocket Lab sets next Electron launch to August 27
Credit: Rocket Lab

After losing a payload during a mission failure on July 4, Rocket Lab has set a launch window for its next commercial mission starting on August 27 at 3:05 PM local New Zealand time.

The new Electron mission is billed as a relatively commonplace small satellite delivery mission and will launch from Launch Complex 1 Pad A on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula.

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SpaceX launched on Tuesday 58 Starlink satellites and 3 SkySats
SpaceX launched on Tuesday 58 Starlink satellites and 3 SkySats
Credit: SpaceX (Reproduction)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on Tuesday delivered 61 satellites: 3 SkySats and 58 for the Starlink constellation. The first stage booster successfully landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship.

Today's mission was the sixth time SpaceX used this particular Falcon 9 rocket, a new record for the company. SpaceX also reported they caught one half of the nosecone fairing.

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NASA and SpaceX targeting late October for next astronaut launch
Crew-1 Astronauts
Crew-1 Astronauts Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

NASA and SpaceX have set October 23 as a tentative launch for Crew-1, the first operational crewed mission for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Crew-1 will carry astronauts Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Soichi Noguchi and Shannon Walker to the ISS.

Crew-1 launch in late October to accommodate spacecraft traffic for the upcoming Soyuz crew rotation and best meet the needs of the International Space Station. The launch will follow the arrival of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos aboard their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft and the departure of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner from the space station. The launch timeframe also allows for a crew handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission next spring.

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Dwarf Planet Ceres has a Salty Ocean Beneath it's Surface
Dwarf Planet Ceres has a Salty Ocean Beneath it's Surface
Credit: Justin Cowart (Public Domain)

Using infrared imaging from the Dawn orbiter scientist discovered the presence of hydrohalite, common in sea ice but never seen outside earth until now. Deposits built up as recently as 2 million years ago.

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SpaceX Capsule splashdown successful, first water landing since 1975
SpaceX Capsule splashdown successful, first water landing since 1975
Credit: @NASA, via Twitter

Doug and Bob are back on planet Earth. The Crew Dragon capsule splashed down safely at 2:48 PM EDT in the Gulf of Mexico. Sunday's splashdown marked NASA's first water landing since 1975.

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Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Credit: Twitter Reproduction (Public Domain)

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbour. Perseverance was the third of three Mars missions to launch in the space of just ten days, after the United Arab Emirates’ Mars Hope orbiter, and China’s Tianwen-1.

The six-wheeled rover is on a path to intercept Mars in February next year, and when it lands, the Nasa robot will also gather rock and soil samples to be sent home later this decade.

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SpaceX launches South Korea satellite, recovers booster and two fairings
SpaceX launches South Korea satellite, recovers booster and two fairings
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on Monday delivered the ANASIS-II, a South Korean military communications satellite, to orbit and set a new record for the fastest turnaround time for reusing a rocket. The first stage booster successfully landed on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship.

The company also set a new milestone by catching both halves of the nosecone fairing. Catching the $6-million fairing spares it from suffering any saltwater damage and so allows it to be used again with minimal maintenance, reducing costs.

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SpaceX going to launch a South Korean satellite Monday
Falcon 9 booster
Falcon 9 booster Credit: Official SpaceX Photos (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

SpaceX scheduled the launch of a Falcon 9 carrying ANASIS-II, a South Korean military communications satellite, Monday, with a window from 21:00(UTC) to 00:55(UTC).

The Falcon 9 booster is the same one that catapulted astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken toward the International Space Station in May, which would be a record for the quickest turnaround time between flights of an orbital-class rocket stage.

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UAE launched its first mission to Mars successfully
"We have lift-off. H2A, the rocket carrying the Hope Probe to space, has launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan."
"We have lift-off. H2A, the rocket carrying the Hope Probe to space, has launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan." Credit: @HopeMarsMission via Twitter

UAE's Mars Hope lift-off was a success. On Sunday the United Arab Emirates launched its Hope probe, a probe designed to orbit Mars to gather data from the Red Planet, from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. The probe, which should reach March sometime in February 2021, will track day-to-night cycles of the planet's weather over the period of a Martian year which equals 687 days on Earth.

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Crew Dragon set to return on August 1
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will return U.S human spaceflight to the International Space Station from U.S. soil with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on an American rocket and spacecraft for the first time since 2011.
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will return U.S human spaceflight to the International Space Station from U.S. soil with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on an American rocket and spacecraft for the first time since 2011. Credit: SpaceX (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are coming home. SpaceX's Crew Dragon is set to return home to Earth on August 1 and splashdown is targeted for August 2. The actual date though is depending on the weather.

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NASA's JWST launch date postponed to Oct. 31
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has a new official launch date: October 31, 2021. NASA announced a delay of JWST in early June but hadn't given a new date then. The delay is due to technical difficulties and the impact of COVID-19.

In a statement released by NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, described Webb as the "world's most complex space observatory", adding NASA had "worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic."

Zurbuchen reassured that "the team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year."

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The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is scheduled for July 30th launch date
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Public Domain)

Soon it will be "go for launch" for Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. On July 30, NASA's new Mars rover will go on its seven-month-long journey to the Red Planet. The launch had been postponed a couple of times because of technical difficulties and setbacks related to COVID-19.

Perseverance will land in Jezero Crater where it will search for "signs that microbes might have lived on Mars long ago, collect soil samples to be returned to Earth on a future mission and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon."

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"Just keep roving, roving, roving" – NASA's Curiosity is taking a mile-long Mars road trip this summer
Stitched together from 28 images, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from "Greenheugh Pediment" on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment's sandstone cap. At center is the "clay-bearing unit"; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance.
Stitched together from 28 images, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from "Greenheugh Pediment" on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment's sandstone cap. At center is the "clay-bearing unit"; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is going on a road trip this summer. Curiosity has already started it's mile-long trip to a part of Mount Sharp called the "sulfate-bearing unit" where it will search for "clues how climate on Mars and its prospects for life changed nearly 3 billion years ago."

Curiosity travels with a speed between 82 to 328 feet per hour. The rover will complete part of the trip on autopilot but can't make the trip "entirely without humans in the loop." According to Matt Gildner, the lead rover driver at JPL, Curiosity has "the ability to make simple decisions along the way to avoid large rocks or risky terrain" and it only stops if it doesn't have enough information to complete a drive on its own."

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Mars rover delayed again, launch no earlier than end of July
In this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels — otherwise known as the mobility suspension — on the Mars 2020 rover.
In this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels — otherwise known as the mobility suspension — on the Mars 2020 rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The launch of NASA's next Mars rover has been delayed once again. This time the delay is due to "a liquid oxygen sensor line presented off-nominal data during the wet dress rehearsal, and additional time is needed for the team to inspect and evaluate." NASA expects the rover to launch no earlier than July 30.

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Another delay in launch of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance
In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019.
In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech / Public domain

Perseverance's launch has been delayed by two days to July 22. The announcement came after engineers found issues with ground support equipment but both the spacecraft and vehicle "remain healthy."

In an official statement, the agency wrote: "NASA and United Launch Alliance are now targeting Wednesday, July 22, for launch of the Mars 2020 mission due to a processing delay encountered during encapsulation activities of the spacecraft. Additional time was needed to resolve a contamination concern in the ground support lines in NASA’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF)."

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110 people needed to start colony on Mars, scientists find
110 people needed to start colony on Mars, scientists find
Credit: unsplash.com/Nicolas Lobos

Mars won't be too crowded. French Professor Jean-Marc Salotti (Bordeaux Institut Nationwide Polytechnique) found that a small community of 110 people is sufficient to set up a self-sustaining colony on Mars. The settlers would live in an oxygen-filled glass dome where they would have to focus on building an agricultural industry to provide for themselves.