Space Exploration

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NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
Credit: NASA

Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have signed on as founding member nations to NASA's Artemis Accords, an international agreement that "will help to avoid conflict in space and on Earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions."

"Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition," so NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "With today's signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy."

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NASA delays first Space X's Crew Dragon operational mission
NASA delays first Space X's Crew Dragon operational mission
Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

The launch of NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station was delayed and is now targeted for no sooner than early-to-mid November. The delay allows SpaceX to complete testing an off-nominal behaviour of Falcon 9 first stage engine gas generators.

"We have a strong working relationship with our SpaceX partner," said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "With the high cadence of missions SpaceX performs, it really gives us incredible insight into this commercial system and helps us make informed decisions about the status of our missions. The teams are actively working this finding on the engines, and we should be a lot smarter within the coming week."

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Artemis mission: NASA pledges to land first woman on moon by 2024
@NASA_Astronauts  are preparing now for moonwalks planned for when we land the first woman and next man on the Moon -- and they're practicing underwater to evaluate how we'll train for #Artemis missions.
@NASA_Astronauts are preparing now for moonwalks planned for when we land the first woman and next man on the Moon -- and they're practicing underwater to evaluate how we'll train for #Artemis missions. Credit: @NASA_Johnson, via Twitter | NASA (Public Domain)

NASA has annouced it's preparing for its second mission to Moon. Artemis, the first lunar mission since 1972, will land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024.

"NASA engineers are laying the foundation for the moonwalks the first woman and next man will conduct when they land on the lunar South Pole in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. At the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are testing the tools and developing training approaches for lunar surface operations," so NASA in a statement.

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24 super-earths discovered by scientists
24 super-earths discovered by scientists
Credit: unsplash.com / The New York Public Library

What is better than earth? 24 super habitable plants that scientists at the Washington State University have discovered now.

They specifically defined "superhabitability criteria" and checked 4,500 exoplanets against these to find the ones that could, in theory, be more habitable than our earth. While none of the 24 planets meets all of the defined criteria, one meets four of them which possibly makes it a better earth than our Earth.

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Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 goes to three black hole researchers
Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 goes to three black hole researchers
Credit: Event Horizon Telescope / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Half of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics goes to Roger Penrose (UK) and the other half to Reinhard Genzel (Germany)and Andrea Ghez (USA) for their "discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy". This was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Tuesday. Reinhard Genzel is director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching near Munich.

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NASA and SpaceX schedule the first Crew Dragon operational flight for October 31
NASA and SpaceX schedule the first Crew Dragon operational flight for October 31
Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 6:40(UTC), October 31, for the launch of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station.

Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be carried to the station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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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.