Space News & Blog Articles

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Petzl ACTIK CORE 450 headlamp review

Might this be the perfect headlamp for sky watchers, and everyone else? We put it to the test.

A cosmic tango: this distant planet's very strange orbit points to a violent and chaotic past

Imagine a system with one gaseous planet, a little larger than Saturn, skimming the surface of its host star on an extremely fast orbit. It’s hellishly hot and glows a dull red, baking in stellar radiation.

Week in images: 01-05 August 2022

Week in images: 01-05 August 2022

Discover our week through the lens

A NASA astronaut in space just published a science paper on Mars rocks

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, who is currently in orbit, is lead author on a scientific paper. The topic is the Curiosity mission that reaches its 10th anniversary on Mars Aug. 5.

Pure gold pin for space testing

Image: Pure gold pin for space testing

100 days of Minerva

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was launched to the International Space Station on 27 April as a part of Crew-4 for her second mission, Minerva. One hundred days in, mission Minerva is still going strong. From completing cutting-edge research in the world’s only orbiting laboratory to sharing daily life on the Space Station via TikTok, it’s all in a day’s work for an ESA astronaut.

The Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars for 10 years. Here's what we've learned.

Curiosity landed on Mars on Aug. 5, 2012, with one main goal: to determine whether the planet was once habitable. In 10 years, it has answered that question and many others.

SpaceX team headed to Australia to investigate Dragon space junk crash

Officials with SpaceX are going to Australia to examine a crash site possibly associated with space debris generated from the Crew-1 Dragon spacecraft.

Astronomers catch a super-energetic collision of dead stars

A distant neutron-star merger unleashed one of the most powerful short gamma-ray bursts (GRB) ever seen.

Damage control for the Perseids: Dark sky opportunities

Because of the brightness of the moon, the best times to see the Perseid meteor shower this year will be during the predawn hours several mornings before the night of full moon.

This Week's Sky at a Glance, August 5 – 13

The Moon and Saturn come to opposition this week, showing us their full sunlit faces. Jupiter looms big late in the night, Vega attains the zenith, and we cross the midpoint of summer. The Perseid meteors get partly mooned out.

The post This Week's Sky at a Glance, August 5 – 13 appeared first on Sky & Telescope.

Best tripods: For astrophotography, landscape, and more

Here's our round-up of the best tripods on the market, and we think every astrophotographer should have one.

Best headlamps 2022: best lights for stargazing and general lowlight scenes

A guide to the best headlamps that keep your hands free and won't ruin your night vision when stargazing or taking astrophotographs.

Artemis I spacecraft ready for launch

Video: 00:03:00

ESA and NASA’s Artemis I spacecraft is cleared for launch after a series of final tests at the US Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ESA’s European Service Module (ESM) will provide electrical power and propel the uncrewed Orion capsule in an extended orbit around the Moon, setting the scene for future crewed missions. ESA has already delivered its second ESM for Artemis II and is currently building its third ESM. Eventually, Artemis III will return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years with the ESM supplying their life support in the form of water, food and oxygen. 

ESA is also making a major contribution to the Gateway including refueling and habitation modules and enhanced lunar communications. The Gateway will act as a permanently crewed space station in orbit around the Moon, a thousand times further away than the International Space Station from Earth, ushering in a new era of lunar exploration. 

The film includes soundbites from ESA’s Director of Exploration, David Parker, and ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen.  

NASA’s Space Launch System Gets Tentative Launch Date of August 29th

NASA has announced tentative placeholder launch dates for its beast of a rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), on its maiden flight to deep space. While work still needs to be accomplished to ensure its launch, the tentative dates are currently August 29th, September 2nd, and September 5th. While NASA stressed these are not set dates, the announcement nonetheless puts SLS closer than ever to flight.

The maiden launch of the most powerful rocket ever built comes after years of budget increases and delays. Funding for SLS was approximately $1.5 billion in 2011 but has increased almost every year until it hit $2.5 billion in 2021. This came after Congress mandated SLS “operational capability…not later than December 31, 2016”, but has faced countless delays since then due to audits and poor management.

NASA’s Space Launch System sitting atop its launchpad at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Nonetheless, SLS has proven its resilience time and time again, and as of this moment it proudly stands atop its launchpad at Kennedy Space Center as the final checkouts are conducted for its maiden flight into space. As SLS awaits its destiny, the first thought that comes to the mind of SLS Associate Program Manager, Dr. Sharon Cobb, as she sees SLS on the launchpad is teamwork.

“The rocket on the pad represents a journey taken not by one person but by a team of brilliant people working together,” says Dr. Cobb. “When SLS rolls to the launchpad it represents the work of people and companies from across this country, and this work comes together as the most powerful rocket ever built. It represents human ingenuity and dedication and is something we can all be proud of.”

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China launches mysterious reusable 'test spacecraft' to Earth orbit

For the second time in two years, China has launched a classified reusable vehicle — thought to be a robotic space plane — on a mystery mission to Earth orbit.

Korean moon mission blasts off from Cape Canaveral on SpaceX rocket

A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off Aug. 4 with the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter. Credit: SpaceX

South Korea’s first moon orbiter launched Thursday from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, heading off on a mission to survey potential lunar landing sites and search for water ice hidden inside shadowed craters near the moon’s poles.

The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, or KPLO, spacecraft launched on top of a Falcon 9 rocket at 7:08:48 p.m. EDT (2308:48 GMT) Thursday from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The launch of the KPLO mission occurred 12 hours and 39 minutes after an Atlas 5 rocket from SpaceX rival United Launch Alliance departed a separate launch pad at Cape Canaveral with a U.S. military missile warning satellite.

The last time there was such a short span between two orbital-class rockets lifting off from Cape Canaveral was on Sept. 7 and 8, 1967, when a Thor Delta G rocket and an Atlas Centaur rocket launched less than 10 hours apart. The Thor Delta G rocket launched a recoverable spacecraft called Biosatellite 2 with a host of biological research experiments, and the Atlas Centaur sent NASA’s Surveyor 5 lander to the moon.

A moon mission made up the second half of Thursday’s doubleheader, too.

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SpaceX launches South Korea's 1st-ever moon mission, lands rocket at sea

The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), also known as Danuri, lifted off today (Aug. 4) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, kicking off South Korea's first-ever deep-space mission.

'Woohoo! We're not going to die!' Blue Origin space tourists celebrate successful mission

Blue Origin's New Shepard vehicle carried six people on a roughly 10-minute flight today (Aug. 4) — a brief mission, but long enough to change the passengers' lives forever.

Did you Want More Scientific Information About the First set of Images From JWST? Fill Your Boots

On July 12th, 2022, NASA and its partner agencies released the first James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) observations to the public. These included images and spectra obtained after Webb’s commissioning phase, which included the most-detailed views of galaxy clusters, gravitational lenses, nebulae, merging galaxies, and spectra from an exoplanet’s atmosphere. Less than a month after their release, a paper titled “The JWST Early Release Observations” has been made available that describes the observations and the scientific process that went into making them.

The EROs is a set of public outreach products created to mark the end of JWST’s commissioning and the beginning of science operations. These products were chosen by the ERO Selection Committee, an international body formed in 2016 composed of members from NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the European Space Agency (ESA), with support provided by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). The paper that describes the ERO was authored by researchers from the STScI, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), and the Department of Physics & Astronomy at John Hopkins University.

As noted in a previous article (concurrent with the release), the first observations from the Webb mission included a deep field image of the SMACS J0723.3-7327 galaxy cluster and distant lensed galaxies, the merging galaxy group known as Stephan’s Quintet, the Carina Nebula (NGC 3324), the Southern Ring planetary nebula (NGC 3132), and spectra obtained from the transiting hot Jupiter WASP 96b. The ERO describes how these targets were selected, which of Webb’s instruments were used to study them, and what they revealed.

Target Selection

In the first section of the paper, the authors state how these targets were selected in 2017 by the ERO Committee based on solicitations from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and the JWST Science Working Group (SWG). From this, the ERO Committee selected a superset of targets based on existing data, particularly color images taken by the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. These, in turn, were evaluated based on their relevance to the JWST’s four scientific themes: observations of the first galaxies that formed during the “Cosmic Dawn” period, how these galaxies have since evolved, the lifecycle of stars, and extrasolar planets.

The final targets were selected from these, with additional consideration for the major observation modes of JWST’s four science instruments. These instruments make up the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and include:

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