Space News & Blog Articles

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We found some strange radio sources in a distant galaxy cluster. They're making us rethink what we thought we knew.

Galaxy clusters allow us to study a broad range of rich processes — including magnetism and plasma physics — in environments we can't recreate in our labs.

Celestron SkyMaster 25x100 binoculars review

Celestron's Skymaster 25x100 is our favorite for the best large astronomy binoculars.

Tonga's eruption injected so much water into Earth's atmosphere that it could weaken the ozone layer

A new study has revealed that a record-breaking amount of water vapor entered Earth's atmosphere after a volcanic eruption in Tonga in January.

See Mercury shine close to Leo's brightest star Regulus tonight

Catch Mercury shining close to Leo's brightest star Regulus on Wednesday (Aug. 3). The due will be close enough to view with a telescope.

European Space Agency recruits Shaun (the sheep) for Artemis 1 moon mission

Shaun, the title character from the television series "Shaun the Sheep," has been assigned a space on NASA's upcoming Artemis 1 moon mission.

SpaceX's activities near a Texas beach spark appeal after court dismisses lawsuit

The Sierra Club and others filed an appeal July 28 after the 445th District Court dismissed their lawsuit, which concerned SpaceX Starship activities that closed a Boca Chica beach.

Hubble's Future in the Webb Era

Even though it's far past its warranty, Hubble is still proving its worth in this new era that includes the James Webb Space Telescope.

The post Hubble's Future in the Webb Era appeared first on Sky & Telescope.

Cassian Andor strikes back at the Empire in fantastic new 'Andor' trailer from Disney Plus

Disney Plus releases new premiere date and trailer for "Rogue One" prequel spinoff, "Andor."

Best lightsabers 2022: Toys, replicas, and props

It's possible to learn the power of the best lightsabers, but not from a Jedi.

Earth sets record for the shortest day

June 29, 2022 broke records for Earth's shortest day, but does this mean our planet is spinning faster?

Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars review

The Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars offer excellent views and remarkable value for money, all tied up in a lightweight package.

Did Russia just launch a spacecraft to stalk a US spy satellite?

A newly launched Russian spy satellite may be tasked with stalking one of its American counterparts.

A month on 'Mars': Preparing to visit the Red Planet ... on Earth

On Aug. 1, a group of eight researchers and their associates headed to the high Arctic to spend a month at the Haughton-Mars Project base on Devon Island.

Planets made of dark matter may have blown up, and we could see them

A new hypothesis proposes that a large fraction of dark matter may be bound up inside tight balls the size of Neptune — so-called dark matter planets.

South Korea's moonshot will explore lunar magnetic mysteries and more

Set to blast off on Aug. 4, South Korea's pathfinding Danuri mission will measure magnetic anomalies and scan the lunar surface.

Mission ends for Copernicus Sentinel-1B satellite

On 23 December 2021, Copernicus Sentinel-1B experienced an anomaly related to the instrument electronics power supply provided by the satellite platform, leaving it unable to deliver radar data. Since then spacecraft operators and engineers have been working tirelessly to rectify the issue. Unfortunately, despite all concerted efforts, ESA and the European Commission announce that it is the end of the mission for Sentinel-1B. Copernicus Sentinel-1A remains fully operational and plans are in force to launch Sentinel-1C as soon as possible.

JWST Turns Its Gaze on the Cartwheel Galaxy

The Cartwheel Galaxy, also known as ESO 350-40, is one disturbed-looking piece of cosmic real estate. To look at it now, especially in the latest JWST view, you’d never know it used to be a gorgeous spiral galaxy. That was before it got involved in a head-on collision with a companion. The encounter happened somewhere around 200-300 million years ago. Essentially, the smaller galaxy “bulls-eyed” the Cartwheel, right through its heart. A shock wave swept through the system, changing everything. The aftermath is what we see in this latest image from JWST.

Exploring the Cartwheel

When galaxies collide, interesting things happen. The gravity of two such massive objects colliding (or even passing near each other) distorts the shape of each galaxy. Shock waves ripple through the participants, setting off bursts of star formation. In extreme circumstances, as we see here, the result is a rare ring-type galaxy.

The Cartwheel Galaxy may look amazingly weird (and it is). But, it’s also a great example of galactic wreckage that will eventually fix itself. In a few million years, this scene could look strikingly different. That’s one reason why astronomers are so interested in it. It’s not often they get to see the evolution of a collision like this. The latest view of it is worth digging into, just to look at the amazing detail JWST provided. There’s not just the main Cartwheel, but also other companion galaxies. (The galaxy that plowed through the main one is not in this view.) More on all those in a minute.

The obvious wreckage from the collision consists of two glowing rings, an inner and an outer one. The inner ring hosts a bright nucleus that’s home to a supermassive black hole. That’s surrounded by a smaller ring of gas and hot dust. Then there’s the outer ring. It has actually expanded so much since the collision that it’s bigger than our Milky Way Galaxy. It’s buzzing with star-forming regions, set off by shock waves from the collision and the expansion of the ring into surrounding regions of gas and dust.

Connecting the two main rings is a set of spooky-looking spokes radiating out from the core. These are likely the ancient spiral arms from the original galaxy going through a reforming process. They, too, are alive with star birth nurseries. The bluish regions are young stars formed as a result of the collision.

Cartwheel Galaxy Makes Waves
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Final SBIRS missile warning satellite ready for launch

Artist’s concept of the SBIRS GEO 6 satellite in orbit, with its solar arrays extended. Credit: Lockheed Martin

The last in a line of six satellites for the U.S. military’s Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, missile warning program is ready for launch Thursday from Cape Canaveral on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

The $1.2 billion SBIRS GEO 6 satellite is buttoned up for liftoff inside the Atlas 5’s payload shroud as Lockheed Martin, the spacecraft’s manufacturer, ramps up work on a next-generation missile warning system under contract with the U.S. Space Force.

ULA rolled the 194-foot-tall (59-meter) Atlas 5 rocket to its launch pad Tuesday morning at Space Launch Complex 41. The launch team filled the Atlas 5’s first stage with storable rocket-grade kerosene fuel Tuesday afternoon, and plans to commence the seven-hour countdown late Wednesday night.

The Atlas 5 will be loaded with cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants during the predawn hours Thursday, with the countdown culminating in liftoff during a 40-minute launch window opening at 6:29 a.m. EDT (1029 GMT), about 17 minutes before sunrise on Florida’s Space Coast.

There is a 70% chance of favorable weather for launch Thursday, according to the Space Force’s official forecast.

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ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket moved to launch pad with U.S. military missile warning satellite

ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket rolls out to Space Launch Complex 41 on Tuesday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Credit: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance’s next Atlas 5 rocket rolled out to its launch pad Tuesday at Cape Canaveral for a fiery blastoff at dawn Thursday with a U.S. military missile warning satellite.

The 194-foot-tall (59-meter) Atlas 5 rocket completed the 1,800-foot (550-meter) rollout in a little more than an hour. The rollout began at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) Tuesday with first motion out of the Vertical Integration Facility, a 30-story-tall assembly hangar where the Atlas 5 rocket was stacked over the last month.

Two trackmobile locomotives powered the Atlas 5 rocket and its mobile launch platform — with a combined weight of 1.6 million pounds — along rail tracks from the VIF to Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Once in position at pad 41, the Atlas 5 was connected to propellant loading lines and other ground systems. ULA’s launch team loaded 25,000 gallons of rocket-grade RP-1 kerosene fuel into the Atlas 5’s first stage Tuesday afternoon. The kerosene will feed the rocket’s Russian-made RD-180 main engine, in combination with super-cold liquid oxygen to be pumped into the Atlas 5 during the countdown Thursday morning.

The payload for Thursday’s launch is SBIRS GEO 6, the sixth and final spacecraft in the U.S. military’s Space Based Infrared System fleet of missile warning satellites. The SBIRS satellites in geosynchronous orbit carry infrared scanning and staring sensors to detect the heat plumes from missile and rocket launches, providing commanders with advance warning of a possible missile attack.

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NASA will preview its Artemis 1 moon mission this week. Here's how to watch for free.

NASA is weeks away from launching its first Artemis flight to the moon and you can learn all about it in free webcasts this week.