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moon

US Company, Intuitive Machines, Wants To Bring America Back To The Moon 

Intuitive Machines is a US company that is trying to get back to the moon in what would be the first American lunar landing in more than 50 years.

asteroid

NASA Launching Spacecraft On Six-Year Journey To Research Asteroid Made Of Metal 

NASA is gearing up to launch a spacecraft on a six-year journey to research a very unique asteroid that seems to be mainly made up of metal. 

The principal investigator for the mission, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, stated that“this will be our first time visiting a world that has a metal surface,” explaining how previous NASA missions mainly looked at “worlds made of rock or ice or gas,” according to NPR.

The asteroid itself in this specific mission is named “Psyche,” and could help scientists understand exactly how violent collisions and space events in our solar system’s initial years of creation led to the formation of our planets. Many planets in our solar system, including Earth, have metal-rich cores, so the asteroid could provide some further insight into that history. 

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Psyche was discovered in 1852, and according to Elkins-Tanton, it’s likely the size of the state of Massachusetts and shaped like a potato. Researchers believe that the asteroid is about 30 to 60 percent metal. 

Once the spacecraft arrives at the asteroid in August 2029, it will be able to send images back to NASA so they can see what Psyche looks like, because as of right now, “we do not know what Psyche looks like,” according to Elkins-Tanton. 

The probe will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX rocket and will have its initial opportunity to launch on Thursday morning. 

“Researchers believe the asteroid might have craters that are ringed with iron spikes, because an impact might send up streams of molten metal that then solidify. The asteroid might also have huge metal cliffs, and the remnants of greenish-yellow lava flows,” says Elkins-Tanton.

Psyche is reported to be over 150 million miles away at its closest approach to Earth, and for now all scientists are able to see of it is just a point of light due to its distance. It’s also in the outer part of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, according to reports

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“Since asteroids are leftovers from when the planets formed, Psyche is like an exposed version of what lurks at the center of rocky planets,” said Elkins-Tanton.

“We’re trying to understand the metal core of the Earth. We are never, ever going to go to those cores — way too hot, way too deep — so this is our one way to see a core.”

“There are other metallic asteroids that represent this kind of planetary building block, but Psyche is by far the largest, and the one that is most likely to tell us the most about cores,” Elkins-Tanton stated

“The planet Mercury has an unusually high amount of iron beneath a rocky shell, and there are some planets outside the solar system, around distant stars, that also seem to mostly be made of metal,” says Ben Weiss, the deputy principal investigator for the mission.

“So even though Psyche’s metal-rich nature makes it an unusual asteroid, it’s also kind of representative of a diverse range of bodies that we think are maybe metal worlds,”  he says. 

“Because we don’t know what its surface looks like, we’re not ready to land. We’re not ready to sample. We have to have some sense of what this object is like before we can take that next step,” says Elkins-Tanton.

nasa

NASA Report States There Is No Evidence That Confirms UFOs Are Extraterrestrial 

An independent study team from NASA has released a report on UFOs in which they stated that there is no evidence that reported UFO sightings are extraterrestrial. The US Government also now categorizes UFOs as UAPs, or unidentified anomalous phenomena. 

During a press conference, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson discussed how NASA has scientific programs to search for signs of life on Mars and imprints of biology in our atmosphere. He discussed how he hopes the mainstream conversation regarding UAPs and UFOs is centered around science in the future. 

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Chris Impey, a professor of astronomy who has a history of reporting on astrobiology, wrote about the recent report for the publication, The Conversation

Impey wrote about how the NASA study team’s report suggests that there’s “little to no evidence to suggest that UAPs are extraterrestrial in origin,” according to astronomer David Spergel. 

Only “a small handful cannot be immediately identified as known human-made or natural phenomena,” out of more than 800 unclassified sightings that have been collected by the Department of Defense. according to the report.

“Many of the recent sightings can be attributed to weather balloons and airborne clutter. Historically, most UFOs are astronomical objects such as meteors, fireballs and the planet Venus. Some sightings represent surveillance operations by foreign powers, which is why the U.S. military considers this a national security issue.”

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“The report does offer recommendations to NASA on how to move these investigations forward,” Impey wrote

Data analysis from the report is“hampered by poor sensor calibration, the lack of multiple measurements, the lack of sensor metadata, and the lack of baseline data.” 

Officials described the analysis process like “looking for a needle in a haystack, or separating the wheat from the chaff. [We] needed a consistent and rigorous methodology for characterizing sightings, as a way of homing in on something truly anomalous.”

Spergel said the study team’s goal was “to characterize the hay – or the mundane phenomena – and subtract it to find the needle, or the potentially exciting discovery.

Artificial intelligence can help researchers comb through massive datasets to find rare, anomalous phenomena. AI is already being used this way in many areas of astronomy research,” according to Impey.

moon

Defense Of Advanced Research Projects Agency Exploring Technology For Moon-Based Economy 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is embarking on a seven-month study to analyze the infrastructure and baseline technology that would be needed to develop a moon-based economy within the next 10 years. 

Through their lunar architecture study, called LunA-10, DARPA is attempting to establish the framework needed for “rapid scientific and commercial activity on and around the moon,” between 2025 and 2015, according to an Agency statement.

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“A large paradigm shift is coming in the next 10 years for the lunar economy. To get to a turning point faster, LunA-10 uniquely aims to identify solutions that can enable multi-mission lunar systems,” said Michael Nayak, the program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. 

The “multi-mission systems” that Nayak is referring to could include dual use military and commercial technology, such as a wireless power station that would offer communication and navigation capabilities. Nayak compared DARPA’s role in building the lunar economy to it’s contributions to the creation of the internet. 

“Just like DARPA’s foundational node of ARPANET grew into the sprawling web of the internet, LunA-10 is looking for those connective nodes to support a thriving commercial economy on the moon,” Nayak stated. 

The US and other nations, as well as commercial companies, have been planning missions as a part of their vision for a future economy on the moon. DARPA and the Air Force Research Laboratory have begun a slew of programs in recent years meant to explore satellite sensing and logistics in a lunar environment. 

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The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency announced in May that they’re developing a Lunar Reference Frame that will show a mapping infrastructure to support a GPS-like capability for the moon. 

According to reports, “the DARPA effort is focused on fusing various infrastructure sectors that have technological overlap into hubs that could be built up in the future, as economic activity on and around the moon increases. Those sectors include: transit and mobility; energy; communications; and other revolutionary orbital or surface infrastructure concepts.”

DARPA is not planning on funding any new technology development, transportation, or integration with space vehicles, and instead is forming teams that are made up of companies with expertise in lunar technology. 

The teams will be responsible for identifying enabling capabilities, developing analytical frameworks, and considering logistical and technical challenges for future moon operations. 

DARPA is projecting their study will officially begin in November and go until June 2024. They’re also coordinating with NASA to create a blueprint for scientific exploration on the moon and Mars.

plane

NASA Planes Could Lead To More Sustainable Air Travel By The 2030s

NASA has revealed plans for two aircraft projects that they are hoping will be the next generation of sustainable flights. 

One of the aircrafts is called X-66A, which NASA and Boeing worked together on as a part of Boeing’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, according to reports. The two companies have the goal of building, testing, and flying the planes, which will be emission-reducing, single-aisle aircrafts, within the next decade; by 2030 ideally. 

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“It’s our goal that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will help lead to future commercial airliners that are more fuel efficient, with benefits to the environment, the commercial aviation industry, and to passengers worldwide,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement according to CNN

“If we are successful, we may see these technologies in planes that the public takes to the skies in the 2030s.”

The design could potentially reduce fossil fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% when compared to current aircrafts. 

According to NASA and Boeing, the concept of design is known as the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing, which relies on elongated thing wings that are stabilized by diagonal struts connecting to the wings of the plane, creating less of a drag and thus reducing the fuel that is burned. 

The new designs were shown off at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

“This is an experimental aircraft. This is not a commercial development of an aircraft that passengers are going to fly in today. And the reason we need to do this is because this is high-risk technology. We’re trying to validate technology,”  Bob Pearce, NASA associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said.

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The first test flight is scheduled to ideally take place in 2028, with NASA hoping that the technology and new design will be used throughout around half of the commercial flight market for short to medium haul single-aisle aircrafts. 

According to NASA, single-aisle aircrafts account for almost half of all aviation emissions around the world. Boeing also predicts that the demand for these single-aisle aircrafts will increase by 40,000 planes between the years 2035 and 2050. 

“The goal is for the technology to serve about 50% of the commercial market through short- to medium-haul, single-aisle aircraft,” Nelson said.

As a part of NASA’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project, the hybrid electric aircraft that GE Aerospace and magniX are developing will also be getting an updated look to include lighter and more efficient motors, and utilize materials that will also improve fuel use to reduce emissions. 

Within the next five years, NASA is hoping to conduct at least two flight demonstrations to show off the new technology, so that ideally the aircrafts can be introduced commercially in the US between 2030 and 2035.

Europe’s New $1.5 Billion Space Telescope Takes First Images And Data Of The Universe

One month after Europe launched a telescope into space, it has begun taking the first images of our universe and recording data. The European Space Agency is elated to see that their $1.5 billion technological advancement is working well.

What Are NASA’s Plans For Exploring Mars?

NASA has been able to explore the surface of Mars for 20 years now, after the Spirit rover landed on the Red Planet. As the years have progressed, NASA has continued its exploration, utilizing two rovers and five orbiters to collect as much data as possible.

voyager

NASA To Give The Voyager 2 Backup Power So It Lasts Until 2026

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft has been probing around the solar system for over 45 years. Now, the spacecraft is running out of power, but the Agency has a new plan to keep Voyager 2 running for at least three more years. 

The Voyager 2 initially launched in 1977, and has been helping scientists view and investigate planets far from Earth, as well as learn about how the heliosphere protects the Earth from its volatile interstellar environment. The heliosphere is the sun’s outermost layer that traps particles and magnetic fields within it. 

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NASA engineers and scientists have begun turning off heaters and nonessential parts to preserve power in the Voyager 2, and now have a plan to use reserved power from a safety mechanism within the spacecraft’s voltage, according to reports from NPR

“The move will enable the mission to postpone shutting down a science instrument until 2026, rather than this year,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said

Both Voyager 2 and Voyager 1, which was launched the same year as its twin Voyager 2, are the only spacecraft to have explored past the heliosphere. 

Ed Stone was the chief scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, who retired last year, has spent decades working on the Voyager program. He was able to see firsthand new data and discoveries from planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. 

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“What it revealed was how complex and dynamic the solar system really is. Before Voyager, the only known active volcanoes were here on Earth. Then we flew by Jupiter’s moon, Io, and it has 10 times the volcanic activity of earth. Before Voyager, the only known oceans in the solar system were here on Earth.

Then we flew by another moon of Jupiter, Europa, which it turns out has a liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust,” Stone told NPR

Voyager 2 is currently 12.3 billion miles away from Earth, and getting further, Voyager 1 is also expected to lose power in the coming years, and is currently 14.7 billion miles away. 

“The science data that the Voyagers are returning gets more valuable the farther away from the Sun they go, so we are definitely interested in keeping as many science instruments operating as long as possible,” Linda Spilker, the Voyager program’s project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab, said in a statement.

earth

NASA Aiming To Clean Up Space Junk With New Project Initiatives

There are currently multiple satellites and pieces of man-made debris floating in orbit around Earth, making it difficult to get a clear picture of our galaxy without distraction. NASA recently released a new report on “orbital debris remediation” with plans to improve the current space junk situation.

asteroid

NASA To Slam Probe Into Asteroid for Planetary Defense Test

On Sept. 26, NASA will slam a probe into an asteroid during its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission. The mission is part of NASA’s larger planetary defense plan against any asteroids that may someday impact the Earth.

If an asteroid were to hurl toward Earth in the future, a probe like the one used in DART should be able to realign its trajectory or destroy it, neutralizing its threat.

One of the engineers orchestrating the mission acknowledges, “this is an amazing moment for our space program.”

“For the first time, we will move a celestial body intentionally in space, beyond Earth’s orbit! This test goes beyond international borders and really shows what we can accomplish if we all work together as one team and as one on Earth.”

NASA mapped the orbits of 30,000 nearby asteroids and determined that, as of right now, most of them are unlikely to collide with Earth or are so small that they would burn up in the atmosphere before any significant impact.

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The last time an asteroid collided with Earth, it ended the age of dinosaurs some 66 million years ago. The 6-mile wide asteroid Chicxulub killed over 75% of the Earth’s species, triggering a mass extinction event. Earthquakes reverberated throughout the crust; wildfires spread in all directions from the asteroid’s impact, and mammoth tsunamis engulfed dry land.

NASA does not want to rule out that an asteroid may hit Earth in the future. The probe will impact an asteroid named Dimorphos, which orbits another asteroid named Didymos, nearly the Earth’s size. Its mission is to realign Dimorphos and change the duration of its orbit by 11 minutes.

The agency says this will determine if a strategy like DART would successfully prevent planetary threats posed by asteroids by gauging how asteroids respond to kinetic impact. The stakes of the test are low since it poses no threat to Earth, but the agency says the difficulty of the maneuver will remain the same.

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During a news conference, Andrea Riley, a program executive at NASA, spoke on the importance of the DART test. The probe will only be able to detect Dimorphos an hour and a half before impact, making this an accurate test of its precision. Once the probe detects the asteroid, it will autonomously guide itself into a collision.

“If it misses, it still provides a lot of data. This is a test mission. This is why we test; we want to do it now rather than when there is an actual need.”

NASA will hold a televised briefing for the test at 6 p.m. on Sept. 26. NASA TV will then provide live coverage of the impact, predicted to be at 7:14 p.m. EDT the same day.