It’s been a busy week, as the DART mission has been launched from NASA And another unexpected point in James Webb’s release schedule. The US agency also made some important announcements, such as inviting companies to propose ideas for a nuclear fission reactor for use in the future human camp on the Moon.
To the delight of our eyes, NASA also shared an amazing image of Mars, taken by the Curiosity rover and later processed in “pseudo” colors, resulting in a real postcard of the red planet.
Check out these and other highlights from this week’s Space News!
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Some scientists are looking for evidence of primitive black holes, which may have formed in the early universe. It remains to be seen if they really exist, but a new study claims they do, and more: they may have “eat” parts of the Moon, and even the Earth!
According to the new hypothesis, these small black holes were traveling at a high speed through the universe and passed through different bodies, creating a hole in them thanks to the intense force of their gravitational field. But it will be so small that it will not be able to “swallow” large objects like our natural satellite, but it will leave craters different from those left by asteroid collisions.
To make Mars habitable by humans, the red planet needs a magnetic field stronger than the one there. A new study has suggested that this could be done with a little help from the Martian moon Phobos. The idea is to ionize the particles from the surface of the natural moon and take advantage of its orbit around Mars.
Phobos circles the planet every 8 hours, so scientists calculate that by accelerating ionized particles, a hoop of plasma will be created along the orbit of Mars. This would be enough to create a strong magnetic field, which is able to protect the Red Planet from radiation, and enable its remodeling.
A stream of gas known as the Magellanic Stream is closer to the Milky Way than previously thought, and could end up colliding with our galaxy. This formation is the result of small and large dwarf galaxies in the Magellanic Cloud that orbit the Milky Way, but scientists previously calculated that it would be very far away.
However, there is nothing to worry about, as the Magellanic Stream is 65,000 light years from Earth. The Milky Way may end up being absorbed in 50 million years, but it won’t cause any harm to our galaxy. In fact, the result of this will be the formation of new stars.
NASA is inviting private companies to develop concepts for a nuclear fission system to fuel future human colonies on the Moon, with up to ten years to implement the technology there. According to the space agency, nuclear fission is the most practical option for this.
The production system must be able to produce at least 40 kilowatts of power, which is enough for astronauts and their homes on the Moon for 10 years. Concept proposals should be submitted by February 2022, when NASA launches the most promising of them. Then, it will help the selected companies to develop these concepts over a 12-month period.
NASA has released another Mars landscape record taken by the Curiosity rover, currently located on the side of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater. A panoramic photo is a combination of two black and white photos taken with your navigation cameras. With the subsequent editing of the process, the final image of life and its color appeared – a real postcard of Mars.
In the center of the image is Mount Sharp, a 5-kilometer-high mountain located in the middle of Gale Crater. In the immediate center of the panorama are the rolling sand hills, an area known as the Forvey Sands. Mount Rafael Navarro is to the far right.
TOI-2109b is a newly discovered exoplanet five times the mass of Jupiter and taking just 16 hours to travel around its star. This is impressive, as it is the shortest orbit of any gas giant ever identified.
Temperatures on the day side of the planet can reach 3,500 K, roughly 6000 degrees Celsius, which makes the planet as hot as its star! Needless to say, it’s also one of the hottest outer worlds discovered to date, and things can get even hotter out there: TOI-2109b could be on a spiral path toward the star.
The TRAPPIST-1 system, made up of seven rocky worlds, is in a symmetric orbit, and a new study has found that this is only possible if these planets formed in an environment free of asteroid collisions. Otherwise, the orbits would have perturbed and the resonance between them would disappear.
This makes this system very different from the solar system, at least in terms of formation processes. Here on Earth, for example, some of our water may have been brought in by large impacts, so TRAPPIST-1 may not have been water-rich — or obtained its fluids through other processes.
Update: Tweet embed The launch is now targeted for no later than December 22nd to allow for additional testing after the sudden and unplanned launch of a clamp securing the spacecraft to its rocket transducer that sent vibrations throughout the observatory: https://t.co/YCHnFLbRIr pic.twitter.com/NX5spmt26C
– NASA (@NASA) November 22 2021
The James Webb Space Telescope will launch on December 18, but an unexpected small event has pushed the long-awaited moment to December 22. In a statement, NASA revealed the telescope incident, which required some analysis to see if all was well with it. Fortunately, there was no damage, so the date was already set for December 22.
Today, Parker is breaking his own records, as he completed the closest and fastest pass to the Sun so far.
– NASA Sun and Space (@NASASun) November 21, 2021
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft set new records for distance and speed when it made its 10th solar flyby over our star last Sunday (21), reaching 163 km/s (or 586,000 km/h). So it broke her previous record (although NASA hasn’t given much detail about what those records are).
In the early hours of Wednesday morning (24), NASA launched the DART mission, which will test an approaching collision with an asteroid to try to deviate from its orbit. If successful, the strategy could be used to protect the Earth from any potential danger from colliding with potentially dangerous rocks. The launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took place at 3:21 AM GMT.
After 20 days of travel, the mission team will activate the ion propulsion system, while the camera will make the first recordings of the binary system Didymus, the experiment’s “guinea pig,” about 30 days before the collision. When 10 days are left, DART will launch a satellite before crashing into Dimorphos, the smaller of the two objects, at around 24,000 km/h.
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