Friday, April 26, 2019

🚀 Crew Dragon had an "Anomaly", Interstellar Meteor?, Another Neutron Star Collision, And More...

Crew Dragon

SpaceX Crew Dragon Exploded Last Weekend. We Don't Know Much Else

On Saturday, April 20th, people watching the SpaceX facility with the Crew Dragon test vehicle reported an explosion. So far, SpaceX has only reported that there was "an anomaly", but they haven't released any more details about the accident. Orange plumes from nitrogen tetroxide - the oxidizer used by Dragon - were seen burning, so clearly something went wrong. This was the same vehicle that flew to the Space Station in March, and was being prepared for an abort test.

Before SpaceX can use its Crew Dragon vehicles to carry humans to the ISS, it needs to test its abort system, to ensure that the astronauts can be carried clear of the launch rocket in the event of a disaster. Right now, we don't know what they'll need to do to get their platform ready to do a test, or what kind of delays this might put on their plans to carry humans to the space station.

I'll keep you updated.

Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Where will the Voyagers Go Next?

Where Will the Voyagers Go Next?

NASA's Voyager spacecraft are traveling on an escape trajectory from the Sun, and are now on a journey that will take them through the outer reaches of the Solar System and out into the Milky Way Galaxy. 

They carry on board the Golden Records, a message from all humankind out into the cosmos.

In the thousands, millions and even billions of years of travel, where will they go? What will they see? Who might find them, and learn about us, long after we're gone?

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The First Molecule that was Possible in the Universe has been Seen in Space

Back at the beginning of the Universe, the cosmos didn't have much in the way of raw materials to work with, just hydrogen and helium. And now astronomers have found an example of the earliest possible molecule out there in space: helium hydride. Astronomers think this molecule was created about 100,000 years after the Big Bang, before the Universe had cooled down to the point that light could escape.


What Will the James Webb Space Telescope See? A Whole Bunch of Dust, That's What

When NASA's James Webb Space Telescope finally launches in 2021 (or maybe the Year 3000?), what will it see? Dust, and lots of it. But more importantly, it'll help astronomers peer through the dust that surrounds galaxy clusters to help figure out the underlying physics of dark matter and galaxy formation. Paul Sutter explains in this article.


Astronomers Think a Meteor Came from Outside the Solar System

In 2017, we were stunned by the first interstellar object, Oumuamua, found moving through the Solar System. Now astronomers think they've found another object, this time a meteor that struck the atmosphere in January, 2014. The object turned up as part of a survey of three decades of meteors that struck the atmosphere. The 1-meter spacerock was moving at 60 km/s relative to the Earth's motion on a trajectory that came from outside the Solar System. 


Astronomers Catch a Superflare From a Puny Star

Red dwarf stars can live for trillions of years, so they seem like good places to live for the long term. But you've got to survive those turbulent early days. As proof of this, astronomers watched a star about the size of Jupiter with a fraction of the mass of the Sun unleash a flare 10x more powerful than anything the Sun has ever thrown out into space. Life on a planet huddled close would be scoured clean away.

Merging black holes

As Expected, the Newly Upgraded LIGO is Finding a Black Hole Merger Every Week

The gravitational wave-hunting instrument LIGO has been newly upgraded and it's back in business. With its new sensitivity, it should be able to detect a black hole merger every week or so. And so far, it's been living up to those expectations. Researchers announced that it's already found two mergers in its first two weeks of operations, with many more to come.



InSight just detect its first "Marsquake"

NASA's Mars InSight lander has been quietly listening to the surface of the Red Planet with its seismometer. It can hear the wind blowing. It can hear its own robotic arm moving around, and now, scientists think it's heard its first "marsquake". A faint seismic signal was detected on April 6th on its 128th Martian day. Whether it's an actual trembler coming from inside the planet, or the result of a meteor striking the surface is still up for debate.

Milky Way

Astronomers find the missing stars that were torn off from the globular cluster Omega Centauri

One of the most dramatic objects in a small telescope is the Omega Cluster, visible only in the southern hemisphere and lower latitudes. This immense cluster contains several million stars and it's almost as old as the Universe itself. And now astronomers have identified a stream of stars which are being torn away from this ancient cluster, evidence that the Milky Way is continuing to digest it.

Neutron star

Barfing Neutron Stars Reveal Their Inner Guts

Neutron stars are the mysterious remnants of supernova explosions, containing matter compressed down to unimaginable densities. They sound pretty hard to study. But every now and then, these extreme objects crash into each other, spilling their quantum guts all over space, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to see what kind of weirdness goes on inside.


Here's the Video of Hayabusa2 Bombing Asteroid Ryugu

I'll warn you, this is an incredibly unsatisfying little movie. Several weeks ago, Hayabusa2 bombed asteroid Ryugu with an antitank weapon to see under its surface. This week they released this amazing animation that shows the impactor floating down towards the surface of the asteroid, but that's all we get. Hopefully they'll release another version that actually shows the impact.

Colliding Neutron Stars

LIGO Detects More Colliding Neutron Stars

This newsletter clearly has a theme today. We talked about LIGO returning to operations. And we talked about the science you can do when neutron stars collide. And this just in... LIGO has detected the second neutron star collision. The detection was made on April 25 by LIGO and VIRGO, and researchers are certain the gravitational waves generated match what you'd see from a collision between neutron stars.


Don't Forget About The Dream Chaser

One of the coolest vehicles designed to resupply the International Space Station hasn't gotten a lot of press recently, but here's a reminder. Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser is still in testing and is expected to start making resupply missions to ISS in 2021. The space shuttle-looking cargo craft is expected to make 6 missions to ISS in the 2020s, along with SpaceX Dragon and Orbital ATK. I think it looks awesome.

Hayabusa crater

Here's the Hayabusa2 Crater on Ryugu

I showed you the frustratingly short animation of Hayabusa2 bombing Ryugu. Well, here's the aftermath: a nice crater carved out of the surface of the asteroid. You're looking at a dent in the asteroid that measures about 20 meters across;  twice the size the mission controllers were expecting to create. This gives scientists a fresh piece of rock to analyze, to learn more about how the Earth and the rest of the Solar System formed.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday

The Moon

Isn't this an impressive photograph of the Moon? It was taken by @astro_ness using a technique that merges multiple images together so that you can see both the illuminated and shadowed sides of the Moon at the same time.

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 169,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.


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