Friday, May 10, 2019

🚀 Blue Origin is Building a Lunar Lander Called "Blue Moon", Starlink's Satellites Will Fly Low, Interstellar Prototype Test, and More...

Lunar lander


Now We Know What Blue Origin was Planning: A Lunar Lander

Last week we mentioned a mysterious hint from Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. Something to do with the Moon? Well, now we know what he had up his sleeves: a lunar lander. 

The spacecraft will be called "Blue Moon", and it'll be a lander capable of delivering a variety of small, medium and large payloads to the lunar surface. This spacecraft will be able to drop metric tonnes of cargo down to the lunar surface, enabling future human explorers.

And here's the best part, a larger variant of the vehicle will be built with an ascent vehicle, like the Apollo missions, allowing humans to return to the Moon by 2024. 

A bold strategy, we'll see how it all turns out.

Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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When we send anything to space, we have to pay an enormous amount of money. That's because you need to push satellites, water, astronauts up and out of the Earth's gravity well. Whether you're just going to orbit, or heading to the Moon, or out into deep space, it makes the most sense to build your structures in space, out of material that you got from space.

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The Global Dust Storm that Ended Opportunity Helped Teach us how Mars Lost its Water

Last year's global dust storm on Mars was so powerful that it blocked the sunlight reaching NASA's Opportunity rover. Sadly, it didn't survive. But that storm did have a side benefit for astronomers studying why Mars is so dry. The dust storm lofted water molecules high into the atmosphere, where the Sun's radiation could break them apart and blow the atoms off into space.

Hubble image

16 Years of Hubble Images Come Together in this one Picture Containing 265,000 Galaxies

You're looking at a picture that contains a quarter of a million galaxies, thanks, as always to the Hubble Space Telescope. It's called the Hubble Legacy Field, and it contains the data from all the previous detailed galaxy surveys. Nearly 7,500 individual exposures went into the creation of the Hubble Legacy Field, which contains galaxies seen half a billion years after the formation of the Universe. 


Starlink's Satellites Will be Orbiting at a Much Lower Altitude, Reducing the Risks of Space Junk

SpaceX is continuing with its plans to launch a comprehensive low-Earth orbiting satellite internet service called Starlink. By the mid-2020s, they're expected to launch a total of 12,000 satellites, but they'll start with 4,425 over the next few years. In order to minimize the amount of space junk risk, Starlink satellites will fly at half the altitude they were originally planning. They'll have shorter transmission times, and fall back to Earth more rapidly.

Bear Grylls

Climate Change Q & A with Bear Grylls

In his new series "Hostile Planet" Bear Grylls tours the world seeing various species in their natural habitats. He also got to experience the reality of climate change and spent some time answering questions for Universe Today about what he saw. Read the interview from Nancy Atkinson.

Dragon Launch


Dragon Flies to the Space Station with Cargo and Science Experiments

We're still waiting to hear what exactly happened with the Crew Dragon accident a few weeks ago, but a completely different cargo-filled Dragon launched to the space station this week, delivering fresh supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station.


Spiral galaxy

Spiral Galaxy NGC 2903 Seen by Hubble in all its Glory

Gape slack-jawed at this amazing photograph of the spiral galaxy NGC 2903 captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy is located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo, and was part of a recent study by Hubble of nearby disk galaxies. So pretty.


Hayabusa1's Samples of Itokawa Turned up Water That's Very Similar to Earth's Oceans

We're all focused on Hayabusa2, but don't forget about Hayabusa1, which was able to bring a few grams of asteroid dust back to Earth after a difficult mission to Itokawa. After analyzing the spacerock, researchers have found evidence of water on the asteroid, and even better, it's similar in chemistry to the Earth's oceans. This could help explain where the Earth got its water.

Blue-green algae

Astronauts Could Rely on Algae as the Perfect Life Support Partner

When astronauts return to deep space, we'll need to master long term life support, recycling our water and air. One interesting partner in this journey might be a type of microalgae called Chlorella vulgaris. It has a photosynthesis efficiency of up to 10 times greater than plants here on Earth, which means that it could remove carbon dioxide quickly. Oh, and it's edible. Yum?


Habitability of Planets Will Depend on Their Interiors

We talk about the habitable zone as the region where liquid water can be present on a planet. But of course, this is just one aspect of a planet that encourages habitability. What's inside a planet matters too. The Earth's plate tectonics, magnetic field and many other factors determine how easy it should be for life to get a foothold.

Black hole simulation

The Black Hole Picture Could Be So Much Better If You Add Space Telescopes

Last month's image of the supermassive black hole in M87 was pretty great, but it took a telescope the size of planet Earth to create. What if you could do better? What if you could use a telescope even bigger than the Earth? Astronomers have simulated what the Event Horizon Telescope might see if it had space telescopes at its disposal as well.


Prototype of a Future Interstellar Probe was Just Tested on a Balloon

Breakthrough Starshot is the revolutionary idea of blasting tiny probes with lasers to push them towards other stars. A team of researchers in California recently tested out a prototype of this idea by lofting a tiny spacecraft to high altitude on board a weather balloon. This "wafercraft" explored how small you can miniaturize all the parts of a satellite and still have it be functional.

Space debris

Before We Ruin the Universe, We Should Follow Some Space Sustainability Guidelines

Right now there are about 20,000 objects orbiting the Earth larger than 10 cm across. Some are operational satellites, but the vast majority are space junk. Leftover boosters, astronaut gloves and dead satellites that will orbit the Earth for years to come. Mission planners have come together to work on sustainability guidelines that will ensure that future missions don't add to the amount of junk out there.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday

Rosette nebula

As everyone knows, the Rosette Nebula is probably my favorite object in the night sky. It's a massive nebula that has this beautiful flower-like shape and it was captured here beautifully by @galaxy_sundowner

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 170,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.


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