Friday, July 5, 2019

🚀 NASA Looks at Nuclear Rockets Again, Orion Capsule Abort Test, Incredible Image of Jupiter



On the Road...

Hi, Vasiliy.

We had a great time at the All Stars Party in Palm Springs. Two nights of perfectly clear skies, and then two night of clouds. But those clear nights... wow, it's not often you see the Milky Way so clear. Where all the stars are so bright and clear that you can't tell which ones make up the constellations. 

I'm now on the road, driving back from southern California to Vancouver Island. I should get home early next week. 

Just to give you a little taste of the star party, here's a link to conversation I had with John Michael Godier and Skylias about (what else?) the Fermi Paradox.

I'll also put the audio into my podcast if you'd prefer that method instead.


Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Nuclear rockets

Earth To Mars In 100 Days? The Power Of Nuclear Rockets


The Solar System is a really big place, and it takes forever to travel from world to world with traditional chemical rockets. But one technique, developed back in the 1960s might provide a way to dramatically shorten our travel times: nuclear rockets.

Of course, launching a rocket powered by radioactive material has its own risks as well. Should we attempt it?

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Your weekly facts-based journey through the cosmos, which I co-host with astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay. We have episodes on every concept in space and astronomy, from black holes to the history of astronomy.

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A weekly round-up of all the breaking space news. Rocket launches, new discoveries from Hubble, and planetary science by three PhD astronomers... and me.


The Latest Insanely Beautiful Image of Jupiter Captured by Juno

NASA's Juno spacecraft has been taking some amazing pictures of Jupiter, but I think this has got to be the best yet. The underlying data was captured during Juno's 20th orbit of Jupiter, which happened on May 29, 2019. Kevin Gill processed the raw data into this amazing picture that you're looking at.

Fast radio burst

A Fast Radio Burst has Finally Been Traced Back to its Source: the Outskirts of a Galaxy 4 Billion Light-Years Away

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) have become one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy. These brief flashes of radio emissions have been appearing randomly across the sky, rarely repeating. A team of Australian astronomers have finally traced one of these blasts back to their source, a galaxy located about 4 billion light-years away.


Meet the Comet Interceptor. It'll Wait Patiently In Space for a Comet, Then Pounce On It

The European Space Agency announced an upcoming mission that will attempt to intercept a long period comet, or maybe even an interstellar object, like Oumuamua. The mission is called the Comet Interceptor, and it'll launch in 2028 as a rideshare with ESA's ARIEL telescope. It'll fly to the L2 Lagrange point and then wait for the right comet to fly out and intercept.


NASA is Going Back to Saturn's Moon Titan, this Time With a Nuclear Battery-Powered Quadcopter

Last year NASA announced two missions it was considering: a sample return mission from a comet or a nuclear battery-powered quadcopter to Saturn's moon Titan. NASA made its choice; Dragonfly is going to be flying to Titan. Because of the dense atmosphere and lower gravity, Titan is the perfect world to explore by air.


A Reality Check on the Artemis Mission

NASA just successfully tested its Orion Capsule abort system, bringing humans one step closer to returning to the Moon by 2024. It's been three months since Vice President Mike Pence announced that NASA is taking humans back to the Moon. What progress has been made? Is it still a realistic goal?


Orion launch

NASA Tests the Abort System for the Orion Capsule

On Tuesday, NASA tested out the abort system of the Orion Capsule, demonstrating that the capsule is capable of outrunning the rocket that's carrying it to space, if necessary. The capsule was launched atop a modified Peacekeeper missile. At about 10 km altitude, Orion fired its thrusters, carrying it away from the rocket, demonstrating that crewed missions will have a way to escape a disaster.

Eta Carinae

Hubble has a Brand New Picture of the Massive Star Eta Carinae. It Could Detonate as a Supernova Any Day Now

Of all the massive stars astronomers are keeping their eyes on, Eta Carinae is the one most likely to detonate as a supernovae, any day now. And the Hubble Space Telescope just gave astronomers a new look at this monster star, and the waves of material that it's already ejected into space. When it does explode, it'll be so bright you can see it in the daytime..


NASA's Still Trying to Get InSight's Mole Working Again. Progress is Slow

Although NASA's InSight Mission landed successfully on the surface of Mars many months ago, there's one experiment that mission controllers just can't get working: its temperature probe. InSight was supposed to have jackhammered the probe several meters down, but it looks like it's struck a rock. So now engineers are trying everything they can think of to get the probe unstuck and digging again.


SpaceX has Lost Contact With 3 of its Starlink Satellites

SpaceX has confirmed that they're in direct contact with 57 of their recently launched Starlink internet satellites. Which means they've lost contact with 3 of them. While the rest of the satellites are using their ion thrusters to increase their orbit, these 3 will continue to lose altitude until they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.


Who Wants to be a Trillionaire? Mission to Psyche Could Uncover Tons of Precious Metals!

It's been said that the world's first trillionaires will be made when humanity starts to mine asteroids. That's because a single asteroid could contain more precious metals like iridium and gold than have ever been mined on Earth. NASA's upcoming Psyche mission is going to the asteroid of the same name, to see a world made entirely out of metal.

Book cover

"Eight Years to the Moon:" Read a Book Excerpt

It's hard to believe it's been almost 50 years since humans first set foot on the Moon. Our own Nancy Atkinson has written a book all about the historic Apollo Missions, and has made an excerpt of the book available to Universe Today readers. Enjoy!


Total Solar Eclipse Passes Right Over Observatories

Talk about luck. On July 2, 2019 a total solar eclipse passed over Chile and Argentina, providing a wonderful sky show to many people. The path of the eclipse also happened to go directly above the La Silla site of the European Southern Observatory, the home of some of the world's largest telescopes. You'd better believe they took some pictures.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


Astrophotographer @obi_juan_shinobi captured this image of the town Hamnøy, Lofoten, Norway.with the Northern Lights blazing overhead.

We have featured over 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 174,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.

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Find your way across the night sky. Choose a variety of astronomy gear. Follow the Moon and the planets. Find deep sky objects across the seasons in both hemispheres. Observe comets, asteroids, satellites and space stations. Learn to do astrophotography.

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