Friday, September 27, 2019

🚀 Starhopper Gets Fins, How Feasible is a Warp Drive? Was Venus Habitable? NASA Orders 6 Orion Capsules, and More...

 

Starhopper
 

We'll Learn More About Starhopper Tomorrow


We watched in awe as the first Starhopper prototype lifted off last month, flew to a height of 150 meters and then landed again using its methane-powered Raptor engine. 

Now SpaceX is building two bigger prototypes, to continue testing the technologies that will enable this fully reusable two-stage rocket. 

On Saturday, September 28th, Elon Musk is planning to make an announcement about the status of Starhopper and how the next set of tests are going to move forward. 

Next week, I'll tell you how it went. 

Thanks!
Fraser Cain
Publisher
Universe Today

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Superhabitable worlds
 

Better Than Earth? Are There Superhabitable Worlds In The Milky Way?


I've said many times in the past that the Earth is the best planet in the Universe. No matter where we go, we'll never find a planet that's a better home to Earth life than Earth. Of course, that's because we, and all other Earth life, evolved in this environment. Evolution adapted us to this planet, and it's unlikely we could ever find another planet this good for us.

However, is it the best planet? Are there places in the Universe which might have the conditions for more diversity of life?


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Starship
 

SpaceX Starship Gets Some Fins


Everything's better with fins, right? This week, the construction of the SpaceX Starship continued with the addition of two fins on the giant rocket's sides. According to Elon Musk via Twitter, these fins will provide stability during takeoff and landing of the rocket. This is different from the three fins that were in the original drawings, so you'll have to read the article and see what Musk is planning.
 

Warp drive
 

Just How Feasible is a Warp Drive?


We don't spend a lot of time at Universe Today thinking about warp drives. That's because it's science fiction right now, and we're focused on what's right around the corner. But a recent presentation by Joseph Agnew from the University of Alabama went into the details of what it might actually take to make faster than light travel a reality. Spoiler alert: it won't be easy.
 

Venus
 

Venus Could Have Supported Life for Billions of Years


Venus is terrible today, but it's been long assumed that the planet was more habitable in the ancient past and then a runaway greenhouse effect made the planet hellish. But a new simulation indicates that the planet might actually have been habitable for billions of years, and could even be habitable today if it wasn't for a cataclysmic event that completely resurfaced the planet, releasing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide.
 

Black hole safety
 

NASA's Guide To Black Hole Safety

 

This is adorable. NASA took some time out of their busy science schedule to create this cute video about black hole safety for tourists. Their preference is that you don't go; otherwise, you'll get turned into a noodle. But if you do want to go, here are some handy tips.

 


Mars
 

Planet Mars, From Pole to Pole


The European Space Agency released a beautiful picture of Mars this week, captured by the Mars Express Orbiter. It shows the planet from the northern polar region all the way down to the southern polar region. With its carbon dioxide ice caps, and heavily cratered surface in amazing detail. Seriously, check out the full picture and you'll be staring at it for hours.

 

Ryugu
 

Hayabusa 2 Has One Last Lander it's Going to Throw at Ryugu


JAXA's Hayabusa 2 has been working hard to study the surface of asteroid Ryugu, and it's deployed rovers, shot it with an antitank weapon, and even collected a sample from the surface. And last week it deployed the last landers - target markers - which landed on the surface of the asteroid to act as navigation aides as Hayabusa sets off for home again.
 

Asteroid near miss
 

This Summer's Asteroid Near-Miss Helped Greenlight NASA's NEOCam Mission to Search the Skies for Killer Spacerocks


In July 2019, a dangerous asteroid came uncomfortably close to Earth, slipping within 0.19 lunar distances. Its trajectory was in a blind spot that was very difficult for astronomers to detect. But there's a spacecraft that's been in the planning stages for a while to be able to detect these kinds of asteroids - NEOCam - and this event might be what finally gets Congress to approve its budget.
 


Orion
 

Lockheed Wins the Contract to Build Six More Orion Capsules


With the plans for Project Artemis moving ahead, NASA is going to need more Orion capsules to carry the astronauts to and from the Moon. This week NASA announced that they had selected Lockheed Martin to build 6 more Orions, with the possibility of 12 overall. Orion will be the spacecraft that'll take humans to the Moon by 2024 (in theory).
 

Saturn's rings
 

Take a 250,000 Kilometer-Long Tour of Saturn's Rings


We've seen Saturn's rings from many angles, but NASA's Cassini spacecraft studied the rings in great detail. And now you can take a 250,000-kilometer journey along the rings of Saturn, seeing all the strange bumps, gaps, moonlets and more. You really get a sense of what a strange place it must be out there.
 

Earth
 

Views of Earth From DSCOVR and EPIC


NASA's DSCOVR satellite has been hanging out at the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange Point for a few years now, capturing non-stop daytime images of Earth. Unfortunately, the spacecraft has been experiencing problems, but Scott Manley has stitched together some of its images into animations that show the Earth from this unique vantage point in space.
 



Rover
 

Shape-shifting Robots Like These Could Be Just What We Need to Explore Titan


Titan is a unique environment with a thick atmosphere, dunes made of frozen water, and seas of liquid methane. In order to navigate this place, a group of NASA researchers are working on a series of rovers that'll look very different from anything sent to Mars. Called the Shapeshifter, it's actually a collection of smaller bots that can work together or break apart to explore regions autonomously on Titan.

 

WFIRST
 

WFIRST Gets its Coronagraph, to Block the Light of Stars and Reveal Their Planets


After James Webb comes WFIRST, an infrared wide-field observatory with a Hubble-sized mirror. One of its tasks will be to find planets orbiting other stars and to do this, it's going to use a coronograph that perfectly blocks the light from the star, revealing the dimmer planets. This week engineers attached the coronograph to WFIRST, bringing it closer to its mid-2020s launch date.
 

Other Interesting Space Stuff

 

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


Eclipse

Viewers in South America were treated to a total solar eclipse on July 2, 2019. And @luis_astrofoto made the long journey to be there in person to watch this happen and experience one of the most incredible astronomical events.

We have featured over 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 187,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.
 


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Thursday, September 26, 2019

ESO — Enigmatic radio burst illuminates a galaxy’s tranquil ​halo — Science Release eso1915

ESO — Reaching New Heights in Astronomy
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European
Southern
Observatory
ESO News
26 September 2019

Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have for the first time observed that a fast radio burst passed through a galactic halo. Lasting less than a millisecond, this enigmatic blast of cosmic radio waves came through almost undisturbed, suggesting that the halo has surprisingly low density and weak magnetic field. This new technique could be used to explore the elusive halos of other galaxies.

The release, images and videos are available on:
https://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1915/

Kind regards,
The ESO Department of Communication
26 September 2019




  ESO Announcements


Winners of the 2019 European Union Contest for Young Scientists Announced

24 September 2019: The 2019 winners of the prestigious European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) have been announced. Since 1989 the EUCYS has aimed to promote cooperation and interchange between young scientists ...

Read more

A Dark Tour of the Universe — ESO Fellow Leads Astronomy Show for the Blind and Visually Impaired

13 September 2019: ESO Fellow Chris Harrison has led a project to design and produce an astronomical show aimed at people who are blind or visually impaired. A Dark Tour of the Universe ...

Read more

Winners of Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 announced

13 September 2019: The winners of Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 were announced at an award ceremony at the National Maritime Museum on 12 September 2019. The photographs will be showcased ...

Read more



  ESOblog


A date with a formidable science machine — An ESO Fellow on what it's like to use the Very Large Telescope to discover more about the Universe

Cyrielle Opitom

20 September 2019: ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) is the world's most advanced optical and infrared astronomical observatory and observes objects four billion times fainter than the naked eye can see. But what ...

Read more

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23 September 2019
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