Friday, January 11, 2019

🚀 China's Rover on the Far Side of the Moon, SpaceX Starhopper Coming Together, Lunar Eclipse Guide, and More...


Join Our All-Stars Party in Joshua Tree, June 2019

We had a great time doing Astrotours in 2018, with our trips to Iceland and the Caribbean Cruise.

This year we've got a brand new trip planned, to Joshua Tree, California. Except, we won't be traveling anywhere, we'll be setting up awesome telescopes and showing you the wonders of the night sky.

A whole bunch of your favorite space people will be there, including me, Paul Sutter, my co-host Dr. Pamela Gay from Astronomy Cast, Skylias and John Michael Godier.

The event will be held at the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa from June 26th to 30th.

During the days we'll be exploring the desert, giving talks and teaching you how to use your astronomy gear. And at night we'll set up some amazing telescopes provided by Oceanside Photo and Telescope to show you as many objects as we can find: nebulae, star clusters and galaxies will all be visible as well as several planets.

If you're interested, click this link to find more more on the Astrotours website. We'll need your reservation before the beginning of March. 

See you there!

Fraser Cain
Universe Today

As always, if you have comments or questions, or suggestions on how I can improve this newsletter, please don't hesitate to reply this email or email me at info@universetoday.com.

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Project Dragonfly. A Laser-Powered Probe to Alpha Centauri

The distances between stars are so vast, it's hard to wrap your mind around it. Even our far flung Voyagers have barely reached interstellar space, and would take tens of thousands of years to get to even the nearest star.

But scientists and engineers are considering what it would actually take to send a spacecraft to another star. It's called Project Dragonfly, and would use existing or near future technologies to send a 3,000 kg spacecraft to Alpha Centauri within 100 years. 

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China's Yutu-2 Rover is on the Move on the Far Side of the Moon

China completed a historic feat last week by landing its Chang'e-4 lander onto the far side of the Moon. And this week, its Yutu-2 rover rolled off the lander and out onto the lunar surface. In addition to the lander and rover, the mission is equipped with three scientific instruments design to measure the radiation environment around the rover as well as reflected solar wind ions. If all goes well, the rover will be the first to ever see the permanently shadowed deposits of water ice in the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Asteroid impact

The Asteroid that Killed the Dinosaurs Sent a Mile-High Tsunami Around the World

65 million years ago, a deadly asteroid crashed into the Earth and caused one of the most dramatic extinction events in our planet's history. It was the rock that killed off the dinosaurs. According to new research, one of the terrifying effects from the impact was a mile-high tsunami that sped out across the world's oceans, devastating coastlines around the world.

SpaceX Starhopper

SpaceX "Starhopper" is Coming Together, With 3 Raptor Engines on the Bottom

Progress continues on SpaceX's new Starship prototype - the "Starhopper". This four-engined rocket will perform short hop tests within the next couple of months to test out some of the new technologies, such as the methane/LOX raptor engines and stainless steel shell. Construction of the prototype is coming together quickly, so I recommend you check out the article to see all the updates.


Still no Word from Opportunity

I know you're hoping for good news, but I'm sorry, it's still all bad news. NASA still hasn't heard any signal from the Opportunity Rover since it was hit by a massive global dust storm on Mars. The last time the rover checked in was in June, 2018, just as the huge storm was bearing down. Since then, mission control has been trying to check in with the rover through its Deep Space Network, but no luck. And things are critical now as winter is approaching, where temperatures will dip down so low the rover doesn't stand a chance.

Mr. Steven

Mr. Steven ALMOST Catches a Fairing

Click this link and watch a video of SpaceX's Mr. Steven chase down the launch fairing from a recent rocket launch. Even with the boat's much larger net, the fairing still slipped out of its grasp, but just barely this time. I suspect it'll get even better for future launches. Each one of these fairings are worth millions of dollars, so it's valuable to try and recover them.


Check out this Amazing Picture of the Triangulum Galaxy by Hubble.

Gaze in wonder at this stunning picture of the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. This is one of the closer, brighter galaxies in the sky, so Hubble actually had to make dozens of separate exposures, and the final image measures 34,372 x 19,345 pixels. You can see star forming nebulae, globular clusters, and so... many... stars.

SETI Institute

SETI Institute launches Technosearch

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (or SETI) has been going on since 1960, with hundreds of various studies and research papers on the topic. The SETI Institute has gathered together these papers into a single searchable database called Technosearch. You can find papers on Radio SETI, Optical SETI, or comb through mountains of archival data. So get in there and find those aliens.

Red dwarf

Bad News. Planets Orbiting Red Dwarfs Might not have the Raw Materials for Life

You've probably heard about all the amazing planets found in the habitable zones of red dwarf stars. Maybe there's life there? New research says, probably not, since the rarer elements needed for life might not be abundant enough around these kinds of stars. Astronomers have detected blobs of material getting quickly pushed out of a young red dwarf star system, showing how they push away material like a snowplow.

Lunar eclipse

Our Complete Guide to the January 21st Total Lunar Eclipse

On January 21, 2019 the Americas are going to get a lunar eclipse. Africa will see the eclipse early in the morning as the Moon is going down, and Hawaii and the Western Pacific will see the eclipse ending just as the Moon is rising. But for North and South America, it'll be perfectly positioned for the evening. Want to know where, when and how to see the eclipse? Check out our comprehensive guide.

Space Station

Extreme Bacteria on the Space Station are Evolving to Handle the Harsh Conditions, not to Make Astronauts Sick

NASA has been studying both the astronauts on board the International Space Station as well as the microscopic organisms they carry on their bodies. And they've found that the bacteria on the station are mutating quickly to adapt to the harsher environment of spaceflight. Fortunately, they don't seem to be adapting to cause disease, which is good news for our future space travelers.



It Looks Like Dark Matter Can be Heated Up and Moved Around

Mysterious dark matter got its name because it doesn't seem to interact with regular matter in any way, but in theory, it should move and clump depending on the gravitational interaction with regular matter. And in the right situations, you should be able to detect these motions. Astronomers studying dwarf galaxies found an unusual situation where recent star formation seemed to influence the amount of dark matter in the region.


Interstellar Objects like Oumuamua Probably Crash into the Sun Every 30 Years or so and 2 Pass Within the Orbit of Mercury

We've pretty much missed our chance to study the interstellar asteroid Oumuamua. It's on its way out of the Solar System now, headed back into interstellar space. But it turns out objects like this probably crash into the Sun on a regular basis, and a few every decade pass within the orbit of Mercury, which means that we should get ready for the next one to arrive so we can study it more closely.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday

One of the best reasons to travel to Iceland is to see the insanely bright auroras they get. This photograph was captured by @serenavsworld on December 28th over Dimmuborgir.

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 150,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.


Our book!

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.

Get it on Amazon for only $18.89. Here are some other options.


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