Friday, February 1, 2019

🚀 The High Resolution Photo of MU69 We've Been Waiting For, Ancient Earth Rock Found on the Moon, Why Sent an Interstellar Probe? And More...


One of the Oldest Earth Rocks Turned up on the Moon, of all Places

When the astronauts of Apollo 14 explored the surface of the Moon, their goal was to bring back more lunar rocks than any previous mission. They accomplished this, but little did they realize that one of the rocks they brought back to Earth might have actually started out on Earth.

A tiny sample of a Moon rock contained a piece of material that could only have formed about 4.1 billion years ago, when the Earth was just starting to cool down to the point that rocks could actually form. A massive asteroid impact carved out the rock and flung it into space where it landed on the Moon.

This is important because we don't have any rocks this old on Earth, and don't know very much about the Earth's early history, shortly after its formation.

We need to go back and collect more samples.

Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Constant Acceleration For Artificial Gravity? And More... Featuring Astroathens

In this week's Questions Show, I wonder if there's a way ion engines can give us artificial gravity, if electromagnetic rail guns can launch space craft, and should we be worried about returning alien pathogens back to Earth?

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A Planetary Nebula Like This Will Only be Visible for About 10,000 Years Before it Fades Away

Planetary nebulae are some of the most beautiful objects you can look at with a telescope. They have nothing to do with planets, however, they're actually the gas and dust blasted out into space when a star like our Sun dies after billions of years. And it turns out, this amazing show only lasts for a relatively brief moment compared to the long history of the star.


Here it is, the High Resolution Photo of MU69 We've all Been Waiting for

It's been almost a month since New Horizons made its close flyby of Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69. Those first low resolution images sent back gave us a glimpse at this fascinating object, but we wanted more. After weeks of gathering up the data trickled back from New Horizons, astronomers finally have enough to show us this incredible picture of this bizarre snowman (BB-8?).

Space coffee

This Company Wants to use Reentry Heating to Roast Coffee Beans

Not sure if I'm being trolled here, but sure, I'll bite. A company called "Space Roasters" has announced their plans to send coffee beans to space and then roast the beans on re-entry, creating a tasty cup of coffee. Eric Berger from Ars Technica has done the math and predicts they'll cost somewhere north of $500/cup. 

Lunar impact

Without the Impact that Formed the Moon, We Might Not Have Life on Earth

What did it take to get life started on Earth? You might want to include a catastrophic collision with a Mars-sized planet, throwing out enough debris to form the Moon. Scientists think that some of the chemicals needed for life could have rained back down to Earth from orbit after the collision that formed the Moon. 

The Sun

The Sun Every Day for 2018

Just in case you wanted to fondly remember the year that was, here's a photograph of the Sun, taken every day by the European Space Agency's Proba-2 spacecraft. You can see sunspot features moving across the Sun as it turns, and the most energetic day was February 7th, when a flare blasted out from the left-centre. 

Crew Dragon

Crew Dragon Rolls Out to the Launch Pad. Demo-1 Flight Should Happen Shortly

It's amazing to think that the United States hasn't had the ability to launch astronauts into space since 2011. But those days are almost over with the upcoming launches of SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner CST-100. An uncrewed test of Crew Dragon is in the works, and the rocket rolled out to the launch pad this week, in preparation for an initial test.

Uh oh, a Recent Study Suggests that Dark Energy's Strength is Increasing

Uh oh, a Recent Study Suggests that Dark Energy's Strength is Increasing

Has dark energy been constant since the beginning of the Universe? It's a good question, and a recent study of 1,600 quasars demonstrated that in fact, it looks like the force of dark energy has changed over time and is actually increasing. If confirmed, this could mean that in the far future, this force could be so strong that it tears apart galaxies, solar systems, planets, atoms and even black holes: the Big Rip.


Elon Musk's new Plan is to get to the Moon as Fast as Possible

This week, Elon Musk provided some new details about the Raptor engine that will power the new SpaceX Starship/Super Heavy. And in doing so, he mentioned that the goal now is to get to the Moon as soon as possible, developing a single engine that will work at liftoff, in the upper atmosphere and out in space. This should make things cheaper and quicker to build.


NASA used Curiosity's Sensors to Measure the Gravity of a Mountain on Mars

Some clever scientists at NASA figured out how to use the accelerometers and gyroscopes on the Mars Curiosity Rover to accurately measure the gravity coming from the nearby Aeolis Mons (aka Mt. Sharp). According to their measurements, the mountain's bedrock layers actually aren't as dense as they once believed.


Oumuamua Could be the Debris Cloud of a Disintegrated Interstellar Comet

Astronomers are continuing to disagree on the nature of the interstellar interloper Oumuamua. Comet? Asteroid? Interstellar spacecraft? A new study proposes that it might actually be a debris cloud from an interstellar comet that was torn apart as it approached the Sun. Astronomers watched the wreckage as it sped away from the Solar System, giving off the appearance of an elongated solid rock.

Deep Field

Astronomers Process Hubble's Deepest Image to get Even More Data, and Show that Some Galaxies are Twice as big as Previously Believed

One of the most dramatic photographs of space is the Hubble Deep Field, a time when the Hubble Space Telescope stared and stared and stared into a seemingly empty spot in space, proving that it also is full of galaxies. And now it turns out that it saw even more galaxies than astronomers originally believed, thanks to new data processing techniques.

Interstellar Probe

What Would be the Benefits of an Interstellar Probe?

We've barely explored a fraction of the Solar System, but already scientists are starting to put together plans for exploring other star systems with interstellar probes. What kinds of scientific questions could we ask by sending a spacecraft to another star system? What would be the benefits, and would they be worth the enormous costs?

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday

The Moon

This has got to be one of the most stunning photographs I've ever seen of the Moon. Wow. It was taken by @richadddisastro, and shows that even the Moon we're so familiar can still surprise us with its beauty.

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 153,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.


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