Friday, February 15, 2019

🚀 Opportunity is Gone, Kepler's Final Photo, Sell Your Home and Move to Mars, and More...


Opportunity Explored Mars for 15 Years. And Now It's Gone

Well, it's official, NASA's Opportunity Rover is gone. That amazing rover that helped us discover evidence of past water on the surface of Mars hasn't responded to any of NASA's attempts to connect. 

The last time we heard from Opportunity was June, 2018, when a powerful global dust storm was bearing down on the rover, darkening the skies above its solar panels, and lowering the temperatures it needed to operate. Opportunity had weathered dust storms like this before, but its aging power system just couldn't keep up with the strength and severity of the dust storm. 

And so, it's time to say goodbye, and thanks. And thanks also to its twin rover Spirit. Both of which went way way beyond the original 90 Martian day mission length, telling us more about the surface and history of Mars than we ever could have hoped for.

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.

Join our Patreon campaign

Patrons, don't forget to login to Universe Today. That'll remove all the ads for you. Join the 809 Patrons who get our videos early, see behind the scenes, and get no ads on Universe Today.

Jason Wright

Jason Wright and the Search for Technosignatures

In this week's live QA, I spend an hour talking to Dr. Jason Wright, an exoplanet researcher with Penn State University. It was an absolutely fascinating conversation, talking about the state of the search for extraterrestrials, and the methods we might use in the future to expand the search. Even if you don't normally watch these, I highly recommend you give this one a watch, it was excellent.

Subscribe to our podcasts:
Universe Today Guide to Space Video: iTunes - RSS
Universe Today Guide to Space Audio: iTunes - RSS
Astronomy Cast: iTunes - RSS
Weekly Space Hangout: iTunes - RSS


Kepler Image

This is Kepler's Final Image

We've talked about how NASA's Kepler Spacecraft has been running out of fuel, but it's time to confront the terrible truth. Kepler is dead, it found its last planet and now it's gone forever. And this beautiful starfield was Kepler's final image. How many planets are in there? How many left to discover? That'll be for future spacecraft.


New SpaceX Raptor Engine Beats the Chamber Pressure of Russia's RD-180 Engine, According to Elon Musk

When it comes to rocket engines, every little bit counts. And it looks like SpaceX has passed a technological milestone with their methane-burning Raptor Engine, generating more chamber pressure than Russia's mighty RD-180 engine. The development of a "full flow staged combustion" engine was long considered practically impossible, and yet, we've now seen multiple tests of this engine in short enough timeframes to show that it's ready for the next round of tests.


Thanks to Gaia, We Now Know Exactly When We'll be Colliding with Andromeda

You're probably aware that we're on a collision course with Andromeda, and can expect to smash into the mighty galaxy in the next few billion years. Well, thanks to ESA's Gaia spacecraft, we now know that you can put 4.5 billion years from now into your calendar. Which actually gives us an extra 600 million years or so to enjoy the single galaxy life, before we merge with Andromeda into a giant elliptical galaxy.


New Horizons Took This Shot of MU69 as it Sped Away from its Encounter

Now that New Horizons' flyby of Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 is over, we're still learning interesting stuff about the world as data trickles back. In fact, it's not snowman-shaped as astronomers originally thought, but more like two pancakes welded together. Such a strange place, and many more secrets will be revealed in the coming months as the data slowly makes its way back home.

James Webb

James Webb Passes its Latest Shake Test. Now we Know it can Handle a Rocket Launch

I'm always joking about the ever delayed James Webb, but it looks like the next generation space telescope just passed an important milestone on its way to its 2021 launch. It was just put on a brutal shake table, to test how well it would deal with the vibration and environmental conditions on its trip to space. It passed, so far, so good.

Lunar base

Here's a Clever idea. Build Moon Bases in Craters and then Fill them in with Lunar Regolith

If and when humans decide it's time to build permanent bases on the Moon, there's a pretty clever plan that'll help them get a better start. Use the craters that already dot the Moon as a place to build a shelter. Then backfill the crater with lunar regolith to provide insulating material around the base structure. There are enough craters on the Moon that we should be able to find ones which are the perfect size for us to use.


InSight has Placed its Heat Probe on the Martian Surface. The Next Step is to Jackhammer Down 5 Meters and Hope it Doesn't Encounter a Large Rock

NASA's InSight Lander is continuing to prepare itself for its upcoming science mission. This week the lander used its robot arm to gently place its heat probe on the surface of Mars. The next step is for the probe to smash its way down through the regolith to a depth of 5 meters. If it encounters any large rocks as it's descending, it'll make accurate temperature readings more difficult.


NASA has Chosen a New Mission to Learn how our Early Universe Evolved

This week NASA announced a new mission that will be flying in 2023 called the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx... phew. This telescope will gather data on 300 million galaxies across the Universe to understand its early evolution as well as 100 million stars in the Milky Way to help astronomers understand star formation.


Hubble Shows off the Atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune

Until we get a mission back to Uranus and Neptune, we're going to have to make do with these photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope. In fact, Hubble observes these planets once a year or so, revealing details in their atmospheres. You can see the long-lived storm at Uranus' north pole, as well as the large storms at Neptune. Seriously, though, it's time to go back.


Another Enormous Crater Found Under the Ice in Greenland

Remember last year when geologists found a huge asteroid impact crater under the ice in Greenland? Well, they've done it again, and this new crater is even bigger. Measuring 35.4 km across, this impact is the 22nd largest asteroid impact ever found on Earth, and it's thought that it happened about 79,000 years ago.

Dragon Capsule

Want to Move to Mars? A Round-Trip Ticket Will Only Cost $100,000 According to Elon Musk

Thinking of moving to Mars? According to Elon Musk, that trip to the Red Planet might be surprisingly affordable, similar to the cost of a home. According to Musk, the price of a return ticket to Mars will come down to $500,000 and eventually $100,000 with a large amount of people heading to Mars. People could sell their home and move to Mars if they wanted.


There's Evidence that Mars is Still Volcanically Active

Mars is much smaller and less massive than Earth, and planetary geologists had assumed that it was pretty much dead, volcanically speaking. But new evidence points to the possibility that the Red Planet still has regions of active volcanism, In fact, magma beneath the surface of Mars could be keeping reservoirs of water liquid when it should have frozen a long time ago.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


Have you ever seen an aurora? When the activity is extreme, the skyshow above your head is absolutely mindblowing. This wonderful picture from @starphotography.ig really captures the dynamic and stunning atmospheric event.

We have featured nearly 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 156,000 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.


This email was sent to znamenski.generalastronomy@blogger.com
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Universe Today · 1505 Osprey Place · Courtenay, BC V9N 7Y1 · Canada