Friday, August 30, 2019

🚀 Starship Hopper Leaps 150 Meters! Planets More Habitable Than Earth? Colonizing the Moon, Bizarre 3D Printed Telescope and More...



SpaceX Starship Hopper Prototype Makes its Highest Hop Test So Far!

Hi, Vasiliy.

Who knew a water tower could fly? Apparently Elon Musk had his suspicions.

The big news this week, of course, was the test on Tuesday, August 26th of SpaceX's Starship prototype, which we've been calling the Starhopper.

The untethered prototype blasted off from its launch pad in Boca Chica Texas, reached an altitude of 150 meters, flew sideways, and then landed safely. Watch the video of the test and you'll see the single methane-burning raptor engine gimbal around to keep the spacecraft oriented, and even rotate a little before setting down again.

Now SpaceX is working on the next orbital-class prototypes, Starship Mk1 and Mk2, which are being completed at Boca Chica as well as Cape Canaveral, and could be attempting much more significant hops in the next few months.

Stay tuned, you're watching history unfold.


Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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Archinaut One

A Spacecraft Is Going To Assemble Its Own Solar Panels In Space: Archinaut One


As I've mentioned in several episodes now, humanity is in a bit of a transition period, a time when it makes sense to launch material up and out of Earth's gravity well into orbit, and beyond. But it's really expensive, costing up to $10,000 per pound you want in orbit, and 10 times if you want it on the Moon. 

But over the coming decades, more and more of our space-based infrastructure will be built in space, manufactured out of materials that were mined in space.

The only thing that'll actually need to leave the Earth's clingy gravity well will be us, the humans, the tourists, wanting to visit all that space infrastructure. 

Of course, in order to achieve that space future, engineers and mission planners will need to design and construct the technology that will make this possible. 

That means testing out new prototypes, technologies and methodologies for mining and space-based manufacturing.

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Lunar impact

By Continuously Watching the Moon, we Could Detect Interstellar Meteorites

Okay, here's a cool idea. Remember the interstellar comet/asteroid Oumuamua? How could we find other interstellar objects passing through the Solar System? According to researchers from Harvard, we could set up a satellite that orbits the Moon, continuously watching the surface for meteorite strikes. An interstellar impact would give off a different signature than a meteorite strike from a Solar System object, allowing astronomers to catalog just how many of them pass through the Solar System every year.

30 Meter Telescope

The Thirty Meter Telescope will probably be just as effective in Spain instead of Hawaii

I'm sure you've heard about the controversy and protests attempting to block the construction of the 30-Meter Telescope on Hawaii. Although Hawaii is one of the best places in the world for astronomy, the alternate site at the Canary Islands, Spain almost as good, with high altitude and clear skies. Astronomers are confident they could get the science done, and there's no opposition in Spain to the megatelescope.


There Could be Planets Out There Which are Even More Habitable than Earth

The Earth is great, it's also conveniently located underneath our feet. But could you have a world that's even more habitable, with greater biodiversity? According to simulations, Earth might actually rotate a little too quickly. A more slowly rotating planet might have better ocean circulation patterns to support more abundant and active life than Earth.

The Moon

Chandrayaan2 is now Mapping the Surface of the Moon

Now in lunar orbit, India's Chandrayaan 2 mission is starting to perform the science it was sent to do: to map out the surface of the Moon, and help choose a landing site for its Vikram lander. If all goes well, it'll make a landing attempt on September 7th, deploying a tiny rover which will spend a single lunar day exploring a region around the Moon's southern pole.


Colonize the Moon

How Do We Colonize the Moon?

The Moon is the closest place to the Earth, and yet we've only taken a few tentative steps onto its surface. What will it actually take to build a more permanent settlement on the Moon? What are the challenges humanity will face, and what new technologies will we need to develop to be able to live there permanently?



Asteroid Ryugu is a "Fragile Rubble Pile"

JAXA's Hayabusa 2 has seriously studied asteroid Ryugu, and sent back detailed images of its surface. Now planetary scientists are starting to learn what small asteroids like this are really made of. The images returned from the MASCOT rover show that it's really just a rubble pile, with very little cohesion. It's only a little more dense than water ice, which means that it probably has open spaces inside. Future asteroid miners will really be more like asteroid "diggers" or "scoopers".

Mars Sample Return

Bringing Mars To Earth. The Plans For a Mars Sample Return Mission

We've flown past, orbited, landed and roved on Mars. The next step is to bring a sample home. In this article (video), I lay out why a Mars Sample Return mission will be so valuable to scientists on Earth, and how a mission might actually work. We could see something fly in the next couple of years (unless the Starship gets constructed and brings samples home on the boots of Mars tourists).


Even Though it Hasn't Launched Yet, JUICE Took its First Images of Jupiter and its Moons

ESA's next mission to giant Jupiter will be the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (or JUICE). This spacecraft will visit Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, studying these unique ice-covered worlds orbiting Jupiter. Engineers at ESA tested out the spacecraft's imaging system, taking a picture of Jupiter and its moons while it was still down here on Earth. Don't worry, the pictures will be much better when it's half a billion kilometers closer to the target.

Sky Drifter

A 3D Printed Telescope: The Analog Sky Drifter

Amateur astronomers have been building their own telescopes for decades (even centuries), but new technologies have arrived that could make the whole process a lot easier. Robert Asumendi has developed a binocular telescope made of 3D printed parks - and it looks nothing like any other telescope you've seen before.

Exoplanetary Io

Another Io? Astronomers Suspect they've seen a Volcanic Moon Orbiting an Exoplanet

Jupiter's moon Io is the most volcanically active place in the Solar System, of course, the Universe is a big place, so there must be other volcanic moons out there. And now astronomers think they've found one orbiting a planet 550 light-years away. They're seeing the telltale signs of sodium gas in the environment around the planet, which is likely produced by volcanoes, and not the star's solar wind.


Now Elon Musk wants to build something even bigger than Starship?!

In an offhand tweet this week, Elon Musk mentioned that he's hoping to build an even bigger spacecraft than the SpaceX Starship, something with a diameter of 18 meters - that's twice the size! It's hard to imagine something that big getting off the ground, of course, we don't have any actual details. But it's fun to speculate about a rocket that's hundreds of meters high.


Black holes

Black Hole Collisions Detected Just Minutes Apart

Astronomers working with the LIGO/Virgo instruments detected a black hole merger, and then just 21 minutes later, they detected another blast of gravitational waves from the same region. Uh... what just happened? Was it a triple merger? Or were the gravitational waves somehow lensed by gravity so they detected an echo? Astronomers are still trying to figure it out.

Other Interesting Space Stuff

Amazing Astrophotography on @universetoday


Sometimes it's hard to know exactly what you're looking at in a widefield image of the sky. In this photograph, @astrophotoross has given us a handy guide of all the deep sky objects located in the region around the Orion Nebula, including the Horsehead Nebula.

We have featured over 1,000 astrophotographers on our Instagram page, which has more than 184,000 followers. Want to do a takeover? Use the hashtag #universetoday and I'll check out your photos.

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