Friday, September 3, 2021

🚀 September 3, 2021: It's Time for a Lander on Mercury, Hunting Planet 9, Chinese Super Space Ship And More...

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It's Time to Send a Lander to Mercury

Space agencies have sent landers to many places across the Solar System, from the Moon to planets to asteroids. But one underexplored world is Mercury. There have been a few flybys and even an orbiter, but nothing has ever set foot on the surface of Mercury. That's a shame. Maybe now is the time for a lander mission to Mercury.

A recent study from John Hopkins University suggested that a lander could set down on Mercury and survive through the planet's 3-month nighttime when the temperatures aren't blisteringly hot. The lander would help learn more about the chemistry and mineralogy, measure its magnetic field, and study its regolith and exosphere.

It's time to land on Mercury.

Read the full story by Andy Tomaswick


Fraser Cain
Universe Today

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After Its Last Rock Sample Crumbled Into Powder, Perseverance is Going to try Again

Perseverance did everything right. It found a good rock to test and drilled into it to take a core sample. But when scientists examined the rover's sample container, it was empty. The rock sample had crumbled into powder and slipped through its robotic fingers. Not to be dissuaded, Perseverance took another crack at it this week, and it looks like the second time was more successful, with an actually solid chunk of rock dropping into its titanium sample tube.

Read the full story by Scott Alan Johnston

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Thanks to Ingenuity's Pictures, Perseverance Knows Where to Drive to Next

With its test flights out of the way, NASA's Ingenuity helicopter is becoming a serious asset to Perseverance's mission. During a recent flight, Ingenuity was able to scout out the landscape ahead of Perseverance, returning detailed images to scientists on Earth. It was able to show interesting sedimentary layers that could be investigated, as well as sandy areas that could be difficult to navigate through. Its 12th flight was also its longest, remaining in the air for 169.5 seconds and traveling to several waypoints.

Read the full story by Nancy Atkinson

China Wants to Build a Spaceship That's Kilometers Long

China now has a space station, robotic missions to the Moon and Mars, and it's working on a human mission to the Moon. They're getting ambitious. In its latest 5-year plan, China outlined a proposal to build an "ultra-large spacecraft spanning kilometers," something that would be 10x larger than the International Space Station. Although there are no specific details released, it would be an enormous undertaking, costing hundreds of billions of dollars and taking hundreds of rocket launches.

Read the full story by Matt Williams

Brown Dwarfs are Probably Much More Common in the Milky Way Than Previously Believed

Brown dwarfs are a class of objects in between stars and planets. They're made of the same hydrogen and helium as stars, but they don't have enough mass to ignite hydrogen fusion in their cores. They're cooler and dimmer than stars, which makes them harder to find. Astronomers recently discovered a brown dwarf by accident, which didn't have the same infrared spectrum as astronomers were expecting. This could mean that brown dwarfs are actually much more common in the Milky Way than previously believed.

Read the full story by Brian Koberlein

Dusty Snow on Mars Could be Melting Just Below the Surface

We know that Mars is covered in dust, and we also know that it has water ice caps at its north and south poles. The question is, how does this dust interact with the water ice? A new paper suggests that a coating of dust can heat ice and make it melt. And because the water is covered in dust, it's less likely to evaporate into the atmosphere and be blown away into space. There could be an underground hydrological cycle based on dust and ice.

Read the full story by Andy Tomaswick

Cosmonauts Find Cracks in the Aging Zarya ISS Module

There's no denying that the International Space Station is starting to show its age, especially the older modules. Russian cosmonauts recently reported that cracks are forming in one of the oldest modules, Zarya, launched in 1998. According to Russia, these cracks are going to get worse and could eventually threaten the entire station. This isn't the only maintenance issue; there's been an air pressure drop in the Zvezda module as well.

Read the full story by Matt Williams

COVID-19 Treatments Require so Much Oxygen it Could Delay Rocket Launches

Thanks to COVID-19, the world's supply chains are all snarled up. One bizarre impact is in Florida, where hospitalizations for COVID are causing a high demand for liquid oxygen. The same oxygen that rockets use for propellant. The shortage has gotten so bad that SpaceX is anticipating launch delays for upcoming rockets, both in Florida and California. SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell recently asked conference attendees at a recent event if anyone had any liquid oxygen to spare.

Read the full story by Andy Tomaswick

A Human Mission to Mars Should Last a Maximum of 4 Years

Sending humans to Mars is a logical next step in our exploration of the Solar System. The problem is that any journey to and from Mars will take years, with many months completely exposed to the harsh radiation of deep space. According to a new study, the longest an astronaut crew should take to make the journey is 4 years. Although the astronauts would get significant radiation exposure, it's still within the limits of a human's lifetime exposure risk.

Read the full story by Matt Williams

Review: Unistellar's New EQuinox Telescope

Unistellar has released a new robotic telescope called the eQuinox. Our resident amateur astronomy columnist Dave Dickinson takes a look at this innovative telescope and even takes many pictures with it. Are the days of standing out in the cold trying to polar align a telescope finally over?

Read the full story by David Dickinson

If Planet 9 is out There, Here's Where to Look

Several years ago, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin calculated that there should be a large planet in the outer Solar System affecting other worlds with its gravity. So far, nobody's been able to find it, but space is really big, so that's not a huge surprise. In a new paper, Brown and Batygin have calculated a new orbit for Planet 9, helping to narrow down the search space. New observatories coming online in the next few years should be able to find it... if it's there.

Read the full story by Brian Koberlein

Other Interesting Space Stuff

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Here's the View out the Window of China's Tiangong Station

Taikonauts onboard the Chinese Tiangong Space Station have a beautiful view out the window. The Chinese Space Agency recently released a series of images captured by Tang Hongbo showing both inside and outside views.

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