CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has selected SpaceX to deliver the first two segments of the moon-orbiting Gateway space station for its upcoming Artemis program, which aims to put astronauts back on the moon. The elements will launch atop a Falcon Heavy rocket, sometime in 2024.
The flight, which is the second to be awarded to SpaceX this week (the first was a contract worth $98.8 million to launch NASA’s SPHEREx astrophysics mission) will carry the Gateway’s power and habitation modules. Launching from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the mission will cost NASA $331.8 million and is scheduled to blast off no earlier than May 2024.
Once deposited in lunar orbit, the Gateway will serve as an outpost for astronauts and equipment heading to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Roughly one-sixth the size of the International Space Station, the Gateway will support research investigations, crew, and expeditions to the lunar surface.
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The outpost will serve as a docking station for visiting spacecraft, such as NASA’s Orion spacecraft and will orbit the moon, tens of thousands of miles away. It will be a pit stop on the way to the lunar surface. NASA recently paused its search for a human landing system, which will transport astronauts from the gateway down to the surface of the moon. The agency is expected to resume reviewing those bids soon.
The pair of modules SpaceX will ferry into space are the power and propulsion element (PPE) and the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO), which are being built by Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman Space Systems, respectively.
The PPE will provide the Gateway with power, enabling communications as well as helping the station move to various lunar orbits, while HALO will give astronauts a place to stay on their way to the moon. Astronauts traveling to the moon will launch aboard crew-toting capsules, like Orion, and HALO will provide docking support for those vehicles.
The European Space Agency will be providing the service module for the Gateway, which includes key life support elements, including consumables like oxygen and water, as well as electricity and temperature controls. That hardware is scheduled to launch on NASA’s second planned flight of its new megarocket, the Space Launch System (SLS). That mission, called Artemis 2, will be the first crewed mission of the Artemis program. It is scheduled to launch four astronauts on a loop around the moon in 2023, in preparation for a 2024 moon landing with the Artemis 3 mission. The first SLS flight, scheduled to launch in late 2021, will be an uncrewed test flight around the moon.
Officials at ESA have said that the life support systems on the Gateway will be able to host visiting astronauts for up to 90 days at a time. NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas will manage the Gateway program, while the agency’s Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy Space Center will manage the launch.
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Organic matter was discovered on an asteroid – The Saxon
In both interesting and important news in the field of space research, researchers have just discovered water and organic matter in a sample of an asteroid in our solar system. The asteroid in question is called Itokawa and the sample, which is actually a single grain, was taken during the first Hayabusa mission carried out by Jaxa or Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in 2010.
According to the results, the water and organic matter detected did not come from outside but from the asteroid itself. Researchers at the University of London’s Royal Holloway thus suggest that the space object evolved over a period of billions of years by incorporating water and organic matter in the same way it did. is happening on Earth. According to scientists, the asteroid went through phases of extreme heat, dehydration, but also phases where it broke. He was, however, able to reform and rehydrate using the materials he was able to collect.
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It is known that this study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also shows that S-type asteroids, that is, those which are most common among those that come to Earth, may contain the primordial components of life. According to specialists, this could change everything we know about the history of life on Earth. Indeed, research has so far focused on type C asteroids.
The Hayabusa mission
According to the explanation of Dr Queenie Chan of the Department of Earth Sciences at the Royal Holloway, the Hayabusa mission was a robotic mission developed by JAXA. Its goal was to bring back samples from a small asteroid close to Earth called Itokawa in order to analyze them in laboratories on Earth.
Dr Chan said that the in-depth study of the sample, dubbed “Amazon”, showed the preservation of primitive organic matter, that is to say that was not heated, but also of organic matter. having been heated, in a space measuring 10 micrometers in length. The part that has been heated indicates that the asteroid has been exposed to a temperature above 600 ° C in the past. But the presence of primitive organic matter nearby shows that it arrived on the surface of Itokawa after the space object cooled.
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A basis for future research
Compared to these results, Dr Chen said these were very interesting since they reveal the most intricate details in the history of an asteroid. These results also show that the evolution of the asteroid is very similar to that of the prebiotic Earth.
Scientists hope that these first results will serve as a basis for the analysis of other samples. The Haybusa 2 mission has just brought back samples of another asteroid named Ryugu last year. We can thus hope for other equally important discoveries in the weeks or months to come.
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A large asteroid known as Apophis zipped silently past the Earth – SlashGear
On Friday, a large asteroid roughly the size of the Eiffel Tower zipped past the Earth. The asteroid posed no hazard to the Earth on this flyby as it was more than 40 times as far away from Earth as the moon. However, on April 13, 2029, Apophis will get much closer to the Earth.
Scientists considered this week’s flyby a dress rehearsal for 2029, when Apophis will get incredibly close to the Earth. That year, Apophis will get closer to the Earth than some of the highest-orbit satellites surrounding the planet. The asteroid measures 1120 feet wide and is made of rock, iron, and nickel.
Scientists believe it’s shaped roughly like a peanut and its near pass by the Earth on Friday gave them a closer opportunity to inspect the asteroid. Apophis was too far away to be seen by the naked eye so scientists used the NASA Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to image the asteroid it flew by.
The planetary radar study was meant to give researchers a baseline for the significantly closer flyby in 2029. Apophis is expected to get as close as 19,800 miles to Earth on its next pass. Scientists say that Apophis has a very complicated spin state that sees the asteroid spinning and tumbling simultaneously.
Interestingly, during its closest approach in 2029, Apophis will be briefly visible by the naked eye over Western Australia. In that area, the asteroid will be as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper. Its closest pass to Earth will happen at 6 PM EDT on April 13, 2029. It won’t hit the Earth in 2029 or on its next pass in 2036. However, there is a slight chance the asteroid hit the Earth in 2068.
This hot super-Earth has temperatures of 800°F and rivers of glowing lava – Digital Trends
No day or night, heat intense enough to melt lead, and glowing rivers of lava: This hellish landscape is a typical day on Gliese 486b, a recently discovered exoplanet orbiting the nearby star Gliese 486. The planet is rocky and around three times the mass of Earth, making it a type called a super-Earth. But it is so hot that the conditions there are quite different from what we’re used to.
The planet is so close to its star that a year there lasts only 1.5 Earth days. Though the star is fainter and cooler than our sun, the planet orbits just 1.5 million miles away and it is tidally locked, meaning one side of the planet always faces the star. This drives temperatures up even higher, reaching a surface temperature of 700 Kelvin (800 degrees Fahrenheit).
The researchers who made the discovery believe this means the planet would appear more like Venus than like Earth, with a hot and dry landscape and rivers of glowing lava. There is probably little atmosphere there, as the heat from the star would act to evaporate it away, but the planet’s gravity likely helps it to retain some atmosphere.
The potential existence of a thin but present atmosphere makes this planet an excellent candidate for research as it allows scientists to test their theories on atmospheric models for rocky planets. “The discovery of Gliese 486b was a stroke of luck,” said José A. Caballero of the Centro de Astrobiología in Spain, co-author of the paper, in a statement. “A hundred degrees hotter and the planet’s entire surface would be lava. Its atmosphere would consist of vaporized rocks. On the other hand, if Gliese 486b were a hundred degrees colder, it would have been unsuitable for follow-up observations.”
The researchers now want to use upcoming next-generation telescopes to study the planet further and to try to peer into its atmosphere to see its composition. “The proximity of this exoplanet is exciting because it will be possible to study it in more detail with powerful telescopes such as the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope and the future Extremely Large Telescopes,” said lead author Trifon Trifonov of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.
“We can hardly wait for the new telescopes to become available. The results will help us to understand how well rocky planets can hold their atmospheres, what they are made of, and how they influence the energy distribution on the planets.”
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