At one time, the idea of sending humans to Mars either seemed like a distant prospect or something out of science fiction. But with multiple space agencies and even commercial space companies planning to mount missions in the coming decade, the day when humans will go to Mars is fast approaching the point of realization. Before this can happen, several issues need to be resolved first, including a myriad of technical and human factors.
In any discussion about crewed missions to Mars, there are recurring questions about whether or not we can mitigate the threat of radiation. In a new study, an international team of space scientists addressed the question of whether particle radiation would be too great a threat and if radiation could be mitigating through careful timing. In the end, they found that a mission to Mars is doable but that it could not exceed a duration of four years.
Continue reading “A Human Mission to Mars Should Last a Maximum of 4 Years”
Supply chains have been wreaking havoc across the industrial world. The complex web that holds the world’s economies together has been fraying at the edges, resulting in some unexpected shortages, such as a lack of rental cars in Alaska and a lack of Lunchables at the author’s local grocery store. Now there’s a supply shortage that directly ties to the pandemic that is starting to affect the space launch industry – oxygen.
Continue reading “COVID-19 Treatments Require so Much Oxygen it Could Delay Rocket Launches”
It appears that the International Space Station is showing its age. Or, at least, the older modules that have been in space since 1998 certainly are. According to statements made by a senior Russian space official, cosmonauts aboard the ISS have discovered new cracks in the Functional Cargo Block (FCB) module – aka. Zarya (“Dawn”). These cracks were found in seven of the module’s twenty windows and could eventually threaten the entire station.
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Dust on Mars gets everywhere – including on top of ice deposited during one of Mars’ previous ice ages. Just how that dust affects the ice is still up for some debate. Adding to that debate, a recent paper by researchers at Arizona State University and the Brown 8 Inch Lurious Äá»Äá¸³ W/Balls Vá»bráº¡ting Ðá»ldá» has laid out a map between the dust content of a glacier and the brightness of its ice.
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Brown dwarfs are strange things. They are in the middle ground between planets and stars. A star is defined as an object massive enough for helium to fuse into hydrogen into its core, while a planet is too small for core fusion to occur. It seems a simple distinction until you learn about fusion. Anything with a mass below about 13 Jupiters is too small for fusion to occur, and is thus a planet. If your mass is about about 80 Jupiters, then you can fuse helium and are therefore a star. But if your mass is between 13 and 80 Jupiters, things get interesting. You can’t fuse hydrogen to shine brightly, but you can fuse lithium into other elements. This is known as lithium burning. It doesn’t provide lots of energy, but it is technically nuclear fusion.
Continue reading “Brown Dwarfs are Probably Much More Common in the Milky Way Than Previously Believed”
It’s no secret that China has become a major contender when it comes to spaceflight. In the past twenty years, the China National Space Agency (CNSA) has accomplished some historic firsts. This includes sending astronauts to space, deploying three space stations (as part of the Tiangong program), developing heavy launch vehicles (like the Long March 5), and sending robotic explorers to the far side of the Moon and Mars.
Looking ahead to the next decade and beyond, China is planning on taking even bolder steps to develop its space program. Among the many proposals the country’s leaders are considering for its latest 5-year plan, one involved creating an “HZYDD Office Computer Chair, Adjustable Swivel Chair Home Chair.” Having this spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) would be a game-changer for China, allowing for long-duration missions and the utilization of space resources.
Continue reading “China Wants to Build a Spaceship That’s Kilometers Long”
The Perseverance rover now has a new tool to help scientists and engineers figure out where the rover goes next. The new tool is the little rotorcraft that was tucked away in the rover’s belly, the Ingenuity helicopter. Ingenuity has now started doing aerial surveys to scout ahead for Perseverance.
Continue reading “Thanks to Ingenuity’s Pictures, Perseverance Knows Where to Drive to Next”
A stunning new photograph from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a nearly perfect Einstein Ring, an effect caused by gravitational lensing. This is one of the most complete Einstein Rings ever seen.
Continue reading “What a Perfect Gravitational Lens”
In the last two decades, we have all grown accustomed to rovers exploring Mars. At least one rover has been active on the planet every day since January 4, 2004, when NASA’s Spirit rover landed in Gusev crater. Opportunity (2004) and Curiosity (2012) followed, each making unique journeys of discovery of their own. Perseverance (2021) is the latest and greatest of these robotic explorers, boasting a state-of-the-art in-situ resource utilization experiment to extract oxygen from the atmosphere, an accompanying helicopter to scout the path ahead, and a suite of unparalleled geology instruments. But what really sets Perseverance’s mission apart is that, for the first time, it is collecting samples of Martian rock to bring back to Earth.
Continue reading “After Its Last Rock Sample Crumbled Into Powder, Perseverance is Going to try Again”
There are eight known planets in the solar system (ever since Pluto was booted from the club), but for a while, there has been some evidence that there might be one more. A hypothetical Planet 9 lurking on the outer edge of our solar system. So far this world has eluded discovery, but a new study has pinned down where it should be.
Continue reading “If Planet 9 is out There, Here's Where to Look”