Weekly space news recap: China’s plans for lunar minerals, India’s reusable rocket and more
As NASA began work to replace the failed hydrogen seal on the Artemis 1 mission’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, ISRO announced that it would work to design and build a launch vehicle. reusable for the global market. Find out all the interesting space news that happened in the past week in our weekly space news recap.
Frank Drake, leader of the search for extraterrestrial life, has died
Frank Drake first pointed a telescope at a pair of stars in hopes of finding an alien civilization in 1960. Since then he has been a leader in the search for intelligent life on other planets. The New York Times reports that Drake died at his home in California on September 2 at the age of 92.
In the early years of the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, Drake was sure that humans would come into contact with extraterrestrial intelligence in his own lifetime. But since then, he’s acknowledged that he might not live to see that happen, since we’ve barely scratched the surface of the mysteries our universe has to offer.
His illustrious list of accomplishments includes the development of the Drake Equation, which continues to be used to estimate the number of advanced civilizations in the galaxy. The equation takes into account seven factors. Some of them are quite empirical, like the rate at which stars are born in the Milky Way, while others are more likely to be educated guesses at best, like the average lifespan of a technological civilization. .
India to design and build reusable rocket for global market: ISRO
ISRO President S Somanath said India plans to design and build a new reusable rocket for the global market during a speech at the Bengaluru Space Expo. Somanath said this is aimed at significantly reducing the cost of launching satellites.
“So the idea is that the next rocket that we are going to build after GSLV Mk III should be a reusable rocket. We will have to have retro-propulsion to land it (return-to-earth rocket),” Somanath said, according to a report from PTI Somanath claimed that this idea cannot be ISRO’s alone, stressing that the new rocket will have to be reusable in partnership with industry, startups and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.
“So it’s a big change from what we’re doing today,” he said. “I would like to see this (proposal) take shape in the next few months.” “We would like to see such a rocket, a rocket that will be competitive enough, a rocket that will be cost conscious, production friendly, that will be built in India but operated globally for space sector services. This should happen in the next few years so that we can withdraw all those operating launchers (in India) at the appropriate time,” he added, according to the report.
NASA replaces faulty seal
NASA says it replaced the faulty seal that caused the hydrogen leak during the Artemis 1 mission‘s second launch attempt. Next, technicians will reconnect the umbilical plates and perform inspections before preparing for a tanking demonstration that could take place from September 17. During this demonstration, engineers will verify new seals under cryogenic conditions.
NASA teams will practice loading liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the rocket’s core stage and into the cryogenic propulsion middle stage. They will then confirm if the leak has been repaired and will also perform a start-up purge test and a pre-pressurization test which will validate the systems on the ground and in flight.
Webb captures a near-perfect ‘Einstein ring’
The James Webb Space Telescope captured this image of an Einstein ring. This phenomenon is created when light from a galaxy, star, or other light-emitting cosmic object passes close to a massive object before reaching the observer, which in this case is the Webb telescope. .
When light passes through the distorted spacetime caused by a massive object, it causes “gravitational lensing”, where the light is deflected. Sometimes when the source, gravitational lens, and viewing element are all perfectly aligned, the light appears as a ring. In this image, the light comes from the distant galaxy SPT-S J041839-4751.8. The galaxy lies approximately 12 billion light-years from our planet, which also means that it is one of the oldest galaxies in the universe.
Hubble captures two ‘overlapping’ galaxies
This image of two seemingly overlapping spiral galaxies was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The two galaxies in the image are called SDSS J115331 and LEDA 2073461 and they lie over a billion light-years from Earth. Although it looks like the two galaxies are colliding in the image, they don’t really interact at all and just appear aligned from Hubble’s perspective.
This image was taken based on NASA’s Galaxy Zoo project highlights. Established in 2007, the project is a large citizen science project that collects galaxy classifications from thousands of volunteers. This project helps scientists sort through large amounts of data and allocate valuable telescope time based on the results.
The Sun in a new light
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) released this image of the Sun in exquisite detail. It was captured by the foundation’s new Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The image captures the Sun’s chromosphere, the second of the three main layers of the Sun’s atmosphere.
What looks like the threads of a shag carpet in the image is actually fiery plasma flowing through the star’s corona. The drops of material that can be seen are granules of about 1,600 kilometers. The image covers an area of over 82,500 kilometers of the Sun’s surface and has a resolution of approximately 18 kilometers, making it one of the highest definition images captured of the Sun.
Europe’s new satellite for faster severe weather warnings
Europe has unveiled the first of a €4 billion family of satellites designed to give earlier warning of extreme weather conditions that have wreaked havoc around the world. The MTG-I1 satellite is the result of 12 years for the European Space Agency and the 30 EUMETSAT nations. It will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket by the end of this year.
The 3.8-tonne satellite will be joined in its geostationary orbit by three other MTG-I1 imaging satellites and two MTG-S “sounding” satellites that would “cut through the atmosphere” like a medical scanner. All four satellites are expected to be operational by 2030.
China Discovers New Moon Mineral, Plans More Moon Missions
China said it discovered a new lunar mineral called Changesite-(Y) via samples recovered by its Chang’e-5 mission. Shortly after, Bloomberg reported that the China National Space Administration, the country’s equivalent of NASA, had received approval to send three orbiters to the moon as part of the Chang’e lunar program.
China has stepped up its space ambitions in recent years. Besides sending probes to the Moon and building its own space station, the country has also set its sights on Mars, with projects that put it in direct competition with the United States. Space mining could be the next source of tension, with both countries eyeing minerals from the Moon.
US FCC cracks down on space debris
Reuters reports that the US Federal Communications Commission said it will vote this month on new rules to address the risk of orbital debris growth. The agency currently recommends operators of satellites in low Earth orbit to ensure that their spacecraft will re-enter our planet’s atmosphere within 25 years of mission completion.
The new rules would be an update to its 2004 regulations and reduce the time required for post-mission satellite disposal. These regulations will apply to US-licensed satellites as well as non-US satellites seeking access to the US market.