Saturday, March 17, 2018

China Launches Its Latest Land Surveying Satellite into Space

Long March 2D launches LKW-4 into space on March 17, 2018. Credit: Xinhua/Wang Jiangbo

A Long March 2D rocket took to the skies on Saturday, March 17, sending China’s Land Surveying Satellite-4 into orbit. The booster blasted off at 7:10 GMT (2:10 a.m. EST) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) in China’s Gansu Province.

Space Radiation: More Hazardous Than We Thought

Artist’s rendition of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon. The CRaTER telescope is seen pointing out at the bottom right center of the LRO spacecraft. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab.

It might sound like something from a science fiction plot — astronauts traveling into deep space being bombarded by cosmic rays — but radiation exposure is science fact. As future missions look to travel back to the moon or even to Mars, new research from UNH’s Space Science Center cautions that the exposure to radiation is much higher than previously thought and could have serious implications for both astronauts and satellite technology.

Friday, March 16, 2018

University of Houston Scientists Investigating Mysterious Dark Matter

DarkSide-50 time projection chamber interior at Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy Photo courtesy: DarkSide Collaboration

University of Houston scientists are helping to develop a technology that could hold the key to unraveling one of the great mysteries of science: what constitutes dark matter? Scientists believe dark matter makes up 85 percent of the matter in the universe, but nobody actually knows what dark matter is.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Asteroid Discovered Few Days Ago to Whiz by Earth on Friday

A newly detected asteroid, designated 2018 EB4, is expected to pass by Earth on Friday, March 16 at around 5:59 UTC. The space rock will fly by our planet at a distance of about 1.5 lunar distances (LD), or 576,000 kilometers, with a relative velocity of 12.9 km/s.

Dawn Spacecraft Reveals Recent Changes in Ceres' Surface

This view from NASA's Dawn mission shows where ice has been detected in the northern wall of Ceres' Juling Crater, which is in almost permanent shadow. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF

Observations of Ceres have detected recent variations in its surface, revealing that the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system is a dynamic body that continues to evolve and change. NASA's Dawn mission has found recently exposed deposits that give us new information on the materials in the crust and how they are changing, according to two papers published March 14 in Science Advances that document the new findings.

New Horizons Chooses Nickname for 'Ultimate' Flyby Target

Artist's impression of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that orbits one billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019. With public input, the team has selected the nickname "Ultima Thule" for the object, which will be the most primitive and most distant world ever explored by spacecraft. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/SwRI/Steve Gribben

As NASA's New Horizons mission continues exploring the unknown, the mission team has selected a highly appropriate nickname for its next flyby target in the outer reaches of the solar system. With substantial public input, the team has chosen "Ultima Thule" (pronounced ultima thoo-lee") for the Kuiper Belt object the New Horizons spacecraft will explore on Jan. 1, 2019. Officially known as 2014 MU69, the object, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto, will be the most primitive world ever observed by spacecraft – in the farthest planetary encounter in history.

Next NASA Mars Rover Reaches Key Manufacturing Milestone

A technician works on the descent stage for NASA's Mars 2020 mission inside JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility. Mars 2020 is slated to carry NASA's next Mars rover to the Red Planet in July of 2020. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Mars 2020 mission has begun the assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase of its development, on track for a July 2020 launch to Mars. The first planned ATLO activities will involve electrical integration of flight hardware into the mission's descent stage. The Mars 2020 rover, as well as its cruise stage, aeroshell and descent stage -- a rocket-powered "sky crane" that will lower the rover to the planet's surface -- will undergo final assembly at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility High Bay 1 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.