NASA’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) and Aerojet Rocketdyne thruster successfully completed its first full-power test. It’s designed to be used by NASA’s Gateway lunar orbital outpost and on manned / unmanned deep-space missions, since the AEPS Hall thruster can run stably at power levels ranging from 4.2 kW to 12.5 kW. This is going to be a key component of the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) module of Gateway, drawing 25 kW from the roll-out solar array (ROSA) assembly, which generates up to 60 kW. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 space probe is headed back to Earth with samples from asteroid 162173 Ryugu, which is located approximately 180-million miles away. There’s just one more thing, it will capture pictures of the half-mile-wide asteroid as it fades into the blackness of space, and then the probe’s field of view will turn back toward Earth for the return journey. Read more for a video and additional information.
If you’re unfamiliar with the transit of Mercury, this phenomenon takes place when the planet Mercury passes directly between the Sun and a superior planet, becoming visible against the solar disk. When this happens, Mercury appears as a tiny black dot moving across the disk of the Sun. The closest planet to the sun began its transit today at 7:35 a.m. EST and will continue its journey for approximately 5.5 hours. Read more for a livestream video and additional information.
NASA’s X-57 Maxwell is essentially an experimental aircraft designed to demonstrate technology to reduce fuel use, emissions, and noise. It’s based on a twin-engined Tecnam P2006T (conventional light aircraft with four-seats), but with distributed electric propulsion (DEP) wings, each containing electrically driven propellers. Read more for a video and additional information.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, which will eventually be used to transport astronauts into space, completed a key pad abort test on Monday when it soared for almost a mile before parachuting back into the New Mexico desert. There were no astronauts were onboard, but the abort system will provide a quick escape for three astronauts if there’s an emergency on the Florida pad or in flight. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Voyager 2 probe that blasted off from Earth on August 20, 1977 has become the second man-made object to exit the Solar System. It has transmitted signals from the edge of our solar system, which according to scientists, mean that it has entered interstellar space. The probe blasted off from Earth 16 days before its twin spacecraft, Voyager 1, but entered the interstellar medium six years later due to its slower trajectory, crossing the outer edge of the Sun’s protective bubble, known as the heliopause, on November 5, 2018. Read more for a video and additional information.
A super-Neptune is basically a planet that is more massive than the planet Neptune, and are generally around 5–7 times as large as Earth. One of these massive planets was discovered by astronomers using the Italian Telescopio Nazionale Galileo and the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer on the Keck Telescope in the Gliese 15 binary system, which is located 11.6 light-years from Earth. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is still investigating Central Butte, or to be more specific a little further up the side of the butte, and the goal is to characterize the different units that can be observed. The Geology (GEO) theme group planned both contact science and remote imaging science, while the team investigates contacts (i.e. boundaries) between what appear to be different units of bedrock here. Read more for a video and additional information.
Many already know that total solar eclipses are a rare sight at any particular location because totality exists only along a narrow path on the Earth’s surface traced by the Moon’s full shadow or umbra, but what if you were to view this phenomenon in space? Well, until space tourism becomes common, not many will get the pleasure of doing so, that is unless…you have access to a high-altitude weather balloon. Read more for a video and additional information.
Photo credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and M. Durbin (University of Washington)
Even though Halloween may be over for 2019, there are still several gems hidden in NASA’s Hubble archives, including this ghostly face that was formed by two galaxies. If you look closely, a pair of glowing eyes glares menacingly can be observed, but what you’re actually looking at is a massive head-on collision between two galaxies. Read more for a video and additional information.