NASA’s Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to enter interstellar space after crossing the heliosphere’s boundary on August 25, 2012, and since then, it has transmitted back some fascinating data, including a faint, monotone plasma hum. More specifically, this is the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas, and will allow scientists to better understand how the interstellar medium interacts with the solar wind. Read more for two videos and additional information.
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has already spent 5-years in space, and it has started its journey back to Earth with samples asteroid Bennu. At approximately 4:23 p.m. EDT on May 10, 2021, OSIRIS-REx fired its main engines full throttle for seven minutes, thrusting the spacecraft away from the asteroid at 600 miles per hour for a 2.5-year cruise towards Earth. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Photo credit: Kavli IPMU/Aya Tsuboi
Researchers, led by Northwestern University, used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to examine a large star 2.5-years before it exploded into a supernova. At the end of their lives, cool, yellow stars are normally shrouded in hydrogen, thus concealing its hot, blue interior. However, this one, located 35 million light years from Earth in the Virgo galaxy cluster, was missing the crucial hydrogen layer at the time of its explosion. Read more for a video showing what a supernova might look like if one exploded close to Earth and additional information.
Space debris from China’s Long March 5B rocket has landed near the Maldives in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, with the bulk of its components disintegrating upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The coordinates of longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north places the point of impact in the ocean, west of the Maldives archipelago. Astrophysicist Jonathon McDowell predicted that the potential debris zone could have been anywhere from New York, Madrid or Beijing to southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand. Read more for some live coverage and additional information.
Ever wonder how a spacecraft on another planet sounds? You’re in luck, NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used one of its two microphones to record the sounds of the Ingenuity helicopter as it flew for the fourth time on April 30, 2021. Perseverance was parked approximately 262-feet from the helicopter’s takeoff and landing spot, but despite the helicopter’s blades spinning at 2,537 rpm, the sound is muffled by the thin Martian atmosphere. Read more for the video and additional information.
When NASA’s Parker Solar Probe briefly swung by Venus, it detected a natural radio signal that revealed the spacecraft had flown through the planet’s upper atmosphere, which marks the first direct measurement of the Venusian atmosphere in nearly 30 years. Unlike Earth, Venus lacks a magnetic field, and its surface is hot enough to melt lead. There have been a spacecraft that have landed, but all only survived a couple hours at most. Read more for a video and additional information.
To close out May 4, 2021, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured what appears to be a cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see in the center of the image, a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space. What may surprise you is that his celestial lightsaber is actually located in the Milky Way Galaxy, inside a turbulent Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away. Read more for a video and additional information.
The incredible-looking “Necklace Nebula” is located approximately 15,000 light-years away from Earth in the small, dim constellation of Sagitta (the Arrow) and caused by the interaction of two dying stars that formed a spectacular ring surrounded by bright clumps of gas. Technically speaking, this pair of tightly orbiting Sun-like stars created the Necklace Nebula (PN G054.203.4) when one of the aging stars expanded and engulfed its smaller companion, creating a “common envelope,” roughly 10,000 years ago. Read more for a video on the necklace nebula and additional information.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope provides astronomers with a rare look at a Jupiter-sized, still-forming planet that feeds off material surrounding a young star. Named PDS 70b, this giant exoplanet orbits the orange dwarf star PDS 70, which already has two actively forming planets inside a huge disk of dust and gas encircling the star. This system is located 370 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. Read more for a video and additional information.
China has successfully launched the first core module of its first permanent space station that will host astronauts long term and join the ISS when complete. Called Tianhe (Heavenly Harmony), this module was sent into space on a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan. It marks the beginning of the first of 11 missions to complete, supply and crew the station by the end of 2022. Read more for two videos and additional information.