October 18, 2018

    SpaceX launched its most secretive satellite ‘ZUMA’ from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
    SpaceX launched its most secretive satellite ‘ZUMA’ from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

    Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the ZUMA satellite for the US government from NASA’s Kennedy Space center in its most secretive mission till date.  SpaceX has previously completed launches for the Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office before but this was the first time that the government agency which awarded the contract was not known.  The launch of ‘ZUMA’ makes way for SpaceX to concentrate its resources on testing the Flacon Heavy Rocket system which is nothing but three Falcon 9 rockets put together to create a launch system with twice the current power.  However, Elon Musk isn’t as confident that the heavy launch will go as smoothly as the ‘ZUMA’.

    Read the full story: https://www.cnet.com/news/

    First Space Nation - Asgardia - has all its territory in space - image source: NASA
    First Space Nation - Asgardia - has all its territory in space - image source: NASA

    Though not being technically a nation, Space Kingdom of Asgardia which is a non-profit NGO based in Austria and financed by Russian billionaire Igor Ashurbeyli launched a satellite into the earth's orbit. This satellite has a storage capacity of 0.5 TB contains the Constitution of Asgardia and also documents and images submitted by the 'citizens' of Asgardia. This is an ongoing effort which began last year to digitize and then eventually store human knowledge in outer space.

    Read the full story: https://motherboard.vice.com/

    Robots exploring the surface of Saturn, artist representation © NASA
    Robots exploring the surface of Saturn, artist representation  - space news
    NASA announced the selection of two targets for future billion-dollar missions: Titan (Saturn’s largest moon) and the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The first mission - Dragonfly - will send a flying robot to explore sites on the surface of Titan, which features rivers and lakes filled with methane. The second mission – CAESAR – aims to capture and bring back to Earth a piece of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. 

    The missions are scheduled in 2034 for Dragonfly and 2038 for CAESAR. They are part of NASA’s New Frontiers program with a budget of over $900 million. Previous missions from this program are currently exploring Pluto, Jupiter and other objects from our solar system.

    Read the full story: www,sciencebriefss.com

    Source: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-invests-in-concept-development-for-missions-to-comet-saturn-moon-titan/

    Rocky surfaces on planet Mars. Space news
    Rocky surfaces on planet Mars. Space news
    Rocky surfaces on planet Mars. © NASA

    It is estimated that almost half of Mars's northern hemisphere was once covered by a huge ocean. So, where did all the water go? A new study from Oxford University claims that basal rocks on Mars can hold up to 25% more water than similar rock from Earth, thus they may have sucked the water from the surface towards the inside of the planet.

    The same thing probably happened on Earth, in its infancy. But, when Earth became super hot the water-filled rocks melted releasing the water back, a phenomenon that did not occur on Mars. This suggests that the lost water of Mars is, at least in part, trapped in rocks now located deep inside the mantle of the planet.

    Source: http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Thirsty_rocks_may_contain_the_missing_water_of_Mars_999.html

    Scientific publication : https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25031

    Astronomers would be checking Oumuamua asteroid for alien evidence
    Astronomers would be checking Oumuamua asteroid for alien evidence. Space science news
    Oumuamua, an oblong cigar shaped asteroid is present in our solar system and cruising along. This provides a unique opportunity for scientists to use the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to check if this body has any evidence that it might be sending signals to potential aliens. However, they do not expect to truly find any signs of alien life, but this does provide an opportunity to evaluate the presence of water or ice on Oumuamua.

    Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/

    Planet Pluto is colder than cold
    Planet Pluto is colder than cold - space science news
    The extremely low temperature of Pluto’s atmosphere, 30 degrees colder than is estimated from its distance to the sun, might be caused by a thick haze 200 km above the surface of the planet. The haze is formed higher in Pluto’s atmosphere through the influence of the sun on nitrogen and methane gases, resulting in the formation of long hydrocarbon particles. Researchers seek to confirm these findings, reported by a team from the University of California in Santa Cruz, with the aid of a new NASA telescope that will be launched in 2019.

    Read the full story: http://www.nature.com/news/hazy-skies-cool-down-pluto-1.22996

    Scientific publication: http://www.nature.com/articles/nature24465

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