A trio of small robots call Astrobees will soon be assisting space travelers aboard the International Space Station. The first two have already arrived at the space station, and another will soon join the pair. Known as Honey, Queen, and Bumble, these robotic bees will record experiments, gather supplies, and track inventory as they float around the space station. This will free human researchers of mundane tasks, allowing them to concentrate on experiments.Read More You Know What this Space Station Needs? Bees!
Jerrie Cobb, a pioneer in the quest for women in space, has passed away at the age of 88. Born in 1931, she first flew an aircraft at age 12, and earned her pilot’s license at 16. Cobb was a member of the Mercury 13, a group of women who underwent all the same testing as the men of the Mercury Seven, but never saw spaceflight, due to their gender. Cobb was the author of two books about her life, and was the subject of an off-Broadway play.Read More Celebrating Jerrie Cobb, Pioneer for Women in Space
Mice aboard the International Space Station have not only adapted to the microgravity environment, but they have invented a new game to play. Led by the young females, these mice started chasing each other around the walls and ceiling of their enclosure, a feat not possible on Earth. Researchers dubbed the behavior racetracking. NASA is studying mice in space, since the animals are similar to humans in behavior and physiology.Read More Mice in Space Invent New Game and it’s Adorable
Seas on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, have disappeared, prompting astronomers to question why three bodies of liquid once seen by the Cassini spacecraft could have left that world. The seas are composed of liquid methane and ethane, and they were first seen by the Cassini spacecraft. When the orbiter returned for a second view, they were gone. When the seas were discovered, it was winter in the northern hemisphere of Titan, and they were gone in summer, prompting astronomers to speculate the seas may have been lost to evaporation and soaking into the surface of that world. Titan is the only body in the Solar System, other than the Earth, known to possess liquid seas at its surface.Read More Phantom Lakes Found on Titan Pose a Deep Question
Jupiter likely formed in the outer reaches of the Solar System, and migrated inward to its current position billions of years ago, according to new computer simulations from Lund University in Sweden. Two groups of asteroids, called Trojans, follow the giant planet in its journey around the Sun. The distribution of these bodies can only be explained if Jupiter was once four times more distant from the Sun than it is today, researchers discovered. In 2021, NASA will launch the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids, in order to learn more about the ancient Solar System.Read More Are you Trying to Suggest that Jupiter Migrates?
The spacecraft OSIRIS-REx has reveled a wealth of new information about Bennu, a large, ancient asteroid. On March 19th, researchers released a wide range of scientific papers, providing a new look at this diamond-shaped body. New data shows Bennu is covered in massive boulders, which could hinder the spacecraft from gathering materials from the surface. Researchers have also spotted evidence water once existed on the body from which Bennu broke free. Gravity on the asteroid was also found to act in a strange manner, causing anything just outside its equator to be pulled toward the center of the asteroid, and shot into space.Read More OSIRIS-REx Reveals Secrets of Bennu — The Doomed Asteroid
The Kuiper Belt contains few small bodies, according to a new report from the Southwest Research Institute. This collection of rocks and ice surrounds our planetary system like a massive doughnut, larger than the orbit of Neptune. Photographs taken of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, show few craters, suggesting that the Kuiper Belt, in which Pluto resides, contains few small objects, less than a mile in diameter. Researchers are uncertain why the grouping contains so few small bodies.Read More The Big Mystery of the Kuiper Belt — a Lack of Small Objects
Most dinosaurs were wiped out 66 million years ago, but scientists are still trying to piece together exactly what caused their demise. An asteroid, at least as large as Mount Everest, struck the Earth at that time, likely leading to the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs. However, new research suggests that volcanic activity at Deccan Traps in India may have doomed the animals before the asteroid struck off the coast of Mexico. A series of four massive pulses of eruptions there released enough lava to build a ring one mile thick and five miles across that would encircle the globe. These events also released vast quantities of poisonous gas into the atmosphere, and created extreme global warming, raising temperatures worldwide. This climate change may have weakened the line of dinosaurs so much, they were unable to withstand the additional climate change which happened once the asteroid hit the Earth.Read More Did Global Warming Kill off the Dinosaurs?
The Moon was once thought to be completely dry and barren. In recent years, however, a number of spacecraft have revealed evidence for water ice in craters near the lunar poles. Most astronomers believed this ice was placed there through collisions with water-rich comets. A new study from NASA now shows that the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun, can interact with materials on the lunar surface, producing water. Supplies of water will be essential for the human exploration of the solar system.Read More Water Could Form on the Surface of the Moon, Thanks to the Solar Wind
The Opportunity rover on Mars has now been declared dead, the victim of a massive sandstorm which covered the planet in June 2018. The final image ever taken by the Opportunity rover on the Red Planet highlights the moment the spacecraft fell silent. The top of the image shows a darkened sky from the massive sand storm last June, and the bottom becomes completely dark, as the vehicle lost power forever. NASA officials tried for months to revive the rover, without success.Read More Saying Goodbye to Opportunity — Here’s the Last Image