CIMON Says “Sorry, I’m Just a Robot” as Artificial Intelligence Goes Bad Janet on ISS Crew

The International Space Station has a new flying robot named CIMON, controlled by artificial intelligence. However, testing of the machine did not go as planned, as CIMON refused to turn off music, saying it liked it, and the robot also accused ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst of being mean. The artificial intelligence is based on the same system known for winning the game show Jeopardy in 2011.

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OSIRIS-REx Arrives at the Asteroid Bennu – Tucson and the World Celebrates

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at the asteroid Bennu on December 3rd. This mission will return samples from this body to the Earth for study by researchers. Bennu was discovered in 1999, and this carbon-rich asteroid is believed to be older than the solar system. Researchers hope the mission will help teach us more about the ancient solar system and the formation of life on Earth. The sample material is scheduled to land in the desert of Utah in the year 2023. This is the first U.S. mission to land on an asteroid.

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InSight Lander Touches Down on Mars to Explore the Red Planet

The InSight Mars lander touched down on the surface of the Red Planet on Monday, November 23rd. This is the eight successful landing on Mars for NASA and the American space program. InSight lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 8th of this year. The lander is designed to study the interior of Mars, in an effort to learn more about all the rocky planets of our solar system, including Earth. Researchers hope the solar-powered spacecraft lasts at least one Martian year, or roughly two Earth years.

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Howdy Neighbor! Frozen Super-Earth Discovered Orbiting Bernard’s Star

A new exoplanet orbiting Bernard’s Star, just six light years from Earth, has been detected by astronomers. This frozen world orbits the cool red dwarf star at about the same distance as that which separates the Sun and Mercury. Life is unlikely to be found on the frigid surface, but the techniques used to discovery this world could allow astronomers to find a treasure trove of other worlds orbiting alien stars.

Read More Howdy Neighbor! Frozen Super-Earth Discovered Orbiting Bernard’s Star

Parker Solar Probe Flies Faster and Closer to the Sun than Any Previous Mission

The Parker Solar Probe became the fastest spacecraft in history on October 29, as it came closer to the Sun than any other vehicle. The spacecraft reached speeds of nearly 247,000 kilometers per hour, or more than 153,000 miles per hour, faster than any other man-made object. Parker also came within 42.7 million kilometers or 26.6 million miles, of our stellar companion. The spacecraft was launched on August 12th 2018.

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Hubble Space Telescope Shut Down Following Equipment Failure

The Hubble Space Telescope has been shut down temporarily following the failure of one gyroscope and unexpected behavior from a backup system. These units are used to properly orient the orbiting observatory to its desired target. NASA officials hope to get the system back online soon, restoring full capability to the 28-year-old telescope. If this proves impossible, the HST can operate in a limited capacity using only one of the remaining gyroscopes.

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Goblin the Dwarf Planet Discovered at the Edge of the Solar System

Astronomers have discovered a previously-unknown dwarf planet, nicknamed Goblin, orbiting beyond the orbit of Neptune. This tiny world takes 40,000 years to travel once around the Sun, and it never comes closer than 65 times the distance between the Earth and our parent star. Computer simulations show the orbit of this world may be influenced by a distant, larger body astronomers are dubbing Planet X.

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JAXA Lands Two Hopping Rovers on Asteroid – See the First Picture

The Japanese space agency JAXA has landed two small hopping rovers on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. These rovers are each seven inches in diameter, and will explore the asteroid by hopping around its surface. Each 50-foot hop will take 15 minutes to complete, due to the extremely weak gravity on the body. These will be followed by two other landers, and the orbiter itself will collect samples of Ryugu to return to Earth in 2020.

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Astronomers Find Mr. Spock’s Home World of Vulcan from Star Trek

Astronomers from the University of Florida announced they have found a new exoplanet much like the planet Vulcan from Star Trek. Strangely enough, the actual planet was found almost exactly where the science-fiction series placed it decades ago. The planet orbits the star 40 Eridani A, just over 16 light years from Earth. The discovery was made using a 50-inch telescope on Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, Arizona.

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Did an American Astronaut Sabotage the International Space Station?

A small hole was discovered on a Soyuz space capsule docked to the International Space Station on August 30th. Preliminary investigation revealed the hole, roughly 1/12th of an inch in length, was caused by a drill being operated from inside the craft. Russian media outlet Kommersant published a theory that American astronauts purposely sabotaged the spacecraft in order to return a sick crew member to Earth early while avoiding having to pay for a new Soyuz. Occupants of the space station and the Russian government deny the story.

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