Celebrating Jerrie Cobb, Pioneer for Women in Space

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.

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Mice in Space Invent New Game and it’s Adorable

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.

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Water Seen Hopping Around the Surface of the Moon

The Moon was once thought to be a barren place, devoid of all water. But, in the last few years, several spacecraft have found water ice hidden within craters on our planetary companion. Now, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has found evidence that molecules of water are bouncing around the lunar surface. As ice is heated in one area, it moves to another nearby place, where it falls into shadow, and freezes once more on the surface of the Moon. Water will be a vital resource as humans populate the Solar System, and the Moon may be the first stopping-off point on the way to the planets.

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Water Could Form on the Surface of the Moon, Thanks to the Solar Wind

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.

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In Space, No One Can Hear You Meow – A Sad Tale (Tail?) of the First Cat in Space

Animals will certainly join humans on our quest to colonize the planets and moons of our solar system. However, animals have not flown on space missions in quite a while, as space agencies are hesitant to bring them on involuntary journeys. The only cat to have ever flown in space, Félicette, is now being honored for her 1963 journey, with a new statue due to be erected in Paris.

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Is China Leading the Exploration of Space?

The Chinese space program recently landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, and has begun growing plants there. Neither of these feats have ever been accomplished by any other nation. Bolstered by their success, the Chinese space agency has announced plans to return sample materials from the Moon and Mars, and to construct a base on the Moon, to be constructed with a 3D printer. These missions have some people asking if China is now leading the way in space exploration, surpassing the United States and Russia. The U.S. has not sent an astronaut past low-Earth orbit since 1972.

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Elon Musk Unveils Starship — and Marvin the Martian would be Proud

Elon Musk released the first photograph of the new Starship rocket, and it looks like it came straight out of a science fiction show from the 1950’s. Sporting a stout, silver body, the rocket sits on top of three over-sized fins. This test vehicle is scheduled to carry out vertical takeoff and landing tests, but will be unable to reach space. The orbital version of Starship, with a sleeker body and thicker skin, is due to begin testing in June 2019.

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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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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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