The oldest rock from Earth ever found was recently discovered hiding on the Moon. The four-billion-year-old rock was found among the samples returned from the Moon by the astronauts of Apollo 14. Analysis shows this rock formed on Earth, was blasted into space when an asteroid hit our planet four billion years ago, ejecting the rock onto the surface of the Moon. Once there, the area was hit by an asteroid, burying big Bertha, before another impact raised it, once again, to the surface. It was returned to Earth in 1971 by astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell.Read More Earth’s Oldest Rock Found – It was Hiding on the Moon!
On the night of Monday, January 21st, asteroid 2019 AX8 passed 6.9 million kilometers (or 4.3 million miles) from the Earth, after first being seen just two weeks before. The asteroid measured between 28 and 63 meters (equivalent to 92 to 207 feet) across, roughly half the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza. To face threats like this one, NASA is planning to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (called DART) in 2022, in an effort to change the course of such a body. The rocket will collide with the asteroid Didymos B, the smaller of two asteroids which orbit each other. This test will be the first-ever attempt to redirect an asteroid.Read More Asteroid AX8 Skims Earth as NASA Prepares Plans to Save Planet from Future Threats
Evidence of rain has been spotted near the north pole of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, for the first time ever, Since the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn in 2004, astronomers have been expecting to see this phenomenon, which they expected to occur in 2016 or 2017. Titan is the second-largest moon in the Solar System, and is the only one known to possess a thick atmosphere, along with vast lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane. These conditions make it one of the most-likely places to find life in our solar system. Currently, NASA is considering sending a drone, called Dragonfly, to the moon, to be launched in the year 2025.Read More Rain on Saturn’s Moon Titan Could Make this World the Life of the Party
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.Read More In Space, No One Can Hear You Meow – A Sad Tale (Tail?) of the First Cat in 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.Read More Is China Leading the Exploration of Space?
For just the second time in history, astronomers have witnessed a repeating fast radio burst. These events are formed far beyond our galaxy, and release more energy in a small fraction of a second than our Sun produces in decades. Researchers are uncertain what causes this phenomenon, although they may be the result of black holes or ultra-dense neutron stars colliding with each other. The event was witnessed by researchers at the new CHIME radio telescope in Canada, as that instrument underwent early testing. Only 60 of these events have ever been recorded, and this is just the second one ever seen repeating. Once CHIME is fully operational, astronomers hope to see several dozen fast radio bursts every day.Read More Second Repeating Radio Burst Seen – Are Aliens Behind These Odd Events?
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.Read More Elon Musk Unveils Starship — and Marvin the Martian would be Proud
A newly discovered super-Earth, Barnard b, may be capable of supporting alien life, researchers at Villanova University report. This world is roughly three times larger than the Earth, and experiences frigid temperatures. However, if it is a rocky world with a molten core, like Earth and Venus, this could provide enough heat to create oceans of liquid water that could support life. Astronomers are still uncertain if Bernard b has a solid surface, or if it is a gaseous world, similar to Uranus and Neptune. The next generation of telescopes may be able to make that determination, and possibly detect life if it exists on that alien world.Read More Could Alien Life Exist on Barnard b? It’s Possible!
For the first time ever, astronomers may have seen the birth of a black hole, or possibly a neutron star. Each of these types of bodies are the remnants of supermassive stars which collapsed under gravity after they ran out of fuel. Researchers in Hawaii spotted a tremendous burst of energy between 10 and 100 times more massive than that released by a supernova explosion, That event released particles which flew apart at 10 percent of the speed of light, before dissipating 10 days later. The event took place 200 million years ago, before the age of the dinosaurs, but due to the great distance to object, the energy from it is just reaching Earth now.Read More The Birth of a Black Hole Seen for the First Time (or was it a Neutron Star?)
The Hubble Space Telescope suffered a major setback as a primary instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3, failed on January 8th. This is one of two main cameras aboard the orbiting telescope, and was installed by astronauts in 2009. Backup equipment aboard Hubble might be able to revive the telescope, but engineers are not at work during a partial shutdown of the federal government. Repairs to the Hubble are unlikely to happen until the government reopens.Read More Hubble Space Telescope Camera Fails and Government Shutdown Prevents Repairs