ISS Accident, JWST Deep Field, Space Habitat Goes BANG!

Splashdown! Artemis I has returned home. Webb has conducted his first deep field study. He hears the sound of a dust swirl on Mars, and a space journalist goes to the Moon.

Orion Splashdown

Splashdown! On December 11, 2022, after nearly 26 days in space, NASA’s Orion capsule touched down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. He had completed a multi-million kilometer journey by flying past the Moon and testing the techniques and technologies that would eventually take humans to the Moon and back. The entire mission was almost trouble-free, but its payload of Cubesats wasn’t so lucky: half had already failed. With Artemis I complete, NASA is preparing for Artemis II, which is expected to fly in 2024.

More on the completion of Artemis 1.

We also did a full overview of the entire Artemis 1 mission from start to finish. Enjoy!

Launch of Hakuto-R and Lunar Lantern

While the Orion capsule was going from the Moon to Earth, two other missions were going in the opposite direction. Those are NASA’s lunar lantern and the Japanese Hakuto-R lander. Lunar Flashlight is designed to map water ice deposits near the Moon’s poles. This will be very useful for future human missions. Hakuto-R is a lander originally designed for the Google Lunar XPrize. But it got a chance to launch only in 2022, long after the competition ended.

Accident on the ISS. Soyuz coolant leak

The Soyuz spacecraft attached to the International Space Station is leaking refrigerant into space. Mission controllers aren’t sure how it happened, but it may have been caused by a micrometeorite impact on the station. This is a big problem since the Soyuz is the only way for the three Russian cosmonauts to return to Earth. The temperature inside the Soyuz is rising and it is not clear if it can be used safely on a return flight. Russia may need to send a new Soyuz as quickly as possible.

More about the Soyuz accident.

JWST’s first real deep field

The Hubble Deep Field is one of the most famous results from the long-lived space telescope, which looks deeper into the Universe than ever before. Once James Webb was released we wondered when we would get a JWST version of Deep Field using their much more sensitive instruments. A first survey was completed, using 9 hours of Webb observing time to observe a single region of space. As you can imagine, the survey produced some interesting results.

More on Webb’s deep field.

Percy heard a dust devil on Mars

We’ve seen images of dust swirls on Mars, both from the surface and from space, but never heard of them before. Until now. NASA’s Perseverance Rover is equipped with a microphone and has already heard blowing wind, moving sand and its own mechanical noises on Mars. And now the rover has captured a dust eddy that passed directly over its location. Take a look at the article and you can hear it for yourself.

More on the sounds of a Martian dust swirl.

BLOW! Test of the Sierra Space inflatable module

Pop goes to the space habitat. Sierra Space engineers pushed their new LIFE habitat to destruction in a recent Ultimate Burst Pressure (UBP). They filled the inflatable habitat with gaseous nitrogen to test the resistance of its materials. NASA required them to hit 182.4 PSI, but they passed that milestone, eventually reaching 204 PSI when the module exploded. Its next move will be to test a full-scale model in 2023 and then fly a working module into space a few years later.

More on Space Habitat Testing.

Asteroid as a space habitat

Space habitats are a fixture in science fiction, with humans living and working far from planet Earth. But space is a hostile environment, and humans are fragile compared to robots, needing artificial gravity, radiation protection, and resources like air and water. What is a realistic way to build a space colony? According to a new study, rubble-pile asteroids like Ryugu or Bennu could be the key. A strong, lightweight mesh could encase an asteroid and then spin, with the debris forming a habitable ring in space.

More on turning asteroids into space colonies.

Astronaut every day goes to the Moon!

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has announced the eight people who will join him on SpaceX’s first private lunar mission, called Project DearMoon. The mission, which is scheduled for 2023, will see Maezawa and the eight crew members travel to the moon on a SpaceX Starship rocket for a six-day trip around the moon without landing on its surface. The eight core members of the team include electronic dance music artist Steve Aoki, South Korean rapper TOP, Czech choreographer Yemi AD, Irish photo artist Rhiannon Adam, science communicator Tim Dodd, photographer and filmmaker Karim Iliya, American documentary filmmaker Brendan Hall and Indian TV actor. Developer D. Joshi. The mission is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars and perhaps more than $100 million.

More on the Dear Moon crew announcement.

Fusion Ignition Advance

Researchers at the National Ignition Facility made a historic breakthrough by releasing more energy in a fusion experiment than was pumped out. They fired 192 high-powered lasers at a tiny capsule containing a mixture of deuterium and tritium, using 2.05 megajoules of energy. They extracted 3.15 megajoules of neutron-producing fusion energy, a gain of 1.5. This is a tremendous achievement, showing that the technique works, but we are still a long way from commercial fusion plants.

Learn more about how to achieve fusion ignition.

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