February 27, 2024
The sky is not the limit |  An explosion in China "snake" and waste on Mars and more!

The sky is not the limit | An explosion in China “snake” and waste on Mars and more!

Eruptions on Jupiter and here on Earth, more strange things photographed on Mars and signals from aliens (or not) are some of the topics that have come to prominence lately in astronomy and space. And let’s not forget NASA, which is conducting another trial of the Artemis I mission before launch.

Without further ado, check out this and other news that rocked the week.

Using publicly available satellite images, an Internet user discovered that an explosion occurred on a launch pad in one of the most important space hubs in China. The event was not reported by the country’s media.

According to Harry Strange, the explosion occurred between October 15 and 16, at the Jiuquan Space Center, where the Shenzhou manned missions took off. However, it does not seem to have affected the Chinese space program: on the same day, the Shenzhou-13 mission, which had three astronauts on board, was launched from another platform in the same space center.

The Perseverance Chariot has added another element to NASA’s collection of strange images of Mars. This time, the robot found a “snake head” and a shiny piece of trash on the planet’s surface.

Snakehead (in the rock formation on the right) next to the tightrope rock (on the left). Photo: NASA/JPL

Serpent’s Head is actually a strange rock between layers of sediment at the edge of the Jezero Crater, a site that was once an ancient river delta. And it is not alone: ​​it is next to the “balancer rock” which has a circular shape and is supported on a stone pillar.

A piece of metal blanket that protects the perseverance on the journey to Mars was found two kilometers from the landing site. Photo: NASA/JPL

On the other hand, the trash was inadvertently left behind by persistence itself: it’s a Piece of thermal blanket that was protecting the rover during its journey through space, which may have detached as it entered the Martian atmosphere. What interests scientists is its location, about two kilometers from the landing site. Did it land there during its descent, or was it blown by the wind on Mars? We still don’t have the answer.

Chinese researchers drew attention this week by announcing that they had found radio signals that could originate from extraterrestrial civilizations. The discovery was made using FAST, the world’s largest working radio telescope.

Built in China, FAST is the largest radio telescope in the world. Photo: Xinhua News Agency / Shutterstock

But before anyone panics, it’s worth noting that the scientists involved say “more study” is needed before a conclusion can be made. In fact, according to Dan Werthimer, a researcher at the University of California and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute and co-author of the study that found the signal, radio interference is likely from the sources here on earth.

A study by Kyoto University in Japan found the biggest flash impact on Jupiter since Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit the planet in 1994. It happened in 2021 and was detected by the Planetary Observation Camera for Transient Research. Optics (PONCOTS), a small telescope dedicated to searching for flashes in the planet’s atmosphere.

Shimmer effect on Jupiter. The explosion released energy from 2 million tons of TNT. Photo: Ko Arimatsu/Kyoto University

Using the instrument, the Japanese team determined that the impact released energy equivalent to two million tons of TNT, and was caused by a space rock with a mass of about 4,000 tons. The flash has reached a temperature of 8000°C. On Earth, the impact could cause great destruction.

On Saturday (18) NASA will begin another rehearsal for the launch of the Artemis I mission, the first of a space program aimed at returning humans to the lunar surface.

The SLS rocket and Orion capsule are transported to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, where they will go through all steps of the actual launch, except for the ignition of the engine. The goal is to make sure the group is actually ready to go into space.

The last rehearsal attempts were thwarted with failure. Most recently, in April, the NASA team found a hydrogen leak during refueling, so the rocket and capsule were returned to the KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where NASA teams made necessary repairs.

Since the launch of the first satellites in the Starlink constellation, astronomers have expressed concern about their impact on astronomical observations from Earth. The problem is that they are so bright that they appear as bright streaks in great numbers in telescope images.

This image of the star Albireo is a great example of how Starlink satellites can disrupt observations. Each “bar” is a satellite. Photo: Raphael Schmol

SpaceX tried to mitigate the problem by installing a “sunscreen” on the satellites, but units launched since late last year do not have this accessory, which has been “discontinued” due to changes in the design of the latest batch of satellites.

The sun visors have been replaced with dielectric mirrors, which should reflect less sunlight. But the idea seems to have gone awry, and satellites are now much brighter than the previous generation, at least the ones at 50 degrees south or north latitudes, during sunrise and sunset. Needless to say, astronomers didn’t like this at all.

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