The day has come to keep up with the latest news about astronomy and space exploration that has been “bombed” in recent days. Indeed, the topic of exploration has been highlighted, with news of robots on Mars, the imminent end of the Atlas V rocket and China’s ambitious project to create a spacecraft of at least one kilometer in length. Some new technologies have also gained prominence, such as a small satellite that will be able to remove space debris.
China plans to build a one-kilometre spacecraft and is looking to scientists to find ways to put this unambitious plan into action. The spacecraft will likely be in orbit, like the International Space Station, and will be able to store many resources, allowing astronauts to stay for very long periods.
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Because of the proportions, the giant spacecraft must be built with a modular design – that is, several “pieces” will be launched into space and assembled there. For the project to be viable, the project needs a manageable lightweight structure that allows stress and vibration to be controlled. This is still just an idea, but everything indicates that China intends to move forward with it. Just for comparison, the ISS has an area of about 110 m.
Astronomers have discovered the fastest object ever orbiting the sun – that is, it completes a revolution around the sun in the shortest time. Asteroid 2021 PH27 has an orbital period of only 113 days and is the second shortest body with an average distance from the Sun in the entire solar system, second only to Mercury. The asteroid is one kilometer in diameter, and has a sun approximation of 0.13 AU (one astronomical unit corresponds to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun).
Its source is still unclear, but it is likely that it formed in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Other clues, such as the 32-degree high orbital inclination, suggest that it may have come from far away. In any case, your fate could lead to a collision with Mercury, Venus, or the Sun itself a few million years from now.
A new study has revealed that astronauts will be able to travel safely to Mars as long as certain procedures are adhered to. An international group of scientists has concluded that humans should be able to travel to the Red Planet if the spacecraft’s shield is thick enough to protect the crew from cosmic rays.
Also, the full round trip may take as little as four years. The good news is that, depending on the launch time and amount of fuel, it’s possible to “tour” there and back in as little as two years. On the other hand, the need for armor on the spacecraft means increased weight, but nevertheless, in theory, such a flight would be possible.
A small satellite with a ribbon-shaped device has left Earth’s orbit after burning for just eight months. Its companion, a similar satellite but without the ribbon, should take seven years to fall to Earth. The experiment aims to test technologies that accelerate the landing of unused satellites, with the goal of limiting the accumulation of space debris in Earth’s orbit.
The tape is released when the satellite is ready to exit its orbit and creates additional surface area that interacts with the atmosphere to generate resistance. This technology weighs only 1 kg, does not consume much energy and can be launched remotely by operators on the ground or independently by a satellite that needs to land from orbit.
The orbiter and the Chinese spacecraft Tianwen-1 will be paused, or rather, without contact with the Earth for 50 days. In this period, between the beginning of September and the end of October, Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun, which leads to the electromagnetic interference that the star causes in the signals sent to and from Mars.
The mission is investigating the Utopia Planitia region, the largest impact basin on Mars, formed during the Noachian period. Data from several sources already showed that the area consisted of flat terrain, with no visible impact craters, indicating that the interior of the basin spent a lot of time just collecting dust. In addition, there is evidence of a significant amount of water ice and volatiles on Utopia Planitia, although orbital data do not indicate liquid material. This may be due to spectral coverage and dust limitations.
The fate of the Atlas 5 missile, which was first launched in 2002, has been decided, as it will be replaced by the new Vulcan missile. There are still a number of launches remaining before one of the most important launch vehicles in the United States is retired, but its activities are expected to end by the middle of this decade.
Atlas V was developed by the United Launch Alliance, and was critical to robotic Mars missions and satellite launches for US national security. The end of the program also means that Americans should no longer buy Russian RD-180 engines.
The International Space Station (ISS) is already “old” and is heading towards the end of its activities. As the Orbital Laboratory’s partner nations discuss the future of their space research, NASABill Nelson said the agency expects to take over important commercial stations from the International Space Station in the next decade.
Nelson also mentioned that NASA may be in a space race with China, which already has its own station in orbit. Moreover, it appears that Russia also has plans to launch its own space laboratory. Ultimately, it is believed that the ISS will last until 2030. It is possible that the ISS will keep existing partners together until the end, but then the company’s own stations may dominate the picture.
A small satellite created in March of this year to help clean up space debris was launched, and it has successfully completed its experimental mission – all in Earth orbit. He managed to capture a simulated object, completing the first stage of technology development. Accompanying the satellite is a cube weighing about 14 kg, which, in turn, is equipped with a magnetic coupling plate, which is responsible for collecting debris.
The small cube was launched and retrieved several times, before being launched away from the satellite. The maneuver was repeated several times to test and calibrate the system’s sensors, allowing a safe approach to capturing orbital debris. The entire process was ordered by the ground control center of Astroscale, the technology developer.
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