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Thursday, August 5, 2021
China’s first Mars rover has landed and is sending its first pictures

China’s first Mars rover has landed and is sending its first...

China’s first Mars rover is taking in the view of its new home. The Zhurong rover touched down on the Red Planet on May 14, and its first images reached Earth on May 19. Zhurong, named for an ancient Chinese god of fire, has been orbiting the Red Planet since February 10, when China’s Tianwen-1…
Planet-forming disks around stars may come preloaded with ingredients for life

Planet-forming disks around stars may come preloaded with ingredients for life

The chemistry leading to life may start before stars are even born. In the planet-forming disk of gas and dust around a young star, astronomers have detected methanol. The disk is too warm for the methanol to have formed there, so this complex organic molecule probably originated in the interstellar cloud that collapsed to form…
World waits to see where a Chinese booster will come down

World waits to see where a Chinese booster will come down

Enlarge / An artist's depiction of the Tianhe station module. While that's safely in orbit, the booster that got it there isn't in a stable orbit. In late April, China successfully launched a major component of its planned space station. Since then, the booster that put the component into orbit has been circulating in an…
SpaceX successfully lands a Starship test flight

SpaceX successfully lands a Starship test flight

Enlarge / Starship SN15 descending back to Texas under two of its three upgraded raptor engines. Successful landing! By now, many readers are familiar with SpaceX's Starship tests. The rocket makes its way skyward and performs maneuvers that seem like impossibilities to a generation raised on rockets that simply shot things to orbit. These maneuvers…
Blue Origin isn’t pricing its first launch seat—it’s auctioning it

Blue Origin isn’t pricing its first launch seat—it’s auctioning it

Enlarge / Blue Origin's New Shepard vehicle is a capsule with a view. On Wednesday, Blue Origin officially announced that its first crewed flight to space is targeted for July 20, suggesting that its extended period of test flights is finally coming to an end. Rather than simply placing a seat on sale, however, the…
A rare glimpse of a star before it went supernova defies expectations

A rare glimpse of a star before it went supernova defies...

A rare glimpse of a star before it exploded in a fiery supernova looks nothing like astronomers expected, a new study suggests. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal that a relatively cool, puffy star ended its life in a hydrogen-free supernova. Until now, supernovas without hydrogen were thought to originate only from extremely hot,…
Stars made of antimatter could lurk in the Milky Way

Stars made of antimatter could lurk in the Milky Way

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Fourteen pinpricks of light on a gamma-ray map of the sky could fit the bill for antistars, stars made of antimatter, a new study suggests. These antistar candidates seem to give off the kind of gamma rays that are produced when antimatter — matter’s oppositely charged counterpart — meets normal matter and annihilates. This could…
Fast radio bursts could help solve the mystery of the universe’s expansion

Fast radio bursts could help solve the mystery of the universe’s...

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Astronomers have been arguing about the rate of the universe’s expansion for nearly a century. A new independent method to measure that rate could help cast the deciding vote. For the first time, astronomers calculated the Hubble constant — the rate at which the universe is expanding — from observations of cosmic flashes called fast…
New wooden satellite is part advertising, part student project

New wooden satellite is part advertising, part student project

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WISA WOODSAT Late last year, we were extremely skeptical of reports regarding a plan for wooden satellites that seemed confused about what could be gained from using the natural material. But a wooden satellite looks like it might get to orbit later this year, via a project we can fully endorse. It's a bit of…
50 years ago, experiments hinted at the possibility of life on Mars

50 years ago, experiments hinted at the possibility of life on...

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Organics on Mars — Science News, March 27, 1971 [Researchers] have exposed a mixture of gases simulating conditions believed to exist on the surface of Mars to ultraviolet radiation. The reaction produced organic compounds. They conclude that the ultraviolet radiation bombarding the surface of Mars could be producing organic matter on that planet.… The fact…

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