Splashdown! Artemis I has returned home. Webb has conducted his first deep field poll. Hear the sound of a dust devil on Mars and a space journalist fly to the moon.
Splashdown! On December 11, 2022, NASA’s Orion capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California after nearly 26 days in space. It had completed a journey of several million kilometers, flying past the moon and testing the techniques and technologies that would eventually take humans to the moon and back. The entire mission had almost no problems, but their Cubesats payload wasn’t so lucky – half had already failed. After Artemis I is over, NASA is preparing Artemis II, which is expected to fly in 2024.
More about the completion of Artemis 1.
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We’ve also provided a full rundown of the entire Artemis 1 mission from start to finish. Enjoy!
Launch Hakuto-R and Lunar Flashlight
While the Orion capsule flew from the moon to Earth, two other missions went in the opposite direction. These are NASA’s Lunar Flashlight and the Japanese lander Hakuto-R. Lunar Flashlight was designed to map deposits of water ice near the lunar poles. This will be very useful for future human missions. Hakuto-R is a lander originally developed for the Google Lunar XPrize. But it had a chance of not hitting the market until 2022, well after the competition was over.
Accident on the ISS. Soyuz coolant leak
The Soyuz spacecraft attached to the International Space Station leaks coolant into space. Mission leaders are unsure how it happened, but it’s possible it was caused by a micrometeorite impact on the station. This is a big problem as the Soyuz is the only way for the three Russian cosmonauts to return to Earth. The temperature inside the Soyuz is rising, and it’s unclear if it’s safe to use on a return flight. Russia may need to send a new Soyuz as soon as possible.
More on the Soyuz accident.
JWST’s first true deep field
The Hubble Deep Field is one of the most famous results from the long-lived space telescope, which is looking deeper into the Universe than ever before. When James Webb came out we wondered when we would get a JWST version of the Deep Field with its far more sensitive instruments. A first survey was conducted using 9 hours of Webb observation time to stare at a single region of space. As you can imagine, the survey produced some interesting results.
More on Webb’s depth field.
Percy heard a dust devil on Mars
We’ve seen images of dust devils on Mars, both from the surface and from space, but we’ve never heard of them before. Until now. Equipped with a microphone, NASA’s Perseverance rover has heard the wind, moving sand, and its own mechanical sounds on Mars. And now the rover has captured a swirling dust devil that flew right over its location. Check out the article and you can hear it for yourself.
More about the sounds of a Martian dust devil.
BANG! Test of the Sierra Space inflatable module
Pop goes to the space habitat. Sierra Space engineers destroyed their new LIFE habitat in a recent Ultimate Burst Pressure (UBP). They filled the inflatable habitat with gaseous nitrogen to test the strength of its materials. NASA required them to reach 182.4 PSI, but they made it past that milestone, eventually reaching 204 PSI when the module blew apart. Their next step will be to test a full-size model in 2023 and fly a working module into space a few years later.
More on space habitat testing.
Asteroid as space habitat
Space habitats are a staple of science fiction as humans live and work far from planet Earth. But space is a harsh environment, and humans are fragile compared to robots, requiring artificial gravity, protection from radiation, and resources like air and water. What is a realistic way to build a space colony? Debris pile asteroids like Ryugu or Bennu could be the key, according to a new study. A strong, lightweight web could encircle an asteroid and then be blasted up, the debris forming a habitable ring in space.
More on how to turn asteroids into space colonies.
Every day an astronaut flies to the moon!
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has announced the eight people who will join him on SpaceX’s first private lunar mission, the DearMoon project. The mission, 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 main crew members 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 television actor Developer D Joshi. The mission is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, perhaps over $100 million.
More on the Dear Moon crew announcement.
Fusion ignition breakthrough
Researchers at the National Ignition Facility have made a historic breakthrough by releasing more energy than was pumped into a fusion experiment. They fired 192 high-powered lasers at 2.05 megajoules of energy at a tiny capsule containing a mixture of deuterium and tritium. They extracted 3.15 megajoules of neutron-producing fusion energy, a gain of 1.5. This is a tremendous achievement that shows the technology works, but we’re still a long way from commercial fusion facilities.
More on achieving a fusion ignition.
This was significant news, so we decided to make a separate video dedicated only to this topic.
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