NASA slams into an asteroid, astronomers analyze ancient mega-supernovas and an astronaut watches Hurricane Ian from space. These are some of this week’s top stories.
NASA slams the DART into asteroid Dimorphos
NASA successfully struck asteroid Dimorphos, and witnessed the dramatic impact in real time from Earth. Engineers from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Maryland monitored their DART probe, short for Double Asteroid Rendezvous Test, as it approached the small asteroid on Monday (Sept. 26). This is NASA’s first planetary defense test, which might inform future efforts to change the direction of a dangerous asteroid traveling towards our planet.
NASA rolls Artemis I off the launchpad to protect it from Hurricane Ian
After days spent monitoring how Hurricane Ian escalated in the western Caribbean, NASA chose to roll Artemis I off its launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The moon rocket began its 4-mile journey on Monday night (Sept. 26) shortly before midnight, and reached the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) the following morning. It’s unclear when Artemis I will return to the pad.
Astronaut views Hurricane Ian from space
Hurricane Ian battered southwest Florida this week, and astronauts caught the storm from space. Expedition 68 astronaut Bob Hines of NASA commented on the hurricane’s size and wished for the public’s safety in a tweet, and also shared footage of the storm from the International Space Station.
NASA and SpaceX astronaut mission gets delayed
Hurricane Ian prompted NASA and SpaceX to push the date of their Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. The new launch date is no earlier than Oct. 5. It will fly from Pad 39A at the space agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, whose southwest region is just beginning to process the damage from Ian’s Category 4 landfall.
Astronomers find traces of ancient mega-supernovas
Astronomers found the chemical traces of first-generation stars that died in epic explosions. Known as Population III stars, they are thought to have been born when the universe was only 100 million years old. By comparison, astronomers estimate the universe is 13.7 billion years old.
Tonga volcanic eruption blasted enormous amounts of water vapor into the sky
The underwater volcano that erupted in January near Tonga injected vapor into the atmosphere on a massive scale, new research found. The 50 million tons of water blasted into the sky could trigger a stratospheric cycle of heating and cooling that could last for awhile.
Two small nearby galaxies have a protective bubble
Astronomers scanned archival data from two veteran space missions to study ultraviolet light from bright objects called quasars. The light revealed a fog, which proves two small nearby galaxies are protected against our galaxy by a hot shield.
SpaceX and NASA to see if they can service Hubble
On Thursday (Sept. 29), NASA and SpaceX officials announced a feasibility study that would investigate how a crewed vehicle might fly to the Hubble Space Telescope. The aim is to raise the observatory’s orbit, which has dropped over time. Hubble launched into low-Earth orbit 32 years ago.
China launches three rockets and delivers a dozen satellites into orbit
China lofted three rockets within a 40-hour period, beginning on Saturday (Sept. 24). On that day, a Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket carried the Shiyan-14 and Shiyan-15 spacecraft into space. Shiyan means “experiment” in Chinese. Two other launches occurred on Monday (Sept. 26), when a Long March 2D rocket successfully lifted the Yaogan 36 remote-sensing satellite into orbit. Later, a Long March 6 rocket successfully delivered three more Shiyan satellites into space.
Delta IV Heavy rocket launches last West Coast mission
The Delta IV Heavy rocket from United Launch Alliance launched a satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office on Sept. 24. This entity operates the U.S. fleet of spy satellites, and not much is known about the payload that Delta IV Heavy launched.