Starts With a Bang! 19 Jul 2019, 14:01 UTC Although our intuition is an incredibly useful tool for navigating daily life, developed from a lifetime of experience in our own bodies on Earth, it’s often horrid for providing guidance outside of that realm. On scales of both the very large and the very small, we do far better by applying our best scientific theories, extracting physical predictions, and then observing and measuring the critical phenomena. Without this approach, we never would have come to understood the basic building blocks of matter, the relativistic behavior of matter and energy, or the fundamental nature of space and time themselves. But nothing matches the counterintuitive nature of quantum vacuum. Empty space isn’t completely empty, but consists of an indeterminate state of fluctuating fields and particles. It’s not science fiction; it’s a theoretical framework with testable, observable predictions. 80 years after Heisenberg first postulated an observational test, humanity has confirmed it. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Drew Ex Machina 19 Jul 2019, 12:27 UTC As the historic Apollo 11 mission was heading to the Moon, a bit of space drama was unfolding before the eyes of the world. Just three days before the launch of Apollo 11, the Soviet Union had launched a 5.7 metric ton robotic spacecraft called Luna 15 towards the Moon with only a vague announcement about its mission. Speculation swirled through the Western press and among space observers about the flight’s true intentions: Was it some last-minute Soviet space spectacular? Or maybe an attempt to spy on or even interfere with the American Apollo mission? It would be decades before it was confirmed that this was actually a lunar sample return attempt employing the new E-8-5 spacecraft launched in a last ditch effort to secure the first samples from the lunar surface before Apollo.
Illuminated Universe 18 Jul 2019, 19:17 UTC This light-year-long knot of interstellar gas and dust resembles a caterpillar on its way to a feast. But the meat of the story is not only what this cosmic caterpillar eats for lunch, but also what’s eating it. Harsh winds from extremely bright stars are blasting ultraviolet radiation at this “wanna-be” star and sculpting the gas and dust into its long shape.
Universe Today 18 Jul 2019, 17:49 UTC The idea of somehow terra-forming Mars to make it more habitable is a visionary, sci-fi dream. But though global terra-forming of Mars is out of reach, the idea persists. But now, a material called silica aerogel might make make the whole idea of terra-forming Mars slightly less impossible.
Space News 18 Jul 2019, 13:51 UTC As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first humans to walk on the moon, you might notice we aren’t celebrating it on the moon. Why? Having achieved the greatest feat in human history, why is all we have to show for it flags, footprints and footage?
Scientific American 18 Jul 2019, 11:00 UTC If life exists on Mars, it still hasn’t showed itself—but recent evidence from the Red Planet increasingly supports the possibility. Life could have developed there. Most of the conditions are right, and nothing found so far rules out the possibility, either in the distant past or today.
All About Space 18 Jul 2019, 09:23 UTC NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have a long term plan for Europe to deliver the European Service Modules for Orion. With NASA’s announcement to bring humans back to the lunar surface before the end of 2024, it was also decided that the third ESA-provided European Service Module will contribute to this mission.