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Space News and Facts Newsletter - May 30 - June 5, 2021

Space News and Facts Newsletter
Space News and Facts Newsletter - May 30 - June 5, 2021
By Paul Fulford • Issue #3 • View online
Here are several articles posted to the SN&F website and social media pages this past week. There are many more. Click here for Facebook. The website also embeds space agency videos from YouTube. View everything in one place. Click here for the website.

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The #ESA has released details of a lunar habitat that is semi-inflatable. More than that, actually, there’s a full-scale installation on display at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (that’s Venice, of course). The design is due, in part, to former NASA astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman (FYI: he flew on 5 shuttle missions, last in 1996).
ESA - Moon habitat blueprint at Venice Biennale
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NASA is very interested in fresh breath! Yesterday, June 3rd, onboard the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket headed to the #ISS, is a set of 25 mouth bacteria packages. Experiments will try to determine if mouth bacteria grows the same in zero gravity as it does on Earth. There’s a cute embedded video from Colgate (who else?!) who is sponsoring these experiments. This isn’t some whitewash, it’s about oral care!
UNLV dental research launches into orbit for space station mission | KSNV
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NASA announced 2 new missions to #Venus scheduled for 2028 - 2030. The first one, #DAVINCI (aka “Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging”) will investigate the planet’s atmosphere and gases. The second, #VERITAS (aka “Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy”) will create a topographical map of the surface. Venus has always posed some questions as to why it is so hot (900 degrees Fahrenheit / 465 degrees Celsius).
NASA Selects 2 Missions to Study ‘Lost Habitable’ World of Venus
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Worth mentioning, yesterday, June 1st, marked the 100th day that the #Perseverance rover and the #Ingenuity helicopter have been on the surface of #Mars. This article also explains what a Mars “day” is - 24 hours and 40 minutes. It’s called a “sol,” so 100 sols. They’ve also taken a lot of pictures, recorded sounds, and generated oxygen from carbon dioxide. (Which I posted about back on April 22, the MOXIE experiment.) There a couple of embedded videos of interest.
Perseverance rover marks 100th Mars day on the Red Planet | Space
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This interesting article from Malaysia explains the Rare Earth Element (#REE) Ytterbium, one of the 15 #lanthanide chemical elements. Ytterbium is used in atomic clocks, and may soon be used for things such as gravitational wave and dark matter detection. The article touches on the use of lanthanides in the space industry but really looks at the opportunity for mining REEs in Malaysia.
Mastering the knowledge of rare earth elements for our benefit | New Straits Times
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Good article from India Today about space debris - junk. Already, there are more than 23,000 pieces of debris that have to be tracked. It’s not just the junk, the huge number of active satellites are now starting to block astronomers from viewing the stars. There’s a chart showing the breakdown between civil, defence, and commercial satellite launches into Low Earth Orbit (#LEO). It’s the commercial endeavours that are filling LEO. As the article quotes the #ESA: “More than half of space actors operating the non-compliant missions make no attempt to sustainably dispose of their missions ….”
Low Earth Orbit has more junk than operational satellites: Report says unsustainable space behaviour continues - SCIENCE News
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I just posted about dark matter the other day regarding the Dark Energy Survey (#DES). Here’s another article about #dark_matter. This time re-thinking the black hole, with a mass 4 million times our sun, at the center of our #Milky_Way galaxy. It might not be a black hole, after all, it might be a “fluffy ball of dark matter.” This possibility came about after a large cloud of gas, known as G2, came so close to the black hole that it should have been consumed. It wasn’t, so astronomers hypothesized that it might be dark matter. Dark matter makes up 80% of the mass of the Universe; because it can’t be seen, its existence is determined by its gravitational effect on surrounding bodies. The article gets into more details about dark matter being perhaps made up of “darkinos,” a type of #fermion, a subatomic particle. The article is long, about a 20-minute read.
Fluffy ball of darkinos could be lurking at the center of the Milky Way | Space
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Last Thursday, May 27th, #Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC* opened the world’s largest indoor aerospace test facility called #Testbed 80. It’s 7500m2, larger than a football field. It will be used to improve gas turbines for the aerospace industry, experiment with “sustainable” aviation fuels, and test hybrid all-electric engines.
*FYI: RR is an aerospace company. They make rocket engines and are the second-largest maker of aircraft engines. The Rolls-Royce car line was sold in 1998 to Volkswagon.
Rolls-Royce Officially Opens World’s Largest And Smartest Indoor Aerospace Testbed
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Getting (too) close! I posted back on April 14 about Scientific American’s article that the ISS has to regularly adjust its orbit to avoid space junk.* But it has happened. A piece of space debris hit the #Canadarm2 on the #ISS. It happened on May 12th and is being revealed just now. The ISS is okay, and the Canadarm2 will still function. There are more than 23,000 pieces of space debris out there. With China and just about every other country planning satellite constellations, what do you think will happen?
* ISS altitude: FYI the ISS adjusts its orbit periodically from 200 - 250 miles (320 kilometers to 400 kilometers).
Space station robotic arm hit by orbital debris in 'lucky strike' (video) | Space
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Is there life on other #planets, and what form might it take? Scientists from the University of Glasgow and from Arizona State University have developed a system to identify #complex_molecules created by life. Rather than look for life itself, apparently an error-prone process, they are looking for molecules produced by life. Essentially, the by-products of life act as a biosignature of what life might have once existed. The article is in-depth, taking about 15 minutes to sink in.
Scientists develop new molecular tool to detect alien life
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Paul Fulford

Every week on I publish a newsletter containing space-related articles that I have found interesting.

I read a lot of material on the space industry. There's a lot going on out there other than NASA and SpaceX (although I am not excluding those sources). It is my hope that this newsletter will bring these interesting articles and insights to your attention, and that you, too, will gain a broader appreciation for the vastness of space.

Most of these articles are curated from my own social media posts. Each issue contains links directly to the article that has caught my attention. The article links are not affiliate links - I don't make money from them. They're just what I have discovered and want to share.

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