May 19, 2022

The top space stories of the week!

The top space stories of the week!
The top space stories of the week!The top space stories of the week!

The International Space Station tilts slightly due to an unexpected event, researchers view the light from behind a black hole for the first time and scientists worry that climate change could worsen with the growth of space tourism. These are some of the top stories this week from Space.com. 

Nauka module causes the International Space Station to tilt. 

Russia's Nauka module arrived at the International Space Station on July 29, 2021.

Russia’s Nauka module arrived at the International Space Station on July 29, 2021. (Image credit: NASA TV)

This week, the International Space Station said goodbye to one science module and welcomed a new one. This entire process was eventful, including the burning of the former Pirs module in Earth’s atmosphere. The drama didn’t end there: Russia’s Nauka module docked at the space station on Thursday (July 29), and several hours later, Nauka’s thrusters unexpectedly fired. This caused the space station to temporarily lose attitude control, but fortunately, the crew was not in danger. 

Full story: Russia’s Nauka module briefly tilts space station with unplanned thruster fire

See also: Russia’s Nauka multipurpose lab module docks to space station

See also: Boeing Starliner OFT-2 launch to space station delayed following Russian module mishap

Scientists spot light ‘echoing’ from behind a black hole for the first time. 

Some of the potential exoplanets could actually be minuscule black holes

In a new study, scientists detected light echoing from behind a black hole for the first time.  (Image credit: NASA)

Scientists have spotted light from behind a black hole for the first time. In the new study, researchers used the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuSTAR space telescopes to observe the light behind a black hole located 800 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy I Zwicky 1. This black hole is 10 million times more massive than our sun. 

Full story: Space telescopes spot light ‘echoing’ from behind black hole for the first time

See also: German X-ray space telescope captures most complete map of black holes ever

Fireball lights up the sky over North Texas. 

A view of a brilliant fireball that let up the night sky over North Texas on July 25, 2021.

A view of a brilliant fireball that let up the night sky over North Texas on July 25, 2021. (Image credit: Juliah Bandy)

On July 25, a fireball streaked across the evening skies of North Texas. The American Meteor Society (AMS) has received 213 reports of the event, including three videos. A few of the reports came from observers in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Most reports estimate that the fireball lasted about 3 to 4 seconds, and about a dozen people reported a sound with the fireball. 

Full story: Fireball streaks across North Texas, creating light show and sonic boom

The Milky Way’s spiral arms shine in new Gaia research. 

An artist's impression of the Milky Way galaxy, our cosmic home.

The map of the Milky Way is changing thanks to recent releases of data from the European Gaia mission. (Image credit: NASA JPL)

A recent look at the latest data release from the Gaia mission is broadening what scientists know about the Milky Way’s spiral arms. The Gaia mission is from the European Space Agency (ESA) and it’s been running since 2014. In December 2020, the mission released its latest batch of observations, called Early Data Release 3 (EDR3). Gaia is tasked with mapping out the Milky Way like never before. 

Full story: Why does the Milky Way have spiral arms? New Gaia data are helping solve the puzzle

Astronomers propose the creation of a group to address megaconstellations. 

The image shows diagonal lines caused by the light reflected by a group of 25 Starlink satellites passing through the field of view of a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona during observations of the NGC 5353/4 galaxy group on May 25, 2019.

The image shows diagonal lines caused by the light reflected by a group of 25 Starlink satellites passing through the field of view of a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona during observations of the NGC 5353/4 galaxy group on May 25, 2019. (Image credit: Victoria Girgis/Lowell Observatory)

Companies like SpaceX have launched numerous small satellites into orbit to build a massive fleet of communications spacecraft, known as a megaconstellation. Astronomers are proposing the creation of SatHub, an international project that would address megaconstellation growth and the threats they pose to the night sky. Astronomers are concerned that they could damage viewing conditions for their research or pose orbital or reentry risk. 

Full story: Astronomers propose ‘SatHub’ to address growing threat of satellite megaconstellations

Earth’s climate could suffer if space tourism rises, scientists say. 

An up-close look at VSS Unity's rocket motor in action on July 11, 2021.

Hybrid rocket motors such as those used in Virgin Galactic’s rocket planes emit a lot of soot. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Some scientists are worried that the growth of space tourism would be another problem in the fight against climate change. The growing number of rocket flights would generate a lot of soot and particles that would be harmful to the atmosphere when released. Scientists are also worried that too little is known about the long term effects of frequent suborbital flights. 

Full story: The rise of space tourism could affect Earth’s climate in unforeseen ways, scientists worry

See also: New FAA rules change who qualifies for commercial astronaut wings

Rocket Lab succeeds in first flight since May’s anomaly. 

A Rocket Lab Electron rocket launches the U.S. Space Force's Monolith satellite from New Zealand, on June 29, 2021.

A Rocket Lab Electron rocket launches the U.S. Space Force’s Monolith satellite from New Zealand, on June 29, 2021.  (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab achieved its first successful launch since the company suffered a flight failure in May 2021. On Thursday (July 29), the company’s 59-foot-tall (18 meters) Electron rocket launched from New Zealand to loft a demonstration satellite for the U.S. Space Force. 

Full story: Rocket Lab launches US military satellite on return-to-flight mission

See also: SpaceX retires giant net boats that caught rocket nose cones

Scientists detect water vapor on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede for the first time. 

The Jupiter moon Ganymede, the largest satellite in the solar system, as seen by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft on July 7, 1979, from a distance of 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers).

The Jupiter moon Ganymede, the largest satellite in the solar system, as seen by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft on July 7, 1979, from a distance of 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers). (Image credit: NASA)

Researchers analyzed new and old data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to study Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Previous research suggested that this celestial body may contain more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined. From their recent peeking of the Hubble data, researchers detected evidence of water vapor on Ganymede for the first time. 

Full story: Water vapor detected on huge Jupiter moon Ganymede for 1st time

A pyramid-sized asteroid safely passed by Earth. 

3D illustration of an asteroid flying past Earth.

3D illustration of an asteroid flying past Earth. (Image credit: Aleksandra Sova via Shutterstock)

A near-Earth asteroid called 2008 GO20 made a close but safe approach with the Earth on July 25, according to NASA. During its closest point, the asteroid was about 2.8 million miles (4.5 million kilometers) away from our home planet. 2008 GO20 is estimated to be anywhere from 318 to 720 feet (97 to 220 meters) across; that’s roughly the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands at 450 feet (138 m) tall.

Full story: Asteroid the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza just flew (safely) by Earth

Ingenuity passes the 1-mile mark during its 10th Martian flight. 

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity sees its shadow on the Martian surface during its 10th flight on July 24, 2021.

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity sees its shadow on the Martian surface during its 10th flight on July 24, 2021. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity surpassed the 1-mile mark of its total flight distance on July 24. The achievement happened during Ingenuity’s 10th flight over the Martian landscape. During the latest flight, Ingenuity soared over a rocky region called “Raised Ridges” in Jezero Crater. 

Full story: NASA’s Mars helicopter soars past 1-mile mark in 10th flight over Red Planet

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