Blue Origin wants to build solar panels on the Moon, out of the Moon, SpaceX sold its floating landing pads, and another asteroid hits Earth exactly where and when astronomers predicted.
Blue Origin’s Blue Alchemist
Blue Origin announced a new technology they call Blue Alchemist. It will allow making solar panels out of Moon regolith. This can be a very big deal, as a system like that will not require any additional input from Earth. All it needs is energy. So, once you put a robot like this on the Moon and give it some time, you should have a bunch of solar panels as the result. Of course, it’s still in development and tests will be required to prove the concept viable. But it definitely sounds promising.
SpaceX Sells Phobos and Deimos
In the past, SpaceX had bought two oil platforms that they hoped to convert into Starship launch and landing pads. The platforms were called Phobos and Deimos, after the two satellites of Mars. However, this week we learned that the company sold the platforms. Gwenn Shotwell, president of SpaceX, told the press that SpaceX needs to learn to fly Starship first and understand the vehicle better, before expanding the infrastructure like sea launch and landing pads.
Another Meteoroid Discovered Right Before it Hits the Atmosphere
Sneaky asteroids have a hard time crashing into the Earth without notice these days. For the seventh time, astronomers detected a small space rock, or meteoroid, about half a day before it impacted the planet. The detection was made by Krisztián Sárneczky using a 60 cm Schmidt telescope from the Piszkéstet? Observatory in Hungary. The 1-meter object was designated as 2023 CX1 and was predicted with 100% certainty to hit Earth above the English Channel. Astronomers continued to track the object, and then it lit up the skies in Europe right on schedule.
Another Russian Spacecraft is Leaking Coolant
Russia announced that another spacecraft at the International Space Station is leaking coolant. This time it’s the unpiloted Progress 82 cargo ship that’s docked at the station, is filled with trash and will be de-orbited on Feb. 17th. Roscosmos is investigating the leak, which follows the recent Soyuz coolant leak reportedly caused by a micrometeorite impact. Is there an underlying technical problem with Russian spacecraft? The replacement Progress 83 arrived on February 11th, bringing more supplies to the station.
A Galaxy Almost Entirely Made Of Dark Matter
Astronomers found an unusual galaxy that is made mostly of gas and dark matter. Meaning, there are almost no stars in it. It’s also close to us, just 1 million lightyears away. It’s not clear why there are almost no stars in the galaxy. However, such objects can potentially help to solve the missing dwarf galaxy problem in cosmology. As our models predict more dwarf galaxies to exist than being observed. If a lot of small galaxies are in fact just dark matter and gas, it might be the solution.
Rogue Supermassive Black Hole
When galaxies merge, their supermassive black holes inevitably find one another. Some merge, while others recoil from an encounter and are kicked out of the galaxy at tremendous speeds. Astronomers think they’ve found one of these hypervelocity supermassive black holes hurtling away from a galaxy at 1,600 km/s. It’s leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, containing shocked gas and new star formation. It’s believed that the black hole began its journey about 39 million years ago.
Mass Migration of Stars in Andromeda
By studying the motion of stars in Andromeda galaxy, astronomers have discovered about 7,000 which are moving together and recently migrated into the area. These stars were once part of a dwarf galaxy orbiting Andromeda, similar to the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds around the Milky Way. About 2 billion years ago, the galaxy got too close and was unwound, with its stars joining the vastly larger Andromeda Galaxy.