SLS finally gets a launch date for Artemis I, JWST keeps giving the goodness, Percy finds another weird thing on Mars, astronomers find a dormant black hole and NASA will launch a flagship telescope on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy.
This week’s most important space and astronomy news are here in our special easy-to-consume format we call Space Bites. For those of you who prefer the news being videoed at you, here’s a video version.
More Great Pictures from James Webb
Were you hoping to see more images from JWST? Well, feast your eyes on this picture of the galaxy M74 captured by Webb. This is a large spiral galaxy seen face-on. Under JWST’s infrared view, you can see dusty star formation regions in high-resolution spiral arms that swirl down to the galactic center. The image processing for this image was done by citizen scientists Judy Schmidt.
More about amazing pics of M74.
Roman Space Telescope Will Fly on a Falcon Heavy
Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, a Hubble-class mission got its launch contract secured this week. It will fly on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy in 2026. The only odd thing about this contract was the price. NASA will pay SpaceX $225,000,000 which is significantly higher than the usual $90M associated with a FH launch.
More about Roman Telescope launch.
Psyche Mission Can be Cancelled
NASA’s Psyche mission to a metal asteroid was supposed to launch in August 2022; we recently learned that software testing issues would push the mission back into 2023 at the earliest. Now we’ve learned that the state of the project is even worse, and NASA is performing a detailed audit on the state of the mission. Things could be so bad that the mission might get entirely cancelled.
More about Psyche mission review.
Percy Finds a Weird Object on Mars
Okay, here’s a bizarre thing to find on the surface of Mars. NASA’s Perseverance Rover imaged this strange string-like object on July 12th. Scientists think it’s most likely a piece of debris left over from the rover’s landing system, either its parachute, backshell, or descent stage. The wind blew it into the rover’s field of view, and a few hours later, it was gone again.
More about strange string on Mars.
Getting Closer to Asteroid Mining
Astronomers have identified about 30,000 Near-Earth Asteroids. These space rocks cross the Earth’s orbit and could eventually collide with our planet. They’re not only a threat, but they can also be a source of resources that could be mined to help future space exploration. A new paper proposes that two spacecraft could work together as a team, hopping from asteroid to asteroid, kicking them into safer orbits that reduce their threat and also make them more easily accessible for mining in the future.
More about moving asteroids.
Strongest Magnet in the Universe
A team of Chinese astronomers has discovered the most magnetic object in the Universe. It’s a magnetar, of course, the remnant of a dead star with many times the mass of the Sun. They detected powerful x-ray blasts from a region around the magnetar, which allowed them to estimate the strength of its magnetic field. It reached 1.6 billion teslas, a million billion times the power of the Earth’s magnetic field.
More about record-breaking magnetar.
Dormant Black Hole Found
Black holes absorb all the light that falls into them, which makes them invisible. They’re only detectable when they’re actively feeding or in a binary system with another star with an accretion disk. Astronomers have discovered a dormant black hole orbiting a star in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud. The black hole has nine times the mass of the Sun, and the hot blue star contains 25 solar masses. Since there isn’t any debris in the area, astronomers think the black hole might have collapsed directly without generating a supernova.
More about a dormant black hole.
More Breaking Space News
If you would like to get a selection of the most important space and astronomy news every week, subscribe to our Weekly Email Newsletter and get magazine-size ad-free news directly from Fraser Cain.
If you prefer the news to be videoed at you, check out our Space Bites playlist on our YouTube channel.