NASA is asking people to send in their names so they can be blasted off on a space mission, deep into our galaxy. The ‘Message in a Bottle’ campaign wants to give people the chance to have their name sten-cilled onto a microchip which will ride on the Europa Clipper space-craft, past Mars, and all the way to Jupiter and its moon, Europa. So far, about 700,000 names have been submitted and the deadline is December 31, 2023.
Recently, a capsule carrying samples of a distant asteroid, collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft landed safely in the desert in Utah (US). These samples are the largest amount of asteroid material ever returned to Earth and were taken from a mountain-sized asteroid named Bennu. Scientists believe that this sample could help them answer the age-old question: where do we come from?
OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016, and spent two years travelling through space to reach Bennu. The goal of the mission was to collect samples from the asteroid.
Bennu is over 320 million km away from the Earth. When the spacecraft reached the asteroid, It began to orbit it. Finally, in 2020, the spacecraft touched the surface of the asteroid for the several seconds, using a special arm to blow air and suck up dust and pebbles. Since then, the OSIRIS-REx has been heading back towards the Earth. The Capsule has been taken to NASA’s Johnson Space Center In Houston, Texas, where a very special lab has been set up to handle the asteroid sample.
System, and how life might have begun on the Earth. Scientists will look for chemicals that are important to life, such as amino acids – the building blocks of proteins.
What is asteroid Bennu?
Asteroid Bennu is a very big mass of rock weighing around 78 billion kg, in space. According to NASA, the asteroid probably broke off a much bigger one around 2 billion years ago. Because Bennu looks so similar to asteroids found on Earth scientists think it could contain some of the universe’s oldest ma-terials. This is why NASA is so keen to investigate it – it could help scientists find out more about where we come from.
NASA has succeeded in producing enough oxygen on Mars to allow an astronaut to breathe for several hours. NASA has achieved this by using a device, which is about the size of a toaster, called Moxie, onboard NASA’s Perseverance Rover. NASA has made 122g of oxygen. This is enough for an astronaut to breathe for around three hours. NASA hopes that future human missions will take much bigger versions of Moxie to the Red Planet rather than carrying tanks of breathable oxygen with them on rockets from Earth.
The atmosphere of the Red Planet is mostly made up of carbon dioxide – 96% of the planet’s air contains carbon dioxide. Only 0.13% oxygen is found in its atmosphere. Whereas 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere is made up of oxy-gen. Moxie is able to strip the oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.
Did You Know?
The Perseverance Rover landed on Mars in February 2021. It was the first time a mission has gone to Mars with such an advanced set of equipment, and it is the first time a robot has been sent. The main mission of the Perseverance Rover is to find evidence of past life on Mars.
A molecule is made up of two or more atoms that have bonded together. The amount and kind of atoms in a molecule and their arrangement determine its composition Almost everything is made up of atoms and molecules.
Researchers may have discovered proof of a new planet similar to Earth.
A team of astronomers in Japan, including those from the country’s National Astronomical Observatory, believe that there is an unknown planet that may be circling the Sun in an orbit past Neptune. As of now, we know for sure that there are eight planets in our solar system. Their order from nearest the Sun to furthest away goes: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Satum, Uranus, Neptune and then a possible Planet Nine.
The published research suggests that this possible Planet Nine, could be hiding in the Kuiper Belt. The researchers found that the way that some of the objects in the Kuiper Belt behave suggests there could be a small planet among them. The astronomers think this new planet could be three times as big as Earth but it would not have life as we know it, because the temperatures would be too cold. The team say finding this new discovery near the Kuiper Belt, could lead to finding more possible planets.
According to NASA, the Kuiper Belt is a doughnut shaped region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune – the eighth and most distant planet in our solar system.
Did You Know?
For more than 70 years, Pluto was considered to be the ninth planet in our solar system. However, in 2006, the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto to a dwarf planet. A dwarf planet orbits the sun just like other planets, but it is smaller.
On November 16, 2022, NASA launched its Artemis I Moon Mission which aims to “land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon” for exploration of the lunar surface. The mission will also inspire a new generation of astronauts, leaders, and scientists. It’ll also mark the return of astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972.
NASA’s Artemis program is an ongoing series of missions that will take place in three missions:
The Artemis I mission has launched an uncrewed capsule called the Orion which will be journeying the Moon’s orbit and will help scientists and technicians at NASA to prepare well for Artemis II Mission.
Artemis II will have a crew orbiting the lunar orbit which will not be landing on its surface to collect more data and information for the Artemis III mission. It will also be the furthest human mission in space and is expected to be launched in 2024.
Artemis III is the ultimate mission which will be carrying the first female astronaut and first person of color on the Moon. The mission will involve the crew members performing week-long scientific research on the lunar surface which is set to take place in 2025.
What is the ultimate aim of the Artemis Moon Mission?
The scientists and leaders at NASA aim to establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. With the successful launch of Artemis III, scientific studies and data research will help NASA to learn about the lunar environment, as well as its surroundings. These studies will further help NASA take its next giant leap which is to send the first astronaut to Mars.
Apart from the big Mars mission, the Artemis series is also focused on attaining deeper scientific discoveries, inspiring a new generation of young explorers which will be called the Artemis Generation, and economic benefits.
The Latest Update on Artemis I
As of November 23, Artemis I has completed 8 days of flight in space. The spacecraft had lost communication with Orion at around 12:09 AM CST for 47 minutes. With reconfiguration efforts by NASA engineers, the communication link has been restored.
Why is the mission named ‘Artemis’?
Artemis is a Greek mythological goddess of the Moon and also the twin sister of Apollo. The Apollo mission program from 1969 to 1972 was the first successful mission to fly humans to Moon with a successful landing.
And the Orion capsule is the crewed spacecraft that is the hunting companion of Artemis in classical mythology.
Interesting Facts About NASA’s Artemis I Mission
The Artemis mission is a five-year-long mission that has been in progress since 2017.
The mission was delayed four times before its successful launch on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, at 1:47 AM (EST).
Artemis II is set to be launched in the year 2024.
If all goes to plan then we will see the launch of Artemis III in 2025.
The launch vehicles for the Artemis I mission were Space Launch Systems (SLS) and Commercial Launch Vehicles.
Crew models of the Artemis Mission series are Lunar Gateway, Orion, and Human Launch System (HLS).
The initial goal by NASA for a human landing on Moon was planned to take place in 2024. However, scientists confirmed in November 2021 that this date would need to be pushed back to 2025.
As per NASA Inspector General Paul Martin, the crew landing is likely to be pushed until 2026.