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Over the Moon #22

  • Fifth state of matter
  • Space tourists face risks
  • Price of lunar ice
  • First astronaut at deepest point
Published every Monday


Quantum ‘fifth state of matter’ observed in space for first time

Scientists believe BECs contain vital clues to mysterious phenomena such as dark energy — the unknown energy thought to be behind the Universe’s accelerating expansion.

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The Conversation

First space tourists will face big risks, as private companies gear up for paid suborbital flights

On May 30, 2020, millions of Americans watched the inaugural SpaceX Crew Dragon launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. This mission marked two significant events: First, the return of launch to orbit capability for human spaceflight from the United States. Secondly, it successfully demonstrated private sector capability to build and operate a launch vehicle for human spaceflight.

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Editor’s Note:

The SpaceX manned launch has gotten many people thinking about what it would be like to leave Earth behind for a little while. Here aerospace lawyer Sara M. Langston explains what it will take to get regular citizens up there.

Northwest Florida Daily News

Pensacola bids for Space Command HQ

The city of Pensacola is making a bid to host the headquarters of U.S. Space Command, and other Florida cities could follow as the Air Force seeks self-nominations from qualified cities.

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Reading University

Speed of space storms key to protecting astronauts and satellites from radiation

Satellites have always been vulnerable to space weather due to their fragile nature. New research from the University of Reading indicates that predicting the speed of space storms could help in protecting satellites in the future.

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Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Scientists carry out first space-based measurement of neutron lifetime

Neutrons aren’t a model of resilience when it comes to living a single life. Strip one from an atom’s nucleus and it will quickly disintegrate into an electron and a proton. But scientists can’t determine how quickly, despite decades of trying, and that’s problematic because knowing that lifetime is key to understanding the formation of the elements after the Big Bang.

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Spaceflight Now

University-built CubeSat launched with swarm of auroral science nodes

Rocket Lab successfully launched five small satellites from New Zealand Saturday for customers in the United States and Australia, including a CubeSat with a novel swarm of tiny magnetometers to measure the plasma currents that shape colorful auroras.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship to bring NASA astronauts home this summer

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley launched to the space station on May 30, for an indeterminate amount of time. Their stay on orbit depends upon a few different factors, including solar array degradation, the status of the next Crew Dragon, and landing zone weather. While Bob and Doug do not yet have a definitive return date, NASA officials have said they are looking at August as a return time frame.

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NASA will set a price on lunar ice. Why?

The urge to voyage beyond what we know is at the heart of the human experience. Often, this is driven by some rare commodity — spices and silks, gold, or oil.

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Former astronaut becomes first person to visit both space and the deepest place in the ocean

Just eight people have reached Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the ocean. More than 550 people have visited space.

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Editor’s Note:

Kathy Sullivan has become the first person to visit space and the deepest point in the ocean. This article from Kate Springer looks at the achievements of one of our great explorers, including a surprising call with Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley up at ISS right after her mission to Challenger Deep.


What Mars 2020 will teach us about crewed trips to the Red Planet

Farley is a realist about how squabbles in Washington can derail space and science missions. The sample tubes that will hold sediment from the Martian surface collected by Perseverance are designed to wait decades for a ride home, a nod to the fact that funding for the two follow-on missions is far from guaranteed.

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