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Inside Space (Feb 6th, 2018)

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster is on its way to space. After a series of delays, SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket into space at 3:45 p.m. ET. Crews had delayed previous launch times today due to concerns with the upper-level wind shear. SpaceX has said that when the Falcon Heavy finally launched, it would be "the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two." Musk said the idea of using a satellite for Falcon Heavy's maiden trip "seemed extremely boring." "We decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing [the song] 'Space Oddity,' on a billion-year elliptic Mars orbit," he said in December. — SPACE

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There might be more than 1 trillion planets beyond our galaxy, researchers suggest. Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomer Xinyu Dai and postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Guerras discovered extragalactic galaxies with objects ranging in size from the mass of the Moon to that of Jupiter. "This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be. This galaxy is located 3.8 billion light years away, and there is not the slightest chance of observing these  directly, not even with the best telescope one can imagine in a science fiction scenario. However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses. This is very cool science," Guerras said. — SMITHSONIAN MAG

Gravity Lensing Planets

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Two recently discovered space rocks will safely fly by Earth this week. Named 2018 CB and 2018 CC, the asteroids were discovered Feb. 4 through the Catalina Sky Survey — an automated telescope scan. Flybys of space rocks occur multiple times per year. Most recently, an asteroid flyby occurred on Feb. 4. Astronomers use flybys as a chance to examine space rocks. The two space rocks set to flyby this week are similar in size — about 56 feet — to one that exploded over Cheylabinsk, Russia, in 2013, which caused injuries and property damage. These asteroids, though, are expected to fly by and not hit Earth. — SPACE

Image result for asteroid image

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Japan recently launched a mini satellite, marking the country's second launch attempt and first success. The launch of the modified SS-520 “sounding” rocket happened over the weekend. The rocket is meant to take measurements and perform experiments in sub-orbital flight. The rocket is capable of reaching altitudes of slightly more than 500 miles. The Saturday launch was the SS-520's fourth in history, making its first launch Feb. 5, 1988. It was the second launch this year for Japan, which launched an Epsilon rocket last month. The country's next launch is set for later this month. — DIGITALTRENDS

Japan Rocket

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Some of the seven recently discovered planets could have as much as 250 times more water than can be found here on Earth. The planets are located in the TRAPPIST-1 solar system, which is 40 light-years from Earth (about 235 trillion miles). The star the planets orbit is said to be 9 percent larger than our system's sun. Planets closer to the sun are more likely to have water than others, NASA said. The space agency announced in February 2017 that the seven planets were found. — MLIVE

This artist's concept appeared on the Feb. 23, 2017 cover of the journal Nature announcing that the nearby star TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-sized planets orbiting it.

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NASA is launching an anti-harassment campaign. Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot made the announcement in a video posted Feb. 1. The move comes weeks after a congressional committee asked science agencies in the United States to look into harassment policies. Lightfoot said harassment is "not consistent with our values, our employee engagement and our high-performance culture. It's wrong, and it's simply not acceptable." In the video, he said some employees could not speak up about harassment in the past. — SPACE

Email x1 screenshot 2018 02 06 at 2.30.28 pm
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IMAGE phone home.

NASA last week confirmed that its long lost IMAGE spacecraft was rediscovered.

After 13 years of no signals, a British Columbia man discovered the spacecraft while searching for signals of Zuma, the U.S. spy satellite that is said to have been lost last month.

"So far, IMAGE appears to be operating as designed," said Rick Burley, who worked on IMAGE. — THE ATLANTIC

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