Inside Space - August 14th, 2019

Inside Space (Aug 14th, 2019)

Lunar lander program / Chandrayaan-2 leaves Earth's orbit / Moon camera replica

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Chandrayaan-2 is heading toward lunar orbit. A potentially hazardous asteroid will not hit our planet for at least 100 years. A photographer has built an exact replica of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong's moon camera. For these and other stories about space exploration here is Inside Space:

-- Eduardo

1. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama will manage the agency's lunar lander program. As well as overseeing the whole program, the center will be in charge of the development of two of the lander's three elements: the Transfer Element that will ferry the lander from the Lunar Gateway to low-lunar orbit and the Descent Element that will fly down to the surface. The Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, will oversee the development of the Ascent Element. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is expected to make the announcement when he visits the Marshall space center on Friday. The lander will carry U.S. astronauts to the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. – ARS TECHNICA

2. India's Chandrayaan-2 has started its journey toward lunar orbit. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) fired the spacecraft's thrusters for 1,203 seconds on Wednesday, sending the Chandrayaan-2 away from Earth's orbit and toward the moon. The probe, which is composed of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, is scheduled to reach lunar orbit on August 20. Once there, ISRO plans another five or six maneuvers to bring Chandrayaan-2 closer to the lunar surface. The lander and rover are scheduled to soft-land on the moon on September 7. – TIMES OF INDIA

3. Britain's Lacuna Space expects to have an IoT constellation of four satellite prototypes by the end of the year. The first prototype hitched a ride on an Indian PSLV rocket in April and the other three will be launched later this year on an Electron, an Arianespace Soyuz and another PSLV, CEO Rob Spurrett said. The company plans to launch a constellation of 32 satellites. With at least 16 companies launching IoT constellations, Lacuna believes it can stand out from its competitors by offering affordable prices. "We’ve always been of the view that IoT is going to be a very low-cost application," Spurret said. "Driving cost out of the system is going to be absolutely critical. If you’re going to win this race, it’s going to be all about who can drive price the lowest." – SPACE NEWS

4. Scientists have determined that a potentially hazardous asteroid named 2006 QV89 will not crash into Earth for at least a century. After first spotting it in 2006, the asteroid became unobservable and given its estimated trajectory, scientists could not rule out the possibility that it would hit our planet. This summer provided a good opportunity to observe 2006 QV89 again but the protests against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea prevented scientists from using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). Both the planned TMT and CFHT are on Mauna Kea, Hawaii's tallest mountain. The CFHT resumed operations last weekend, allowing astronomers to study 2006 QV89 before the asteroid became unobservable again. – PHYS

5. Photographer Cole Rise has built a working replica of the custom-made Hasselblad camera that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong used on the moon. Rise built the lunar camera in his workshop in Asheville, North Carolina, over the course of four years. Most of the camera elements were made by him, while others are parts salvaged from other cameras. Aldrin and Armstrong left their cameras on the moon, but Rise was able to acquire a prototype made by Hasselblad at an auction and used it as a model. Rise is now making a handful of Hasselblad 500Cs – the model that was used as a base for the moon camera – for private collectors and a documentary about his work. – WIRED

6. Scientists have determined that the largest impact crater in the U.S. is 35 million years old. As well as triggering earthquakes and a devastating tsunami, the asteroid that caused the 25-mile wide "Chesapeake Bay impact crater" sent molten debris over an area spanning 4 million square miles – about 10 times the size of Texas. Scientists found zircon crystals in samples of the debris and used the "uranium-thorium-helium" dating method to determine their age. The Chesapeake Bay impact crater is the 15th-largest impact crater in the world. – PHYS

7. Astronomers have found cosmic dust in Antarctic snow. The particles were found in 1,100 lbs. (500 kg) of snow gathered near the German Kohnen Station in Antarctica. Using a mass spectrometer, the scientists found that the dust contained a rare iron isotope called Iron-60, which is commonly released by supernovas. They think that the dust originated from interstellar space because if it had come from somewhere in our solar system it would have featured another isotope called manganese-53. – LIVE SCIENCE

8. A Canadian telescope has spotted eight new repeating radio signals known as fast radio bursts (FRBs). Tracing the origin of FRBs is extremely challenging because most of them occur only once, but astronomers have now detected a total of 10 repeating FRBs. By studying this extragalactic light flashes that last milliseconds, scientists hope to determine where they come from. The first FRB was identified in 2007 but astronomers have not yet found out where they originate. – NATURE

9. NASA has selected two proposals for a $75-million mission to further study the nature of space. Each of the proposals will receive $400,000 to conduct a nine-month mission concept study. Under the SIHLA proposal, scientists want to map the entire sky to study the heliopause – the boundary between the heliosphere, the area of our Sun’s magnetic influence, and the interstellar medium. The GLIDE mission would study variability in Earth’s exosphere, the uppermost region of the atmosphere. The winning mission will be lifted into space in 2024. – NASA 

10. Image of the Day: Scottish photographer Robert Ormerod has taken some beautiful shots of amateur rocket launches for his ongoing "Above the Day" project. "Passionate amateurs is really how [the project] started," he recently told the British Journal of Photography. "It’s about how ordinary people interact with the concept of outer space in different ways." 

Written and curated by Eduardo Garcia in New York. Eduardo is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School M.A. Science program and writes regularly for the New York Times Climate Fwd: newsletter. In one of his previous lives, Eduardo worked as a Reuters correspondent in Latin America for nearly a decade. 

Editor:  David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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