Hubble sets new cosmic distance record
The Hubble Space Telescope has spied the most distant galaxy yet. It is so far away that the light from this extremely faint collection of stars, catalogued as GN-z11, has taken some 13.4 billion years to reach us. Or to put that another way – Hubble sees the galaxy as it was just 400 million years after the Big Bang.
Astronomers say they are confident about the measurement because they have been able to tease apart and analyse the object’s light. Such spectroscopic assessments are difficult to perform on the most far-flung sources, but if it can be done it produces the most reliable distance estimates.
Great tilt gave Mars a new face
The surface of the planet Mars tilted by 20 to 25 degrees 3 to 3.5 billion years ago. This was caused by a massive volcanic structure, the Tharsis volcanic dome (1), which is the largest in the Solar System. Because of its extraordinary mass, it caused the outer layers of Mars (its crust and mantle) to rotate around its core.
The discovery of this huge shift changes our vision of Mars during the first billion years of its history, at a time when life may have emerged. It also provides a solution to three puzzles: we now know why rivers formed where they are observed today; why underground reservoirs of water ice, until now considered anomalous, are located far from the poles of Mars; and why the Tharsis dome is today situated on the equator.
Russia’s first 3D printed nanosatellite to be sent to ISS in late March
Few industries have been pushing the 3D printing envelope as much as the aerospace sector, but it’s by no means restricted to NASA and SpaceX – though they are achieving much. Back in September 2015, a partially 3D printed Chinese satellite was successfully launched, and now a student-made Russian satellite called the Tomsk-TPU-120 is about to follow. As the Tomsk Polytechnic University revealed, the first Russian-made 3D printed nano-satellite (based on the CubeSat) will be sent up to the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of March, from which it will be launched during a spacewalk.
This is the first time a Russian-made 3D printed satellite will be taken into operation. According to the information services of the Tomsk Polytechnic University, it is mostly a test subject. The Tomsk-TPU-120 satellite has been made with a number of new materials, and of course a new manufacturing process, and will be used to test research models for the University’s Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science. Packed with sensors, it will record the temperature fluctuations on board the satellite and track exactly how the batteries, parts and electronics function. All that data is to be sent to earth in real time, enabling scientists to learn more about spacecraft manufacturing and help the students optimize small satellite design. It will even, they say, be used to decide on small spacecraft manufacturing plans for the future.
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Build up your space resume by participating in the project Asterank: to discover an asteroid, watch the animation of the night sky and look for a moving white dot. There’s a good chance that moving dot is an asteroid. The first user to notice the dot gets potential discovery credit and naming rights. You can contribute to the project and help with issues or additional features on GitHub. More information