NASA astronauts successfully made their highly-anticipated splashdown from space, Mars’ Curiosity rover celebrates its eighth anniversary on our neighboring planet and a new astronomy term combines ”black hole” and ”planet.” These are just some of the top stories this week from Space.com.
Trump makes false claims about NASA.
Many users on Twitter pointed out the errors in a tweet that President Donald Trump published on Aug. 5. In the message, Trump falsely claimed that he brought NASA back from being ”Closed & Dead,” when in fact the news-making feats that the space agency has recently achieved — such as the successful flight of two astronauts via its Commercial Crew Program — have been in development over the last two presidential administrations.
Full story: Trump says ‘NASA was Closed & Dead’ before he took charge. That’s not true.
Fifth prototype of SpaceX’s Starship rocket flew for 40 seconds.
The fifth prototype of SpaceX’s ambitious next-generation rocket became the second of its kind to fly. The Mars-bound Starship is currently being evaluated via its SN5 test vehicle. On Aug. 4, SN5 took to the skies for about 40 seconds at the company’s facilities in Texas.
Full story: SpaceX’s Starship SN5 prototype soars on 1st test flight! ‘Mars is looking real,’ Elon Musk says
NASA astronauts splashed down off the coast of Florida.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made their dramatic reentry down to Earth’s surface over the weekend, splashing into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on Aug. 2. The NASA crew were carried into space during SpaceX’s first-ever crewed mission.
Full story: ‘It sounds like an animal’: NASA astronauts describe the Crew Dragon re-entry experience
See also: SpaceX Crew Dragon makes historic 1st splashdown to return NASA astronauts home
Plus: Demo-2 success keeps SpaceX on track for tourist flights in late 2021
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo delays space tourism flights.
Virgin Galactic has delayed its first flight into space until next year. CEO Richard Branson is expected to take his first spaceflight in the first quarter of 2021, too. Virgin Galactic is offering heavy-pocketed tourists a ride aboard its SpaceShipTwo into suborbital space.
Full story: Virgin Galactic delays commercial SpaceShipTwo spaceflights until 2021
Happy anniversary, Curiosity.
NASA’s Curiosity rover celebrated its eighth anniversary on Mars this week. Curiosity launched into space in late 2011 and landed inside the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater on Aug. 5, 2012. Since reaching the Red Planet, the car-sized rover has detected complex organic chemicals as it travels along the dusty Martian terrain.
Full story: Happy anniversary, Curiosity! NASA rover marks 8 years on Mars
See also: Weather satellite and robotic telescope spot Perseverance rover en route to Mars
Supermassive black holes might host planets, or ‘blanets.’
There’s a new space term: “blanets.” The word combines ”black hole” with ”planet,” and it stems from new work that suggests supermassive black holes may host tens of thousands of Earth-like planets. Blanets would form from the clouds of whirling material that circles black holes.
Full story: Thousands of Earthlike ‘blanets’ might circle the Milky Way’s central black hole
Scientists used the moon like a mirror for Earth.
In a recent study, scientists had the Hubble Space Telescope look at the moon during a lunar eclipse so that the team could study Earth’s atmosphere. Moonlight is generally caused by reflected sunlight. But when the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, the moonlight’s change in color is because sunlight is bent, or refracted, by Earth’s atmosphere. During lunar eclipses, the moon therefore acts like a mirror for our planet’s gaseous and life-supporting veil.
Full story: Scientists use moon as a mirror to study Earth during lunar eclipse
Tropical Storm Isaias seen from space.
Satellites were able to observe Tropical Storm Isaias from their orbital vantage point above Earth. This cyclone brought torrential rains and high-speed winds to the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast on Tuesday (Aug. 4). Satellites from NASA and NOAA helped communities to learn and prepare for the potential risk of tornadoes, strong winds and heavy rainfall.
Full story: Satellites watch Tropical Storm Isaias batter eastern US
Satellites view the aftermath of the Beirut explosion.
A massive explosion ripped through the city of Beirut on Aug. 4, and satellites got a view of the devastation from their orbital vantage point. Investigation into the tragic incident continues. The satellites show the many buildings that were flattened as a result of the explosion, and shows a semicircular-shaped blast region.
Full story: Beirut explosion devastation spotted from space (satellite photos)
China launched 2 satellites.
On Thursday (Aug. 6), China launched its 22nd mission of 2020. A Long March 2D rocket took off from a launch site in the Gobi desert, delivering an Earth-observing satellite that Chinese media says will inform city planning and crop-yield estimation. This is the fourth Gaofen 9 satellite to launch, with two of its predecessors having launched earlier this year.
Full story: China launches 2 satellites from desert launch site
See also: On its way to Mars, Chinese spacecraft spots Earth and moon, aces steering maneuver
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