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Last week was an exciting time for all space enthusiasts, from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter being ‘grounded’ on the red planet due to the winter and dust season, to China once again launching the space station module with its giant rocket. Here’s our roundup of the most important space news from the past week.
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter grounded
Ingenuity is a small, solar-powered rotorcraft that landed on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021, along with the Perseverance rover. She completed the first powerful extraterrestrial flight in human history on April 19 of that year, hovering and landing for 39.1 seconds.
But right now it’s winter and dust season on Mars. This leaves more dust in the air and, as a result, less sunlight to recharge the solar-powered helicopter. NASA teams considered this and decided to give the helicopter a break for a few weeks to allow its batteries to recover their daily state of charge. The helicopter could be back in action in August, when the dust clouds should subside.
Let’s just see what JWST observed yesterday…
Oh, good god. pic.twitter.com/8UQWi2zPlR
— gbrammer (@gbrammer) July 18, 2022
James Webb Space Telescope’s Violet Vortex
It’s only been weeks since NASA released the first few images from the Webb Telescope, revealing the universe in incredible detail never seen before. However, scientists around the world have already begun using data from the Advanced Space Observatory to reveal parts of the universe in incredible detail and beauty.
This image of the spiral galaxy NGC 628 taken by Webb looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie. Gabriel Brammer of the University of Copenhagen created this image as a composite of three sets of data captured by Webb at different wavelengths. Brammer, who is not part of the Webb team, downloaded the data and translated each set into red, green, and blue images and stitched them together to create an image.
NASA is targeting an SLS test flight at the end of August
NASA said it will attempt a month-long test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with three dummies but no astronauts as early as August 29 this year. The 98-meter-tall Orion rocket-spacecraft combination is taller than the Statue of Liberty, and if the spacecraft’s journey to the moon and back is successful, astronauts could board it and land on the moon as early as 2025. .
The 30-story-tall SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are currently in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center after it had to be repaired due to problems encountered during its wet dress tests last month. The rocket, spacecraft and related ground systems were plagued by fuel leaks and other technical problems during testing, but NASA officials told the AP that the problems have been resolved.
China successfully launched the second module of the space station
China has successfully launched the second of three modules of its permanent Tiangong space station in one of the final missions to complete the orbiting space station by the end of the year. The 23-ton Wentian (“quest for the Heavens”) laboratory module lifted off on the back of China’s most powerful Long March 5B rocket at 2:22 p.m. on July 24 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on southern Hainan Island.
The 17.9-meter-long Wentian Laboratory Module will be where astronauts can conduct scientific experiments, along with the yet-to-be-launched third Mengtian (“Dreaming of the Heavens”) module. The Wentian module comes with a transfer cabin, which is designed to be the main exit and entry point for activities when the space station is completed. It will also serve as short-term quarters for astronauts during crew rotations on the station.