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The Milky Way has a 'broken' arm that could reveal its galactic history
Created for blog@iirsg.org |  Web Version
August 18, 2021
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The Launchpad
The Milky Way has a 'broken' arm that could reveal its galactic history
(NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Scientists have found a strange "break" in the spiral arms our Milky Way galaxy that could tell us more about  its galactic history. The grouping of young stars and gassy regions is described by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as looking like "a splinter poking out from a plank of wood" from the plane of the spiral Milky Way's arms.
Full Story: Space (8/18) 
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Spaceflight
Rocket Lab will launch a Finnish cubesat this year to test space junk cleanup tech
(Aurora Propulsion Technologies/Rocket Lab)
Technology that could ease humanity's space junk problem is about to get an orbital test. A tiny cubesat called AuroraSat-1 will launch atop a Rocket Lab Electron booster in the fourth quarter of this year, Rocket Lab representatives announced on Monday (Aug. 16). AuroraSat-1, which will be operated by Finnish company Aurora Propulsion Technologies, will lift off from Rocket Lab's New Zealand site, on the North Island's Mahia Peninsula. 
Full Story: Space (8/17) 
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Science & Astronomy
Earth rocks collected in 19th century hold clues to finding water on Mars
(TU Bergakademie)
Rocks found on Earth could hold clues on where to find water on Mars, according to new research from Penn State University. On Earth, hematite is one of the most abundant minerals on its surface. It can be found in many different igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks and due to a high iron content, it appears a vibrant red color. However, when Peter J. Heaney and doctoral student Si Athena Chen analyzed hematite samples gathered in the 19th century, they uncovered a watery secret within.
Full Story: Space (8/17) 
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Chinese astronomers hope to establish a major observatory program on the roof of the world, the Tibetan Plateau, with new research arguing for pristine observing conditions nestled in the uplands.
Full Story: Space (8/18) 
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SpaceX
SpaceX's Starship could be ready for 1st orbital test flight 'in a few weeks,' Elon Musk says
(SpaceX)
The biggest rocket ever built may be ready to fly surprisingly soon. The first full-size prototype of SpaceX's Starship vehicle should be ready to launch on an orbital test flight "in a few weeks," company founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter on Saturday (Aug. 14).
Full Story: Space (8/17) 
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A Houston-based company that NASA selected to ferry upcoming lunar experiments to the moon has hired SpaceX to launch its lunar landing mission. Intuitive Machines is a private company currently developing a lunar lander capable of bringing scientific payloads to the moon.
Full Story: Space (8/18) 
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Technology
Cyberspace and outer space are new frontiers for national security, according to an expert report
(Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
What do cyberspace and outer space have in common? As we make clear in a new report to the Department of Defence, both are new frontiers for national security that blur traditional ideas about borders, sovereignty and defense strategy.
Full Story: Space (8/18) 
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Skywatching
The August 2021 full moon is, somehow, a Blue Moon. Here's why.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Next Sunday (Aug. 22) brings us the August full moon and in addition, it will also be a "Blue Moon." But wait a minute, you might ask: Isn't a "Blue Moon" defined as the second full moon that occurs during a calendar month? The full moon on Aug. 22 is the only full moon this month. So, how can we call it a Blue Moon? Yet it indeed is a Blue Moon — but only if we follow what is now a somewhat obscure rule. In fact, it was the original definition for branding a full moon as "blue."
Full Story: Space (8/18) 
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Star Trek
'Star Trek' legend Nichelle Nichols caught in ongoing conservatorship battle
(Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
Beloved "Star Trek" actress Nichelle Nichols is caught in the middle of a conservatorship battle as she fights her own battle with dementia. For years, there has been a fight over the legal conservatorship of Nichols, who famously played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in "Star Trek: The Original Series" and who, here on planet Earth, helped NASA to recruit more women and people of color for the agency's astronaut corps.
Full Story: Space (8/17) 
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