Six months into its mission scanning the sky for planets around other stars, NASA’s orbiting TESS observatory has found three previously-undiscovered worlds and hundreds more exoplanet candidates, the first batch of a potential haul of up to 10,000 exoplanet detections over TESS’s planned two-year mission, astronomers announced this week.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk said this weekend that the company is about one month away from launching the first Crew Dragon spacecraft on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station, a precursor to a demonstration launch with astronauts later this year. He also warned that early test flights of the commercial crew capsule, built under contract to NASA, will be “especially dangerous.”
The first well-resolved image of the faraway chunk of rock fleetingly visited by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on New Year’s Day reveals the object — officially named 2014 MU69 but nicknamed Ultima Thule — is made of two lobes scientists say came together in an ancient slow-speed collision just as the solar system’s planets were forming.
A fresh image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft released Tuesday showed the mission’s distant flyby target a billion miles beyond Pluto — nicknamed Ultima Thule — has an elongated shape like that of a peanut shell or a bowling pin, and the prospect of higher-resolution pictures arriving on Earth later in the day had scientists salivating for more.
A day before NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft closes in on a frozen outpost nicknamed Ultima Thule 4.1 billion miles from Earth, basic facts about the city-sized object continued to elude scientists Sunday as the ground team braced for a deluge of data and imagery that should unmask the unexplored world at the frontier of the solar system.