The Cosmic Companion November 16, 2019

NASA prepares to return humans to the Moon, researchers now know the cause of massive molecules of carbon called buckyballs in space, and upcoming interview

Hello everyone!

Today is my birthday, but don’t worry - I’m not working, this was written yesterday (which is today right now. I wouldn’t want to be a time traveler—the grammar is too confusing!)

This week, we look at how NASA plans to learn from, and develop, the Artemis program to bring astronauts to the Moon. We also learn about a new study showing how buckyballs - large spheres of 60 carbon atoms can form in the depths of space.

Remember that Astronomy News with the Cosmic Companion is now available on all major podcast distributors, including iTunes and TuneIn! Or, listen in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com.

The Cosmic Companion also offers a premium newsletter, featuring weekly exclusive videos, the astronomy comic of the week, and more. Just $5 a month, or $50 a year! Sign up at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com.

Or, you can buy me a cup of coffee for my work!

Let’s take off!


The Week in Space

Fly Me to the Moon — Artemis vs. Apollo

When NASA astronauts return to the Moon in 2024, they will fly on ideas from Apollo, combined with next-generation technology impossible to achieve five decades ago. Artemis and the Lunar Gateway could make flight to the Moon — and beyond — almost commonplace in the next few decades.

Astronauts depart for the lunar surface, as Orion remains docked to the Command and Service station element of the Lunar Gateway. Image credit: NASA

NASA has their sights set on sending human travelers, once more, to the Moon, over 50 years after Apollo 11 brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the lunar surface as Michael Collins piloted their command module in orbit around our planetary companion.

In the last five decades, technology has made made stunning advances, but NASA learned valuable lessons from Apollo, which will be integral to returning to the Moon.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Fly-Me-Moon-Artemis-Apollo


Buckyballs in Space and How They got There

Buckyballs — those intriguing molecular spheres made up entirely of carbon — are found in space near the dying stars, but no one knew the reason why. Now, new research from the Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson reveals how these complex structures form in space..

Buckyballs form between stars in our own galaxy and others — now we know why. Image credit: Pete Marenfeld/NOAO

Buckyballs are spherical molecules, consisting entirely of 60 carbon atoms, arranged in a pattern of pentagrams or hexagrams meeting at their edges, like a soccer ball. Known as carbon 60 (or C6O), they were first seen in the laboratory, and were thought to be solely an artificial construct.

However, several years ago, astronomers detected these behemoth molecules in the space between stars. However, no one was able to explain why — or how — buckyballs would form in space.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Buckyballs-Space-How

Next week, on my podcast (airing 11/26), I will interview Dr. Lucy Ziurys of Steward Observatory, one of the head researchers on the study of interstellar buckyballs, and what the finding could mean for the future of astronomy. Listen and subscribe to Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion through any major podcast provider.


Coming soon: The First Woman on the Moon: The Past and Future History of Women in Space by James Maynard


Thanks for reading!

Check out my new podcast, Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, available on all major podcast distributors, including iTunes and TuneIn! Or, listen in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com. You can also now add Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion to your flash briefings on Amazon Alexa!

If you want to keep up with the latest updates and news about astronomy and space exploration, visit www.thecosmiccompanion.com, join my Facebook page, and follow @TheCosmicCompanion on Instagram and @CompanionCosmic on Twitter.

Remember - VIP members receive this newsletter, plus a second weekly newsletter with sneak previews of each video episode of Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, an astronomy comic of the week, rare space photos, and more! Plans start at just $5!

Do you know someone else who would love this newsletter? Please share! Invest in knowledge with a premium subscription for yourself or a loved one today (including advance viewings of my weekly video show)! Or, I’d love it if you could buy me a cup of coffee - I LOVE coffee! Thanks!

Astronomy - Don’t Leave Home Without It!

- James

Give a gift subscription

Share

Share The Cosmic Companion

Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion Nov. 11, 2019

  
0:00
-3:05

In this episode of Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, we examine what hydrothermal vents on Earth can teach us about alien life, questions are raised about a spherical Universe, and NASA opens Apollo rock samples preparing to return humans, once more, to the lunar surface.

Keep checking back at: thecosmiccompanion.com for more space and astronomy news, including my new weekly podcast!

View the video version of each week’s episode on my YouTube channel, or get advance copies of the video episodes with any paid subscription. Just $5 a month or $50 a year.

Give a gift subscription

Share

Share The Cosmic Companion

Or, if you enjoyed this episode, you can buy me a cup of coffee - I LOVE coffee!

Thanks!

James

The Cosmic Companion November 9, 2019

Happy birthday, Carl Sagan! This week, we look at what hydrothermal vents on Earth can teach us about alien life, questions are raised about a spherical Universe, and NASA opens Apollo rock samples.

Hello everyone!

Today would have been Carl Sagan’s 85th birthday. Throughout my childhood, I always wanted to follow in his footsteps, write about astronomy, and help spread the light of science everywhere.

When I was about 10 years old, I created a monthly science “magazine,” called Our World’s Science. Each month, I typed out 5-6 stories (all of 2-3 paragraphs each), drew a cover in Sharpie marker, and my mother would Xerox the eight-or-so pages, which I would staple together. Then, I would walk around the neighborhood, selling copies to neighbors and people in nearby stores and businesses.

Today, The Cosmic Companion covers several stories a week (often featuring exclusive interviews with researchers), and is available on the web, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and as a video series, podcast, and my stories are delivered by artificial intelligence through Amazon Alexa. I hope Carl would be proud.

This week, we look at how deep sea vents under the oceans of Earth could help explain how life might form on other worlds, we discuss how the Universe may be a sphere and why that is a problem for cosmology, and we look over the shoulders of NASA researchers as they open samples brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts in 1972.

Remember that Astronomy News with the Cosmic Companion is now available on all major podcast distributors, including iTunes and TuneIn! Or, listen in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com.

The Cosmic Companion also offers a premium newsletter, featuring weekly exclusive videos, the astronomy comic of the week, and more. Just $5 a month, or $50 a year! Sign up at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com.

Or, you can buy me a cup of coffee for my work!

Let’s take off!


The Week in Space

Seeing Deep History — and Deep Space — in Deep Sea Vents

Life on Earth first formed near deep-sea vents, not shallow pools, new research reveals. The basic idea is not new, but the origin of life is one step closer to being understood, a new investigation from University College London reveals.

A tubeworm which evolved to survive on the border between the hot alkaline environment near a deep sea vent and the open ocean. Bacteria inside the worm convert chemicals released by the vents into energy for the creature. Image credit: NOAA

A new study from the University College London (UCL) suggests that life on Earth may have developed from the odd chemistry surrounding deep sea vents. This finding could also offer a new look at how life might develop on other worlds.

Life first developed on Earth not long after our world solidified and the first ocean(s) formed. Estimates for the first appearance of life on Earth range from roughly 3.8 billion to more than 4.3 billion years before our time. By comparison, our home world is thought to be be just 4.54 billion years old, and the oceans formed 4.4 billion years ago.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Seeing-Deep-Sea-Vents


The Universe may be a Sphere, and that’s a Problem

Could the Universe be a sphere, rather than flat? A new examination of data from a defunct satellite poses a mystery that could result in a cosmological crisis.

The Planck spacecraft collected significant data about the Universe, including details of radiation left over from the first light in the Universe. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For years, cosmologists have pondered the overall shape of the Universe, developing their ideas by merging data from a wide range of studies. Doing so produced the standard cosmological model, which suggests the Universe is flat. However, a new look at the cosmic background radiation — the echo of the first light of the Universe — shows everything around us may have a closed shape, like a sphere.

The Lambda-Cold Dark Matter (LCDM) model is, currently, our best understanding of the visible Cosmos. One of the fundamental conclusions of this model is that the Universe is flat. In such a Universe, two perfectly parallel light beams sent into space would continue on forever, never meeting. This idea is accepted by many researchers, since such a model answers several questions in cosmology.

Read more: http://bit.ly/Universe-Sphere-Problem


NASA Unseals Lunar Samples from Apollo Prepping for New Mission to Moon

Before NASA sends human beings back to the Moon, researchers examined pristine lunar samples returned by the Apollo astronauts. Here’s what they are hoping to find— and what remains to be discovered.

Andrea Mosie, Charis Krysher and Juliane Gross open lunar sample 73002 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Moon rocks inside this tube have remained untouched since they were collected on the lunar surface and brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts more than four decades ago. Credits: NASA/James Blair

Researchers at NASA have opened a sample of material from the Moon untouched by humans for more than four decades. When this material was brought to Earth by the astronauts of the Apollo 17 mission, I am Woman by Helen Reddy headed the Top 40 music chart, The Price is Right premiered on CBS, and the North Vietnamese government walked out of the Paris Peace Talks.

Today, a new examination of this material, collected by Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, could answer mysteries about the Moon, as NASA prepares for the return of humans to the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program.

Read more: http://bit.ly/NASA-Lunar-Samples-Apollo


Coming soon: The First Woman on the Moon: The Past and Future History of Women in Space by James Maynard


Thanks for reading!

Check out my new podcast, Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, available on all major podcast distributors, including iTunes and TuneIn! Or, listen in at: https://thecosmiccompanion.substack.com. You can also now add Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion to your flash briefings on Amazon Alexa!

If you want to keep up with the latest updates and news about astronomy and space exploration, visit www.thecosmiccompanion.com, join my Facebook page, and follow @TheCosmicCompanion on Instagram and @CompanionCosmic on Twitter.

Remember - VIP members receive this newsletter, plus a second weekly newsletter with sneak previews of each video episode of Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion, an astronomy comic of the week, rare space photos, and more! Plans start at just $5!

Do you know someone else who would love this newsletter? Please share! Invest in knowledge with a premium subscription for yourself or a loved one today (including advance viewings of my weekly video show)! Or, I’d love it if you could buy me a cup of coffee - I LOVE coffee! Thanks!

Astronomy - Don’t Leave Home Without It!

- James

Loading more posts…