Drew Ex Machina 8 Nov 2018, 15:25 UTC Ask any space enthusiast about “The Moon Race” (especially those of a particular age like myself) and the competition between the United States and the old Soviet Union to land crews on the Moon immediately comes to mind. While the US clearly won that race with the successful mission of Apollo 11 in July 1969, there was an even more intense race to the Moon a decade earlier which is often overlooked today. After the first satellites were launched into Earth orbit, both the US and Soviet Union were involved in an intense competition to reach the Moon first using small automated probes launched on the largest rockets of the day. And unlike the later Moon race, this head-to-head competition involved launches literally hours apart in a bid by each nation to take the high ground in the opening years of the Space Age.
The Planetary Society Blog 8 Nov 2018, 12:00 UTC An Israeli spacecraft is gearing up for a 2019 Moon mission that features unique partnerships, investigation of the Moon's origin, and closure for an 11-year-old contest designed to spur commercial lunar activities. SpaceIL, a privately funded Israeli non-profit, designed and built a four-legged lander that will touch down in Mare Serenitatis, one of the dark, lunar basins visible to the naked eye from Earth. The craft, which weighs less than 200 kilograms without fuel, will send home high-definition pictures and video before hopping to a new landing spot half a kilometer away. If successful, the mission will make Israel the fourth country to soft-land on the Moon, following Russia, the United States, and China.
astrobites 7 Nov 2018, 21:46 UTC If you have been paying attention to space news recently you may have seen stories suggesting that the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua, which passed through our solar system just over a year ago, could have been an extraterrestrial probe.
We Could Build a Powerful Laser and Let Any Civilizations Within 20,000 Light-Years Know We’re Here. Although… Should We?7 Nov 2018, 19:49 UTC A powerful laser is just the thing to announce our presence as a technological species in this arm of the galaxy. Engineers would line up to work on that project. But is it a good idea to let any mysterious galactic neighbours know we’re here?
Centauri Dreams 7 Nov 2018, 19:15 UTC If you’ve given some thought to the Fermi question lately — and reading Milan Ćirković’s The Great Silence, I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit — then today’s story about an ancient star is of particular note. Fermi, you’ll recall, famously wanted to know why we didn’t see other civilizations, given the apparent potential for our galaxy to produce life elsewhere. Now a paper in The Astrophysical Journal adds punch to the question by making the case that the part of the galaxy in which we reside may be older than we have thought.
Starts With a Bang! 7 Nov 2018, 15:01 UTC The cosmic story that unfolded following the Big Bang is ubiquitous no matter where you are. The formation of atomic nuclei, atoms, stars, galaxies, planets, complex molecules, and eventually life is a part of the shared history of everyone and everything in the Universe. As we understand it today, life on our world began, at the latest, only a few hundred million years after Earth was formed. That puts life as we know it already nearly 10 billion years after the Big Bang. The Universe couldn’t have formed life from the very first moments; both the conditions and the ingredients were all wrong. But that doesn’t mean it took all those billions and billions of years of cosmic evolution to make life possible. It could have begun when the Universe was just a few percent of its current age. Here’s when life might have first arisen in our Universe.
Bad Astronomy 7 Nov 2018, 14:00 UTC Is 'Oumuamua, the weird object from interstellar space that barreled through our solar system late last year, an alien spaceship? Spoiler: No. Well, almost certainly "no." I can't say unequivocally that it's not, but I can say that I would bet a lot of money against it.