NASA wants to build a glass highway on the Moon, and Rogozin has another bout of madness: News Digest

Selection of the most interesting space news for the week: Stallone makes space science fiction movie; three stars mysteriously disappeared from our sky; and we tell you what to do if the Russian Soyuz lands in Ukraine.

“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”

― Werner Heisenberg, Across the Frontiers

Astronomers find a new almost completely dark galaxy

The Nube Galaxy, which was recently discovered by astronomers during the IAC Stripe 82 Legacy sky survey, turned out to be almost completely dark. It has a size comparable to the Small Magellanic Cloud, but at the same time, it practically does not emit light in the visible range. This star system belongs to a type that is called “almost dark galaxies”. These systems have sufficiently large masses but, at the same time, extremely low brightness. Often, in the visible part of the spectrum, they are not visible at all.

At the same time, almost dark galaxies should not be confused with star systems in which there is a lot of dark matter or gas and dust. They mostly have low brightness precisely because their stars are quite rare and dim. The Nube Galaxy is located 350 million light-years away from us. Its mass is estimated at 390 million solar, and its diameter is 22,500 light-years. In addition, it is surrounded by a halo of 26 billion solar masses. At first glance, it may seem that this is a lot, but in fact, a much smaller Small Magellanic Cloud, which is a satellite of the Milky Way, weighs so much.

Russia is going to attack Ukraine with the Soyuz rocket

The German edition of BILD announced that they had at their disposal an audio recording of a series of telephone conversations of the former head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, with officials and engineers. They discuss the possibility of using the Soyuz rocket to strike one of the big Ukrainian cities. 

There is indeed a complex at the Plesetsk Сosmodrome designed to launch the latest modifications of the Soyuz. There are no problems with deploying a 50-meter rocket in flight, where it is needed. However, the problem in another way: we are talking about the entry of a warhead into the atmosphere at supersonic speed. And not a single Russian bomb with conventional explosives is designed for this. TNT inside, at high temperatures, just starts to decompose.

Another problem is that the accuracy of hitting the target will be extremely low. The margin of error will be 50-100 km. It is also important to note that it usually takes 6–9 months to calculate the trajectory of a rocket, but they learned how to do it in a month or two. Therefore, the upper time limit is actually 6 months.

Glass Highway: Dangerous dust on the Moon will be used to build roads

The Moon may soon receive more guests than ever before, thanks to an ambitious plan by NASA and its international partners to build a permanent base on its surface for astronauts to stay for a long time. The basis of future missions to the Moon will be next-generation lunar rovers that will allow crews to explore the surface of the Earth’s moon. However, there is a serious threat regarding the harmful dust that these rovers will raise during movement. Engineers are working to solve this problem by developing a method that involves melting dust to create a hard surface, like paved roads on Earth. These ways will ensure a safe and fast journey for lunar rovers and their crews.

Tests simulating lunar dust have been carried out on Earth using a laser beam that melts powdery material, turning it into a glassy, solid surface. However, engineers are considering an alternative to working on the Moon, where sunlight can be concentrated on a Fresnel lens to melt dust and create the necessary coating. 

Sylvester Stallone makes a space movie. One of the heroes is a Ukrainian man

Sylvester Stallone’s Balboa Productions and the British Altitude Film Entertainment have announced the start of work on the film adaptation of the book by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, “The Apollo Murders”. The author of the book is one of the most famous astronauts of our time, Chris Hadfield. He made three space flights and became the author of the first music video filmed in space. 

According to the genre, “The Apollo Murders” is science fiction. The action of the book takes place in an alternate reality in 1973, at the height of the Cold War and the space race between the United States and the USSR. The Apollo 18 spacecraft is launching to the Moon. A few weeks before the flight, the crew receives an unexpected task: to destroy the Soviet military space station Almaz. As often happens in dramatic stories, everything does not go according to plan, and astronauts will have to overcome a number of obstacles — both technical and psychological. 

One of the heroes of the book is a Ukrainian, a native of the Crimean Tatars, Gabdukhai Latypov or just Gabdul. He grew up near Simferopol and dreamed of becoming an astronaut. After graduation, he went to serve in the Air Force with the hope that he would be directed to study.

Where the three stars disappeared: The mystery of 70 years ago

In 1952, three stars suddenly disappeared. They are present in one image of a section of the sky, but they are absent in another, taken an hour later. Scientists have not yet come to a conclusion about this and are putting forward different versions. Современные исследователи выдвигают три основные теории относительно того, что это могло быть. Modern researchers put forward three main theories as to what it could be. The first of them was that they were not three objects, but one. For example, a star that unexpectedly increased its brightness due to a rapid radio burst of a magnetar. At the same time, a wandering black hole passed between us. Its gravitational field distorted the path of light and led to the appearance of erroneous images. 

The second theory was based on the fact that the three stars were separated by 10 angular seconds. If these are three separate objects, then whatever they are illuminated by, the limited speed of light does not allow them to be far from each other and from the source. Finally, the third theory was that the “three stars” were not space objects at all. The Palomar Observatory was located close enough to the New Mexico desert, where nuclear weapons tests were conducted. Radioactive dust could easily get on the plate and create a false image.

Photo of the week: Astronomers show the consequences of the collision of galaxies

Galaxy NGC 772. Source: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA

Using the Gemini South Telescope, astronomers photographed the consequences of the collision of two galaxies that occurred a billion years ago. At its center is the closest known pair of supermassive black holes. NGC 7727 is located at a distance of about 90 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Aquarius. The most notable part of NGC 7727 is its galactic cores, left over from the original galaxies. They contain supermassive black holes. The mass of one of them is 6.3 million, and the other is 154 million solar masses. They are separated by a distance of 1,600 light-years and are gradually reducing the distance between them. It is assumed that in about 250 million years, they will merge into a single object, which will be accompanied by the formation of powerful gravitational waves.

Interesting figure —  98% of the atmosphere is nitrogen

The concept of the Dragonfly spacecraft. Source: Johns Hopkins APL

NASA engineers carried out a series of tests in the wind tunnel of the Dragonfly drone model. It is designed to study Titan. Its atmosphere is 98% nitrogen. Its density is four times that of Earth, and the pressure on the surface of the moon is 1.5 atmospheres. 

​​It is planned to send a rotary-wing aircraft with a total weight of about 450 kg to Titan. It will be equipped with four double screws, allowing it to move at a speed of about 36 km/h and climb to a height of up to 8 km. The drone’s power supply will be provided by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). At the moment, the launch of the Dragonfly mission is scheduled for 2027. It will begin studying Titan in 2035.

Something to read on the weekend

What will happen if the Russian Soyuz spacecraft crash-lands in Ukraine? Yes, the chances of this happening are slim at least. But we should not forget that in the 20 months of Russia’s full-scale invasion, we have already witnessed a number of situations that were once considered absolutely impossible. However, they have come to pass. The editors of The Universe Space Tech conducted a survey among subscribers of our Facebook page and Telegram channel to find out their opinions and also asked the lawyer to comment and clarify the details of this situation.

Read also: India is hoping to build a space station, and the director of Crazy Frog has made a film about a journey through the Solar System: News Digest

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