The Space Spotlight: Your Weekly Guide to the Universe (#008)

Hello, cosmic explorers! 🌌 

Welcome to the eighth edition of “The Space Spotlight: Your Weekly Guide to the Universe.” 

This week, we’re diving into 

  • the enigma of universal expansion, 
  • thrilling true stories of astronauts, 
  • and the long-awaited homecoming of asteroid samples. 

Curiosity piqued? Trust me, you won’t want to miss this journey through space and time.

What is the Universe Expanding Into? (TED-Ed)

This video delves into the mind-bending concept that our universe is expanding. It addresses the puzzling question: if there’s supposedly nothing beyond our universe, what is it expanding into? 

The video offers an incredibly simple yet enlightening analogy—akin to a loaf of bread rising in the oven—that made me reconsider my own skepticism about the ‘nothingness’ beyond our universe. 

Just when I thought, ‘Wow, maybe there truly isn’t anything out there,’ the video also explores alternative scientific theories. 

It’s a must-watch for anyone keen on grasping complex cosmic ideas without getting lost in scientific jargon.

A Million Miles Away

I have a new fledgling passion – Space movies based on true stories.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched First Man (YouTube Trailer) – the story of Neil Armstrong, and was captivated by it.

This week I watched A Million Miles Away (YouTube Trailer) and was equally entranced – and appreciative of the fact that no-one pulled their punches about what NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez had to go through to achieve his dream.

I would definitely recommend both wholeheartedly!

I Am Not Astronaut Material – Are You? (Just for fun)

Hands up, I am not much of a video game player, but this simple online game has me hooked. Had this been real-life, I’d have bankrupted NASA in a day trying to land this uh, Lander.

Let me know if you do any better!

Our Solar System – Interactive Exploration – NASA

Not only is this page full of tiny, easily digestible, bite-sized chunks of fabulous information, but there is also a really fun interactive map of our solar system that you can travel through; the destination and viewing angle is completely yours to control.

If this is meant for kids, I am a very old kid!

OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return (Official 4K NASA Broadcast)

Ugh, I am publishing this just hours in advance of the OSIRIS-REx return, and am scheduled to watch the event live. 

If you missed it, pop along to NASA – OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return to indubitably see the replay.

Good luck all!

Why this is interesting:

Our home planet is about to get a special delivery from space, and it’s not just any ordinary package. 

NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft is all set to zip by Earth this Sunday (24th September) to drop off what could be a half-pound of material from the asteroid Bennu.

This marks the grand finale of a seven-year journey that has covered a staggering 4 billion miles.

Let’s touch on some facts that might not be on everyone’s radar:

1. Hefty Haul: This isn’t just a sprinkle of cosmic dust. Scientists are expecting about 250grammes of material.

2. A Seven-Year Odyssey: Launched in 2016, Osiris-Rex reached Bennu in 2018. It’s been a complicated affair involving a pogo stick-style sample collection and a lid malfunction that let some of the precious cargo drift into space.

3. Bennu’s Importance: Why Bennu? It’s not just another rock in space. It’s believed to be a relic from the early solar system. And here’s a date for you — September 24, 2182. That’s when Bennu might actually collide with Earth. This mission provides vital information to help us figure out how to, well, avoid that potential future meet-and-greet.

4. Next Stop for Osiris-Rex: After this delivery, the spacecraft is not retiring. It’s off to explore another asteroid, because why stop at one?

5. Cleaner Than Clean: The samples will be stored in a hyper-specialized lab to avoid any cross-contamination. This lab will share a building with moon rocks from the Apollo missions and other cosmic treasures.

6. Asteroid Autumn: Keep your eyes peeled, because this is part of NASA’s “Asteroid Autumn,” featuring multiple asteroid-related missions, including another spacecraft named Psyche and Lucy, which has its own asteroid itinerary.

7. Sample Return Legacy: NASA has ventured into sample-return missions before, but this one is particularly remarkable. Past missions have brought back solar wind particles and comet dust, while international efforts have included lunar samples from the Soviet Union and China.

Earth Receives an Outer Space Signal Every 16 Days

Somehow I missed this piece of news, (and what a channel to find it on! 👀)

Did you hear about this signal from Space that Earth receives every 16 days?

The above is from 2020, so of course I had to go down the rabbit-hole of now and see if there were any updates. 

It was a preliminary search with lots of ‘same, same’ info in 2020, but this article, Astonomers just found 25 more mysterious repeating radio signals from space (April, 2023) offered more information, if still exactly zero answers. 

That’s a wrap for this week’s cosmic round-up! 

Remember, the universe never sleeps, and neither does our quest to understand it. So mark your calendars and come back next weekend for another dose of interstellar wonders. 

Keep looking up! 🌠

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