NASA astronauts remember the work and life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the equinox marks the official celestial beginning of a new season and a Saturn moon is more active than once thought. These are just some of the top stories this week from Space.com.
Last equinox of 2020 arrives.
The September equinox arrived this week (Sept. 22), marking the celestial beginning of fall in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere and the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. During equinox, the sun appears directly over the equator at local noon time.
Full story: Hello fall! Equinox kicks off autumn on Sept. 22
NASA astronauts remember feminist voice, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
NASA astronauts and leadership published remarks on Twitter about the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is also known popularly by her initials, RBG. Ginsburg died at the end of last week (Sept. 18). Retired NASA astronaut Mae Jemison was ”shocked and saddened” at Ginsburg’s passing, and current NASA astronaut Anne McClain wrote, ”without RBG, my entire career would have never happened.”
Full story: Astronauts, NASA chief mourn death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Scientists found invisible ultraviolet auroras in a comet.
Researchers found evidence of ultraviolet auroras at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after looking at data collected by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission. This is the first mission to observe ultraviolet auroras at a comet, according to an ESA scientist. Rosetta studied this comet up close for about two years before the mission ended in 2016.
Full story: Rosetta’s ‘rubber ducky’ comet has ultraviolet auroras
The ring of supermassive black hole M87* wobbles over time.
A new analysis of the first black hole to ever be photographed showed that the black hole’s bright ring wobbles significantly over time. The historic photo captured M87*, the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy located about 53 million light-years from the Milky Way. The lead author of the Sept. 23 paper said this work allows astronomers to rule out some theoretical models of the accretion of material into the black hole.
Full story: Surprise! The ring around M87 galaxy’s monster black hole wobbles over time.
Melting ice sheets will add more than 15 inches to sea levels by 2100.
A new study shows that melting ice sheets will cause global sea levels to rise over 15 inches (28 centimeters) by the year 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace. Greenhouse gasses emitted by human activity contribute significantly to climate change on Earth. The new study is part of the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6), which is led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
Full story: Melting ice sheets will add over 15 inches to global sea level rise by 2100
Geyser-filled Saturn moon is more active than previously known.
NASA’s Cassini mission studied the Saturn system until it ended in 2017. Researchers used spacecraft data to create a new global map of Enceladus. Cassini had previously spotted more than 100 geysers shooting icy water into space from its southern hemisphere, and the new mapping shows Enceladus also experienced recent icy activity in its northern hemisphere.
Full story: Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus has fresh ice in unexpected place
Space station dodges a piece of space junk.
On Sept. 22, International Space Station (ISS) controllers fired thrusters on a docked Russian cargo spacecraft to maneuver the ISS away from a potential collision with space debris. At the ISS’s orbiting altitude, space junk flies around at about 17,500 mph (28,200 kph) and that speed means a small piece of debris could cause serious damage to the ISS.
Full story: Astronauts take shelter as space station dodges orbital junk
See also: Earth may get a new minimoon — but it may just be 1960s space junk
Estée Lauder to send beauty serum into space for an ISS photoshoot.
Bottles of a nighttime care serum by cosmetics company Estée Lauder will launch aboard the next Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Estée Lauder is paying NASA to launch bottles of one of its most successful products up to the International Space Station (ISS) to create content for Estée Lauder’s social media channels.
Full story: Estée Lauder paying NASA for skincare photoshoot on space station
Blue Origin scrubs New Shepard rocket launch.
An hour before liftoff of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on Sept. 24, the private spaceflight company delayed the launch time due to weather. But the spaceflight company detected another issue once the clouds cleared, and therefore called off the launch. The potential issue was with the power supply to one of the 12 science experiments onboard the rocket, Blue Origin tweeted.
Full story: Blue Origin scrubs New Shepard rocket launch due to power glitch
SpaceX performs an explosive pressure test.
SpaceX performed a pressure test on its Starship SN7.1 tank on Sept. 22 at its South Texas facilities. The Starship rocket is being designed to take 100 passengers to distant space destinations like the moon or Mars. SN7.1’s predecessor, the SN7, blew up during a June 2020 test.
Full story: SpaceX pops Starship tank on purpose in explosive pressure test
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