Rockets, photos, the sun, a space station, and a very distant star
April 3, 2022 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Late March 2022 in humanity's exploration of space. The past couple of weeks saw a lot of activity in the solar system, especially with launches and images.

On the Earth One record-setting astronaut and two cosmonauts safely landed in Kazakhstan after their ISS stay. Blue Origin lofted, then landed six people on its fourth human-carrying suborbital flight. NASA nearly wet tested the Space Launch System (SLS), even as lightning struck the launch facility, but scrubbed the event due to safety concerns.

In Earth orbit China successfully launched satellites with its new Long March 6A (长征六号甲运载火箭) rocket. Private company Rocket Lab launched two satellites into orbit on its Elkectron rocket. SpaceX launched satellites and recovered the rocket on a droneship. The Solar Dynamics Observatory in Earth orbit imaged intense new solar flares. Hubble identified the most distant star known so far, at 28 billion light years away.

A German astronomer took so good a photo of the ISS that you can make out individual, spacewalking astronauts. Three cosmonauts rode a Soyuz to their International Space Station mission, wearing Ukrainian colors. Roscosmos decided that, maybe, it will no longer collaborate with other nations on the ISS until Ukraine-related sanctions end. Coming up: Axiom Space will launch a private mission (Ax-1) to the ISS on April 6th.

At the Earth's Lagrange-2 point. The James Webb Space Telescope continued cooling, while successfully aligning instruments for its primary mirror.

Thinking of Venus One NASA scientist floated the idea of building not cloud cities, but cloud continents in that planet's atmosphere.

On Mars The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a fresh impact crater on that planet's surface. Scientists used Perseverance to explore the Martian speed of sound. A planned NASA mission to retrieve Martian samples for Earthbound study was delayed.

Close to the Sun The European Space Agency (ESA) Solar Orbiter, hurtling within the orbit of Mercury, closed in on the sun and took some awesome shots. (Solar storms caused some spectacular skies on Earth.)

In Jupiter's system The Juno probe imaged the shadow of Ganymede, cast against the giant planet's clouds.
posted by doctornemo (11 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Two crewed missions are going up to the ISS on Falcon 9s this month alone. I don't think the US has sent up two crews in a month since the height of the shuttle era in the early 90's. So that's neat.
posted by phooky at 5:44 PM on April 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

Fun post. I note that the speed of sound thing is a lot more interesting than one might expect based on the title. Thanks!
posted by eotvos at 6:20 PM on April 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

Student led Portland State Aerospace Society successfully launched opensource cubesat project Mission: Do Not Catch Fire in Space on March 15 with the help of Astra [launch gallery] and Spaceflight.
posted by to wound the autumnal city at 7:40 PM on April 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

JWST is just amazing. LRB link
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 11:31 PM on April 3, 2022

I'm getting a 404 on that link, Barbara Spitzer ...?
posted by doctornemo at 7:10 AM on April 4, 2022

Great post!
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 8:08 AM on April 4, 2022

Great post. I would subscribe to your Substack!
posted by mykescipark at 12:06 PM on April 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

There were actually four lightning strikes on or near Launch Complex 39B here at Kennedy Space Center. The Lightning Protection Systems worked as designed and the rocket and its launch pad were not damaged.

Artemis-1 (SLS) is currently being fueled (3:15pm local time, 2018Z) and the Wet Dress Rehearsal is going on as planned after a technical delay yesterday. Keep in mind that these tested are designed to discover problems. In fact, the one for the first Saturn V launch took 17 days to complete.

Here is Artemis-1 on Friday night as she entered her first night of testing. I was able to get within about 1000 yards of the shoreline off of LC-39B to take these photos. It was an impressive sight to say the least.

Also, SpaceX launched Transporter, its rideshare mission last Friday, April 1. The morning was stormy before the launch, with a tornado warning about 15 miles south of the launch pad. The clouds parted just enough and just in time for an on-time liftoff and successful mission.
posted by wolpfack at 12:24 PM on April 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

That shot of the ISS by Dr. Voltmer is incredible. From the ground!
posted by xedrik at 5:34 PM on April 4, 2022

Maybe wolpfack and I should launch one, mykescipark.
posted by doctornemo at 8:05 AM on April 5, 2022

A fun tidbit from beyond the solar system: a protoplanet has been detected orbiting AB Aurigae; the planet is both very large (about 9 times Jupiter's mass, verging on brown dwarf status) and very far from its star (93 AU, or about three times Neptune's distance from the Sun).
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:36 PM on April 11, 2022

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