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Experts are finally uncovering the secrets of Mars; new spacecraft, research, and data are helping NASA and other space agencies fill in gaps in knowledge about the potential for life on the red planet.
Why This Matters: For decades, scientists have explored the idea of placing humans on Mars for research not only on the planet itself but on its potential to sustain human life.
NASA has named 27 asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter after Black, Hispanic, and Native American astronauts to recognize their contributions and inspire a new generation of potential space explorers. Among those honored include Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Ed Dwight Jr., José Hernández, and John Herrington.
Why this Matters: NASA, like many American industries, has struggled with diversity — only 18 Black astronauts have gone to space.
Pentagon scientists have successfully tested a small solar panel that, when launched into space, can collect solar power and beam it to any place on earth. The special panel is called a Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module (PRAM) and was launched last May attached to a drone that circles the earth once every 90 minutes. If scaled up, scientists say that these orbital solar panels could work 24/7 and collect more sunlight than those on earth, and provide power to remote areas of the globe and major power grids alike.
To many companies, space is the new “Wild West,” a “final frontier” of resources to be exploited for profit. To avoid a “land rush” in space, nations and space companies will need to agree on what they can claim to own or even begin to extract from outer space before their competitors beat them to it.
Why this Matters: Tesla and Amazon are working to make space travel and resource extraction for private citizens and companies possible.
This week presents a rare astronomical event: the northern lights will be visible to a large swathe of the United States. According to the latest forecast from the Space Weather Prediction Center, the Aurora Borealis can be spotted from the Pacific Northwest to New England and as far south as northern Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania.
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