The jury may be out on intelligent extraterrestrial life, but this we know: We are not alone. At least, we are surrounded by our own junk. In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of the hundreds of millions of pieces of debris currently orbiting planet Earth, an interactive art project backed by London's Royal Astronomical Society called Adrift is allowing us lowly earthlings to adopt a little piece of space junk and let it tweet at us ominously every time it passes overhead, reports Motherboard. Choose from one of three tagged objects: the Vanguard I, the first solar-powered satellite launched by the US in 1958 and the oldest object still in orbit; the SuitSat, a Russian spacesuit full of trash that was ejected from the International Space Station in 2006; and a piece of Fengyun-1C, a Chinese weather satellite intentionally destroyed by China via a missile in 2007. "Tackling the problem of space debris is one of humankind's greatest environmental challenges, but is also perhaps the one that is the least known," Hugh Lewis at the University of Southampton tells Phys.org.
BEIJING – China has shown off the first images of the rover it plans to sent to Mars in mid-2020 to explore the surface for three months, the latest aim of its ambitious space program. China in 2003 became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, after the former Soviet Union and the United States. It has touted its plans for moon exploration and in late 2013 completed the first lunar soft landing since 1976 with the Chang'e-3 craft and its Jade Rabbit rover. China's next manned space mission will be in October,and it is aiming for a manned moon landing by 2036. State news agency Xinhua, in a report late on Tuesday, said the 200-kg (441-pound) rover would have six wheels and be powered by four solar panels -- two more than the rover that China put on the moon, which was 60 kg (132 pounds) lighter.
The results are in: As best we can tell, the universe clumps and expands just how we thought it did. That confirmation comes from the first results of a five-year survey wherein researchers took dark energy into account, observing much more recent cosmic activity than previous methods allowed. This setup, known as the Dark Energy Camera (or DECam), shot its first photos back in 2012. Researchers used it for this study, the Dark Energy Survey (DES), an international effort that analyzed light from 26 million galaxies to learn how cosmic bodies have changed over the last 7 billion years. That spans the last half of our universe's lifespan, which is far more recent than the previous method, which used the European Space Agency's Planck telescope (retired in 2013) to scan cosmic background radiation from the origins of the universe.
Japan's space program, JAXA, soars this weekend after its robotic cargo spacecraft began its four-day journey to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday. Onboard the spacecraft, called Kounotori (after the Japanese word for "white stork"), are more than four tons of cargo, including JAXA's massive debris clearing space whip and a new array of lithium ion batteries for the space station's solar arrays. Friday's cargo launch is particularly important after the failure of a Russian Progress cargo launch earlier this month. Several other cargo launches have met similar fates over the past two years. "Spaceflight's not an easy thing," said NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in an interview aboard the ISS.