Last Month in Space - July
Find out what happened in the space industry in July!
1. Life on Mars?
We haven’t quite found life on Mars yet but radar measurements from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter raises prospects that microbial life might still exist on the red planet!
This is the first time that researchers have identified a stable body of liquid water on Mars having only previously identified that dried out river beds on the surface had once contained water. The Mars Express has found a 12 mile stretch of water hidden under layers of ice and dust in the south pole.
Find out more and what this might mean for future missions here.
2. Name the ESA ExoMars Rover!
At the Farnborough International Airshow Tim Peake announced the search for the name of ESA’s ExoMars rover that will hopefully be on its way to Mars in 2020. The ExoMars rover has a planned 7 month mission to search the Red Planet for signs of past or present microbial life. Sadly it is unlikely that we will see Rover McRockface or Spacey McSpaceface on Mars anytime soon as the final choice will be made by a panel of experts.
You have until 10th October 2018 to submit your suggestions here.
3. Evidence of Gravitational Redshift from Black Hole
Astronomers have observed a phenomenon, predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, known as gravitational redshift. This was the first time gravitational redshift has been observed in an intense gravitational field such as that from a black hole. The Very Large Telescope in Chile observed this phenomenon as a star known as S2 passed through the gravitational field of sagittarius A*, the black hole the lies at the centre of the Milky Way.
More information on gravitational redshift can be found here.
4. UK Heatwave Reveals Historical Secrets
As the UK has been hit by scorching temperatures, images have revealed the remains of ancient settlements, ‘ghost garden’ from the 1850’s and a World War Two airfield. Satellite images have revealed how the UK has changed from green to brown as the UK experienced its longest heatwave in 42 years.
Find more images on the changing landscape of the UK due to the heatwave here.
5. 49 Years Since the First Moon Landings
July marked 49 years since the first human set foot on the Moon and the famous words ‘that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’ were spoken. Apollo 11 launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on July 16th 1969 and reached its destination, the Sea of Tranquility, 4 days later on July 20th. 6 more manned missions to the Moon were launched by NASA before the Apollo programme ended in 1972 having seen 12 men walk on the surface of the Moon.
Things to keep an eye out for in August!
On August 11th NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to launch. The probe will be the first spacecraft to fly into the low solar corona. It will use repeated gravity assists from Venus to bring it closer and closer to the sun and will complete multiple passes by the the sun at approximately 6 million km
The Perseid meteor shower will peak on the 12th August lighting up the sky as particles, ranging in size from a grain of sand to the size of a pea, burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere at 37 miles per hour.
The Earth observation satellite Aeolus is due to launch on August 21st. It is the fifth planned satellite in ESA’s Living Planet Programme and is aiming to develop our knowledge of Earth’s atmosphere and weather systems.
Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.
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