Extraordinary footage from the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter (which still hasn’t reached its closest distance to the sun) showing surface features of our star including phenomena called “campfires” – omnipresent miniature eruptions that could be contributing to the high temperatures of the solar corona and the origin of the solar wind – too small to have been captured by previous instruments.
And that’s not all. To wit:
“Right now, we are in the part of the 11-year solar cycle when the Sun is very quiet,” says Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, and PHI Principal Investigator. “But because Solar Orbiter is at a different angle to the Sun than Earth, we could actually see one active region that wasn’t observable from Earth. That is a first. We have never been able to measure the magnetic field at the back of the Sun.”
It gets better. As the mission progresses, the Solar Orbiter’s image resolution capabilities will roughly double.
The MIT Biomimetics Robotics department unleashes its pack of frisky miniature cheetah quadruped robots – each weighing about 9kg and capable of all manner of not-yet-killing-all-humans-but-let’s-face-it-its-just-a-matter-of-time shenanigans.
Last month, Japanese Space Agency JAXA’s robotic Hyabusa2 spacecraft shot and deliberately bounced off asteroid 162173 Ryugu just to see what would happen. Hardcore. To wit:
Before impact, Hayabusa2 fired a small bullet into 162173 Ryugu to scattered surface material and increase the chance that Hayabusa2 would be able to capture some. Next month, Hayabusa2 will fire a much larger bullet into Ryugu in an effort to capture sub-surface material. Near the end of this year, Hayabusa2 is scheduled to depart Ryugu and begin a looping trip back to Earth, hopefully returning small pieces of this near-Earth asteroid in late 2020. Studying Ryugu could tell humanity not only about the minor planet‘s surface and interior, but about what materials were available in the early Solar System for the development of life.
The concept of ‘Warp Drive’ featured in Star Trek (and other science fiction) can be a little tricky to visualise, given that Warp 1 is the speed of light and Warp 6 is 392 times the speed of light.
Trekkie EC Henry compares the relative speeds of various ships from the Star Trek canon including the original Enterprise NX-01, subsequent Enterprises, Voyager and Defiant, racing them from Earth to the edge of the solar system,.