Scientists found a mysterious new child of killer whale, asteroids aren’t anything like they were in “Armageddon,” and the Milky Way weighs a lot. Exoplanets also had their moment in the sun this week.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule launched March 2 and completed its historic mission Friday. The capsule docked at the International Space Station to deliver supplies, spent the week attached to the station and then splashed back down on Earth. It’s been designed to carry astronauts to the space station as early as June or July, but humans were on board for this historic test flight.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain tweeted that it was “the dawn of a new era in human spaceflight. , “along with a photo of the capsule.
Vice President Mike Pence called the astronauts on the station to congratulate them on this achievement and all that it holds for the future.
But Crew Dragon wasn’t without its distracting delights. Along for the ride was Ripley, a space-suited dummy named for Ellen Ripley from the “Alien” movies.
Ripley was meant to make sure that the spacecraft would be safe and comfortable for humans. Ripley even has little sensors at key points like the head, neck and spine to see what the experience might be like for astronauts who could be using it later this year. Little Earth, adorably wonderful plush toy representing our planet. Little Earth, also called Buddy, has enjoyed an eventful week tagging along with the astronauts. While Crew Dragon has returned to Earth with Ripley on board, Little Earth gets to enjoy an extended vacation until July. That means he’ll watch McClain and Christina Koch conduct the first all-female spacewalk this month.
Throughout the week, McClain shared delightful photos on Twitter of the plushie accompanying her during tasks, experiments, workouts and even dinner.
And of course, Little Earth got to see Big Earth from the best vantage point. “Yes, buddy, that’s your Mother Earth. Isn’t she beautiful?” McClain tweeted, accompanied by a picture that’s too cute for words.
You can catch the full recap of his big week here. Little Earth’s shenanigans
Shockwaves are beautiful
The speed of sound (not the Coldplay song) is associated with sonic booms and supersonic jets . But have you ever wondered what it looks like? Hint: Never seen anything like it
It took 10 years to develop the technology that would allow air-to-air photography capturing the interaction of shockwaves from two supersonic planes. The two US Air Force T-38 supersonic jets performed a test flight in California flying 30 feet apart to create interacting shockwaves.
A NASA B-200 King aircraft over 2,000 feet below the planes and captured photos at 1,400 frames per second .
The shockwaves seen in the photo create supersonic booms when they merge in the atmosphere, which breaks the sound barrier. Supersonic flights that don’t make this noise but rather more of a low rumble could lift the restrictions on supersonic flight over land. These photos can help researchers test and develop that technology.
“I am ecstatic about how these images turned out,” J.T. Heineck, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said in a statement.
New whale, who dis?
A new type of whale has been spotted, “Type D” to be exact. What does that mean? Well, Type D whales look like killer whales, or orcas, but they have more rounded head, smaller white markings around the eyes and a different body shape.
An international team of scientists spotted them off the coast of Cape Horn in Chile and took small biopsies to study them.
“We are very excited about the genetic analyzes to come,” Bob Pitman, a researcher from NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center, said in a release. “Type D killer whales could be the largest undescribed animal left on the planet and a clear indication of how little we know about life in our oceans.”