NASA’s CHAPEA Project is an exciting development that will help pave the way for human exploration of Mars. The objective of the CHAPEA project is to create a simulation of a Mars habitat that can sustain long-duration space missions. To accomplish this, NASA has partnered with ICON Technology, Inc. to create a 3D-printed habitat called Mars Dune Alpha. Moreover, the structure is designed to simulate the harsh conditions of the red planet and will host three different crews for one-year missions. NASA will use the insights and information gathered during these missions. It will use to ensure the well-being and success of future astronauts living and working on Mars. This is a significant milestone for humanity’s pursuit of space exploration and a giant leap toward our ultimate goal of colonizing other planets.

So, if you don’t know about this project, don’t worry; First, you should know:

What is NASA’s CHAPEA Mars Habitat Project?

NASA’s CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) project aims to create a 3D-printed habitat that simulates a realistic Mars habitat to support long-duration, exploration-class space missions. Architecture firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) designed the Mars Dune Alpha structure. They completed it using the Vulcan construction system which spans over 1,700 square feet. It is located at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Hence it equipped itself with private crew quarters. It includes a kitchen, medical facilities, areas for recreation and fitness, workstations, crop-growing stations, and two bathrooms.

CHAPEA Mars Habitat Project

To satisfy the functional requirements of a Mars habitat, the structure’s layout is designed in a gradient of privacy, with shared recreation and living spaces between four private crew quarters, dedicated workstations, and food-growing stations. To enhance the technology readiness of multiple technology gaps related to additive construction for pressurized surface habitats. The habitat includes modular flooring and outfitting elements for the interior and Earth-brought elements like airlocks, hatches, etc a medical pass-through window.

Moreover, come to the discussion of the background:


NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) initiated 2020, the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) project. The project aimed to simulate a realistic Mars habitat that could support long-duration, exploration-class space missions. To accomplish this, ICON Technology, Inc. was awarded a subcontract through Jacobs. To deliver a 3D-printed habitat known as Mars Dune Alpha. The project was located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. ICON utilized the innovative Vulcan construction system. It allowed them to complete a 1,700-square-foot structure designed by the renowned architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The design incorporated various features to simulate a realistic Martian environment. Such as isolation from Earth, limited resources, and harsh weather conditions. The structure aimed to serve as a blueprint for designing habitats on the red planet.

Similarly, here is a point;

What is CHAPEA?

The CHAPEA project team consisted of several experts, including Calvin Glasgow and Michael Gauthier as Principle Project Managers, Bungane Mehlomakulu as MEP and Building Science Manager, Caleb Mann as Director of Build Operations, and Jason Ballard as CEO of ICON. Additionally, there were numerous ICON team members, including myself as the Director of Architecture. The architect of record was Bjarke Ingels Group, with Lead Architects Julian Ocampo Salazar and Stephanie Mauer. The engineer of record was Fort Structures. The project was a significant milestone for the exploration of Mars and represented a giant leap in humanity’s pursuit of space exploration. The CHAPEA project is anticipated to begin one-year-long analog missions in the fall of 2022. Hence, it will provide invaluable data for the development of long-duration space missions.

Also, you need to know,

What is the Mars Dune Alpha?

NASA’s CHAPEA features Mars Dune Alpha. ICON Technology, Inc. has recently completed the construction of a 3D-printed habitat known as Mars Dune Alpha. It will also serve as an analog to a realistic Mars habitat for long-duration, exploration-class space missions. The renowned architecture firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) designed this habitat. He utilizes it to provide astronauts with a living and working space. And it simulates the conditions they are likely to encounter on Mars. Scientists have specially designed the layout of the Mars Dune Alpha habitat to ensure that separate areas are available for both living and working. The habitat’s interiors have been constructed to provide a realistic representation of the living conditions that astronauts can expect to encounter on Mars.

Mars Dune Alpha


The primary objective of constructing a 3D-printed habitat

Moreover, the primary objective of constructing a 3D-printed habitat is to eliminate the need for large quantities of building materials to be launched on multiple flights, which is cost prohibitive. Using additive construction technology enables future space exploration settlements to be constructed using locally available resources on Mars. The Mars Dune Alpha habitat will host three crews, each consisting of four individuals and two alternates, for one-year missions. During their time in the habitat,  astronomers will observe and study the crew to provide valuable insights and information for NASA. Scientists will use this information to assess NASA’s space food system and the physical and behavioral health and performance outcomes for future space missions.

The research conducted in the Mars Dune Alpha habitat will be crucial in understanding the risks and resources. Hence, it required itself to support crew health and performance during extended-duration missions on Mars. NASA also plans to use the information obtained from this project to inform risk and resource trades for future missions. It ensures the well-being and success of astronauts living and working on Mars.

Now, you probably might be wondering,

What is the purpose of CHAPEA?

The primary goal of NASA’s CHAPEA is to simulate year-long stays on the surface of Mars. Along with three different crews consisting of four individuals in the Mars Dune Alpha habitat during analog missions. To obtain the most accurate data during the analog, the scientists have designed a habitat to be as Mars-realistic as feasible. Along with environmental stressors such as resource limitations, isolation, and equipment failure, it includes significant workloads.

Purpose of CHAPEA

The analog missions provide valuable insights and information to assess NASA’s space food system. Along with physical and behavioral health, and performance outcomes for future space missions. Major crew activities during the analog may consist of simulated spacewalks. It includes virtual reality, communications, crop growth, meal preparation and consumption, exercise, hygiene activities, maintenance work, personal time, science work, and sleep. NASA will use research from the Mars Dune Alpha habitat to inform risk and resource trades to support crew health and performance. As while living on Mars during an extended mission.


Published by: Sky Headlines

Exploring the moon has always been a topic of fascination for scientists, researchers, and space enthusiasts. NASA’s Artemis program aims to take this fascination to the next level by landing the first woman and next man on the lunar South Pole in 2024. But that’s not all. The program also aims to establish sustainable exploration on the Moon by the decade’s end. To achieve this, NASA has developed the Artemis Base Camp concept. As it includes a modern lunar cabin, a rover, and even a mobile home.

So, get ready as we are about to explore,

What is NASA Base Camp Concept?

NASA’s Artemis Base Camp concept includes a modern lunar cabin, a rover, and a mobile home. It offers astronauts a place to live and work on the Moon for up to two months. The base camp will be located at the lunar South Pole. Hence, it has potential access to ice and other mineral resources. The crew will wear next-generation spacesuits that provide increased mobility. It will also, provide modern communications, and a more robust life support system than Apollo predecessors.

NASA's Artemis Base Camp
Image Credit: NASA


NASA is evaluating proposals for a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) and a pressurized rover. It could drive autonomously or remotely from Earth to conduct science and exploration activities. The unexplored south-polar region of the Moon offers unique opportunities to unlock scientific secrets about history. Along with the evolution of the Earth and the Moon, and the Artemis program aims to learn how to spend more time on the lunar surface and prepare for future trips to Mars by conducting life science research and mitigating hazards associated with space exploration.

Now, let’s take a closer look on,

What are the key elements of the Artemis Base Camp concept?

Artemis Base Camp is the proposed lunar outpost that NASA plans to establish in the near future. It is a fascinating concept that has captivated the imagination of space enthusiasts around the world. So, one of the most intriguing aspects of this project is the innovative technology. It will facilitate human exploration of the Moon.

Here are the three key elements that are going to play an important role in the Artemis Base Camp concept:

Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV):

The Lunar Terrain Vehicle, or LTV, will be a vital mode of transport for the astronauts stationed at the Base Camp. This unpressurized utility vehicle will be capable of navigating the rugged lunar terrain with ease, allowing astronauts to explore areas that are inaccessible on foot. The LTV will carry two astronauts in their Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Units (xEMU), the advanced spacesuit for lunar exploration. The xEMU suits will provide astronaut protection and mobility, enabling them to work on the lunar surface for extended periods. Moreover, the lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) will arrive after Artemis III in 2025 to build a base camp.

Habitable Mobility Platform:

Another key element of the Artemis Base Camp concept is NASA’s mobile lunar habitat concept, called the habitable mobility platform, which has a pressurized interior with life support systems. This allows astronauts to travel without wearing spacesuits, making it more comfortable and time-efficient. Unlike unpressurized rovers, which limit mission duration based on how long oxygen lasts in spacesuits, the habitable mobility platform enables longer and farther crewed exploration of the lunar surface. The Habitable Mobility Platform will enable astronauts to explore the Moon’s surface in greater detail and with greater flexibility than ever before. Experts can’t say much about the RV’s appearance since its final design has yet to be finalized. But it’s meant to accommodate many astronauts for up to two weeks of living and working.

Foundation Surface Habitat:

The Foundation Surface Habitat is a non-mobile structure designed for short stays of a few days by up to four astronauts. This pressurized habitat will provide astronauts with a safe and comfortable living space during their time at the Base Camp. It will be equipped with integrated life support systems to ensure the astronauts have everything they need to survive and thrive on the lunar surface.
Now, you might be thinking,

What is the purpose of the Base Camp?

The objective of the base camp is to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon by the end of the decade. Unlike the Apollo missions, the current effort seeks to lay the foundation for long-term exploration and utilization of the moon’s resources.

NASA’s Steve Creech highlights this shift in priorities by noting that while the Apollo missions were impressive, their main goal was to prove that the United States could achieve them. In contrast, the current lunar initiative aims to build upon the knowledge gained from past missions. Hence, they use it as a stepping stone for future endeavors. Here are some objectives of the Base Camp:

Artemis Base Camp is made to use the Moon’s resources in a sustainable way. In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) will provide essential resources for the camp.

The base camp will also establish sustainable power during the lunar day/night cycles.

Design and build machinery and electronics that can operate in the extreme lunar environment, including super-chilly permanently shadowed craters.

It also mitigates the harmful effects of lunar dust on equipment and human health.

The base camp will carry out surface excavation, manufacturing, and construction duties.

The crew will use advanced rovers, drills, and other equipment to explore and navigate the lunar surface and subsurface.

Let’s conclude this debate,

Crux of the discussion!

NASA’s Artemis Base Camp concept represents an exciting new era of lunar exploration, with the potential to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon. The innovative technology and key elements of the Base Camp will enable astronauts to explore the Moon’s surface in greater detail. Along with greater flexibility than ever before. By exploring and navigating the lunar surface and subsurface, the Artemis program aims to prepare for future trips to Mars and unlock scientific secrets about the history and evolution of Earth and the Moon. As we look to the future, it is clear that the Artemis program represents a critical step in humanity’s journey toward deeper space exploration. We can’t wait to see what discoveries and achievements lie ahead.


Published by: Sky Headlines

The space race has always been a source of excitement and awe, with every new development pushing the limits of human knowledge and technology. NASA’s CAPSTONE Mission is no exception, representing a new era of innovation and exploration. This spacecraft is set to make history by testing cutting-edge systems and technologies in space, paving the way for future lunar missions and human exploration of the moon. CAPSTONE will change our understanding of the universe and space exploration with its mission objectives and goals.

Come along as we delve into the specifics of this astounding mission and the future it could unlock. So,


The CAPSTONE, or Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, is one of NASA’s first spacecraft to fly in a near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO). This innovative spacecraft, developed by Advanced Space and propelled by Stellar Exploration, is a 12U CubeSat type. So, it will take on the role of a trailblazer by demonstrating cutting-edge technologies and operations in space. With a total cost of around $30 million.

Credits: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter

CAPSTONE’s primary mission is set to last six months. But it has the potential to continue operating for an additional year or more in an extended mission. Scheduled to launch on June 28th, 2022, aboard an Electron/Photon HyperCurie rocket from Rocket Lab’s Mahia Launch Complex in New Zealand, CAPSTONE has entered the Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the moon on November 14th, 2022.

You should also know,

What is the purpose of the CAPSTONE satellite?

CAPSTONE’s mission objectives are extensive and include many significant accomplishments for future lunar missions. One of its key objectives is to verify the characteristics of a cis-lunar near rectilinear halo orbit. Also, it will help determine its usefulness for future spacecraft. The main goal of CAPSTONE’s mission is to test out new systems and technologies in space as part of a technology demonstration. In addition to its role as a trailblazer, CAPSTONE will also serve as a vital component of NASA’s larger Lunar Gateway program. Moreover, it aims to establish a permanent human presence on the moon.

Artemis Moon Program!
Image Credits: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter


One of CAPSTONE’s main goals is to test a new navigation system that will allow it to measure its position relative to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) without relying on ground stations. This system will help pave the way for future lunar missions by enabling spacecraft to navigate autonomously and more efficiently in space. With its arrival in lunar orbit on November 14, 2022, CAPSTONE is about to finish its six-month mission to orbit the moon, collect data, and test new technologies that will help us learn more about and explore our neighbor in the sky.

Now you might be thinking,

Did CAPSTONE reach the Moon?

The CAPSTONE mission operations team verified that the CAPSTONE spacecraft entered the Moon’s orbit on November 13, 2022. At 7:39 p.m. EST, the CubeSat executed its first orbit insertion maneuver by firing its thrusters to place the spacecraft into orbit. CAPSTONE is currently in an NRHO or near-rectilinear halo orbit. This NRHO is the same orbit that will support the Artemis missions of NASA. CAPSTONE is the first spacecraft to fly an NRHO and the first CubeSat to function on the Moon.

NASA's pathfinding moon CubeSat
Image Credits: Illustration by NASA/Daniel Rutter

Moreover, Let’s find out,

What is the current status of NASA’s Capstone?

The CAPSTONE spacecraft is currently operating successfully in a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) around the Moon, fulfilling its mission objectives. The spacecraft has completed approximately 12.5 orbits since its arrival on November 13th and has operated successfully through two lunar eclipses. So this presented challenges for its thermal and power systems. The spacecraft has also executed two maintenance maneuvers to keep it in its desired orbit.

The CAPSTONE team has completed interface testing with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter ground systems and is preparing for further experiments. It includes crosslink experiments with LRO and technology demonstrations using the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System (CAPS). The spacecraft still has approximately 56% of its fuel remaining. Hence, it provides a significant margin to operate in the NRHO for the planned mission duration and beyond. The CAPSTONE mission team has satisfied its fourth mission objective of disseminating lessons learned from the mission by publishing several papers related to mission operations and program development. The team plans to publish additional papers in the future detailing their upcoming plans in the NRHO.


Published by: Sky Headlines

NASA and a private company called Axiom Space showed off new spacesuits that will be used by astronauts when they go to the Moon. These suits are Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Units or AxEMUs. They’re better than Apollo and ISS suits. The new suits were only partially shown so the design would not be copied. An extra layer of fabric only for display is covering the new Axiom Space xEMU spacesuits.

The primary reason for using this cover layer is to hide the specific details and design of the spacesuit since they are proprietary, meaning they are owned by Axiom Space and not meant to be revealed to the public or competitors. The press release also explains that the spacesuit will be white, as it needs to reflect heat and protect astronauts from the extremely high temperatures on the Moon.

What is the difference between this suit and the new AxEMU spacesuit?

Compared to the Apollo suits, the new xEMU spacesuits are one-piece suits with a “hatch” on the back, which is a back entry design that allows astronauts to step into the suit from behind. The suit has a hard torso that provides the core structure, arms and legs, and various mobility joints. The arms and legs can be changed out for custom fitting, which provides a better fit for the individual astronaut.

Additionally, the AxEMU spacesuit has a portable life support system on the back that provides life support systems for heat and cooling, air to breathe, and even food and water. The helmet bubble is mounted to the hard upper torso, and on top is the visor assembly that includes lights to allow astronauts to see in shadowed areas or during the lunar night. The new gloves and boots are designed to be more flexible and durable, allowing astronauts to work longer hours on the lunar surface.

xEMU spacesuits
Axiom Space engineer Jim Stein wears the prototype of the new AxEMU. Via NASA TV

However, we got to see that they are more functional and flexible than older suits,

How to get inside the xEMU spacesuits?

The suit is a one-piece suit with a hard torso that provides the core structure of the suit and arms and legs with various mobility joints. It can change out the legs and arms for fitting. To get into the suit, the astronaut would first approach the suit from the back, where there is a hatch or opening. They would then open the hatch and step into the suit one leg at a time. And pull  it up to their waist. They would then slip their arms into the arm openings, which have a variety of mobility joints to allow for flexibility.

spacesuits for moon exploration
Credit: Axiom Space

Once the arms are in, the astronaut would put on the helmet. The helmet is then attached to the hard upper torso of the xEMU spacesuits. The visor assembly is located on top of the helmet bubble. The visor assembly includes lights that help astronauts see in shadowed areas or during the lunar night. The backpack is located on the rear of the spacesuit. The backpack contains life support systems that provide cooling and heat, air to breathe, and even food and water to the astronaut. Once the backpack is attached, the astronaut is ready to go outside and perform a spacewalk or extravehicular activity (EVA).

Now, you might be wondering,

Who demonstrates the suit by putting the suit on?

Axiom Space engineer Jim Stein wore a prototype of the new suit and demonstrated it by walking around, doing squats, lunges, kneeling, and more. As well as displaying how much flexibility the arms of the new suit provided.

NASA’s Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program office are based at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). The program office conducted ten years of research on spacesuits for lunar activities, including moonwalks. He shared research findings with Axiom, the designers of the xEMU spacesuits. Axiom used this information to develop the new AxEMU spacesuit. The next astronauts landing on the Moon will wear this new spacesuit.

advanced AxEMU spacesuits
A view of the back of the new AxEMU suit. To the right is Russell Ralston, deputy program manager for Extravehicular Activity at Axiom Space. Via NASA TV.

Let’s find out,

What are the experts’ remarks on this?

Lara Kearney is the program manager. She explains that developing a spacesuit for the Artemis missions was challenging due to the Moon’s harsh environment. In particular, the south pole’s temperature requirements presented a significant challenge. The team aimed to make the new suit more mobile than the Apollo suits to improve astronaut movement. However, they also leveraged their past knowledge and experience to guide Axiom Space in developing the new spacesuit.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche says NASA has not created a new astronaut spacesuit in the last 40 years. The last time NASA created new spacesuits was for the Space Shuttle program. Therefore, the collaboration with Axiom Space has created a new spacesuit, the AxEMU, which Wyche describes as being more functional. She adds that NASA will collaborate with Axiom Space to make the new spacesuit safe for astronauts.


Published by: Sky Headlines

The universe is full of mysteries, and one of the biggest is whether or not an asteroid could hit Earth in a way that would be very terrible. It’s hard to imagine the severity of the damage and lives that could be lost in such a tragedy. But what if there were some way to stop a catastrophe of this scale? So this is where DART comes in. The DART mission is a fascinating and challenging task that could alter the path of human events by revealing new ways to safeguard Earth from asteroids.

But firstly we should know that,

What is this Dart?

DART, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, is a planetary defense mission led by NASA and the Laboratory of Applied Physics of Johns Hopkins University. The mission’s primary objective is to test the effectiveness of a technique called a kinetic impactor. Hence, it involves redirecting the path of an asteroid by colliding with a spacecraft into it at high speed.

The spacecraft, also called the DART impactor, was launched on November 23, 2021, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg, SLC-4E. The DART impactor weighs 610 kg. It carries a CubeSat called LICIACube, which was deployed six months and four days into the mission. The target of the DART mission is the Didymos system. It is a binary asteroid system consisting of two objects – the primary asteroid Didymos and its smaller moonlet called Dimorphos. The DART impactor is expected to collide with Dimorphos on September 26, 2022, at a distance of 56.7 km from the Didymos system.

Here arises the question,

What is the purpose of DART?

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission aims to test if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its pathway to respond to a potential asteroid impact threat. DART’s target is the binary asteroid system Didymos, composed of two asteroids – Didymos and Dimorphos. The DART spacecraft impacted Dimorphos. It is a smaller moonlet asteroid orbiting Didymos, nearly head-on, shortening the time it takes Dimorphos to orbit Didymos by 33 minutes. The scientists designed the impact carefully to bring Dimorphos’s orbit slightly closer to Didymos. But the system is not on a path to collide with Earth and poses no actual threat. The DART demonstration tests technology and capability to respond to a future asteroid impact threat, should one ever be discovered.

Furthermore, you need to find out,

What are the main objectives of DART’s mission?

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission has several key objectives, which include testing our ability to achieve a kinetic impact on an asteroid and observing its response. The primary objective of the mission is to demonstrate a kinetic impact with the smaller moonlet asteroid Dimorphos. It orbits the larger asteroid Didymos in a binary system. Another key objective is to change the binary orbital period of Dimorphos by using DART’s kinetic impact. So, an investigation team will measure it using telescopes on Earth. It observes how much the impact has changed the asteroid’s motion in space.

Additionally, the DART mission aims to engage the international planetary science community and foster worldwide cooperation to address the global issue of planetary defense. The use of ground-based telescope observations before and after the impact will allow for precise measurements of Dimorphos’ period change. Moreover, the mission seeks to measure the effects of the impact and resulting ejecta on Dimorphos. As it provides valuable insights into the behavior of asteroids and their response to impacts. By achieving these objectives, the DART mission will help advance our understanding of planetary defense and our ability to mitigate potential asteroid impact threats.

Now, come to the discussion that,

Was the NASA DART mission successful or not?

NASA has recently confirmed that the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission has successfully changed the orbit of an asteroid. It marked the first time humans have intentionally altered the motion of a celestial object. Hence, by colliding with the smaller moonlet asteroid, Dimorphos, DART impacted its target asteroid, Didymos, in successfully demonstrating asteroid deflection technology. The impact reduced the time it takes for Dimorphos to orbit Didymos by 32 minutes, down from the previous 11 hours and 55 minutes. This margin of error is around plus or minus 2 minutes. NASA had set a minimum goal of a 73-second orbit period change. The DART mission surpassed it by over 25 times. Astronomers on Earth have been using telescopes to measure the change in orbit since the impact occurred on September 26, 2022.

Moreover, let’s find out,

What are experts’ views on this mission?

The DART coordination lead from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel. Maryland “Nancy Chabot,” says: “DART has given us some fascinating data about both asteroid properties and the effectiveness of a kinetic impactor as a planetary defense technology,” Moreover, she explains: “The DART team is continuing to work on this rich dataset to fully understand this first planetary defense test of asteroid deflection.”

Bill Nelson, NASA’s Administrator, says: “All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have”. Moreover, he explains: “This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity.  Demonstrating commitment from NASA’s exceptional team and partners from around the world.”

The Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington is Lori Glaze. She says: “This result is one important step toward understanding the full effect of DART’s impact with its target asteroid”.  While, she added: “As new data come in each day, astronomers will be able to better assess. They will assess whether, and how, a mission like DART could be used in the future. It will help protect Earth from a collision with an asteroid if we ever discover one headed our way.”

So, here comes the point,

What are researchers looking forward to for this mission?

The investigation team is currently focused on gathering more data with ground-based observatories and radar facilities to improve the precision of the period measurement of Dimorphos. While this is ongoing, attention has shifted towards measuring the efficiency of momentum transfer from DART’s impact with the asteroid. This involves analyzing the ejecta. As it is the debris launched into space by the impact, to better understand how it affected DART’s push against Dimorphos. To do this, the team needs more information on the physical properties of the asteroid. It includes the characteristics of its surface and its strength.

Investigaters are investigating these issues currently. As the astronomers continuing to study imagery of Dimorphos from DART’s terminal approach and the Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube). In approximately four years, scientists has planned the European Space Agency’s Hera project  to conduct detailed surveys of both Dimorphos and Didymos. They focus on the crater left by DART’s collision and precise measurement of Dimorphos’ mass. This future mission will provide valuable insights into the effects of DART’s impact on the asteroid. And then it is aid in the development of future planetary defense strategies.


Published by: Sky Headlines

The universe is vast and complex, and our ability to grasp it is limited by the instruments we have at our disposal. That’s where remarkable space-based observatories like the Spitzer Space Telescope come in – with its advanced infrared capabilities. This telescope allowed us to see the universe in a whole new light. That unlocks secrets that were previously hidden from us. In this blog, we will travel through time to learn about the Spitzer Space Telescope, its accomplishments, and the fantastic discoveries it has aided in.

But firstly we should know that,

What is the Spitzer Space Telescope?

This spacecraft was launched on August 25, 2003, at 5:35 AM. It aimed to study the cosmos in a completely different light. Orbiting at a height of 568 km and moving at a speed of 0.4741 km/s, Spitzer was a revolutionary piece of technology that gave us a new perspective on space. At $720 million, this project marked a significant investment for space travel in the future.

NASA launched the Spitzer Space Telescope as part of the Great Observatories Program, which included other space-based observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope, Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. While those telescopes focused on visible light, gamma rays, and X-rays, respectively. The Spitzer was designed to detect infrared radiation, which is primarily heat radiation. This allowed it to observe objects in the universe that were too cool or obscured by dust to be seen with optical telescopes.

Spitzer Space Telescope
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech


What was the use of the Spitzer Space Telescope?

The Spitzer Space Telescope was an essential tool when studying the cosmos in infrared light. Its primary function was to detect infrared radiation, mainly heat. Spitzer’s sensitive detectors have helped astronomers learn more about distant and hidden regions of the cosmos. Such as dusty stellar nurseries, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems.

Using Spitzer’s infrared vision, astronomers have studied inaccessible phenomena. Such as failed stars (brown dwarfs), extrasolar planets, gigantic molecular clouds, and organic chemicals that could be the key to life on other worlds. As a whole, the Spitzer Space Telescope is crucial in solving cosmic puzzles.

Here is the important thing to note;

Is the Spitzer telescope still in space?

Yes, the Spitzer telescope is still in space but no longer operational. The Spitzer telescope lasted in the cold phase for about 16 years. The Spitzer Space Telescope, which NASA launched in 2003, was the most sensitive infrared space telescope ever built at the time of its launch. During its 16 years of existence, it fundamentally altered our understanding of the cosmos.

The associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington is “Thomas Zurbuchen”. He says: “Spitzer has taught us about entirely new aspects of the cosmos and taken us many steps further in understanding how the universe works. It addresses questions about our origins and whether or not are we alone”.  Moreover, he said: “This Great Observatory has also identified some important and new questions and tantalizing objects for further study, mapping a path for future investigations to follow. Its immense impact on science certainly will last well beyond the end of its mission.”


What makes the Spitzer Space Telescope unique?

The Spitzer Space Telescope was unique for various reasons. One of the most remarkable features of Spitzer was its ability to detect infrared radiation. It allowed it to study cosmic regions hidden from optical telescopes. The Spitzer telescope also had a large mirror that measured 33 inches (85 cm) in diameter, which made it the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space.

Furthermore, Spitzer was the final mission in NASA’s Great Observatories Program – a family of four space-based observatories, each observing the Universe in a different kind of light. The program also includes the visible-light Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), and Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO). Spitzer was also unique because of its cryogenic telescope assembly, which contained the telescope and Spitzer’s three scientific instruments.

Here is to understand,

What can the Spitzer telescope see that others Cannot?

The Spitzer Space Telescope was capable of seeing cosmic regions that are hidden from optical telescopes. It could detect infrared radiation, which allowed it to study cooler objects in space, such as failed stars (brown dwarfs), extrasolar planets, giant molecular clouds, and organic molecules that may hold the secret to life on other planets. Spitzer also studied the centers of galaxies and newly forming planetary systems, which are difficult to observe with optical telescopes.

Spitzer’s ability to see the Universe in a different kind of light than optical telescopes allows astronomers to study the Universe in previously impossible ways. Overall, Spitzer’s unique capabilities made it an essential tool for understanding the Universe.

What are the Discoveries of the Spitzer space telescope?

The spitzer space telescope has helped in knowing the universe better than ever. Some of its major discoveries are:

  • Spitzer detects heat radiation and infrared light. Scientists used Spitzer data to create the first exoplanet “weather map” in May 2009. This exoplanet weather map showed temperature changes on HD 189733b, a massive gas planet. The scientists also found roaring winds in the planet’s atmosphere.
  • Infrared light usually penetrates gas and dust clouds better than visible light. Hence, Spitzer has shown star-birthing zones. Spitzer captured young stars emerging from the Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud. Astronomers call this cloud “Rho Oph.” The nebula is 410 light-years from Earth, near Scorpius and Ophiuchus.
  • Spitzer found COSMOS-AzTEC3 in 2011. This set of galaxies’ light reached Earth after 12 billion years. Scientists believe proto-clusters like this one evolved into modern galaxy clusters. COSMOS-AzTEC3 was the furthest proto-cluster ever found. It helps researchers understand how galaxies started and evolved.
  • Spitzer was the first telescope capable of directly identifying chemicals in the atmospheres of exoplanets back in 2007. Chemical compounds in two gas exoplanets were identified using spectroscopy. These gas-based “hot Jupiters,” HD 209458b and HD 189733b, orbit closer to their suns than our solar system’s gas planets. Directly studying exoplanet atmospheres could lead to the discovery of life on rocky worlds. This artist’s rendering depicts a heated Jupiter.
  • Supermassive black holes reside in most galaxies. Spitzer found two of the most distant supermassive black holes, revealing galaxy formation history. Quasars are black holes with discs. Spitzer found two quasars that emerged less than 1 billion years after the cosmos. Their light took 13 billion years to reach Earth.


Let’s conclude this discussion:

Scientists initially designed the Spitzer Space Telescope for a short mission. But it exceeded expectations and continued to operate for over a decade. In January 2020, NASA announced that it was retiring the Spitzer Space Telescope due to its aging hardware and limited remaining capabilities. However, the Spitzer Space Telescope legacy will live on through countless discoveries. As it helped make the new avenues of research it opened up. The Spitzer mission will live on through its science.


Published by: Sky Headlines

If you plan to observe the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023, or the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, in the United States, NASA’s latest map could be a helpful tool. The map, created using data from multiple NASA missions, shows the path of the Moon’s shadow as it traverses the contiguous U.S. during both events. By examining the map, you can determine where you want to be to witness these spectacular natural phenomena.

Solar eclipse 2023-2024
Here an n image credits: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

So, the map released by NASA illustrates the dark paths that observers must be situated within to witness the “ring of fire” during the annular eclipse, in which the Moon obstructs all but the outer rim of the Sun, and the corona, the ghostly-white outer layer of the Sun, during the total eclipse, in which the Moon blocks the Sun’s disk completely. Moreover, the map indicates where and to what extent the Moon will partially eclipse the Sun outside these paths. In both cases, all 48 contiguous states in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will experience at least a partial solar eclipse.

Here is the term to know,

What are dark bands?

The annular and total eclipse paths are defined as dark bands stretching across the U.S. on NASA’s new eclipse map. Those within the annular eclipse path from Oregon to Texas may witness the annular eclipse when the sky is clear. Similarly, those positioned in the total eclipse path from Texas to Maine may see the total eclipse, contingent on favorable weather conditions.

Solar eclipse 2023-2024
Here is the image credits: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

What is Ovals Representation?

Ovals with times inside them can be seen inside those shadowy passages (yellow ovals for the annular eclipse, purple ovals for the total eclipse). Moreover, the ovals represent the Moon’s shadow as it falls on Earth at specified times. A complete or annular eclipse will be visible to those in the zones marked by the ovals.

Solar eclipse 2023-2024
Credits: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Duration and Visibility:

The annular or complete eclipse will last longer towards the center of the tracks. Ranging (3–4.5 minutes) for the annular eclipse path are between the north Nevada-Utah border and San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, in the south. Furthermore, The total eclipse path is labeled near Presque Isle, Maine, in the north and between the 2:20 and 2:25 p.m. CST ovals in Mexico in the south.

Solar eclipse 2023-2024
Credits: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Now come to the point,

Why some people will only view the Partial Eclipse?

Unfortunately, the people outside the paths will have to wait for the next one as the eclipse will only be visible to the viewers residing in the location. However, the good news is that they can still view the partial eclipse. Parallel lines show the Moon’s partial eclipse coverage. The annular eclipse has weak yellow lines. They’re dim purple during the total eclipse. The map’s left and top edges show annular eclipse line percentages. Also, the map’s bottom and right edges show total eclipse percentages. (Tip: The percentages match the line angles.)

Solar eclipse 2023-2024
Credits: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Both eclipses will occur beyond the contiguous U.S. A globe displays both eclipse tracks in the lower right corner of the NASA map. Mexico, Central America, and South America experience the annular eclipse (yellow and black). Mexico and northeastern Canada will experience the purple-black total eclipse. Shaded bands (yellow for annular eclipses and purple for complete eclipses) show partial eclipses. In October 2023, southeastern Alaska will see a partial eclipse, while in April 2024, Hawaii will.

So here is,

Making the Map:

Solar eclipse 2023-2024
Credits: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Michala Garrison; eclipse calculations by Ernie Wright, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) member at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center “Michala Garrison.” uses her geography and cartography expertise to create a map that integrates data from multiple sources within NASA.

Shuttle Radar Topography Mission provided Earth elevation data, while Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mapped Moon’s shape. NASA’s Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility software and data determined the Sun, Moon, and Earth’s locations.

The question here is,

What are the efforts of Michala Garrison?

Michala Garrison decided to enhance the path of the 2024 total eclipse by incorporating NASA’s Black Marble nighttime imagery, showcasing the illuminated city lights on Earth’s night side captured by the Suomi NPP spacecraft. The color for the land was provided by the NASA Earth Observatory team’s global satellite image mosaic known as Blue Marble.

Garrison wanted the map to motivate people to visit the annular and total eclipse pathways, which she didn’t do the last time the Moon’s shadow crossed the continental U.S.

“In 2017, I was in Maryland, so I still got to see a little bit, because I was in a partial eclipse,” she said. “But I didn’t really know any of this back then. This does make me want to go to, say, Albuquerque in 2023. And then in 2024 to go more south.”

Garrison made numerous adjustments to make the map beautiful and valuable for eclipse planners inside and outside the pathways.

“It took a lot of trial and error. I wanted it to be useful to the reader but not overwhelming – and still be a pretty product to look at to catch people’s eye.”


Published by: Sky Headlines

Have you ever gazed up at the night sky and wondered about the mysteries of the universe? From the earliest civilizations to modern-day astronomers, we have sought to understand our place in the cosmos. One of the essential tools for this endeavor is the telescope. The universe is vast and mysterious, and astronomers have been peering into the night sky for centuries, trying to unravel its secrets. As technology has advanced, so have our telescopes, allowing us to see farther and more detail than ever before. Have you ever wondered which is the World’s Largest Telescope? If you have never heard of the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC), then this article is just for you!

What is Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC)?

The Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) is the world’s largest telescope, with a 75.7-square-meter light-collecting surface. Moreover, Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) is an advanced optical telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. Light pollution is low. Thus it’s ideal. With a primary mirror surface area similar to a telescope with a 10.4m diameter monolithic mirror, the telescope’s 36 hexagonal segments work as a single mirror. The primary, secondary, and tertiary mirrors create the telescope’s focal plane. The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), which studies astrophysics and related subjects, operates GTC.

Construction and Inauguration:

GTC cost 130 million euros to build from 2000 to 2007. Spain, Mexico, and also the University of Florida worked together on the project. Moreover, the German company Schott AG made the primary mirror weighing about 16 tonnes.

On July 24, 2009, GTC was launched with King Juan Carlos I of Spain and other guests in his presence. Since then, it has been used to study distant galaxies, black holes, and exoplanets.

Technical Specifications

Advanced instrumentation and technology at GTC enable high-quality observations throughout a wide wavelength range. Furthermore, Its 36 hexagonal primary mirror segments can be independently altered to correct atmospheric aberrations and increase image clarity. The telescope features spectrographs, cameras, and polarimeters for multiple observation modes.

For several reasons, the Canary Islands, where GTC is located at an elevation of 2,396 meters above sea level, are ideal for astronomical observations. Images are more transparent due to the dry climate and high altitude. Light pollution-free, the observatory is ideal for night sky study.

Observing with GTC:

The dome that covers this world’s largest telescope protects it from the elements and reduces air near it. The control room remotely controls the telescope and its instruments, scheduling observations to optimum sky conditions. The “queue-schedule system” makes scheduling more flexible and time-efficient. Moreover, The GTC’s specific movement system projects star steadily onto the detector in optical and infrared light. Active optics allow the telescope to align, distort, and move mirror segments and the secondary mirror regardless of external conditions.

Capabilities of the GTC:

The Gran Telescopio CANARIAS is designed to allow world-class science studies on vital astrophysics topics like black holes, the creation history of stars and galaxies in the early universe, the mechanics of distant planets around other stars, and dark matter and dark energy. The GTC is one of the best astronomical telescopes due to its enormous light-collecting surface and excellent engineering. The telescope’s image quality maximizes the sky’s quality. The GTC will also utilize “adaptive optics” to correct for atmospheric turbulence and provide the optimum image performance, opening new scientific vistas.

Future Plans:

The enormous Gran Telescopio CANARIAS project built one of the world’s largest and most advanced telescopes. Moreover, The GTC’s large light-collecting surface, active optics, and high-quality images enable world-class science investigations and astrophysics research. The Roque de los Muchachos Observatory’s scheduling method maximizes GTC observing time. Science will advance as the GTC evolves.

The World’s largest telescope will lead astronomical research in the future. The telescope is upgrading its instrumentation to increase sensitivity and precision. The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which will be considerably larger than GTC, will transform our understanding of the universe.


Published by: Sky Headlines

Quantum computers can work millions of times faster than regular computers, but they need a separate network for quantum communications for long-distance communication. Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech have created a device that can accurately count a large number of single photons, which are quantum particles of light, so they can set up this kind of network. The Performance-Enhanced Array for Counting Optical Quanta (PEACOQ) detector is like measuring individual drops of water being sprayed by a firehose. It can tell within 100 trillionths of a second when each photon hits at a rate of 1.5 billion photons per second. No other detector can match this rate of finding things.

Ioana Craiciu, a postdoctoral scholar at JPL and a PEACOQ project team member, is the study’s lead author. He talks about these results: “Transmitting quantum information over long distances has, so far, been very limited,” Moreover, he said. “A new detector technology like the PEACOQ that can measure single photons with a fraction of a nanosecond precision enables sending quantum information at higher rates, farther.”

PEACOQ: High-Speed Quantum Communications
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A dedicated Network is Required:

In traditional computers, information is transformed into a series of ones, zeros, or bits, which are then copied and sent through modems, telecommunication networks, cables, and optical fibers. They travel through the airwaves as flashes of light or radio waves combined at the other end to make the original data.

On the other hand, quantum computers used in quantum Communications use qubits, bits stored in elementary particles like photons and electrons that can’t be copied or sent without damage. Also, quantum information sent through encoded photons on optical fibers loses its quality after only a few miles. This would make a future quantum network much smaller.

PEACOQ Detector
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

To resolve these problems, quantum computers must talk to each other through a free-space optical quantum network. This network could have “nodes” in space, like satellites in orbit, that send data by making pairs of entangled photons and sending them to two quantum computer terminals on the ground that are hundreds or even thousands of miles apart.

The close connection between entangled photon pairs causes the measurement of one to instantaneously impact the results of measuring the other, regardless of the distance between them. However, for these entangled photons to be successfully received by a quantum computer’s terminal on the ground, a high-sensitivity detector, such as PEACOQ, is necessary to accurately measure the timing of each photon’s arrival and transmit the associated data. To successfully transmit entangled photons over long distances in quantum communications, a high-sensitivity detector like PEACOQ is required to measure the timing of each photon’s arrival and transmit the associated data accurately.

Superconducting Plumage:

The detector is so tiny that it only takes up 13 microns of space. It comprises 32 superconducting nanowires made of niobium nitride placed on a silicon chip and linked by wires that spread like a bird’s feathers. Each nanowire is 10,000 times thinner than a single human hair.

Superconducting Plumage
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Space Operations Mission Directorate’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program paid for developing the PEACOQ detector. The Microdevices Laboratory at JPL made it. To keep the nanowires in a superconducting state, the detector must be kept at a cryogenic temperature of only one degree above absolute zero, or -458 degrees Fahrenheit (-272 degrees Celsius). This allows nanowires to convert photons into quantum data-carrying electrical pulses.

The PEACOQ detector has to be able to find a single photon, but it also has to handle multiple photons hitting it simultaneously. When a photon hits a nanowire in a detector, the wire can’t pick up another photon quickly. This is called “dead time.” But each nanowire is made to have as little dead time as possible, and the PEACOQ detector has 32 nanowires so that other wires can still pick up photons while one is in slow time.

“In the near term, PEACOQ will be used in lab experiments to demonstrate quantum communications at higher rates or over greater distances,” Further says. “In the long term, it could provide an answer to the question of how we transmit quantum data around the world.”

Deep Space Test
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Deep Space Test:

PEACOQ is part of NASA’s broader initiative to establish free-space optical communications between space and the Earth. This device is based on the detector created for NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology demonstration. Scheduled to launch later in 2023 with the Psyche mission, DSOC will illustrate how high-bandwidth optical communications can function between Earth and deep space in the future. While DSOC does not involve transmitting quantum information, its ground terminal at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory requires the same level of sensitivity to detect individual photons arriving from the DSOC transceiver, which travels through deep space via lasers.

JPL’s Matt Shaw advises the superconducting detector team: “It’s all kind of the same technology with a new category of the detector,” Moreover, he said. “Whether that photon is encoded with quantum information or whether we want to detect single photons from a laser source in deep space, we’re still counting single photons.”


Published by: Sky Headlines

The great James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured the imagination of the scientific community and space enthusiasts alike. As the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built, It will change our understanding of the universe. Here are some amazing James Webb Telescope Facts that you need to know:

Fact 1: The JWST is the largest space telescope ever built

The JWST is massive, weighing in at 6.5 tons, and is about the size of a tennis court when fully deployed. The size of this great telescope is about 22 meters by 12 meters. According to NASA, Its primary mirror has a diameter of 6.5 meters (21 feet 4 inches) across, which is more than twice the size of the Hubble Space Telescope’s primary mirror.

Fact 2: It is an infrared telescope

Unlike Hubble, which primarily observes visible and ultraviolet light, the JWST is an infrared telescope. This means it can see through dust and gas clouds to reveal objects. The objects that are hidden from view at visible wavelengths. For example the earliest galaxies in the universe and the formation of stars and planets.

Fact 3: The JWST has a unique orbit

The JWST orbits around the L2 point, which is a gravitationally stable location in space located 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. This orbit allows the telescope to remain in a fixed position relative to Earth as it observes the universe, and provides a stable environment for its sensitive instruments.

Fact 4: It took over 20 years to develop and launch

The idea for the JWST was first proposed in the mid-1990s. Around 30 years ago, STScI Director Riccardo Giacconi urged the team to “think about the next major mission beyond Hubble.” Before the launch of Hubble, an STScI workshop developed a mission design in September 1989. The project has gone through numerous design iterations and funding challenges since then. The telescope finally launches on December 25, 2021, from ESA’s launch site at Kourou in French Guiana.

Fact 5: The goal of JSWT – Study the earliest galaxies and stars

One of the major James Webb Telescope facts is that it is the leading scientific goal of the JWST is to study the earliest galaxies that formed in the universe, shortly after the Big Bang. By observing these galaxies, scientists hope to gain insights into how the universe evolved over time. The telescope studies star and planet formation and searches for life on other worlds.

Fact 6: The lifespan of JSWT is at least 10 years

The JWST is designed to operate for at least 10 years, but it is expected to continue operating for much longer. Its instruments and systems have been designed to withstand the harsh conditions of space, and its unique orbit will help to ensure its longevity.

Fact 7: The JWST is a collaborative effort

The JWST is a collaborative effort between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The project has involved over 300 universities, organizations, and companies across 29 U.S. states and 14 countries.

Fact 8: The JWST will work with the Hubble Space Telescope

Although the JWST is much more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, the two telescopes will collaborate to explore the universe. The Hubble will continue to observe visible and ultraviolet light, while the JWST will focus on infrared light.

Fact 9: The JWST has already produced stunning images

Within a few months, the JWST started producing some stunning images of the universe. These images include a detailed look at the “Pillars of Creation” in the Eagle Nebula, and a spectacular view of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744.

JWST discovered the most distant galaxies in mid-December. The telescope proved its ability to observe the early universe with this milestone. The telescope discovered four 13.4 billion-year-old galaxies, which existed when the universe was 350 million years old. JWST’s Near Infrared Spectrograph found these galaxies (JADES).

Final Words!

The James Webb Space Telescope is a remarkable achievement of human invention and technological prowess. With its advanced capabilities, it promises to transform our understanding of the universe and help us answer some of the most fundamental questions about our place in the cosmos. The JWST continues to gather data and produce stunning images. As a result, it is sure to capture the imagination of people around the world.

Published by: Sky Headlines