A black hole may merge with another black hole more than once, the moon has rusty regions and interstellar object ‘Oumuamua might be a cosmic ”dust bunny.” These are some of the top stories this week from Space.com.
The moon has rusty regions, according to the researchers behind a puzzling new finding. The moon is not an optimal place for rust to appear, but the lunar rust might be caused by Earth’s atmosphere. Rust is a reddish compound that forms when iron is exposed to water and oxygen.
Full story: The moon is rusty, and it’s likely Earth’s fault
NASA announced this week that it will pay private companies from the United States and abroad for lunar-soil samples they collect by the year 2024. The Sept 10 announcement by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was also met with criticism, because of the precedent it would establish for private companies to extract and trade space resources.
Full story: NASA wants to buy moon dirt from private companies
Breakthrough Prize officials announced on Sept. 10 that their $3 million award went to a team of physicists for their work on gravity and dark matter. The three winners were the leaders of the Eöt-Wash research group at the University of Washington in Seattle. They built equipment sensitive enough to measure gravity at very short distances.
Full story: Pioneering gravity research snags $3 million physics Breakthrough Prize
Northrop Grumman’s next Cygnus cargo capsule will be named after space shuttle mission specialist Kalpana Chawla, who died with her six crewmates in the Columbia disaster of 2003. The S.S. Kalpana Chawla will fly later this month (Sept. 29) and is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station two days later.
Full story: Cargo spacecraft named for fallen NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla
A brief report in the state-run Chinese media outlet Xinhua said that the country’s Long March-2F rocket safely landed after two days in space. The mission launched on Sept. 4 and is thought to have landed in the Taklamakan Desert in northwestern China on Sept. 6, according to a satellite tracker and astrophysicist who monitored the object’s orbit.
Full story: China’s reusable experimental spacecraft returns to Earth after two-day mystery mission
See also: China just launched a ‘reusable experimental spacecraft’ into orbit
Plus: Chinese rocket booster appears to crash near school during Gaofen 11 satellite launch
NASA’s newly appointed leader of NASA human spaceflight announced new cost estimates for the space agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, and the new price tag for SLS is significantly higher than original cost estimates. The situation requires that NASA notify Congress about the roughly $2 billion difference between the approved $7 billion commitment for SLS development, and NASA’s newly-announced baseline cost of $9.1 billion.
Full story: NASA megarocket blasts past cost estimates, forces Congress notification
Jupiter’s poles are home to giant storms that assemble geometrically, and scientists in a paper investigated why these cyclones organize into regular patterns. The team used data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft to develop computer models about the sizes and speeds of the storms. Juno reached its current orbit around Jupiter in 2016. The sizes of these storms range between 2,485 to 4,350 miles (4,000 to 7,000 kilometers) wide.
Full story: Mystery of Jupiter’s persistent geometric storms may be solved
A new study published on Sept. 4 suggests that interstellar object ‘Oumuamua could have formed from the dust that blew off a comet outside the solar system. They think the parent comet exerted weak gravity on ‘Oumuamua, so the object separated from its parent comet on a trajectory into interstellar space that included a trip through our solar system.
Full story: Interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua could actually be a cosmic dust bunny
The camera core of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory took its first test photos. The tests were conducted at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, and involved the snapshot of nearby objects like the textured surface of broccoli. SLAC officials said the p…