Dec 7, 18 / Cap 05, 02 15:52 UTC
General News: Dec 7 ¶
Artist Trevor Paglen in partnership with the Nevada Museum of Art has created the Orbital Reflector, a 98-foot-long sculpture made of a lightweight material similar to Mylar. However, you won’t be able to see it at the museum— instead, you'll have to stare 575 kilometres into space.
The artwork was launched on December 3rd, at 10:34 a.m. EST aboard the SpaceX Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express. It was held inside a CubeSat satellite the size of a brick and once it reaches low-Earth orbit, the sculpture will self-inflate like a balloon. Once it's inflated into its full diamond shape, sunlight reflecting from its metallic skin will make the object shine as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper, approximately second magnitude.
Paglen's project is one of about 64 payloads from almost 50 governments and businesses in 16 countries packed into the rideshare mission. However, the Orbital Reflector is the only purely artistic gesture with no military, scientific, or commercial purpose.
In other news, helium is the second most copious element in the Universe. Since the year 2000, it’s been predicted to be one of the best possible tracers of the atmospheres of exoplanets, which are planets that orbit around other stars than the Sun. It took astronomers nearly two decades to detect it. It was hard to see as a result of the bizarre observational signature of helium, situated in the infrared, out of range for most of the instruments that were previously used.
The discovery took place earlier in 2018, due to the Hubble Space Telescope observations, which proved tricky to interpret. Team members from UNIGE, members of the National Centre for Competence in Research PlanetS, had the idea of pointing another telescope outfitted with a brand-new instrument -- a spectrograph called Carmenes.
Lastly, new photos taken by NASA's Mars InSight lander demonstrates its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting.
With a reach of almost 6 feet (2 meters), the arm will be used to pick up science instruments from the lander's deck and gently placing them down on the Martian surface at Elysium Planitia, the lava plain where InSight landed on Nov. 26.
But before that, the arm will use its Instrument Deployment Camera, situated on its elbow, to capture images of the terrain in front of the lander. These photos will assist mission team members in figuring out where to set InSight's seismometer and heat flow probe, the only tools ever to be robotically placed on the surface of another planet.
Bruce Banerdt, the mission's principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, stated that by early next week, they'd be imaging their workspace in greater detail and creating a full mosaic.
What do you think about Paglen's art project? Will you be using a telescope to try and find it in the night sky?
Let us know in the comments below!