NASA’s Kepler space telescope, responsible for revolutionizing the study of exoplanets, may have sent its last data back to Earth. Managers halted the craft’s latest observing campaign in September, when its pointing became unstable, which is a sign of low fuel supplies. To save fuel, they set Kepler to “nap mode” until a scheduled high-speed download opportunity came on the 10th of October.

As of now, observations are still on hold as the mission team sifts the spacecraft’s vital signs for clues to the remaining fuel supply, but the end could come suddenly and without warning, according to project scientist Jessie Dotson of NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California.

Before Kepler, astronomers were only able to discover a few hundred exoplanets, mostly gas giants uncomfortably close to their parent stars. But with Kepler, they were able to find thousands, of many different sizes, such as 30 exoplanets very similar to Earth. Kepler trailblazed a novel approach to planet finding, and according to Bruce Macintosh of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, it was a gamble that paid odd since the universe cooperated, beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

In other news, for many years, scientists have used laser light and electromagnetic fields to chill puffs of gas to within a billionth of a degree of absolute zero. At such cold temperatures, something strange takes place: Atoms can crowd into a single macroscopic quantum wave and form a weird state of matter known as the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). Presently, a team of physicists from Germany has created a BEC in space.

Working in space has one significant benefit over a lab on Earth: a lack of gravity. To probe a BEC it must be released from its trap of light and electromagnetic fields, and within a fraction of a second, it falls to the floor of the vacuum chamber that contains the experiment. However, in the weightlessness of space, a BEC released from its trap should float there, enabling researchers to try out tests they can’t do on the ground—like making bubbles of BEC to examine its quantum nature.

What’s more, on October 10, radio amateurs from around the globe joined forces with the Chinese Longjiang-2 spacecraft to take a picture of the Earth and the far side of the Moon. Radio commands were given by MingChuan Wei in China, which were then transmitted to the spacecraft by Reinhard Kuehn in Germany. From there they were picked up by the spacecraft in lunar orbit, and the spacecraft then transferred the image back to Earth, where it was picked up by radio amateurs in Germany, Latvia, North America and the Netherlands.

An exciting event for Asgardia as they aim to build habitable platforms in low-Earth orbit and create the very first space nation.

The Chinese Longjiang-2 (also called DSLWP-B) microsatellite has been orbiting the Moon since June. The satellite’s goal is to examine radio emissions from stars and galaxies at very long wavelength radio waves (wavelengths of 1 to 30 meters). Typically these radio waves are blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere, while the lunar environment offers protection from Earth-based and human-made radio interference. Longjiang-2 was sent to the Moon along with an identical twin, Longjiang-1 (DSLWP-A), they both serve as a radio interferometer to identify and study the very long wavelength radio waves by flying in formation in lunar orbit.

Lastly, as per an announcement on October 14th on Fernando Haddad’s website, the presidential candidate for the Brazil Workers’ Party, has published his government plan using blockchain.

According to the announcement, Haddad opted to use blockchain technology for circulating information regarding his presidential campaign after a long battle with fake news reports. As information stored on a blockchain cannot be modified or hacked, he decided to save the data on a decentralized platform.

The announcement also notes that Haddad used free software in Sao Paulo where he worked as mayor from 2013–2017. The software solutions monitored various city projects, such as the municipal Master Plan backed by the support of users via the internet.

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