Earth recently arrived at its furthest point away from the sun, a total lunar eclipse made subtle changes to the appearance of July's ''Buck Moon" and Jupiter has a new storm called ''Clyde's Spot.'' These are some of the top stories this week from Space.com.
Getting an in-depth look at weird lunar rock.
A Chinese-language science publication recently announced findings about a curious lunar material found last year by a lunar mission. Scientists analyzed data from China's Yutu-2 rover, which is located on the lunar far side, to determine the composition and abundance of the material. Researchers describe it as a glistening, dark green substance.
Rocket Lab rocket fails to deliver satellites into orbit.
On July 4, Rocket Lab announced that there was an issue with their Electron rocket and that its seven small payloads were lost. The booster took off from the company's New Zealand launch site to deliver the Earth-imaging satellites for three different customers, but a problem with Electron's second-stage engine burn led to the loss of all the satellites.
Investigation into Boeing Starliner anomalies is complete.
On July 7, NASA announced that an independent review team found an additional 19 corrective actions for Boeing in regards to its Starliner crew capsule, bringing the total number of corrections to 80. Starliner made its debut flight in December 2019 and suffered glitches and software issues in space before landing back to Earth. NASA and Boeing hope for a second test flight sometime this year.
A report on the underrepresentation of Black students in physics and astronomy.
A report published in late 2019 by the American Institute of Physics' (AIP) National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics and Astronomy (TEAM-UP) outlined changes that universities can make to increase the number of Black students in the fields of physics and astronomy. The two main factors that are exacerbating the underrepresentation of Black students is the lack of a supportive environment and financial challenges, according to the report.
InSight's burrowing 'mole' probe might be stuck (again).
A burrowing probe from NASA's InSight Mars lander mission is once again experiencing problems. The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package might be stuck in its new spot just beneath the Red Planet's surface, according to new photos from the mission. This hammer-like appendage was designed to reach at least 10 feet (3 meters) underground.
Elevated levels of artificial radioactive particles detected in Scandinavia.
Radioactivity levels have spiked in the atmosphere over northern Europe, according to a Dutch health agency. Several agencies in the region detected higher-than-normal levels of radioactive isotopes, or radionuclides. According to an announcement in late June from an official with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, these radionuclides are human-made and may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant.
Jupiter has a new big storm.
Amateur astronomer Clyde Foster of South Africa spotted a new storm in Jupiter's cloud tops in late May, and the giant planet's new blemish is now named after its finder. In June, NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter captured recently-published imagery of ''Clyde's Spot'' when it was flying between 28,000 miles and 59,000 miles (45,000 to 95,000 kilometers) above the planet.
July's full moon featured a subtle lunar eclipse.
A total lunar penumbral eclipse occurred over the July 4-5 weekend. The subtle phenomenon happened as the full moon passed through the outermost part of Earth's shadow. It was a less-apparent event than its counterpart, a total lunar umbral eclipse, when the moon passes through the deeper part of Earth's shadow and turns a copperish-red color.
UAE's first Mars mission is ready for launch.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will launch its first interplanetary mission next week. The Hope mission is currently awaiting lift off at Japan's Tanegashima Space Center. This Mars mission is designed to spend about two Earth years studying the Red Planet's thin atmosphere.
Earth recently passed its aphelion point!
July 4 marked the moment when Earth was the farthest distance from the sun in its orbit. This benchmark is known as aphelion. Earth was at its closest to the sun about six months ago, on Jan. 5.