Top Space Stories of the Week!

Remastering data gathered by the Galileo spacecraft in the 1990s, experts released an image of Jupiter's moon Europa that a deep space explorer might see.
(Image: © NASA, JPL-Caltech, SETI Institute, Cynthia Phillips, Marty Valenti)

Table salt may be swirling in the subsurface ocean of a Jovian moon, NASA opens the space station up to private astronauts who can afford the hefty price tag and a Mars helicopter project gets closer to launching next summer. These are just some of the top stories this week from

NASA opens space lab to private astronauts

(Image credit: NASA/Roscosmos)

NASA announced on June 7 that it's opening the International Space Station up to two private astronauts a year. Under this new system, private space tourism companies would pay a daily rate of about $35,000 per night for space station access, not including the price tag of the trip into low-Earth orbit. 

Full Story: Private Astronauts Could Spend a Month in Space Under New NASA Plan

'Hidden Figures Way'

(Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA)

A Washington, D.C., street outside of NASA headquarters is now called "Hidden Figures Way" in honor of the African American women who worked at the space agency when it first started launching astronauts into space in the 1960s. The bill to rename the street was inspired by the 2016 film "Hidden Figures," which tells the story of three African American women — Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — who worked at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia.

Full Story: NASA Unveils 'Hidden Figures Way' at Headquarters to Honor Female Space Icons

See Also: Giant Telescope in Chile Could Be Named for Pioneering Astronomer Vera Rubin

Table salt might exist on Europa

(Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

A new paper published Wednesday (June 12) suggests that sodium chloride — the stuff that makes up plain old table salt — may exist on the frigid surface of Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. To study Europa and the subsurface ocean that might be bringing this material up to its icy exterior, researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope's STIS instrument (Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph) from May to August 2017.

Full Story: The Ocean on Jupiter's Moon Europa Has Table Salt, Just Like Earth's Seas

See Also: Yes, Saturn's Rings Are Awesome — NASA's Cassini Showed Us Just HOW Awesome.

Lab test supports Hawking's evaporating black hole theory

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking predicted in the 1970s that black holes emit particles, eventually causing the black hole to disappear. For the first time, physicists have shown this elusive Hawking radiation in a lab using a black hole analog created using phonons, or quantum sound waves.

Full Story: Stephen Hawking Was Right: Black Holes Can Evaporate, Weird New Study Shows

See Also: Astronomers Measure Tiny Black Hole in Nearby Dwarf Galaxy

Possible asteroid crash site spotted at lunar pole

(Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/DLR/ASU)

A large patch at the moon's south pole might represent buried remains of an asteroid crash, according to a new study based on data from two NASA missions. The dense region is about five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii, according to one researcher.

Full Story: Weird 'Anomaly' at the Moon's South Pole May Be a Metal Asteroid's Grave

Mars Helicopter aces tests

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's potentially first Mars helicopter passed several tests recently, and if all goes well, the project will launch with the agency's Mars 2020 rover next summer and reach the neighboring planet in February 2021. The Mars Helicopter flight demonstration will soar above the Red Planet's surface and could help future land missions figure out where to trek to next.

Full Story: NASA's Mars Helicopter Whirls Through Tests on Way to 2020 Launch

NASA announces lunar and asteroid mining ideas

(Image credit: TransAstra Corporation)

NASA announced on Tuesday (June 11) two concepts for surveying lunar craters and resources for mining on nearby asteroids. The projects stem from the space agency's NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, and they'll receive up to $2 million to outline their mission concepts.

Full Story: NASA Eyes Wild Space Tech Ideas to Mine the Moon (and Asteroids, Too!)

Bridenstine interprets Trump's tweet

(Image credit: NASA)

NASA Chief Jim Bridenstine said the agency still plans on returning to the moon by 2024 in his public interpretation of President Trump's June 7 tweet, which seemingly back-pedaled on the White House's directive to return humans to the moon and ultimately reach Mars. Trump's tweet also said the moon is part of Mars, which Bridenstine interpreted as a reference to the connection the missions have to each other.

Full Story: NASA Chief Says US Still Aimed at a Moon Return by 2024, Despite Trump Tweet

See Also: Here's Where Commercial Landers Will Land on the Moon for NASA

Reused SpaceX rocket launches Canadian satellites

(Image credit: MDA, a Maxar company, Canadian Space Agency)

On Wednesday (June 12) SpaceX launched Canadian Earth-observing satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This reused-rocket launch and recovery marks the company's seventh space mission this year.

Full Story: Used SpaceX Rocket Launches 3 Radarsat Satellites, Aces Foggy Landing

Sun could still produce 'superflares'

(Image credit: NASA, ESA and D. Player)

Superflares are huge bursts of energy associated with younger stars. But according to a new study, mature stars like the sun may be capable of producing these intense spurts once every few thousand years.

Full Story: Our Aging Sun Is Still Capable of Unleashing 'Superflares.' Should We Worry?

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