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 Space.com.
NASA opens space lab to private astronauts
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.
'Hidden Figures Way'
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.
Table salt might exist on Europa
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.
Lab test supports Hawking's evaporating black hole theory
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.
Possible asteroid crash site spotted at lunar pole
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.
Mars Helicopter aces tests
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.
NASA announces lunar and asteroid mining ideas
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.
Bridenstine interprets Trump's tweet
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.
Reused SpaceX rocket launches Canadian satellites
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.
Sun could still produce 'superflares'
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.