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Astronomy – Watch this Space!

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The UK military has just launched its first command centre aiming at protecting the country’s interests in outer space. This comes as a Senior UK Military Commander criticised China and Russia for “reckless” behaviour in space, and Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Head of the Royal Air Force, stated “right now we see countries like Russia and China testing and demonstrating anti-satellite weapons – satellites with all the characteristics of a weapon deployed in space.” The UK is set to spend an additional £1.4 billion on space capabilities over the next 10 years with Space Command at RAF High Wycombe helping to maintain a “battle winning advantage” in this increasingly important realm. 

A NASA Probe has also made interesting news as Mars’ internal structure has now been determined. The Insight Spacecraft has been reporting data since early 2019 by sensing quakes on the planet. The Spacecraft revealed the core of Mars to be a radius of 1830km, with the average crust thickness to be between 24km and 72km. This was achieved by tracking signals from quakes in the same way seismologists study the internal layering upon Earth and has been reached for the Moon but not for the larger planet of Mars. Having this information allows researchers to better understand the formation and evolution of different planetary bodies. 

Finally, the International Space Station (ISS) was temporarily destabilised after engines from a newly docked Russian Module inadvertently started. Following an 8-hour flight from Earth, the Russian Module named Nauka docked with the ISS, but its jets started firing without command “moving the station 45 degrees out of attitude.” However, thankfully “mission control teams corrected the action” by activating thrusters on the ISS and NASA now reports all systems as “operating normally.” NASA’s ISS Programme Manager, Joel Montalbano, labelled this as “an awesome job by the mission control flight teams.” US and Russian officials stressed that the 7 members aboard the ISS were never in danger, and an investigation is now under way.

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