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Probable cause: a stone.

An Israeli probe makes its way to the moon. (Source: SpaceX, graphic: A. Brühl)

Put the flag on the moon

The unmanned mini spaceship with a weight of 585 kilograms and a height of one and a half meters is to set up an Israeli flag on the moon and examine the magnetic field. The project was initiated in 2011 as part of the “Google Lunar X-Prize” competition. In the meantime, however, Israel has declared it a national project.

The construction of the probe cost the equivalent of 84 million euros. The costs were mainly borne by private donors, above all by the Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn. SpaceIL also receives support from the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

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“When Israel lands on the moon, every Jew will remember where he was at that moment,” said Kahn, who is also President of SpaceIL. “Israel is doing something great.” With the landing, a dream will come true.

Sources used: dpa news agency

Japan was the first nation to create an artificial crater on the surface of an asteroid. With this, the country wants to investigate the formation of the solar system more closely. 

Japan has created the first crater in an asteroid and wants to contribute to research into the formation of our solar system. As the Japanese space agency Jaxa announced, there is now confirmation that the space probe “Hayabusa 2” has blown up a crater in the asteroid Ryugu. The probe had made the blast earlier this month to collect material from deeper layers of the asteroid.

“It is the world’s first attempt to create an artificial crater with a shock body and then to examine it closely,” said the “Hayabusa 2” project manager Yuichi Tsuda. “That’s a great success.” In 2005, the US space agency Nasa created an artificial crater on a comet, but only for observation purposes and not to collect samples.

“The best day of my life”

Masahiko Arakawa from Kobe University, who is involved in the “Hayabusa 2” project, said it was “the best day of my life” with a view to the artificial crater on Ryugu. “We can see this large hole much more clearly than expected,” explained the scientist. According to the pictures, the crater has a diameter of ten meters.

Jaxa had previously stated that the crater could reach a diameter of up to ten meters if the ground was sandy and up to three meters if the ground was stony. Arakawa said the ground was “full of rubble and yet we created such a large crater”. This could mean that there is a “mechanism on Ryugu that we do not know or something special about the Ryugu material”.

Mission for 240 million euros

The blasting of the crater was risky because “Hayabusa 2” had to approach Ryugu within 500 meters to shoot an explosive device and then move away again as quickly as possible. “Hayabusa 2” was launched in December 2014 and should return to Earth with the samples next year. 

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 The Japanese scientists suspect organic matter and water from 4.6 billion years ago on Ryugu. The mission costs the equivalent of almost 240 million euros.

Sources used: AFP news agency

The 29 states of the NATO defense alliance are preparing for armed conflicts in space. The decision is to be officially announced this Wednesday at a meeting of foreign ministers.

NATO is preparing for wars in space. According to information from the German Press Agency, the 29 alliance states decided on Tuesday to declare space as an independent operational area. The decision is to be officially announced this Wednesday at a meeting of foreign ministers.

Specifically, the NATO decision could mean that possible attacks from space will in future be treated as an alliance case – just like attacks on the ground or in the air, sea or cyber space. The alliance is also intended to become a key forum for the exchange of skills and information – without, however, supporting the use of space weapons or even developing them.


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 “NATO has no intention of stationing weapons in space, but we must ensure that our missions and operations have the appropriate support,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday shortly before the decision in Brussels. For example, space is of crucial importance for early warning systems, communication and navigation. Around 2,000 satellites are currently orbiting the earth, around half of which are operated by NATO countries.

Sources used: dpa news agency

The measuring device with the shape of a microwave successfully completed the mission – and held out longer than everyone expected. Now he remains on Ryugu as a silent resident. 

The Franco-German measuring device “Mascot” has completed its exploration of the distant asteroid Ryugu – and has been working longer and more productively than researchers from Germany, France and Japan had expected. According to the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, all scientific data could be transferred to the Japanese mother probe “Hayabusa2” according to plan. “This is the first time that it has been possible to explore the surface of an asteroid on this scale with a lander,” said Hansjörg Dittus, DLR Board Member for Space Research and Technology.

After a four-year journey through space, “Mascot” landed safely on the asteroid some 300 million kilometers away in the early morning of October 3rd. The researchers hope that it will provide important insights into the formation of the earth and how to ward off asteroid impacts.

The jumping cube 

Thanks to a built-in swing arm, the cube the size of a microwave bounced across Ryugu’s surface. “Initially, he was in an unfavorable position after the first automatic correction jump,” says Operations Manager Christian Krause. With another hop, “Mascot” could then be maneuvered into a favorable position.

The battery in the room laboratory did not last 16 hours as expected, but more than 17 hours. During that time, the sun rose and set three times for “Mascot”, and he performed a total of three hops. In addition to images, measuring devices provided data on temperature, magnetic properties and the composition of the near-Earth asteroid. “The evaluation of the rich data has only just begun,” said project manager Tra-Mi Ho from the DLR Institute of Space Systems.

First images of the lander: The Franco-German lander “Mascot” has transmitted images of the asteroid Ryugu to Earth. (Source: Uncredited / Space Agency JAXA / dpa)

“Mascot” now remains as a silent companion on the distant asteroid. The mission of the space probe “Hayabusa2” continues, however. She is supposed to get close enough to Ryugu that she can collect material from the surface. The probe is scheduled to return to Earth at the end of 2019.

Sources used: dpa

A leak in the International Space Station made headlines. The cause is still unclear. But Russia is already drawing conclusions from the incident.

Surveillance cameras are to be installed in the Russian part of the International Space Station. Russia’s space agency Roscosmos is drawing conclusions from a mysterious leak in a Soyuz space capsule docked on the ISS. There is an order to install surveillance cameras, said a Roscosmos spokesman, according to reports from Russian media.

A spaceman still has to be trained for this work and the equipment ordered for it. “It won’t work overnight.” Initially, there was no information on what exactly should be monitored with the new cameras. Even now the astronauts are filmed at work.

The hole was discovered at the end of August last year. There was a pressure case. The incident had given rise to speculation, such as sabotage. One version said an ISS crew member had deliberately drilled the hole so that the return flight would take place earlier than planned. In addition, it was initially speculated that a technician on Earth had slipped with a drill and then secretly sealed the leak. All sides had rejected this speculation.

The cause of the leak has not been clarified despite samples from the space capsule

The leak was successfully sealed, but the cause is still unclear. At the beginning of December, two cosmonauts examined the affected area during an external mission. The German astronaut Alexander Gerst and his colleagues brought samples from the space capsule back to Earth before Christmas.

Experts hope that this will clarify the cause. According to Roscosmos, the investigation is still ongoing. His authority is also waiting for the results, the spokesman said. If they are available, they will be informed. 

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 Gerst had flown back to earth without complications in the affected Soyuz capsule. According to Roskosmos, the hole was in a module that was disconnected during landing and burned up.

Sources used: dpa news agency

Three weeks after the Soyuz capsule failed to start, Russian investigators claim to have found the cause of the accident. The error should have happened during assembly.

According to Russian investigators, a defect in a sensor pin is responsible for the false start of the manned Soyuz rocket three weeks ago. The pin was deformed during the assembly of the sensor in the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, said a representative of the investigative commission formed after the false start, Oleg Skorobatov. Two Soyuz rockets that have already been assembled are now being checked to see whether the same error has occurred with them.

The Soyuz-FG launch vehicle had dismantled into its individual parts on October 11, two minutes after taking off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. The Russian spaceman Sergei Ovtschinin and his US colleague Nick Hague were able to save themselves unharmed. 

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The technical problem arose when the burned-out first stage rocket was supposed to separate from the second. A sensor failed, Roskosmos representatives said in advance in Moscow.

Sources used: AFP news agency, dpa

The Martian mole hammered itself into the ground for four hours when it was first used. The robot didn’t get too far down. Probable cause: a stone.

On Mars, a robot developed in Germany hammered itself into the ground fully automatically for the first time. The Martian mole with the official name HP3 is supposed to help uncover some of the secrets of the Red Planet. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) announced that it had penetrated about 18 to 50 centimeters into the Martian soil during its first four-hour mission with 4,000 hammer blows. The aim of the experiment is to measure the heat flow from the interior of Mars.

“On its way down, the mole apparently hit a stone, tilted about 15 degrees and pushed it aside or pushed past it,” said the scientific director of the HP3 experiment, Tilman Spohn. After a cooling-off break, the researchers want to let the “mole” hammer for another four hours in a second phase. In the coming weeks, the robot should then penetrate to a depth of three to five meters – if the ground is sufficiently porous.

The knee-high artificial mole is supposed to measure the temperature to within a thousandth of a degree Celsius. From this it can be concluded, for example, how the interior of the red planet developed and whether it still has a hot, liquid core. The robot was developed at DLR. It looks like a large nail that has a built-in hammer. He pulls a cable behind him, which is equipped with temperature sensors.

Only around 40 percent of all Mars missions are successful

HP3 (“Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package”) landed on Mars at the end of November as part of NASA’s “InSight” mission – after a journey of around 485 million kilometers. The landing site is in a region that is largely flat and free of large stones and rocks, the Elysium Planitia plain north of the Mars equator. Previous Mars missions have not yet explored the area from the ground. The “InSight” mission, which costs around 650 million euros, is scheduled to run for two years.

It was NASA’s first Mars landing since “Curiosity” 2012. An extraordinarily difficult maneuver: According to NASA, only around 40 percent of all Mars missions launched worldwide have been successful. The aim of the “InSight” project is to learn more about the structure of the planet and the dynamics beneath its surface. The measured values ​​for temperature and conductivity of the soil should help to improve the mathematical models for the formation of the planet. 

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 A successor to “InSight” is already in the starting blocks: In 2020 the rover “Mars 2020” is to be launched, a kind of revised version of “Curiosity”.

Sources used: dpa news agency

SpaceX wants tourists to fly to the moon. According to the company, a passenger has already booked the circumnavigation.

The private space company SpaceX has announced new plans to fly a space tourist around the moon