In this week’s newsletter, researchers discover Mr. Spock’s fictional home planet—Vulcan, in the Star Trek universe—is really a kind of astronomical illusion; NASA and Boeing teams polled “go” to proceed with plans to launch the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station on Saturday, June 1; and the most sensitive instrument ever built to measure quakes and meteor strikes on other worlds is getting closer to its journey to the mysterious far side of the Moon. Plus, more stories you might have missed.

THE UNIVERSE

Spock’s Home Planet Goes Poof

The possible detection of an exoplanet orbiting a star that Star Trek made famous drew excitement and plenty of attention when it was announced in 2018. Only five years later, the planet appeared to be on shaky ground when other researchers questioned whether it was there at all. Now, precision measurements using a NASA-National Science Foundation instrument seem to have returned the planet Vulcan even more definitively to the realm of science fiction.


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THE UNIVERSE

What is an Exoplanet?


An exoplanet is any planet beyond our solar system. Most orbit other stars, but free-floating exoplanets, called rogue planets, orbit the galactic center and are untethered to any star.


DISCOVER EXOPLANETS

THE SOLAR SYSTEM

June Skywatching Tips


Saturn and Mars meet up with the Moon, Jupiter returns at dawn, and tips for identifying some common objects seen in the sky.


THE HIGHLIGHTS

THE SOLAR SYSTEM

Complex Dinkinesh


On Nov. 1, 2023, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft flew by the main-belt asteroid Dinkinesh. Now, the mission has released pictures from Lucy’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager taken over a three-hour period, providing the best views of the asteroid to date.


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THE SOLAR SYSTEM

Measuring Moonquakes


The most sensitive instrument ever built to measure quakes and meteor strikes on other worlds is getting closer to its journey to the mysterious far side of the Moon.



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COMMERCIAL CREW PROGRAM

Go for Launch

NASA and Boeing teams polled “go” to proceed with plans to launch the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station at 12:25 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 1. During a Delta-Agency Flight Test Readiness Review on Wednesday, leaders from NASA, Boeing, and the United Launch Alliance verified launch readiness, including all systems, facilities, and teams supporting the test flight.


NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams returned to Kennedy Space Center on May 28 and will remain in quarantine until Saturday’s launch. Live coverage will begin on NASA+ at 8:15 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 1.


MISSION UPDATES

More NASA News

The agency’s TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution) instrument has made new data available that can provide air pollution observations at unprecedented resolutions, down to the scale of individual neighborhoods.

NASA and Rocket Lab are targeting Saturday, June 1, to launch the second CubeSat for the agency’s PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) mission.

A new set of Chandra X-ray Observatory Instagram filters provides special 3D experiences using data from Chandra and other telescopes through augmented reality, allowing users to travel virtually through objects in space.

On the latest episode of Houston, We Have a Podcast, the CHAPEA crew share updates on their 10th month in a Mars simulated habitat, and a NASA scientist explains her role studying crew habitat design and how it supports health, team cohesion, and performance.

In this episode of the Small Steps, Giant Leaps podcast, meet Teddy Tzanetos, project manager for the Ingenuity Mars helicopter, a record-setting demonstration mission that soared into history as the first spacecraft to perform powered, controlled flight.

NASA HISTORY

From the Archives

The two crews for the Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) are photographed at the Rockwell International Space Division's Orbiter assembly facility at Palmdale, California on the day of the rollout of the Shuttle Orbiter 101 "Enterprise" spacecraft. They are, left to right, astronauts C. Gordon Fullerton, Fred W. Haise Jr., Joe H. Engle, and Richard H. Truly.

This week will mark 50 years since construction started on the first of NASA's space shuttles, OV-101. The reusable space shuttles allowed NASA and its international partners greater access to space than ever before for scientific research in microgravity, deploying spacecraft such as the Hubble Space Telescope, and building the International Space Station.


NASA originally chose the name Constitution for OV-101, the first Space Shuttle vehicle designed not to fly in space but to be used in ground and aerial tests within the Earth’s atmosphere. A determined write-in campaign by fans of the science fiction TV series Star Trek convinced NASA to rename this first vehicle Enterprise, after the fictional starship made famous by the show.


EXPLORE SPACE SHUTTLE HISTORY

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