SpaceX and NASA are happy to report a successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Capsule attached. The Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station early March 3rd and stay docked for 5 days. It will then return to Earth and complete the first crew-capable mission to the ISS since 2011. Everyone in the spaceflight community is very excited about the success of Demo-1, as the mission is called, because of the ability it gives the United States. The government has been paying 82 million dollars a head to the Russian government for seats on their Soyuz rockets that go to the ISS. Now, with the success of SpaceX(and Boeing soon with the CST-100 Starliner, hopefully) the U.S. has independence from the Russians and will be able to fly our own crews on our own ships. Pretty exciting, right? "We're going to have more access to space at better cost than at any point in human history," is a comment from Jim Bridenstine, a NASA Administrator, which sums up the great achievement that is the Commercial Crew program that NASA has implemented. With the use of companies like SpaceX and Boeing, NASA has the capability to achieve its goals in space, such as the Gateway, a small, moon-orbiting space station, and later, putting boots on Mars as early as the 2030s. So as you can see, people are excited because of the possibilities that can become probable with the help of commercial companies like SpaceX. But please, next time don't schedule a launch for 2:39 a.m., I already lose enough sleep from school. You can watch the Crew Dragon dock live here.
In Mars news, the first evidence of ancient interconnected lakes and pools was discovered by Mars Express. The theory is that ancient Mars was a very watery world until the climate changed and dried up the water sources, but the evidence is still there. Signs include channels etched into crater walls, valleys carved out by sapping groundwater, dark, curved deltas thought to have formed as water levels rose and fell, ridged terraces within crater walls formed by standing water, and fan-shaped deposits of sediment associated with flowing water. These signs all occurred at a depth of 4000 to 4500m, making the system about 3.5 billion years old. Signs of minerals associated with life were found in 5 of the craters explored, the minerals being various clays, carbonates and silicates. Exploring craters like these reveal the capability for life on Mars in the past, and they show scientists the best places to search for signs of this possible past life.
There has been a change in distance of the farthest object visible from the Earth. Previously Farout was located 120 AU(one AU is the distance from the Earth to the sun), but now the body FarFarOut has been discovered at 140 AU. Now the discovery of the body itself is not the most interesting part. This discovery of this object and the tracking of its orbit could lead to further proof of, or even discovery of, the long-hypothesized Planet 9, a body that is supposedly hidden behind the Oort Cloud. This hypothesized planet has been influencing the orbit of many planets in our solar system but has yet to be discovered. Read more here.