Space Stories: Approaching Lucy, Chinese Space Ambitions, and Conan the Bacterium

Image (Credit): Image from NASA’s Lucy spacecraft showing the Earth and Moon from 890,000 miles away (look closely – the moon on the left is a very pale dot). (NASA/Goddard/SwRI)

Here are some recent stories of interest. “NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft Captures Images of Earth, Moon Ahead of Gravity Assist

On October 13, 2022, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft captured [the above] image of the Earth and the Moon from a distance of 890,000 miles (1.4 million km). The image was taken as part of an instrument calibration sequence as the spacecraft approached Earth for its first of three Earth gravity assists. These Earth flybys provide Lucy with the speed required to reach the Trojan asteroids — small bodies that orbit the Sun at the same distance as Jupiter. On its 12 year journey, Lucy will fly by a record breaking number of asteroids and survey their diversity, looking for clues to better understand the formation of the solar system. “China Considering Mission to Ceres and Large Dark Matter Space Telescope

The Chinese Academy of Sciences is considering potential missions including a Ceres orbiter and a huge telescope to hunt for clues about the nature of dark matter. More than 20 candidates are vying for funding for further study under the Chinese Academy of Sciences Strategic Priority Program on Space Science, also known as the New Horizon Program, and are currently undergoing evaluation. “Extremophiles on Mars Could Survive for Hundreds of Millions of Years

One of Earth’s toughest microbes could survive on Mars, lying dormant beneath the surface, for 280 million years, new research has shown. The findings increase the probability that microbial life could still exist on the Red Planet. Deinococcus radiodurans, nicknamed “Conan the Bacterium,” is one of the world’s toughest microbes, capable of surviving in radiation strong enough to kill any other known life-form. Experiments have now shown that if Conan the Bacterium or a similar microbe existed on Mars, it could survive 33 feet (10 meters) beneath the surface, frozen and dried out, for 280 million years.