NASA, ESA, NRAO and L. Frattare (STSci)

NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA are moving ahead with building a new orbiting X-ray telescope to find evidence of dark matter, which is believed to make up 80% of all the mass in the universe. Dark matter doesn't emit or absorb light, and is instead detected via X-rays from the decay or annihilation of dark matter particles.

Previous joint missions were ill-fated:

  • Take 1: In 2000, the first version of the telescope was lost in a launch failure.
  • Take 2: X-ray detecting instruments made it into orbit in 2005 but a helium leak caused the primary one to malfunction.
  • Take 3: A month after its launch in February 2016, the $273 million Hitomi telescope lost contact when the control system that stabilized it repeatedly failed, causing the satellite to spin uncontrollably and fly apart.

Why it matters: For years, scientists have been scouring the center of galaxy clusters for proof of dark matter. Several satellites have provided conflicting data about telltale X-ray signals. With resolution 20 times better than that of previous missions, the X-ray Astronomy Recovery Mission (XARM) may finally shed light on one of science's biggest questions.

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Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan urged to return absentee ballots to drop boxes

Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valle, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo by KEREM YUCEL via Getty

Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic attorney general of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes, warning that the USPS may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. In Michigan, absentee ballots must also be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

55 mins ago - Technology

Facebook warns of "perception hacks" undermining trust in democracy

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Facebook warned Tuesday that bad actors are increasingly taking to social media to create the false perception that they’ve pulled off major hacks of electoral systems or have otherwise seriously disrupted elections.

Why it matters: "Perception hacking," as Facebook calls it, can have dire consequences on people's faith in democracy, sowing distrust, division and confusion among the voters it targets.

Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage"

Former President Barack Obama launched a blistering attack on President Trump while campaigning for Joe Biden in Orlando on Tuesday, criticizing Trump for complaining about the pandemic as cases soar and joking that he's "jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Driving the news: Trump has baselessly accused the news media of only focusing on covering the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed over 226,000 Americans so far and is surging across the country once again — as a way to deter people from voting on Election Day and distract from other issues.