Thanks for reading Axios Space. At 1,249 words, this week's newsletter will take you about 5 minutes to read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The early Earth and other rocky planets may have formed quickly and gently, not violently through collapse and collision, as previously thought.
Why it matters: The details of Earth's formation are a long-standing mystery tied to how life may have arisen.
What's happening: A study published in Science Advances last week suggests that the proto-Earth may have hosted water before the Moon-forming impact occurred.
The big picture: Scientists think they have a pretty good understanding of how the giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn formed, but these new studies and years of research before them are forcing scientists to re-examine how rocky worlds like Earth, Mars and Mercury grew.
The intrigue: If Earth and other rocky worlds did grow through pebble accretion, it might have implications for when our planet was habitable.
What's next: Scientists creating models of planetary formation are focusing on building our solar system from the ground up to test the various theories around how the inner planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars — formed.
New Shepard takes flight in December 2019. Photo: Blue Origin
Blue Origin is planning to launch another test flight of its suborbital New Shepard space system as early as this month, with human test flights expected before the end of the year.
The big picture: The Jeff Bezos-backed rocket company pumped the brakes on its test flight program last year but is now gearing up to launch its next round of flights ahead of its first tests with human passengers.
"[We’ll have] about three to four more flights before we go fly people. So we're still on target for this year for doing that, but there’s a lot of work to be done."— Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith to Axios
Context: Blue Origin sees its suborbital space business as key to the company.
The big questions: Blue Origin has yet to announce a price for tickets, and it's not clear when New Shepard will enter commercial service.
Gemini Observatory's image of 2020 CD3. Photo: NSF/AURA/G. Fedorets
A likely "mini-moon" found orbiting Earth last month is moving away from our planet now, but it could be a harbinger of new small moons to come.
Why it matters: Objects like this one — which is thought to be a washing machine-sized asteroid captured by Earth's gravity — could allow scientists to one day study space rocks without needing to head all the way out to the asteroid belt.
What's happening: The mini-moon, named 2020 CD3, has likely been orbiting Earth for the past year, but it's taken until now for scientists to spot the small object.
What's next: Scientists think there is likely some kind of mini-moon orbiting Earth at any given time.
This could be you. Photo: NASA
Applications are now open for every fifth grader's dream job: NASA astronaut.
Why it matters: The space agency doesn't put out a call for new astronauts unless they have a need to fill.
Details: Applications opened on March 2 and will run through the end of the month.
Background: NASA's most recent class of astronauts just graduated after being selected in 2017.
Go deeper: Shoot your shot and apply to be an astronaut.
How Christina Koch could become a spaceflight legend (Marina Koren, The Atlantic)
Commercial satellite docks with another to demonstrate orbital servicing (Alan Boyle, GeekWire)
Boeing didn’t perform full end-to-end test of its astronaut capsule (Chabeli Carrazana, Orlando Sentinel)
First SLS launch now expected in second half of 2021 (Jeff Foust, SpaceNews)
DARPA launch challenge ends with no winner (Axios)
Gif: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/MIT/Harvard
Sometimes the best photos are taken by accident. NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was exploring an asteroid not far from Earth when it unexpectedly caught sight of a black hole 30,000 light-years away.
Thanks for spending time with me this week! If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe here. 🌏