Thanks for reading Axios Space. At 1,264 words, this week's newsletter will take you <5 minutes to read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
With thousands of small satellites expected to launch to orbit in the coming years, the risks of collisions will likely increase and a fight could break out over who should bear the cost of managing greater space traffic.
Why it matters: The operators of these future mega-constellations — like SpaceX or Amazon — may have a higher tolerance for risk than those managing just a handful of expensive spacecraft, experts say.
Driving the news: The European Space Agency (ESA) just shifted one of its satellites to avoid a possible collision with a SpaceX's Starlink satellite.
State of play: Current means of tracking satellites by the U.S. Air Force and others have worked well until now, but experts say there's an urgent need for better monitoring and communication around what's in orbit.
Better tracking is only half of the battle. Establishing a global, accurate space traffic management system with established rules of the road is also necessary, according to some experts.
What to watch: The Trump administration, through its Space Policy Directive-3, hopes to put the Department of Commerce in charge of many space traffic management duties.
The nearside of the Moon. Photo: NASA/Goddard/ASU
India's attempt to land on the Moon last week first appeared to be unsuccessful but reports now suggest its Vikram lander is actually intact on the lunar surface.
What’s happening: Mission Control lost touch with the Vikram lander when it was just above the Moon's surface, indicating that something went wrong during its descent.
“Any non-optimal [landing] could destroy vital electronics making communication unlikely. But we live in hope,” geologist Clive Neal of the University of Notre Dame told Axios.
Context: The lander, which carried a rover with it, was expected to function on the Moon's surface for 2 weeks, before darkness descended, plunging the spacecraft into lunar night, when temperatures can dip as low as about -300°F.
The big picture: India has been working toward establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in space.
Go deeper: Axios Deep Dive — The Moon
The first-ever photo of a black hole. Photo: EHT Collaboration
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration hopes to produce the first-ever moving image of a black hole by the end of the 2020s.
Why it matters: Still images of black holes can give scientists a lot of information about the mysterious and fundamental objects. But videos can help them drill into the details of how black holes consume matter and affect the galaxies they find themselves within, EHT project director Shep Doeleman said.
Background: The EHT released its first image of a black hole in April. That image — which reveals the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, about 54 million light-years away — was the result of more than 10 years of planning and work.
What’s next: The EHT is now working on adding 2 more telescopes to its collaboration of radio observatories by next year, and the scientists behind the project plan to find a way to image Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
The EHT collaboration won a $3 million Breakthrough Prize last week for its work to image a black hole for the first time.
Titan as seen by the Cassini orbiter. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Idaho
SpaceX's plans for launching Mars-rocket prototypes from South Texas (Dave Mosher, Business Insider)
Einstein’s general relativity reveals new features of a pulsar (Emily Conover, Science News)
Some of Saturn moon Titan's methane lakes may sit in 'explosion craters' (Mike Wall, Space.com)
The Silicon Valley heavyweights who want to settle the Moon (Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg)
Photo: NASA/CXC/RIKEN/T. Sato et al./STScI
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has watched the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A change over the course of its 20 years in space.
Background: Cassiopeia A "was featured in Chandra's official 'First Light' image, released Aug. 26, 1999, and marked a seminal moment not just for the observatory, but for the field of X-ray astronomy," NASA said in a statement.
Thanks for spending time with me this week. If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe here. 📡