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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
From canceled conferences to a delayed Mars mission, the space industry is starting to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as it spreads across the globe.
Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of people are already experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic.
What’s happening: Europe and Russia decided to delay their joint ExoMars mission two years in part due to concerns around travel brought on by the pandemic.
China, on the other hand, is still on track to launch its first Mars mission in July despite the pandemic, according to state media reports.
What to watch: Experts say it's possible the space industry's workforce and supply chain issues will cause launch delays if impacts from the coronavirus continue to be felt for months.
Pollution clearing over northern Italy. Photo: ESA/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Space companies and agencies tasked with keeping an eye on the Earth from above are key to understanding the scope of the coronavirus crisis as it unfolds.
Driving the news: Satellite images show large pits being dug in Iran to bury the victims of the coronavirus outbreak in that country.
Artist's illustration of the iron rain. Photo: ESO/M. Kornmesser
A telescope in Chile has found a world 640 light-years from Earth that rains liquid iron, adding to the strange tapestry of planets far from our own.
Why it matters: The more that scientists understand about planets circling other stars, the closer they get to finding out just how unique (or common) our solar system — and therefore life — is.
Details: The world, named WASP-76b, is tidally locked to its star, like the Moon is to Earth. The planet’s day side gets so hot that iron evaporates into its atmosphere.
The big picture: WASP-76b is only one of the many weird exoplanets — planets circling other stars — that are fascinating scientists today.
The bottom line: While many scientists are hunting for another Earth light-years away from our solar system, hundreds of other planets with their own properties are still worthy of study.
Artist's illustration of the Gateway. Photo: NASA
Two experiments designed to monitor the space environment will eventually orbit the Moon on NASA's small Gateway space station.
Why it matters: The experiments will keep an eye on the radiation environment in lunar orbit in order to help scientists learn how to keep astronauts safe as they explore deep space.
Details: One of the instruments, built by the European Space Agency, will monitor radiation from the Gateway, giving people back on Earth a better sense of how much exposure astronauts might have in lunar orbit.
Yes, but: It's not yet clear when exactly the Gateway will be orbiting the Moon.
The Apollo 13 crew back on Earth after their failed Moon mission. Photo: NASA
A new website lets space fans around the world experience the highs, lows, terror and ultimately the joy of the troubled Apollo 13 mission in 1970.
The big picture: This marks the third real-time Apollo website released to date. Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 also got this treatment from creator Ben Feist.
Details: The website uses audio, photos and TV broadcasts to allow users to either experience the mission in real time or pick and choose what to listen to and revisit.
My thought bubble: If you're feeling anything like I am these days, now might be a good time to relive one of the most harrowing and eventually triumphant moments in spaceflight history. Have fun.
Artist's illustration of the rover on Mars. Photo: ESA/ATG medialab
How NASA is preparing to launch humans to space as coronavirus pandemic worsens (Loren Grush, The Verge)
Launch of China’s new Long March 7A ends in failure (Andrew Jones, SpaceNews)
Stuck home? Planets, moon providing predawn entertainment (Marcia Dunn, Associated Press)
Europe, Russia delay Mars mission to 2022 (Axios)
Earth's atmosphere glows from space. This photo taken earlier this month shows the thin copper-tinted limb of the atmosphere as seen from the International Space Station.
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