Thanks for reading Axios Space. At 1,096 words, this week's newsletter will take you about 4 minutes to read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The perspective space provides is essential during these troubled times.
Why it matters: Astronauts live in isolation and look down on our planet with a view that can bring people out of their own experiences, especially during times of extreme and shocking change.
"It can be nice to remember that there's a big wide universe out there and that we are not important to it. There's this great beauty in the world and in the universe that you can access even when things are terrible."— astronomer Katie Mack to Axios
As people around the U.S. are stuck in their homes, worrying about keeping their loved ones safe from the novel coronavirus and what tomorrow might bring, a little inspiration might do everyone some good.
What they're saying: Astronauts themselves also have some key advice for people attempting to make it through what could be months of isolation.
The bottom line: During these anxiety-filled times, everyone deserves a break from the current moment, and space can provide a helpful perspective.
The European Space Agency is stopping science operations on four deep space missions as the coronavirus pandemic continues to intensify.
Why it matters: The shutdown comes as nations have placed tight restrictions on movement while cases of COVID-19 rise. ESA also announced that someone working at the European Space Operations Centre in Germany has tested positive for the virus.
Details: On Tuesday, ESA announced it is planning to temporarily suspend operations of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Mars Express, which both circle the Red Planet.
The big picture: The space industry at large is seeing more effects from the coronavirus crisis.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Photo: NASA
Even in the midst of the pandemic, SpaceX and NASA are moving ahead with their plans to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time in mid-to-late May.
Why it matters: The launch marks the culmination of years of work for SpaceX and NASA to get Americans flying to orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
Yes, but: It's not yet clear how the pandemic might affect the launch and planning for it.
A computer-generated montage shows Neptune and Triton (foreground). Photo: NASA
Each week as the coronavirus crisis continues, I'll highlight a moon or planet to daydream about for a moment instead of focusing on Earthly concerns.
This week: Neptune's largest moon, Triton, a world shaped by volcanic activity, ice and extreme cold.
Details: The moon's surface is an odd-looking landscape of craters and plains smoothed over by icy lava.
The big picture: Scientists think Triton originated from Pluto's part of space, known as the Kuiper Belt, millions of years ago.
SpaceX launches a clutch of Starlink satellites. Photo: SpaceX
OneWeb says it will have to cut workers amid economic crisis (Eric Berger, Ars Technica)
Remember when Japan blasted an asteroid? Here’s what we learned (Kenneth Chang, New York Times)
NASA supercomputers join fight against coronavirus (Meghan Bartels, Space.com)
The true impact of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation comes into focus (Loren Grush, The Verge)
Photo: ESA/Hubble/NASA/I. Stephens
A pink stellar cloud not far from the Tarantula Nebula 160,000 light-years away is demonstrating how extremely massive stars form.
The big picture: LHA 120-N 150 is located within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy relatively close to the Milky Way. The star formation within the cloud was likely sparked by interactions between the LMC and its neighboring galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud.
I hope you're all staying healthy and safe. If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe here. 🌏