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Space agencies and scientists are testing new ways to mitigate the psychological effects of a trip to Mars.
Why it matters: One of the major limiting factors for a mission to Mars will be the human mind, experts agree.
What's happening: IBM, Airbus and the German Aerospace Center just launched CIMON-2 — an upgraded robotic assistant that can read a person’s tone of voice — to the International Space Station.
Researchers are also studying how the brain and body might change during long trips in space, affecting a person's cognition.
The big picture: "From Mars, the Earth is seen as a dot, basically — a small dot; greenish, blue dot. So everything that is important to you, your history, your family, your culture, your country, becomes an insignificant point in the universe," University of California, San Francisco psychiatrist Nick Kanas told Axios in August.
What's next: NASA may consider using its Gateway — the small space station the agency plans to place in orbit around the Moon in the coming years — as a simulation for a Mars mission in space.
Editor's note: This piece was corrected to show Nick Kanas is a psychiatrist (not a psychologist).
Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe in front of the Sun. Photo: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL
A new series of studies based on data beamed back from the Sun-studying Parker Solar Probe could help scientists better predict dangerous space weather.
Why it matters: Streams of charged particles sent out by the Sun create space weather that can affect satellites, electrical grids on Earth and even people in orbit.
Details: A new study published last week as part of a Parker Solar Probe-focused package in the journal Nature is shedding light on why the Sun's atmosphere gets hotter as you move farther from the star's surface.
What's next: The Parker Solar Probe is expected to make 21 more close flybys of the Sun, three of which will bring it just 3.83 million miles from the star's surface, closer than any spacecraft has been before.
Ocean water from orbit. Photo: NASA
A new satellite launched to orbit last week will track planes traversing Earth’s oceans from space.
Why it matters: Experts have said that a space-based aircraft tracking system could make flights safer, on time and more fuel efficient.
How it works: The satellite — called TRSI Sat and developed by MyRadar — will be able to track aircraft even when they’re out over the oceans, far from the ground tracking stations that are typically used for this kind of work.
Background: The satellite was launched by a Rocket Lab Electron rocket on the company’s 10th mission last week.
Enceladus seen by Cassini. Photo: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/CICLOPS
How Saturn’s moon Enceladus got its stripes (Monica Young, Sky & Telescope)
European Space Agency to launch space debris collector in 2025 (Hannah Devlin, The Guardian)
No one knows why rocks are exploding from Asteroid Bennu (Daniel Oberhaus, Wired)
New dates set for Commercial Crew test flights (Jeff Foust, Space News)
Photo: X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/R. Gilli et al.; Radio NRAO/VLA; Optical: NASA/STScI
A supermassive black hole's influence can stretch far beyond its immediate surroundings.
Go deeper: Check out the annotated version of the photo.
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