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By Doris Elin Salazar   2019-08-24T11:46:41Z Science & Astronomy  

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[Image: India's Chandrayaan-2 mission captured this photograph of the moon on Aug. 21, 2019.]  
(Image: © ISRO)
Russia launched a humanoid robot into space, a nearby rocky planet was found to have no atmosphere, and the largest asteroid impact in America left behind traces of radioactive debris. All this, and more top stories this week from Space.com. 

Largest asteroid impact in America wreaked havoc on both land and water
[Image: a meteor enters earth atmosphere]  

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
An asteroid that hit the Atlantic Ocean, near the modern-day town of Cape Charles, Virginia, around 35 million years ago sent debris flying across 4 million square miles (10 million square kilometers). Scientists studied traces of radioactive debris dating to the time of the strike, providing fresh evidence of the impact's age and destructive power. 


Chandrayaan-2 snaps its first moon picture
[Image: Despite its thick ice sheet, Antarctica is technically a desert.]  

(Image credit: Joe MacGregor/NASA)
India's Chandrayaan-2 mission has reached lunar orbit, and snapped its very first picture of the moon on August 21. The image shows part of the far side of the moon, including Apollo crater and Mare Orientalis. The spacecraft launched on July 22, and reached the moon's orbit on August 19, with its landing scheduled for September 6 near the moon's south pole.


A nearby, rocky planet has no atmosphere
[Image: An illustration of exoplanet LHS 3844b, which may have a rocky surface similar to that of Earth's moon. ]  

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))
Astronomers found no signs of an atmosphere on planet LHS 3844b, which was discovered orbiting around a dwarf star. The planet may just be a bare rock, supporting the theory that planets orbiting smaller stars lack substantial atmospheres which may be due to the radiation from their dwarf stars. 


Russia's humanoid robot launched into space
[Image: Russia's space agency Roscosmos shows off the humanoid robt Skybot F-850 during tests on July 28, 2019 ahead of its launch on a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft. ]  

(Image credit: Roscosmos)
A strange passenger was onboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft: Skybot F-850. The humanoid robot sat in the commander's chair of the crew capsule as an all-purpose stand-in for humans, marking the first time a robot took the commander's place in a Soyuz. The launch went smoothly, with the capsule packed with supplies for the crew living on the International Space Station.




China's Smart Dragon-1 rocket launched on August 17
[Image: China's private Smart Dragon-1 rocket launches its first orbital mission on Aug. 17, 2019.]  

(Image credit: CCTV)
China's privately owned Smart Dragon-1 rocket, built by the China Rocket Co. Ltd, completed its first mission on August 17 by launching three small satellites into Earth's orbit. One satellite will provide communications services, another is devoted to remote sensing, and the third is designed to help pave the way for an "Internet of Things" constellation.




Is Elon Musk serious about nuking Mars?
[Image: The terraforming of Mars, to a world not unlike ours.]  

(Image credit: Daein Ballard, CC BY-SA)
Founder and CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk first mentioned the idea of vaporizing Mars' ice caps in order to warm the planet enough for human habitation on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" in 2015, and recently reiterated his plan to nuke Mars again via a tweet on August 20. Musk later engaged with his followers in a discussion of the idea, asserting that it was not a risky proposal.




A 20-year-old debate on quasars has finally been put to rest
[Image: NASA]  

(Image credit: A cloud of dust blocks the bright light coming from the center of this black hole in the middle of a Seyfert galaxy. )
A new study sheds light on the mysterious, bright objects called quasars, galactic nuclei located at the center of their host galaxies, and solves a 20-year-old debate among astronomers. For decades, scientists have debated whether a Seyfert galaxy, a galaxy known to have quasar-like nucleus, is of one or two types but recent observations by the Hubble telescope suggests that it is in fact one class of object.



Scientists discovered a second alien planet around a nearby star
[Image: An artist's depiction of the newly discovered planet Beta Pictoris c, top left, as seen with its solar system neighbor Beta Pictoris b and backlit by the star itself.]  

(Image credit: P Rubini/AM Lagrange)
Astronomers think they have picked up on a second planet orbiting around the nearby star called Beta Pictoris, based on 10 years of data. The solar system was already interesting enough for scientists observing it, because it is fairly close to Earth, at just 63.4 light-years away, and relatively young, at about 23 million years old.


Mars 2020 rover fires laser for 1st time
[Image: Researchers test the SuperCam mast unit at the Laboratory for Space Science and Astrophysical Instrumentation (LESIA) outside of Paris.]  

(Image credit: LESIA/Observatoire de Paris)
NASA's Mars 2020 rover completed its first successful test of its SuperCam instrument, which uses laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and will launch with the rover in July 2020. The SuperCam is designed to study the mineral composition, hardness and texture of rocks and soils on the Martian surface.



NASA named a Mars rock after the Rolling Stones
[Image: The rock in the center of this image was tossed about 3 feet (1 meter) by NASA's InSight spacecraft as it touched down on Mars on November 26, 2018. The rock, which is a little bigger than a golf ball, was later nicknamed "Rolling Stones Rock" in honor of The Rolling Stones.]  

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech )
NASA's InSight Mars lander team named a rock from the red planet after the Rolling Stones band. The announcement was made on Thursday, August 22 by actor Robert Downey Jr. at a Rolling Stones concert in Pasadena, California — the home city of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which manages InSight's mission.


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