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The top space stories of the week!

A newly imaged black hole shines in the Milky Way, the Webb telescope’s plan in the last stage of commissioning, and controversy arises about communicating with aliens. These are some of the top stories this week from Space.com.    

Sagittarius A* in all its glory

An image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, a behemoth dubbed Sagittarius A*, revealed by the Event Horizon Telescope on May 12, 2022. (Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration)

Historic new images of the black hole in the Milky Way released Thursday (May 12), the first ever obtained of Sagittarius A*, reveal some key differences when compared with M87’s black hole. Both were obtained by the Event Horizon Telescope and show how much the supermassive black holes differ in size and activity.

Full story: Milky Way vs M87: Event Horizon Telescope photos show 2 very different monster black holes

Webb’s final weeks of commissioning will include some new tricks

A comparison of views of the same part of the sky as seen by NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope and the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (left), NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI (right))

After the James Webb Space Telescope released a stunning new picture of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way, investigators charted the path forward for the $10 billion telescope in the coming months. Webb will be tested like never before, slewing across hot and cold attitudes to track faster-moving objects.

Full story: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is almost ready for science. Here’s what’s next.

Should Earth reveal its location to aliens? It’s complicated.

The greenhouse effect and plate tectonics are essential for maintaining water on the Earth’s surface..

A rendering of Earth. (Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Reto Stöckli, CC BY)

Two teams of astronomers plan to send messages into space to attempt communicate with any intelligent aliens who may be out there listening. But there are numerous worries about the ethics, ranging from the type of message that we should be sending to whether it is a good idea to discuss our location to strangers in the first place.

Full story: Sending out Earth’s location with the hope of reaching aliens is a controversial idea. These scientists are doing it anyway.

Sally Ride just got a new statue

The Cradle of Aviation Museum is offering to engrave bricks to line its new Sally Ride Circle that will surround the monument to the first American woman in space.

The Cradle of Aviation Museum is offering to engrave bricks to line its new Sally Ride Circle that will surround the monument to the first American woman in space. (Image credit: Cradle of Aviation Museum)

The first American woman to ride in space is getting a new monument. The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, New York will host a statue featuring Sally Ride, a NASA astronaut and one of a handful of known LGBTQ+ flyers. The statue of the late astronaut will be honored during a public ceremony on June 17, a day before the 39th anniversary of Ryan’s first launch.

Full story: Statue of Sally Ride, first American woman in space, to be unveiled at Cradle of Aviation

Ingenuity Mars helicopter in recovery from a power issue

A photograph taken by the Perseverance rover of the Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars in April, just after the rover deployed the chopper.

A photograph taken by the Perseverance rover of the Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars in April, just after the rover deployed the chopper. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) came back into contact with the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on May 5. Dust on its solar panels is the factor behind it missing an expected call about two days before with the Perseverance Mars rover that relays its commands, the agency reported May 6.

Full story: Mars helicopter Ingenuity recovering from communications blackout spawned by dust

‘Invisible’ frost and dust avalanches come to light on Mars

Carbon dioxide frost appears light blue in these images captured by NASA's Mars Odyssey rover.

Carbon dioxide frost appears light blue in these images captured by NASA’s Mars Odyssey rover. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Scientists may have finally figured out why Mars has so much frost only visible in infrared light, instead of visible. Scientists suggest that the frost may be camouflaged by dust, based on data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Full story: Mars sports ‘invisible’ frost and dust avalanches, and scientists may finally know why

DARPA wants to test nuclear moon technology in 2026

Artist's impression of a spacecraft powered by nuclear thermal propulsion.

Artist’s impression of a spacecraft powered by nuclear thermal propulsion. (Image credit: DARPA)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced it is looking for proposals May 4 to further develop a nuclear thermal rocket engine for an expected flight demonstration in Earth orbit by 2026. It’s part of the U.S. military’s larger push to keep an eye on cislunar (Earth-moon) space.

Full story: US military wants nuclear rocket ideas for missions near the moon

A Marsquake-hunting spacecraft just recorded its largest tremble

An artist's depiction of the InSight lander on Mars.

An artist’s depiction of the InSight lander on Mars. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s InSight lander detected a magnitude 5 quake on the surface of Mars on May 4, which easily overtakes the previous record-holder, a 4.2-magnitude quake from August 2021. The newly measured Marsquake is the strongest such trembling recorded on any other planet but Earth.

Full story: NASA’s InSight lander detects the biggest quake on Mars yet

China seeks ‘Earth 2.0’ with a proposed telescope

NASA confirmed 5,000 exoplanets have been found, as of March 2022.

An artist’s depiction of a collection of exoplanets. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

China plans to send an Earth 2.0 Telescope aloft to search for new exoplanets, if a proposal from the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory is approved. Plans call for the spacecraft to search for dimming of stars as planets transit across them, from sun-Earth Lagrange point 2, about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth.

Full story: China is on the hunt for ‘Earth 2.0’ with proposed space telescope

A cosmological mystery may have a gravitational explanation

Was gravity stronger in the early universe?

Was gravity stronger in the early universe? (Image credit: Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library via Getty Images)

The strength of gravity may have changed as the universe evolved, a physicist proposes in a new paper. The model, described in a paper published in the preprint database arXiv, discusses the effect on the universe’s expansion, particularly a very rapid period of growth in its early history.

Full story: Stronger gravity in the early universe may solve a cosmological conundrum

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