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Stories From August/September 2020

First commercial rocket blasts off from Australian soil

Air Force launched its first ever sub-orbital rocket from Australia to the edge of space. The payload included an Australian-designed and made miniature radio frequency receiver prototype. (Sean Jorgensen-Day/DEWC Systems Engineer)

The first commercial rocket to be launched from Australia to the edge of space has blasted off from a range in South Australia.

The 34kg, 3.4-metre-long DART rocket was launched from the Koonibba Rocket Range last week and carried a payload for the Royal Australian Air Force. It reached a height of 100 km.

The project was a joint partnership between Defence, Australian companies Southern Launch and DEWC Systems and Dutch company T-Minus Engineering.

The launch forms part of the Air Force's Plan Jericho, a program to detect and track targets. The program also includes high altitude balloon launches.

"The rocket is unlike any rocket ever launched in Australia, and is part of what is known as 'New Space' technologies - small rockets carrying reduced sized satellites using commercially available technologies," Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said.

The launch came after a failed attempt last Tuesday and was done in consultation with the local Indigenous community.

NASA astronauts will soon film their first commercial in space

NASA is opening the International Space Station for commercial business so U.S. industry innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.The International Space Station has served as the world's most unique laboratory for two decades, hosting hundreds of scientific experiments, crews of astronauts and even the occasional slime.

But now, NASA, one of the space station's primary operators, is preparing to oversee the largest push of business activity aboard the ISS. Later this month, up to 10 bottles of a new Estée Lauder (EL) skincare serumwill launch to the space station, a NASA spokesperson told CNN Business. NASA astronauts are expected to film the items in the microgravity environment of the ISS and the company will be able to use that footage in ad campaigns or other promotional material.

If the footage is used in a commercial, it would not be the first advertisement filmed in space; nor will it be the first time NASA has worked with corporate advertisers. But it will mark one of the most high-profile cases of NASA offering up the American portion of the space station for capturing zero-gravity footage of a product.

The Estée Lauder partnership will continue NASA's years-long push to encourage private-sector spending on space projects as the space agency looks to stretch its budget beyond the ISS and focus on taking astronauts back into deep space. Those efforts include allowing the space station to be used for marketing and entertainment purposes.

The Estée Lauder products, a new formula of the company's "Advanced Night Repair" skin serum, are expected to launch aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, tucked alongside 8,000 pounds of other cargo, experiments and supplies. NASA astronauts will be tasked with capturing "imagery and video" of the product.

The astronauts themselves, however, won't be appearing in any cosmetics ads: The space agency's ethics policies strictly bar astronauts from appearing in marketing campaigns.

Estée Lauder president Stephane de la Faverie hinted at the company's plans last month."I'm a risk taker, and that tends to basically come with ideas that are a little bit, you know, outside of the normal, traditional ways of doing marketing," he said during a panel at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics's virtual Ascend Summit in August.

At that same panel, de la Faverie spoke about Estée Lauder's plans to help NASA and CASIS, the organization that manages the US laboratory on the space station, fund research aimed at developing more sustainable packaging materials. A CASIS spokesperson told CNN Business on Wednesday, however, that the partnership has not yet resulted in firm plans to a send a scientific experiment to the ISS. CASIS is not involved in the plans to film Estée Lauder product footage in space.

Rather,the in-space footage will be part of a Space Act Agreement the company signed with NASA headquarters, which builds off a mandate from Congress and a 2019 directive for NASA to "catalyze and nurture" a business economy in low-Earth orbit.

Space Hero: A new reality show where the winner goes to the space station

This July 1, 2020 photo made available by NASA shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon, right, docked to the International Space station (NASA via AP)

Reality TV just reached the next level - and that level is approximately 200 miles above the Earth - with the announcement of a new show where the prize is a trip to the International Space Station. What a time to be alive, right?

News sources report the new show led by a production company called Space Hero, founded by Thomas Reemer and Deborah Sass and led by former News Corp Europe chief Marty Pompadur.

The entire series will be an international search for the first elected space explorer to fly to the International Space Station. The winner will receive astronaut training before launching to the ISS and spending 10 days in orbit.

There are still a lot of unknown details that need to be worked out before anyone gets too excited. How the chosen citizen astronaut will get to the space station is yet to be determined, according to Axiom, the private space company partnering with Space Hero to train the astronauts and get them into orbit.

The show also doesn't have a home yet, Space Hero is seeking a network or distribution partner to air the first space reality show.

"When Thomas and I started this venture we were very clear that there was nothing like it on the planet. Today we have started our mission to find our distribution partner and are ready to take it to the next stage and get the World excited about Space Hero," Sass said in a statement.

The application process for the show opens April 12, 2021, according to Space Hero, which also happens to be the 60th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

To apply, interested space travelers can download the free Space Hero app to start the process. The show will begin broadcasting later in 2021 and a six-month training program for the winner will happen in 2022 with a launch to the ISS in early 2023.

This new reality show takes commercialization of the orbiting home for astronauts into a new arena. Last year, NASA announced it was opening up the space station for private companies to conduct marketing and citizen astronaut flights.

NASA approved Axiom Space, a Texas-based company, to begin building private modules onto the ISS in 2024 to eventually launch a private space station that would be fully functional by the time the ISS is scheduled to retire.

Axiom has also hired SpaceX to launch three private astronauts on the Crew Dragon to the ISS. This summer, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch NASA astronauts to the ISS and bring them home. Four astronauts, three NASA and one Japanese, will launch on the second crewed flight for the Dragon spacecraft in late October from Kennedy Space Center.

Axiom has not announced if SpaceX will launch the Space Hero contestant winner.

China to Launch Space Mining Bot

Photo: Xinhua/Zheng Taotao/Getty Images

The possibility of space mining has long captured the imagination and even inspired business ventures. Now, a space startup in China is taking its first steps towards testing capabilities to identify and extract off-Earth resources.

Origin Space, a Beijing-based private space resources company, is set to launch its first 'space mining robot' in November. NEO-1 is a small (around 30 kilograms) satellite intended to enter a 500-kilometer-altitude sun-synchronous orbit. It will be launched by a Chinese Long March series rocket as a secondary payload.

This small spacecraft will not be doing actual mining; instead, it will be testing technologies. "The goal is to verify and demonstrate multiple functions such as spacecraft orbital maneuver, simulated small celestial body capture, intelligent spacecraft identification and control," says Yu Tianhong, an Origin Space co-founder.

Origin Space, established in 2017, describes itself as China's first firm focused on the utilization of space resources. China's private space sector emerged following a 2014 government decision to open up the industry. Because asteroid mining has often been talked of as potentially a trillion-dollar industry, it is no surprise that a company focused on this area has joined the likes of others developing rockets and small satellites.

Another mission, Yuanwang-1 ('Look up-1'), and nicknamed "Little Hubble", is slated to launch in 2021. A deal for development of the satellite was reached with DFH Satellite Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China's main state-owned space contractor CASC, earlier this year.

The "Little Hubble" satellite will carry an optical telescope designed to observe and monitor Near Earth Asteroids. Origin Space notes that identifying suitable targets is the first step toward space resources utilization.

Beyond this, Origin Space will also be taking aim at the moon with NEO-2, with a target launch date of late 2021 or early 2022. Yu says the lunar project plan is not completed, but includes an eventual lunar landing.

New coins celebrate Indigenous astronomy, the stars, and the dark spaces between them

Two new coins have been released by the Royal Australian Mint to celebrate the astronomical knowledge and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Look up on any clear night and you can see myriad stars, planets, and the Milky Way stretching across the sky. The chances are that you know some of the constellations. The International Astronomical Union recognises 88 constellations, ranging from the giant water-serpent Hydra to tiny Crux (the Southern Cross).

These are largely based on the mythology of the ancient Greeks. But they share remarkable similarities with the constellations of the oldest living cultures on the planet.

Two new coins have been released by the Royal Australian Mint to celebrate the astronomical knowledge and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They feature artworks from Wiradjuri (NSW) and Yamaji (WA) artists that represent two of the most famous features in Aboriginal astronomy: the great Emu in the Sky and the Seven Sisters.

Both celestial features are found in the astronomical traditions of many Aboriginal cultures across Australia. They are seen in similar ways and have similar meanings between cultures on opposite sides of the continent and are observed to note the changing seasons and the behaviours of plants and animals and inform Law.

The project has been three years in the making, with the third and final coin in the series to be released in mid-2021.

New Movie Review: Space Dogs

Review: Space Dogs

Most readers are familiar with the tale of Laika, the first animal in space. A stray picked up off the streets of Moscow, Laika was flown on the second Sputnik satellite in November 1957, claiming yet another first for the Soviet space program. The flight was a one-way mission from the beginning, since Sputnik 2 has no capability to survive reentry. Laika, as later historical research revealed, likely died from overheating just a few hours after launch.

The Austrian film Space Dogs, making a limited release in US theaters this month and also available by video on demand, opens with that flight, or at least a surreal depiction of it: the spacecraft's eventual reentry looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. An unseen narrator explains that, in Russia, some believe the ghost of Laika returned to Earth and lives among Moscow's strays today.

The movie, according to a press release about it, "documents a pack of Moscow street dogs and traces the story of Laika, the first dog in space." But in Space Dogs, there are far more dogs than space, a warning to those who might think of this as a documentary about Laika or the early Soviet space program.

The directors uncovered archival footage-rarely, if ever, seen before-of the early Soviet effort to send dogs to space.

Indeed, after that opening scene talking about Laika's demise, the movie focuses on a couple of stray dogs wandering through the city, with extended periods with no narration. The dogs meander through city streets, scavenge for food, and, in one particularly brutal sequence, chase, capture, and kill a cat. It's often left for the viewer to figure out the connection to Laika and the Soviet space program's early use of dogs to determine if humans could survive spaceflight. (In one particularly odd tangent, the narrator discusses how Americans used chimpanzees instead of dogs; this is illustrated with footage of a chimpanzee being taken with handlers in Moscow to a birthday party and then a nightclub.)

There are some historical interludes in the film. The directors uncovered archival footage-rarely, if ever, seen before-of the early Soviet effort to send dogs to space. That includes preparations for their flights, like being placed in centrifuges and being instrumented for their flights. There's also film from a later flight with dogs who did survive their mission and returned to Earth, and puppies later born from those dogs. That footage is interesting, but there's far less of it than contemporary video of those Moscow strays.

Publicity material for Space Dogs says the film has "meditative pacing that recalls the work of Andrei Tarkovsky," the Russian director of Solaris fame. That pacing is perhaps better described as ponderous, or simply slow, at times straining the patience of viewers who thought they were going to see dogs in space. The film is less about the "story of Laika" and instead an artistic interpretation of the journeys those dogs took into space, seen through the prism of those who, like Laika once did, roamed the streets of Moscow.

Hubble Just Confirmed The Largest Ocean World in Our Solar System And Its Not On Earth

"The Ganymede ocean is believed to contain more water than Europa's," says Olivier Witasse, a project scientist working on ESA's future Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE). "Six times more water in Ganymede's ocean than in Earth's ocean, and three times more than Europa."

In March of 2016, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope revealed the best evidence yet for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon --larger than Mercury and not much smaller than Mars. Identifying liquid water is crucial in the search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and for the search for life, as we know it.

"This discovery marks a significant milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish," said John Grunsfeld, now retired assistant administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean under the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth."

Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field. The magnetic field causes aurorae, which are ribbons of glowing, hot electrified gas, in regions circling the north and south poles of the moon. Because Ganymede is close to Jupiter, it is also embedded in Jupiter's magnetic field. When Jupiter's magnetic field changes, the aurorae on Ganymede also change, "rocking" back and forth.

Just as Saturn's moon, Dione is perennially overshadowed by Enceladus and Titan, Ganymede's fame is eclipsed by its sister ocean world, Europa, slated for flybys by NASA's Europa Clipper mission in the 2020s.

Ganymede's cycles of auroral activity on the surface, detected by the Hubble Space Telescope, reveal oscillations in the moon's magnetic field best explained by the internal heat-generating tidal sloshing of a huge ocean hundreds of kilometres below the surface.

JUICE will fly by the moons at distances between 1000 and 200 kilometres, orbiting Ganymede for nine months, with the latter four months at an altitude of about 500 km. While the oceans of Jupiter's moons are likely buried at significant depth below their icy crusts, radar will be able to help piece together clues as to their complex evolution.

For example, it will explore Europa's potentially active regions and be able to distinguish where the composition changes, such as if there are local, shallow reservoirs of water sandwiched between icy layers. It will be able to find 'deflected' subsurface layers, which will help to determine the tectonic history of Ganymede in particular.

The distinction between ice and non-ice materials will also be possible, perhaps enabling the detection of buried cyrovolcanic reservoirs. On Callisto, radar profiling will help to understand the evolution of large impact crater structures that are apparent on the surface, which typically display multiple rims and a central dome. Their nature provides clues to the nature of the surface and subsurface at the time of the impact

On the way, reports NASA the space craft will make several flybys of another potentially ocean-bearing Jovian moon, Callisto. "We think that Callisto also harbors a subsurface ocean, but the available data is unclear," Witasse says. "What we hope to do is to check whether there is an ocean or not-and if yes, at which depth."

Fishing By The Moon Phases

Every fisherman dreams of a bigger catch! Is it possible to know ahead of time when to plan a trip to enjoy some fishing, catch more than usual, and come home feeling 100% satisfied? There is so listen up!

When most people started fishing the best time for them was whatever time happened to suit. They tried different lures, baits and techniques until they spent a small fortune in a quest to improve their fishing catch. Time to introduce our Moon as a fishing buddy.

A group of fishing buddies once explored whether there was any truth in the moon's effect on the best fishing times. They kept a record of every trip made over a period of 18 months. All information related to the moon's phases, the weather conditions and the catches they made were carefully logged.

What they discovered convinced everybody that moon phase fishing really works! A bonus was the fact that it wasn't anywhere near as complicated as many would have us believe.

Every fisherman knows that the best fishing times are when the fish are feeding. This tends to be during dawn and dusk, but what often goes unnoticed are the two periods elsewhere in the day, moonrise and moonset.

Because the moon has an effect on a variety of factors surrounding the fish, including the live fodder they hunt, these periods, combined with the moon's phase, are what trigger feeding. The Moon has always known this but you didn't, right?

So, by choosing times when sunrise or/sunset and moonrise or moonset coincide with new or full moon phases, you'll increase you chance of a good fishing catch. Assuming there are fish in the area you're fishing in of course.

It's not complicated, it's just a matter of knowing ahead of time exactly when the sun and moon will rise and set. There is a phone app for this. Fish are most active during 90 minute windows surrounding each of these four daily events. That is 45 minutes before and after these four daily points. Want even better catches? Read on.

If you keep in mind what we've said then plan wisely to ensure you're at the water's edge on the days of new or full moon. You can use these 'windows' to reel in a catch like you've never done before. If you have to choose between sunrise/set and moonrise/set, always go with the moon as the moon is the stronger influence.

Keen hunters and fishers have always known that fish and game are most active at dawn and dusk, sunrise and sunset, but their activity surrounding moonrise and moonset is less noticeable because these events usually occur without the changes in light values we're used to.

If you carry a Smartphone with you here's a tip. Download any one of the new mobile 'Moon Phase' apps for mobile devices. I have a couple and they give me accurate Moon and Sun details at a moment's notice. There are real time images of the current Moon phase, complete with technical data.

Quickly see if the Moon is above the horizon along with Moon rise and set times and precise Moon position in the sky. If you also want to know Sun rise and set times, look at the Solar Position screen.

Be aware that it is possible to have a month without a full moon. This occurs in February, but either January or March will have two moons. By the way, when a month has two full moons, the second full moon is called a blue moon.

Keep in mind that even though full moon is a cool sight, and we write so many songs about how beautiful it is, it's also the worst time to look at the moon through a telescope or binoculars. There's so much light hitting your eye! The best time to enjoy a full moon is at moonrise when the moon is just above the horizon.

Now you know that moon phase fishing really works you can start to increase your own catch by being at the ready with your rod during the best fishing times available. It's easy and it works! Good luck!

6 Cool Space Facts - 'Did You Know?'

1. Earth was named after the Roman goddess of the land, Terra. Many languages today still use her name for Earth (for example, the French word for our home planet is 'La Terre').

2. Possibly beneath Jupiter's moon Europa's surface ice there is a layer of liquid water, perhaps as much as 80 km deep. If so, it would be the only place in the solar system besides Earth where liquid water exists in significant quantities.

3. According to astronomers at the University of Adelaide, about 19,000 meteors hit the Earth's atmosphere every day.

4. When the Apollo 12 astronauts landed on the moon, the impact caused the moon's surface to vibrate for 55 minutes.

5. On the Apollo 11 insignia patch worn on the space-suits for first Moon landing mission all names were excluded as a gesture of respect for all the unrecognized contributors to the mission.

6. The International Space Station loses some 25 meters per day in altitude, and the crew needs to adjust the orbit approximately every three months to compensate.


Survey finds no detectable alien radio signals across 10 million stars

Astronomers using the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope in Australia surveyed a patch of sky around the constellation Vela known to include at least 10 million stars, on the lookout for radio emissions that could indicate the presence of one or more technological civilisations.

The result? "We found no technosignatures - no sign of intelligent life," said Chenoa Tremblay, a researcher with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO.

Tremblay and Steven Tingay, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, or ICRAR, used the MWA to observe the sky around Vela for 17 hours, a survey they said was more than 100 times broader and deeper than any previous study.

The MWA's wide field of view allowed the researchers to observe millions of stars at the same time, looking for powerful emissions at frequencies similar to FM radio.

Even though they did not find any such emissions, "the amount of space we looked at was the equivalent of trying to find something in the Earth's oceans but only searching a volume of water equivalent to a large backyard swimming pool," said Tingay.

"Since we can't really assume how possible alien civilisations might utilise technology, we need to search in many different ways," he said. "Although there is a long way to go in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, telescopes such as the MWA will continue to push the limits. We have to keep looking."

The findings are reported in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

Researchers Find A Drug That Could Allow Astronauts Spend Years In Space

An experimental drug let mice spend a month in the International Space Station's near-zero gravity without losing mass. It could help people spend years in space without major health consequences.

And now an update on some muscular mice who spent a month on the International Space Station. NPR's Jon Hamilton reports that these mousetronauts (ph) were part of an experiment that may show how humans can stay strong during interplanetary voyages.

Without Earth's gravity, muscles and bones can get weak fast, so astronauts on the space station spent two hours a day exercising. Back in April, Jessica Meir and Drew Morgan even made a weightless workout video. Intense exercise reduces bone and muscle loss but doesn't stop it, and that's a problem if you're headed for, say, Mars. So in December, researchers sent some very special mice into orbit.

Some of the mice were just along for the ride. Others got injections of a drug that inactivates two substances that occur naturally in the body. They're called myostatin and Activin-A, and normally, their job is to limit the growth of muscle and bone. Dr. Se-Jin Lee of the Jackson Laboratory says when they reached the space station, all the mice got lots of exercise.

Once they get up there, they become very active. And in fact, they have a name for it - racetracking (ph) - because they're, you know, running around quite a bit. After a month in orbit, the mice splashed down off the California coast and were rushed to a lab in San Diego. Lee says normal mice that did not receive any treatment lost more than 10% of their muscle mass, and he says bone loss was an even bigger problem.

They lost a substantial amount of bone in space. And then even after being on earth, they actually continued to lose a little bit more bone mass. Lee says the mice that got the drug did much better. The drug was effective not just in preserving the muscle mass and bone mass that was being lost but actually caused the muscles and bones to grow.

The drug also reversed muscle and bone loss in mice that got it after they returned to Earth. Dr. Emily Germain-Lee of the University of Connecticut says a human version of the drug could help both astronauts in space and millions of people on Earth. That would be a miracle for a person either with primary bone disease, primary muscle disease or a combination.

But Germain-Lee, who is married to Se-Jin Lee, cautions that so far, the treatment has only worked in mice. They had a phenomenal response to the drug without, apparently, any bad side effects. That's not necessarily something that we could extrapolate to humans. But she's hopeful and says experiments on people are underway. The research appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One Man's Incredible Project Catalogs 57,424 Manmade Objects In Space, Including Elon Musk's Car

If you've ever wondered why people complain about "space junk," look no further than the General Catalog of Artificial Space Objects, or GCAT. It's the most complete catalog of every manmade object floating in space, including everything from satellites and spacecraft to debris and one infamous Tesla Roadster. The open-source GCAT was the life's work of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who first started tracking rocket launches as a kid, according to Vice.

McDowell was fascinated by the Apollo program that put the first man on the moon decades ago, and that fascination never let up. "It was hard for me growing up in England to get details about space because the media there weren't as interested in it as the U.S. media, so in a slightly obsessive way I started making a list of rocket launches," McDowell told Vice. "Many kids did at that time, but I just took it a little further and tagged on with it for 40 years. Now I have the best list."

His list is massive. It includes about 2,000 active satellites along with a bunch of other stuff, running the gamut from decommissioned satellites, parts of broken equipment, SpaceX's car-bearing test payload and stuff lost by astronauts.There are numerous listings for "EVA debris," wherein EVA stands for "extravehicular activity." Translation: "things dropped on spacewalks." That Hasselblad camera sounds pretty sweet, for one.

That relatively short list of things dropped or fumbled into microgravity pales in comparison to the 347 GCAT entries for "garbage bag." "Leave no trace" clearly didn't expand to space, but to be fair, the International Space Station still-to this day-jettisons capsules full of poop and trash with the expectation that they'll burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. Keep that in mind the next time you're looking for shooting stars.

The amount of detail given for nearly 60,000 objects is truly incredible. Not only are the satellites labelled as to whether they're civilian, military or commercial, but there are also things like the extensive list of debris from the Fengyun-1C satellite that was destroyed in a Chinese anti-satellite missile test.

"Space junk" like this can cause substantial damage and destruction to other spacecraft, which then creates more debris, and it's this big, bad snowball effect in Earth's orbit, where there are currently no binding laws or treaties mandating that you pick up after yourself. Yikes. Collecting space trash moving at orbital velocities isn't exactly an easy engineering feat, either.

McDowell has published a newsletter tracking launches and missions since 1989, and a lot of that work as well as archival research went into the GCAT. That research got especially intense, as Vice notes that he learned Russian to be able to research and track even more launches. He's also received more information from well-connected readers over the years, such as one who invited him to France's Toulouse Space Center, where he left with copies of microfiche records on old rockets.

The GCAT is the first time some of this work has been compiled in one space or even published. The entire catalog is open-source and published under a Creative Commons CC-BY license, allowing anyone to use and share it with citation. McDowell told Vice that "the thought of COVID and imminent death" spurred him to put it out there, as he notes, "There's no point if it dies with me."

"I'm imagining that 1,000 years from now there will be more people living off Earth than on, and that they will look back to this moment in history as critically important," McDowell told Vice. "My audience is the historian 1,000 years from now."

Meteorite crater discovered while drilling for gold in outback WA estimated to be 100 million years old

Geologists say they have discovered a large meteorite crater in outback Western Australia, which could be up to five times bigger than the famous Wolfe Creek Crater in the state's remote north.

The impact crater was located near the historic Goldfields mining town of Ora Banda, north-west of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, while drilling for gold. It is not visible from the surface but electromagnetic surveys, which map the rocks below, suggest the crater has a diameter of around 5 kilometres.

Perth-based geologist and geophysicist, Jayson Meyers, said the asteroid that made the crater would have been at least 100 metres wide. "Based on its position and levels of erosion and some of the soil that is filling the sides, we estimate it could be around 100 million years old," Dr Meyers told the ABC.

"That's a guess - and some colleagues at Curtin University are going to now use age dating to give us some more precise dates." Veteran geologist Dr Jayson Meyers says he has discovered two new meteor impact craters in the WA Goldfields in the past three years.(Supplied: Resource Potentials)

'Shatter cones' a tell-tale sign

The crater is located about 10 kilometres south-east of Ora Banda, on land owned by Australia's third-biggest gold miner, Evolution Mining. Dr Meyers, who has more than 30 years' experience in the field and is an adjunct Associate Professor in exploration geophysics at the WA School of Mines, was brought in as a geological consultant.

The California native said close inspection of drilling samples from the site have convinced him. He said the rock samples had "tell-tale signs" of a meteorite strike, including what is known as "shatter cones", which under a microscope look like shattered glass and form in a certain direction.

"In geology, you tell someone you found a meteorite crater and they immediately roll their eyes and are very sceptical because they're so rare," he said. "But when you see shatter cones you know because they only form in nuclear blasts or meteorite impacts.

"We were convinced and pretty excited from a technical standpoint - it doesn't have a lot to do with the gold, it's actually smashed the gold around a bit - but we can say hand over heart that an asteroid hit this spot."

Elon Musk: "Good Chance First Settlers Will Likely Die" on Mars

Last week, Elon Musk said there was a "good chance" that colonists would die in the first manned missions to Mars. And while that's easy to imagine, he and several others are working hard to prepare and mitigate the chances of death. In reality, the aim is to have people die peacefully on Mars after a long working life and hopefully, we hope, looks like life on earth at least a little bit.

Musk refers to sudden death in extreme environments, but people are expected to survive on Mars for some time either way. Once Mars One opened applications back in 2013, people flocked to the mission to die on Mars after a one-way journey and a lifetime on Mars. Even though Mars one didn't go as planned but Elon's efforts are more towards realistic sides.

Musk and NASA are increasingly developing ways to prepare, organise and optimise living environments in space. As of now we are expecting manned missions to Mars in 2024, which will be carried out by SpaceX. Musk has also revealed that he plans to send at least a million people to Mars by 2050.

Time travel BREAKTHROUGH: Physicists reveal that it is possible to STOP time

Experts have revealed that it is possible to stop the process of time, although doing it might not be practical. To understand how time can be stopped, one has to have a better understanding of Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Einstein stated that the speed of light, which is a staggering 299,792,458 meters per second, is constant throughout the Universe.

This speed remains the same even if the observer is moving relative to it. However, according to the University of Southern Maine, our perception of light can be changed. Theoretically, this ultimately also means our perception of time can be changed through a phenomenon known as "time dilation".

Time dilation is the difference in time when measured on two clocks. Imagine one of these clocks was placed on a spaceship which travels at the speed of light, or close to it, and another remained on Earth.

When the spaceship reaches light speed, time is separately relative to both the clock on Earth and in the space ship. As the speed of light is constant for both parties, it would seem as if time would be moving much slower on the rocket. However, it is theorized that it is impossible for anything other than light to travel at the speed of light.

The fastest man-made object is NASA's Juno probe which clocked speeds of 165,000mph when orbiting Jupiter - barely making a dent on light's ability to reach speeds of 670,616,629mph.
However, Professor Stephen Hawking said Einstein's research into gravity, space and time from 1915 may have found a solution to the problem.