Canadian astronaut Joshua Kurtyk was capcom over the weekend for NASA and SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon launch and docking. (NASA)

Sky News This Week: June 2, 2020

A Canadian astronaut capcoms the first human Crew Dragon mission, South Africa affirms its commitment to a telescope project, and a graduate student makes a novel brown dwarf find.

Canadian astronaut capcoms historic mission

Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk was capcom over the weekend for NASA and SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon launch and docking. (NASA)

When Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rocketed to space Saturday (May 30) in the first human SpaceX Crew Dragon mission, helping to guide them in space was Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk.

Kutryk was the voice of Mission Control during the crucial launch and docking phases of the mission, while the astronauts were on their way to the International Space Station. Crew Dragon is the first of a set of American commercial crew vehicles that will largely replace astronaut rides to space aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Source: Canadian Space Agency Twitter

Space telescope invites Canadian applications

The Canadian microsatellite Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite is open to professional astronomers for “guest” observations. Until July 3, observers — particularly those working to learn more about near-Earth asteroids or comets — are invited to submit their proposals for observation time on NEOSSat. The space telescope is also capable of doing asteroseismology studies or looking at planets around other stars.

Source: Canadian Space Agency

During star formation, size matters

In a new study about a star cluster, material closer to the centre of the cluster appears to be missing the vital gas and dust needed to form stars and planets. Hubble Space Telescope observations of Westerlund 2 show that the most massive and brightest stars in the cluster tend to erode gas and dust overall in the stellar neighbourhood. This could have implications for our understanding of how stars evolve in general.

Source: European Space Agency

South Africa ratifies its commitment to telescope array

In South Africa, the future location of the Square Kilometre Array, delegates recently reaffirmed their commitment for the telescope. The observatory will be hosted across three countries, and South Africa is the first of the three to confirm their participation. The convention representing the SKA will move forward once five countries (including hosts South Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom) ratify the language. The radio telescope set, if approved, would be operational later in the 2020s.

Source: SKA Organisation

Graduate student spots a nearby brown dwarf

University of Oklahoma graduate student Maria Schutt discovered the youngest brown dwarf disc within the Sun’s neighbourhood. Brown dwarf W1200-7845 is roughly 3.7 million years old, which makes it a young “failed star”; just one million years before, mammals began to diversify and increase in size on Earth. Since the brown dwarf is so close to our planet, it will be easier to do more observations on it and learn more about brown dwarf evolution. Results were presented at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Source: University of Oklahoma

Elizabeth Howell (Ph.D.) is a Canadian space journalist who has been obsessed with the topic ever since she, as a young teenager, saw the movie Apollo 13 in 1996. She grew up wanting to be an astronaut. While that hasn’t happened (yet), Elizabeth has seen five human spaceflight launches — including two from Kazakhstan — and she participated in a simulated Red Planet mission at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.