Science Wrap: Vikram Lander's Moon hop to NASA's supersonic passenger plane

Debodinna Chakraborty
Debodinna ChakrabortySep 09, 2023 | 09:00

Science Wrap: Vikram Lander's Moon hop to NASA's supersonic passenger plane

This week's science news once again features ISRO's Chandrayaan 3, which successfully executed a Moon hop experiment. Meanwhile, NASA is gearing up to build a supersonic passenger plane. On another front, scientists have achieved significant progress in growing human kidneys inside pig embryos, and a Hawaiian University has made a groundbreaking discovery in the realm of galaxies.

Let's take a closer look at the top science news of the week.


Chandrayaan 3's Moon hop experiment

ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 continues to capture headlines at every stage of its mission. On September 4, the Vikram Lander achieved another milestone by executing a soft landing on the moon, this time in the form of a "Moon hop."

The Vikram Lander exceeded all mission objectives, flawlessly conducting the "Moon hop" experiment.

ISRO provided further details, explaining that the lander precisely followed instructions, initiating engine ignition and propelling itself upwards by the expected 40 cm. The Indian space agency confirmed yet another successful touchdown on the moon, landing approximately 30-40 cm from its designated target.

ISRO scientists emphasized that the success of this experiment holds pivotal importance for shaping future missions, including potential human missions to the Moon.

NASA's supersonic plane project

Since the retirement of the sleek and swift Concorde in 2003, transatlantic air travel has become a historical footnote. Presently, flights between London and New York require approximately eight hours, or a minimum travel time of seven hours in the opposite direction.


However, NASA is poised to revolutionise air travel by developing supersonic passenger aircraft capable of completing the entire London to New York route in just 90 minutes.

The space agency officially announced its "high-speed strategy" in a recent blog update, exploring the potential for future commercial flights to achieve speeds of Mach 4, equivalent to over 3,000 miles per hour.

Les Evans with Concorde talks with aerospace test and research pilot at NASA Mark P. "Forger" Stucky. (Photo: Getty)

The primary markets for such travel are approximately 50 established routes primarily covering transoceanic journeys, like those over the North Atlantic and the Pacific, due to overland supersonic flight restrictions imposed by countries like the US.

NASA is actively pursuing the development of a "quiet" supersonic aircraft called the X-59 as part of its Quesst mission. With this project, NASA aims to address supersonic travel regulations, paving the way for supersonic flights operating at speeds ranging from Mach 2 to Mach 4, equivalent to 1,535 to 3,045 miles per hour. A Mach 4 jet could potentially enable a transatlantic journey to be completed in just 90 minutes, bringing NASA's ambitious project closer to reality.

Growing human kidneys in pig embryos

In a groundbreaking achievement, researchers have successfully grown kidneys primarily composed of human cells within pig embryos. This significant milestone brings us one step closer to producing fully functional human organs for transplantation.


The milestone was reported on September 7 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, marking the first instance of a fully humanized organ, consisting of a combination of human and animal cells, being cultivated within a different species.

This project is aimed to reduce the lack of transplant organs. (Photo: Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash)

Tao Tan, a cell biologist at Kunming University of Science and Technology in China, remarked, "This represents a significant advance in human-animal chimerism."

In the United States, more than 100,000 individuals are awaiting organ transplants, with the demand for kidneys being particularly high. Scientists believe that this development could offer a promising solution to the global shortage of transplant-ready organs.

Discovery of a new galaxy bubble by the University of Hawaii

A massive celestial bubble, named "Ho'oleilana," located 820 million light years away, has been discovered by a team led by the University of Hawaii. This bubble is believed to be a relic from the birth of the universe, a product of Baryon Acoustic Oscillations predicted by the Big Bang theory.

Illustration of Hoʻoleilana (Photo: Frédéric Durillon, Animea Studio)

Renowned astronomer Brent Tully and his team, associated with the UH Institute for Astronomy, made this remarkable discovery while surveying a network of galaxies. This celestial entity has been named "Ho'oleilana," drawing inspiration from the Kumulipo, a Hawaiian creation narrative that reflects the genesis of cosmic structures.

Astronomers were able to confirm the existence of this bubble by utilizing data from Cosmicflows-4, which currently stands as the most comprehensive compilation of precise galaxy distances to date.

Last updated: September 09, 2023 | 09:00
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