NASA's next great leap is scheduled for Christmas Eve

Plus: Uber Eats was delivered to space, the world's first "true" millipede was found, scientists reveal oldest-ever social network, NASA's soar probe "touched the sun," the ISS was caught traveling over the Colosseum and much more! ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

Hello, friends!

The holidays are finally in sight! I hope you’ve all got your eye on a wonderful few days of seeing family and friends and/or a much-needed stretch of self-care. We’re almost through with another year of the gruesome battle against COVID-19, but if you haven’t already, do be sure to get your booster -- the new variant omicron is ramping up. You can read up on the latest on that at our website.

Amid your holiday, I’ve got four words for you: James Webb Space Telescope.

After a long list of untimely delays, unless we’re in store for another, it’s finally happening. On December 24th, NASA is scheduled to launch the multi-billion dollar endeavor that’ll unveil to us the unknown reaches of space and prove whether we have the universe’s story correctly. I’ll be live-blogging on our site the morning of, so you can check back for updates, recaps and info to get your Christmas Eve started.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be a day that’ll go down in history.

In the rest of the science-verse, the first “true” millipede with over 1,000 legs has been found, scientists revealed the oldest-ever social network, NASA’s solar probe has “touched the sun,” and scientists used, well, science, to settle the debate on whether rocket scientists or brain surgeons are actually smarter than everyone else.

Also, Uber Eats delivered food to space -- yes, really -- and if you’re in the mood for some stunning visuals, there’s a pic of the ISS traveling over the Roman Colosseum and a time-lapse of Earth from the station’s window. My jaw dropped at both. Oh, and if you've heard that tardigrades were entangled with a qubit, that's...uh...not really true.

📧The Mailbag📧

CNET Reader asks: Is the existence of dark matter a sine qua non for a galaxy?

This is a great question even scientists are scratching their heads over. A quick recap: The reason astrophysicists suggest dark matter exists at all, is that when we calculate the universe’s expansion rate and other features, there’s a gap in understanding. There’s just not enough “stuff” in the universe for any of it to make sense. So, they started calling the excess, unseen “glue” that holds the universe together dark matter, and the force that’s pushing it apart, dark energy. Keep in mind, both dark matter and dark energy aren’t necessarily one “thing.” They could be a bunch of stuff we haven’t learned of yet combined together -- or, maybe not. We really just don’t know. Anyway, for a long time, astrophysicists also assumed all galaxies had dark matter in them because, like the universe can’t be explained by pure normal matter, neither could galaxies. But then….things changed. A galaxy was discovered that’s perfectly explainable by only normal matter. In fact, a few were found “missing” the elusive source. As you can imagine, that caused some confusion. Basically, the only answer I believe we have to your question, so far, is rather unsatisfying: TBD.

Thanks for the Q!

You can send any questions, thoughts, comments, chats to my email or message me on Twitter! And if you're enjoying this email, please do forward it to your friends!

Enim scientia et astra!
Monisha Ravisetti Monisha Ravisetti
Science Writer, CNET
NASA's most  powerful telescope to reveal the universe's unseen corners
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