Science News Roundup: To detect extraterrestrial life on a distant planet, methane may be the key; Exclusive – SpaceX ends production of flagship crew capsule – executive and more

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Here is a summary of current scientific news.

To detect alien life on a distant planet, methane could be the key

For humanity, evidence of life beyond Earth is unlikely to be as dramatic as an alien spacecraft landing, say, next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It is more likely to come from telescope observations of a distant planet carrying atmospheric chemicals suggesting biological activity. Researchers said on Monday that methane could be the first detectable sign of extraterrestrial life if found in the atmosphere of a rocky planet orbiting in the “habitable zone” – the zone neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water exists on the surface of the planet – around a sun-like star.

Exclusive-SpaceX ends production of flagship crew-executive capsule

SpaceX has ended production of new Crew Dragon astronaut capsules, a company executive has told Reuters, as Elon Musk’s space transportation company piles up resources on its next-generation spacecraft program. Capping the fleet at four Crew Dragons adds more urgency to the development of the eventual astronaut capsule successor Starship, SpaceX’s moon and Mars rocket. Starship’s first launch was delayed for several months due to engine development hurdles and regulatory reviews.

Blue Origin’s 4th astrotourism flight set to launch without big names

The fourth commercial flight from Jeff Bezos’ space tourism company Blue Origin, offering short suborbital jaunts for thrill seekers and celebrities, was scheduled to take off Tuesday from the company’s launch site in rural West Texas. Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft was scheduled to launch at 8:30 a.m. CDT (1:30 p.m. GMT) with six citizen astronauts strapped into the crew cabin atop the fully self-contained, nearly six-story launch vehicle at the outside of Van Horn, Texas.

Israeli startup to test brain activity equipment on space mission to ISS

Israel’s Brain.Space, a four-year-old startup that studies brain activity data, is set to test its equipment on astronauts in space next week during a SpaceX shuttle flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Three astronauts on private spaceflight company Axiom Space’s planned mission to the ISS will use a special electroencephalogram (EEG) headset made by Brain.Space, the company announced Monday.

(With agency contributions.)

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