This week in space: September 18, 2019

Welcome to Give Me Space, a weekly round-up of the most interesting things happening in space news.

Remember 'Oumuamua? (No, it wasn’t an alien spaceship. As Miriam Kramer always says, it’s never aliens.) Well, astronomers are very excited because yet another object from a far-off star system is going to be passing in our vicinity. Miriam discusses the comet C/2019 Q4 over at Axios.

Have we found another habitable planet (or at least, habitable to humans)? We don’t really know. It’s possible K2-18b might be the proper temperature to support human life (it’s in the habitable zone from its host star), and astronomers detected water vapor in its atmosphere. But that doesn’t mean we should start celebrating yet — the planet may be more like Neptune than Earth. Chelsea Gohd takes us behind the scenes of the discovery, in which two separate teams raced to be the first to publish the data, at Space.com.

India’s attempt to land Vikram, its lunar lander that’s part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, on the moon’s surface appeared to be a failure. But it turns out the little spacecraft that could actually is intact on the lunar surface. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to make contact again, but there’s always hope. Loren Grush has more about the mission at The Verge.

Lisa Grossman wrote a gorgeous story on how the video game Halo inspired one man to become an astrophysicist at Science News.

Space junk is an increasing problem, and nowhere is that more evident than the traffic in orbit right now. Amanda Kooser discusses the Bigelow Aerospace inflatable habitat called Genesis II that’s currently in danger from a defunct Russian satellite over at CNET. And if that weren’t enough, over Labor Day, the ESA and SpaceX had a bit of a standoff about a potential collision in orbit, as Marina Koren reports at The Atlantic.

The past-Pluto-and-now-in-the-Kuiper-Belt spacecraft New Horizons may not be in the news anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s not continuing to make observations. Meghan Bartels at Space.com writes about the latest batch of data, which is an eye-opening look into how scientists use and process data from distant spacecraft.

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