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Look! The James Webb Space Telescope is beyond the Moon

In this edition of Inverse Daily, read stories about how far the James Webb Space Telescope has gone, why Axiom Space is building the station of the future, and more. ...

I’ve been thinking a lot about small comforts recently. One of my favorites might be eating warm pierogis at Veselka. But as indoor dining continues to be risky here in freezing cold New York, I will instead have to content myself with watching the James Webb Space Telescope, which, unlike me, gets to go outside.

What are the most indulgently simple things you miss doing right now? Hit ‘reply’ and send us your answers — we’ll feature our favorites in a future Inverse Daily. While you brainstorm, let me introduce myself: I’m Ashley Bardhan, newsletter writer at Inverse. I’m so glad you are here. Keep scrolling for a few fantastic-but-true stories to distract you from the mess outside.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️

Astronomers capture the James Webb Telescope on the journey to deep space

We may miss being outside, but the James Webb Space Telescope is enjoying its time in the Sun — sort of. And now you can, too.

“The prying eyes of an earthly observatory caught the largest space telescope ever built making its way to its cosmic perch where it will be looking back at the ancient universe,” writes Inverse’s own Passant Rabie.

“The Virtual Telescope Project captured a mesmerizing image of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) during its journey to deep space. The telescope is currently around 711,000 miles away from Earth, almost 80 percent of the way to its destination.”

To put this in perspective, the Moon is closer to Earth than the James Webb Telescope at this point — and it has further yet to go till it reaches its final resetting place. Although it won’t be fully operable until the middle of summer this year, this mid-journey image snapped by the Virtual Telescope Project gives us a good idea of how far the telescope has come from its rocky start, and just how small we are in the big soup that is the universe.

Why it matters: The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s most powerful space telescope and took nearly 30 years to deploy — now, it is almost at its home one million miles from Earth. That’s far beyond the reach of a repair crew, so everything from here on out has to go just right. Plus, it looks cool.

See for yourself.

Follow its trajectory: Where is the James Webb telescope now?

Axiom Space’s private space station is coming

The next era of space travel is here, and with it comes an unexpected development for the government(s)-owned International Space Station — it may be replaced by something more private.

What exactly that might look like is still relatively unclear, but Axiom Space is working on the details. By 2024, it hopes to have created a four-person living area that it will attach to the ISS as a “module.” But that’s just the start: Axiom Space has golden dreams.

The company plans to design and build a full-blown private space station, complete with “a luxury hotel, a factory floor, or even a media production facility,” writes Inverse reporter Mike Brown. And since NASA’s support of the ISS will end in 2030, Axiom’s space station could offer more opportunities than microgravity cocktail hours. It could become an important science hub and a place for microgravity cocktails.

Why it matters: Life in space — or at least, work-life in space, is starting to become an inevitable reality. Companies like Axiom Space, for better or worse, will drive the change.

Step into dystopia.

There might be a waterpark: Jeff Bezos’ vision of space is “more expansive” than Elon Musk’s

4 ways we’re looking for ancient life on Mars

“Mars is a busy world,” writes Passant Rabie. “The Red Planet is currently buzzing with orbiting spacecraft, roaming robots, and flying helicopters, united in one ongoing mission: uncovering different parts of Mars’ potential habitability by probing its atmosphere, rocky surface, and subsurface composition.”

This makes the humble (and hot!) 2022 an exciting time for space enthusiasts and Martian wannabes alike. Rabie takes us on a tour of four current and future Mars missions, including China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission and the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, scheduled for later this year.

Together, the four missions showcase human resilience and, heh, perseverance. Each mission also “collects a different piece of the astrobiological puzzle to help paint a complete picture of [Mars’] history,” writes Rabie.

Why it matters: These Mars missions are making science-fiction-level discoveries, like finding evidence of ancient water or creating oxygen out of Mars’ atmosphere. They also bring us closer to finding signs of life on the Red Planet.

Keep digging.

Be surprised by what you find: Marsquakes reveal the ultra metal nature of the Red Planet’s core

Does my cat think I’m just a bigger cat?

Sometimes, when I look into the eyes of my friends’ cats, I see a reflection of myself and wonder what I mean to them. I mean, I don’t even know what seeing Kim Kardashian’s Instagram means to me. In any case, researchers are fairly certain cats don’t merely see us as larger, less hairy cats — it’s more complicated than that.

“In a way, cats think of us as bigger cats,” veterinarian Chyrle Bonk told Inverse. “They might not necessarily know that we’re a different species or they just don’t care.”

“At the end of the day, you are your pet’s caregiver, so the onus is on you to pay attention to the behaviors your cat displays,” advises Inverse nature reporter Tara Yarlagadda. “The best way to understand your cat’s mind and improve your feline-human connection is to pay attention — both to their behaviors and your own.”

Why it matters: Although under-studied, feline cognition has a lot to teach us about the creatures we love — and ourselves.

We’re cat people.

Don’t forget the dogs: Study shows dogs have a striking similarity to human cognition

About this newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to newsletter@inverse.com.

  • On this day in history: In 1997, NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the Russian space station, Mir.
  • Song of the day: Prosti,” by Ploho.

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