Tag Archives: Space

This Week in Space: From Paranal to Proxima B

We won’t know if Proxima b is habitable until we can get some sharp telescopes pointed straight at it, which doesn’t happen until next year. But until then, everyone’s an armchair astronomer, speculating about the little red dot. What if it’s habitable? It lies within the habitable radius around its star. If it has an atmosphere, it could even support life. A team of scientists based in the UK has been running models to see what they can tease out of the data we currently have on Proxima b, and ...

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This Week in Space: the ISS, a Heavy Rocket, and a Dance of Alien Planets

Buzz Aldrin wants NASA to privatize LEO and retire the ISS. At the 2017 Humans to Mars conference, according to Space.com, Aldrin remarked that “We must retire the ISS as soon as possible…We simply cannot afford $ 3.5 billion a year of that cost.” Aldrin’s plan for Mars is heavily dependent on “cyclers,” shuttle orbits between Earth and Mars that could enable the regular transport of cargo and crew between a Mars colony and Earth. But PCMag points out that the ISS is funded through 2024, so Aldrin’s vision isn’t ...

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Mostly NASA, Lightly Salted With a Spy Satellite: This Week in Space

As strange bedfellows go, canning jars and spy satellites don’t seem to have much in common. But Ball Corp. produces both. And one of their spy satellites may have just gone up on a Falcon 9. Mum’s the official NRO word on the launch, which makes sense if the payload is a sensitive one. The FAA launch license claimed a low-Earth orbit. Next up for the Falcon 9 is a May 15 mission to put an Inmarsat communications satellite in orbit. At the end of the month, SpaceX is also ...

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Scientists can now count endangered birds from space

Google Earth gets a facelift Scientists have a new solution for counting endangered birds — using satellite images from space. A team of researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand showed that high-resolution satellite imagery can see albatross birds from space, according to a paper published in the journal “Ibis” on Thursday. Albatrosses— large, mostly white seabirds with wingspans of up to 11 feet — are one of the most threatened groups of birds in the world. They are hard to study, partially because ...

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This Week in Space: Cassini, the James Webb Space Telescope, and Bricks

NASA finally unfurled the James Webb Space Telescope! The JWST has been undergoing acoustic and vibration testing for months, but it’s been fully opened because now it’s time for the next phase of testing. That will take place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. There, mission techs and scientists will test and calibrate the telescope’s instruments. The James Webb Space Telescope is the scientific successor to the Hubble telescope. Behold here the completely opened telescope mirror in all its glossy, high-tech beauty: Bears a certain resemblance to an ...

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NASA Debuts 3D-Printed Space Chain Mail

When it comes to applied material science, it’s hard to beat NASA. Their solid-state wizards have been working on multiple ambitious projects, including silicon dioxide wafers and about a dozen kinds of ceramic composites. Now some folks at the JPL have debuted a new kind of engineered metallic fabric that they hope will see diverse applications in space — and on other worlds. The new metal fabric is a flexible hybrid of chain mail and plate armor, in the horticultural sense of a hybrid: the offshoot of two different parents, ...

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ESA: Time to Get Serious About Removing Space Junk

Humanity has been shooting things into space for a few decades now, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. What we haven’t gotten so good at is bringing things back down. Scientists have been sounding the alarm about the buildup of space junk for years, a point that was reinforced at the recent European Conference on Space Debris. The message was clear: we need to stop talking about doing something and actually do it before space gets too crowded. We’ve launched some 7,000 spacecraft as a species since 1957 when ...

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This Week in Space: Metal on Mars, Hydrogen Inside Enceladus, and a Meteoric Near-Miss

We didn’t get pasted by that asteroid that sailed through Wednesday, which is arguably a good thing. Discovered in 2014, it was due to pass by Earth at a close but safe distance, which it won’t do again for another 500 years. Scientists all over the world took the opportunity to make a number of radar and other observations of the asteroid, so soon we’ll have some data on its structure and properties. While we’re talking about icy rocks from the outer Solar System, it would be a shame not ...

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Far out: tidings from beyond the rim, and a historic first for reusable rockets, this week in space

SpaceX successfully launched and landed its reusable rocket! This achievement was the first time we’ve ever managed to launch, land, refurbish, and re-use a rocket for a second launch. SpaceX is calling the rocket, a Falcon 9, “flight-proven” as opposed to “secondhand,” “used” or “reused.” The entire launch and landing went off without a hitch, making this the first time in history a firm has launched an orbital rocket that did what the Falcon 9 did last night. Blue Origin has previously demonstrated a sub-orbital rocket takeoff and landing, but ...

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A rocket, a rover, and a moon: this week in space

Next week SpaceX is going to reuse its first reusable rocket, launching it from their new digs at Pad 39A. This particular rocket is kind of a big deal. It was used in April 2016 to complete its first resupply mission of the International Space Station (including delivery of the Bigelow expandable habitat). On its way back, it made history again as the very first rocket successfully landed on the drone ship. Curiosity’s wheels are taking some significant damage from the Martian terrain. NASA checks up on the rover frequently, ...

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