Sunday, July 22, 2018

Telstar 19V Communications Satellite Orbited By SpaceX Falcon 9

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches the Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite into space from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Photo Credit: Scott Schilke / SpaceFlight Insider

SpaceX’s rapid-fire launch cadence continued July 22, 2018, with the early-morning launch of the company’s second Block 5 Falcon 9. The rocket placed the Telesat-owned Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit.

Hayabusa 2 Finds Large Rocks Scattered on Asteroid Ryugu

The green spots are where rocks are scattered on the surface of asteroid Ryugu in an image captured by the Hayabusa 2 space probe. (Provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and other entities)

The Hayabusa 2 space probe discovered many boulders scattered on the asteroid Ryugu, suggesting it was formed from fragments of other celestial bodies, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said July 19.

New DARPA Program Aims to Bring Precision of Terrestrial Weather Forecasting to Near-Earth Space Environment

An aurora, visible at the Earth's poles as a result of a geomagnetic storm, can interfere with satellite operations. DARPA’s Space Environment Exploitation program aims to develop precision forecasting of a host of disturbances in the near-Earth space environment.

Models for providing hourly terrestrial weather forecasts anywhere in the world have become increasingly precise—our smartphones buzz or chirp with local alerts of approaching thunderstorms, heavy snow, flash floods, and big events like tornadoes and hurricanes. The military relies on accurate weather forecasts for planning complex operations in the air, on ground, and at sea.

Orion Parachutes Chalk Up Another Test Success in Arizona

Credit: NASA

The parachute system for Orion, America’s spacecraft that will carry humans to deep space, deployed as planned after being dropped from an altitude of 6.6 miles on July 12, at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. Data from the successful seventh drop in a series of eight qualification tests will help NASA engineers certify Orion’s parachutes for missions with astronauts.

'Storm Chasers' on Mars Searching for Dusty Secrets


Storm chasing takes luck and patience on Earth -- and even more so on Mars. For scientists watching the Red Planet from NASA's orbiters, the past month has been a windfall. "Global" dust storms, where a runaway series of storms create a dust cloud so large they envelop the planet, only appear every six to eight years (that’s 3-4 Mars years). Scientists still don't understand why or how exactly these storms form and evolve.

How to Weigh Stars with Gravitational Lensing

Image from the PAN-STARRS Telescope at Hawaii from early 2011 with the foreground star Ross 322 (blue square) and the background star (at the centre of the green circle) which will be traversed by Ross 322 in the next few weeks. By summer 2015, Ross 322 had moved to the position of the blue triangle (measured by Gaia). Since then, it has been moving along the blue-red line and is currently close to the position of the background star.

Astronomy & Astrophysics publishes the predictions of the passages of foreground stars in front of background stars. A team of astronomers, using ultra-precise measurements from the Gaia satellite, have accurately forecast two passages in the next months. Each event will produce shifts in the background star’s position due to the deflection of light by gravity, and will allow the measurement of the mass of the foreground star, which is extremely difficult to determine by other means.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Latest Blue Origin Launch Tests Technologies of Interest to Space Exploration

New Shepard Booster, July 18, 2018, prior to touchdown on Mission 9. Credit: Blue Origin

On July 18, 2018, at 8:35 am PDT, Blue Origin successfully launched its New Shepard rocket from the company’s West Texas launch site with five NASA-supported technologies onboard. For each of these payloads, this flight was one in a series of suborbital demonstrations to facilitate technology development.