Saturday, November 28, 2015

Debris from SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Recovered Off Coast of Southwest England

The panel (pictured showing the letters 'O' and 'N' believed to be from Falcon) was initially spotted floating between the islands of Bryher and Tresco. Credit: PA

A large chunk of debris from a SpaceX rocket has been found floating off a remote British island, more than 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers) from where it exploded after takeoff. The barnacle-encrusted debris - which measures about 33 feet by 13 feet (10 meters by 4 meters) and is decorated with a U.S. flag - is believed to have come from an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket, designed by Elon Musk's private aerospace company.

NOAA 16 Weather Satellite Breaks Up in Orbit

An illustration of the family of NOAA polar-orbiting weather satellites that includes NOAA 16. Credit: NOAA

A U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite retired in 2014 has suffered an apparent breakup, the second time in less than a year that a polar-orbiting weather satellite has generated orbital debris. The Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) announced Nov. 25 that it had identified a possible breakup of the NOAA 16 satellite. The center, which tracks objects in orbit and warns of potential collisions, said it first detected the breakup at 3:41 a.m. Eastern time and was tracking an unspecified number of “associated objects” in the orbit of NOAA 16.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Chinese Long March 4C Rocket Conducts Surprise Yaogan-29 Launch

Chinese Long March 4C booster lifts off the Yaogan-29 satellite on Nov. 26, 2015. Photo Credit: Xinhua

China on Thursday, Nov. 26, conducted another surprise launch this year, lifting the Yaogan-29 satellite into space. The spacecraft was launched atop a Long March 4C booster at 5:24 p.m. EDT (21:24 GMT) from the LC9 launch complex at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC), located in Shanxi Province, north China.

Flight Teams Prepare for LISA Pathfinder Liftoff

The LISA Pathfinder Flight Control Team began training intensively in June 2015 for the launch and early orbit phase, commissioning and routine mission phases after several years of developing the ground segment. This image shows the team in a simulation training session in the Main Control Room at ESA’s ESOC space operations centre, Darmstadt, Germany, 7 October 2015. Credit: ESA - CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Following months of intensive training, mission controllers for the LISA Pathfinder gravitational wave detection testbed will complete a final rehearsal tomorrow, ensuring that all is ready for the journey to space. Next week, a Vega rocket will lift LISA Pathfinder into space on a mission that will test-drive the hardware for detecting gravitational waves – ripples in spacetime, the very fabric of the Universe.

Four Laser Guide Star Facility Passes Key Milestone

One of the units of the Four Laser Guide Star Facility for the VLT. Credit: ESO/M. Zamani

All four laser guide star units that form the Four Laser Guide Star Facility — a core part of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF) for ESO’s Very Large Telescope — have now been accepted and are being shipped to Chile. This is a major step towards establishing VLT Unit Telescope 4 as a fully adaptive telescope with much enhanced image quality.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Scientists Get First Glimpse of Black Hole Eating Star, Ejecting High-Speed Flare

Artist’s conception of a star being drawn toward a black hole and destroyed (left), and the black hole later emitting a “jet” of plasma composed of debris left from the star’s destruction. Modified from an original image by Amadeo Bachar.

An international team of astrophysicists led by a Johns Hopkins University scientist has for the first time witnessed a black hole swallowing a star and ejecting a flare of matter moving at nearly the speed of light. The finding reported Thursday in the journal Science tracks the star — about the size of our sun — as it shifts from its customary path, slips into the gravitational pull of a supermassive black hole and is sucked in, said Sjoert van Velzen, a Hubble fellow at Johns Hopkins.

SSL Selected to Provide New High Throughput Satellite to Telesat

Telesat’s first high throughput satellite, Telstar 12 Vantage, before shipping to the launch site. Photo: Airbus Defence and Space.

Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of commercial satellites, announced that it has been selected to build a powerful, high throughput communications satellite for Telesat, one of the world’s top satellite operators. The new spacecraft, called Telstar 19 VANTAGE, will have two high throughput payloads, one in Ku-band and the other in Ka-band, to serve growing markets in Latin America, the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and Northern Canada.