• Space companies, from Elon Musk’s SpaceX to start-up OneWeb, are racing to launch satellites into space with the aim of creating global internet coverage on Earth.
  • But there’s one big problem, experts say — the creation of so-called “space junk.”
  • Debris in space can be a threat to future manned missions to space as well as satellites currently in orbit.

Space companies, from Elon Musk’s SpaceX to start-up OneWeb, are racing to launch satellites into space with the aim of creating global internet coverage on Earth. But there’s one big problem, experts say — the creation and threat from so-called “space junk.”

This debris floating in space could interfere with future space missions and satellite launches — and even send objects hurtling back to Earth.

The latest episode of CNBC’s “Beyond the Valley” podcast looks at London-based start-up OneWeb’s mission to launch satellites into space and the issues surrounding space junk and regulation.

What is space junk?

There have been over 5,000 launches into space since the late 1950s, according to the European Space Agency (ESA) with nearly 9,000 satellites put up there. About 5,000 are still in space but under 2,000 are actually functioning.

These human-made objects, which can be an entire satellite or even bits of rockets, are dubbed as space junk.

The ESA said there are 22,300 pieces of debris that are traceable but there could be hundreds of thousands more than can’t be tracked.

Space junk has gotten worse for a number of reasons. When rockets are launched, certain “stages” of rockets detach from the main body of the vessel. These explode, splintering into lots of pieces. That’s one cause of the growing amount of junk.

One particular major event happened in 2009, when two satellites collided with each other, resulting in 2,300 trackable fragments being generated, the ESA said.

The other big problem is the countries launching anti-satellite missiles. For example, in 2007, China blew up one of its own missiles, increasing the amount of trackable debris size by 25% in that one incident. And in 2009, India carried out a similar missile launch on one of its own satellites.

As space junk increases, there could be a snowball effect. If more debris is traveling at thousands of miles per hour in space and it hits another object, that can result in more splintering and more junk.

“Imagine how dangerous sailing the high seas would be if all the ships ever lost in history were still drifting on top of the water,” ESA Director General Jan Worner said in a statement last year.

What’s the issue?

The biggest concern right now is the plans for thousands of satellites from various companies being launched into space.

SpaceX and OneWeb are among the companies in this race. The aim is to create so-called mega-constellations that are able to provide internet access to anywhere in the world, even the remotest parts of Earth. Both SpaceX and OneWeb have already begun launching satellites.

There are a number of risks associated with space junk. The first is that this debris could hit spacecraft carrying humans or even the International Space Station.

Another risk is satellites hitting each other. And finally, the ESA warns that large space debris that “reenter into the atmosphere in an uncontrolled way can reach the ground and create a risk to the population on the ground.”

“The space environment is a very delicate one,” Christopher Newman, professor of space law and policy at Northumbria University in the U.K., told CNBC’s “Beyond the Valley” podcast.

“And for many, many years there was the prevalence of what we call ‘big sky theory’ — space is big, we don’t need to worry about it. But actually the amount of operational space we are using is really quite small and especially now, with the constellations looking to occupy large areas of low Earth orbit, it’s becoming even more crowded.”

What is being done?

Projects have been authorized with the aim of removing the floating space rubbish.

Last year, ESA commissioned a consortium led by Swiss start-up Clear Space, to lead a mission to remove a specific item of debris from space.

A video on ClearSpace’s website shows how its technology would work. A spacecraft would be sent up toward the junk and an arm would extend out to grab the item. This mission is slated for 2025.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has commissioned another start-up Astroscale to remove space debris, and the mission is slated to begin in 2022.

“Active debris removal is going to become an area where I think we’re going to have to pay increased attention to,” Newman said.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, explained how he’s trying to make his company’s launches sustainable.

“We are making sure that what we are putting up in space … what really matters is you take this stuff down, when we take it down our satellites will disintegrate … upon re-entry (into Earth),” Steckel said during an interview for CNBC’s “Beyond the Valley” podcast.

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by CNBC.

[Source: This article was published in cnbc.com By ARJUNKHARPAL - Uploaded by the Association Member: Alex Gray]

Categorized in Science & Tech

[Source: This article was published in theverge.com By Loren Grush - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Now it just needs to launch more satellites

OneWeb — an aerospace company with plans to beam internet connectivity from space — announced plans today to provide “fiber-like internet” coverage to the Arctic starting as early as 2020. Using the company’s planned mega-constellation of satellites, the company says it can provide high-speed internet to homes, boats, and planes all located above the 60th parallel north latitude.

OneWeb is one of many companies aiming to provide internet from space using a complex array of satellites and ground stations. The company plans to launch an initial constellation of 650 spacecraft that will beam internet connectivity to a series of ground terminals on Earth’s surface. These vehicles will orbit at a relatively low altitude, decreasing the time it takes to beam coverage to the surface below. With so many satellites, OneWeb says it can provide global coverage, with at least one satellite in view of any area of the Earth at all times.

That coverage extends to the Arctic, which is a difficult place to lay fiberoptic cables and provide traditional internet connectivity. OneWeb claims that its satellite constellation will be able to provide high-speed internet to the 48 percent of the Arctic that currently doesn’t have broadband coverage. Local politicians are thrilled with the idea, arguing that it will help with economic development in the area.

“Connectivity is critical in our modern economy,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in a statement. “As the Arctic opens, ensuring the people of the Arctic have access to affordable and reliable broadband will make development safer, more sustainable and create new opportunities for the next generation leading in this dynamic region of the globe.”


So far, OneWeb has only launched the first six satellites in its constellation, but the company says it was able to conduct some HD video streaming tests with the spacecraft in July. The tests proved that the satellites are operational and have a relatively low latency — under 40 milliseconds in lag time.

Other companies, notably SpaceX and Amazon, are also working to create mega-constellations of satellites that are meant to be even larger than OneWeb’s constellation. In April, Amazon detailed plans to launch a constellation of more than 3,200 satellites, while SpaceX has proposed launching two constellations that will contain nearly 12,000 satellites in total.

SpaceX has already launched the first 60 satellites in its constellation, though three of the first batch failed after reaching orbit. OneWeb argues that its constellation will be deployed “significantly earlier” than other planned constellations, allowing the company to provide coverage to the Arctic sooner than other systems. The company cites the fact that it already has two active ground stations in Norway and Alaska, which are needed to help connect OneWeb’s satellites to the current internet ground infrastructure. Those stations are supposed to be fully operational by January 2020, according to OneWeb, allowing this rollout to the Arctic by next year.

“Connectivity is now an essential utility and a basic human right,” OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel said in a statement. “Our constellation will offer universal high-speed Arctic coverage sooner than any other proposed system meeting the need for widespread connectivity across the Arctic.”

OneWeb plans to launch its satellites in batches of 36 aboard Arianespace’s Soyuz rocket. The next launch is slated for later this year.

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A “CATASTROPHIC” collision between space debris which could irradiate satellite-reliant technology on Earth is now extremely probable.

There is now believed to be an astonishing 170 million pieces of space debris floating in Earth’s upper atmosphere, but only 22,000 are being tracked.

The problem now appears to be out of control, and experts fear that a catastrophic collision could be on the way.

Technologies such as mobile phones, television, GPS and weather related services rely on satellites, so a cataclysmic series of crashes could pose a threat to our already over-reliant need for satellites.

Ben Greene, chief executive of Canberra’s Space Environment Research Centre (SERC) said: “There is so much debris that it is colliding with itself, and creating more debris.

debris 1
Earth's atmosphere is littered with debris

“A catastrophic avalanche of collisions which could quickly destroy all orbiting satellites is now possible.”

Professor Moribah Jah, an expert on space debris from the University of Texas, likened the lack of information on space debris to the meteoric rise of drones.

NASA's map of known space debris

He said: "The availability of drones in people's hands has outpaced the Government's ability to really regulate these things — I think we are facing the possibility of that with space.”

Professor Jah added that if action is not taken swiftly, a devastating collision is “inevitable”.

Experts hope to use lasers to push debris outwards

One potential solution that has been offered would be to gently shove satellite debris into outer space using laser technology.

Australian National University professor Matthew Colless said: “If we increase the power of the lasers that we have to actually gently push small bits of space junk, that makes them fall back to Earth more rapidly and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.”

Source: This article was published express.co.uk By SEAN MARTIN

Categorized in Science & Tech

LAST UPDATED May 31: These dates are subject to change, and will be updated throughout the year as firmer dates arise. Please DO NOT schedule travel based on a date you see here. Launch dates collected from NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, Spaceflight Now and others. Please send any corrections, updates or suggested calendar additions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Watch NASA webcasts and other live launch coverage on our Watch Live page, and see our night sky webcasts here. (You can also watch NASA TV live via nasa.gov or YouTube.)

Find out what's up in the night sky this month with our visible planets guide and skywatching forecast. Spot the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope and other satellites in the sky above with this satellite tracker.  

May 30 - June 4: 10th annual World Science Festival in New York City.

May 31: NASA will make an announcement about the agency's first mission to fly directly into our sun's atmosphere during a live event on NASA TV at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT). Watch Live

May 31: NASA TV will host a televised news conference for Reuters and "O, the Oprah Magazine" with ISS Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA starting at 11:10 a.m. EDT (1510 GMT) on NTV-3 (Media).

May 31: A Japanese H-2A rocket will launch the Michibiki 2 navigation spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan at 8:20 p.m. EDT (0020 GMT on June 1).


June 1: In a Change of Command Ceremony at the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will hand over command to Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin.

June 1: SpaceX will launch the 13th Dragon spacecraft on the 11th operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station (CRS-11) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:55 p.m. EDT (2155 GMT). 

June 1: Arianespace will launch an Ariane 5 rocket (VA237) carrying ViaSat-2 and Eutelsat-172B communications satellites from Kourou, French Guiana. Launch window: 7:45-8:45p.m. EDT (2345-0045 GMT).

June 2: Expedition 50/51 crewmembers, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, will undock their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft from the International Space Station's Rassvet module and return to Earth. (Their third crewmember, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, will stay at the ISS for three additional months.) Closing of the hatch is scheduled for 3:30 a.m. EDT (0730 GMT). The spacecraft will undock at 6:47 a.m. EDT (1047 GMT) and land at 10:09 a.m. EDT (1409 GMT) near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

June 2: 8th annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. — See the sun, moon, Saturn, and Jupiter at the largest astronomy event on the National Mall. The free stargazing event is open to the public and runs from 6 to 11 p.m. local time.

June 3: The 10th annual World Science Festival will host a free, public stargazing event in Brooklyn Bridge Park. (7-11 p.m. EDT) 

June 4: The arrival of SpaceX's Dragon CRS-11 cargo craft at the International Space Station will air live on NASA TV starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Capture is scheduled for 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).

June 4-8: 230th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) (Austin, Texas)

June 5: India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk.3) mission will launch its first orbital test flight with the GSAT-19E experimental communications satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in India.

June 9: The full moon of June occurs at 9:09 a.m. EDT (1309 GMT). [How to See the Strawberry Minimoon]

June 13: A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

June 13: Russia's Progress 66 cargo ship will undock from the International Space Station's Pirs docking module and fall back toward Earth, burning up in the atmosphere along the way. 

June 14: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Progress 67 cargo ship to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:20 a.m. EDT (0920 GMT).

June 15: Saturn will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This will be the best time to view Saturn and its moons.

June 15: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the BulgariaSat-1 communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

June 16: Russia's Progress 67 cargo ship will arrive at the International Space Station at 7:41 a.m. EDT (1141 GMT) 

June 20: The Cygnus cargo spacecraft OA-7 will undock from the International Space Station, stuffed with non-recyclable waste, and burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

June 20-24: First Annual Spaceport America Cup - The international intercollegiate rocket engineering competition takes place at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

June 25: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 satellites for the Iridium NEXT (11-20) mobile communications fleet from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 4:24 p.m. EDT (2024 GMT).

June 27-29: NewSpace 2017 Conference in San Francisco. Private and commercial space industry experts will converge on San Francisco, California for the annual NewSpace conference.

June 28: Arianespace will launch an Ariane 5 rocket (VA238) with the Inmarsat S-band/Hellas-Sat 3 and GSAT-17 communications satellites from Kourou, French Guiana. Launch window: 5:45-6:30 p.m. EDT (2145-2230 GMT)

Also slated to launch in June (from Spaceflight Now):

  • An International Launch Services Proton rocket will deploy the EchoStar 21 communications satellite (formerly known as TerreStar 2) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
  • A Eurockot Rockot launch vehicle with the Sentinel-5 Precursor Earth observation satellite will launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.
  • Chinese Long March 5 rocket will launch the Shijian 18 communications satellite from Wenchang, China. 
  • India will launch its Cartosat 2E high-resolution Earth observation satellite and a collection of smaller secondary payloads on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-38) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center.


July 1: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Intelsat 35e communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at approximately 7:30 p.m. EDT (2330 GMT).

July 3: Happy Aphelion Day! Earth is farthest from the sun for the year today at a distance of 94,505,901 miles (152,092,505 km).

July 9: The full moon of July, known as the Full Buck Moon, will occur at 12:07 a.m. EDT (1707 GMT). This full moon is also called the Thunder Moon.

July 14: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Kanopus-V-IK infrared Earth observation satellite along with Russia's Zond solar research satellite and multiple small spacecraft from U.S. companies from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:36 a.m. EDT (0636 GMT).

July 15: Orbital ATK will launch a Minotaur IV rocket on a historic mission for the U.S. military's Operationally Responsive Space program (ORS-5) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at approximately 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT). 

July 17-20: International Space Station Research & Development Conference (Washington, D.C.)

July 21: The new sci-fi film, "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" will be released in movie theaters worldwide.

July 25: An Arianespace Vega rocket will launch with the Optsat-3000 high-resolution reconnaissance satellite from Kourou, French Guiana.

July 28: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft to the International Space Station with members of the Expedition 52/53 crew, including Randy Bresnik of NASA, Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency and Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Liftoff is scheduled for 11:41 a.m. EDT (1541 GMT).

July 28-29: The Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks overnight on Friday, July 28. Delta Aquarid meteors will be visible from July 12 to Aug. 23.

Also slated to launch in July (from Spaceflight Now):

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the SES-11/EchoStar 105 hybrid communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Koreasat 5A communications satellite for KTsat based in South Korea from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 
  • Sometime this quarter (July–Sept.) SpaceX will launch the Falcon Heavy rocket for its first demonstration flight. 


Aug. 1: SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft on the 12th cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station (CRS-12) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

Aug. 2: Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazansky will go for a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS Russian EVA-43). 

Aug. 3: A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch NASA's TDRS-M communications and data relay satellite at 8:40 a.m. EDT (1240 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

Aug. 7: The full moon of August, also known at the Full Sturgeon Moon, will occur on Monday, Aug. 7 at 2:11 p.m. EDT (1911 GMT). A partial lunar eclipse will coincide with this full moon and can be seen from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. 

Aug. 7-9: National Astronomy Teaching Summit Conference (Ft. Meyers, Florida)

Aug. 12-13: One of the brightest meteor showers of the year, the Perseid meteor shower peaks on the night of Saturday, Aug. 12 and the early morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 13. A waning gibbous moon may hamper the view of the meteor shower's peak this year. Perseid meteors will appear in the sky from July 17 to Aug. 24. [When, Where & How to See It]

Aug. 14: A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch a classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NROL-42) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Aug. 21: The "Great American Total Solar Eclipse" will sweep across the United States on Monday, Aug. 21. The moon will pass before the sun, first casting its shadow over Oregon that will move across the country all the way to South Carolina. Viewers across the continental U.S. who are outside the path of totality will still be able to see the eclipse in its partial form. [Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Path, Viewing Maps and Photo Guide]

Aug. 31: A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch a classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NROL-52) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Also slated to launch in August (from Spaceflight Now): 

  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 satellites for the Iridium NEXT (21-30) mobile communications fleet from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.


Sept. 6: The full moon of September will occur on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 3:03 a.m. EDT (0803 GMT). September's full moon is known as the Full Harvest Moon.

Sept. 13: Expedition 53/54 crewmembers Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will launch atop a Russian Soyuz rocket on a mission to the International Space Station. 

Sept. 15: NASA's Cassini orbiter will plunge into Saturn, ending a nearly 20-year mission.

Sept. 17-22: European Planetary Science Congress 2017 (Riga, Latvia)

Sept. 21: A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket will launch the first spacecraft in the Joint Polar Satellite System, NOAA's next-generation series of polar-orbiting weather observatories. Launch window: 5:47:03-5:48:06 a.m. EDT (0947:03-0948:06 GMT)

Sept. 23: A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket will launch the first spacecraft in the Joint Polar Satellite System, NOAA's next-generation series of polar-orbiting weather observatories. 

Also slated to launch in September (from Spaceflight Now): 

  • An Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket will launch six SkySat Earth observation satellites for Google/Skybox Imaging.


Oct. 1: An Orbital ATK Antares rocket will launch the Cygnus cargo spacecraft (OA-8) to the International Space Station from Wallops Island, Virginia. 

Oct. 5: The full moon of October occurs on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 2:40 p.m. EDT (1940 GMT). It is also known as the Full Hunter's Moon.

Oct.: The Draconid meteor shower will peak on Sunday, Oct. 8. Draconid meteors will appear Oct. 6-10 and are best viewed in the early evening hours.

Oct.: The U.S. military will launch its fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite aboard an Atlas 5 rocket provided by the United Launch Alliance. It will launch from pad SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 

Oct. 12: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the 68th Progress cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. 

Oct. 15: Occultation of Regulus – The brightest star in the constellation Leo will be covered by a crescent moon in the early morning of Sunday, Oct. 15. The occultation will be visible from the United States and the Caribbean. 

Oct. 18: A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch a classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

Oct. 19: Uranus will be at opposition in its closest approach to Earth, and the planet's face will be fully illuminated by the sun. This the best time to observe Uranus, though a telescope is required to do so.

Oct. 21-22: The Orionid meteor shower peaks on the night of Friday, Oct. 20 and the early morning of Saturday, Oct. 21. Orionid meteors will be visible from Oct. 2 to Nov. 7.

Oct. 26: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch a crewed Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station with members of the Expedition 54/55 crew: Scott Tingle of NASA, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. 

Oct. 27: An Atlas 5 rocket provided by the United Launch Alliance will launch the U.S. military's fourth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous satellite (SBIRS GEO 4) for missile early-warning detection.

Also slated to launch in October (from Spaceflight Now):

  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 15th Dragon spacecraft on the 13th operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station (CRS-13) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


Nov. 4: The full moon of November will occur on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 12:23 a.m. EDT (0523 GMT). It is also known as the Full Beaver Moon.

Nov. 4-5: The Taurid meteor shower will peak on the night of Saturday, Nov. 4 and the early morning of Sunday, Nov. 5. Taurid meteors will be visible from Sep. 7 to Dec. 10. This is a minor meteor shower with 5-10 meteors per hour, and light from the full moon may obstruct the view during the meteor shower's peak.

Nov. 5: Occultation of Aldebaran. For the second time this year, the moon crosses in front of the bright star Aldebaran on Nov. 5. This time the waning gibbous moon will be nearly full. The occultation will be visible from most of North America in the early evening. [Watch the Moon Play 'Peekaboo' with Bright Star Aldebaran

Nov. 13: A spectacular conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will be visible in the evening sky. The two bright planets will be extremely close, appearing only 0.3 degrees apart. Look for this impressive pairing in the Eastern sky just before sunrise.

Nov. 14: An air-launched Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket will send NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite into orbit from Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. 

Nov. 17-18: The Leonid meteor shower peaks between Thursday, Nov. 17 and Friday, Nov. 18. But Leonid meteors will be visible in the sky throughout the month of November.

Nov. 17: An Orbital ATK Antares rocket will launch a Cygnus cargo spacecraft (OA-9) to the International Space Station from Wallops Island, Virginia.

Also slated to launch in November (from Spaceflight Now):

  • SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station.
  • A Chinese Long March 5 rocket will launch the Chang'e 5 mission to return samples from the moon
  • Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 rocket to launch four Galileo full operational capability satellites for Europe's Galileo navigation constellation from the Guiana Space Center.
  • A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket will launch NASA's ICESat-2 satellite to measure ice sheet elevation and ice sheet thickness changes linked to climate change, along with measurements of Earth's vegetation biomass.
  • An Arianespace Vega rocket, designated VV11, will launch with the ADM-Aeolus satellite for the European Space Agency. ADM-Aeolus will be the first ever satellite to deliver wind profiles on a global scale and on a daily basis.


Dec. 3: The full moon of December, also known as the Full Cold Moon, occurs at 10:47 a.m. EDT (1547 GMT) on Monday, Dec. 3. This will also be the only "supermoon" of 2017. [How to Photograph the Supermoon: NASA Pro Shares His Tips

Dec. 5-7: SpaceCom 2017 (Space Commerce Conference and Exposition) in Houston, Texas.

Dec. 13-14: The Geminid meteor shower peaks on the night of Wednesday, Dec. 13 and the early morning hours of Thursday, Dec. 14. Geminid meteors will be visible Dec. 7-16.

Dec. 20: A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch a classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

Dec. 21-22: The Ursid meteor shower peaks on the night of Thursday, Dec. 21 and the early morning hours of Friday, Dec. 22. Ursid meteors will appear in the sky Dec. 17-25.

Follow Space.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Source: This article was published on space.com by SPACE.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

An artist's concept of Made In Space's Archinaut spacecraft 3D-printing and assembling satellite reflectors in space.Archinauts 3D-Printing Satellite Reflectors

The nascent off-Earth manufacturing industry is getting set to take its next big steps.

Made In Space, the California-based company that owns and operates the commercial 3-D printer aboard the International Space Station (ISS), is developing new technology, called Archinaut, that's designed to enable the assembly of large structures in the final frontier.

"The real difference maker for this technology is in the area of being able to put stuff up that you can't origami fold up [for launch], or that would be really, really difficult to do with a traditional deployable" system, Made In Space CEO Andrew Rush told Space.com last month.

Building structures off Earth would also allow them "to be space-optimized," Rush said, "rather than engineered to survive launch."

The Archinaut concept integrates a 3-D-printer and flexible robotic arms into a single spacecraft capable of manufacturing parts and putting them together in space. In addition to building structures anew, Archinaut could help repair or upgrade existing satellites, Rush said.

Made In Space has been working on the project for about six months. NASA selected the idea for funding in November 2015 via a "tipping point technologies" solicitation, and the company (along with partners Northrop Grumman and Oceaneering Space Systems) got on the $20 million contract roughly a year later, Rush said.

Made In Space's work on Archinaut currently focuses on figuring out how best to manufacture "extended structures" in the space environment, Rush said. This research involves testing at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California — Made In Space's next-door neighbor — and analyzing samples created by the ISS commercial 3-D printer, which is called the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF).

The next step will involve adding the robotic-arms component into the mix, Rush said. All of this is part of the project's first phase, which will last a total of 18 months.

After such work is complete, Made In Space and its partners aim to launch an Archinaut demonstration mission to Earth orbit. That flight had been pegged for 2018, but the timeline might end up being pushed back a bit, Rush said.

"For the Archinaut development program through NASA, that's kind of dependent on Phase 2, which is to be announced," he said.

The demonstration mission will likely build a space structure a few meters across, Rush added. There should be bigger things to come, however.

"Where this gets really interesting is, tens [of meters] to 100 meters plus," he said. "And that's what we're angling toward."

For example, Archinaut could potentially enable the construction of gigantic space telescopes, Rush said: The technology could manufacture some parts in orbit and integrate them with others, such as mirror segments, that were launched from the ground. (At the moment, entire space telescopes must be folded up to fit inside a rocket's nose cone, limiting their maximum size.)

"That's what we think is the attainable future that Archinaut enables," Rush said.

NASA isn't the only organization interested in Archinaut. Rush said that Made In Space is also working with a commercial customer on an application for the technology and will turn over some hardware to this customer (which he declined to name) at the end of this summer.

Made In Space is also negotiating with a half-dozen other potential customers — some of them government entities, others in the private sector — on the possible use of Archinaut tech, Rush said.

Made In Space partnered with NASA to build the first-ever 3-D printer aboard the ISS, which reached the orbiting lab in September 2014. NASA owns that printer. But Made In Space owns and operates the AMF, a second-generation machine that arrived at the ISS in March 2016 and prints out parts for a variety of customers.

The company plans to develop Archinaut tech on a similar path, from demonstration mission to a series of increasingly capable, commercially operating machines, Rush said.

"Visions of what this could do have been with us for a long time," he said. "We want to do good work, and we want to learn from it."

Source: This article was published nbcnews.com By MIKE WALL,

Categorized in Science & Tech

Is it possible that space-time is curved in such a way that one (or many) of the galaxies we see in telescopes is actually our own Milky Way a few billion years earlier?

This infrared view reveals galaxies far, far away that existed long, long ago. Taken by the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the image is part of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field survey, the deepest portrait ever taken of the universe.

It is mathematically possible for a universe to be shaped this way, but not our Universe. Our Universe is as close to flat as we can measure right now, though it’s only possible for it to be very slightly curved, considering the wiggle room we have remaining on our measurements.

The universe that you describe could be round, donut-shaped or cylindrical; some shape where at least in one direction, it connects back to itself. These aren’t your only options for a universe - you could also invent a saddle shaped or other, more exotic shape to place your universe in.

For now, let’s roll with a cylindrical universe. And let’s put a star somewhere on the surface. If the light from this star is going along the length of the cylinder, all it can ever do is go out, because the surface is flat in that direction; there’s no curve or loop. This flat, uncurved behavior is how we believe our Universe behaves in every direction. Light in our Universe departs its star, and travels in a straight line forever (as far as we can tell) unless it is intercepted by another astrophysical object, another star, planet, or telescope detector.

However, the light that leaves our star in the cylindrical universe has one other option. The light that goes in the other direction - around the curve of the cylinder - will also travel in a straight path. But this path loops back on itself, and if the light doesn’t hit anything else, after it has completed its tour of the cylinder’s circumference, it will arrive back where it began, on the other side of the star, delayed by the length of time it took to do its loop.

The three possible geometries of space. At the top is a sphere, followed by a saddle-shaped universe, and then flat. Each geometry will affect the path of light traveling through it.

NASA / WMAP Science Team

The three possible geometries of space. At the top is a sphere, followed by a saddle-shaped universe, and then flat. Each geometry will affect the path of light traveling through it.

What happens if you make your universe spherical? It’s a very similar thing, except now every path that light can take will loop back onto itself, given enough time. There’s another curious thing about the light this time, though, which is that the beams of light, even though they’re all travelling “out”, will all cross each other at some other point on the sphere. If the star was on a flat surface, these beams of light would only ever get further apart; there’s nothing that would ever curve the light back towards each other.

In our Universe, we know that there’s no bending of the light as it comes through space (this is from an analysis of the map of the oldest light in the Universe) beyond what you would expect from gravitational forces. This lack of a large scale-bending rules out the spherical and saddle-shaped options, and all that’s left are the ones which can be considered flat. While we can’t observe the entire universe to objectively figure out what the global shape of the entire thing is, we know that on the scales of the observable universe, our Universe is pretty darn flat.

This artist’s impression shows how photons in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB, as detected by ESA’s Planck space telescope) are deflected by the gravitational lensing effect of massive cosmic structures as they travel across the Universe.

ESA and the Planck Collaboration

This artist’s impression shows how photons in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB, as detected by ESA’s Planck space telescope) are deflected by the gravitational lensing effect of massive cosmic structures as they travel across the Universe.

How do we know that the Universe isn’t a tightly rolled cylinder? Well, we can’t rule out a gigantic cylinder, but it would have to be so large that we couldn’t ever detect a difference between light going “out” along the length of the cylinder and the light going “around”, because as far as we can observe, the Universe is the same in every direction. If there were a preferred direction, where the Universe appeared considerably younger than in the other direction, then we’d get suspicious of a cylindrical shape. But since there’s no evidence for that, we usually describe our Universe as an unwarped, three dimensional, grid. And with that kind of shape, we don’t expect any of the light from the distant universe to be taking a looping path to show us our own Milky Way.

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Astrophysics. Find me on twitter @Jillian_Scudder.

Source: This article was published forbes.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Beijing's bid to mine space rocks could bring so much wealth back to Earth that it crashes the planet's economy

CHINA plans to build a base on an asteroid and begin mining billions or even trillions of dollars worth of precious metals.

Yesterday, a top scientist revealed plans to land an unmanned craft on a space rock, potentially putting Beijing’s asteroid miners in direct competition with American space prospectors.

Asteroids could contain incredible riches worth billions or even trillions

Asteroids could contain incredible riches worth billions or even trillions

The asteroid will then be mined or even used to piggyback probes into deep space.

Ye Peijian, a deep-space exploration expert at the China Academy of Space Technology, told an “asteroid exploration forum” that 900 space rocks zoom past Earth every year.

Many of these priceless asteroids contain vast amounts of metals such as platinum, iridium or rhodium.

A Chinese ‘Long March’ rocket takes on a mission into space

A Chinese ‘Long March’ rocket takes on a mission into space

“In the near future, we will study ways to send robots or astronauts to mine suitable asteroids and transport the resources back to Earth,” he said, according to China Daily.

“In the long term, we will consider using resources from asteroids to build facilities in space or to provide materials to support interstellar travel.”

The asteroids could also be used on deep space missions and serve as “bases for interstellar exploration”.

The Chinese boffin suggested an unmanned probe could hitch a ride on the asteroid and then travel off into deep space, which would drastically cut down on the amount of fuel needed to power the probe.

The global investment bank Goldman Sachs has claimed mining asteroids for precious metals is a “realistic” goal.

It is believed an asteroid the size of a football field could be worth up to £40 billion.

However, bringing that much platinum back to Earth is likely to crash the precious metal market - and probably the rest of the economy with it.

Earlier this year, NASA said it was planning a mission to an asteroid worth £8,072 quadrillion ($10,000 quadrillion), according to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, lead scientist on the mission.

It is called 16 Psyche and is a massive hunk of the iron and nickel.

The mysterious "metal world" was formed during the turbulent birth of our solar system.

It is valued at £8,072 quadrillion ($10,000 quadrillion), according to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the lead scientist on the NASA mission.

Source: This article was published thesun.co.uk By Jasper Hamill

Categorized in Science & Tech

Credit: agsandrew/Shutterstock.com

A new study may help reveal the nature of dark energy, the mysterious substance that is pushing the universe to expand outward. Dark energy may emerge from fluctuations in the nothingness of empty space, a new hypothesis suggests.

That idea, in turn, could also explain why the cosmological constant, a mathematical constant that Albert Einstein conjured up yet famously called "the biggest blunder of his life," takes the value it does. 

The new study proposed that the expansion is driven by fluctuations in the energy carried by the vacuum, or regions of space devoid of matter. The fluctuations create pressure that forces space itself to expand, making matter and energy less dense as the universe ages, said study co-author Qingdi Wang, a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada.

Accelerating universe

Scientists call the force that pushes the universe to expand a cosmological constant (though it isn't a "force" in the strict sense). This constant is the energy density of space itself. If it is greater than zero, then Einstein's equations of relativity, which describe the structure of space-time, imply an expanding universe. In the late 1990s, measurements of distant supernovas showed that the universe was accelerating, not just expanding. Cosmologists call the energy that drives that acceleration dark energy. Whatever dark energy is, it dissipates more slowly than matter or dark matter, and doesn't clump together the way either of them do under the influence of gravity. 

This acceleration has been a big quandary for physicists, because it contradicts the predictions of quantum field theories, the theoretical frameworks that describe the interactions of the tiniest subatomic particles. Quantum field theories predict vacuum energies that are so large that the universe shouldn't exist at all, said Lucas Lombriser, postdoctoral fellow at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, in Scotland, who was not involved in the new study. This discrepancy is called the "old" cosmological constant problem, and physicists generally thought that once new physics was discovered, the cosmological constant would disappear; expansion would be explained in some other way.

However, when scientists discovered the accelerated expansion, a new problem arose. According to theoretical calculations, the cosmological constant should be 50 to 120 orders of magnitude larger than it is, with a correspondingly large rate of expansion, Lombriser said.

Essentially, the energy density of the universe (how much energy there is per unit volume) should be gigantic, and it clearly isn't.

Fluctuations in empty space

The new work addresses not only what dark energy is but why the rate of universal expansion has the value it does.

"Everybody wants to know what dark energy is," Wang told Live Science. "I reconsidered this question more carefully," from the perspective of the universe's energy density.

Wang and his colleagues assumed that modern quantum field theory was correct about the energy density being very large, but that the vacuum fluctuations, or the movements of empty space, were very large on tiny scales, near what is called the Planck length, or 1.62 × 10 ^ minus 35 meters. That's so small that a proton is 100 million trillion times bigger.

"Every point in space is going through expansion and contraction," he said. "But it looks smooth just like a table looks smooth from far away."

The vacuum fluctuations, in Wang's formulation, are like children on a swing pumping their legs. Even though nobody is pushing them, they manage to impart extra energy on the swing, making the swing go up higher than it would otherwise. This phenomenon is called parametric resonance, which basically means that some piece of the system — the expansion and contraction, or the swinging of the child's legs — changes with time. In this case, the density of a very tiny portion of the universe is changing, Wang said. 

Since the fluctuations are little bits of the universe expanding and contracting, this tiny resonance adds up on cosmological scales, he said. So the universe expands. (Expansion and contraction of space doesn't violate conservation laws, because space itself is doing the expanding).

As a result of Wang's approach, there's no need for any new fields, as in some dark energy models. Instead the expansion of the universe is roughly the same as that already predicted by quantum field theory.

Observations needed

While Wang's idea is a good one, that doesn't mean it's the end of the story, Lombriser said. The question is whether observations of the universe bear the theory out, he said.

"So far, they can argue that the vacuum contribution is in the right ballpark for what is being observed (which, if it holds up, is already a huge success)," Lombriser said in an email. "They have not yet made an accurate prediction for the exact observed value, but this is something they intend to further investigate in their future work."

Other physicists are more skeptical.

"On these high-energy scales, classical general relativity doesn't work any longer, but that's what they use. So, their approximation is interesting, but it's not well-justified, because in this limit, one should be using quantum gravity (a theory which we don't have)," Sabine Hossenfelder, a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany, told Live Science via email.

"This paper is simply a first step in the process," said study co-author William Unruh, a physicist at UBC. "But I think the path is worth pursuing, as our results are suggestive."

The study is published in the May 15 issue of the journal Physical Review D.

Source: This article was Originally published on Live Science. by Jesse Emspak, Live Science Contributor

Categorized in Science & Tech

Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Oxyde is a spacecraft/space module designed to carry robots to the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. It would also be used to pull smaller asteroids back closer to the Earth and Moon and could house engineers in charge of mining operations.

The background

Travelling within our solar system will probably become a possibility in the next 50 years. The next logical step will be to mine rare metals in space – if the numbers add up.

How will we do this? Will we develop multipurpose vehicles for this task? That’s the idea behind the Oxyde concept.

The Oxyde would fly into space by riding on top of a super heavy lift-launch vehicle.
The Oxyde would fly into space by riding on top of a super heavy lift-launch vehicle.

How it works

The Oxyde would be designed to carry humanoid robots into space. (See Robonaut 2by NASA.) It would not, however, be engineered to re-enter our atmosphere. It would fly out into space by riding on top of a super heavy-lift launch vehicle and remain there for the duration of its useful life.

The first Oxyde would be equipped with a chemical rocket powerful enough to reach the asteroid belt and bring back a small asteroid. Once it reached its destination, robonauts would exit the spacecraft and begin to survey and select suitable asteroids to mine.

Pulling an asteroid back to Earth will not be an easy task.The mass of the targeted asteroids would be limited by the thrust and fuel available on the Oxyde for the return trip. However, it would also be possible to send fuel to the surveying team once a candidate is selected.

Once the Oxyde is back near the moon, it could enter a lunar orbit with the asteroid and mining operations could begin.

At this point, a crew of human engineers could take their places aboard the Oxyde and live there to supervise mining operations. Basically, the Oxyde would become a space module for the mining crew.

The Oxyde would allow mining to take place in space, a necessary financial incentive for colonizing the solar system.
The Oxyde would allow mining to take place in space, a financial incentive to colonize the solar system.

What it’s used for

Would you like humans to colonize the solar system one day? If the answer is yes, then there will need to be a financial incentive, and mining is probably one of the best ones to attract investors. Of course, the cost will still be astronomical ($100-million (U.S.) for each launch, plus the spacecraft, preparation, etc.). There are thousands of unanswered questions, but this concept was meant first and foremost to continue the discussion around space mining .

The designer

I would like to thank Martin Rico for creating the images of the Oxyde concept. Rico lives near Buenos Aires and studied design at the University of Buenos Aires and now works as a freelance industrial designer. He also designed the Seataci Yacht concept and the Sutton and Maui snowboard and surfboard mobile rental units.

Source: This article was published theglobeandmail By CHARLES BOMBARDIER

Categorized in Science & Tech


You have no idea kid!

This is the image of New York taken from the International Space Station, 400 km away from any point on Earth (that is directly under it) and travelling at 27000 km/h.

An image of New York taken from the International Space Station. Photo: Quora

So I heard you say low-res camera? You must be blind if you call this low-res in spite of the distance and speed of the ISS.

First off, the camera specifications are driven by science and system requirements. If we need a high-resolution camera, the science that we want to do with it shall require it have such a resolution. Otherwise, we are wasting mass and power, two of the most precious resources for spacecrafts.

And did I hear you say “no video”?

Have you heard of the High Definition Earth-Viewing System (HDEV) placed on the ISS? Here is a link:

live stream
live stream

A live stream of Earth’s view from the International Space Station. Photo: Quora

This is the live stream of Earth’s view from the International Space Station.

This space is too short to mention the entire specifications of cameras used by NASA spacecrafts.

If you are interested in Voyager 1’s wide angle camera, check these specs: Ring-Moon Systems Node.

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and here are some of the images taken by it.

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and this is an image taken by it. Photo: Quora Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and this is an image taken by it. Photo: Quora
Additionally, these images have to be transmitted with the same quality from over 10 Astronomical Units distance. Storage space, bandwidth of transfer, power requirements, and many other things come into play before deciding upon camera resolution.From the question description:Are we to believe that nasa spends years and billions on planet exploration probes only to equip them with crappie, low res cameras and no video?No, you just haven’t done your research quite well.
Source: This article was published yahoo.com By Karthik Venkatesh
Categorized in Science & Tech
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