Space & Time

  • Earth from Space: Space Coast, Florida
    on 2021-04-16 at 08:00

    On 22 April 2021, on Earth Day, Thomas Pesquet is planned to return to the International Space Station for his second mission, Alpha. Ahead of his launch, the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Cape Canaveral, USA, in a region known as the Space Coast.

  • SpaceX, NASA give ‘go’ for astronaut launch, 3rd for Dragon
    on 2021-04-16 at 07:42

    SpaceX is gearing up for its third astronaut launch in under a year, after getting the green light from NASA a week ahead of next Thursday’s planned flight.

  • NASA spacecraft leaves mess after grabbing asteroid samples
    on 2021-04-16 at 07:41

    A NASA spacecraft left a mess at an asteroid when it grabbed a load of rubble last year for return to Earth, new pictures revealed Thursday.

  • NASA delays starting contract with SpaceX for Gateway cargo services
    by Jeff Foust on 2021-04-15 at 22:51

    More than a year after selecting SpaceX to deliver cargo to the lunar Gateway, NASA has yet to formally start that contract as it performs a broader review of its Artemis program. SpaceNews

  • LeoLabs adding new services to support growing space activity in low Earth orbit
    by Sandra Erwin on 2021-04-15 at 21:28

    LeoLabs is adding more sensors and data processing capacity to its network in preparation for a surge in satellites launches. SpaceNews

  • The light-bending dance of binary black holes
    on 2021-04-15 at 21:07

    A pair of orbiting black holes millions of times the Sun’s mass perform a hypnotic pas de deux in a new NASA visualization. The movie traces how the black holes distort and redirect light emanating from the maelstrom of hot gas – called an accretion disk – that surrounds each one.

  • AI pinpoints local pollution hotspots using satellite images
    on 2021-04-15 at 21:07

    Researchers have developed a method that uses machine learning, satellite imagery and weather data to autonomously find hotspots of heavy air pollution, city block by city block. The technique could be a boon for finding and mitigating sources of hazardous aerosols, studying the effects of air pollution on human health, and making better informed, socially just public policy decisions.

  • Top EU court rejects European Aviation Network challenge, but legal action continues
    by Jason Rainbow on 2021-04-15 at 20:54

    Inmarsat’s competitors have vowed to continue pursuing legal action to block its hybrid satellite and cellular European Aviation Network (EAN), after the European Union’s highest court rejected their challenge. SpaceNews

  • New NASA visualization probes the light-bending dance of binary black holes
    on 2021-04-15 at 19:06

    A pair of orbiting black holes millions of times the Sun’s mass perform a hypnotic pas de deux in a new NASA visualization. The movie traces how the black holes distort and redirect light emanating from the maelstrom of hot gas—called an accretion disk—that surrounds each one.

  • Consortium unveils greenhouse gas monitoring constellation Carbon Mapper
    by Debra Werner on 2021-04-15 at 16:52

    A consortium led by the State of California, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Planet announced plans April 15 for a constellation of hyperspectral satellites to pinpoint, quantify and track point sources of methane and carbon dioxide. SpaceNews

  • Peering through the clouds of Earth’s ‘Evil Twin’ surprises NRL sky watchers
    on 2021-04-15 at 16:44

    U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists were recently left scratching their heads over a familiar sight in the sky. Venus images are nothing new, but a solar probe surprised the researchers by seeing through the planet’s clouds. NRL’s Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe (WISPR) took a stunning image of Earth’s celestial neighbor Venus last year that left researchers searching for answers as to how what they were seeing was possible. Expecting to see just the featureless Venusian clouds, the NRL WISPR team were instead shocked at what they saw.

  • Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres
    on 2021-04-15 at 15:41

    In a novel laboratory investigation of the initial atmospheres of Earth-like rocky planets, researchers heated pristine meteorite samples in a high-temperature furnace and analyzed the gases released. Their results suggest that the initial atmospheres of terrestrial planets may differ significantly from many of the common assumptions used in theoretical models of planetary atmospheres.

  • Researchers identify five double star systems potentially suitable for life
    on 2021-04-15 at 15:07

    Almost half a century ago the creators of Star Wars imagined a life-sustaining planet, Tatooine, orbiting a pair of stars. Now, 44 years later, scientists have found new evidence that that five known systems with multiple stars, Kepler-34, -35, -38, -64 and -413, are possible candidates for supporting life. A newly developed mathematical framework allowed researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi and the University of Washington to show that those systems—between 2764 and 5933 light years from Earth, in the constellations Lyra and Cygnus—support a permanent “Habitable Zone”, a region around stars in which liquid water could persist on the surface of any as yet undiscovered Earth-like planets. Of these systems, Kepler-64 is known to have at least four stars orbiting one another at its center, while the others have two stars. All are known to have at least one giant planet the size of Neptune or greater. This study, published in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, is proof-of-principle that the presence of giant planets in binary systems does not preclude the existence of potentially life-supporting worlds.

  • Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres
    on 2021-04-15 at 15:00

    In a novel laboratory investigation of the initial atmospheres of Earth-like rocky planets, researchers at UC Santa Cruz heated pristine meteorite samples in a high-temperature furnace and analyzed the gases released.

  • Space law is an important part of the fight against space debris
    on 2021-04-15 at 13:40

    Space is getting crowded. More than 100 million tiny pieces of debris are spinning in Earth orbit, along with tens of thousands of bigger chunks and around 3,300 functioning satellites.

  • Satellite imagery key to powering Google Earth
    on 2021-04-15 at 13:00

    One of the most comprehensive pictures of our changing planet is now available to the public. Thanks to the close collaboration between Google Earth, ESA, the European Commission, NASA and the US Geological Survey, 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years have been embedded into a new layer of Google Earth – creating a new, explorable view of time on our planet.

  • Galileo sunspot sketches versus modern ‘deep learning’ AI
    on 2021-04-15 at 12:29

    It’s a fascinating thought to consider.

  • Iceye establishes U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility in Irvine, California
    by Debra Werner on 2021-04-15 at 12:00

    Iceye has established a satellite manufacturing facility, research and development laboratory, and mission operations center for U.S.-licensed spacecraft at its new Iceye US headquarters in Irvine, California. SpaceNews

  • SpaceX adds to latest funding round
    by Jeff Foust on 2021-04-15 at 11:26

    SpaceX has added more than $300 million to a fundraising round announced earlier this year to support continued work on its Starship launch system and Starlink satellite constellation. SpaceNews

  • Famous fast radio burst FRB20180916B just barely lets itself be captured
    on 2021-04-15 at 07:00

    Two international teams of astronomers (with significant Dutch involvement) have published two scientific papers with new information about the famous fast radio burst FRB20180916B. In a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, they measured the radiation from the bursts at the lowest possible frequencies. In a study published in Nature Astronomy, they examined the bursts in the greatest possible detail. While the articles provide new information, they also raise new questions.

  • Satellite map of human pressure on land provides insight on sustainable development
    on 2021-04-15 at 00:24

    The map shows a near-present snapshot of effects from deforestation, mining, expanding road networks, urbanization and increasing agriculture.

  • Space Development Agency could select three manufacturers to produce its next batch of satellites
    by Sandra Erwin on 2021-04-14 at 22:42

    The Space Development Agency is considering buying its next 150 satellites from three different vendors, SpaceNews

  • DoD space agency: Cyber attacks, not missiles, are the most worrisome threat to satellites
    by Sandra Erwin on 2021-04-14 at 21:15

    The Space Development Agency is less worried about missile strikes than it is about cyber attacks and intrusions into the supply chain.   SpaceNews

  • Mock crew straps into space capsule, exits before liftoff
    on 2021-04-14 at 20:03

    Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company strapped two employees into a fueled rocketship for practice, but pulled them out shortly before sending the capsule to the edge of space Wednesday with only a test dummy.

  • Blue Origin aces dress rehearsal for New Shepard crewed flights
    by Jeff Foust on 2021-04-14 at 17:57

    Blue Origin completed another test flight of its New Shepard vehicle April 14, putting the company on the verge of finally flying people. SpaceNews

  • Fast-spinning black holes narrow the search for dark matter particles
    on 2021-04-14 at 17:20

    An MIT study narrows the search for particles called ultralight bosons, which, if they exist, could be an important component of dark matter. Certain ultralight bosons would be expected to put the brakes on the spin of black holes, but the new results show no such slowdown.

  • UAE to send rover to the Moon in 2022
    on 2021-04-14 at 14:58

    Lunar exploration firm iSpace said Wednesday it will transport a United Arab Emirates unmanned rover to the Moon next year, as the Gulf state seeks to expand its space sector.

  • Telescopes unite in unprecedented observations of famous black hole
    on 2021-04-14 at 14:24

    In April 2019, scientists released the first image of a black hole in galaxy M87 using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). However, that remarkable achievement was just the beginning of the science story to be told.

  • Video: Drone test of Hera mission’s asteroid radar
    on 2021-04-14 at 14:21

    This drone hauled a model of the Juventas CubeSat high into the air, as a practical test of the antennas designed to perform the first radar sounding of the interior of an asteroid.

  • Astranis secures $250 million to accelerate small GEO satellite development
    by Jason Rainbow on 2021-04-14 at 14:15

    Astranis, a startup developing small geostationary satellites, has raised $250 million in a funding round that values the company at $1.4 billion. SpaceNews

  • Telescopes unite in unprecedented observations of famous black hole
    on 2021-04-14 at 14:01

    In April 2019, scientists released the first image of a black hole in galaxy M87 using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). However, that remarkable achievement was just the beginning of the science story to be told.

  • Josef Aschbacher and Simonetta di Pippo discuss space debris
    on 2021-04-14 at 13:03

    Josef Aschbacher and Simonetta di Pippo discuss space debris

  • Study explores extremely luminous infrared galaxy WISEJ0909+0002
    on 2021-04-14 at 13:00

    An international team of astronomers has investigated an extremely luminous infrared galaxy known as WISEJ090924.01+000211.1 (or WISEJ0909+0002 for short) as part of the eROSITA final equatorial depth survey (eFEDS). Results of this study, published April 6 on the arXiv pre-print server, provide important insights into the properties of this galaxy.

  • Telesat raising $500 million in debt for Lightspeed broadband network
    by Jason Rainbow on 2021-04-14 at 12:41

    Canadian satellite operator Telesat plans to raise $500 million with a bond to help fund its $5 billion Lightspeed broadband constellation. SpaceNews

  • Popping pills in space: Helping astronauts manage pain or sickness on crewed missions
    on 2021-04-14 at 12:30

    And you think you’ve had a bad head cold.

  • Arianespace offers free launch to deserving cubesat
    by Andrew Parsonson on 2021-04-14 at 12:16

    The winner of the “Destination: A Better Life on Earth” competition will win integration and launch services aboard a future Arianespace rideshare mission offering one of the two new services. SpaceNews

  • Sierra Nevada Corporation to spin off space division
    by Jeff Foust on 2021-04-14 at 11:31

    Sierra Nevada Corp. will spin off its space division into a separate company, a move reflecting the “historic growth” it foresees for that business in the next several years. SpaceNews

  • HawkEye 360 raises $55 million
    by Jeff Foust on 2021-04-14 at 10:18

    HawkEye 360 has raised $55 million in additional funding that the company says will allow it to complete its constellation of satellites that track ships and vehicles by their radio-frequency emissions. SpaceNews

  • Drone test of Hera mission’s asteroid radar
    on 2021-04-14 at 08:31

    Image: Drone test of Hera mission asteroid radar

  • Lockheed Martin pitching mid-size satellite bus to DoD for remote sensing 
    by Sandra Erwin on 2021-04-13 at 23:59

    Lockheed Martin announced a new line of “tactical ISR” satellites designed for space-based surveillance. SpaceNews

  • Stellar feedback and an airborne observatory; scientists determine a nebula younger than believed
    on 2021-04-13 at 21:07

    Researchers studied RCW 120 to analyze the effects of stellar feedback, and found that RCW 120 must be less than 150,000 years old, which is very young for such a nebula.

  • Stellar feedback and an airborne observatory: Team determines a nebula to be much younger than previously believed
    on 2021-04-13 at 20:50

    In the southern sky, situated about 4,300 light years from Earth, lies RCW 120, an enormous glowing cloud of gas and dust. This cloud, known as an emission nebula, is formed of ionized gases and emits light at various wavelengths. An international team led by West Virginia University researchers studied RCW 120 to analyze the effects of stellar feedback, the process by which stars inject energy back into their environment. Their observations showed that stellar winds cause the region to expand rapidly, which enabled them to constrain the age of the region. These findings indicate that RCW 120 must be less than 150,000 years old, which is very young for such a nebula.

  • Study warns of ‘oxygen false positives’ in search for signs of life on other planets
    on 2021-04-13 at 16:43

    In the search for life on other planets, the presence of oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere is one potential sign of biological activity that might be detected by future telescopes. A new study, however, describes several scenarios in which a lifeless rocky planet around a sun-like star could evolve to have oxygen in its atmosphere.

  • Study warns of ‘oxygen false positives’ in search for signs of life on other planets
    on 2021-04-13 at 16:39

    In the search for life on other planets, the presence of oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere is one potential sign of biological activity that might be detected by future telescopes. A new study, however, describes several scenarios in which a lifeless rocky planet around a sun-like star could evolve to have oxygen in its atmosphere.

  • Novel theory addresses centuries-old physics problem
    on 2021-04-13 at 16:24

    The ‘three-body problem,’ the term coined for predicting the motion of three gravitating bodies in space, is essential for understanding a variety of astrophysical processes as well as a large class of mechanical problems, and has occupied some of the world’s best physicists, astronomers and mathematicians for over three centuries. Their attempts have led to the discovery of several important fields of science; yet its solution remained a mystery.

  • Researchers study collective behavior of nanosatellites
    on 2021-04-13 at 16:20

    Scientists from the Skoltech Space Center (SSC) have developed nanosatellite interaction algorithms for scientific measurements using a tetrahedral orbital formation of CubeSats that exchange data and apply interpolation algorithms to create local maps of physical measurements in real time. The study presents an example of geomagnetic field measurement, which shows that these data can be used by other satellites for attitude control and, therefore, provided on a data-as-a-service basis. The research was published in the journal Advances in Space Research.

  • New approach to centuries-old ‘three-body problem’
    on 2021-04-13 at 15:41

    The “three-body problem,” the term coined for predicting the motion of three gravitating bodies in space, is essential for understanding a variety of astrophysical processes as well as a large class of mechanical problems, and has occupied some of the world’s best physicists, astronomers and mathematicians for over three centuries. Their attempts have led to the discovery of several important fields of science; yet its solution remained a mystery.

  • Atom interferometry demonstrated in space
    on 2021-04-13 at 15:40

    A team of scientists has managed to successfully perform atom interferometry in space – on board a sounding rocket.

  • Video: How to clear Earth’s orbit of space debris
    on 2021-04-13 at 14:52

    On 20 April 2021, ESA will host the 8th European Conference on Space Debris from Darmstadt, in Germany. Scientists, engineers, industry experts and policy makers will spend the virtual four-day conference discussing the latest issues surrounding space debris. They will exchange the latest research, try to come up with solutions for potential problems and define the future direction of any necessary action.

  • York Space Systems automates ground system operations
    by Debra Werner on 2021-04-13 at 14:43

    York Space Systems has learned a lot from operating its first production-model spacecraft in orbit for two years. The biggest takeaway, though, has been the need to automate satellite handling on the ground. SpaceNews

  • Korea Aerospace Industries to invest $880 million to expand space business 
    by Brian Berger on 2021-04-13 at 13:58

    Space will command nearly 45 percent of the $1.9 billion Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has set aside for a broader five-year growth plan. SpaceNews

  • Astrobotic selects Falcon Heavy to launch NASA’s VIPER lunar rover
    by Jeff Foust on 2021-04-13 at 13:00

    Astrobotic has signed a contract with SpaceX for the launch of its Griffin lunar lander, carrying a NASA lunar rover, on a Falcon Heavy in 2023. SpaceNews

  • Slingshot developing graphics tool for missile-warning satellite operators
    by Sandra Erwin on 2021-04-13 at 13:00

    Slingshot Aerospace won a $1.2 million contract to develop software to help Space Force satellite operators visualize missile detection and warning. SpaceNews

  • Indian astronomers detect over 200 variable stars
    on 2021-04-13 at 13:00

    Using the ARIES telescope, astronomers from India have inspected a young open cluster known as NGC 281, searching for new variable stars. As a result of this investigation, they detected 228 new variables. The finding is detailed in a paper published April 5 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

  • ‘Yellowballs’ offer new insights into star formation
    on 2021-04-13 at 11:55

    A serendipitous discovery by citizen scientists has provided a unique new window into the diverse environments that produce stars and star clusters, revealing the presence of “stellar nurseries” before infant stars emerge from their birth clouds, according to Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Grace Wolf-Chase.

  • China preparing Tianzhou-2 cargo mission to follow upcoming space station launch
    by Andrew Jones on 2021-04-13 at 08:33

    A Long March 7 rocket has arrived at China’s coastal Wenchang spaceport to facilitate the Tianzhou-2 supply mission to a soon-to-launch space station module. SpaceNews

  • Space Debris
    on 2021-04-13 at 08:00

    Video: 00:04:15 On 20 April 2021, ESA will host the 8th European Conference on Space Debris from Darmstadt, in Germany. Scientists, engineers, industry experts and policy makers will spend the virtual four day conference discussing the latest issues surrounding space debris. They will exchange the latest research, try to come up with solutions for potential problems and define the future direction of any necessary action.There are currently over 129 million objects larger than a millimetre in orbits around Earth. These range from inactive satellites to flakes of paint. But no matter how small the item of debris, anything travelling up to 56 000 km/h in an orbit is dangerous if it comes into contact with the many satellites that connect us around the world, be it for GPS, mobile phone data or internet connectivity. The solution is to take action before it’s too late. This is why ESA has commissioned ClearSpace-1 – the world’s first mission to remove space debris – for launch in 2025.This film contains interviews with ESA Head of Space Debris Office Tim Flohrer; ESA Head of Clean Space Office Luisa Innocenti; and Xanthi Oikonomidou, ESA Space Debris Office.

  • Orbital Sidekick finalizes $16 million round led by Temasek
    by Debra Werner on 2021-04-13 at 06:00

    Orbital Sidekick announced a $16 million Series A funding round April 13 led by Singapore investment giant Temasek that clears the way for the company to complete development of its first constellation of hyperspectral imaging satellites. SpaceNews

  • Black holes like to eat, but have a variety of table manners
    on 2021-04-13 at 06:00

    All supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies appear to have periods when they swallow matter from their close surroundings. But that is about as far as the similarities go. That’s the conclusion reached by British and Dutch astronomers from their research with ultra-sensitive radio telescopes in a well-studied region of the universe. They publish their findings in two articles in the international journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

  • Blue Origin to perform dress rehearsal for crewed New Shepard flights
    by Jeff Foust on 2021-04-13 at 03:06

    A test flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle, scheduled for as soon as April 14, will be a dress rehearsal for long-awaited crewed flights. SpaceNews