Space News and Discussions

weatheriscool
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Exoplanet discovery tool begins its mission

by Suvrath Mahadevan and Sam Sholtis, Pennsylvania State University
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-exoplanet ... ssion.html
The NEID spectrometer, a new tool for the discovery of planets outside of our solar system, has now started its scientific mission at the WIYN 3.5m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona.

"We are proud that NEID is available to the worldwide astronomical community for exoplanet discovery and characterization," said Jason Wright, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and NEID project scientist. "I can't wait to see the results we and our colleagues around the world will produce over the next few years, from discovering new, rocky planets, to measuring the compositions of exoplanetary atmospheres, to measuring the shapes and orientations of planetary orbits, to characterization of the physical processes of these planets' host stars."

The newest and one of the most precise tools ever built to detect exoplanets, NEID will discover exoplanets by measuring the minute gravitational tug of these planets on their host star.
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Possible 80th moon of Jupiter discovered:

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-n ... f-jupiter/
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weatheriscool
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NASA Solar Sail Asteroid Mission Readies for Launch on Artemis I
https://www.nasa.gov/marshall/news/rele ... mis-i.html
NASA's Near-Earth Asteroid Scout is tucked away safely inside the agency's powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The solar sailing CubeSat is one of several secondary payloads hitching a ride on Artemis I, the first integrated flight of the agency's SLS and the Orion spacecraft.

NEA Scout, a small spacecraft roughly the size of a large shoebox, has been packaged into a dispenser and attached to the adapter ring that connects the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. The Artemis I mission will be an uncrewed flight test. It also offers deep space transportation for several CubeSats, enabling opportunities for small spacecraft like NEA Scout to reach the Moon and beyond as part of the Artemis program.

"NEA Scout will be America’s first interplanetary mission using solar sail propulsion,” said Les Johnson, principal technology investigator for the mission at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. “There have been several sail tests in Earth orbit, and we are now ready to show we can use this new type of spacecraft propulsion to go new places and perform important science."
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An autonomous system to assemble reconfigurable robotic structures in space

by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech Xplore
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-07-aut ... space.html
Large space structures, such as telescopes and spacecraft, should ideally be assembled directly in space, as they are difficult or impossible to launch from Earth as a single piece. In several cases, however, assembling these technologies manually in space is either highly expensive or unfeasible.

In recent years, roboticists have thus been trying to develop systems that could be used to automatically assemble structures in space. To simplify this assembly process, space structures could have a modular design, which essentially means that they are comprised of different building blocks or modules that can be shifted to create different shapes or forms.

Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Technische Universität München (TUM) have recently developed an autonomous planner that could be used to assemble reconfigurable structures directly in space. This system, introduced in a paper presented at the 2021 IEEE Aerospace Conference, could allow aerospace engineers and astronauts to assemble large structures in space and adapt them for specific use cases, reconfiguring them when necessary.
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raklian
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Wjfox, you might want to update the timeline.

To know is essentially the same as to not to know. The only thing that occurs is entropy.
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Space tourism: Rockets emit 100 times more CO2 per passenger than flights, imagine a whole industry

July 21, 2021

LONDON: The commercial race to get tourists to space is heating up between Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. On Sunday 11 July, Branson ascended 80 km to reach the edge of space in his piloted Virgin Galactic VSS Unity spaceplane. Bezos' autonomous Blue Origin rocket was launched on July 20, coinciding with the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

The launch demonstrated their offering to very wealthy tourists: the opportunity to truly reach outer space. Both tour packages will provide passengers with a brief ten-minute frolic in zero gravity and glimpses of Earth from space. Not to be outdone, Elon Musk's SpaceX will provide four to five days of orbital travel with its Crew Dragon capsule later in 2021.

What are the environmental consequences of a space tourism industry likely to be? Bezos boasts his Blue Origin rockets are greener than Branson's VSS Unity.

The Blue Engine 3 (BE-3) used liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. VSS Unity used a hybrid propellant comprised of a solid carbon-based fuel, hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB), and a liquid oxidant, nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The SpaceX Falcon series of reusable rockets will propel the Crew Dragon into orbit using liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.

Burning these propellants provides the energy needed to launch rockets into space while also generating greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Large quantities of water vapour are produced by burning the BE-3 propellant, while combustion of both the VSS Unity and Falcon fuels produces CO2, soot and some water vapour. The nitrogen-based oxidant used by VSS Unity also generates nitrogen oxides, compounds that contribute to air pollution closer to Earth.

Read more: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/hom ... 606703.cms
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weatheriscool
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SpaceX Is Already Building The First Starship Test Vehicle That Will Launch To Orbit
https://www.tesmanian.com/blogs/tesmani ... smNQu1ETBQ
Evelyn Arevalo by Evelyn Arevalo July 23, 2021
SpaceX
SpaceX Is Already Building The First Starship Test Vehicle That Will Launch To Orbit

Featured Image Source: Starship Render Created By @ErcXspace via Twitter

SpaceX is already building the first Starship test vehicle that will launch to orbit from Starbase Texas this year. The stainless-steel prototype is called ‘Starship SN20,’ it will propel to orbit atop of Super Heavy Booster 4. On Thursday, space enthusiasts captured close-up photographs of assembled portions of Starship SN20 being moved into the rocket factory’s mid-bay, pictured below. SpaceX first builds sections then stacks them to form the gigantic launch vehicle at the Boca Chica assembly facility. The Starship spacecraft is 160-feet-tall and Super Heavy rocket stands at around 230-feet-high. This year, we will see how massive the launch vehicle will be when SpaceX stacks both vehicles for the first time ahead of the debut orbital flight test.

Starship section on the move. Possibly SN20, the first orbital Starship: pic.twitter.com/nkV0USjiac
— Starship Gazer (@StarshipGazer) July 22, 2021
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Artificial intelligence helps improve NASA's eyes on the Sun

by Susannah Darling, NASA
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-artificia ... s-sun.html
A group of researchers is using artificial intelligence techniques to calibrate some of NASA's images of the Sun, helping improve the data that scientists use for solar research. The new technique was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on April 13, 2021.

A solar telescope has a tough job. Staring at the Sun takes a harsh toll, with a constant bombardment by a never-ending stream of solar particles and intense sunlight. Over time, the sensitive lenses and sensors of solar telescopes begin to degrade. To ensure the data such instruments send back is still accurate, scientists recalibrate periodically to make sure they understand just how the instrument is changing.
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New Method Can Detect "Stealth" Solar Storms Before They Strike Earth
by Andy Tomaswick
July 25, 2021

Extract:
(Science Alert) The most important kind of CMEs (corona mass ejections) -(are) those that are aimed right for us but don't cause any brightening.

These CMEs, which don't produce any telltale signs on the Sun's surface, are known as "stealth" CMEs.

Usually, we only notice these when they actually hit the Earth, and don't have a good indication of where they formed on the Sun. However, the researchers used data collected on four stealth CMEs by NASA's STEREO spacecraft that did in fact track them back to their origins on the Sun.

When they subsequently analyzed those origin points with other data collected simultaneously, they noticed a changing brightening pattern that appeared for all four stealth CMEs.

They believe these changes are indicative of the stealth CME's formation, allowing scientists precious time to detect and prepare for a potential massive CME hit once similar patterns are detected.
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Hubble finds first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter's moon Ganymede
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-hubble-ev ... -moon.html
by ESA/Hubble Information Centre

For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This water vapor forms when ice from the moon's surface sublimates—that is, turns from solid to gas.

Scientists used new and archival datasets from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Previous research has offered circumstantial evidence that Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, contains more water than all of Earth's oceans. However, temperatures there are so cold that water on the surface is frozen solid. Ganymede's ocean would reside roughly 100 miles below the crust; therefore, the water vapor would not represent the evaporation of this ocean.

Astronomers re-examined Hubble observations from the last two decades to find this evidence of water vapor.
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