Archive for the ‘Space Exploration’ Category

Russian Lie of the Week: We Build Base on Moon

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

You will go and plant Russian flag. Rename it “Mootin.”

With all the sanctions in place against major industries in Putin’s Russian Empire, it’s become increasingly difficult to sell $65 million Proton launches. Add that to illusion of “Russian quality” in manufacturing, and you’ve got a direct route to failure.

So what’s psycho dickhead’s master plan for his space industry? Plan a manned mission to the Moon! Via ITAR-TASS, the drunk derelicts who can’t get a decent translator for their site…

Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) plans to begin full-scale exploration of the Moon in late 2020s-early 2030s, Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko said on Tuesday.

“At the end of the next decade, we plan to complete tests of a super-heavy-class carries rocket and begin full-scale exploration of the Moon,” he said at a government meeting chaired by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. “By that time, based on the results of lunar surface exploration by unmanned space probes, we will designate most promising places for lunar expeditions and lunar bases,” Ostapenko added.

Let’s hope it’s not another Foton-M 1 launch. That was “bloody hell.”

It’s probably a reaction to plug holes in the Russian brain bucket, which is leaking journalists and middle-class professionals. Pussy Riot confirmed this while visiting Harvard.

Aurora Space Vine

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Nice vine from Reid Wiseman. Here’s the full version…


Big Bang Monday: Comet of the Month

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko activity on 2 August 2014. The image was taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS wide-angle camera from a distance of 550 km. The exposure time of the image was 330 seconds and the comet nucleus is saturated to bring out the detail of the comet activity. Note there is a ghost image to the right. The image resolution is 55 metres per pixel.

ESA’s Rosetta Mission is sending back some very interesting images, especially for those who were curious about what these big rocks look like. It’s the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet.

The one from 7 August 20014 gave us a pretty good close-up…

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko imaged by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow angle camera on 7 August from a distance of 104 km.

Not as exciting as we’d expect, yet it’s most fascinating.

So how big is this comet? Thanks to @quark1972, now we now. Here’s the comet next to Los Angeles.


Big Bang Monday: The White Hole

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Check out this abstract

While most of the singularities of General Relativity are expected to be safely hidden behind event horizons by the cosmic censorship conjecture, we happen to live in the causal future of the classical big bang singularity, whose resolution constitutes the active field of early universe cosmology. Could the big bang be also hidden behind a causal horizon, making us immune to the decadent impacts of a naked singularity? We describe a braneworld description of cosmology with both 4d induced and 5d bulk gravity (otherwise known as Dvali-Gabadadze-Porati, or DGP model), which exhibits this feature: The universe emerges as a spherical 3-brane out of the formation of a 5d Schwarzschild black hole. In particular, we show that a pressure singularity of the holographic fluid, discovered earlier, happens inside the white hole horizon, and thus need not be real or imply any pathology. Furthermore, we outline a novel mechanism through which any thermal atmosphere for the brane, with comoving temperature of 20% of the 5D Planck mass can induce scale-invariant primordial curvature perturbations on the brane, circumventing the need for a separate process (such as cosmic inflation) to explain current cosmological observations. Finally, we note that 5D space-time is asymptotically flat, and thus potentially allows an S-matrix or (after minor modifications) AdS/CFT description of the cosmological big bang.

Got your head wrapped around it yet? Probably not. Our friends at Science Daily explain it a little more…

What we perceive as the big bang, they argue, could be the three-dimensional “mirage” of a collapsing star in a universe profoundly different than our own.

“Cosmology’s greatest challenge is understanding the big bang itself,” write Perimeter Institute Associate Faculty member Niayesh Afshordi, Affiliate Faculty member and University of Waterloo professor Robert Mann, and PhD student Razieh Pourhasan.

Conventional understanding holds that the big bang began with a singularity — an unfathomably hot and dense phenomenon of spacetime where the standard laws of physics break down. Singularities are bizarre, and our understanding of them is limited.

“For all physicists know, dragons could have come flying out of the singularity,” Afshordi says in an interview with Nature.

The problem, as the authors see it, is that the big bang hypothesis has our relatively comprehensible, uniform, and predictable universe arising from the physics-destroying insanity of a singularity. It seems unlikely.

So perhaps something else happened. Perhaps our universe was never singular in the first place.

Their suggestion: our known universe could be the three-dimensional “wrapping” around a four-dimensional black hole’s event horizon. In this scenario, our universe burst into being when a star in a four-dimensional universe collapsed into a black hole.

In our three-dimensional universe, black holes have two-dimensional event horizons — that is, they are surrounded by a two-dimensional boundary that marks the “point of no return.” In the case of a four-dimensional universe, a black hole would have a three-dimensional event horizon.

In their proposed scenario, our universe was never inside the singularity; rather, it came into being outside an event horizon, protected from the singularity. It originated as — and remains — just one feature in the imploded wreck of a four-dimensional star.

The researchers emphasize that this idea, though it may sound “absurd,” is grounded firmly in the best modern mathematics describing space and time. Specifically, they’ve used the tools of holography to “turn the big bang into a cosmic mirage.” Along the way, their model appears to address long-standing cosmological puzzles and — crucially — produce testable predictions.

Of course, our intuition tends to recoil at the idea that everything and everyone we know emerged from the event horizon of a single four-dimensional black hole. We have no concept of what a four-dimensional universe might look like. We don’t know how a four-dimensional “parent” universe itself came to be.

But our fallible human intuitions, the researchers argue, evolved in a three-dimensional world that may only reveal shadows of reality.

They draw a parallel to Plato’s allegory of the cave, in which prisoners spend their lives seeing only the flickering shadows cast by a fire on a cavern wall.

“Their shackles have prevented them from perceiving the true world, a realm with one additional dimension,” they write. “Plato’s prisoners didn’t understand the powers behind the sun, just as we don’t understand the four-dimensional bulk universe. But at least they knew where to look for answers.”

Still interested? I bet you are! Read more here. Relax: there’s a video on the Perimeter Institute site.


WBMSAT News Bits 07/28/2014

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Free NSR webinar July 30 – Energy Markets via Satellite: Is There a Market Beyond Deep Water?
[NSR - July 30]

The United States claims China conducted a “non-destructive” test of an anti-satellite missile July 23 and called for China to end the development of such capabilities.
[Space News - 07/28/2014]

Bandwidth demand for maritime markets to exceed 160 satellite transponders by 2023.
[NSR - 07/28/2014]

Communication with Russian satellite Photon-M restored.
[Science Recorder 07/26/2014]

Ariane 5 approaches the launch pad – SatNews file photo.

Ariane 5 gets ready for launch of heaviest-ever payload as is rolls out the rocket for the July 29 liftoff of the final ATV mission.
[SatNews - 07/28/2014]

Europa concept is a nuclear-powered probe known as Clipper (above). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech artist’s concept – Space News

If NASA sends a nuclear-powered probe to Jupiter’s moon Europa, it would launch no sooner than 2024, and effectively rule out other nuclear missions to the outer solar system before then.
[Space News - 07/28/2014]

Eutelsat America Corp has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force to support the deployment of future US Government payloads (hosted payloads) on its satellites.
[Satellite Evolution Group - 07/28/2014]

MTN continues to lead the cruise market.
[Satellite Evolution Group - 07/28/2014]

Viasat acquires Gray Labs and gets  its high-rate modem product line and custom spacecraft technologies for Earth observation.
[SatNews - 07/28/2014]

Avanti and Yahsat reportedly first to order satellites from Orbital Sciences based on the new GeoStar-3 higher-power satellite frame.
[Space News - 07/25/2014]

SES 12 – Credit: SES – Space News

SES ordered its first high-throughput satellite because it was unable to provide optimal service to certain government and mobility customers with a conventional wide-beam satellite.
[Space News - 07/25/2014]

ULA rocket with DMSP satellite – Credit: ULA photo – Space News

U.S. Department of Defense wants to reprogram money this year to boost the number of competitively awarded contracts under its primary satellite launching program.
[Space News - 07/25/2014]

WB-57 – Credit: NASA photo by Sean Smith – Space News

NASA crew of WB-57  caught sight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 as it ascended, and of the first stage as it plummeted toward the ocean, but was unable to get a good shot of the descending stage’s first engine burn.
[Space News - 07/25/2014]

Rockwell Collins sells its military ground-based satellite communications business.
[Market Watch - 07/25/2014]

In preparation for Iridium NEXT, the company has issued more than 30 RFPs to build new broadband subscriber products.
[Via Satellite - 07/25/2014]

Thales Alenia Space claims it holds a profit advantage over rival Airbus. Defence and Space.
[Space News - 07/25/2014]

API Technologies wins million dollar order for manufacture of commercial satellite communication systems.
[Market Watch - 07/25/2014]

SpaceX Dragon capsule berths at the International Space Station // NASA // Nextgov

SpaceX scores partial victory in bid to get slice of government contracting, as a federal judge agrees to review a multi-bi8llion-dollar contract awarded to ULA without competition.
[Nextgov - 07/25/2014]

Japanese airline Skymark Airlines is providing In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) free of charge to fliers via Panasonic Avionics’s eXConnect global connectivity service.
[Via Satellite - 07/25/2014]

RSCC, in partnership with OOO Isatel, put satellite-supported broadband equipment on board the Russian research/survey vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov for Artic mission.
[SatNews - 07/25/2014]

Surrey Satellite Technology US has decided on five payloads to carry on the company’s Orbital Test Bed (OTB) mission in 2016
[Via Satellite - 07/25/2014]

Rally – OFFROAD.COM file photo – OFFROAD.COM

SATMODO provides satellite phones for BAJA RALLY.
[Off-Road.com - 07/25/2014]

Intelsat completes move from Washington DC’s Van Ness neighborhood to Tysons.
[Tech Bisnow - 07/25/2014]

Hughes, Thales showcase rapidly deployable LTE network using 700 MHz public safety spectrum & satellite.
[PCC Mobile Broadband - 07/25/2014]

The launch of three U.S. Air Force space surveillance satellites July 24 was postponed for the second time in as many days, this time because of weather conditions.
[Space News - 07/24/2014]

Roscosmos photo – The Moscow Times

Russian Communications and Mass Media Minister wants Russia to produce all of its communications satellites on home soil as sanctions threaten availability of high-tech components.
[The Moscow Times - 07/24/2014]

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars’ south pole in this artist’s concept illustration handout released by NASA July 24, 2012. – Reuters

NASA puts out a call for a commercially owned and operated satellite network on Mars.
[Reuters - 07/24/2014]

Via Satellite file map – Via Satellite

NOAA has awarded a license to Tempus Global Data for a hyperspectral imaging and sounding system constellation.
[Via Satellite - 07/24/2014]

Space Systems/Loral (SSL is one of the companies selected by NASA to study system concepts and key technologies for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission.
[Satellite Evolution Group - 07/24/2014]

China Eastern Airlines offers broadband connected flights over China using China Telecom Satellite aeronautical service and Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s eXConnect system.
[Market Watch - 07/24/2014]

Retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller hopes to lay groundwork for congressional action that would allow online video services to offer even more programming options than cable and satellite companies could.
[National Journal - 07/23/2014]

Budget cuts and newly developing threats to operations in space demand change in calculus on resiliency of the Defense space program.
[U.S. Department of Defense - 07/23/2014]

SES launches first free-to-air digital TV platform in West Africa.
[ScreenAfrica - 07/23/2014]

Ultra-HD TVs make gains but still lack market penetration according to IHS.
[Satellite Markets & Research - 07/23/2014]

Web-connected cabins offer investment opportunities as the market for inflight internet is set to grow to $2.1 billion by 2023 according to Euroconsult report.
[Reuters - 07/22/2014]

Honeywell’s latest passenger survey on In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) shows just how much the mindset toward flying connected has changed.
[Via Satellite - 07/22/2014]

Purdue University students to test green rocket propellant they developed, partnering with Aerojet Rocketdyne to demonstrate the fuel can replace hydrazine.
[R&D Magazine - 07/22/2014]

UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has announced a ground-breaking strategic partnership with the private sector to deliver e-learning programs in Kenya to thousands of marginalized girls.
[SatNews - 07/22/2014]

Despite oversupply in a few regions and bands due to accelerated satellite construction, NSR projects the market will grow by 76 percent, from about $11.8 Billion currently to $21.1 Billion by 2023.
[SatNews - 07/21/2014]

Arianespace wins launch contract for Sentinel 1B satellite.
[Via Satellite - 07/21/2014]

O3b begins service with full initial constellation.
[Via Satellite - 07/21/2014]

China and Brazil agree to continue the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite program with an additional satellite, CBERS 4A.
[Via Satellite - 07/21/2014]

SatNews graphic – SatNews

Department of Defense awards satcom support contracts for SSC Pacific. [SatNews - 07/21/2014]

DARPA awards SSL contract for flight hardware capable of taking a variety of small missions to space aboard the company’s GEO satellite platform.
[Via Satellite - 07/22/2014]

NOAA photo of magnetometer – Nextgov

The fifth of six instruments to be carried by the GOES-R next generation weather satellites, the magnetometer, is now ready for integration.
[Nextgov - 07/21/2014]

Liquid Telecom steps up resources leased from Eutelsat to meet increasing demand for IP connectivity from broad portfolio of clients including national parks and mining and exploration.
[SatNews - 07/21/2014]

Airbus Defense and Space expands strategic agreement with Inmarsat on Global Xpress high-speed broadband to resell to U.S. government market.
[Space Daily - 07/21/2014]

AltegroSky Group’s acquisition of CJSC’s “Moskovsky Teleport” allow entry into new market segments of satellite communications.
[SatNews - 07/21/2014]

Inmarsat keen on offering India high-tech services of monitoring climate, power grids, and water levels in reservoirs in real-time without human intervention.
[Zee News - 07/20/2014]

NSR report, “Global Satellite Capacity Supply and Demand, 11th Edition” now available.
[NSR - July 2014]

WBMSAT satellite communications consulting services


Lost in Space: Fruit Flies, Mushrooms and Geckos

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Too bad Geico doesn’t offer spacecraft insurance. The Russians could use some help, as they hold a large share of both launch and in-orbit failures.

I feel bad for the researchers suffering the latest Russian space program setback, the in-orbit loss-of-control for the Foton M-4 spacecraft, carrying a payload of geckos, fruit flies and mushrooms.

Russia’s Progress space firm confirmed Thursday that the Foton-M4 satellite was not responding to commands from the ground to start its onboard engine and lift it to a higher orbit.

However the company said in a statement that all other systems on the satellite, which was launched on July 19, were operating normally and information from the scientific experiments was being transmitted to the ground.

“The equipment which is working in automatic mode, and in particular the experiment with the geckos is working according to the programme,” said Oleg Voloshin, a spokesman of Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems, which is running the experiment.

The two-month mission is monitoring by video how well the geckos sexually reproduce in space, according to the Institute’s website.

Progress said the design of the Foton-M4 “allows for the functioning of the satellite in automatic mode for a long time.”

A space expert cited by Interfax said that in its current orbit the satellite could stay up in space as long as three or four months.

OK, so maybe they can’t control the thrusters, but all else is working.

Perhaps the resulting “Russian lizard sex in space” video will compete with the popularity of Russian dash cam videos.


Big Bang Monday: 10 Years Gone for Cassini

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Today marks ten years since the Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn. The image above is one of my personal favorites (similar images also available via BigBangPrints.com).

The team of scientists at Cassini have selected their own “top 10″ list of images. More importantly, their list of the top ten discoveries is far more impressive…

  1. The Huygens probe makes first landing on a moon in the outer solar system (Titan)
  2. Discovery of active, icy plumes on the Saturnian moon Enceladus
  3. Saturn’s rings revealed as active and dynamic — a laboratory for how planets form
  4. Titan revealed as Earth-like world with rain, rivers, lakes and seas
  5. Studies of the great northern storm of 2010-2011
  6. Radio-wave patterns shown not to be tied to Saturn’s interior rotation as previously thought
  7. Vertical structures in the rings imaged for the first time
  8. Study of prebiotic chemistry on Titan
  9. Mystery of the dual bright-dark surface of Iapetus solved
  10. First complete view of the north polar hexagon and discovery of giant hurricanes at both of Saturn’s poles

I love the preview of what we can expect in the coming years…


Big Bang Monday: Four-Eyed Astronomy Photos

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Photographer Vincent Brady made a contraption with four cameras, each fitted with fish-eye lenses, which he set up to do 360-degree panoramas. He calls them “Planetary Panoramas” and the results are amazing!

While experimenting with different photography tricks and techniques back in 2012, I was shooting 360 degree panoramas in the daytime and long exposures of the stars streaking in the sky at night. It suddenly became clear that the potential to combine the two techniques could be a trip! Since the Earth is rotating at a steady 1,040 mph I created a custom rig of 4 cameras with fisheye lenses to capture the entire night-sky in motion. Thus the images show the stars rotating around the north star as well as the effect of the southern pole as well and a 360 degree panorama of the scene on Earth. Each camera is doing nonstop long exposures, typically about 1 minute consecutively for the life of the camera battery. Usually about 3 hours. I then made a script to stitch all the thousands of these panoramas into this time-lapse. I created my rig in January of 2013 while in my final semester at Lansing Community College before receiving an associates degree in photography. Given it was winter in Michigan, I didn’t get to chase the notorious clear moonless night sky as much as I had hoped as the region has lots of cloud cover that time of year. Though I was ready on the rare night to go experiment. After graduating in May I had built up quite the urge to hit the road. My rig has taken me to firefly parties in Missouri, dark eerie nights at Devils Tower, through Logan Pass at Glacier National Park, up the mountains of British Columbia, and around the amazing arches and sandstone monuments in the Great American Southwest.

These are the images I created on the cold, dark, sleepless nights under awe-spiring skies.

The music is composed and recorded by my very good friend, the acoustic fingerpicking guitar prodigy Brandon McCoy! Brandon who is also from the greater Lansing area in Mid-Michigan is quite the acoustic instrumentalist. The song chosen for this time-lapse is called ‘One Letter From Lady.’ I moved to Michigan when I was 15 and Brandon was the first friend I made. He was the cool kid playing Pink Floyd licks on a $2 guitar at the time. Soon, after he had spent his cold, dark, sleepless nights perfecting his craft, he started coming up with his very own instrumentals. Some of which are upbeat by mixing picking, slapping, and drumming on the guitar while other compositions of his are calm and soothing and can put you in a meditative trance if you just close your eyes. It has been a great experience watching each other grow as artist for over the past 10 years, and you better believe we will be collaborating on projects like this in the very near future.

Phil Plait does an extraordinary job of explaining what’s going on here…

First are the weird star trails you see in many of the scenes. I’ve explained this before, but briefly: When you face north, east is to your right and west to your left, so the stars rise and set in a counterclockwise manner. If you face south, the reverse is true (west on your right, east on your left, and the stars move clockwise). If you look due east, the stars rise straight up, going over you head. Face west, and they move straight down to the horizon.

Normally, since you can only look in one direction at a time, you don’t have to deal with all these different movements all at once. But in the video we’re seeing the whole sky at the same time, with all those weird motions combined. So near the sky’s north pole the stars make little circles one way, and near the south pole (which is below the horizon in Michigan, where these shots were taken) they move the opposite way.

But there’s more! Once the images are stitched together, they can be mapped into different shapes. Just like you can take a map of the Earth and turn that into a spherical globe, a flattened Mercator projection, or any number of other types of shapes, you can do that with the sky as well. Brady reshaped the pictures several ways in the video, including using a (more or less) flat horizon facing east (at the 0:15 mark), which makes the stars rise out of the middle of the frame, and the same thing but facing south (at the 1:55 mark) and west (at the 2:19 mark) — all of which make the sky look very odd indeed.

But he also used something called the “Little Planet” effect, which is really weird. This takes the flat horizon and wraps it around into a circle, making the left side of the image touch the right, like rolling a rectangle up into a cylinder (or, more accurately a cone). The technique is pretty simple, and the end result is that it’s like you’re looking down on a tiny little planet or asteroid with the sky wrapped around it. This also tends to distort taller objects, lengthening them, so the arches (at the 0:30 mark) and hoodoos (at the 1:27 mark) look like they’re reaching toward you.

I’ll note that this is the opposite of the “all-sky” effect (at the 1:14 mark) where it looks like you’re looking up into the entire sky.

What fun! And all of this just from looking in all directions at once, and applying a little math to the result. I have to admit, I found it very disorienting (in a fun way) trying to pick out constellations and familiar landmarks in the sky during the video.

This is really cool and I hope he registers a patent!


ISSpresso: stile italiano nello spazio

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The next Italian astronaut to work aboard the International Space Station will be Samantha Cristoforetti and she’s bringing an espresso machine — actually an ISSpresso machine.

It’s a high-tech contraption jointly developed by Lavazza and Argotec. Probably cost a fortune and I don’t care. They deserve a good espresso up there.

Using the ISS for marketing is not as easy as it seems — not very glamorous, either. So the folks at Lavazza went a little further and likened it to experiencing espresso at the Moonbase Alpha cafe. They dig old space TV shows — especially stylish ones like Space 1999 (co-produced by Italian broadcaster RAI).


More Russian Bullshit

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

The original agreement for the International Space Station was to operate it until 2020.

So why is deputy prime minister Rogozin telling NASA to use a trampoline?

Thanks to Emily Gertz for pointing it out.

The U.S. is relying on Russia for transporting astronauts to and from the ISS for several years, and Russia’s space station modules currently provide propulsion for the structure. But on board the station itself, Oberg says, Russia’s sections and crew rely upon American-made and operated equipment for electricity and communications. Further, Russia’s effort to to complete and launch its own science section is “years behind schedule,” says Oberg, so it must rely upon the labs contributed by other nations.

No matter what happens with Russian space policy, Oberg is excited for the next decade of space science, which he believes will be shifting from a “CERN model” of multiple nations contributing to and collaborating at one research facility, to “the Antarctica model” of many smaller stations forming and ending cooperative efforts as the science requires.

If Russia does exit the ISS soon after 2020, he says, it will happen at about the same time that new “human-rated” spacecraft like SpaceX’s Dragon come into use, and end Russia’s current lock on crew transportation.

“The Ukraine crisis has not diverted the station’s evolution into a new path,” Oberg says. “It may have put into sharper focus the different paths the station could follow, but that was happening anyway.”

Good luck with those sanctions.