Early last year, researchers at MIT floated the idea of "gas stations" in space that have the potential to cut the costs of future missions to the Moon considerably. Now a new study out of MIT says that, although possibly a little out of the way, the Moon would make a worthwhile refueling pit stop for manned missions to Mars by reducing the mass of a launch from Earth by 68 percent.
An asteroid designated 2015 TB145 will pass by the Earth at around 1.3 lunar distances (approximately 310,000 miles or about 499,000 km) on October 31 this year. Estimated to be anywhere between 280 to 620 m (918 to 2,034 ft) in diameter and traveling in excess of 126,000 km/h (78,293 mph), the asteroid was discovered less than two weeks ago using the Pan-STARRS array in Hawaii and is the largest object to so closely approach our planet in recent times.
The European Space Agency has declared that its miniature GomX-3 technology demonstration satellite is in good health and ready to begin its primary mission. Deployed on October 5 from the International Space Station, the CubeSat will spend six-months testing new radio technology for tracking civil aircraft in previously inaccessible regions of the world and measuring telecom satellite signal quality.
A research project led by the University of Leicester in the UK has identified similarities in the readings from the discs surrounding black holes and young stars, even though the objects have wildly different properties. The discovery was made by studying the brightness variations produced by accretion discs around various astronomical objects. These huge discs of matter play a
central part in the growth of most objects in the Universe, providing a
common ground for study.
The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) got a fashion show with a medical twist last month as Denmark’s first astronaut, Andreas Mogensen, donned a SkinSuit designed to counteract the harmful effects of prolonged periods of weightlessness on the human body. Developed as part of an international effort led by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, the new suit is designed to simulate the pressures of normal gravity to prevent unhealthy stretching of the spine.
Laser-based communications has the ability to beam enormous amounts of data at high speed, but the use of this technology in space is still in its infancy. To help push things along, ESA’s proposed Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) will carry out a record-setting demonstration of space laser communications across a distance of 75 million kilometers while orbiting a binary asteroid.
NASA has teamed up with The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo to test a new CubeSat-mounted laser communication system. While the mission, known as the Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD), has already been successfully placed in orbit, the team is currently working to resolve an issues with its attitude control system.
Launched in 1997, NASA's Cassini orbiter mission to Saturn has lasted 18 years and 3 months so far – a considerable extension of its original four-year timetable. As its mission draws to an end, the unmanned, nuclear-powered spacecraft will execute the first of its final three flybys of Saturn's moon Enceladus. To take place between now and December, the close encounters are expected to provide a better understanding of the moon's global ocean and its possible habitability.
Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a huge spinning mystery where a ferocious storm much larger than the diameter of Earth rages. New ultra high-definition images snapped by the Hubble Telescope have offered a fresh perspective on the Red (or is that Orange) Spot, as well as revealing other intriguing features on the gas giant.