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Orbit

ESA's Sentinel-2A satellite has arrived safely in French Guiana, ahead of its June 12 launch atop a Vega rocket. It was carried in the belly of an enormous Russian-made Antonov cargo plane, and protected within a specially-constructed air conditioned habitat. Once operational, the satellite will represent a cornerstone of the agency's Copernicus program, which is striving to revolutionize how we observe and understand our environment, and how we may be able to tackle the detrimental effects of climate change. Read More
The ESA has been testing the possibility of using one of mankind's earliest inventions to cope with one of its newest challenges, by testing a concept that would allow satellites to net and de-orbit space debris in a safe and controlled manner. Space debris is an ever-increasing problem, and agencies around the world are starting to take steps to preserve the low-Earth orbit environment vital for a sustainable space industry. Read More
Ground was broken at the future six-acre (2.4-hectare) site of the new Space Fence radar system in a special ceremony last month on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The ceremony marked the official start of construction of the system that will replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS) in tracking objects in orbit, including commercial and military satellites and debris from collisions. Read More
The ESA has successfully corrected the orbit of its sixth Galileo satellite following its launch into an elongated orbit in August 2014. It took 14 maneuvers to reposition the probe, which is designed to form part of a new global navigation system on par with existing GPS and Glonass solutions. Read More
A successful ground test of a system designed to ultimately collect solar power from orbit and beam it back down to Earth was announced in Japan this week by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The wireless power demonstration saw 10 kilowatts sent over microwaves from a transmitting unit to a receiver 500 meters (1,640 ft) away. Read More
Getting to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) by jumping out of an airlock with a parachute may seem daft, but a group of students are trying just that with a CubeSat. According to NASA, TechEdSat-4, which was jettisoned from the space station on March 3, has reached its designated orbit, where it will use a parachute-like "exo-brake" to slow it down enough to safely re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. Read More
A US Air Force weather satellite exploded in Earth orbit on February 3, scattering debris along its path. In a report by Space.com, Air Force and space officials indicated the breakup of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13 (DMSP-F13) was due to a malfunction of its battery system rather than a collision with a foreign body. Meanwhile, The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an assessment of the hazard posed by the debris. Read More
Having evolved under the pressure of Earth's gravity, it isn't surprising that our bodies experience adverse physiological affects after long periods in low-Earth orbit. NASA hopes that a new experiment, the Fluid Shifts investigation, set to launch to the ISS later this year, will shed light on the causes of vision loss and deformation of the structure to the eye often suffered by astronauts over the course of a stay aboard the ISS. Read More
NASA's Dawn spacecraft added another trophy today to the conquest of space as it went into orbit around Ceres. According to the space agency, the unmanned probe arrived at about 4:39 am PST and is currently circling the dwarf planet at an altitude of about 38,000 miles (61,000 km) – making it not only the first spacecraft to reach a dwarf planet, but also the first to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies. Read More
A new study carried out by Professor Michael Rampino of New York University suggests that dark matter may have had a part to play in the periodic mass extinction events that are known to have taken place throughout Earth's history. It takes our planet roughly 250 million years to circle the Milky Way, and around every 30 million years the Sun's orbit takes us through what is known as the galactic disk. The galactic disk is where the majority of the mass in our galaxy resides, and alongside it a thin disk of dark matter. Read More
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