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Orbit


— Space

US satellite explodes and ESA assesses risk

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
— Space

NASA seeks to understand vision changes due to microgravity

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
— Space

Dawn orbits dwarf planet Ceres

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
— Space

Research suggests dark matter plays a significant role in our planet's mass extinction cycle

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

Hubble captures rare image of triple Jupiter transit

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a rare image of a triple transit, as three of Jupiter's largest moons cast their shadows on the gas giant's planetary disk. The three moons captured in the image – Europa, Callisto and Io, were among the first celestial objects observed with a telescope, and were instrumental in debunking the long held belief that the Earth was at the center of the universe. Read More
— Space

DARPA's ALASA space launch system would turn airports into spaceports

If you've ever dreamed of turning your municipal airport into a satellite launching facility, then DARPA has your number. At this week's 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office reported on the progress of the agency's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to launch 100-lb (45-kg) satellites into low-Earth orbit using an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft. Read More
— Space

Rosetta prepares for a close encounter with Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

ESA's Rosetta orbiter is preparing to make a daring 6 km (3.7 miles) pass of one of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko's most active regions – an area on the comet's larger lobe designated as Imhotep. As the comet moves closer to the Sun, mission controllers are expecting to see an exponential increase in volatile activity, and ESA hopes that the new orbits planned for the little probe will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of these effects. Read More
— Space

ESA to host workshop aimed at cleaning up low-Earth orbit

Key orbits frequented by GPS and communications satellites are becoming more and more hazardous, as man-made debris presents an increasingly palpable danger to the valuable assets orbiting at heights of around 2,000 km (1,243 miles) above the Earth. That' s why the European Space Agency (ESA) is hosting an international workshop geared towards cleaning up low-Earth orbit, with a focus on how to make the space industry more sustainable. Read More
— Space

ISS executes emergency maneuver as orbital debris threatens station crew

The International Space Station (ISS) has been forced to fire the thrusters of ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) in order to maneuver the station and its crew out of the way of potentially harmful debris. Such instances are rare, making a catastrophic scenario highly unlikely. However, with each passing year, the amount of orbital debris increases, heightening the risks of a collision for mankind's only manned outpost among the stars. Read More
— Space

Yale astronomers find exoplanet that simply can't keep time

Yale astronomers have discovered a low-mass, low-density exoplanet orbiting a distant star whose orbit boasts some fascinating and extreme characteristics. The yearly period of the exoplanet, known as PH3c, varies enormously from one orbit to another, and so eclectic are these orbits that it was undetectable by conventional exoplanet hunting techniques that rely on a periodic dip in the light of the parent star. Read More
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