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The new Space Fence will detect space debris that could threaten the ISS and commercial an...

There are tens of thousands of pieces of space debris currently orbiting the Earth which pose a potential hazard to satellites, the International Space Station and other space hardware. Since the early 1960s, the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System, also known as the VHF or Space Fence, has been used to track orbital objects passing over America. Proposals are now being taken for the next phase of a new Space Fence that will better detect, report and track orbiting space junk as well as commercial and military satellites.  Read More

Image of the Venusian atmosphere at 60km over the south pole (yellow dot) using Visible an...

An unexpected measurement has been achieved with the Venus Express, a satellite currently studying the atmosphere of Venus. While the satellite was not fitted with instruments to directly measure atmosphere density, the scientists have discovered by measuring the drag as the Venus Express experiences air resistance that the atmosphere is 60 percent thinner than expected. This "working on the fly" approach could allow the scientists to extend the life of the craft allowing them to collect more data.  Read More

The Commercial Space Station In Section

Out of financial necessity, Russia was one of the innovators when it came to the burgeoning field of space tourism, with American businessman and former JPL scientist Dennis Tito becoming the first space tourist in mid-2001 when he spent nearly eight days in orbit on the Russian Soyuz TM-32, the International Space Station (ISS), and Soyuz TM-31. Following Russia’s halting of orbital space tourism earlier this year due to an increase in the ISS crew size, private Russian company, Orbital Technologies, has now announced plans to build, launch and operate the world’s first commercial space station (CSS). It envisions the station will be used by professional crews and corporate researchers to conduct scientific experiments, as well as private citizens looking for an out of this world holiday destination.  Read More

Lunar Microwave Radiometer Daytime Brightness Temperature map of the Moon

The first complete microwave image of the Moon taken by Chinese lunar satellite Chang'E-1 has been revealed. Chang’E-1 is China’s first scientific mission to explore planetary bodies beyond Earth and the on-board Lunar Microwave Radiometer has made it possible for the first time to globally map the Moon in microwave frequencies. Radar observations of the Moon are unable to provide thermal information, and microwave observations taken from Earth cannot reach the far side of the moon. So Chang'E-1's (CE-1) orbit was conducted at an altitude of 200km (124 miles) and allowed it to observe every location of the moon with a nadir view and at high spatial resolution.  Read More

Boeing and Space Adventures plan to offer commercial spaceflight opportunities (Image: Spa...

Boeing and Space Adventures have joined forces to offer "affordable" travel to low Earth orbit for private space tourists. A memorandum of agreement between the two companies could see flights on-board the Boeing Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft from 2015.  Read More

Robonaut 2 can use the same tools as ISS crew members

For decades boys and girls have dreamed of becoming astronauts when they grow up. Now young assembly-line robots and claw vending machines can share the same dream with news that NASA plans to send Robonaut 2 (R2) into space. R2 will be the first human-like robot in space when it is launched on the shuttle Discovery later this year to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station (ISS).  Read More

The CubeSail deploys to a size of 10 x 10 meters from a container measuring 10 x 10 x 30 c...

We’ve looked at the problem of orbiting space junk before and the threat it poses to the future of space exploration and the use of satellites. Now scientists have devised a miniature “nanosatellite” fitted with a “solar sail” that can be used on satellites or upper stage launch vehicles. Once the equipment that has reached the end of its mission, the solar sails can be deployed to successfully achieve de-orbit. While it won’t cut the amount of debris already whizzing around above our heads, it will help stop future missions adding to the problem.  Read More

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission will make global observations of soil ...

The 658kg (1,450 lb) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) this week is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. The unique radiometer it carries will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land thereby playing a key role in the monitoring of global climate change.  Read More

The dangers of space junk aren't limited to space - occasionally it falls out of the sky, ...

The Soviet Union launched the very first earth-orbiting satellite in 1957, and the world looked on in awe as Sputnik flashed through the sky. Fifty years later, you’d be lucky to see anything. The U.S. Space Surveillance Network says there are almost 20,000 man-made objects in orbit, ninety-four percent of which are non-functional debris. And that’s not counting the hundreds of thousands of bits of junk too small to track. Little wonder the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has put out a call for someone – anyone – to come up with a way to effectively remove orbital debris.  Read More

The wn-2 watch with orbital view of a miniature Earth
 (Image: Think The Earth)

Much like the recent spherical Eris watch, here’s another way to tell the time that is a little “out of this world”. Japanese not-for-profit organization Think The Earth has released the wn-2 watch, featuring a tiny replica of the Earth that rotates in the same direction and at the same speed as the real thing. By offering a view similar to that seen from orbit, the creators hope the wn-2 (which stands for “watch Northern Hemisphere”) will encourage the wearer to put things in perspective and consider the world around them.  Read More

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