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Satellite

Less than four months after lift-off, testing on NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is complete, and science operations have begun. The data recorded by the mission, which will give rise to more accurate weather forecasting, will now be subject to a year of validation against existing measurements.

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If you browse the internet, it's easy to find an image of the International Space Station taken by an amateur astronomer that looks as if it was taken only a mile away. DARPA wants to go several magnitudes better with a telescopic system that can take detailed images of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The research agency is seeking ideas on how to achieve this from an unorthodox mix of small businesses, academic and research institutions, and first-time government contractors.

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The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts NIAC program has announced 15 phase I winners in its quest to make science fiction science fact. The aim of the program is to encourage the innovation of ideas with the potential to transform future aerospace and exploration operations, but more importantly, it grants us a tantalizing and often fantastical glimpse of what the future may hold.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that its Proba-V satellite has successfully picked up signals from thousands of aircraft around the globe. The findings of the mission, which was primarily tasked with watching changes in vegetation across the planet, could pave the way for a more accurate air traffic control system.

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NASA satellite measurements have contributed to the first ever study focusing on the current status of 11 species of Arctic marine mammals, all of which depend on sea ice to survive. The study, which revealed details on ice loss in the region, made use of more than 35 years worth of archived satellite data. Read More
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 European Space Agency's Aeolus mission, designed to study the world's winds, is on track for a 2016 take-off. Following a troubled development process, the two lasers central to the project are now complete, allowing the team to ramp up testing ahead of launch. Read More
For over 40 years, Landsat has quietly but consistently been taking images of the surface of the Earth, amassing an impressive collection of data about our planet. This month, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced that the effort would continue to span the generations, by moving forward with the development and planned launch of LandSat 9 in 2023. Read More
NASA is planning to maximize the scientific potential of the maiden launch of its next generation launch vehicle, the Space Launch System, by selecting 11 tiny satellites to ride shotgun. The little probes, known as CubeSats, will be transported in the SLS's upper stage adaptor, presenting a cost-effective delivery option for experiments designed to function beyond low-Earth orbit. Read More
Two new Galileo satellites have been successfully placed in orbit, joining the existing six probes in the constellation that aim to provide a European alternative to GPS and Glonass networks. The operation went off without a hitch – something that can't be said for the troubled assent of the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites. Read More
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