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Space

Testing the world's blackest material in orbit

A cutting edge light retardant coating designed to reduce the interference to the delicate optical equipment mounted on space probes is being put through its paces aboard the Kent Ridge 1 satellite, which launched into low-Earth orbit (LEO) in Dec. 2015. Known as Vantablack S-VIS, it is hoped that the high performance and versatility of the material will allow for the design of lighter, more compact satellite hardware.Read More

Space

How Earth's magnetic field is changing

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched its trio of Earth-facing satellites – the Swarm satellites – more than two years ago. Since then, the three probes have been tirelessly making measurements of the Earth's magnetic field, mapping it out in detail. Now, that data has been used in a new study of how the magnetic field has changed over recent years, with the results echoing what's happening at the planet's core. Read More

Space

DARPA's satellite repair robot makes house calls

There are over 400 geosynchronous satellites orbiting 22,000 mi (36,000 km) above the Earth. They are a vital part of global communications and represent billions of dollars in investments, but once they break down or run out of fuel, they're so much tin foil. DARPA has released a video outlining the agency's vision of a mobile robotic servicing system designed to rendezvous with and repair ailing telecommunications satellites.Read More

Space

ESA puts 3D-printed satellite antenna to the test

We can't print entire satellites yet, but the 3D printing of major components is moving forward with ESA unveiling a prototype 3D-printed radio antenna. Currently undergoing testing at ESA's Compact Antenna Test Facility in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, it's the space agency's first 3D-printed dual-reflector antenna incorporating a corrugated feed horn and two reflectors.Read More

Space

Solar sails to help keep pole-sitting satellites in their place

Pole sitting was a fad in the United States in the 1920s, but ESA is putting a modern orbital spin on the practice. Investigating advanced orbital mechanics, the space agency has concluded that it's possible to build a hybrid solar-sail/electric-propulsion satellite that could hover over either of the Earth's poles by balancing the pull of the Earth and the Sun.Read More

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