Introducing the Gizmag Store

Satellite

One of the Sprite nanosatellites (Photo: KickSat)

Pssst, do you wanna buy a satellite? No, really – do you? Well, Zac Manchester would like to sell you one. Not only that, but he claims that the thing could be built and launched into orbit for just a few hundred dollars. For that price, however, you’re not going to be getting a big satellite. Manchester’s Sprite spacecraft are actually about the size of a couple of postage stamps, but they have tiny versions of all the basic equipment that the big ones have.  Read More

A rendering of DARPA's proposed tender satellite, in the process of removing the antenna f...

Satellites are very expensive to put into orbit. This is because the parts that they're built from are costly to make, but also because it requires so much energy to lift their considerable weight off the Earth's surface. It would then follow that satellites would cost less if they could use salvaged parts, and if they were lighter when lifting off from the launch pad. That's where DARPA's proposed Phoenix program comes into play. It would see a purpose-built spacecraft removing usable parts from the plethora of "dead" satellites currently in orbit, then leaving those parts for attachment to newly-arriving satellites.  Read More

NASA is planning to demonstrate the largest solar sail ever built, in an upcoming space mi...

NASA's upcoming Technology Demonstration Missions are intended to "transform its space communications, deep space navigation and in-space propulsion capabilities." Three project proposals have been selected for these missions, which should be launching in 2015 and 2016. One of those projects, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, we've told you about already. Another, however, will be demonstrating a mission-capable solar sail. While NASA has recently tested a solar sail measuring 100 square feet (9.29 square meters), this one will be the largest ever flown, spanning a whopping 15,543 square feet, or 1,444 square meters.  Read More

The US$750 million UARS satellite is the largest NASA satellite to make an uncontrolled di...

If you've been looking to the skies in the hope of catching a glimpse of the doomed UARS satellite before it plummeted to the Earth's surface ... you missed it. NASA is now reporting that the decommissioned satellite fell back to Earth sometime between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24, making its final dive eastwards over Canada, Africa and finally crashing in the Pacific Ocean. The exact location of the crash has not been officially determined but there are reports that some debris made landfall near Calgary in Canada. NASA says that it is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage.  Read More

The NASA Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is now expected to crash on Friday 23 ...

NASA employees are now holding their breath as the 6.6 ton (6 tonne) out-of-control Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is falling faster than previously expected. Yesterday, NASA announced that the decommissioned satellite is most likely to crash into the earth's surface on Friday 23 September ... give or take a day.  Read More

This artist's impression shows the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, launched on Sept. ...

NASA has recently announced that an out-of-control, retired satellite will come crashing into the earth's surface "sometime" towards the end of September. Furthermore, the satellite, which is about the size of a school bus and weights over 6 tonnes (6.6 tons), will impact the earth in an unknown location between Canada and South America. The exact time and location will remain a mystery until two hours before the event, and that's with six thousand miles (10,000 km) of uncertainty.  Read More

Eutelsat has announced that its new KA-SAT broadband satellite has now gone into service, ...

Happily, the days of painfully slow dial-up internet speeds are now but a distant memory to many city and town dwelling broadband users throughout Europe. But for the estimated 13 million households living beyond the reach of ADSL or the even greater number who suffer from slow broadband connection speeds, waiting a good while for web pages and media to load into a browser is still the source of daily angst. One solution for surfers eager to grab more bandwidth is to install a satellite service and Eutelsat has just announced that its new KA-SAT high throughput broadband satellite launched in December of last year has just gone into service.  Read More

Satellite image using what is known as the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) to show plant c...

Directly tracking disease-carrying mice from space would seem to be a tall order – and even without knowing the full capabilities of military satellites, I suspect the ability to do so is still a couple of years off yet. But researchers at the University of Utah have come up with an indirect way of tracking rodents by using satellite images to monitor surges in vegetation that boost mouse populations. Such a method could help forecast outbreaks of rodent-borne illnesses worldwide by allowing the creation of risk maps that show when and where outbreaks are likely to occur.  Read More

Southampton team leader Professor Sandor Veres, with one of the model satellites used to t...

Situated as they are, high above the surface of the Earth, satellites are pretty much left to fend for themselves – if a piece of space junk is drifting towards one, for instance, no one is going to be there to push it out of the way. To address this type of situation, engineers from the University of Southampton have developed what they say is the world’s first control system for programing satellites to think for themselves. It’s a cognitive software agent called sysbrain, and it allows satellites to read English-language technical documents, which in turn instruct the satellites on how to do things such as autonomously identifying and avoiding obstacles.  Read More

ahumanright.org is a charity group that plans to buy a used satellite, and use it as the f...

For those of us who live in the developed world, internet access has become pretty much a given. It’s become so ubiquitous that we almost expect to have it at all times and in all places, but even in this “Information Age,” the majority of the world’s population lacks access to the internet – either because service isn’t available where they are, or they can’t afford it. Kosta Grammatis has a plan, however. Through his charity group ahumanright.org, Grammatis aims to set up a network of satellites that will provide free internet access to everyone in the world. He’s starting by attempting to buy a single used satellite that’s already in orbit and moving it to a location above a developing country.  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 26,500 articles