Facebook is set to take its worldwide internet project to new heights, all the way to geostationary orbit, to be specific. The social media giant has announced a new partnership with French firm Eutelsat, with plans to launch a satellite into space next year in hope of bringing millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa online.
A highly ambitious proposal recently advanced by Samsung describes the deployment of a huge network of 4,600 near-Earth satellites that would provide internet coverage on a truly global scale. The artificial constellation would more than double the number of working satellites in orbit around our planet and lead to low-latency and (potentially) low-cost access to about 200 GB of internet traffic a month for up to five billion people, no matter their location.
Boeing has announced that the first satellite with all-electric propulsion is now fully operational. Launched last March, the ABS-3A 702SP (small platform) satellite was formally handed over to its owner, Bermuda-based telecommunications company ABS, on August 31. It will provide communications services to the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
On Aug. 26, NASA held a media teleconference regarding current predictions on sea level rise, highlighting the risks to coastal populations in low-lying areas, and the inherent problems in creating reliable global models. A panel of experts from NASA's recently-founded Sea Level Change Teamtells us that ocean levels are inexorably on the rise, but gaps in our understanding and ability to survey risk regions mean we don't know just how fast the change will take place.
Space is cold, but not cold enough for satellite sensors that need to be kept at cryogenic temperatures. Lockheed Martin’s lightweight High Power Microcryocooler is designed to keep these vital components cold, and it now packs three times the power density of previous systems.
What is small enough to fit in an airliner carry-on bin and has the potential to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars worth of property? The answer is the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) – NASA’s next-generation hurricane-observing microsatellites, which are now being assembled at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas.
The list of spacefaring nations remains small, but thanks to continuing advances in technology that promise to reduce the financial and logistical hurdles involved, the numbers are set to increase. One country that could be joining the club, if the University of Queensland (UQ) and Heliaq Advanced Engineering get their way, is Australia. The two are teaming up on a project intended to deliver payloads weighing from 50 to 500 kg (110 to 1,102 lb) into orbit.
NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has returned a breathtaking image of planet Earth from a distance of roughly one million miles from the homeworld. The image captures the full disk of our planet showing a stunning sunbathed vista of blue oceans and swirling clouds, with glimpses of the North and Central America land masses.
In the early days of spaceflight, every new satellite was a one off. Today, satellites are produced in classes, but each new mission still needs a satellite that's individually configured for its role. With the goal of creating a next-generation universal satellite, ESA, Eutelsat, and Airbus Defence & Space have signed an agreement to develop the first fully reconfigurable Quantum satellite.
Solar storms – or Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – are caused by the sudden release of built-up magnetic stress in the Sun's atmosphere. On Earth, we see the results of small versions of these when plasma streaming from the sun strikes our upper atmosphere and creates the Northern and Southern Lights (the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis). Sometimes, however, these ruptures can be inordinately large and have the potential to wreak havoc on orbiting satellites, radio networks, and national power grids. In an effort to be prepared well in advance of such events, a UK consortium has proposed a satellite system that can provide as much as five days warning of potentially damaging CMEs.