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Satellite

The Twinkle satellite will look at the atmospheres of exoplanets to seek more definite sig...

One reason exoplanets are so fascinating is the possibility that they may harbor life, but the definition of habitable used by astronomers is so broad that it could include planets that obviously aren't. To help zero in on the more likely candidates, a British-built satellite called Twinkle will look at the atmospheres of exoplanets to seek more definite signs of life, as well as clues as to the chemistry, formation and evolution of exoplanets.  Read More

DSCOVR, the NOAA's Earth observation and space weather satellite, being readied for launch...

Sunday's delayed launch means that NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) will wait at least a day before it can take up its job of helping warn of potentially damaging solar flares. If Monday's rescheduled liftoff goes as planned, the unmanned spacecraft will be on its way to a point between the Earth and the Sun, where it will act as a space weather observatory and early warning station.  Read More

The ALASA concept uses an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft to launch...

If you've ever dreamed of turning your municipal airport into a satellite launching facility, then DARPA has your number. At this week's 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office reported on the progress of the agency's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to launch 100-lb (45-kg) satellites into low-Earth orbit using an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft.  Read More

The paths of some of the satellites identified in the study

According to a scientist from the University of Leicester in the UK, the search for missing ships and sea-crossing aircraft – such as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – would be much easier if existing satellites were simply used differently. Dr. Nigel Bannister is developing a system in which spacecraft that already keep an eye on the land could also turn their attention to the sea.  Read More

Artist's concept of LightSail fully deplyed

Though we tend to think of private spaceflight as being in the SpaceX league, it also includes many smaller-scale efforts. For example, the non-profit Planetary Society has announced that its LightSail spacecraft will make its first test flight in May. The solar-propelled CubeSat will lift off as a piggyback cargo atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Read More

NASA's SMAP satellite blasts off from the Vandenburg Air Force Base, California (Image: NA...

On its third attempt, NASA has successfully launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The orbiter is designed to take high resolution moisture maps on a global scale, mapping the entire planet in the space of only two to three days. The maps will grant us an improved ability to forecast droughts, floods, and even aid agricultural workers in crop planning and rotation.  Read More

The Spire team, with one of the CubeSats

Weather forecasting is a notoriously inexact science. According to San Francisco-based tech startup Spire, this is partially because there are currently less than 20 satellites responsible for gathering all of the world's weather data – what's more, some of the older ones are using outdated technology. Spire's solution? Establish a linked network of over 100 shoebox-sized CubeSats, that will use GPS technology to gather 100 times the amount of weather data than is currently possible. The first 20 of those satellites are scheduled to launch later this year.  Read More

The ESA's Integral satellite will make its way back to Earth in 2029 (Image: ESA/Medialab)

After 12 years in orbit, the European Space Agency (ESA) is in the process of enacting its retirement plan for the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (Integral). However, while the agency is adjusting the orbit of the satellite now, the spacecraft will continue to make observations for some years, and won’t re-enter Earth’s atmosphere until the late 2020s.  Read More

The Sentinel-1A (left) and CryoSat (right) satellites have provided key data on the degred...

Both the ESA’s Sentinel-1A and CryoSat satellites have detected a significant degree of ice loss in the Austfonna ice cap, located on Norway’s Nordaustlandet island in the Svalbard archipelago. Parts of the ice cap have thinned by as much as 50 m (164 ft) since 2012 – around a sixth of its total thickness, and the speed of the outer glacier has increased to 3.8 km (2.4 miles) per year.  Read More

This workshop and others like it could be the key to making the space industry more enviro...

Key orbits frequented by GPS and communications satellites are becoming more and more hazardous, as man-made debris presents an increasingly palpable danger to the valuable assets orbiting at heights of around 2,000 km (1,243 miles) above the Earth. That' s why the European Space Agency (ESA) is hosting an international workshop geared towards cleaning up low-Earth orbit, with a focus on how to make the space industry more sustainable.  Read More

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