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Satellite

Drought bites deeply – this year's corn crop in Missouri Valley, Iowa (Photo: USDA and Dav...

Recently, drought seems to be a fact of life. As the lead photograph poignantly illustrates, most of the U.S. has been struggling with serious levels of drought for the past several years. Worldwide, drought affected areas include Europe, India and Pakistan, Russia, much of Africa, South America – the list goes on. But when the rains start again, everyone expresses great relief, not realizing that long-term depletion of groundwater reserves is part of the price for surviving drought. It was with this in mind that GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), a joint U.S. and German space project, was designed a decade ago.  Read More

The different components that make up the MIT microthruster (Photo: MIT)

Small-scale satellites show a lot promise, but unless they have equally small-scale thrusters they’re pretty limited in what they can do. Unfortunately conventional thrusters are heavy and take up a lot of valuable space, but a penny-sized rocket engine developed at MIT holds the prospect of not only increasing the capabilities of miniature satellites, but of combating space junk as well.  Read More

The NASA missions will use CubeSats similar to Montana State University's Explorer-1 [Prim...

Having landed the car-sized Curiosity rover on Mars, NASA is looking in the other direction with its Small Spacecraft Technology Program. Dedicated to improving small satellite technology, the program recently awarded contracts to three teams working in the areas of communications, formation flying and docking. The tricky bit is that the satellites they’re working with are only four inches (10.16 cm) tall.  Read More

The RBSP mission will study the Van Allen Belts (Image: JHU/APL)

Radiation is a common hazard of space exploration and space agencies usually tend to avoid it for obvious reasons. It can be dangerous for astronauts and fatal to the microcircuitry of satellites. Why, then, is NASA sending its next unmanned mission right into the worst radiation hazard in the neighborhood? On August 23, two Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) will launch atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida to study the radioactive Van Allen Belts.  Read More

Sinus Iridum as seen from NASA's Clementine probe, where China plans to land a lunar rover...

The Chinese news agency Xinhua announced on July 31 that China will be sending its first unmanned lander to the Moon in the second half of 2013. Chang’e-3 will be the third lunar probe launched by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the first attempt at a landing. The lander/rover combination will launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan province as part of China’s continuing Lunar Exploration program.  Read More

Using NASA Landsat imagery, Google Earth Engine now allows users to view fully interactive...

A combined effort between researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Google provides users with easy access to 13 years of NASA Landsat imagery of the Earth’s surface. The new capability within Google Earth Engine lets users zoom in and out on any spot on the globe, moving back and forth in time between 1999 and 2011.  Read More

Partial interior assembly of Degradation Free Spectrometers sounding rocket (Photo: Univer...

On July 24, 2012, NASA successfully launched a pair of newly developed spectrometers aboard a sounding rocket from the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico to an altitude of 323.8 km (201.2 mi). This may not seem to have much to do with extending the life of a satellite floating between the Sun and Earth about 1.5 million kilometers (932,000 mi) away, but it does. That’s because the tests purpose was both to test new instruments for a potential future replacement of the SOHO solar observatory satellite and to recalibrate SOHO’s existing instruments.  Read More

If successful, FITSAT-1's Morse code messages will be visible to the naked eye

We like to think of space as the one place where all tech is high and all gadgets are bleeding edge. That may be the case most of the time, but Japan’s Fukuoka Institute of Technology is taking one small step backward for man by sending a satellite into orbit that uses Morse code and bursts of light to send messages back to base. FITSAT-1, which will be launched from the International Space Station in September 2012, will use LEDs to flash Morse code messages like an outer space Aldis lamp that may be bright enough to see by the public with the naked eye.  Read More

The Cerberlink is the satellite communications component of Cerberus

Cerberus, from BriarTek, is the overarching brand name for an electronic search-and-rescue beacon system built for wilderness and off-the-grid use. The system offers three distinct functions - Cerberlink, CerberTouch and CerberCenter - and uses smartphone and satellite messaging to keep you in touch with the outside world.  Read More

SkyCube: the first satellite launched by you

Southern Stars Group LLC, the company responsible for the popular SkySafari apps for iOS, Android and Mac OS X, is thinking a little bigger with its next project. The publicly funded SkyCube is a miniature CubeSat satellite that will orbit the planet, transmitting low-resolution images of the Earth while broadcasting short messages from sponsors in the form of data pings. In short, it's the world's first social space mission.  Read More

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