Archive for the ‘satellites’ category

Jun 15, 2018

Chinese satellite snags new views of Earth from lunar orbit

Posted by in categories: habitats, satellites

On May 20, China launched Queqiao, a lunar communications relay satellite for the upcoming Chang’e 4 lander and rover mission. On the way out to the Moon, it dropped off a pair of small satellites bound for lunar orbit called Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2. The satellites weigh just 45 kilograms each and measure 50-by-50-by-40 centimeters. Their purpose is testing out future radio astronomy and interferometry techniques, and one also has a camera built by Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, Longjiang-1 had a problem and didn’t make it into lunar orbit. Longjiang-2, however, was successful, and sent home a few pictures! Check them out:

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Jun 11, 2018

In-orbit services poised to become big business

Posted by in categories: business, government, robotics/AI, satellites

A transition is happening in the satellite business. Fast-moving technology and evolving customer demands are driving operators to rethink major investments in new satellites and consider other options such as squeezing a few more years of service out of their current platforms.

Which makes this an opportune moment for the arrival of in-orbit servicing.

Sometime in early 2019, the first commercial servicing spacecraft is scheduled to launch. The Mission Extension Vehicle built by Orbital ATK on behalf of subsidiary SpaceLogistics, will the first of several such robotic craft that are poised to compete for a share of about $3 billion worth of in-orbit services that satellite operators and government agencies are projected to buy over the coming decade.

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Jun 10, 2018

20 Years of Earth Data Now at Your Fingertips

Posted by in category: satellites

Powerful Earth-observing instruments aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively, have observed nearly two decades of planetary change. Now, for the first time, all that imagery — from the first operational image to imagery acquired today — is available for exploration in Worldview.

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Jun 1, 2018

Engineers design new solid polymer electrolyte, paving way for safer, smaller batteries and fuel cells

Posted by in categories: energy, satellites

Fuel cells and batteries provide electricity by generating and coaxing positively charged ions from a positive to a negative terminal which frees negatively charged electrons to power cellphones, cars, satellites, or whatever else they are connected to. A critical part of these devices is the barrier between these terminals, which must be separated for electricity to flow.

Improvements to that barrier, known as an electrolyte, are needed to make energy storage devices thinner, more efficient, safer, and faster to recharge. Commonly used liquid electrolytes are bulky and prone to shorts, and can present a fire or explosion risk if they’re punctured.

Research led by University of Pennsylvania engineers suggests a different way forward: a new and versatile kind of (SPE) that has twice the proton conductivity of the current state-of-the-art material. Such SPEs are currently found in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells, but the researchers’ new design could also be adapted to work for the lithium-ion or sodium-ion batteries found in consumer electronics.

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May 31, 2018

A Forgotten Element Could Help Us Redefine The Way We Measure Time

Posted by in categories: particle physics, quantum physics, satellites

A rare earth element that doesn’t get much mention could become the key to upgrading atomic clocks to become even more accurate. This could help us explore space and track satellites, and even keep the world’s time zones in sync.

Atomic clocks use the oscillations of atoms under laser fire as a measurement of time, in the same way a grandfather clock uses the swing of a pendulum. They can lose less than a second over 50 million years, depending on the elements used — but scientists want even greater accuracy.

That’s where lutetium (Lu) comes in. It offers both a higher level of stability and a higher degree of precision than the caesium or rubidium of today’s atomic clocks, according to a team of researchers from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) in Singapore.

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May 26, 2018

SpaceX’s prototype internet satellites are good enough for gaming, Elon Musk says

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, internet, satellites

In a tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says two prototype broadband data-transmitting satellites are working well enough to be used for playing video games.

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May 23, 2018

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sees satellites as bigger market than rockets

Posted by in categories: business, Elon Musk, satellites

SpaceX is taking a commanding role in the rocket business — but Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and chief operating officer, expects the satellite business to be more lucrative.

Shotwell sized up SpaceX’s road ahead in a CNBC interview that aired today in connection with the cable network’s latest Disruptor 50 list. For the second year in a row, the space venture founded by billionaire Elon Musk leads the list.

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May 17, 2018

How 3D Printing Is Unlocking A New Space Race

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, government, satellites

A new space race is in the works, thanks to 3D printing. This time around, it’s not about large government agencies vying to blast human astronauts into uncharted territory. Instead, today’s competitors are aerospace startups like Rocket Lab and Relativity Space that are trying to launch satellites into orbit.

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May 14, 2018

Iridium to complete next-generation satellite deployment

Posted by in category: satellites

WASHINGTON — Iridium expects to have its next-generation satellite constellation deployed and in service by this fall as it looks to win approvals for new maritime and aviation applications.

In a conference call with reporters May 14, Iridium Chief Executive Matt Desch said the remaining three launches of Iridium Next satellites should be completed by the third quarter of this year, with the satellites in the final positions shortly thereafter.

“All of the satellites are going to be in place within probably about 30 days of our final launch,” he said. The Iridium operations team has become more efficient in maneuvering new satellites into their planned orbital slots and putting them into service. “It will be very shortly after our final launch that we will have 100 percent Iridium Next satellites.”

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May 11, 2018

The Week’s Coolest Space Images

Posted by in category: satellites

Every day satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from this week.

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