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Space / Astronomy News and Articles

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ESA

NASA'S Space Launch System core stage passes major milestone, ready to start construction

Friction Stir Weld for SLS: Tim Livengood, a welding engineer with The Boeing Co., confirms the setup on a friction stir weld test fixture at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans in support of the agency's Space Launch System. (Credit: Boeing)

Dec. 28, 2012 — The team designing America's new flagship rocket has completed successfully a major technical review of the vehicle's core stage. NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) will take the agency's Orion spacecraft and other payloads beyond low-Earth orbit, providing a new capability for human exploration.

The core stage preliminary design review (PDR) was held Thursday (Dec. 20) at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and...

Beating heart of J-2x engine finishes year of successful NASA tests

View of the J-2X powerpack test at Stennis Space Center on Dec. 13, 2012. (Credit: NASA/SSC)

Dec. 14, 2012 — NASA on Thursday took another step toward human exploration of new destinations in the solar system. At the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, engineers conducted the final test-firing of the J-2X powerpack assembly, an important component of America's next heavy-lift rocket.

The J-2X engine is the first human-rated liquid oxygen and liquid...

Experts advise doctors on how to clear patients for space travel

Dec. 13, 2012 — With the prospect of space travel for tourists looming, clinicians could soon be asked to advise on medical clearance for their patients, says a paper published in the BMJ Christmas edition and appearing online today.

Space travel opportunities are becoming increasingly available to the general public with bookings already in place.

A team of experts from North America therefore looked to provide advice to clinicians who require direction when advising...

Next step in launching astronauts from U.S. Soil: NASA awards commercial crew certification contracts

This artist concept shows The Boeing Company's CST-100 spacecraft approaching the International Space Station. (Credit: Boeing)

Dec. 11, 2012 — NASA announced Dec. 10 the next step in its plan to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil, selecting three companies to conduct activities under contracts that will enable future certification of commercial spacecraft as safe to carry humans to the International Space Station.

Advances made by these American...

New 3-D camera for space missions

The comet chaser Rosetta meets asteroid. (Credit: ESA)

BestAstronomy (Oct. 3, 2012) — On behalf of European Space Agency (ESA), Thales Alenia Space, SINTEF and Terma are now completing a study identifying alternatives to the cameras currently deployed on spacecrafts and space rovers.

Both ESA and NASA are on the lookout for better and less resource intensive camera systems for current and future space missions.

In the previous decades many applications...

More accurate than Santa Claus: First Galileo satellite orbit determination with high precision

BestAstronomy (Dec. 23, 2011) — Every year for Christmas, the North American Air Defence Command NORAD posts an animation on their website, in which the exact flight path of Santa Claus' sled led by reindeer Rudolf is precisely located (http://www.noradsanta.org/en/). The path of navigation satellites, however, has to be determined much more accurately than Santa's flight path, when precise ground positioning is required. GPS is the best known...

BestAstronomy (Dec. 23, 2011) — Every year...

New research and technology experiments headed to International Space Station

BestAstronomy (July 8, 2011) — The space shuttle Atlantis launched to the International Space Station on July 8, carrying with it a mix of research ranging from microscopic cell research to macroscopic technology development equipment deliveries. In addition, both plants and animals will be the subject of microgravity tests.

For a joint project of NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, hardware for the Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, will be...

BestAstronomy (July 8, 2011) — The space...

Half-time for Mars500: Simulated mission to the Red Planet

— The Mars500 mission -- a simulated mission to the red planet in which researchers from the Mainz University Medical Center in Germany are involved -- has reached its half-way mark: After a 250-day virtual flight, the crew members recently landed on the virtual red planet and left the isolation container at the Moscow Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in their space suits.

Researchers from the Medical Center of...

— The Mars500 mission -- a simulated mission to the red planet in...

Report identifies priority missions for planetary science in the next decade

— A new report from the National Research Council recommends a suite of planetary science flagship missions for the decade 2013-2022 that could provide a steady stream of important new discoveries about the solar system. However, if NASA's budget over that decade cannot support all of these missions, the agency should preserve smaller scale missions in its New Frontiers and Discovery programs first and delay some or ...

— A new report from the National Research Council recommends a suite...

Europe's space freighter: ATV Johannes Kepler operating flawlessly

— Following a spectacular launch on Feb. 16, Europe's space freighter is now in its planned orbit. Mission controllers are preparing to match its trajectory with that of the International Space Station, where it will dock seven days from now.

After a one-day launch delay, ESA's next Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Johannes Kepler, lifted off on an Ariane 5 launcher from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana,...

— Following a spectacular launch on Feb. 16, Europe's space...

Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle space ferry ready for launch

— ESA's latest Automated Transfer Vehicle is ready for launch to the International Space Station on Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 22:08 GMT from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The unmanned spaceship will deliver essential supplies and reboost the Station during its mission lasting three and half months.

The launch will be covered live from Kourou for broadcasters and on the Web, and celebrated at a launch event in...

— ESA's latest Automated Transfer Vehicle is ready for launch to...

European Space Agency investigates novel analogue self-steered antennas

— Bulky present generation satellite dishes and ground terminals could become relics of the past thanks to research currently being conducted for the European Space Agency (ESA) by Queen's University Belfast's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) aimed at developing discrete self-aligning flat antennas.

It is hoped the work could lead to a one-size-fits all solution that could be...

— Bulky present generation satellite dishes and ground terminals...

Intensive preparations for ATV freighter launch to Space Station

— The fuel and most of the cargo are loaded and ATV has been hoisted to the top of Ariane 5 as teams on four continents prepare for the 15 February launch of Johannes Kepler from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

With launch scheduled in just 18 days, experts from ESA, partner agencies and industry teams are in the busy final stage of making Johannes Kepler ready for space.

Liftoff is set for 15 February at...

— The fuel and most of the cargo are loaded and ATV has been...

NASA's salt-seeking instrument gets a silvery blanket

— Technicians from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., completed the installation of thermal blankets on NASA's Aquarius instrument last week, as the Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC-D) spacecraft continued functional performance tests at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (Laboratório de Integração e Testes -- Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, or LIT-INPE) in S...

— Technicians from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena...

Parts of European Space Agency's second automated transfer vehicle coming together

— The three main parts of ATV-3 arrived at the premises of EADS Astrium in Bremen, Germany, in December. The vehicle is now waiting to be assembled at the end of January.

The Integrated Cargo Carrier, built by Thales Alenia Space Italy, was transported by a voluminous Beluga aircraft from Turin airport just before Christmas.

This module represents about 60% of the total ATV volume and will hold all the liquid and dry...

— The three main parts of ATV-3 arrived at the premises of EADS...

Andromeda’s once and future stars

— Two ESA observatories have combined forces to show the Andromeda Galaxy in a new light. Herschel sees rings of star formation in this, the most detailed image of the Andromeda Galaxy ever taken at infrared wavelengths, and XMM-Newton shows dying stars shining X-rays into space.

During Christmas 2010, ESA's Herschel and XMM-Newton space observatories targeted the nearest large spiral galaxy M31. This is a galaxy...

— Two ESA observatories have combined forces to show the Andromeda...

Identity parade clears cosmic collisions of the suspicion of promoting black hole growth

— What happens when galaxies crash together? For years, these cosmic collisions have been blamed for triggering violent outbursts at the hearts of galaxies. Now, a remarkable piece of detective work has given a verdict: galactic mergers do not usually whet the appetite of the black holes that power these active galactic nuclei -- meaning other, less dramatic phenomena are responsible.

Most galaxies, including our own,...

— What happens when galaxies crash together? For years, these...

SOHO spots 2,000th comet

— As people on Earth celebrate the holidays and prepare to ring in the New Year, an ESA/NASA spacecraft has quietly reached its own milestone: on December 26, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) discovered its 2000th comet.

Drawing on help from citizen scientists around the world, SOHO has become the single greatest comet finder of all time. This is all the more impressive since SOHO was not specifically...

— As people on Earth celebrate the holidays and prepare to ring in the...

Satellite tracking campaign tests European abilities

— An experimental tracking campaign using European facilities is helping determine how well existing telescopes and radars can work together to observe objects in Earth orbit. The results will be used to help design ESA's future Space Situational Awareness system.

On 29 November, experts from the Agency's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Preparatory Programme began an experimental tracking campaign using scientific...

— An experimental tracking campaign using European facilities is...

Earth and space science missions have fewer risks if conducted by a single government agency, report finds

— Earth and space science missions developed and implemented by federal agencies in collaboration typically result in additional complexity and cost and increased risks from divided responsibilities and accountability, says a new report from the National Research Council. Federal agencies should not partner in conducting space and earth science missions unless there is a compelling reason to do so and clear criteria ...

— Earth and space science missions developed and implemented by...