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CubeSats in orbit after historic space station deployment

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JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide preparing the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Dec. 11, 2012 — Typically satellites launch from Earth, requiring dedicated launch vehicles to propel them into the proper orbit. The cost for this launch scenario could be reduced considerably if there was another way to get the satellites into their optimal orbit. The Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA) found a way to cut the costs of this activity by designing a small satellite launcher, installed recently on the International Space Station.

The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) is capable of launching small satellites...

Twin Galileo satellites fuelled and ready for launch

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Galileo FM3 in the clean room at Europe's Spaceport, French Guiana. The fuelling process has begun ahead of the next Galileo launch in early October 2012. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG)

BestAstronomy (Oct. 2, 2012) — The twin Galileo satellites are now fully fuelled and mated together atop the upper stage that will haul them most of the way up to their final orbit. The launch is now planned for the evening of Oct. 12.

Technicians donned...

Space travel with a new language in tow

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The new satellite Astra2F (Credit: Copyright SES Global S.A.)

BestAstronomy (Oct. 1, 2012) — September 28, for the first time ever, SES, the Luxembourg-based satellite operator, has allowed an Ariane 5 rocket to transport a TV satellite into space, which is made by Astrium and runs entirely on latest generation software. Every single one of the programs used to operate the satellite was written in the new satellite language SPELL. The acronym stands for "Satellite...

Starlight and 'air glow' give scientists a new way to observe nighttime weather from space

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BestAstronomy (Sep. 10, 2012) — Colorado State University researchers discovered that a combination of starlight and the upper atmosphere's own subtle glow can help satellites see Earth's clouds on moonless nights. Share This: See Also: Space & TimeSatellitesSunMatter & EnergyOpticsAcousticsEarth & ClimateWeatherSevere WeatherReference Solar radiationSpace observatoryNumerical weather predictionGeosynchronous orbit

During the...

Monitoring ground-level ozone from space

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BestAstronomy (Aug. 29, 2011) — Satellite views of the Midwestern United States show that ozone levels above 50 parts per billion (ppb) along the ground could reduce soybean yields by at least 10 percent, costing more than $1 billion in lost crop production, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

In a 5-year study led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) molecular...

BestAstronomy (Aug. 29, 2011) — Satellite...

First student-developed mission in which satellites orbit and communicate

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— Two satellites designed and constructed by students at the Cockrell School of Engineering successfully separated in space March 22, completing the most crucial goal of the mission since its Nov. 19 launch and making them the first student-developed mission in the world in which satellites orbit and communicate with each other in real-time.

The satellites separated March 22 at 6:35 a.m. Central Standard Time. Now...

— Two satellites designed and constructed by students at the Cockrell...

Satellite to examine how sun's brightness impacts climate change

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— A $28 million University of Colorado Boulder instrument developed to study changes in the sun's brightness and its impact on Earth's climate is one of two primary payloads on NASA's Glory mission set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Feb. 23.

Designed and built by a team from CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the instrument called the Total Irradiance Monitor, or TIM,...

— A $28 million University of Colorado Boulder instrument...

Scientists develop control system to allow spacecraft to think for themselves

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BestAstronomy (Feb. 14, 2011) — The world's first control system that will allow engineers to programme satellites and spacecraft to think for themselves has been developed by scientists from the University of Southampton.

Professor Sandor Veres and his team of engineers have developed an artificially intelligent control system called 'sysbrain'.

Using natural language programming (NLP), the software agents can read special English language technical documents on control...

Cluster encounters 'natural particle accelerator' above Earth's atmosphere: How northern and southern lights are generated

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— The European Space Agency's Cluster satellites have flown through a natural particle accelerator just above Earth's atmosphere. The data they collected are unlocking how most of the dramatic displays of the northern and southern lights are generated.

Two of Cluster's four satellites found themselves in a natural particle accelerator above the northern hemisphere on 5 June 2009. The first to cross was satellite C3 at...

— The European Space Agency's Cluster satellites have flown...

GOES satellites watch 2011 approach, look back at 2010

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— The GOES series of satellites keep an eye on the weather happening over the continental U.S. and eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and had a busy time with wild weather in 2010. GOES-13 just captured one of the last images of North and South America in 2010 as the world continues to turn toward 2011.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite called GOES-13 satellite captured a "full-disk image" of...

— The GOES series of satellites keep an eye on the weather happening...

How Saturn's moon Iapetus got its ridge

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— For centuries, people wondered how the leopard got its spots. The consensus is pretty solid that evolution played a major role.

But it's only been five years since the arrival of high-resolution Cassini Mission images of Saturn's bizarre moon Iapetus that the international planetary community has pondered the unique walnut shape of the large (735 kilometer radius) body, considered by many to be one of the most...

— For centuries, people wondered how the leopard got its spots. The...

Demise of large satellite may have led to the formation of Saturn’s rings and inner moons

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— Simulations performed at Southwest Research Institute may explain how Saturn's majestic rings and icy inner moons formed following the collision of a Titan-sized satellite with the planet, according to a paper published in Nature magazine's Dec. 12 Advance Online Publication.

Saturn's rings are at present 90 to 95 percent water ice. Because dust and debris from rocky meteoroids have polluted the rings, the rings are...

— Simulations performed at Southwest Research Institute may...

Nanosatellite successfully ejected from free-flying microsatellite in space

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— On Dec. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EST, NASA for the first time successfully ejected a nanosatellite from a free-flying microsatellite. NanoSail-D ejected from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, FASTSAT, demonstrating the capability to deploy a small cubesat payload from an autonomous microsatellite in space.

Nanosatellites or cubesats are typically launched and deployed from a mechanism called a...

— On Dec. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EST, NASA for the first time successfully ejected a...

Snow from space: Satellite imagery of snow-bound UK

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— Earth observation scientists at the University of Leicester have recorded stunning images of the UK's winter landscape by orbiting satellites.

European Space Agency satellite instruments have been observing the icy blast in the UK from their vantage points in space.

Leicester scientists have used two instruments, MERIS and AATSR, which have returned stunning images of a snow-bound UK from observations on November 29th...

— Earth observation scientists at the University of Leicester...

Students fly in zero gravity to protect satellites from tiny meteoroids

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— Stanford researchers have completed the first successful tests in zero gravity of a canopy for CubeSats -- the tiny satellites that hitch rides on rockets sending larger satellites into orbit. The goal is to gather data on what happens when micrometeoroids slam into a satellite. Such impacts often knock out electronic equipment on satellites. The encounters are poorly understood, but the canopies could be a first ...

— Stanford researchers have completed the first successful tests in...

New system for locating and capturing satellites in space

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— Scientists at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have developed a new system for docking and capturing space satellites based on robotics and computer vision technology to autonomously guide a space vehicle to dock and capture the satellites.

Within the framework of this research project, "Acoplamiento y Agarre de Satélitesmediante Sistemas Robóticos basado en Visión (Docking and Capture of Satellites...

— Scientists at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have...

GOCE gravity mission fully operational again

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BestAstronomy (Sep. 30, 2010) — Following recovery from a glitch that prevented ESA's GOCE gravity mission from sending any scientific data to the ground, the satellite has been gently brought back down to its operational altitude and resumed normal service -- delivering the most detailed gravity data to date.

Data from GOCE will result in a unique model of the 'geoid', which is the surface of an ideal global ocean at rest. It is a crucial reference for accurately measuring...

Students help NASA decommission satellite

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— University of Colorado at Boulder undergraduates, who have been helping to control five NASA satellites from campus, participated in the unusual decommissioning of a functioning satellite with a failed science payload in recent days, bringing the craft into Earth re-entry to burn up August 30.

The satellite, known as the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, orbited Earth for seven years, gathering...

— University of Colorado at Boulder undergraduates, who have been...

Ten years flying in formation: The legendary Cluster quartet

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— Next week marks the 10th anniversary of the start of formation flying for the four satellites of ESA's Cluster quartet, one of the most successful scientific missions ever launched.

On 1 September 2000, just a few weeks after launch, the four individual satellites of the Cluster mission began coordinated orbits, marking the formal start of formation flying.

Since then, the four satellites -- dubbed Samba, Tango,...

— Next week marks the 10th anniversary of the start of formation...

Engineers prove space pioneer's 25-year-old theory

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— When American space pioneer, Dr Robert L Forward, proposed in 1984 a way of greatly improving satellite telecommunications using a new family of orbits, some claimed it was impossible.

But now engineers at the University of Strathclyde's Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory have proved that Forward was right.

The late Dr Forward -- a renowned physicist who worked in the United States and from his second home in...

— When American space pioneer, Dr Robert L Forward, proposed in 1984 a...

Final instruments on NASA climate/weather satellite integrated

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— The last of five instruments slated to fly on the upcoming NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) climate and weather satellite have been successfully integrated, according to NASA officials. The polar-orbiting satellite is scheduled to launch in late 2011.

The NPP satellite was a pre-cursor mission to the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) that has recently been restructured. The...

— The last of five instruments slated to fly on the upcoming NPOESS...