By Arnie CooperPosted 08.18.2009 at 10:44 am 4 Comments
Having scrubbed the notoriously squalid streets of Paris spotless, the French have set their sights on a bigger clean-up project: the expanding swarm of space debris circling the planet. French spaceflight engineer Brice Santerre of the European aerospace company EADS Astrium has constructed the Aerobraking Sail for bringing defunct satellites out of orbit.
When a satellite dies, the built-in braking system will deploy two inflatable booms, which release a pair of heat-resistant polymer "wings." The wings increase the friction drag that slows the satellite's orbit and allow gravity to tug it into the lower atmosphere, where it will burn up in 25 years instead of the typical 50 to 100, Santerre says.
Have you ever been taking pictures of an entire country from space and thought, "you know what, this is ok, but I want to photograph the entire hemisphere at once,"? Well, with Raytheon's new 16-megapixel infrared sensor, you can.
Or, more precisely, the government can. Designed to work as part of a satellite, the sensor uses 4,096 pixel rows and columns to produce what the company calls, "an 'unblinking eye' over an entire hemisphere."
The challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone’s problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution.
By Hilary RosnerPosted 08.07.2009 at 11:45 am 53 Comments
Today's crops crisscross the globe: Mexico's tomatoes end up on your plate, our wheat heads to Africa. As a result, the challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone's problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution. Here's how nitrogen-spewing microbes, underground soil sensors and fruit-picking robots will help keep food on our tables.
Ever wanted to launch your own satellite into low earth orbit, then track it on ham radio for a few weeks before it burns up on re-entry? Well, 52 years after the launch of Sputnik, you can. Interorbital Systems is offering YOU the chance (by the end of 2010) to send up a TubeSat Personal Satellite Kit for the low introductory price of just $8,000.
Right now, thousands of satellites are circling the Earth. They're a diverse bunch. Some relay telephone calls, some spy on North Korea, some monitor the weather. But they all have one thing in common: each can only do one thing. A spy satellite can't suddenly start forecasting storms, and a communications satellite can't study asteroids.
Well, that's all about to change.
After three years just as many failed launches, and a couple of lost satellites, private rocket company SpaceX successfully delivered its first payload into orbit yesterday using their Falcon 1 rocket.
When it comes to space, what goes up must be sturdy, safe and secure if it's to live very long. Satellites must survive the bone-rattling jostle and pressure of launch, and once they reach orbit, they've got to weather the vast temperature changes they experience with every sunrise and sunset. Their skins must be thick enough to survive pummeling by micro-debris, and they'd better have trusty gyroscopes to be able to change directions or keep their balance.
This week, new photos of our moon taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showed what we already know: the orbiting rock has a lot of craters, but no signs of life. But scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany have revealed new findings that there is another moon worthy of intensive exploration -- and perhaps even a visit at some future date.