tagged w/ satelites
In space, no one can hear you clean. But given the astonishing amount of trash in orbit around our planet, it's a chore that needs to be done no matter how quietly.
According to NASA over half-a-million pieces of trash, from decommissioned satellites to discarded bits of rocket parts, are orbiting around Earth every day, raising the danger of catastrophic collision with each future venture into outer space. With that in mind, a team of scientists from one of Europe's tidiest countries, Switzerland, recently announced plans to deploy a series of junk-collecting satellites to remove some of the dangerous space debris currently floating high above our heads as part of a project called CleanSpaceOne.
“It’s time to do something to reduce the amount of debris floating around in space,” says Claude Nicollier of the Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne. “Most debris comes from satellites that are no longer in use – typically they have run out of energy and their solar panels or batteries don’t work; when they collide it creates lots of debris.”
So how does one go about cleaning up space, humankind's seemingly immeasurable sweep-under rug? With self-destructing janitor satellites, of course. Taking a cue from nature's best grippers, Swiss researchers devised small orbiters which find and clasp onto intersteller trash before plummeting back towards Earth where both would be destroyed during the heat and friction of re-entry.
Given the amount of trash in space, and the potential damage to expensive satellites and spacecraft such debris could inflict, the scientists can see a future ripe with their astro-janitorial assistants.
“Space agencies are increasingly finding it necessary to take into consideration and prepare for the elimination of the stuff they’re sending into space," Swiss Space Center Director Volker Gass told SwissInfo. "We want to be the pioneers in this area.”
If the idea of tentacled litter-busting satellites sounds like quite an imaginative solution for cleaning up space junk, it's certainly not the most far-fetched. In the last few years, a range of creative suggestions have been put forth to keep mankind's final frontier from looking like a dump -- from using giant gold balloons to gather junk or just firing lasers at it, to recycling that debris into new satellites altogether, the ideas have bordered on science fiction -- but then again, so does the notion that we've trashed space so much that this has become a problem in need of a solution.
http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/outer-space-no-one-can-hear-you-clean.htmlIn space, no one can hear you clean. But given the astonishing amount of trash in... more
Just days after its launch on a Soyuz rocket, the new French high-resolution Pleiades imaging satellite has sent down its first pictures.
One of the shots released by the French space agency (Cnes) is of central Paris, showing the Louvre and the Place De La Concorde - "naturellement".
The Pleiades project has been in development for the best part of a decade.
It will produce pictures that have a resolution of 50cm after processing. That is - details on the ground as small as half a metre are discernable.
The spacecraft will give Europe a high performance capability to rival that of the Americans.
The market for sub one metre satellite imagery has become dominated in recent years by two US companies - DigitalGlobe and GeoEye.
Many of the pictures you see on Google and Bing maps, and indeed on the BBC News website, are sourced from these two operators.
Pleiades will go head-to-head with the Americans and has a number of clever tricks that should enable it to win a sizeable market share.
One of these tricks is the ability to swivel its instrument in quick time to acquire a strip, or mosaic, of images around its target in a single pass overhead.
So whereas the nominal maximum width in an image is 20km, Pleiades can scan the ground rapidly to effectively build up a much wider swath at any given point.
"Pleiades is equipped with control moment gyros," explained Charlotte Gabriel Robez, the Pleiades project manager with Astrium Geo-information Services.
"These devices allow Pleiades to slew very fast from a point A to a point B," she told me.
"Imagine there is 200 km between those two locations - if you have these control moment gyros, you only need 11 seconds to switch. If you do not have them, you need around 20 seconds. This means that when you fly over a given area, you can acquire double the number of images than would normally be the case.
"So, we can collect either plenty of different images over a narrow area, or we can 'paint' a large area 100km by 100km.
"We can even acquire several images of the same place in the very same pass, meaning that we can build up 3D models of the ground thanks to the different viewing angles."
A second satellite will launch in 2013 and its orbit around the globe will be off set from the first by 180 degrees. This will then allow the Pleiades system to take a picture of any place on Earth every day…assuming there's no cloud over the target.
more at link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16301914Just days after its launch on a Soyuz rocket, the new French high-resolution Pleiades... more
New evidence has come to light that the vast, ice-encrusted oceans of Europa may be harboring Earth-like life that lives on the oxygen-rich waters. Time to plan your extraterrestrial fishing trip? Maybe.
Apparently, the oceans of Europa are fed with more than 100 times more oxygen than previous models suggested. According to National Geographic:
That amount of oxygen would be enough to support more than just microscopic life-forms: At least three million tons of fishlike creatures could theoretically live and breathe on Europa, said study author Richard Greenberg of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
"There's nothing saying there is life there now," said Greenberg, who presented his work last month at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences. "But we do know there are the physical conditions to support it."
In fact, based on what we know about the Jovian moon, parts of Europa's seafloor should greatly resemble the environments around Earth's deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, said deep-sea molecular ecologist Timothy Shank.
"I'd be shocked if no life existed on Europa," said Shank, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
So how does the oxygen get into the water? It's created when charged particles from Jupiter's magnetic field hit the ice. Because the icy surface of the moon is constantly shifting and cracking due to tides created by both the Sun and Jupiter's gravitational fields, the oxygenated ice would crumble down into the oceans. Eventually, this would result in oxygen-rich waters like those in our own oceans. And these could possibly support Earth-ish life.
As of yet, no space probes from Earth have penetrated Europa's ice crust to examine the seas below, but NASA has proposed another mission to place a satellite in orbit around the moon. (No, they would not be crashing the satellite into the moon itself.)
http://io9.com/5407716/scientists-say-jupiters-moon-europa-might-be-teeming-with-fishNew evidence has come to light that the vast, ice-encrusted oceans of Europa may be... more
There appears to be, to the surprise of planetary scientists, water, water everywhere on the Moon, but perhaps not many drops for future astronauts to drink.
Data from three spacecraft indicate the widespread presence of water or hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom as opposed to the two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms that make up a water molecule. The discoveries are being published Thursday on the Web site of the journal Science.
“It’s so startling because it’s so pervasive,” said Lawrence A. Taylor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a co-author of one of the papers that analyzed data from a National Aeronautics and Space Administration instrument aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 satellite. on the MoonThere appears to be, to the surprise of planetary scientists, water, water everywhere... more
China is developing the ability to limit or prevent the use of satellites by potential adversaries during times of crisis, the Pentagon said March 3 in a report to Congress.
The report, the latest in a series of annual assessments of China's military power, says Beijing views its efforts in space warfare as not only a practical advance of military power but also a boost to national prestige.
In space and other aspects of China's military modernization, the Pentagon stuck to its oft-repeated view that China's first priority is to build a broad-based capability to prevent Taiwanese independence. It said China's focus on space warfare is an important part of that Taiwan strategy.
"China further views the development of space and counter-space capabilities as bolstering national prestige and, like nuclear weapons, demonstrating the attributes of a world power," the report said.
China typically objects to the Pentagon's depiction of its military programs and policies. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the report. China is developing the ability to limit or prevent the use of satellites by potential... more