Launch of Europe’s fifth and six Galileo satellites

Credits: ESA

On 22 August, at 12:27 GMT/14:27 CEST, a Soyuz rocket launched Europe’s fifth and six Galileo satellites from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Rewatch the moment of launch here. These new satellites joined four Galileo satellites already in orbit, launched in October 2011 and October 2012 respectively. This first quartet were ‘In-Orbit Validation’ satellites, serving to demonstrate the Galileo system would function as planned.

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Ozone-Depleting Compound Persists, NASA Research Shows

Image Credit: NASA

NASA research shows Earth’s atmosphere contains an unexpectedly large amount of an ozone-depleting compound from an unknown source decades after the compound was banned worldwide. Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

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Releasing Cygnus (timelapse)

ESA Cygnus-1

Timelapse showing the Orbital Science’s Cygnus Orb-2 spacecraft departing from the International Space Station on 15 August 2014. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst set up a camera to shoot a series of photographs whilst he and his Expedition 40 colleague NASA’s Reid Wiseman operated the Station’s robotic arm to manoeuvre the visiting cargo spacecraft into position for release.  A couple of days later, Cygnus Orb-2 burnt up in Earth’s atmosphere during a destructive reentry.

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NASA’s RXTE Satellite Decodes the Rhythm of an Unusual Black Hole

NASA/Goddard

Astronomers have uncovered rhythmic pulsations from a rare type of black hole 12 million light-years away by sifting through archival data from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite.

The signals have helped astronomers identify an unusual midsize black hole called M82 X-1, which is the brightest X-ray source in a galaxy known as Messier 82. Most black holes formed by dying stars are modestly-sized, measuring up to around 25 times the mass of our sun. And most large galaxies harbor monster, or supermassive, black holes that contain tens of thousands of times more mass.

“Between the two extremes of stellar and supermassive black holes, it’s a real desert, with only about half a dozen objects whose inferred masses place them in the middle ground,” said Tod Strohmayer, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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Stardust Team Reports Discovery of First Potential Interstellar Space Particles

Image Credit: Andrew Westphal, UC Berkeley

Seven rare, microscopic interstellar dust particles that date to the beginnings of the solar system are among the samples collected by scientists who have been studying the payload from NASA’s Stardust spacecraft since its return to Earth in 2006. If confirmed, these particles would be the first samples of contemporary interstellar dust.

A team of scientists has been combing through the spacecraft’s aerogel and aluminum foil dust collectors since Stardust returned in 2006.The seven particles probably came from outside our solar system, perhaps created in a supernova explosion millions of years ago and altered by exposure to the extreme space environment.

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NASA’s Chandra Observatory Searches for Trigger of Nearby Supernova

Image Credit: NASA/SAO/CXC/R. Margutti et al

New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory offer a glimpse into the environment of a star before it exploded earlier this year, and insight into what triggered one of the closest supernovas witnessed in decades.

The data gathered on the Jan. 21 explosion, a Type Ia supernova, allowed scientists to rule out one possible cause. These supernovas may be triggered when a white dwarf takes on too much mass from its companion star, immersing it in a cloud of gas that produces a significant source of X-rays after the explosion.

Astronomers used NASA’s Swift and Chandra telescopes to search the nearby Messier 82 galaxy, the location of the explosion, for such an X-ray source. However, no source was found, revealing the region around the site of the supernova is relatively devoid of material.

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VIRGIN GALACTIC REACHES NEW HEIGHTS IN THIRD SUPERSONIC TEST FLIGHT

VIRGIN GALACTIC

MOJAVE, Calif. – Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, successfully completed the third rocket-powered supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). In command on the flight deck of SS2 for the first time under rocket power was Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay. Mackay, along with Scaled Composites’ (Scaled) Test Pilot Mark Stucky, tested the spaceship’s Reaction Control System (RCS) and the newly installed thermal protection coating on the vehicle’s tail booms. All of the test objectives were successfully completed.

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Launch of Maven Nov.18, 2013

IMG_6989HS

The $671 Million MAVEN spacecraft separated from the Atlas Centaur upper stage some 52 minutes after liftoff, unfurled its wing like solar panels to produce life giving power and thus began a 10 month .“We’re currently about 14,000 miles away from Earth and heading out to the Red Planet right now,” said MAVEN Project Manager David Mitchell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center at the briefing, after the 5,400-pound spacecraft had been soaring through space for barely two and a half hours.“The first trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) is set for Dec. 3,” added Mitchell. There are a minimum of four TCM’s to ensure that the majestic probe remains precisely.

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New Science, NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station Aboard Orbital-1 Mission

The Antares rocket

Another NASA commercial space partner officially has begun contracted cargo flights to the International Space Station. Dozens of new NASA investigations and other science experiments from across the country are headed to the station aboard Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Cygnus spacecraft as part of the agency’s commercial partnerships with U.S. aerospace companies.

The launch aboard Orbital’s Antares rocket took place from NASA’s Wallop’s Flight Facility in Virginia Thursday, at 1:07 p.m. EST.

The Orbital-1 mission began the company’s first contracted cargo delivery flight to the station through a $1.9 billion NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. Orbital will fly at least eight cargo missions to the space station through 2016.

“Today’s launch demonstrates how our strategic investments in...

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NASA’s MAVEN Mars orbiter set to launch on Nov. 18

maven_990

Ken Kremer - www.kenkremer.com for  space-site.com – 15 Oct  2013

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL, USA – MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission) is NASA’s next mission to Mars.   It is scheduled to lift off on Nov. 18, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, Florida on an Atlas V 401 rocket.  The 903 kilogram (2000 pound) probe will arrive at the Red Planet in September 2014 after a 10 month interplanetary voyage.

It is the first spacecraft from Earth devoted to investigating and understanding the upper atmosphere of Mars. The purpose is determining how and why Mars lost virtually all of its atmosphere billions of years ago and what effect that had on the climate.

“MAVENS’s goal is determining the composition of the ancient Martian atmosphere and when it was lost, where did all the water ...

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