Archive for May, 2015

Credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

Credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

The United Arab Emirates’ UAE Space Agency will launch its official strategy and operational plan in Abu Dhabi on May 25.

The strategy puts in motion developing the space sector, creating space policy and regulation, and directing national space programs that will benefit the UAE’s economy and develop human capital.

Credit: UAE Space Agency

Credit: UAE Space Agency

Also to be staged in Abu Dhabi is a Global Space and Satellite Forum, to be held May 26-27. That event is hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center with the endorsement of the UAE Space Agency and aims to gather key regional and international stakeholders and decision makers from the space and satellite industry.

A major element of UAE Space Agency is to send a robotic space probe – called “Hope” — to Mars by 2021- the UAE’s 50th anniversary.

The UAE government has already invested 5.4 billion U.S. dollars in space technologies, and about 150 Emirati scientists and engineers will participate in the mission.

Science at Mars

The probe will create mankind’s first integrated model of the Red Planet’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will collect and send back to earth over 1,000 gigabytes of new Mars data. This information will be received in the Science Data Centre in the UAE through different ground stations spread around the world.

uae-68701 DUBAI MEDIA OFFICE

The spacecraft will carry to the Red Planet a suite of science Instruments:

— Imager: a digital camera that sends back high-resolution color images

— Infrared Spectrometer: to examine temperature patterns, ice, water vapor and dust in the Martian atmosphere

— Ultraviolet Spectrometer: to study Mars’ upper atmosphere and traces of oxygen and hydrogen further out into space.

Strategic partnership

In a related development, France and the UAE, the UAE Space Agency and the Centre National d’EtudesSpatiales, (the National Centre of Space Studies of France) also known as CNES, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a strategic space partnership between the two entities.

Credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

Credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

The agreement represents the UAE Space Agency’s first international Memorandum of Understanding with a foreign agency for partnership and cooperation in space.

For an informative video regarding the UAE Space Agency’s Mars mission, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHen3W3g0K0#t=22

Also, go to this special website:

http://www.emiratesmarsmission.ae/

The Optical Orbital Debris Spotter is capable of detecting debris with sizes as small as about 0.01 centimeters in the vicinity of a host spacecraft for near real-time damage attribution and characterization of dense debris fields.  Credit: Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

The Optical Orbital Debris Spotter is capable of detecting debris with sizes as small as about 0.01 centimeters in the vicinity of a host spacecraft for near real-time damage attribution and characterization of dense debris fields.
Credit: Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

Earth orbiting clutter comes in all sizes: upper stages to paint chips to small shards of spacecraft leftovers.

The number of human-made debris objects orbiting the Earth continues to increase at a worrisome rate, with objects smaller than one centimeter (cm) exceeding 100 million.

Put at risk from some high-speed flotsam are operating satellites and human-carrying vessels like the International Space Station.

Enter researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) that have received a U.S. patent for the Optical Orbital Debris Spotter. The small sensor can potentially provide additional data to complement existing debris models such as the Space Surveillance Network (SSN).

The Optical Orbital Debris Spotter is a compact, low power, low cost, local space debris detection concept that can be integrated into larger satellite designs, or flown independently on-board nano-satellite platforms.

Light sheet

According to a NRL press statement, the key idea of this concept is to form a permanently illuminated light sheet rather than scanning a beam. Doing so — to create a continuous light sheet – makes use of a collimated light source, such as a low power laser, and a conic mirror.

“When the flight path of an orbital debris object intersects the light sheet, the object will scatter the light, and a portion of that scattered light can be detected by a wide angle camera,” explains Christoph Englert, research physicist at NRL. Assimilating that data, the Spotter could divine the size, and shape information about the debris particle, he adds.

Clutter in the cosmos. Credit: Used with permission: Melrae Pictures/Space Junk 3D

Clutter in the cosmos.
Credit: Used with permission: Melrae Pictures/Space Junk 3D

Lots of litter

The Optical Orbital Debris Spotter would be a busy piece of equipment.

The SSN now tracks more than 16,000 objects orbiting Earth. About five percent of those being tracked are functioning payloads or satellites, eight percent are rocket bodies, and about 87 percent are debris and/or inactive satellites, notes NRL.

This newly patented idea is a small, stand-alone sensor system and could also be deployed within a debris cloud to provide in-situ measurements of debris density, distribution and evolution.

“Using a dedicated nano-satellite, or CubeSat, the system could be used for the gathering of more comprehensive debris field data,” Englert says.

These data sets could then be incorporated into global space tracking tools such as the Space Surveillance Network (SSN), NASA’s Orbital Debris Engineering Model (ORDEM), and the European Space Agency’s Optical Ground Station.

Up for grabs? Future use of asteroids. Credit: Texas A&M

Up for grabs? Future use of asteroids.
Credit: Texas A&M

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office has taken a look at House Resolution 1508 – the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015.

That bill would establish certain policies and guidelines regarding the development of space resources by nonfederal entities.

Existing international agreements authorize such activities under certain conditions, including requirements for national regulatory regimes to resolve liability, ownership, and operational issues.

The bill would create a domestic framework for assigning property rights for resources from asteroids and for settling any related legal disputes.

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1508 would cost about $1 million over the 2016-2020 period.

CBO anticipates that developing a policy framework for this nascent industry would require levels of expertise and effort similar to that of previously done studies by expert policy panels.

Go to:

http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/HR_1508.pdf

 

 

 

This image was taken by Curiosity's Navcam: Left B on May 20, Sol 990. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image was taken by Curiosity’s Navcam: Left B on May 20, Sol 990.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is wheeling about trying to deal with challenging terrain.

The rover team has decided to drive uphill to avoid crossing sandy ripples near Jocko Butte, explains Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity's Navcam: Left B snagged this scene on May 20, Sol 990. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s Navcam: Left B snagged this scene on May 20, Sol 990.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

As a member of the Mars Science Laboratory’s science team, Edgar explains on Sol 990, Curiosity drove over 170 feet (53 meters) back towards Mt. Shields.

“Hopefully the climb will give Curiosity a good workout,” Edgar adds, “and we’ll get to see some exciting features when we get there!”

After the drive the Mars machinery is set to acquire some standard imaging to help with future targeting.

 

 

This image was taken by Mastcam: Left onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on May 20, Sol 990. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This image was taken by Mastcam: Left onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on May 20, Sol 990.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

Curiosity has been wheeling and dealing with Mars since its landing in August 2012.

Curiosity Mars rover snapped this image from its Front Hazcam: Right B on May 19, Sol 989. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Mars rover snapped this image from its Front Hazcam: Right B on May 19, Sol 989.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Credit: ULA

Credit: ULA

 

This week the U.S. Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office is set to launch the fourth mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle – the military’s secretive robotic space plane.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Launch Readiness Review was completed yesterday and everything is progressing toward the AFSPC-5 launch for the Unites States Air Force – lofting the space plane into Earth orbit.

Weather improving

Previous mission photo shows launch processing of a Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. Credit: Boeing

Previous mission photo shows launch processing of a Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.
Credit: Boeing

The mission is set to liftoff on a ULA Atlas V rocket on Wednesday, May 20 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.Yesterday’s L-2 forecast has improved and now shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch period is 10:45 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. Eastern.

For a look at the political/policy discussion regarding the Air Force space plane, go to:

What Will the X-37B Military Space Plane Do on Its Next Mystery Mission?

by Leonard David, Space.com’s Space Insider Columnist

May 19, 2015 07:00am ET

http://www.space.com/29442-x37b-space-plane-fourth-mission.html

Also, check out the Atlas V AFSPC-5 mission overview video, posted here:

https://youtu.be/U5wQ-7WY-UY

A third mission of the Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle was completed on Oct. 17, 2014, when it landed and was recovered at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California following a successful 674-day space mission. The upcoming space plane flight – on the program’s fourth mission -- may land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Boeing

A third mission of the Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle was completed on Oct. 17, 2014, when it landed and was recovered at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California following a successful 674-day space mission. The upcoming space plane flight – on the program’s fourth mission — may land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Credit: Boeing

Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

A set of posters has been issued by Elon Musk’s SpaceX underscoring the company’s “belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not,” as their website explains.

SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars.

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, “with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.”

Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

 

 

 

 

Multi-planetary

Musk, as SpaceX’s CEO and Chief Designer, makes an argument for making life multi-planetary and going to Mars.

Go to this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndpxuf-uJHE

 

 

 

For a look at the SpaceX Mars posters, go to:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacexphotos/

Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

 

 

Curiosity image taken by the robot’s Front Hazcam: Left B on May 14,Sol 984. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity image taken by the robot’s Front Hazcam: Left B on May 14,Sol 984.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity rover is experiencing excessive wheel slippage. So much so that controllers of the Mars machinery are studying new driving tactics.

Also, the rover is tilted 21 degrees, “the highest tilt of the mission so far,” explains Ken Herkenhoff of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity is on the flank of a small ridge on the Red Planet. The vehicle is high enough on the ridge, Herkenhoff notes, that the terrain to the southwest is visible in rover images.

Image from tilting Curiosity rover, taken by Navcam: Left B on May 14 on Sol 984. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image from tilting Curiosity rover, taken by Navcam: Left B on May 14 on Sol 984.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

That new imagery will allow more complete evaluation of a traverse in that direction, he adds.

Autofocus software

A Sol 985 plan for Curiosity includes use of the Laser-Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and Micro-Imaging (ChemCam) instrument to observe a nearby rock called “Una” – to evaluate newly-installed ChemCam autofocus software.

“Of course we are hoping this test goes well and that ChemCam will return to more normal operations soon,” says Herkenhoff.

The rover’s Mastcam is also set to observe Una, as well as the ripples and small rocks near the rover, and outcrops toward the south.

Credit: International Space Business Council, 2015

Credit:
International Space Business Council, 2015

A new book offers the most in-depth source for understanding and finding a career in the space and satellite industry.

This book is designed for high school, college, and graduate students and job seekers of all ages.

It is my pleasure to announce the release of Space Careers, a completely-updated and revised version of the 1998 award-winning classic: Guide to Space Careers.

Fully-updated for 2015, the book is specially written for job seekers interested in the opportunities that the space and satellite industry present. Whether the reader is interested in satellite communications services, designing next generation rockets, planning future Mars missions, or monitoring the Earth’s environment, Space Careers will be a valued resource.

Career trajectory

Written by longtime space journalist Leonard David, entrepreneur Scott Sacknoff, and with a foreword from astronaut Buzz Aldrin, this award-winning book contains resources that enable the user to understand the varied activities of the industry so they can narrow and determine their areas of interest.

This guide helps you identify university programs and find scholarships and fellowships that can finance your career trajectory. It provides details on how and where to network, locate opportunities, and offers hundreds of profiles as well as links to industry organizations.

It does the work so you don’t have to.

But this book offers more than just a compilation of facts and data.

Valuable advice

Throughout the book you will find valuable advice to students and job seekers provided by leading industry professionals including Marillyn Hewson, the President & CEO of Lockheed Martin; Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA; as well as engineers, scientists, and businesspeople working in the field.

Space Careers is a resource that needs to be shared, read, and used by students, educators, and people working in the STEM/STEAM fields [Science, Technology, Engineering, [Art] & Mathematics]. With the space industry seeking to identify and entice the next generation of workers, companies and institutions, you’ll find this volume a valuable resource.

For more details including bios of the authors, the table of contents, and ordering information, please visit:

www.spacebusiness.com/careers

Space Careers

By Leonard David and Scott Sacknoff

Foreword by Buzz Aldrin

International Space Business Council, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-887022-19-4

Retail Price: $20 USD

Pages: 224, trade paper

Credit: ECN

Credit: ECN

The big space question of today: Can future generations ever be as excited about space as past generations?

To look for the answer, take in this episode of “Engineering Live” offered by Electronic Component News (ECN).

The premise of this video is that the 1960s were arguably the most fascinating time in the world of space.

According to ECN, Sputnik had been launched just a few years prior and the entire decade ended with the first Moon landing. So what happened?

Despite surges in enthusiasm during the Curiosity Mars rover landing and flashes of obsession with superstar astronauts on the International Space Station, ECN explains that the excitement has waned in generations born after the Space Race.

In certain circles, ECN contends, the final frontier is revered as the next great Wild West, but it’s barely discussed by the general public. So what happened to the enthusiasm for space exploration? How are future generations encouraged? What are the benefits to a strong space program?

Expert panel

Listen to these panelists, moderated by Kasey Panetta, Editor of ECN:

— Rebecca Spyke, Director of International Science & Engineering at The National Science Foundation

— Elizabeth Bierman, President of the Society of Women Engineers and senior project engineer at Honeywell Aerospace

— Mamta Patel Nagaraja, Science Communications, NASA Science Mission Directorate

Recorded on May 1st, go to:

http://www.ecnmag.com/videos/2015/05/engineering-live-what-happened-our-fascination-space-demand

NASA's Opportunity long-lived Mars rover used its Navigation Camera on Sol 4014 to image this feature. Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

NASA’s Opportunity long-lived Mars rover used its Navigation Camera on Sol 4014 to image this feature.
Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

 

NASA’s veteran Mars rover – Opportunity – is taking in a perplexing geological feature on the Red Planet.

An elongated, shallow crater dubbed “Spirit of St. Louis” has a rock “spire” within the crater. The rocky feature toward the far end of the crater is about 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) tall, rising higher than the crater’s rim.

The Spirit of St. Louis Crater is unusually shaped and lies on the outer portion of the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

 

 

Endeavour spans about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter, and Opportunity has been exploring its western rim for about one-third of the rover’s mission – which has lasted more than 11 years.

Opportunity has been on the prowl since early 2004.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Volcanic neck?

Regarding the strange spire, it has been named “Lindbergh Mound” since it is in the Spirit of Saint Louis Crater, said Ray Arvidson, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) deputy principal investigator at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Several hypotheses are open right now,” Arvidson told Inside Outer Space, such as a mound of secondary debris by ejecta from some crater.

On the Opportunity trail! Opportunity's traverse map through Sol 4000 Total odometry as of Sol 4003 is 26.25 miles (42.25 kilometers). Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/University of Arizona

On the Opportunity trail!
Opportunity’s traverse map through Sol 4000
Total odometry as of Sol 4003 is 26.25 miles (42.25 kilometers).
Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/University of Arizona

The feature could be a volcanic neck or spire, Arvidson said, or perhaps an odd erosional relict representing more resistant materials within the crater.

“All are open right now and we are doing measurements on outcrops in and on the rim of the crater to help sort them out,” Arvidson concluded.

Griffith Observatory Event