Week in images: 18 - 22 January 2021
Discover our week through the lens
TU Dresden's SOMP2b satellite will be lifted into orbit by SpaceX on January 22, 2021. It will be used to investigate new nanomaterials under the extreme conditions of space, to test systems for converting the sun's heat into electricity and to precisely measure the residual atmosphere around the satellite. SOMP2b will begin its journey around the Earth at an altitude of 500 km—slightly higher than the ISS space station. It will orbit the Earth in a special polar, sun-synchronous orbit, always flying over the TU Dresden ground station at approximately the same time of day and sending measurement data.
SOMP2b is a follow-up satellite to SOMP2, a nanosatellite jointly developed by students, Ph.D. candidates and scientists from TU Dresden's Faculty of Mechanical Science and Engineering. SOMP2b stands for Student On-Orbit Measurement Project 2b. It is 20 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm in size and weighs a little less than 2 kilograms.
The Sun's extremely hot outer layer, the corona, has a very different chemical composition from the cooler inner layers, but the reason for this has puzzled scientists for decades.
One explanation is that, in the middle layer (the chromosphere), magnetic waves exert a force that separates the Sun's plasma into different components, so that only the ion particles are transported into the corona, while leaving neutral particles behind (thus leading to a build-up of elements such as iron, silicon and magnesium in the outer atmosphere).
Now, in a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers combined observations from a telescope in New Mexico, the United States, with satellites located near Earth to identify a link between magnetic waves in the chromosphere and areas of abundant ionized particles in the hot outer atmosphere.
Lead author Dr. Deborah Baker (UCL Space & Climate Physics) said: "The different chemical compositions of the Sun's inner and outer layers were first noted more than 50 years ago. This discovery generated what is one of the long-standing open questions in astrophysics.
For the first time ever, a telecommunications satellite has used an iodine propellant to change its orbit around Earth.
The small but potentially disruptive innovation could help to clear the skies of space junk, by enabling tiny satellites to self-destruct cheaply and easily at the end of their missions, by steering themselves into the atmosphere where they would burn up.
For the first time, scientists have successfully used satellite cameras coupled with deep learning to count animals in complex geographical landscapes, taking conservationists an important step forward in monitoring populations of endangered species. For this research, the satellite Worldview 3 used high-resolution imagery to capture African elephants moving through forests and grasslands.
China's space tracking ship Yuanwang-5 completed its mission in the Pacific Ocean to monitor and ensure the launch of the Tiantong 1-03 satellite on Wednesday. China successfully launched the mobile telecommunication satellite at 12:25 a.m. (Beijing Time) on Wednesday. The satellite entered its planned orbit. As the only maritime monitoring site for the launch, Yuanwang-5 was respons
A group of international scientists, including an Australian astrophysicist, has used knowhow from gravitational wave astronomy (used to find black holes in space) to study ancient marine fossils as a predictor of climate change. The research, published in the journal Climate of the Past, is a unique collaboration between palaeontologists, astrophysicists and mathematicians - to improve th
A research team from the Skoltech Center for Design, Manufacturing, and Materials (CDMM) comprising 2nd year Ph.D. student Maxim Isachenkov, Senior Research Scientist Svyatoslav Chugunov, Professor Iskander Akhatov, and Professor Igor Shishkovsky has prepared an extensive review on the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies (also known as 3-D-printing) in crewed lunar exploration.