...the who's who,
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Copernical Team

Copernical Team

Thursday, 06 August 2020 16:24

ESA's 'first' satellite: COS-B

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ESA’s ‘first’ satellite: COS-B
COS-B was launched by NASA on behalf of ESA on a Thor Delta 2913 launch vehicle from the Western Test Range, California, on 9 August 1975. Credit: NASA/USAF

This weekend sees the 45th anniversary of the launch of Cos-B, the first satellite to be launched under the banner of the newly created European Space Agency, on 9 August 1975.

Cos-B was the first European mission to study and to be dedicated to a single experiment. The concept for Cos-B was first put forward by the European scientific community in the mid-1960s and approved by the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) Scientific and Technical Committee in 1969.

"Its mission was to map the sky, in particular the Milky Way, in the light of with energy greater than 50 MeV. Such gamma rays may be produced by (relativistic protons and electrons), interacting with the interstellar medium, starlight and magnetic fields," said Brian Taylor, the former ESA Cos-B Project Scientist.

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Cluster’s 20 years of studying Earth’s magnetosphere
This artist’s impression shows Earth’s bow shock, a standing shockwave that forms when the solar wind meets our planet’s magnetosphere. Credit: ESA/AOES Medialab

Despite a nominal lifetime of two years, ESA's Cluster is now entering its third decade in space. This unique four-spacecraft mission has been revealing the secrets of Earth's magnetic environment since 2000 and, with 20 years of observations under its belt, is still enabling new discoveries as it explores our planet's relationship with the Sun.

As the only planet known to host life, Earth occupies a truly unique place in the Solar System. The Cluster , launched in the summer of 2000, was designed and built to study perhaps the one main thing that makes Earth a unique habitable world where life can thrive. This one life-enabling thing is Earth's powerful magnetosphere, which protects the planet from the bombardment by cosmic particles but also interacts with them, creating spectacular phenomena, such as polar lights.

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NASA sounding rocket finds helium structures in sun's atmosphere
A composite image of the Sun showing the hydrogen (left) and helium (center and right) in the low corona. The helium at depletion near the equatorial regions is evident. Credit: NASA

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen. But scientists aren't sure just how much there actually is in the Sun's atmosphere, where it is hard to measure. Knowing the amount of helium in the solar atmosphere is important to understanding the origin and acceleration of the solar wind—the constant stream of charged particles from the Sun.

In 2009, NASA launched a sounding rocket investigation to measure helium in the extended —the first time we've gathered a full global map. The results, recently published in Nature Astronomy, are helping us better understand our space environment.

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Plainsboro NJ (SPX) Aug 03, 2020
Lithium, the silvery metal that powers smart phones and helps treat bipolar disorders, could also play a significant role in the worldwide effort to harvest on Earth the safe, clean and virtually limitless fusion energy (link is external) that powers the sun and stars. First results of the extensively upgraded Lithium Tokamak Experiment-Beta (LTX-b) at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princ
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Helsinki, Finland (SPX) Aug 07, 2020
Solar activity varies in 11-year cycles. As the activity cycle switches to a new one, the Sun is usually very calm for several years. For a long time, researchers have believed that there is not much of interest going on in the Sun during the passive period, therefore not worth studying. Now this assumption is showed to be false by Juha Kallunki, Merja Tornikoski and Irene Bjorklund, resea
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Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain (SPX) Aug 07, 2020
All the chemical elements in the universe, except for hydrogen and most of the helium, were produced inside stars. But among them there are a few (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus) which are particularly interesting because they are basic to life as we know it on Earth. Phosphorus is of special interest because it forms part of the DNA and RNA molecules and is a necessary element
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Boulder CO (SPX) Aug 07, 2020
Every night on Mars, when the sun sets and temperatures fall to minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit and below, an eerie phenomenon spreads across much of the planet's sky: a soft glow created by chemical reactions occurring tens of miles above the surface. An astronaut standing on Mars couldn't see this "nightglow" - it shows up only as ultraviolet light. But it may one day help scientists to bett
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Washington DC (UPI) Aug 07, 2020
The U.S. military on Friday awarded two new defense contracts worth billions of dollars to space launch companies United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, which won a four-way competition, defeating Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman. The contract award means ULA and Elon Musk's SpaceX will launch about three dozen national security missions from 2022 to 2026 - at a price tag of about $1 billi
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Russia's Soyuz for many years made it the only country able to ferry astronauts
Russia's Soyuz for many years made it the only country able to ferry astronauts

The head of Russia's space agency said Friday that Roscosmos wants to return to Venus and bring back soil samples and build spacecraft that will surpass Elon Musk's rockets.

Last week America's first crewed spaceship to fly to the International Space Station in nearly a decade returned safely to Earth, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico.

The mission was carried out jointly by NASA and Musk's SpaceX. Its Falcon 9 rocket is semi-reusable.

"We are making a methane rocket to replace the Soyuz-2," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with state news agency RIA Novosti.

He said it will be a reusable space complex, noting that it will be possible to use its first stage at least 100 times.

"Of course we are looking at what our American colleagues are doing," said Rogozin. "But our engineers are trying to take a shortcut—not to repeat what our SpaceX colleagues are doing but surpass them.

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Huge ring-like structure on Ganymede's surface may have been caused by violent impact
Credit: Tsunehiko Kato, 4D2U Project, NAOJ

Researchers from Kobe University and the National Institute of Technology, Oshima College have conducted a detailed reanalysis of image data from Voyager 1, 2 and Galileo spacecraft in order to investigate the orientation and distribution of the ancient tectonic troughs found on Jupiter's moon Ganymede. They discovered that these troughs are concentrically distributed across almost the entire surface of the satellite. This global distribution indicates that these troughs may be actually part of one giant crater covering Ganymede.

Based on the results of a computer simulation conducted using the "PC Cluster" at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), it is speculated that this giant could have resulted from the impact of an asteroid with a radius of 150km. If so, the structure is the largest impact structure identified in the solar system so far.

The European Space Agency's JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) mission, which will be launched in 2022 and arrive in Jupiter's system in 2029, aims to increase our knowledge regarding Jupiter's satellites, including Ganymede.

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