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Arecibo Observatory

WASHINGTON — A proposal to replace the giant radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico with a new facility suggests it could be used for tracking space objects as well as for scientific research.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Space Command’s traffic watchers have been working with SpaceX and satellite operators in recent days in preparation for Transporter-1, a rideshare mission scheduled to launch Jan. 23 that could set a new record for the most satellites ever launched in a single flight.

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Magnetic waves explain mystery of Sun's outer layer
Credit: University College London

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 (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.

Week in images: 18 - 22 January 2021

Thursday, 21 January 2021 14:19
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Week in images: 18 - 22 January 2021

Discover our week through the lens

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ThrustMe's NPT30-I2-1U thruster installed on the Spacety Beihanghongshi-1 CubeSat. Credit: Spacety

HELSINKI — French startup ThrustMe has performed the first on-orbit tests of an innovative iodine-fueled electric propulsion system, proving its ability to change a CubeSat’s orbit.

SpaceX to send TU Dresden satellite into space

Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:57
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Countdown for science: SpaceX sends TU Dresden satellite into space.
Rendering of the Falcon-9 rocket upper stage during satellite ejection. Credit: Exolaunch GmbH, SpaceX

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.

ESA and EU mend relations

Thursday, 21 January 2021 12:26
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Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s director for Earth observation programs

WASHINGTON — After fraying relations in recent years, officials with the European Union and European Space Agency say they’re committed to rebuilding a more cooperative relationship on space programs.

Nanosatellite thruster emits pure ions

Thursday, 21 January 2021 09:58
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Boston MA (SPX) Jan 22, 2021
A 3D-printed thruster that emits a stream of pure ions could be a low-cost, extremely efficient propulsion source for miniature satellites. The nanosatellite thruster created by MIT researchers is the first of its kind to be entirely additively manufactured, using a combination of 3D printing and hydrothermal growth of zinc oxide nanowires. It is also the first thruster of this type to pro
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Moscow (Sputnik) Jan 22, 2021
NASA may cut its presence in Russia over the shrinking cooperation on the International Space Station, sources in the space and rocket industry told Sputnik. NASA currently has a central office in Moscow as well as its missions in the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center in Zvyozdny Gorodok, in the Mission Control Center in the Moscow Region and in the Institute of Medical a
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Bremen, Germany (SPX) Jan 22, 2021
The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus have agreed on service orders for two independent payload missions to be launched to the Bartolomeo payload hosting facility on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022 and 2024, respectively. The first payload mission is ESA's Exobiology Platform (EXPO). This facility carries a set of radiation experiments aimed at better understanding the e
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Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 22, 2021
Ingenuity, a technology experiment, is preparing to attempt the first powered, controlled flight on the Red Planet. When NASA's Perseverance rover lands on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, it will be carrying a small but mighty passenger: Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter. The helicopter, which weighs about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) on Earth and has a fuselage about the size of a tissue box, start
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London, UK (SPX) Jan 19, 2021
The satellite-enabled Care View application tackles social isolation and loneliness in urban areas by enlisting the help of an army of professional volunteers across a city, including police officers, postal workers and charity workers, who register on the app when they see signs people may be experiencing social isolation. The app provides a digital tool to help volunteers find people in need o
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Promontory UT (SPX) Jan 22, 2021
Northrop Grumman has conducted a validation ground test of an extended length 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) in Promontory. This variation of the company's GEM 63 strap-on booster was developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide additional lift capability to the Vulcan Centaur rocket. "This new motor optimizes our best-in-class technologies and le

A Hot Spot on Jupiter

Thursday, 21 January 2021 09:58
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Washington DC (SPX) Jan 22, 2021
This composite image shows a hot spot in Jupiter's atmosphere. In the image on the left, taken on Sept. 16, 2020 by the Gemini North Telescope, the hot spot appears bright in the infrared at a wavelength of 5 microns. The inset image on the right was taken by the JunoCam visible-light imager aboard NASA's Juno spacecraft, also on Sept. 16, during Juno's 29th close pass by Jupiter. Here, th

Solar system formation in two steps

Thursday, 21 January 2021 09:58
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Oxford UK (SPX) Jan 22, 2021
An international team of researchers from the University of Oxford, LMU Munich, ETH Zurich, BGI Bayreuth, and the University of Zurich discovered that a two-step formation process of the early Solar System can explain the chronology and split in volatile and isotope content of the inner and outer Solar System. Their findings will be published in Science (Friday 22 January 2021; under embar
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