July 6, 2015

Hidden Black Holes Found (Source: ITV)
Astronomers have discovered several supermassive black holes previously hidden from view. The five black holes, detected at X-ray wavelengths by NASA's NuSTAR spacecraft, had eluded observation previously because they were hidden within large clouds of dust and gas. The discovery means there may be many more such black holes, each with masses millions of times that of the sun, than previously thought. (7/6)

Ukraine Seeks Continued Space Industry Role (Source: Space Digest)
In July representatives of Ukrainian space industry will take part in US-Ukraine Business Forum in Washington, D.C, and meeting with colleagues from the European Space Agency (ESA) in ESTEC center, the Netherlands. Will those events mean start of a new era for the country's space sector?

An insight of latest Ukrainian space companies' ambitions, including development of powerful LOx-kerosene rocket engine, to be used as a replacement of Russian RD-180s in the USA and on new Ukrainian Mayak family of launchers, plans to become ESA member state, and a Paris Air Show afterwards' review. (7/6)

SpaceX Failure Not Likely to Slow Launches for Long (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
SpaceX's rocket explosion last week may only briefly slow the company's ambitious launch schedule at Cape Canaveral but it could also give a boost to its competitors, experts say. Most analysts believe SpaceX will rebound more quickly, figure out what went wrong, fix it and be launching more Falcon 9s from Cape Canaveral sometime this year.

SpaceX, however, already has postponed a planned August launch. Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, cautioned that the root cause of the explosion still must be determined but said SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has built an efficient company. The Space Coast might see only a three- or four-month lag in SpaceX launches, said Marco Cáceres, a senior space analyst at the Teal Group, a Virginia-based aerospace research firm. (7/5)

Four Sticking Points to a GOP Defense Deal (Source: The Hill)
House and Senate defense committee leaders are set to face off in closed door talks in the coming days over a Pentagon policy bill that could have broad implications for the country. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the two Armed Services Committee chairmen, will lead the sides in hashing out major differences between their bills in hopes of getting a final measure to the president's desk by mid-July.

One sticking point is the use of Russian rocket engines by ULA. The Senate bill would limit the Pentagon to use no more than nine rockets with Russian-made engines, while the House's version would allow the use of up to 14. McCain, who has been a vocal critic of Moscow, has vowed to end reliance on the Russian-made engines by 2019, but the Pentagon has argued that could create a gap in the U.S. military’s ability to launch missions. (7/5)

Spain's PLD Space Aims for Microsatellite Launch Market (Source: PLD Space)
PLD Space of Spain unveiled teaser trailer of its Propulsion Vertical Test Stand 1 (VTC-1), located at Teruel Airport. The company conducted last week two hot-fire tests of NetonVac-1 engine, to be used on Arion family of SmallSat launchers. Click here. (7/6)

World Next Door (Source: Aeon)
Our understanding of the fundamental nature of reality is changing faster than ever before. Gigantic observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope on the Paranal Mountain in Chile are probing the furthest reaches of the cosmos. Meanwhile, with their feet firmly on the ground, leviathan atom-smashers such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) under the Franco-Swiss border are busy untangling the riddles of the tiny quantum world.

Myriad discoveries are flowing from these magnificent machines. You may have seen Hubble’s extraordinary pictures. You will probably have heard of the ‘exoplanets’, worlds orbiting alien suns, and you will almost certainly have heard about the Higgs Boson, the particle that imbues all others with mass, which the LHC found this year. Click here. (7/5)

Early Titan Was a Cold, Hostile Place For Life (Source: Space Daily)
Titan is a mysterious orange-socked moon of Saturn that is exciting to astrobiologists because it has some of the same kinds of chemicals that were precursors to life on Earth. It also has a hydrological cycle that allows liquid to move between the ground and atmosphere, providing a cycle that could support life.

Its atmosphere is 95 percent nitrogen, but it also has a tad bit of methane, predominantly close to the surface. The methane is important because it contributes to a slight greenhouse effect on the moon, although its average temperature is still a frigid -292 Fahrenheit. Yet without this greenhouse effect, the methane would freeze at the surface and make it difficult for any life that might be present to survive.

What produces the methane on Titan is a mystery. On Earth it comes from biological processes and volcanoes, among other sources. Titan's methane is thought to be less than a half billion years old, leading astrobiologists to wonder what Titan's atmosphere looked like early in its history when there was little to no methane present. Could it reflect what Earth might have looked like earlier in our planet's history before life arrived? (7/5)

Philae Comet Could be Home to Alien Life, Say Top Scientists (Source: Guardian)
The comet landed on by the spacecraft Philae could well be home to an abundance of alien microbial life, according to leading astronomers. Features of the comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, such as its organic-rich black crust, are most likely explained by the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface, the scientists have said.

Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange clusters of organic material that resemble viral particles. Neither Rosetta nor Philae are equipped to search for direct evidence of life after a proposal to include this in the mission was allegedly laughed out of court. (7/5)

Russia to Launch Large-Scale Space Projects With China (Source: Space Daily)
The joint Russian-Chinese talks entailed implementing joint projects in the field, as well as the willingness to synchronize mutual hardware platforms and technological interfaces. "The Chinese side expresses interest in collaborating to create manned Lunar exploration infrastructure," Denis Kravchenko, deputy general director of the United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC), said.

Plans to set up an aerospace alliance to conduct joint manned space missions, including to the Moon, emerged late last month. In April, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced plans to create a permanent manned Lunar station in collaboration with China. (7/5)

Targeted LEDs Could Provide Efficient Lighting for Plants Grown in Space (Source: Space Daily)
A Purdue University study shows that targeting plants with red and blue LEDs provides energy-efficient lighting in contained environments, a finding that could advance the development of crop-growth modules for space exploration.

Research led by Cary Mitchell, professor of horticulture, and then-master's student Lucie Poulet found that leaf lettuce thrived under a 95-to-5 ratio of red and blue light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, placed close to the plant canopy. The targeted LED lighting used about 90 percent less electrical power per growing area than traditional lighting and an additional 50 percent less energy than full-coverage LED lighting. (7/5)

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