July 8, 2015

'Pac-Man' Spacecraft to Devour and Dispose of Space Junk (Source: NBC)
A Swiss research project plans to send a spacecraft into low-Earth orbit to "eat" a small satellite, as part of a campaign to clean up the increasing clutter in space. The CleanSpace One project at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne has been working on the problem of how to safely track, collect and dispose of satellites that have outlived their usefulness but aren't going to re-enter the atmosphere any time soon.

The team decided Monday on the "Pac-Man" technique: a spacecraft with a big conical net extending from the front that closes as soon as it gobbles up the satellite, like the iconic video game character chomping on a dot. Their target is a cubesat named SwissCube, only 4 inches to a side. (7/6)

What I Learned Watching SpaceX’s Rocket Explode (Source: Time)
By now, everyone knows the outcome of the story. On the morning of Sunday, June 28, SpaceX CRS-7 launched in spectacular fashion from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Just two minutes and 19 seconds into flight, the Falcon 9 rocket and cargo-laden Dragon capsule exploded above the Atlantic ocean, incinerating approximately 4,000 pounds of supplies to be delivered to the ISS. The cause remains unknown. Click here. (7/7)

Found: The First Stars in Creation (Source: Cosmos)
The Universe began with a brilliant flash but soon descended into darkness -- until finally, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the first stars flickered into life. Astronomers believe they have now glimpsed some survivors from this pioneering generation of stars. Click here. (7/7)

Boldly Going into Space for 1,000 Days Presents a Series of Health Risks (Source: Space Daily)
Space travel significantly alters our bodies. While we don't know exactly what the cumulative effect of several long journeys to space is, Padalka is at risk developing a range of health problems - including back problems, osteoporosis (brittle bones), cancer and damage to the nervous system.

Living on the Earth's surface, gravity constantly pulls our bodies downwards, keeping us firmly on the ground. Our muscles have to contract continuously to stand up against this gravitational pull or to lift objects. It causes us to get slightly shorter during waking hours. Gravity also pulls our blood down into our legs and our hearts have to work hard to pump oxygen-rich blood to our brains.

But our bodies are adapted to these conditions. In space, the lack of gravity has profound effects on the human body - and these effects are amplified the longer we stay in the low-gravity environment in space (known as microgravity). While in microgravity, astronauts will typically see their muscles waste away, their bones lose mineral density and their blood reduce in volume. Click here. (7/7)

Russia, India Cooperate on Space Exploration, Glonass Satellite System (Source: Space Daily)
Kravchenko, who also chairs the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Youth Council, singled out projects relating to the joint use of GLONASS and joint manufacturing of the system's encode/decode modules as areas of particular interest.

Designed to supplant the US Global Positioning System (GPS), the GLONASS network currently fields 28 satellites, 24 of which are operational. India has four navigation satellites known as IRNSS of its own. IRNS-1A, its first satellite, was launched in 2013. In 2015 the Indian Space Agency expects to launch an additional three satellites to round out its network. (7/7)

Plans Unveiled for Huge Space-Based Telescope (Source: Nature)
Astronomers released plans Monday for a giant space telescope that could be flown some time in the 2030s. The High Definition Space Telescope (HDST) would have a primary mirror up to 12 meters across, nearly twice the diameter of the 6.5-meter James Webb Space Telescope to be launched in 2018. HDST would, like Hubble, observe primarily at visible wavelengths of light.

The spacecraft would likely cost on the order of $10 billion for launch some time in the 2030s. Astronomers hope the plans spark discussion and win support for the concept before the next astrophysics decadal survey report, ranking priorities for future missions, is released in 2020. (7/7)

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