October 24, 2015

Mars Exploration Tech Showcased at NASA Innovation Expo (Source: Space.com)
The public got an unprecedented inside peek this month at some of the technologies NASA is developing to push humanity's footprint out into the solar system.

For the first time ever, NASA invited the public to attend its Innovation Expo, a traditionally employees-only event showcasing the work of agency engineers and scientists. This year's expo, which was held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Oct. 16 and Oct. 17, was designed to teach people how NASA aims to get boots on Mars by the end of the 2030s. (10/23)

Incoming Space Junk a Scientific Opportunity (Source: Nature)
Researchers call it sheer coincidence that a newly discovered piece of space junk is officially designated WT1190F. But the letters in the name, which form the acronym for an unprintable expression of bafflement, are an appropriate fit for an object as mysterious as it is unprecedented.

Scientists have worked out that WT1190F will plunge to Earth above the Indian Ocean on 13 November, making it one of the very few space objects whose impact can be accurately predicted. More unusual still, WT1190F was a “lost” piece of space debris orbiting far beyond the Moon, ignored and unidentified, before being glimpsed by a telescope in early October.

The object is only 1 to 2 metres in size, and its trajectory shows it is low-density, perhaps hollow. That suggests an artificial object, “a lost piece of space history that’s come back to haunt us”, says Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. (10/23)

China Plans to Launch CO2 Monitoring Satellite in 2016 (Source: Xinhua)
China is planning to launch the global carbon dioxide observatory satellite into space in 2016. Recently, all satellite payloads have finished the samples development. CO2-observatory satellite aims to establish ground-based data processing and verification system, make monitoring precision be better than 4ppm, and become feasible to monitoring carbon dioxide of world, China and other major regions. (10/23)

Space-Related Bills Await Action By Congress (Source: Space News)
Congress expects to take up several key pieces of space-related legislation in the next few weeks, from reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank to the final version of a commercial space bill, two House members said Oct. 21. Click here. (10/23)

Startup Vinsight Helps Wineries Estimate Crop Yield Using Satellite Imagery (Source: Space News)
U.S. farmers produce wine, table grapes, juice and raisins worth more than $5.8 billion annually, but many vineyard managers continue to estimate their output as they have for decades, by weighing individual fruit clusters and multiplying the results by the average number of clusters per vine and the average number of vines per acre. Vinsight, a Silicon Valley startup, is hoping to change that by offering farmers a way to estimate crop yield that combines satellite imagery with weather and ground sensor data. (10/23)

Satellite Operators’ 11th-hour Effort To Stop Wireless Industry’s Spectrum Grab (Source: Space News)
Several of the world’s largest commercial satellite fleet operators on Oct. 22 made an 11th-hour attempt to persuade global governments not to allow terrestrial broadband networks to use spectrum currently reserved for satellites. Current indications are that the satellite forces will come away with only a partial victory at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) gathering of some 160 governments, scheduled Nov. 2-27 in Geneva.

The key contested point for WRC-15 is C-band spectrum between 3.4 and 4.2 GHz, which is now reserved for satellite services and is heavily used especially in the developing world. C-band is still widely used in the most developed nations — mainly in the Northern Hemisphere — but its protection is not considered as much of a priority since higher frequencies, notably Ku-band, in recent years have replaced C-band for some services. (10/23)

Kepler Sees Mini-Planet Die as Earth-Like Planets Wait to be Born (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Researchers using NASA’s rebooted Kepler spacecraft, now known as the K2 mission, have discovered evidence of a small, rocky object being torn apart as it spirals around a white dwarf star. The finding supports a long-held theory that white dwarfs can vaporize possible remnant planets that have survived in its stellar system.

“We are for the first time witnessing a miniature “planet” ripped apart by intense gravity, being vaporized by starlight and raining rocky material onto its star,” said Andrew Vanderburg, a graduate student from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the paper published in Nature.

As stars similar to the Sun age, they expand into red giants and then begin to gradually nearly half of their mass, shrinking down to roughly the size of the Earth, approximately 1/100th of their original size. This dense, dead remnant of a star is called a white dwarf. (10/23)

US Expert Questions Ban on Russian Rocket Engine Purchases (Source: Space Daily)
The United States should immediately lift the ban on the purchases of Russian-made rocket engines "for strategic security purposes," according to The Diplomat magazine. In an article published by The Diplomat Magazine, US Defense expert Kent Johnson urged Washington to immediately revoke the ban on the purchases of Russian rocket engines in order to boost America's strategic security. (10/23)

Georgia County Appoints Members to Spaceport Subcommittee (Source: Parabolic Arc)
At the October 20, 2015 regularly scheduled Board of County Commissioners meeting, the Board of Commissioners, upon the recommendation of County Administrator Steve Howard, appointed nine additional committee members to serve on the Environmental Sub-Committee of the Spaceport Camden Steering Committee. (10/22)

Hackers Delight in Space Systems (Source: Reuters)
Satellite systems are "trophy attacks" for computer hackers, according to insurers. Growth in the industry and the entry of new companies developing satellites, or components for satellites, provides new opportunities for hackers seeking access to space systems. At the recent International Astronautical Congress, one European Space Agency official said it received electronic components "tampered with at a fundamental level" that could have made the satellites those components were installed in vulnerable to attack. (10/22)

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