February 24, 2016

Pulsar Web Could Detect Low-Frequency Gravitational Waves (Source: NASA)
The recent detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) came from two black holes, each about 30 times the mass of our sun, merging into one. Gravitational waves span a wide range of frequencies that require different technologies to detect. A new study from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) has shown that low-frequency gravitational waves could soon be detectable by existing radio telescopes. (2/24)

SpaceX Loses ViaSat-2 Contract (Source: Avion)
This month, ViaSa decided to change their launch provider from SpaceX to Arianespace. The company, which is working closely with Boeing to develop an ultra-powerful communications satellite named ViaSat-2, changed their launch provider due to the multiple delays encountered by SpaceX and their most recent launch vehicle, the Falcon Heavy.

ViaSat aims to launch their ViaSat-2 satellite in late 2016, which would have created an uncomfortably close test flight to commercial flight window for the Falcon Heavy. The Falcon Heavy, which had originally been planned to launch from Cape Canaveral in 2013, is now scheduled to take off in October of this year. (2/24)

Buzz About Future of Space Travel (Source: Lethbridge Herald)
At 86 years old, American astronaut Buzz Aldrin has spent the majority of his life looking out into space. More importantly, he has been finding ways for humans to get out there and stay there. He has developed a detailed plan to set up a permanent base on Mars. The plan, called “Cycling Orbit to Occupy Mars,” would involve expanding missions in stages and making use of cycler spacecraft that would perpetually orbit between Mars and Earth, with humans landing on Mars by 2035. (2/24)

Those 2 Colliding Black Holes May Have Been Born in a Giant Star (Source: Mashable)
The two black holes that sent out ripples in space and time as they merged were born in the belly of a giant star, new research suggests. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) caught sight of the two black holes colliding on Sept. 14, 2015, by detecting the gravitational waves — ripples in space-time — sent out by the merger.

At about the same time as the merger, the Fermi Space Telescope caught sight of a bright burst coming from the same part of the sky as the black holes. Gravitational waves are thought to be "dark" events, so finding any kind of bright burst associated with them is surprising, scientists say; however, researchers think they've found some kind of explanation for the burst.

When an incredibly massive star dies, its core can implode, becoming a black hole, but in some cases, if the star is spinning quickly the core can become two black holes instead. That may have been the case for the two 30-solar-mass black holes seen colliding by LIGO. (2/14)

It’s Preliminary: ULA Won’t Be Sanctioned (Source: Breaking Defense)
It’s not officially official, but the head of Pentagon acquisition, Frank Kendall, says the Treasury Department has not found any reason for sanctions to be applied against the United Launch Alliance. “The preliminary indications from Treasury (Department) are that they do not apply,” Kendall told reporters.

The possibility of sanctions agains the national security launch behemoth was raised by Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain is furious that Russia is benefiting from the American purchase of Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines. They are integral to the Atlas V system’s ability to loft huge satellite payloads into orbit with great reliability and at relatively reasonable cost. (2/23)

Iran Plans Next Satellite Launch (Source: Arms Control Wonk)
Iran appears to be preparing for a launch next week. A satellite image of the Imam Khomeini Space Center taken last week shows that a new launch site there has been completed, and that work appears to be underway to prepare for a launch. Iran has issued a notice to airmen closing off airspace in the area on March 1 and 2, which suggest those would be the days Iran will attempt a launch. The launch will likely involve a rocket called Simorgh launching the small Friendship Testing Satellite. (2/23)

3D Printer Considered for External Work on Space Station (Source: Space News)
A company developing 3-D printers for space has ambitious plans for in-space assembly. Made in Space is starting work with Northrop Grumman and Oceaneering Space Systems on a concept called Archinaut that would place a 3-D printer with a robotic arm outside the International Space Station. Archinaut will be designed to additively manufacture and assemble a large, complex structure, demonstrating the ability for in-space assembly and servicing of spacecraft. Archinaut is supported by a two-year, $20 million NASA contract. (2/23)

Out of 700 Quintillion Other Planets, Earth Might Be Totally Unique (Source: Science.Mic)
A new model of the universe suggests there could be as many as 700 quintillion other planets out there, and Earth doesn't look like any of them. This is huge news because it runs contrary to everything we know about our place in the universe.

To figure this out, a team of astronomers took the information we already know about exoplanets and the evolution of the universe and designed a model that simulated the past 13.8 billion years of our universe's existence. Of all the planets that formed inside the model, Earth sticks out like a statistical sore thumb. Click here. (2/24)

SpaceX Wins 5 New Space Station Cargo Missions Estimated at $700 Million (Source: Space News)
NASA's December award of five new space station cargo supply missions to SpaceX carries an estimated value of around $700 million. SpaceX's competitor, Orbital ATK, received no awards in what is likely the final mission selection before NASA moves to its CRS-2 contract, for which Orbital ATK, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp. have been selected as contractors.

It brings to 20 the number of missions now assigned to SpaceX under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract first signed in 2008. In contrast, the other company performing CRS missions, Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, has been assigned just 10 flights and was not part of the end-year orders. (2/24)

Search Narrows for Planet Nine (Source: Space Daily)
US astronomers announced last month they may have found a ninth planet beyond Neptune, but conceded they had no idea where on an estimated 10,000-20,000-year orbit it might be. On Tuesday, a French science quartet said they have narrowed the search area. By studying data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, the seventh planet from the Sun, they could exclude two zones, the team wrote in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The postulated planet is thought to circle the Sun in a lopsided, highly elongated, oval loop. At its most distant from the Sun, the planet would be too far too away for any effect on other planets to ever be detectable, thus limiting astronomers to a searchable zone representing only about half of the total orbit. Now Laskar and his team have reduced the search area by 50 percent by eliminating two zones in which they say the modelling does not match reality. (2/24)

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