Next Step: Pictures of Earth-Like Worlds (Source: Space.com)
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but when it's the
first ever image of an Earth-like exoplanet, a picture could be worth
far more. That's our goal at Project Blue. Ten years ago, scientists
didn't know if Earth-like planets were common in this galaxy.
"Earth-like" means planets that are made of rock (rather than being gas
giants) and orbit their stars in the "Goldilocks zone", where it's the
right temperature for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface.
What scientists would really like to know is whether all those
exoplanets are barren worlds, like Mars, or if some might be lush and
teeming with life, like the Earth. Our photograph won't answer that
question, but it will provide the first valuable clues and lay the
foundation for more detailed follow-up missions as imaging technology
By studying the light recorded in a visible image, we should be able to
determine if the planet has an atmosphere. Based on the color, we can
evaluate the composition of that atmosphere. For example, does it
contain oxygen and nitrogen, two compounds that are essential to life
on Earth? (12/18)
ULA Atlas Launches EchoStar at Cape
Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SPACErePORT)
United Launch Alliance successfully delivered the EchoStar 19
commercial telecommunications satellite to orbit in the year's final
launch at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The Atlas-5 launch vehicle
roared off the pad at Launch Complex 41 on Sunday afternoon. (12/18)
Senator Nelson Talks Space in
Tallahassee (Source: WTXL)
Senator Bill Nelson was in Tallahassee Friday to discuss, among other
things, the future of the space program. The future of space travel, a
topic near and dear to his heart, was not asked about, but the senator
made sure to mention it at the end. He said in the next 18 months or
so, we'll be putting Americans on American rockets going to and from
the International Space Station.
The long term goal Senator Nelson and NASA are looking forward to is
traveling to Mars. That's right, the mission to the red planet is
becoming less like science fiction and more of an attainable goal.
Right now, his eyes are set on the year 2033 when we hope to send
humans on a fly-by of Mars.
"To build all of the equipment, technologies and techniques to protect
humans all the way and come back is going to be one of the greatest
adventures that planet earth has ever done," says Senator Bill Nelson.
Even though that's still many years away, this is something that is
well underway. (12/18)
The Next-Generation Rockets That Japan
Could Use To Protect Itself (Source: Forbes)
Uncertainties about U.S. policy in Asia will affect the security
postures of allies in the region. Japan, for one, is going to tilt even
more toward its own national security space ventures. As the country’s
defense minister Tomomi Inada urged recently, the time is ripe for
Japan to reevaluate how best to protect itself.
At a practical level, space assets are going to loom large in any
reevaluations about protecting Japan’s security. Two are worth
watching, both of which I wrote about at early stages last year. As
2016 comes to a close, both have progressed and are worth a
reassessment in the new geopolitical context for Japan. Click here.
Japan Helping Newcomers to Space Get
Off the Ground (Source: Nikkei)
The Japanese government is looking to strengthen partnerships with
other countries in space exploration, particularly with those that are
relative newcomers. Areas of collaboration include looking for ways to
expand the aerospace market and providing training and technical
support. Japan hopes offering support to countries looking to develop
space programs will lead to new opportunities for Japanese space
startups and established aerospace companies. The ultimate goal is to
make Japan a larger and more powerful competitor in the industry.
In September, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency signed a
cooperation agreement with Turkey's Ministry of Transport, Maritime
Affairs and Communications that grants the country access to Japan's
experiment module Kibo at the International Space Station. Yosuke
Tsuruho, Japan's minister in charge of space policy, attended a signing
ceremony in the Turkish capital, Ankara, to mark the occasion. (12/17)
If an Asteroid Hits the Ocean, Does It
Make a Tsunami? (Probably Not) (Source: Seeker)
"An asteroid impact is a point source and it only affects the immediate
region around the impact point and moreover, to create a tsunami, you
need something that disturbs the entire water column," said Gisler.
He likens an asteroid ocean impact to throwing a rock into a pond.
Sure, the energy of the rock hitting the water will produce waves, but
the ripples are very dispersive. In other words, they lose their energy
very quickly. These dispersive waves in an ocean will be very localized
and won't have the energy that a tsunami does. "It's very different
physics," he added. (12/17)
That 'Mars' Look: Designer Draws on
Real Tech for Futuristic Spacesuits (Source: Space.com)
Like most of the technology featured in National Geographic's "Mars"
miniseries, the futuristic spacesuits worn by the Mars colonists are
based on realistic ideas conjured up by scientists and engineers today.
"Mars" tells a fictional story about the first humans to land on the
Red Planet in the year 2033. Though we have yet to send people to Mars,
researchers at NASA and other institutions have been working on
concepts for Mars spacesuits for more than a decade. Click here.
Big Space Reorganization Coming, House
Strategic Forces Chairman Mike Rogers Says (Source: Defense News)
Space, for US House Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers,
is the next frontier. The Alabama Republican told Defense News he plans
in 2017 to spearhead a major reorganization of the way the US
government manages space capabilities — yielding changes that are “very
disruptive” but ultimately positive.
“It will be very disruptive and that will make some people unhappy
because they don’t like change,” Rogers said. “I wouldn’t fool with it
if I was just moving the chairs around on the deck. We intend to have a
substantial effort. That’s why we have been taking our time.”
For months, Rogers and the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Jim Cooper,
of Tennessee, have been discussing with experts a 2015 report by the
Government Accountability Office that recommends a course correction on
space, Rogers said. (12/14)
The top 15 Events That Happened in
Space in 2016 (Source: Tech Crunch)
2016 was a big year for research and discovery in space. The year
started off with Caltech astronomers picking up the presence of a ninth
planet while researchers at LIGO were detecting gravitational waves for
the first time. NASA’s Juno spacecraft finally arrived in orbit around
Jupiter, and astronomers found the closest exoplanet to Earth. Blue
Origin showed off their suborbital rocket reusability skills and Elon
Musk revealed a plan to colonize Mars. Not to mention the huge
developments for SpaceX. These are the top events for space in 2016.
Your Space Company Sucks at Branding
The space industry is expanding massively and globally. Naturally, the
money pouring in from venture capitalists, governments, and wealthy
explorer-types has mostly gone toward engineers’ salaries, parts
purchasing, and liquid propellant. Branding has been of secondary
concern. Still, it matters. The NASA Graphics Standards Manual by
Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn is one of the hot gifts this
Christmas for a reason: Beautifully rendered ambition resonates across
decades and demographics.
If space companies have succeeded at making America look up again, they
have failed to craft a message so beautifully that it moves people.
Andrew Sloan wants to change that. A designer by trade, Sloan is now
the founder of Cosma Schema, a firm built to offer branding services
specifically to space companies and organizations. (12/16)
Trump Could Replace Obama's Asteroid
Catcher with a SpaceX-Backed Mars Mission (Source: Business
When Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20, there's a good chance he
could scrap one of President Obama's boldest visions for NASA: the
asteroid redirect mission, or ARM. ARM would ostensibly launch a
robotic probe to an asteroid in 2023, capture the space rock, and tow
it near the moon. Next, astronauts would ride NASA's shiny new Space
Launch System and Orion space capsule (which aren't finished yet) to
visit and dig into the asteroid sometime in 2025.
But ARM's slipping deadlines, ballooning costs, redundancy with the
recently launched asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx probe, and seeming
incongruence with the space agency's larger ambitions to send people to
Mars will almost certainly doom the mission, Eric Berger reported for
Ars Technica in February. (The Trump-friendly House Committee on
Science, Space and Technology also recently sent an unfriendly letter
about ARM to NASA, and it appears to be yet another presumed nail in
So what could a Trump-controlled NASA replace it with? Physicist and
former astronaut John Grunsfeld, who recently retired as the leader of
NASA's science mission directorate, is pitching a popular idea
involving a retrieving a sample of Martian soil. Grunsfeld's Mars
mission would send a satellite into Martian orbit and an uncrewed space
capsule to the surface. Though it stops short of involving astronauts,
it could check all sorts of boxes required to send people to the red
planet in the future. Click here.
Mars One Now Trading Publicly
(Source: Mars One)
Mars One is pleased to announce that it has secured an investment of €6
million from the Hong Kong based investment firm World Stock & Bond
Trade Limited. Mars One Ventures AG is now trading publicly at the
Frankfurt stock exchange. World Stock & Bond Trade Limited
spokesperson, Non-executive Director Torben Pedersen: “We know that
Mars One carries inherent risks and this will remain a challenge for
some time. However, we believe that the potential returns, if and when
the brand name takes hold, makes this an exciting investment
opportunity for us". (12/12)
Free Trade Deal With Europe a Serious
Cause for Concern for Canadian Space Industry (Source: SpaceRef)
Free trade agreements are by their very nature a means of increasing
trade between two or more countries. In the case of the Canada-European
Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the deal Prime
Minister Trudeau signed in Brussels on October 30th could have a
significant negative effect on Canada's domestic space industry.
Industry sources SpaceRef Canada spoke to are very concerned, with one
saying the deal appeared lopsided.
The problem is that suppliers in the European Union (EU) will have
access to the Canadian civil space tendering process for goods and
services, while there is little to no reciprocal access for Canadian
companies. EU suppliers will be limited to goods and services related
to satellite communications, earth observation and global navigation
satellite systems. (12/14)