Friday, October 26, 2012

Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts

Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts - NYTimes.com: "The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, underfunding and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews.

The looming gap in satellite coverage, which some experts now view as almost certain to occur within the next few years, could result in shaky forecasts about storms like Hurricane Sandy, which is now expected to hit the northeast seaboard early next week."

Glitch halts South Korea's third attempt at rocket launch

Glitch halts South Korea's third attempt at rocket launch | Reuters: "South Korea called off the launch of a space rocket on Friday after a glitch in the Russian-built booster halted preparations five hours before the scheduled lift-off.

It was South Korea's third attempt to put a satellite into orbit and comes after North Korea succeeded in launching a rocket in April that it said was carrying a satellite, only to abort the mission early in its flight.

Friday's failure also puts South Korea far behind economic rivals China, India and Japan.

South Korean officials at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) that is conducting the launch said Russian engineers had found a leak in the sealing while injecting helium gas into the first-stage booster."

Fomalhaut b regains planetary status

Fomalhaut b regains planetary status | TG Daily: "The nearby star Fomalhaut does host a massive exoplanet after all, say NASA scientists following a second look at Hubble data.

Back in 2008, astronomers announced that they'd discovered a planet, named Fomalhaut b, shrouded by dust as it orbited Fomalhaut some 25 light-years away.

More recent studies, though, have claimed that this interpretation is wrong. Based on the object's apparent motion and the fact that NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Telescope failed to detect it, they argue that the object is a short-lived dust cloud unrelated to any planet.

Now, though, NASA says that the original theory was probably correct."

Cassini Sees Huge Burp at Saturn After Large Storm

NASA - NASA Spacecraft Sees Huge Burp at Saturn After Large Storm: "NASA's Cassini spacecraft has tracked the aftermath of a rare massive storm on Saturn. Data reveal record-setting disturbances in the planet's upper atmosphere long after the visible signs of the storm abated, in addition to an indication the storm was more forceful than scientists previously thought.

Data from Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument revealed the storm's powerful discharge sent the temperature in Saturn's stratosphere soaring 150 degrees Fahrenheit (83 kelvins) above normal. At the same time, researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., detected a huge increase in the amount of ethylene gas, the origin of which is a mystery. Ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas, isn't typically observed on Saturn. On Earth, it is created by natural and man-made sources. "

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Secret X-37B Mini-Shuttle Launch Postponed

Brevard Times - Space: Secret X-37B Mini-Shuttle Launch Postponed: "The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), the Air Force's unmanned, reusable space plane, has been re-scheduled to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on November 13, 2012 due to a chamber pressure anomaly observed during the Delta IV medium configuration launch of a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) IIF-3 on October 4, 2012.

While the mission successfully placed the GPS satellite in a precise orbit, a lower than normal chamber pressure was observed on the Delta IV RL 10 upper stage engine.

Although the Atlas V that will launch OTV-3 utilizes a different model of the RL10 engine, ULA leadership and the Air Force have decided to postpone the currently schedule launch to allow an additional two weeks for the flight data anomaly investigation to progress to a point that will enable a thorough crossover assessment for the OTV launch to be completed."

European Robotic Mini-Space Plane Project Could Fly by 2020

European Robotic Mini-Space Plane Project Could Fly by 2020 | Space.com: "A European-built robot space plane could be soaring in orbit before the end of the decade if the program to develop it gains funding approval next month.

The Innovative Space Vehicle (ISV) would be Europe's civilian equivalent of the U.S. Air Force's unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a robotic miniature space shuttle that has flown on two missions since 2010. The unmanned space plane would be much smaller than the Air Force vehicle, however."

Frost on Mars? Curiosity uses its laser to probe mystery

Frost on Mars? Curiosity uses its laser to probe mystery (#PewPew) - latimes.com: "The Mars Curiosity rover, cozy at the sandy, windblown patch of ground called Rocknest, pulled out its laser late last week, aimed it at a target about 9 feet away and started zapping.

The goal? To find out whether frost accumulates on Mars' surface at night, according to Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"The idea was to take one measurement of Crestaurum at night and one during the day for comparison," the scientist and principal investigator for Curiosity's ChemCam instrument told the Los Angeles Times."