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Oct 25, 2020

New Receiver Will Boost Interplanetary Communication

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

If humans want to travel about the solar system, they’ll need to be able to communicate. As we look forward to crewed missions to the Moon and Mars, communication technology will pose a challenge we haven’t faced since the 1970s.

We communicate with robotic missions through radio signals. It requires a network of large radio antennas to do this. Spacecraft have relatively weak receivers, so you need to beam a strong radio signal to them. They also transmit relatively weak signals back. You need a large sensitive radio dish to capture the reply. For spacecraft beyond the orbit of Earth, this is done through the Deep Space Network (DSN), which is a collection of radio telescopes custom designed for the job.

The only major crewed mission we currently have is the International Space Station (ISS). Since the ISS orbits only about 400 kilometers above the Earth, it’s relatively easy to send radio signals back and forth. But as humans travel deeper into space, we’ll require a Deep Space Network far more powerful than the current one. The DSN is already being pushed to its data limits, given the large number of active missions. Human missions would require orders of magnitude more bandwidth.

Oct 25, 2020

Space Force activates Space Operations Command in Colorado

Posted by in categories: military, space

Oct. 22 (UPI) — Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond established Space Operations Command during an activation ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado this week.

According to the Space Force, Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting will serve as commander of the new unit, which is mostly formed from former Air Force units 14th Air Force and Air Force Space Command.

At the ceremony Wednesday, Raymond and Whiting both talked about the decades of work that made the new organization possible, and the role of that history in preparing warfighters for space.

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Oct 25, 2020

Chernobyl fungus could shield astronauts from cosmic radiation

Posted by in categories: chemistry, nuclear energy, space

Will astronauts have fungi shields as protection against radiation in the future? 😃


When astronauts return to the moon or travel to Mars, how will they shield themselves against high levels of cosmic radiation? A recent experiment aboard the International Space Station suggests a surprising solution: a radiation-eating fungus, which could be used as a self-replicating shield against gamma radiation in space.

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Oct 25, 2020

The BepiColombo Probe Just Took a Ridiculously Close Video of Venus as It Flew By

Posted by in category: space

Two years after it left Earth, Mercury probe BepiColombo has completed the first of its first flybys of Venus. The manoeuvre is designed to give the spacecraft a boost on its journey — but it’s also too good an opportunity to pass up for a little science.

As it swung around the planet on a curved trajectory, BepiColombo gave its instruments a workout, testing their functionality for a taste of what the spacecraft will do in Mercury orbit and collecting some data on Venus – recently in the news for the discovery of phosphine gas in its atmosphere.

And the joint European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) probe took a whole lot of images, which the ESA compiled into a video of the flyby.

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Oct 25, 2020

The Elysium effect: The coming backlash to the billionaire ‘NewSpace’ revolution

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, Elon Musk, space

In the 2013 science fiction film “Elysium” starring Matt Damon, Earth’s wealthiest 0.01% move to the ultimate gated community, a luxurious orbiting space colony, leaving a poverty-stricken humanity to fend for themselves on a ravaged planet.

Interestingly, it is indeed some of today’s 0.1% who are leading the way into space to build communities beyond Earth. However, quite the opposite of the movie, their goals are of the highest order, from democratizing access to space by lowering costs, to creating new products and ideas, to helping save the planet and opening space to future generations.

Yet, given the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, social justice and green movements, even as entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson spend billions to support a human breakout into space, there is a backlash building that holds these projects as icons of extravagance — even as their work may help save the Earth. This is the “Elysium effect.”

Oct 24, 2020

Mars pole may be hiding salty lakes and life, find researchers

Posted by in category: space

Only a possibilty.


Researchers detect a large lake and several ponds deep under the ice of the Martian South Pole.

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Oct 24, 2020

SpaceX President talks about Starship & Starlink during the ‘TIME 100 Talks’

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, internet, space

TIME featured SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People of 2020’. SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 to make life multiplanetary. Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations at the aerospace company that aims to colonize Mars before the year 2050. She has a vital role in company growth. Under her leadership, SpaceX has accomplished launching the first NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft this year.

Oct 24, 2020

General Atomics and Boeing team up on high-energy laser weapon

Posted by in categories: energy, military, space

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) and Boeing have entered into a partnership to develop a scalable 100 kW to 250 kW-class High Energy Laser (HEL) weapon system for air and missile defenses.

Laser weapons have been high on the wish lists of major military powers ever since the first laser was invented by Theodore Maiman at the Hughes Research Lab, Malibu, California in 1960. With enough concentrated power to burn through steel, enough range to cover literally astronomical distances, an operating cost of a dollar a shot, and an unlimited number of shots so long as there’s power available, the laser looked like the so-called ultimate weapon – if it could be made practical.

Of the problems that have hampered laser weapon development over the past six decades, one of the biggest is how to properly cool a laser generator. This is important because weapon-grade lasers have an efficiency between 50 and 70 percent, with the leftover percentages being lost as heat that could shut down or damage the device.

Oct 23, 2020

NASA Is Losing A Portion Of Its Asteroid Sample

Posted by in categories: materials, space

NASA reports that it’s got a robust sample from the surface of the asteroid Bennu. There is one snafu; gaps in the collecting lid is causing some loss of the pristine material.

Oct 23, 2020

This white paint could reduce the need for air conditioning

Posted by in categories: solar power, space, sustainability

“We’re not moving heat from the surface to the atmosphere. We’re just dumping it all out into the universe, which is an infinite heat sink,” said Xiangyu Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who worked on this project as a Ph.D. student in Ruan’s lab.


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — What if paint could cool off a building enough to not need air conditioning?

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