Japan Is Trying to Regain Control of Its X-Ray Satellite

Everyone knows by know that Japan’s Astro-H “Hitomi” satellite is in big trouble, as the JAXA space agency has officially lost contact with it on Saturday. The team is still trying to figure out what happened to this incredibly expensive piece of tech, and early reports from the US Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center seem to indicate that some of its parts might have actually broken off. A little while ago, scientists have received intermittent signals from this satellite, which suggests that it is not completely dead. Unfortunately, an amateur video shot by an astronomer named Paul Maley shows the $360 million X-ray telescope-equipped craft as it floats uncontrollably through space. Things are not looking good for Japan right now, that’s for sure.

Since the video footage shows the satellite flickering as it passes through the field of view, it’s likely that we’re dealing with a craft that is spinning and reflecting light off of its solar panels in the process. Maley has spoken to National Geographic about the footage and explained that these variations in brightness indicate that the craft “is not controlled and that some event caused it to begin its rotation.” You can have a look at the video in question below.

Japan Loses Contact with Hitomi Space Telescope

Only a month after the launch of their newest ASTRO-H X-ray telescope, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have reported that contact has been lost with the satellite. Currently, engineers at JAXA are working on reestablishing contact with the telescope but the reason for it going dark is unknown.

The ASTRO-H satellite was launched from Tanegashima Space Centre on the 17th of February and upon successfully achieving orbit, was given the name Hitomi, which means “Eye”. Hitomi seemed to be successfully up and running initially, having passed its system checks and was beginning to deploy equipment. Unfortunately, by the 26th of March, JAXA had reported a communications failure with the satellite, stating only that “While the cause of communication anomaly is under investigation, JAXA received a short signal from the satellite, and is working for recovery.”

“Under this circumstance, JAXA set up emergency headquarters, headed by the President, for recovery and investigation. The headquarters held its first meeting today, inand has been working for recovery and the investigation of the cause.”

According to the US Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), who specialize in tracking large orbital objects, Hitomi broke up partially on the 26th of March, but no further details were given. This could be critical, or simply some of the satellite’s components becoming separated from the main unit.

On the Visual Satellite Observers mailing list, Texan astronomer Paul Maley reported that he had managed to track the telescope a day after contact was lost and recorded that it was spinning in a full rotation every 10 seconds. As the satellite is supposed to be in a stable orbit, this is not a good sign, and the rotation would make the communication array unable to send and receive signals until the orbit is stabilized.

There are a number of possible causes for Hitomi’s current situation, and while none of them are yet confirmed, JAXA is working around the clock to re-establish contact with the telescope and determine the cause of this issue.

European Mars Mission to Launch on Monday

The first phase of the joint venture between the European Space Agency and Russia, known as ExoMars is expected to be launching on Monday 14th of March. The launch will take place at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with a Proton-M rocket responsible for carrying the scientific payload onto a trajectory to Mars.

This mission will be to launch the Trace Gas Orbiter, which will hold an orbit around Mars in order to analyse the trace elements of the Mars’ atmosphere as well as deploying an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, named Schiaparelli. Despite the initial launch taking only 10 hours to place the TGO on its path to Mars, the satellite will then have to travel for seven months before reaching the red planet.

On the 16th of October, three days before arrival, Schiaparelli will be launched from the TGO, which has the dual duty of carrying scientific instruments to the surface of Mars, but more importantly, to provide data on the module’s performance during entry, descent and touchdown, with no assurance that it will survive the landing on October 19th. The data collected by Schiaparelli will be used to develop the landing module for the ExoMars rover which is expected to launch in 2018.

After detaching Schiaparelli, the TGO will spend almost a year positioning itself into a circular orbit around Mars at a height of 400km. It will then set about cataloguing the gasses of Mars, taking a special interest in those making up less than 1% of the planet’s atmosphere, including methane, water vapour, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide. Special interest is placed on methane, which is unexpected to be in Mars’ atmosphere at all which makes the source of the gas all the more useful to discover.

This mission is crucial to understanding more about the red planet, with the results of its analysis bringing us one step closer to putting humans on Mars. Like many space launches recently, this one will be live streamed by the ESA the launch from 8:30 AM GMT, 1 hour ahead of the projected launch time of 9:30 which will doubtlessly prove interesting to any space fanatics out there.

Reflective Russian Satellite to be Brightest ‘Star’ in the Sky

When you look up at the night sky, the brightest thing you will see is likely to be the Moon. However, a team of Russian engineers want to ensure that the second brightest object isn’t just any other star billions of miles away, but a man-made object!

After reaching their fundraising goal, the team look to launch a satellite that will have no other purpose than to glow brightly. The object is no bigger than a bread bin, but once it is in orbit, it will open up into a pyramid shape of reflective surfaces. The object will stay in a sun-synchronous orbit of 370 miles above the Earth, ensuring it is always in the sunlight, giving it the ability to outshine any other star in the Sky. Unfortunately for the team, not everyone is happy about their project.

While they hope to inspire that anyone can achieve a goal of doing space-bound projects, by giving people something to wonder about when they look up at the sky as it floats around in space, many scientists are concerned that it will cause too much light pollution. While using telescopes and other technologies to view real stars and other space-bound objects, light pollution is a big problem and effectively turning on a big light up there could hinder some scientific efforts.

“We want to show that space exploration is something exciting and interesting, but most importantly that today it is accessible to everybody who is interested,” said project leader Alexander Shaenko to Sputnik News.

There’s not too much concern, though, as the $20,000 project is only said to last for a few weeks, although if their goal is a success, it could inspire others to do the same in the near future. Personally, I can’t wait to see it, it’s a cool idea and hopefully it will give off the right message and encourage people to look up and wonder about the universe, if only for a moment.

Facebook Is Mapping the World With AI

These days having a social media presence is up there alongside having a driving license or passport, for everything from seeing your friends get new jobs and houses to checking out potential employers (or being checked out by a potential employer). Facebook is keen to do a lot in the new year, and its made its first step by mapping where people live using AI.

The social network has been mapping the world using artificial intelligence, scaning satellite images and using it to identify where human-built structures are. While an impressive sight, the tool is designed to be useful as well, with the hopes that it could help them deploy their internet streaming drones.

Facebook though isn’t just ending it there, with hopes that it could be used for everything from “socio-economic research” to “risk assessment for natural disasters”.

The results of the scans are shown below, showing just how accurate the AI is at picking out what a human being would struggle to spot from an image.

In their blog post, Facebook stated that they have now analyzed 20 countries with a total of 21.6 million square kilometers. The total size of these images is a whopping 350TB of data,

If this wasn’t enough, Facebook announced they will be releasing the data to the general public later this year, meaning that everyone from you and me to Universities and Governments can use it to help with anything from figuring out a nice quiet neighborhood for a party to a nicely populated town to retire in.

JAXA to Launch Astro-H X-Ray Satellite

This Friday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be launching their new X-Ray observatory satellite into space, where it will observe space phenomena such as black holes and galaxy clusters. This is the sixth of its kind to be launched by JAXA and will be carrying a number of scientific tools and monitors along with it, with monitors able to detect X-rays as many as 10 times fainter than predecessor satellite, Suzaku.

The main instrument equipped aboard Astro-H is the Soft X-Ray Spectrometer (SXS), fitted with a “microcalorimeter.” Built in cooperation between Goddard and a number of Japanese research institutions, the spectrometer will make use of the addition in order to detect and measure the colours of X-rays. Two other SXS telescopes will also be aboard, equipped with NASA Goddard built mirror assemblies designed to pick up on X-rays as weak as 300 electron volts. These mirrors work in concert with the other onboard instruments, one dedicated to directing light into a wide-field camera in order to record images and the other directing light into the SXS devices, which are required to be kept at -459.58 degrees Fahrenheit due to cooling from liquid helium.

Joining the Soft X-Ray instruments, Astro-H also carries an array of Hard X-Ray imagers with a detection range of 5 to 80 KeV. The last of the tools is a pair of Soft Gamma-ray Detectors (SGDs) which add coverage of low energy gamma-rays to the imaging suite. These SGDs are capable of recording in the energy range of 60 to 600 KeV.

During its lifespan, Astro-H will be dedicated to finding and imaging materials entering black holes and other high-energy and X-ray emitting phenomena. With black holes currently making headlines, it will be fascinating to see what this new observatory will allow astronomers to discover and further unravel the mysteries of the universe. The launch will even by live streamed on Youtube by JAXA, which is currently scheduled to be at 5:45-6:30 p.m JST (08:45 GMT) for those avid space fans.

Image via NASA/JAXA

ViaSat Plans Terabit Cabable Internet Satellites

High-speed internet is becoming more and more accessible to the world, from brand new fibre networks to expanding coverage of mobile data network. Some places on the planet are still denied these high-speed connections. Many companies are planning to eliminate these internet blackspots by making use of internet satellites, but few can offer the capabilities of ViaSat’s newly announced ViaSat-3, each being able to deliver bandwidth of over 1 terabit per second.

The planned deployment of the ViaSat-3 come as part of ViaSat’s team-up with established aerospace giant Boeing. Between the two, they currently plan to launch three of the new satellites, which together will be able to deliver twice the total capacity of all network satellites already in orbit. Two out of the three planned ViaSat-3 units are already in development too, with ViaSat to design and develop the payload and Boeing to produce the “associated satellite bus platforms” with the first planned to be launched as soon as 2019.

When deployed, the ViaSat network aims to provide internet connectivity up to 100Mbs to residential properties and gigabit bandwidth available to commercial companies including the maritime and oceanic sector as well as oil and gas platforms. This effort will deliver affordable internet to the millions of people living in remote parts of the world that leave them beyond the reach of traditional networks. The first two of the three satellites will cover the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa with the third dedicated to serving Asia.

They are far from the only way to provide the internet to isolated locations, with other companies pitching drones and balloons as other methods of delivering connectivity, all of which (including satellites) are subject to the whims of nature. But internet providing satellites are nothing new, especially for ViaSat, whose existing 140 gigabit serves over half a million subscribers in the US. Regardless of who achieves it and by how it is certain that the world of the future will allow everyone to be more connected than ever.

China Launches its Most Advanced Disaster Prevention Satellite

2015 has been a good year for the space industry across the world and now China have closed out the year with a landmark launch of their own. Today they successfully launched the Gaofen-4 satellite as part of the country’s high-definition Earth observation project.

Gaofen-4 was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Chinese province of Sichuan. The launch took place on the 29th of December at 00:04AM local time. Carrying the satellite into orbit was a Long March-3B carrier rocket. According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), this is the 222nd launch of a Long March family rocket, which have been in operation since the 1970s and the 19th mission this year.

The successful launch of Gaofen-4 is a significant step in China’s HD Earth observation project, as it has unique capabilities as China’s first geosynchronous orbit HD optical imaging satellite, featuring visible light and infra-red staring optical imager with a common optical system. Gaofen-4 differs greatly from the Gaofen-1 and -2 satellites, which both hold low orbits of 600-700km from the earth, which 4 will orbit as far as 36,000 km away in a geosynchronous orbit. It is due to its advanced imaging systems that it can be placed at a distant orbit, without issue, reportedly being able to spot oil tankers in the sea with its optics. The purpose of the data gathered by Gaofen-4 can be applied in a number of ways, including disaster prediction and monitoring, weather prediction, agriculture monitoring and even national security. This isn’t the end of China’s satellite endeavors either, as Gaofen-4 is only the third satellite of seven planned to be launched by 2020.

We can only hope that the space agencies around the world continue their efforts into 2016, as if they can continue to top 2015, the future is bright for the myriad of space projects.

Image credit to Xinhua/Yue Yubin

NASA Wants to Install a Robot on an Asteroid and Push into Orbit around the Moon

NASA has unveiled its ambitious plan to collect a massive space rock, attach a robotic space craft, and move the rock into orbit around the Earth’s moon. The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), planned for some time during the 2020s, will allow astronauts to explore the surface of the rock and return with samples.

“NASA has identified multiple candidate asteroids and continues the search for one that could be redirected to near the moon in the 2020s,” the announcement on NASA’s website reads. “Since the announcement of the Asteroid Initiative in 2013, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program has catalogued more than 1,000 new near-Earth asteroids discovered by various search teams. Of those identified so far, four could be good candidates for ARM. Scientists anticipate many more will be discovered over the next few years, and NASA will study their velocity, orbit, size and spin before deciding on the target asteroid for the ARM mission.”

While the mission is intended as a primer for NASA’s proposed future voyages to Mars, one of the engineer who is working on ARM has drawn comparison with a celestial object from a galaxy far, far away. “It could provide the metals,” Brian Muirhead, Chief Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is working on the ARM project, told Wired. “You have organic compounds, you have water—all the building blocks you would need to build your family Death Star.”

Australia to Look at Hi-Tech Anti-Shark Methods

We’ve seen the films, the ones with the giant sharks coming up to the beach or the boat. It’s a natural fear, and one that Australia has dealt with for many years, New South Wales has over a dozen shark attacks which has resulted in Australia looking at new ways to deterring the predators from their beaches.

With the announcement of $16 million AUD (around £7.57 million) in the area of shark mitigation strategies over the next five years, with $3.5 million being dedicated to shark spotting techniques. Aiming to replace the helicopters currently used for the task, drones and sonar buoys could soon be used to provide advance warning of the threat and would send texts to nearby lifeguards giving them time to evacuate people from the water.

Alternatives have included tagging sharks and mapping their locations, giving you live updates on when the creatures approach the beaches. Sadly though this option has been put on the back burner due to the need to tag every single shark, a task that is a little against the numbers.

With advancements in technology and reductions in cost, anti-shark drones and buoys are now viable for large scale projects and with several prototypes and areas marked out for testing we could soon see them in action.

Largest Plane on Earth Will Be Airborne as Early as Next Year

Meet Stratolaunch, the largest plane on Earth! Codenamed the “Roc” after the mythical bird of prey, this ‘beast’ looks to be a true king of the sky. In terms of size, it is said to be 65 feet wider than the “Spruce Goose” H-4 Hercules and 95 feet wider than the spaceship-carrying Soviet Antonov An-225, so you can imagine how small you may feel when next to it.

In addition to the size, the “Roc” boasts six Pratt & Whitney jet engines, 28 landing gear wheels and a 385 foot wingspan. But the plane was not made to enter the Guinness record book. Microsoft’s co-founderm Paul Allan, is the guy behind the project and he aims to make the “Roc” the next big alternative to launching rockets into space.

The plane is able to hold a three-stage rocket between its fuselages, as shown in the picture above, which can then be launched at extremely high altitude and detatch its payload into space. So why is this helpful? Well, think about weather conditions. Having to launch a satellite from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere takes away a lot of unwanted variables, so it makes it easier and somewhat safer to launch from up above the clouds.

This is why Stratolaunch was designed so big and massive, weighing in at 1.3 million pounds (including the rocket). But will it do what is expected of it? We won’t know until they do the test runs, which are said to begin as early as next year. If they prove to be a success, Stratolaunch’s first mission is said to be planned for 2018. Until then, here’s a simulation of how the plane and rocket launch should take place. Enjoy!

Thank you Yahoo! for providing us with this information

CleanSpace One to Use Pac-Man Approach for Cleaning the Atmosphere of Debris

CleanSpace One, the project involved in finding a solution for cleaning up our atmosphere, was tasked to find the most efficient way of getting rid of the old SwissCube satellite. Together with students from the University of Applied Science in Geneva, they came up with a radical idea to do just that.

Before finding a suitable approach, a lot of solutions span from articulated arms with claws to tentacles. However, it is hard to find a solution to get the cleanup satellite to actually see the debris. There are a lot of things to take into account when searching for debris in space, such as the angle of illumination of the Sun, physical data from the satellite, relative speed at which it is moving, etc.

Given the above, the scientists are still testing the visual algorithm to perfect it. In the meantime, the students came up with the most radical idea for the satellite’s design, which is supposed to be similar to how Pac-Man interacts in the game. This means that the system will be made out of a cone-shaped net, which opens and closes once the debris are in the cage.

The CleanSpace One project plans to launch the cleanup satellite in early 2018 and things already look promising. The development and capture system are said to have passed the prototype test, having the project move to the first engineering model tests.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information

SpaceX to Launch Worldwide Internet Network of 4,000 Satellites

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, has submitted a formal request to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to launch a 4,000-strong fleet of satellites to provide internet coverage to the entire world. Musk first muted the plan back in January during a SpaceX event, which involves one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets deploying thousands of satellites to orbit the Earth – but only requested permission for launch late last month.

The request that SpaceX has made to the FCC is to merely to test the technology in space, to discover if it can generate a signal strong enough to transmit wireless internet signals to the entire globe, ahead of full-scale implementation. SpaceX is projecting for testing to begin by 2016, with the satellite network online within five years, if successful.

During the SpaceX event in January, Musk proclaimed the project to “be a real enabler for people in poorer regions of the world” and add welcome competition to the US market, “where people are stuck with Time Warner or Comcast.”

Musk seems to have a head start on fellow entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Bill Gates, who have both expressed an interest in large-scale satellite internet, and Google and Facebook, with the two companies recently binning their own airborne and spaceborne wireless ideas.

Thank you International Business Times for providing us with this information.

Microwave Oven to Blame for Mystery Signal

“Ding!” The mystery behind the bizarre signals that have baffled Australia’s most famous scientists for the past 17 years has finally been solved. What was it? the microwave in the kitchen!

Simon Johnston, the head of astrophysics at the CSIRO, the national science agency said that they first detected the signals in 1998. “They were reasonably local, say within 5km of the telescope” . Originally they assumed that the signals, that only were detected a few times per year were coming from the atmosphere from thunderstorms and suchlike.

On the 1st of Jan the team installed a new receiver that detects interference. This detected strong signals at the 2.4GHz range, the same that microwaves operate at. The scientists immediatley started testing the microwave and found no peytons, the type of signal the telescope was finding. However they then cooked something and opened the oven door. “If you set it to heat and pull it open to have a look, it generates interference”

Johnston said the “suspicious perytons” were only detected during the daytime and as they now know, not during the evening when all the staff had finished their shift.

The telescope was established in Parkes 50 years ago in what was “the middle of nowhere”, Johnston said, far away from any radio noise. But in recent years digital interference from the town was getting worse and worse.“There’s no mobile phone coverage, no radio station, no Wi-Fi – it’s pristine and quiet and we can look into the universe and see things that you can’t in Parkes.”

The signals were rare because the interference only occurred when the telescope was pointed in the direction of the microwave oven. And “when you only find a few it’s hard to pin them down”, Johnston said.

I think that’s pretty impressive, what do you think?

Thanks to the Guardian for providing us with this information.

The Ray Super Remote is the Ultimate Home Remote Control

There have been numerous attempts over the last few decades to create a single, universal remote control with the capacity to interact with every one of your home entertainment devices, with varying results, but the Ray Super Remote may now have cracked it.

The Super Remote, developed by Ray Enterprises, is a touchscreen device that can control your TV, satellite or cable box, DVR, games console, and internet streaming box, like Apple TV or Roku. It can connect to over 200,000 different devices, and can run software to control any home device with an IP address, such as the Nest thermostat.

The interface is fully customisable and the software can learn your habits and preferences to suggest programmes that may appeal to you. Battery life is around ten days, and the charging dock doubles as the remote’s holding tray.

David Skokna, CEO of New York-based Ray Enterprises, offered some insight into the development process of the remote, saying, “As we looked at ways to reimagine TV, it seemed like the remote control needed the most help. We think we have a big opportunity to do something magical.”

The Ray Super Remote is due for release in May or June this year, and will cost $199. www.ray.co is accepting pre-orders now.

Source: Business Insider

Google Could Team Up With SpaceX For Satellite Internet

According to reports, Google is considering injecting money in to Elon Musk’s astronautics company SpaceX, to take advantage of its plan to launch hundreds of satellites into a low orbit to provide internet to remote and rural areas.

Musk said on Friday that the satellite internet project will be based out of SpaceX’s new Seattle office.  “The speed of light is 40 percent faster in the vacuum of space than it is for fiber,” Musk said. “The long-term potential is to be the primary means of long-distance Internet traffic and to serve people in sparsely populated areas.”

This would not be the first time that Google invested in another company’s plan to launch internet satellites. Google pumped over $1 billion into O3b last year, but when founder Greg Wyler left O3b to set up OneWeb, he took the patent rights to the radio frequency satellite tech with him. Musk, however, insists that SpaceX’s satellite technology is more sophisticated than OneWeb’s variant.

Source: Ars Technica

Elon Musk Wants to Bring the Whole World Online

Elon Musk is no stranger to big ideas, but the man behind SpaceX and Tesla may be about to create something as equally impressive as his other projects. It has been reported that Musk is collaborating with O3b Network founder Grey Wyler. Their aim is to provide internet to the entire world with the use of low-cost satellites.

The plan would be to launch 700 low-cost internet satellites into space. Each satellite would need to cost less than $1 million and weigh less than 250 pounds. While that doesn’t sound too crazy, keep in mind that even the cheapest satellites weigh 500 pounds or more and cost several million each.

Wyler and Elon have already begun talks with Florida and Colorado government officials about the possibility of building factories in those states. However, it’s still very early to tell if this idea will ever see the light of day.

The idea is a big one and should it progress further, Elon could be a big help. He has the financial backing, he has some very talented engineers at his disposal and he also has SpaceX, which could be used to put them satellites into orbit. If anyone can do this, it’s Elon Musk.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Google Seek Investment in Virgin Galactic

It looks like Google are cracking out the their cheque book in style once again this week as they make a break for domination of outer space. Not only did they fork out a whopping $500 million a few days ago to acquire satellite maker Skybox, but now it has been reported that they’re also after a $30 million stake in Virgin Galactic, the Sir Richard Branson founded space flight company.

So why would Google want to invest in Sir Branson’s space company? Well they’ve just bought a satalite maker, now they’re going to need a way to launch them into space! The two companies could work together, feeding well off of each others innovations, on one hand Virgin Galactic gets a good line of extra funding and on the other, Google gets to launch its constellation of satellites using Virgins LauncherOne module.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Design Boom.

Nanoparticles Could Lead to Cheaper , Lighter and More Flexible Solar Cells

When hearing the name ‘Colloidal Quantum Dots’, minds fly away to science-fiction scenarios and technologies far from reach. Actually, the name has been given to a new form of solid nanoparticles.

It is said that the newly discovered nanoparticles could eventually contribute to the creation of cheaper, lighter and more flexible solar cells. A few examples were also given, having the nanoparticles in question considered to make better sensors, infrared lasers, remote controls, LEDs and even satellites.

The colloidal quantum dots were discovered at the University of Toronto by a group of scientists led by researcher Zhijun Ning and professor Ted Sargent, having the group achieve more efficient light absorption in the material by solving a problem in which a type of semiconductor would lose its electrons when exposed to the oxygen in the air. In the end, the group came up with the new material which remains rich in electrons despite being exposed to the oxygen.

The scientists find a lot of potential in the colloidal quantum dots, having been stated that they could eventually be added to inks or paints. Considering the latter, roofs and other buildings could eventually become solar panels themselves, leading to cheaper solar power and electricity.

However, the technology is not yet fully understood and tested. Considering its potential though, a lot of indie entrepreneurs should be extremely eager to get their hands on the new technology and flood the Kickstarter campaigns with new ideas and gadgets.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of CNET

Google Looking Into Acquiring Startup Company Skybox for $1 billion

Google is known for investing in different markets, having acquired companies such as Boston Dynamics and DeepMind. This time however, Google is aiming for the ‘skies’ so to put, with the rumors of acquiring startup company Skybox, a company specialising in high-definition satellite imagery.

The amount of money in question is quite impressive as well, having rumored to be at an estimated $1 billion. The parties have refused to make any comments, as is to be expected when a big acquisition such as this one is in order. Why Skybox and what is Google hoping to get out of this? The answer is simple.

Skybox, as previously mentioned, focuses on satellite imagery. It is different through the way of offering high quality imagery and video to its clients and the company also make their own satellites, software and offer pristine footage. A preview of what they currently offer can be seen in the video below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCrB1t8MncY[/youtube]

The reports also say that Skybox was one of the alternatives Google was looking into. It is said that the company giant had its eyes on another company called Planet Labs, raising the possibility of Google working on something big. Two of the possible reasons of acquiring Skybox is either to integrate it into Google Maps / Google Earth Enterprise or even use it for its Project Loon.

While Google Maps and Google Earth Enterprise sounds more plausible, since integrating Skybox’s imagery into the latter could skyrocket its services, it still raises the questions of whether the company giant is willing to spend $1 billion on just that. This is why Project Loon could be another candidate, since Skybox could be a nice addition to its recent acquisition for Project Loon, Titan Aerospace, to help track the balloons and their position. Whichever way it may be, we will just have to wait and see.

Thank you Android Authority for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Android Authority

Bitcoin Going To Outer Space

Bitcoin is preparing to launch satellites into space as a means of ‘Global’ backup to the blockchain. Bitcoin’s blockchain is to be sent into space in order to reduce coin volatility and ensure safety from major cyber attacks. The blockchain is a constantly changing documents that records all transactions as well as who owns all coins. Bitcoin is dependent on access to the blockchain to verify all transactions and now Jeff Garzik, one of the main contributors to the Bitcoin source code, has announced that he intends to launch a number of satellites into space to host copies of the blockchain and continuously send it back to earth. Garzik, who currently runs Dunvegan Space Systems, intends to launch a fleet of satellites that host fresh blockchain copies and continuously send it back to earth.

This development will allow anyone to obtain “free Bitcoin bandwidth” anywhere in the World, regardless of the performance of their current internet connection or provider. Garzik went on to say that this would protect the blockchain from cyber attacks that set out to manipulate the blockchain. This will be a fantastic development for Bitcoin; although already a groundbreaking development in finance, the currency has suffered from both bad publicity and volatility as a result of concerns about blockchain malleability and the possibility of fraud. Having the code would seek to manipulate the blockchain file. Secure upload centres would need to be put in place across the globe, that would continuously update the blockchain, and these centres would then beam the code into space, the satellites would then receive the code and in turn, beam it to every bitcoin user on Earth. Garzik believes that he could launch some ‘Cubesats’ into space and that this would be the most affordable way to achieve the plan.

The ‘Cubesats” are micro-satellites with dimensions of approximately 10cm cubed. For $2 Million he can put one into space and for $5 Million he can put eight into space, providing almost continuous coverage to all of the World. He has announced that he intends to begin fund-raising at the end of the summer, and if this is successful, as he expects it to be, he will be in a position to launch the satellites by August of next year (2015). There are, however, potential flaws in this brilliant idea. For one thing, the satellites would have to ensure that the ‘Bitcoin-Bandwidth” did not conflict with other satellites already in space. Further, the satellites have a useful life of no more than two to three years, and this will in turn mean there will be a need for future fundraising for future launches.

 

Thank you to The Telegraph and Virtual Mining for providing us with this information.

Kosmos-1220 Set To Crash Back To Earth Today, Location Unknown

At some point today the defunct Russian satellite Kosmos-1220 will be returning to Earth, unfortunately experts have no idea where the fragments will land, although it is most likely to hit the biggest target of all, the Pacific Ocean.

‘As of February 7, 2014 the fragments are expected to fall on February 16. The exact impact time and location of the fragments from the Kosmos-1220 satellite may change due to external factors,’ said Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin.

Of course much of the 1090’s satellite will burn up upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, at which point we expect it will put on a pretty light show, but some of the larger, heavier parts are still likely to partially survive the decent and make contact with Earth. Fortunately the odds are stacked in favour of it hitting water, given that most of the earth is in fact ocean, but there is always a chance, however remote that it could hit land.

Most of the satellite, which was launched into space in 1980, will burn up on re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, David Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine, told FoxNews.com.

‘What we have going for us is that most of the planet is covered with water, and highly populated areas are in the minority of our planet’s surface area. So it is unlikely that satellite debris will cause injuries or major damage. Still, with such a re-entry, we are playing the odds. This is a very real danger, given that a decaying orbit will carry this satellite down onto the planet.’ said Devid Eicher of Astronomy magazine when speaking with Fox News.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out, and certainly worth keeping your eyes on the news for updates of its decent, because there could be some exciting photo opportunities depending on where this thing comes down.

Thank you Metro for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Metro.

Billion-Pixel Gaia Space Telescope Snaps It’s First Picture

While the first image taken by the Gaia Space Telescope may not look incredible, it really is an incredible first step in what will be one of the most impressive technical achievements in space exploration. The billion-pixel space telescope snapped its first picture this week and while it is a little blurry, the teams at the UK Space Agency and ESA say that there is much more to come as the machine is still learning how to focus.

The picture may be off, but the mission is right on track and we can’t wait to see what this thing can really do when it gets its lens lined up. When fully operational, the Gaia telescope is going to work on creating the most accurate map of the Milky Way ever conceived. It’ll be able to make precise measurements of about 1% of all the 100 billion stars in our galaxy, unlocking more history and knowledge about the space around us than ever before.

“Seeing the first magnificent images from Gaia’s UK-built billion pixel camera first of all generates a huge vote of thanks to all those scientists and engineers who have worked so hard to make this happen. Second, it provides just a tiny taste of the excellence and challenges ahead, to turn Gaia data into human understanding of the Milky Way’s origins. One substantial step for astronomy, one huge leap still to come.”

Gaia will scan a billion suns 70 times each over the course of five years, tracking them, mapping them and photographing them from its current orbit of around 1.5 million kilometres from the earth and today’s test image is just the first step as the team bring the telescopes bring the various sensors online.

Thank you Huffington for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Huffington.

New Satellite Technology To Brings Faster Internet To Trains, Boats & Planes

Ofcom have just approved the use of a new satellite technology, the use of the so-called Earth Stations will provide moving vehicles with much faster internet connections than is currently available by current methods. This is of course a great thing in the modern world as we demand better connection speeds to meet our internet hungry devices needs.

The new devices will connect to a geostationary satellite that orbits above the equator, while newer antennas capable of maintaining a stable pointing accuracy will allow the satellite to be tracked closely, even by a fast-moving vehicle, which will allow reliable internet connections on the move.

The speeds could easily clock 50Mbps to each Earth station, something they expect will translate to over 10Mbps for individual passengers. Trains will be exempt from needed a spectrum licence for the new transmissions, although it’s said that planes or ships will need to be licensed by Ofcom due to their ability to cross countries.

The service could be in place in the UK on Trains by this summer, but it may take a little longer for certification on other modes of transport.

Are you looking forward to a faster internet service while travelling, or do you think that current 3G and 4G offerings are enough?

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Freefoto.

Skybox Imaging Provides First Full-HD Video Of Earth From Space

Skybox Imaging based in San Francisco has been working on revealing the first public high resolution and definition video footage of Earth from 600 km above. The image resolution is fairly high, where anyone can easily observe objects such as cars, trucks, shipping containers, using the video recorded by the company’s satellite, named SkySat-1, which was launched in November.

“There’s an enormous amount of knowledge that we can glean from analyzing movement – supply chain monitoring, maritime awareness, industrial plant activity, environmental monitoring, and humanitarian relief monitoring – and we are excited to explore the breadth of possibilities with this unique data source. skybox official website”

The satellite is said to be capable of capturing full HD, 1920 x 1080 pixels, images at a 30 FPS for up to 90 seconds. Comparing a normal ground camera snapshot or clip with an orbital one is clearly not an option, since the two are completely different things. And having a satellite camera capable of recording a full HD clip for 90 seconds, given that the requirements for capturing an orbital imagery is quite high, is a big improvement.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCrB1t8MncY[/youtube]

Skybox is making progress and innovation with its Start-Up program, and for anyone interested in more details about the project can have a look at their web page here.

Thank you MB MAG for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Skybox Imaging

NASA’s “PhoneSat” Made From Galaxy Nexus S Parts Is A Success

NASA’s newest tiny, cheap “PhoneSat”, a super cheap satellite made out of off-the-shelf Android hardware, has dialed home from orbit, leading to the project success. The 2.2-pound satellite was built using a heavily-modified Samsung Nexus S and uses a two-way S-band radio so that engineers can command it remotely. It’s part of NASA’s effort to explore cheaper satellite technology.

“The smartphone provides many of the functions the satellite needs to operate, such as computation, memory, ready-made interfaces for communications, navigation and power, all assembled in a rugged package before launch,” NASA stated in a press release.

The PhoneSat 2.4 was launched two weeks ago and cost the space agency just $7,500. It will test a system for changing the satellite’s orientation in space as well as measure how well off-the-shelf components perform over the course of a year. And this is not all, the first batch of PhoneSats launched in April and the next version is scheduled for February.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge

Russian Proton-M Satellite Rocket Crashes, Toxic Fuel Everywhere

Technology isn’t always fun and games as the latest Russian rocket carrying three “GLONASS” navigation satellites came crashing to the ground after a failed take-off at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. During take off the rocket swerved to one side and in an attempt to correct itself ended up plummeting to the ground and disintegrating in mid air.

Footage of the crash, shown below, has spread like wildfire across Russia and Central Asia as there is fear of an ecological crisis as the rocket crashed with 600 tons of toxic propellants on board. While there have been no human fatalities there have certainly been economic ones as the “Rossiya24 TV Channel” suggests the failed crash will cost the Russian Space Industry somewhere around $200 million.

The entire area in the vicinity of the crash has been evacuated and the Kazakhstan emergency mninistry has warned of an ecological threat to the surrounding area.

Strangely though, this accident isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Russian Space agency sources stated that:

“We’ve had similar accidents at Baikonur before. After the area is cleaned up, launches will resume – in two-three months,”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ5__1PPgNQ[/youtube]

Image courtesy of Spaceflight101 (YouTube)