November 3, 2017

Cheyenne Mountain Sees Better Satellite Picture

November 3, 2017 – Upgraded Early Warning Radars now provide data on man-made space-based objects without delay, thanks to efforts of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center personnel at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Five massive radar sites arrayed throughout the northern hemisphere, mostly designed and installed during the Cold War, provide missile warning information and track space-based objects for the U.S. and joint partners. The new data source impacts the orbital tracking mission. Read More

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Europa Clipper’s Launch Date Dependent On SLS Mobile Launcher Readiness

NASA has completed an important three day Technical Interchange Meeting regarding the agency’s upcoming flagship Europa Clipper mission. The probe, set to launch on the first science mission of the SLS rocket, currently holds a No Earlier Than launch date of 4 June 2022 – a date that is highly dependent on the SLS Mobile Launcher’s readiness and a desire/need to build a completely new Mobile Launcher for crewed SLS missions beyond EM-1.

The Astounding Engineering Behind The World’s Largest Optical Telescope
Source: WIRED

It’s easy to miss the mirror forge at the University of Arizona. While sizable, the Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory sits in the shadow of the university’s much larger 56,000-seat football stadium. Even its most distinctive feature—an octagonal concrete prominence emblazoned with the school’s logo—looks like an architectural feature for the arena next door. But it’s that tower that houses some of the facility’s most critical equipment.

Air Force: GPS 3 Competition Coming Soon
Source: SpaceNews

Air Force officials predict more than one company will step up to challenge Lockheed Martin for the production of up to 22 GPS 3 satellites.

Air Force ‘Hopeful’ Congress Will Support New Strategy To Phase Out Russian Rocket Engines
Source: SpaceNews

As the House and Senate move to wrap up negotiations on the 2018 defense policy bill, the Air Force’s “launch systems enterprise” anxiously is waiting to see the final language in the National Defense Authorization Act. One of the concerns: Will Congress limit the options available to the Air Force to phase out Russian engines from U.S. military space launch vehicles?

RIP, Laika: Pioneering Dog Launched 60 Years Ago Today

Sixty years ago today, humanity launched the first living creature to orbit. On Nov. 3, 1957, the Soviet Union lofted a dog named Laika aboard the satellite Sputnik 2. The milestone came less than a month after the Soviets kicked off the Space Age, and the Cold War space race, with the launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4.

Return Of The Comet: 96P Spotted By ESA, NASA Satellites
Source: NASA

The ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA mission SOHO — short for Solar and Heliospheric Observatory — got a visit from an old friend this week when comet 96P entered its field of view on Oct. 25, 2017. The comet entered the lower right corner of SOHO’s view, and skirted up and around the right edge before leaving on Oct. 30. SOHO also spotted comet 96P in 1996, 2002, 2007 and 2012, making it the spacecraft’s most frequent cometary visitor.

Giant Magellan Telescope Organization Casts Fifth Mirror
Source: GMTO Corporation

The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) today announced that it has initiated the casting of the fifth of seven mirrors that will form the heart of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The mirror is being cast at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory, the facility known for creating the world’s largest mirrors for astronomy.

CALET Makes First Direct Measurements Of High Energy Electrons In Space
Source: Louisiana State University

The CALET Cosmic Ray experiment, led by Professor Shoji Torii from Waseda University in Japan, along with collaborators from LSU and other researchers in the U.S. and abroad, have successfully carried out the high-precision measurement of cosmic-ray electron spectrum up to 3 tera electron volts (TeV) by using the CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) on the Japanese Experimental Module, the Exposed Facility on the International Space Station (ISS). This experiment is the first to make direct measurements of such high energy electrons in space.

Crew Access Arm For Space Launch System Arrives At Kennedy
Source: NASA

When astronauts depart for missions to deep space, they will cross the Crew Access Arm about 300 feet above the ground to board their spacecraft. The access arm was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 17, 2017, to install on the mobile launcher in preparation for the first flight of the Space Launch System rocket, or SLS, and the Orion spacecraft.

NASA Orion Spacecraft That Will Bring Humans To Mars Will Undergo Moon Test Mission In 2019
Source: Newsweek

NASA is planning to take humans back to the Moon—something that has not been done since 1972. The new Orion spacecraft was built to explore the moon, Mars and beyond, but before taking humans on these exploratory missions, the new ship needs to be tested. NASA has now officially scheduled the date for Orion’s first human-less trip around the moon and back for 2019, a feat that will take humankind one giant leap closer (to quote a famous moon walker) to our mission to Mars.

Curiosity Mars Rover’s Return To Driving
Source: Leonard David’s Inside Outer Space

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now carrying out Sol 1864 duties. The research plan calls for the robot to return to wheeling about at Vera Rubin Ridge.

United Launch Alliance In Decatur Celebrates 20 Years Of Building Rockets

United Launch Alliance General Manager Stephan Williams said they’ve successfully launched more than 100 satellites that have provided critical capabilities to so many. Before it was a rocket building machine, 20 years ago the property was simply an empty field.

Orbcomm Says Remaining OG2 Satellites Are Stable, Inthinc Acquisition Boosting Revenue
Source: SpaceNews

A communications glitch affecting three of Orbcomm’s second-generation satellites does not appear to afflict the other dozen spacecraft in the recently deployed constellation. Rochelle Park, N.J.-based Orbcomm incurred a $31 million impairment charge on the three OG2 satellites, though recovery teams are still searching for a means to recover them, Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg said Nov. 2.

House Science Committee Chairman To Retire
Source: SpaceNews

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Science Committee, announced Nov. 2 that he will not run for reelection in 2018. In a brief statement, Smith, first elected to the House in 1986, cited “several reasons” without elaboration for his decision not to run for a 17th term in 2018, without elaborating.

An RGB Computed Using The GOES-16 Cirrus Channel
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Red-Green-Blue (RGB) Composite Images are a handy way of showing information from multiple satellite bands (or band differences) at once. The image above shows an RGB created by NOAA Scientist Andy Heidinger that uses the GOES-16 Visible Band (0.64 µm) as the green component, Snow-Ice Band (1.61 µm) as the blue component and Cirrus Band (1.38 µm) as the red component to tease out information about Cloud Type.