Tag: Satelite

How NASA Is Using Ancient Art To Find Alien Life

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The Starshade Space Probe is part of the New Worlds mission in which NASA is going to launch a huge shade to block out the light from stars so that we could possibly see Earth-like rocky planets.

In order to get the star shade into space, they’re employing the ancient art of origami to incredible effect.

Check out Robert Salazar’s blog detailing the process of designing the shade:

Starshade: An Origami Odyssey

Universe’s First Stars Detected? Here Are The Facts!

Stars are our constant companions in the night sky, but seas of twinkling lights weren’t always a feature of the cosmos.

Now, scientists peering back into deep time suggest that the earliest stars didn’t turn on until about 180 million years after the big bang, when the universe as we know it exploded into existence.

For decades, teams of scientists have been chasing—in fact, racing—to detect the signatures of these first stars.

The new detection, from a project called EDGES, is in the form of a radio signal triggered when light from those stars began interacting with the hydrogen gas that filled primordial empty space.

If the signal stands up to scrutiny, the detection simultaneously opens up a new line of cosmological inquiry and offers a few conundrums to tackle.

The era of cosmic dawn has been entirely uncharted territory until now,” says physicist Cynthia Chiang of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

It’s extremely exciting to see a new glimpse of this slice of the universe’s history, and the EDGES detection is the initial step toward understanding the nature of the first stars in more detail.




Cosmic Dawn

Shortly after the universe was born, it was plunged into darkness. The first stars turned on when hot gas coalesced around clumps of dark matter, then contracted and became dense enough to ignite the nuclear hearts of infant suns.

As those early stars began breathing ultraviolet light into the cosmos, their photons mingled with primordial hydrogen gas, causing it to absorb background radiation and become translucent.

When that happened, those hydrogen atoms produced radio waves that traveled through space at a predictable frequency, which astronomers can still observe today with radio telescopes.

The same process is going on in modern stars as they continue to send light into the cosmos.

But the radio waves produced by those first stellar gasps have been traveling through space for so long that they’ve been stretched, or redshifted.

That’s how astronomers identified the fingerprints of the earliest stars in radio waves detected by a small antenna in western Australia.

From Light to Dark

If the signal is real, it presents a challenge for some scientists who’ve been thinking about how the early universe worked.

For starters, the time frame during which these earliest stars emerged lines up well with some theories, but it’s not exactly bang on with others.

In previous work, Furlanetto and his colleagues started with actual observations of the earliest known galaxies, and then rewound the cosmic clock using computer models, searching for the age at which a signal from the first stars might appear.

The universe’s first galaxies are thought to be small, fragile, and not that great at birthing stars, so Furlanetto wouldn’t expect the signal to peak until about 325 million years after the big bang.

But if the first stars had already furnished enough light to make their presence known 180 million years after the big bang, those early galaxies must be doing something different.

As well, the primordial hydrogen gas is absorbing photons at rates that are at least two times higher than predicted.

That’s problematic for some ideas about the temperature of the early universe. It means that either the primordial gas was colder than expected, or background radiation was hotter.

Dark matter makes up the bulk of the universe’s mass, but it doesn’t behave like normal matter and has proven tricky to understand.

It regularly evades direct detection, and scientists are struggling to pin down, what, exactly it is and how it has influenced the structure of the universe through time.

But, she notes, it’s way too early to accept that conclusion.

An alternate possibility is that there are simply more photons for the hydrogen gas to absorb, though it’s not obvious where all those photons would come from in the early universe.

So she and others are waiting for independent confirmation of the EDGES result before diving too deep into the possible dark matter scenarios.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

An Indian Space Agency Has Successfully Launched 104 Nano Satellites Into Orbit

ISRO launch

India’s space agency has announced the successful launch of a record-breaking 104 nano satellites into orbit, all onboard a single rocket.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said the milestone launch, from the Sriharikota space centre in the country’s south, overtook the 2014 Russian record of 37 satellites in a single launch.

On board was a 714kg satellite for earth observation and more than 100 smaller satellites weighing less than 10kg each.



Three were Indian-owned, 96 were from US companies, and the rest belonged to companies based in Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Most were owned by Planet Labs Inc, a US-based Earth-imaging company. The feat did not require vastly new technology, but rather reflects the shrinking size and weight of modern satellites.

After reaching a height of about 505km, the satellites will separate from the launch vehicle at different times, angles and velocities to avoid collisions.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, hailed the launch on Twitter as an “exceptional achievement”.

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The chair of the space agency, Kiran Kumar, said his team had not set out to break records. “We are just trying to maximise our capability with each launch and trying to utilise that launch for the ability it has got, and get the maximum in return,” he said.

The launch helps to cement India’s place as a serious player in the burgeoning private space market, expected to significantly grow as the demand for telecommunications services increases.

In September 2014 the country became just the fourth after the US, the former Soviet Union and the European Space Agency to successfully guide a spacecraft into orbit around Mars.

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The Mars mission cost India’s famously thrifty space agency about $73m, nearly a 10th the cost of a Nasa probe sent to orbit the planet the previous year.

The low price tag led Modi to quip that India had sent a satellite into space for less than Americans had spent making the movie Gravity.

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Pass it on: New Scientist