Aerospace

Space is exciting so it is easy to get sucked into bold claims. 

A few years ago one of our writers had the idea to launch Bloggy into space. He was going to do all the work and just needed the money to pay the company, Interorbital, a very reasonable-sounding amount, so it was on.

My only real question was, "The knock on these guys is that they keep cashing checks but they never actually launch anything. What makes you think they will this time?"


Bloggy in spaaaaace.

The NASA spacecraft Dawn has spent more than seven years traveling across the Solar System to intercept the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.

Now in orbit around Ceres, the probe has returned the first images and data from these distant objects.

But inside Dawn itself is another first – the spacecraft is the first exploratory space mission to use an electrically-powered ion engine rather than conventional rockets.

From 2009 to 2013, ESA’s Planck satellite took measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), radiation that originated approximately13 billion years ago, around 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

Due to the expansion of the universe, this light is still observable today at microwave wavelengths across the entire sky so Planck surveyed the sky to map this ancient light.

One result is that the standard model of cosmology remains an excellent description of the universe, unless the Planck data is combined with other astronomical observations, where several deviations emerge. Are the anomalies due to measurement uncertainties or undiscovered physical correlations, which would challenge Einstein’s theory of gravitation?
NASA's Dawn spacecraft is approaching its historic orbit insertion at Ceres, which will happen on Friday, March 6th.

Ceres is named for the Roman goddess of agriculture and harvests. Ceres is considered a 'dwarf planet', according to 237 astronomers who outvoted their opposition, as is Pluto now. It was first spotted by Sicilian astronomer Father Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801 and since then has been called a minor planet and an asteroid, before getting an upgrade in 2006, along with Eris. 
The MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope has given astronomers the best ever 3-D view of the deep Universe - in just 27 hours.

By taking very long exposure pictures of regions of the sky, astronomers have created many deep fields that have revealed much about the early Universe. The most famous of these was the original Hubble Deep Field, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope over several days in late 1995. This spectacular and iconic picture rapidly transformed our understanding of the content of the Universe when it was young. It was followed two years later by a similar view in the southern sky -- the Hubble Deep Field South. 

On Feb. 11, ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV), atmospheric reentry demonstrator, successfully completed its first test flight, ending with a splashdown into the Pacific Ocean and one aerospace company is bursting with pride over the flawless test.
Known as the ‘Heart of Voh’ for its proximity to the Voh commune, a mining colony controlled by the French, these Mangrove swamps along the coast of New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific Ocean formed this natural structure, caused by changes in vegetation cover. Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand made it famous by using a photograph of the heart on the cover of a book, The Earth from the Air.

This false-color satellite image of the heart-shaped formation was captured by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s Kompsat-2 satellite on 1 April 2009.  No undead lichs had to be sent to their final resting place to obtain it. 



The mysterious, distant and yet unexplored by any probe world of Pluto and its moons, located on the edge of our solar system, is about to get visited.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14 will perform the first ever close-up flyby of the fallen planet. Downgraded in 2006 to dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), Pluto holds key clues to our understanding of the formation of our solar system.
Balloons are common at childrens' birthday parties - we can thank Professor Michael Faraday of The Royal Institution for inventing "caoutchoucs" - but ever since the Montgolfier brothers took their lives in their hands and flew a hot air balloon over Paris in 1783, they have been common in science too.

They're affordable and they're reusable and since the 1950s, with the invention of the 'natural' shaped polyethylene balloon, there has been a surge in the quality and amount of science being performed with them. Researchers in everything from high-energy astrophysics (particle, x-ray and gamma-ray) to geospace uses them.

By Monica Grady, The Open University

Landing a spacecraft on a celestial body, whether it be the moon, Mars or a comet, is not easy. The European Space Agency found out the hard way in 2003 when its robot Beagle2, which was supposed to send back a signal after landing on Mars, didn’t do so.

But more than a decade after it went missing, the UK Space Agency has announced that the the elusive Beagle2 lander has been re-discovered.