Aerospace

As you read this, NASA's New Horizons is heading to Pluto. After the marathon probe zooms past Pluto in July of next year, it will travel across the Kuiper Belt, that vast rim of primitive ice bodies left over from the birth of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.  

What next? It is anticipated that NASA will redirect the to a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) and photograph it up close.

That's where Hubble comes in. Before New Horizons arrives, Hubble is looking for the perfect target to be our first up-close look at something inside the Kuiper Belt. It's already found two, proof of concept that Hubble can go forward with a deeper KBO search, covering an area of sky roughly the angular size of the full Moon.
The Digital Mapping System (DMS) instrument attached to NASA’s P-3 Orion airplane for the Operation IceBridge campaign has captured an interesting image during its latest annual Operation IceBridge campaign to the Arctic and Antarctic to monitor glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice.

The 2014 northern spring campaign ended on May 23 after eleven weeks of flights, but not before taking photos of the Kee Bird, a wrecked B-29 Superfortress that made an emergency landing on a northwest Greenland ice sheet in 1947. 

 A computer simulation called "Illustris" has created the first realistic virtual universe - it can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.


Star Wars Day is May 4th so you are probably wondering how you would build deflector shields in case the US government is worried about turtles on its former nuclear testing grounds and thinks your cows will harm the ecosystem and sends a Death Star after you.

You're in luck; not only are they scientifically feasible, the principle behind them is already used here on Earth.

If you're too young to have seen the original, and missed the flawed prequels, you needn't feel left out - in almost every science-fiction scenario, spaceships are protected by a shield defense system that deflects enemy laser fire. 

Jimmy Duncan - A Prescient Politician

John James "Jimmy" Duncan is a former Chairman of the United States House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation.
Sentinel-1A lifted off on a Soyuz launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guyana at 9:02 PM GMT today.

Sentinel-1A has been at the launch site since the end of February and has been through numerous tests to make sure that everything is in perfect condition to provide essential radar imagery for Europe’s Copernicus program, which focuses on providing data to improve the way the environment is managed.

Weather satellites have been providing operational data for years, of course, but the family of Sentinel missions is designed for environmental monitoring.

Until now, rings of material in a disc have been associated with giant planets like Saturn.

Chariklo, located two billion kilometers away, between Saturn and Uranus,  is the first miniature planet with two rings of ice and pebbles. Chariklo was located in the Kuiper Belt, a collection of thousands of dwarf planets and comets in orbit beyond Neptune on the edge of our solar system, but at some point it must have been thrown out of this belt and is now between Saturn and Uranus, where there is a collection of small objects, called Centaur.


The Interface Region Imaging Spectrometer (IRIS) mission studies the chromosphere, that layer of the sun's atmosphere that is key to regulating the flow of energy and material as they travel from the sun's surface out into space.

Along the way, the energy heats up the upper atmosphere, the corona, and sometimes powers solar events such as this flare. IRIS is equipped with a spectrograph that can separate out the light it sees into its individual wavelengths, which in turn correlates to material at different temperatures, velocities and densities.


ESA, the European Space Agency, is my favorite space organization.

Yeah, I said it. The guy whose favorite movie is "The Right Stuff" and who could write a whole book on the Mercury program prefers the ESA over NASA. The reason is because ESA cares about outreach in a way that NASA doesn't. ESA does not care if you are the BBC or Science 2.0, if you call someone, they call back. If it involves more than a press release claiming it has 'implications for life on other planets' you are going to be stuck in a maze of bureuacracy.
Sometimes you don't need fancy modern compounds - primitive cavemen had the answer.

Burnt bone charcoal, used in prehistoric cave paintings, will be applied to the ESA’s Solar Orbiter titanium heatshield to protect it from the Sun’s close-up glare. 

Solar Orbiter, due for launch in 2017, will carry instruments to perform high-resolution imaging of Sol from as close as 42,000,000 km – a little more than a quarter of the distance to Earth. Operating in direct view of the Sun, the mission must endure 13 times the intensity of terrestrial sunlight and temperatures rising as high as 520° C.