Aerospace

The Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7) in South Africa, the pathfinder radio telescope for the $3 billion global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, has released its first results.


Imagine being the project scientist for a NASA experiment and getting an email telling you that a 3,100 lb. defunct spy satellite dating back to the Cold War might crash into your baby?

That's what happened to Julie McEnery of NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope,  which maps the highest-energy light in the universe, a year ago. When she checked her email on March 29th, 2012,  she had an automatically generated report from NASA's Robotic Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) saying that in about a week Fermi might be hit by Cosmos 1805. 


A coronal mass ejection (CME) is when our sun sends billions of tons of solar particles into space. A CME can affect electronic systems in satellites and NASA recently saw three.


X-ray astronomy is only 50 years old but nothing shows the progress of the technology like a new view of a supernova scientists watched over a thousand years ago. 


NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found the farthest supernova so far. Supernova UDS10Wil, nicknamed SN Wilson after American President Woodrow Wilson, exploded more than 10 billion years ago.

SN UDS10Wil is a Type Ia supernovae. These beacons can be used as a yardstick for measuring cosmic distances. One of the debates surrounding Type Ia supernovae is the nature of the fuse that ignites them. This latest discovery adds credence to one of two competing theories of how they explode. Although preliminary, the evidence so far favors the explosive merger of two burned out stars; small, dim, and dense stars known as white dwarfs, the final state for stars like our Sun.


The first published results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) physics experiment on the International Space Station were announced today and though the result is the most precise measurement to date of the ratio of positrons to electrons in cosmic rays, we still have not caught our first glimpse into dark matter.

The AMS experiment, constructed at universities around the world and assembled at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), is the world's most precise detector of cosmic rays.  It was installed on the Space Station May 19th, 2011 after having been brought into orbit on the last flight of NASA's space shuttle Endeavour. To date it has measured over 30 billion cosmic ray events.   


Thanks to a supersensitive space telescope and some sophisticated supercomputing, scientists from the international Planck collaboration have made the closest reading yet of the most ancient story in our universe: the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

Today, the team released preliminary results based on the Planck observatory's first 15 months of data. They show that the universe is 100 million years older than we thought with more matter and less dark energy.  

Decoding the Cosmos


The mission of the ESA Planck satellite is to observe the Universe of the past, seeing back in time, right after the Big Bang.

The image that the Planck scientists revealed today is that of the Universe as a child, dating back to about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when its temperature was similar to that of the most external layer of a star today.


Beginning a few years ago, speculation began about when Voyager I would leave the solar system.  There was no sure way to know, the solar system has no official boundary, so scientists were looking for signs.

35 years after its launch, it seems Voyager 1 appears to have traveled beyond the influence of the Sun and exited the heliosphere, the region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles, and which is thought to be enclosed, bubble-like, in the surrounding interstellar medium of gas and dust that pervades the Milky Way galaxy. 


For a government that likes military action but not losing American lives, drones are the next big thing.   Drones have been, and will continue to be, used in more and more applications outside the military, including citizen surveillance and natural disaster research. 

But military spending is what is driving optimization and the U.S. Department of Defense reports that drone accidents happen 50 times more often than mishaps involving human-operated aircraft. The U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps reported 43 mishaps that involved human factors issues associated with drone ground control workstations and technology during the years 2006 and 2007.