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Jade Rabbit, China’s Lunar Rover, Declared Dead

Posted: February 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Science News, Solar Stars, SPACE | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Jade Rabbit, China’s Lunar Rover, Declared Dead

Jade Rabbit, China's Lunar Rover, Declared DeadChina’s troubled Jade Rabbit lunar rover has died on the surface of the moon, in a major setback for Beijing’s ambitious space program.

The country’s first moon rover “could not be restored to full function”, the state-owned China News Service said in a brief report, after the landmark mission ran into mechanical problems last month.

The Jade Rabbit, or Yutu in Chinese, was deployed on the moon’s surface on December 15 and was a huge source of pride in China – only the third country to complete a lunar rover mission after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

The landing was a key step forward in Beijing’s ambitious military-run space program, which include plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually sending a human to the moon.

The rover experienced a “mechanical control abnormality” in late January due to “the complicated lunar surface environment”, according to the official Xinhua news agency, and was unable to function since then :: Read the full article »»»»

ISS Astronauts Touch Down After EPIC Stay

Posted: November 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Favorite New Thought, NASA, National Aeronautics Space Administration, Science News, Solar Stars, SPACE | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ISS Astronauts Touch Down After EPIC Stay

Mike Fossum Expedition CommanderThree astronauts have landed safely in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule after a stay of over five months aboard the International Space Station.

American Mike Fossum, Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa and Russia’s Sergei Volkov touched down outside the remote settlement of Arkalyk just before sunrise on Tuesday after undocking from the ISS earlier in the day. It was during their stay on the ISS that a Russian unmanned Progress supply ship carrying supplies for the station crashed into Siberia in August, forcing a rethink of the timetable for manned spaceflight.

The three astronauts had spent 167 days in space – slightly more than the 161-day mission envisaged as the return was delayed by almost a week due to the Progress mishap. Russian State television pictures showed the astronauts extracted from the capsule apparently in good health.

The Soyuz capsule landed on its side rather than its bottom after its descent to Earth with a parachute, mission control said, but such a landing was not unusual. Read the full article »»»»

Flexible Organic Small-Molecule Solar Cells

Posted: November 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Applied Science, Cankler, Engineered Life, Santa Barbara, Science, Science News, Science of Green, Solar Stars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Flexible Organic Small-Molecule Solar Cells

We’ve raved about solar cells previously: here, and here, the technology has taken several quantum leaps over the past decade. Paintable  crystalline and printable solar cells seem to be the way of the future, the fight now is for real solar efficiency. Solar panels that can be simply printed have inched a step closer with the development of an energy efficient, organic, small-molecule solar cell. The solar cell, which was developed by a team from the University of California, Santa Barbara, has energy efficiencies of 6.7 per cent, which rivals the best polymer-based solar cells. Most polymer-based designs have reached the 6 to 8 range for efficiency.

“These results provide important progress for solution-processed organic photovoltaics and demonstrate that solar cells fabricated from small donor molecules can compete with their polymeric counterparts,” the authors, including Nobel Prize winner Professor Alan Heeger, wrote in Nature Materials. Read the full article »»»»

NASA Pins Human Spaceflight on SLS

Posted: September 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Engineered Life, NASA, National Aeronautics Space Administration, Science, Science News, Solar Stars, SPACE | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NASA Pins Human Spaceflight on SLS

The shuttle age has come to an end, so what next for manned spaceflight, Space Launch System, NASA’s new heavy lift rocket is set for deep space exploration.

NASA has unveiled its latest design for a workhorse heavy-launch vehicle that it hopes will lift the human spaceflight programme out of a morass and beyond low-Earth orbit. The Space Launch System, or SLS, will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth’s orbit and destinations beyond. Additionally, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station. The behemoth, more than 10 metres taller than the Saturn V, would be the most powerful rocket ever to lift people into space. The rocket, with configurations for both 70 and 130 tonnes of thrust, appears to reflect a compromise between competing versions pushed by legislators and the Obama administration, a logjam that had left the agency rudderless even as the last flights of the space shuttle came and went. Read the full article »»»»

Solar Dynamics Observatory

Posted: August 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Applied Science, Astronomy, Cankler, Solar Stars | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Solar Dynamics Observatory

The satellites and space craft that we launch to observe our world are our eyes and ears in space. Advances in satellites pointed at the Sun have been enormous over the last decade. The latest satellite gathering solar information is NASA’s SDO. Chances are you have seen footage produced by this high-tech observer, all of the solar flare footage used by media channels lately have been thanks to NASA’s SDO satellite. The quality of the footage is incredible, only matched by the sheer amount of information this satellite is sending back to earth, over a terabyte of data a day. The data that this satellite collects will help us understand what drives our most important neighbour, the Sun.

After SDO’s first year of operation NASA released a compilation of jaw dropping footage of the sun. ‘First Light’  was the original footage released by NASA, this footage was mixed down –edited– into the punchy little two-minute ‘Haunting Images from the Sun’ by SpaceRip, infamous science documentary re-releaser on YouTube. SDO has since produced even more spectacular footage – see video below ‘Sun Sends Out X6.9 Class Solar Flare’, the monster flare occurred August 9, 2011.

Assembled at the Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland and launched February 11, 2010 from Cape Canaveral SDO was initially placed in low Earth orbit. Eventually it will slowly be maneuvered into it’s final circular geosynchronous orbit –stays facing the sun while the Earth turns– at an altitude of 36,000 km, giving SDO a permanent view of the Sun. The data collected by SDO is part of the ‘Living with a Star’ program which aims to understand the sun and it’s influence on the Earth, the Earth-Sun relationship.

Building on the technology of the previous solar observing satellite SOHO, SDO improves on SOHO‘s instruments and adds new sensors to the study of the sun. Three  instrument suites are onboard for observing; Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) , Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) making SDO the most advanced solar observatory ever. These three sets of sensors are each recording a different perspective of the sun in real-time, HMI listens to the Suns magnetic fields while EVE and AIA watch and photograph the Sun’s outer layers. The sensors collect and send back over a Terabyte of data per day. Once the data is received at the Goddard flight control centre it’s stored and served up to various research facilities. Individually each of the sensors produces spectacular images, together they are stunning. Read the full article »»»»