[ Update: What’s Up: March 2021 Skywatching Tips from NASA – NASA JPL
What are some skywatching highlights in April 2021? Look for the rosy arch known as the Belt of Venus at sunset, then find the constellation Leo overhead on April evenings. Also, check out Jupiter and Saturn with the Moon on April 6. Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up….
Clear April nights are filled with starry creatures. Near the Big Dipper, you will find several interesting binary stars. You can also spot galaxies like the Pinwheel Galaxy, M82, and M96—the last of which is an asymmetric galaxy that may have been gravitationally disrupted by encounters with its neighbors. Keep watching for space-based views of these celestial objects.
What can you see in the night sky tonight? Astronomers Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel guide us through April’s night sky highlights and reveal the stars, constellations and planets worth looking out for over the coming weeks.
** What’s Up: March 2021 Skywatching Tips from NASA – NASA JPL
What are some skywatching highlights in March 2021? Look for Mars close to the Pleiades in the first couple of weeks of March. Then wake up early to observe the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn, which return as morning planets this month. Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up….
In March, the stars of spring lie eastward: Look for the constellations Gemini and Cancer to spot interesting celestial features like star clusters M35 and the Beehive Cluster, and NGC 3923, an oblong elliptical galaxy with an interesting ripple pattern. Keep watching for space-based views of the galaxies.
Designing a satellite and launching it into space is no run-of-the-mill project. Rather, it’s one that forever marks the early careers of the students who take part – just ask the EPFL students who designed the SwissCube, a 1U CubeSat (a small standardized unit measuring 10 cm x 10 cm) launched in 2009. Today, a new group of students, the EPFL Spacecraft Team, is taking on a new challenge. With the support of the EPFL Space Center (eSpace), they are developing a constellation of two satellites, called CHESS, that will be launched in two years. The team is currently seeking additional members and sponsors.
This ambitious project has already signed on six universities, three companies, 15 professors and 53 students.* The two satellites will work in concert; each one will be a 3U CubeSat bearing primary and secondary payloads. They will orbit at different altitudes – one will travel in a circular orbit at the low altitude of around 550 km, and the other will travel in an elliptic orbit at an altitude oscillating between 400 km and 1,000 km. The constellation will be launched in March 2023 and remain in flight for at least two years.
This project will give the students who participate each year a chance to learn about complicated space technology and gain experience working on a cross-disciplinary team. “It’s a way to learn the real-world skills required in our industry, like team management, coordination, communication and fundraising,” says Emmanuelle David, the deputy director of eSpace. “These are skills you can’t learn only from a book. And they will let the students become operational as soon as they start their first job or when and if they decide to start their own business.”
The science team at Brigham Young University (BYU) is finally where no Cougar has gone before, with a camera.
“Spacecraft Selfie Cam” is the nickname of BYU’s tiny cube satellites, “CubeSats” for short.
The school’s science team has made history with the tiny 6-inch space probes. For the first time, satellites designed in Provo have been successfully deployed in space.
About 60 students worked on the NASA funded project over a five year span:
BYU is part of a NASA project where the directive is, “The PICs mission will demonstrate low-risk, low-cost, spacecraft inspection by a passive, fly-away probe.”
What does it mean? The satellites are designed to take pictures of other satellites, and that’s how they got the name “Spacecraft Selfie Cam” If you watch science fiction movies, you have seen the probes portrayed hundreds of times in many ways. Essentially the probes fly out into space from the spacecraft and inspect for damage. Only BYU’s little probes are real.
“QMR-KWT space mission is to empower students to contribute to the advancement of satellite communication technology, and to prepare them as future professionals to operate the next generation of communication satellites,” said Nada Alshammari, Director of Educational Programmes at Orbital Space. “Orbital Space is undertaking this pioneering mission in order to create educational opportunities for students from around the world to learn more about satellite communications. We are already seeing engagement from students with our QMR-KWT educational program ‘Code in Space’” added Nada Alshammari. “Code in Space is an opportunity for students to develop and test new software solutions by writing software code to be uploaded and executed on the satellite’s onboard computer. We are currently accepting student proposals for this out of the world opportunity.”
The QMR-KWT satellite will go to space via a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rideshare mission, currently set for June of this year. A Momentus Vigoride transfer stage will take the satellite to its target orbit after release from the F9 upper stage.
At about four inches across each side, the “CubeSat” is small. And fast. It circles the globe every 90 minutes at 17,000 miles per hour. Radiation levels collected along the way via a small Geiger counter and a small plastic chip embedded inside will help inform NASA efforts to develop small, chip-based radiation detectors.
“The detectors would provide liquid crystal display readings so astronauts could constantly monitor how much radiation they’re being exposed to,” explained UL Lafayette’s Dr. Paul Darby, the project leader.
The research is part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. The initiative provides opportunities for colleges and universities to conduct scientific investigations in space; findings, in turn, assist NASA with exploration and technology development.
** Univ. of Michigan MiTEE CubeSat operating in orbit after launch on Virgin Orbit LaunchOne rocket. The spacecraft, whose full name is Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment-1, will test a electrodynamic tether for propellantless propulsion. See previous posts about the MiTEE project here and here.
Update: MiTEE-1 is operational with nominal health beacons and battery voltages! This is a huge accomplishment for our team as we continue MiTEE-1’s Health & Status Checkout procedures; more updates to come! 〽️🛰️
(Check out MiTEE-1 on the RHS of the first image!) pic.twitter.com/gl2tD2rBXM
The @miteecubesat, built by a team at @UMich, is proving out the concept of an electrodynamic tether between satellites in space. Miniature ED tethers could be a simple way to enable smallsat constellations to function more like coordinated fleets rather than uncontrolled swarms. pic.twitter.com/69lbxul4Ck
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL), a developer of complete microspace missions, today announced the launch and successful deployment of 12 satellites on January 24, 2021. The SpaceX Falcon 9 ride-sharing mission carried three different SFL-designed microspace platforms into orbit for three separate commercial constellations.
The January 24 launch included:
Three formation-flying, radio frequency geolocating microsatellites built upon SFL’s 30-kg DEFIANT platform for HawkEye 360 Inc. of Herndon, VA.
One next-generation greenhouse gas monitoring microsatellite, known as GHGSat-C2 or “Hugo”, built by SFL on its 15-kg NEMO platform for GHGSat Inc. of Montreal, Canada.
Eight commercial communications CubeSats developed using the SFL 6U-XL SPARTAN design.
This week’s deployment of the DEFIANT microsatellites also marked the third entirely new microspace platform developed by SFL to reach orbit in just the past five months. SFL’s SPARTAN bus was introduced for the first time on September 28, 2020, with the launch of two communications CubeSats. And SFL’s NAUTILUS microsatellite platform made its debut on September 2, 2020, with the launch of the NEMO-HD Earth observation mission for Slovenia.
“These launches demonstrate SFL’s unmatched ability to innovate and deliver quality at any size on short schedules,” said SFL Director, Dr. Robert E. Zee. “SFL is a unique microspace provider that offers a complete suite of nano-, micro- and small satellites – including high-performance, low-cost CubeSats – that satisfy the needs of a broad range of mission types from 3 to 500 kilograms.”
A space weather nanosatellite, developed by Sirius high school students, will be launched at the end of 2021. The test model has already passed the initial trials, the high school told TASS Wednesday.
“The small spacecraft of the CubeSat-3U format will be brought to the orbit in late 2021. Sirius’ own satellite will collect data on space weather for Moscow State University (MSU) scientists. The satellite was assembled by students at Sirius high school, under supervision of the ‘Space systems and remote Earth probing’ laboratory specialists,” the high school press service said.
The “YUSAT (aka Yushan) ” and “IDEASSAT (aka Flying Squirrel)” CubeSats were successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), in Florida, the United States, at 11:00 pm of January 24, 2021, Taiwan time. The ground receiving station of National Central University (NCU) successfully received the IDEASSAT CubeSat downlink signal at 9:00 pm on February 1st, and successfully decoded the first beacon message at 11:34 pm.
After YUSAT and IDEASSAT CubeSats were transported to CCSFS in Florida, U.S., in December of last year, various integration and test (I&T) and inspection tasks as well as joint interface tests with the Falcon 9 rocket at the launch site have been performed. At 11:00 pm in the evening on January 24th, they were carried by the Falcon 9 rocket and launched into space. About 59 minutes after the rocket launch, the two satellites began to separate from the rocket. The separated satellites are orbiting the earth with the altitude of about 525 kilometers, with the period about 96 minutes, and at an inclination of about 97.5 degrees. YUSAT and IDEASSAT would be passing and communicating with the ground stations in Taiwan 1 to 2 times between 8 and 10 o’clock in the morning and evening, respectively.
In the first few days, neither the YUSAT ground station of National Space Organization (NSPO) of National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) nor the IDEASSAT ground station of NCU received signals from two CubeSats, respectively. However, there were some good news about the transmitted signals from the two CubeSats received by the foreign stations fortunately, because these amateur radio stations around the world can cooperate each other for receiving satellite signals. Based on the received and decoded signals from them, both satellites are confirmed to be alive and continuously orbiting around the Earth.
Developed with domestic facilities X-Band Transmitter, By integrating the U3 size cube satellite with high resolution camera The images obtained will be transmitted to the ground station. Also located on the cube satellite radiation dosimeter Thanks to this, radiation information in the low orbit environment will be recorded for feedback for design improvements.
As our first ever batch of customers begin to downlink data from their satellites, let’s take a deeper dive into each of the missions that flew onboard LauncherOne this month. First up are CACTUS-1, ExoCube, and CAPE-3. To learn more about our Launch Demo 2 mission, visit our website: https://virg.in/j7y
From scientific experiments to tech demonstrations, we’re taking a closer look at each of the missions that flew to space onboard #LaunchDemo2. This week, the spotlight is on MITEE-1, PICS and PolarCub.
From scientific experiments to tech demonstrations, we’re taking a closer look at each of the missions that flew to space onboard #LaunchDemo2. Tune in to our last of three Payload Profiles learn a bit more about Q-Pace, RadFXSat-2, and TechEdSat-7.
On June 25, 2018, RainCube and Tempest-D were deployed from the International Space Station. Both are 6U CubeSats developed by NASA-JPL as instrument technology demonstrations. RainCube implemented the first precipitation radar in a CubeSat and Tempest-D tested the performance of a CubeSat microwave radiometer to observe precipitation and clouds. Together, they became the first CubeSats to measure precipitation from space, with Raincube providing detailed vertical structure information and Tempest-D providing coarse vertical and detailed horizontal structure.
[ Update: What’s Up: February 2021 Skywatching Tips from NASA – NASA JPL
What are some skywatching highlights in February 2021? Find Mars all month after sunset, especially on the night of NASA’s planned rover landing, Feb. 18. Then watch the Moon glide across the Winter Circle before it pays a visit to the bright stars of the constellation Gemini. Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up….
In February, the Winter Triangle is your guide to the night sky: The northern hemisphere is treated to views of the stars Procyon, Sirius, and Betelgeuse. Keep watching for the awe-inspiring space-based views of the Orion Nebula, which is sculpted by the stellar winds of central bright stars.
Long Beach, California — January 8, 2021 — Virgin Orbit, the California-based responsive space launch company, announced today that it has signed a launch services agreement with Junior Astronaut, a UK-based company that provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs for young space enthusiasts. Flying as a rideshare onboard several upcoming missions — including missions from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay, UK — Junior Astronaut’s Nanonaut payload will remain affixed to LauncherOne’s upper stage.
Each Nanonaut payload can be tracked and monitored via telemetry from Earth using Junior Astronaut’s smartphone app. The app also offers a number of STEM-based activities such as algebra tutorials and other educational teasers, supporting Junior Astronaut’s broader purpose of inspiring young students to become more engaged and excited about space.
Founded in 2020, Junior Astronaut exists to encourage young people toward careers in STEM and space science through participation. In addition to the Nanonaut program, Junior Astronaut will soon offer space camps and a flight experiments package to take young people’s interest to the next stage.
Virgin Orbit launches for Junior Astronaut will commence no earlier than mid-2021.
“Knowledge is the most powerful tool for shaping a better future for everyone. The Junior Astronaut program is designed to inspire young people to push the limits of the unknown, to discover and innovate. The way to do this is education. Space is such an inspirational way to get people interested. We want space to be accessible to everyone, and for the next generation to push boundaries and move all our societies forward. Space is how they will do this,”
said Miranda Ashcroft, Junior Astronaut co-founder.
“With every LauncherOne mission, we want to chip away at the barriers preventing equitable access to space, so this partnership with Junior Astronaut is particularly meaningful to our team,” said Stephen Eisele, Virgin Orbit’s vice president of business development. “These Nanonauts are all about getting students to recognize that they too can have a role in shaping the future of space, and we’re really excited to help bring them into the fold. These are the kinds of missions that will capture the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s space innovators.”
Virgin Orbit is in the midst of final preparations for Launch Demo 2, its second orbital test flight with the LauncherOne system, currently expected to occur in mid-January.
About Virgin Orbit: Virgin Orbit builds and operates the most flexible and responsive satellite launcher ever invented: LauncherOne, a dedicated launch service for commercial and government-built small satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and will be air-launched from our modified 747-400 carrier aircraft – allowing us to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit’s systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbit’s talented and growing team, visit virginorbit.com.
About Junior Astronaut: Junior Astronaut is a worldwide charitable organization that wants to awaken young people’s curiosity and guide them towards choosing a STEM career. Junior Astronaut’s vision is to bring forth a new generation of STEM professionals that will have the knowledge, creativity, drive, and empathy to address global challenges through innovation. Our mission is to create thrilling participative programs that nurture real life skills and inspire a sense of wonder, curiosity, and the desire to explore. Our initiatives include the Nanonaut program, space camps, in-flight experiments, zero gravity experiences, and – in the future – a full sub-orbital experience. In the long term, we aim for youths who start our program to one day build STEM careers at NASA, ESA, or other world-renowned space companies like Virgin Orbit.