Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have spotted signs of a ‘hot spot’ orbiting Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of our galaxy. The finding helps us better understand the enigmatic and dynamic environment of our supermassive black hole.
“We think we’re looking at a hot bubble of gas zipping around Sagittarius A* on an orbit similar in size to that of the planet Mercury, but making a full loop in just around 70 minutes. This requires a mind blowing velocity of about 30% of the speed of light!”
says Maciek Wielgus of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, who led the study published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The observations were made with ALMA in the Chilean Andes — a radio telescope co-owned by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) — during a campaign by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration to image black holes. In April 2017 the EHT linked together eight existing radio telescopes worldwide, including ALMA, resulting in the recently released first ever image of Sagittarius A*. To calibrate the EHT data, Wielgus and his colleagues, who are members of the EHT Collaboration, used ALMA data recorded simultaneously with the EHT observations of Sagittarius A*. To the team’s surprise, there were more clues to the nature of the black hole hidden in the ALMA-only measurements.
By chance, some of the observations were done shortly after a burst or flare of X-ray energy was emitted from the centre of our galaxy, which was spotted by NASA’s Chandra Space Telescope. These kinds of flares, previously observed with X-ray and infrared telescopes, are thought to be associated with so-called ‘hot spots’, hot gas bubbles that orbit very fast and close to the black hole.
“What is really new and interesting is that such flares were so far only clearly present in X-ray and infrared observations of Sagittarius A*. Here we see for the first time a very strong indication that orbiting hot spots are also present in radio observations,”
says Wielgus, who is also affiliated with the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre, Poland and the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University, USA.
“Perhaps these hot spots detected at infrared wavelengths are a manifestation of the same physical phenomenon: as infrared-emitting hot spots cool down, they become visible at longer wavelengths, like the ones observed by ALMA and the EHT,”
adds Jesse Vos, a PhD student at Radboud University, the Netherlands, who was also involved in this study.
The flares were long thought to originate from magnetic interactions in the very hot gas orbiting very close to Sagittarius A*, and the new findings support this idea.
“Now we find strong evidence for a magnetic origin of these flares and our observations give us a clue about the geometry of the process. The new data are extremely helpful for building a theoretical interpretation of these events,”
says co-author Monika Mościbrodzka from Radboud University.
ALMA allows astronomers to study polarised radio emission from Sagittarius A*, which can be used to unveil the black hole’s magnetic field. The team used these observations together with theoretical models to learn more about the formation of the hot spot and the environment it is embedded in, including the magnetic field around Sagittarius A*. Their research provides stronger constraints on the shape of this magnetic field than previous observations, helping astronomers uncover the nature of our black hole and its surroundings.
The observations confirm some of the previous discoveries made by the GRAVITY instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), which observes in the infrared. The data from GRAVITY and ALMA both suggest the flare originates in a clump of gas swirling around the black hole at about 30% of the speed of light in a clockwise direction in the sky, with the orbit of the hot spot being nearly face-on.
“In the future we should be able to track hot spots across frequencies using coordinated multiwavelength observations with both GRAVITY and ALMA — the success of such an endeavour would be a true milestone for our understanding of the physics of flares in the Galactic centre,”
says Ivan Marti-Vidal of the University of València in Spain, co-author of the study.
The team is also hoping to be able to directly observe the orbiting gas clumps with the EHT, to probe ever closer to the black hole and learn more about it.
“Hopefully, one day, we will be comfortable saying that we ‘know’ what is going on in Sagittarius A*,”
** Expedition 67 Space Station Talks with NASA, European Space Agency, Italian Officials-June 17, 2022 – NASA Video
Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 67 crew members Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) discussed life and work aboard the orbital outpost during an in-flight event June 17 with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, ESA officials, and ministerial representatives in Rome. Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti are in the midst of a long-duration science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory. The goal of their mission is to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration approach, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.
An educational in-flight call with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on board the International Space Station for teachers and students in Europe, connecting live with local events organised by ESERO Italy, ESERO Portugal and ESERO Luxembourg.
The three Chinese astronauts who have been piloting the Shenzhou-14 spaceship are now busy with a slew of work tasks after the trio have spent 13 days at the Tianhe core module of China’s Tiangong space station.
** International Space Station Radios | Talk to Astronauts | Cross-Band Repeater Ops – Tim Kreitz Adventures
How to use the radios onboard the International Space Station, presented to the Midland Amateur Radio Club by W5GFO.
Currently, live views from the ISS are streaming from an external camera mounted on the ISS module called Node 2. Node 2 is located on the forward part of the ISS. The camera is looking forward at an angle so that the International Docking Adapter 2 (IDA2) is visible. If the Node 2 camera is not available due to operational considerations for a longer period of time, a continuous loop of recorded HDEV imagery will be displayed. The loop will have “Previously Recorded” on the image to distinguish it from the live stream from the Node 2 camera. After HDEV stopped sending any data on July 18, 2019, it was declared, on August 22, 2019, to have reached its end of life. Thank You to all who shared in experiencing and using the HDEV views of Earth from the ISS to make HDEV so much more than a Technology Demonstration Payload!
A $47,533 ARRL Foundation grant will fund the initial phase of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS‐USA) *STAR* Keith Pugh Memoriam Project. *STAR*, which stands for Space Telerobotics using Amateur Radio, honors the memory of Keith Pugh, W5IU, a highly respected member of the ARISS team who died in 2019. ARISS arranges live question-and-answer sessions via ham radio between International Space Station (ISS) crew members and students. A long-time and enthusiastic supporter of ARISS, Pugh was a star ARISS technical mentor, assisting schools with ARISS contacts, encouraging interest in ARISS among educators, and visiting schools to teach students about wireless radio technology. One goal of ARISS is to engage students in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) subjects.
The ARISS *STAR* Project, is a new educational initiative that will enable US junior and senior high school groups to remotely control robots via ham radio through digital APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) commands. Year 1 will focus on systems development and initial validation of ARISS *STAR*, and year 2 will focus on evaluation and final validation.
Systems development and evaluation will be led by university staff and students who will undertake hands-on wireless and telerobotics lesson development, learn about amateur radio, and support *STAR* engineering hardware and software development.
Next, youth teams will be selected to experiment and critique *STAR* telerobotics scenarios in closed courses. In the process, ARISS will encourage students to prepare for and earn an FCC amateur radio license, enabling them to use ham radio to learn and practice concepts in radio technology and radio communication.
ARISS-USA Executive Director Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, praised the ARRL Foundation for its generosity.
“ARISS team member Keith Pugh, W5IU, poured his energy into inspiring, engaging, and educating youth in space and in amateur radio endeavors,” Bauer said. “What better way to honor Keith than through the ARISS *STAR* initiative. We thank the ARRL Foundation for its vision to move this initiative forward. Maybe someday one of our ARISS *STAR* students will use their telerobotics skills to control scientific rovers on the [m]oon or Mars!”
Over the past 2 decades, more than 1,400 ARISS contacts have connected more than 1 million youth with the ISS using amateur radio, with millions more watching and learning.
The overarching goals for *STAR* are to improve and sustain ARISS STEAM educational outcomes. Robotics is gaining popularity among youth and adults alike, and telerobotics adds a wireless accent to robotic control. This will expand ARISS’s educational dimension to attract the attention of more groups, students, and educators — outreach that promises to attract new audiences.
The ARRL Foundation was established in 1973, to advance the art, science, and social benefits of the Amateur Radio Service by awarding financial grants and scholarships to individuals and organizations that support their charitable, educational, and scientific efforts.
ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and space agencies that support the ISS. US sponsors include ARRL, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the ISS National Lab‐Space Station Explorers, and NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program (SCaN). The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics topics. For more information, visit www.ariss-usa.org and www.ariss.org.
For the last five years, students at the BYU College of Engineering have been dreaming up, designing and building two tiny satellites. And after a two-year delay in the launch of NASA’s ELaNa 20 mission, the cube-like modules are finally ready to head to space.
The “CubeSats” have cameras attached to each of their six sides and are designed to take photos of other satellites, giving NASA a cheap method of visually examining the exteriors of spacecraft.
“The idea is you carry up one of these sort of selfie cameras,” said David Long, an engineering professor at BYU, “and when you needed to get a picture of your spacecraft — it is very inexpensive; it’s disposable — you kind of toss it out the window, conceptually, you know, you just deploy it, and it takes pictures of your main spacecraft. And then it just drifts off into space.”
[On Dec.2], the U.S. Department of Education announced the five finalists in CTE Mission: CubeSat, a national challenge to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. Finalists will each receive $5,000 and in-kind prizes that they may use to build CubeSat (cube satellite) prototypes in the second phase of the challenge.
Congratulations to the finalists:
Anderson Clark Magnet High School (La Crescenta, California) is studying whether local encampments are in high-risk wildfire areas, with the goal of helping the local fire department save lives of people without housing.
Freeport High School (Freeport, New York) is measuring Earth’s surface temperature to study the differences in heat absorption and retention between urban and rural areas.
Mooresville High School (Mooresville, North Carolina) is measuring the effect of their town’s population growth on air quality, land use, and temperature.
Opelika High School (Opelika, Alabama) is collaborating with Columbus High School and Northside High School (Columbus, Georgia). The team plans to collect performance data for a new type of core material used in NASA-grade fluxgate magnetometers, which are used to study Earth’s changing magnetic field.
Princeton High School (Princeton, New Jersey) is collaborating with Montgomery High School (Skillman, New Jersey). The team wants to optimize space missions by examining topics such as atmospheric pressure density or habitable planetary environments.
The finalists will now begin work on the second phase of the program:
During Phase 2, which runs from January to May 2021, the finalists will have access to expert mentorship and additional virtual resources as they build CubeSat prototypes and plan flight events to launch their prototypes. The Department understands that due to current conditions, schools will need flexibility to safely collaborate when building and launching prototypes.
The prizes include development kits and expert mentorship donated to the Department from Arduino, Blue Origin, Chevron, EnduroSat, LEGO Education, Magnitude.io, MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, and XinaBox.
Inside the small probe, named DeMi, was a deformable mirror payload that Cahoy and her students designed, along with a miniature telescope and laser test source. DeMi’s mirror corrects the positioning of either the test laser or a star seen by the telescope. On future missions, these mirrors could be used to produce sharper images of distant stars and exoplanets. Showing the mirror can operate successfully in space is also proof that “nanosatellites” like DeMi can serve as nimble, affordable technology stepping-stones in the search for Earth-like planets beyond our solar system.
Maya-1, the country’s first cube satellite, has completed its mission and flew back to the Earth’s atmosphere after two years.
“Initially, the satellite was expected to stay in orbit for less than a year only, but it had stayed in orbit for about two years and four months,” said Adrian Salces, one of the Filipino graduate students who developed Maya-1, as it returned last Nov. 23.
Maya-1, along with Bhutan-1 of Bhutan and UiTMSAT-1 of Malaysia, are produced under the auspices of the second generation of the Joint Global Multi-Nation BIRDS Satellite Project or the BIRDS-2 Project of the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan.
Maya-1, a 1U cube satellite (CubeSat) in Japan, was deployed through the Japanese Experimental Module Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) in the “Kibo” module – the same module used to deploy Diwata-1.
The CubeSat is under the Development of Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (PHL-Microsat) program, a research program jointly implemented by the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD) and the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST-ASTI) in partnership with Kyutech in Japan.
Once the University’s CAPE-3 satellite arrives in space, a spring-loaded mechanism will eject it 225 miles above the Earth’s surface. The small satellite – about 10 centimeters square – will circle the globe about every 90 minutes at 17,000 miles per hour.
Along the way, the satellite will dredge the atmosphere for radiation levels with two instruments – a plastic prototype chip about the size of a pencil eraser and a small Geiger counter.
** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:
Serenity will contain several experiments including Gloversville School Districts radiation experiment and Villanova University’s Blockchain technology experiment.
The satellite developed by Teachers in Space is a pioneer CubeSat (CubeSat.org), that will provide low cost opportunities to test educational experiments in space. Teachers in space has previously guided high schools and other academic institutions in developing and flying experiments sub-orbitally with high altitude balloons, stratospheric gliders and rockets. This will be the first orbital satellite mission for TIS.
The Serenity satellite will be carrying a suite of data sensors and a camera that will be sending data back to Earth through the use of HAM radio signals. There will be several ground stations connecting with the satellite during its orbital period. These ground stations will be collecting data and pictures sent back down to Earth.
How to communicate with Serenity. The best option is to connect with a local HAM radio club. They may have the equipment already set up to track satellites. If they do not, they will be able to assist you in finding one that does.
This experiment will prove that blockchain can allow two satellites to reliably complete data transactions without communicating with a ground station to supervise these inter-satellite exchanges. The satellite will remain in LEO for approximately 30 days and controlled blockchain experiments will take place during the first 15 days the satellite is on-orbit.
Professor Sudler noted that the blockchain provides a trusted and immutable means of tracking these exchanges between satellites that may belong to different companies or even different countries.
Villanova researchers will grant 10 non-researchers with experience using blockchains with access to the onboard blockchain for the remainder of the flight for measuring transaction performance under heavier traffic loads. While the satellite is on-orbit, the latter half of the test period will be dedicated to open access from Villanova to perform test transactions between the ground station and the satellite.
The transaction data will be test files (text and images of various file sizes) that will create various loads on the blockchain. These transactions will also be allowed to interact with Ethereum smart contracts (programs that can automatically trigger a new transaction when a specific condition is met). All transactions are permanently recorded on the blockchain ledger.
“[…] TAU-SAT1 is the first nanosatellite designed, built and tested independently in academia in Israel.”
The TAU-SAT1 was created, developed, assembled, and tested at the new Nanosatellite Center in Tel Aviv, an interdisciplinary venture of the Faculties of Engineering and Exact Sciences and the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences of the university.
The primary goal of the mission is to measure space radiation:
The satellite will conduct several experiments while in orbit, including measuring cosmic radiation in space.
“We know that that there are high-energy particles moving through space that originate from cosmic radiation,” said Meir Ariel, director of the university’s Nanosatellite Center. “Our scientific task is to monitor this radiation, and to measure the flux of these particles and their products.
To communicate with the spacecraft, a satellite station was built on the roof of the university’s engineering building.
Students were a part of the team that developed the satellite:
The Tel Aviv University nanosatellite was built and tested with the help of a team of students and researchers, which built all of the infrastructure including cleanrooms, various testing facilities such as the thermal vacuum chamber, and the rooftop receiving and transmission station.
** Queensborough Community College in Bayside, NY receives NASA grant for CubeSat project:
The college is the recipient of a NASA MUREP MISTC-2 (Minority University Research and Education Project — Innovations in Space Technology Curriculum-Group 2). The grant entitled, “Using Technology to Engage and Inspire Students to Explore (SpaceTechEngine),” was funded in the amount of $410,574 for two years.
Queensborough is partnering on the grant with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Mission Engineering and Systems Analysis (MESA) Division, the Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA), and City College of New York (CUNY) to capitalize on NASA’s ability to inspire both students and the public.
Students will work on the Plasma Enhancements in The Ionosphere-Thermosphere Satellite (petitSat), a NASA funded CubeSat mission to be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2021.
The petitSat Principal Investigator (PI) is NASA scientist Jeffrey Klenzing. Students will investigate both space weather effects on the ionosphere, which reflects and modifies radio waves used for communication and navigation; and simulate interacting with a CubeSat for preliminary assembly, integration and testing (AI&T).
After years of engineering, testing and coordinating with engineers from NASA’s Launch Services Program, Brigham Young University students have created a cube satellite that will launch into space on an official NASA mission later this year.
The 10-centimeter CubeSat, which includes contributions from more than 60 students over a five-year period, is outfitted with cameras on all six sides and will make it possible to inexpensively detect damage on the exterior of a spacecraft that cannot be seen in other ways.
“It’s a satellite that is designed to take pictures of another satellite,” said BYU engineering professor David Long. “In other words, it’s a spacecraft selfie cam.”
BYU engineers are preparing to launch a CubeSat that will float in space and take images of a spacecraft in orbit and then transmit those images back to Earth. The 10-centimeter CubeSat, outfitted with cameras on all six sides, works like a spacecraft “selfie cam” and will make it possible to inexpensively see the exterior of a spacecraft and detect damage that can’t be seen in other ways. The team received support and sponsorship from NASA’s Launch Services Program as well as from BYU’s Fulton College of Engineering for the mission that is expected to launch in late 2020.
** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:
You can make contacts through amateur radio satellites, and even with the International Space Station, using equipment you probably own right now! All it takes is the right information, which you ll find in Amateur Radio Satellites for Beginners. There are dozens of spacecraft in orbit just waiting for your signals, and more are being launched every year. This book is your guide to a whole new world of operating enjoyment. Inside you will: Be able to locate satellites and determine when they will be available in orbit. Gain tips for building your own satellite station even if it s just a dual-band FM transceiver and a mobile antenna. Find a simple step-by-step guide to making your first contacts. Discover satellite antenna projects you can build at home. Amateur Radio Satellites for Beginners will introduce you to new experiences that you may have thought were out of your reach. Start reading and discover how easy it can be!
Amsats and Hamsats provides a step by step guide to how you can communicate through amateur radio satellites and how to receive signals from other small satellites and ‘weather’ satellites. The book gets right into the techniques you will need for working amateur radio stations through amateur radio satellites, then moves on to listening, or watching, signals from other satellites. There are chapters answering questions like, ‘how do satellites stay in orbit’ and ‘why are they so expensive to launch?’ Followed by sections about the history of amateur radio satellites, the mathematics governing orbits, TLE files, different types of satellite and their orbits. It covers the equipment you need, to track and use the amateur satellites and some of the satellite tracking software that is available. There are detailed sections covering transponders, satellite bands, feeders, masthead preamplifiers, antenna systems and automated rotator control. Plus chapters on the FUNcube Satellites, Weather Satellites and even the International Space Station. Amsats and Hamsats provides the ultimate guide to operating satellites and how they work. Its 368 pages are a great value guide to this stimulating and challenging area of amateur radio activity. Whether you want to get started or you are already an experienced operator you will find something of value in these pages.
Space is a common good, just like the ocean 🌊 and the atmosphere 🌠. And as such it is subject for pollution. It is time to get more in-orbit data on this problem. With ADLER-1 cubesat we will find the “fast bullets in the dark”. How will this work? Have a look at our video ⤵️