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Check Out These Recovered Early Satellite Images

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nimbusSatellite images might not seem all that novel these days, but back in 1964, they were groundbreaking. The USSR put Sputnik into space in 1957, which sparked interest in satellites with potential military benefits, as well as to obtain information about good ol’ Earth. In 1964, a satellite called Nimbus 2, a second-generation meteorological research device, orbited Earth until 1966, when its tape recorders stopped working. The only problem was how to store Nimbus’ photos of Earth—this was before the days of scanning and digital archiving. The images it gathered were stored in National Climatic Data Centers in North Carolina and in Washington DC and were largely forgotten. But National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) scientists David Gallagher and Walt Meier decided they wanted to get their hands on what amounts to billions of dollars worth of data.

The NCDC office told Gallagher he’d have to scan all the images himself—all told, there were 25 boxes of photo rolls. The magnetic film was deteriorating and the labels were unhelpful, and Gallagher knew he’d need the help of the now elderly scientists who helped gather the data, so he got to work. The images weren’t originals—they were actually photos of the original images played back on a television all captured on huge rolls of film.

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Launch Of NASA’s Climate Satellite Delayed

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NASA-OCO2-satellite-carbon-tracking-460x250While debating climate change with a denier can be like delving into a circular debate about religion or abortion, scientists will continue to amass evidence that yes, humans are drastically altering the Earth’s ecosystem in frightening ways. This is part of the reason that NASA has developed the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2), which measures carbon dioxide emissions from space. The satellite is the agency’s first dedicated to studying atmospheric C02, providing scientists with global measurements of CO2 levels and cycles. It’s a great idea, although its launch, which was scheduled for 2:56 AM today, was delayed due to equipment failure.


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Nine Universities And A High School Launched Nanosatellites Into Space With NASA

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cubesatWhen money is tight, creative solutions make all the difference. NASA, no stranger to funding woes, has made the brilliant tactical decision to essentially crowdsource work that once upon a time it might have done itself, or work that otherwise might not have happened. One example is the Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team, which hopes to grow plants on the moon. Another is the ELaNa IV (Educational Launch of Nanosatellite) mission and the cubesat Launch Initiative, which involved over 300 students. Nine teams from universities and one high school team got to launch their work — nanosatellites, otherwise known as cubesats — into the cosmos.

Cubesat launch initiative started in 2010 and has since chosen over 90 cubesats from universities and colleges, as well as government labs; the upcoming launch will be the fourth. The cubesats hitch a ride up on commercial rockets, and they’re tiny — about four inches long with a weight of less than three pounds. While researching for their projects, students get to learn all kinds of awesome stuff and often snag aerospace experts as mentors. On November 19, the cubesats launched on an Orbital Science Minotaur-1 rocket. Everything went well, and that rocket brought up 29 satellites in total — a record for a single rocket. We’re making satellites like crazy, y’all!

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3, 2, 1 — Uh Oh, SpaceX Reschedules Falcon 9 Rocket Launch For Thursday

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Falcon 9

Earlier today, SpaceX’s website was counting down, stopping, then counting down again, then stopping again, scrubbing the launch that was scheduled to take place at approximately 5:37pm EST. On Thursday, SpaceX will again attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket for a GEO Transfer Mission. The rocket, which will launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, will put an Orbital Sciences SES-8 satellite, designed to support Southeast Asian communications needs for about 15 years, into a geostationary transfer orbit. Then, about a half-hour after launch, the Falcon 9 will deliver the satellite into geostationary orbit at about 22,000 miles above Earth, roughly 25% of the way to the moon. Many launchers deliver a satellite in two phases, or burns, depending on how long and how much power it takes to reach the first apogee. The transfer to geostatic orbit phase is usually performed via solar power, which reduces overall costs. This launch is SpaceX’s first attempt at putting a communications satellite in orbit.

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The Ferrari Of Space Is In For One Hell Of A Crash

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GOCEThis is exactly what you should expect when you take a Ferrari into space. The European Space Agency’s GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite is expected to run out of fuel in October and then begin its long fall back to Earth.

The GOCE satellite has been dubbed the “Ferrari of space.” In part this is because of an aerodynamic design that minimizes friction caused by low-orbit atmospheric particles, but it also comes with a $450 million price tag. Since 2009, it has been hanging out in low orbit, studying Earth’s gravity field. The satellite is only 160 miles above Earth, which isn’t very high—the International Space Station is almost twice that far. GOCE has produced a detailed and accurate model of Earth’s gravity field, as well as a high-resolution map of the planet’s geology. It was even able to identify the border between Earth’s mantle and its crust.