First ever black hole image released

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 11 April 2019
Browse Astronomy

It measures 40 billion km across - three million times the size of the Earth - and has been described by scientists as "a monster".

"It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe."

The image matches what theoretical physicists and indeed, Hollywood directors, imagined black holes would look like, according to Dr Ziri Younsi, of University College London - who is part of the EHT collaboration.

Pretty impressive what science can do these days.

FCC fines Swarm $900,000 for unauthorized satellite launch

Found on Reuters on Saturday, 22 December 2018
Browse Astronomy

Swarm Technologies Inc will pay a $900,000 fine for launching and operating four small experimental communications satellites that risked “satellite collisions” and threatened “critical commercial and government satellite operations,” the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly said the size of the penalty “is probably not significant enough to deter future behavior, but the negative press coverage is likely to prevent this company and others from attempting to do this again.”

Maybe there should be more bad press about who caused all the existing junk floating around in space. Whereever humans go, the junk gets there first.

Richard Branson Says He’s Going to Send People Into Space by Christmas

Found on Gizmodo on Sunday, 02 December 2018
Browse Astronomy

In a new interview with CNN, the Virgin Group founder now says he’s “reasonably confident” his spaceflight company can beat out competitors like Blue Origin and SpaceX with crewed trips to space before Christmas.

Many people might hope that Zuckerberg is amongst them. With a one-way ticket.

Hubble telescope hit by mechanical failure

Found on BBC News on Tuesday, 09 October 2018
Browse Astronomy

The observatory, described as one of the most important scientific instruments ever created, was placed in "safe mode" over the weekend, while scientists try to fix the problem.

If the "misbehaving" gyroscope turns out not to work, the orbiting observatory may have to operate on one. This would conserve the remaining gyros for as long as possible, but would restrict the telescope somewhat.

It's not an easy visit for servicing, so it will be interesting to see what technicians can try remotely until they have exhausted all options.

The Falcon Heavy is an absurdly low-cost heavy lift rocket

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Browse Astronomy

Upon direct comparison, the cost disparities are sobering, proving that commercial development of large rockets likely represents the future of the industry.

The bottom line is that the Falcon Heavy is a more powerful rocket than the Delta IV Heavy, and by various measures the latter will probably soon cost the US government about five times as much. Put another way, the Department of Defense may have to pay half a billion dollars more for a single launch of certain military satellites on the Delta IV Heavy versus the Falcon Heavy.

Unfortunately, it's not only the space program where the money of taxpayers gets wasted.

Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years

Found on NASA on Saturday, 02 December 2017
Browse Astronomy

If you tried to start a car that's been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond. But a set of thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft successfully fired up Wednesday after 37 years without use.

The thruster test went so well, the team will likely do a similar test on the TCM thrusters for Voyager 2, the twin spacecraft of Voyager 1. The attitude control thrusters currently used for Voyager 2 are not yet as degraded as Voyager 1's, however.

40 years after the launch of Voyager 1, 40 years of innovation and scientific advancements later, the technology won't even last a decade anymore because it either simply breaks (sometimes by design) or because that trendy cool "cloud app(tm)" required to operate it gets shut down.

See 2.8 million stars shine in one stunning image

Found on CNe News on Tuesday, 05 September 2017
Browse Astronomy

Gaia is on a mission to build a 3D map of the Milky Way. The ESA calls it a "billion-star surveyor." The image sequence shows just one small corner of our galaxy, but it's an area densely stuffed with stars.

There are around 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way, according to the ESA, so looking at just 2.8 million of them shows us just a small fraction of our home galaxy.

Images like this make you feel really small; and also make it hard to believe that we are the only one out there.

Chinese rocket launch fails after liftoff

Found on CNN News on Sunday, 02 July 2017
Browse Astronomy

The second launch of China's new-generation Long March-5 carrier rocket failed Sunday -- dealing a blow to the country's ambitious space aspirations.

Dubbed "Chubby 5" for its huge size -- 5 meters in diameter and 57 meters tall -- the LM-5 rocket is designed to carry up to 25 tons of payload into low orbit, more than doubling the country's previous lift capability.

Hard to believe that decades after successfully bringing men to the moon and back there is no more reliable method of travelling into space than rockets.

KFC launches sandwich into space

Found on CNet News on Friday, 21 April 2017
Browse Astronomy

He wants to send KFC's spicy Zinger sandwich into space. Unlike "most terrestrial chicken sandwiches," claims Lowe, KFC's are hand-breaded.

As to whether performing the feat of sending this concoction into space is possible, Lowe will only admit: "We certainly hope so. Our entire marketing campaign depends on it."

Just when everybody starts to realize that too much junk is orbiting around the earth, being dangerous to future missions, KFC comes up with the plan to send junk food there. They are a litte late to the party.

UK schoolboy corrects Nasa data error

Found on BBC News on Sunday, 26 March 2017
Browse Astronomy

The correction was said to be "appreciated" by Nasa, which invited him to help analyse the problem.

The research was part of the TimPix project from the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), which gives students across the UK the chance to work on data from the space station, looking for anomalies and patterns that might lead to further discoveries.

It turned out that Miles had noticed something no-one else had - including the Nasa experts.

Things like that can only happen when you open up your data to others and don't keep it locked down.