Centauri Dreams 4 Feb 2020, 18:54 UTC When we consider pushing a sail to 20 percent of lightspeed, which is the target velocity for Breakthrough Starshot, it’s interesting to think about how laser propulsion differs from sunlight. After all, while constructing a huge laser array presents numerous challenges on Earth, we already have a star to work with, and sail technology that is beginning to be tested in space. Consider, too, that we have operational spacecraft like the Parker Solar Probe that are exploring regions close to the Sun, helping us learn more about heat shields, even as we plan missions like Solar Cruiser, whose sail would enable interesting non-Keplerian orbits near the Sun.
NASA Space Station Blog 4 Feb 2020, 16:43 UTC The crew aboard the International Space Station is preparing to split up while also getting ready for a U.S. space delivery. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is packing up and cleaning her crew quarters today ahead of her return to Earth early Thursday. She will board the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship on Wednesday about 9:30 p.m. EST with crewmates Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency).
Starts With a Bang! 4 Feb 2020, 15:01 UTC One of the greatest unsolved puzzles in all of science is dark energy.
New Scientist 3 Feb 2020, 16:00 UTC Earth’s upper atmosphere has strange dense layers of ions that are constantly appearing and disappearing and which can hamper radio communication. Now, the same thing has now been found on Mars, offering a new chance to crack understand this poorly studied phenomenon.
Centauri Dreams 3 Feb 2020, 13:12 UTC In a few short months, New Horizons will be almost 8 billion kilometers out, a distance that still boggles the mind until we remember that Voyager 1 has reached 22.2 billion kilometers (over 148 AU). Then, of course, we’re humbled again with the thought that the inner Oort Cloud is thought to be between 2,000 and 5,000 AU from the Sun, with an outer edge that could extend as far as halfway to the nearest star. That star, Proxima Centauri, is 268,770 AU from us.
Centauri Dreams 31 Jan 2020, 18:17 UTC Meanwhile, we have the good news that the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite), which was launched from Kourou (French Guiana) on December 18, has completed its early orbit phase, involving instrument tests and calibration, and has now opened its telescope cover, exposing the focal plane to starlight.
ESO Announcements 31 Jan 2020, 15:00 UTC ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the world’s biggest eye on the sky, will have a pioneering five-mirror optical system that will allow it to unveil the Universe in unprecedented detail. The tertiary mirror in this system, M3, has completed a key production stage and has now been delivered to French company Safran Reosc for final polishing.