SpaceNews: November 27, 2015

gwys3di25hfysarlegffSugar-producing bacteria to be tested in space as food source for astronauts

Right now, astronauts have to subsist on supplies they take with them to space. But a new project is set to test whether sugar-growing bacteria could create sustenance for space travellers in low-gravity situations.

In 2017, reports New Scientist, a German satellite will head in to space carrying genetically modified bacteria know as PowerCell. That’s a cool-sounding name for a genetically tweaked plankton called Anabaena, and it uses photosynthesis to create sugar from carbon dioxide, water and sunlight, then excretes a little of it, which can be harvested for use. Yum. (Aboard the satellite, though, a microbe that turns red in the presence of sugar will be used to check production levels.)

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Watch Google test a Project Loon balloon in sub-zero environments

Alphabet, Google’s recently formed parent company, is making a bunch of bets. One of them is a project for broadcasting Internet to people who ordinarily wouldn’t get it — using big, fluffy balloons.

Googlers — no wait, uh, Alphabeters? — are quickly getting better at manufacturing these balloons and making them more effectively withstand conditions in the stratosphere. They cruise at an altitude of 65,000 feet, and up there it’s -76 degrees Fahrenheit.

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NASA announces final test for “Hubble’s Successor”: James Webb space telescope

6a00d8341bf7f753ef01b8d17b65f7970c-800wiNASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Webb telescope’s images will reveal the first galaxies forming approximately 13.5 billion years ago. The telescope will also see through interstellar dust clouds to capture stars and planets forming in our own galaxy. At the telescope’s final destination in space, one million miles away from Earth, it will operate at incredibly cold temperatures of -387 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40 degrees Kelvin. This is 260 degrees Fahrenheit colder than any place on the Earth’s surface has ever been.

To create temperatures that cold on Earth, the team uses the massive thermal vacuum chamber at Goddard called the Space Environment Simulator, or SES, that duplicates the vacuum and extreme temperatures of space. This 40-foot-tall, 27-foot-diameter cylindrical chamber eliminates almost all of the air with vacuum pumps and uses liquid nitrogen and even colder liquid helium to drop the temperature, thereby simulating the space environment.

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A job opening for a Propulsion System Engineer, ATG. The System Engineer is during the development process closely involved in all technical aspects and issues that occur with the realization of a design. The System Engineer ensures the timely and complete availability of all relevant technical information, distributes tasks and technical information to the organization to achieve this goal. More information


Build up your space portfolio by participating in the project Asterank: to discover an asteroid, watch the animation of the night sky and look for a moving white dot. There’s a good chance that moving dot is an asteroid. The first user to notice the dot gets potential discovery credit and naming rights. You can contribute to the project and help with issues or additional features on GitHub. More information

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