Space News: December 1, 2015

LISA_Pathfinder_in_spaceESA’s Lisa Pathfinder mission: the hunt for gravitational waves begins

The space hunt for gravitational waves is to start on Tuesday, December 2 from Kourou, French Guyana. With the lift-off of the LISA Pathfinder mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) will pave the way for future missions by testing its gravitational wave detection in deep space.

Predicted by Albert Einstein, these waves are ripples in the curvature of space-time produced by massive celestial events. It is thought that gravitational waves are abundant across the Universe, typically produced by powerful sources such as supernova explosions and pairs of orbiting black holes. However, despite the attempts of ground-based experiments to detect them directly, gravitational waves have so far remained elusive.

LISA Pathfinder will test new technologies needed to measure them in space, although it is not aimed at their detection; it will simply prove the innovative technologies needed to do so.

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Scientist says huge clumps of dark matter may lie just beyond the Moon

A scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has now provided a clue about where dark matter—and lots of it—might be found. In a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal, Gary Prézeau has proposed that Earth and other planets and stars in the Milky Way galaxy are surrounded by theoretical filaments of dark matter called “hairs.” By finding the roots of these hairs, he reports, physicists could uncover a trove of dark matter.

What he found is a bit like light coming into a telescope, Nick Suntzeff, an astrophysicist at Texas A&M University, told Ars. When a telescope points at a star, light still comes into the instrument from every direction, but the light coming from the star is moving along parallel lines with a strong signal. When a telescope focuses on a star, it is simply collecting only this parallel light. In his paper, Prézeau says the same thing happens with dark matter.

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British technology company to ‘transform’ air and space travel with pioneering new engine design

hypersonic1_3488200bFor a small technology company trying to revolutionise low-cost commercial space travel, the sale of a minority stake to aerospace giant BAE Systems could turn out to be the defining moment in its quest.

Its Sabre engines for commercial air travel can go from zero to five times the speed of sound, and up to 25 times the speed of sound for space travel.

“It’s a combination of jet engine technologies and rocket technologies, so actually it’s a complex system (requiring everything to function as one unit)” recently-installed managing director Mark Thomas says.

Experts believe hypersonic air travel could enable people to one day journey anywhere in the world within four hours. At Reaction Engines, based in Oxfordshire, they think this could be a reality within 10 to 15 years.

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A job opening for a Geospatial Intelligence Analyst, Sierra Nevada CorporationSNC has an opening for a Systems Engineer/Orbit Analyst, with an emphasis on interpreting capabilities of Remote Sensing and open source collection, to provide systems engineering and technical advisory services to a variety of DoD and IC customers. More information

Build up your space portfolio by participating in the Apollo Stowage Lists Project. Helping to understand and contextualize the items in the Smithsonian collection is the heart of this transcription project, which will produce, from official NASA documents (stowage lists) a database of all government provided and contractor-provided equipment originally placed on the spacecraft including information about scheduled transfers of each item from one location to another in the course of the missions. More information




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