Falcon 9, Raspberry Pi and a Super Planet

falcon-9-december-launch-4Elon Musk announces December 19 launch date for next Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX is heading back into orbit with founder and CEO Elon Musk announcing that a Falcon 9 rocket launch is scheduled for December 19. The improved version of the rocket is set to lift off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and will carry 11 Orbcomm OG-2 communication satellites into low Earth orbit. This marks the first flight of the Falcon 9 since the June 28 mid-air explosion of the CRS-7 mission shortly after launch.

Musk made the announcement on Twitter, saying the SpaceX team is aiming for a rocket static fire at Cape Canaveral on the 16th, which would be followed by a launch around three days later. A static firing is a standard test to determine the fitness of a rocket system for launch. SpaceX recently moved much of its assembly and testing work for the Falcon 9 to Canaveral for improved logistical support.

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Raspberry Pi computer blasts off to International Space Station

The little computers are part of the payload on an Atlas V rocket, and they will be grabbed by a robot grappling arm and taken aboard the International Space Station. Then, British astronaut Tim Peake will use them to carry out some out-of-this-world tests. The Raspberry Pis have special add-on boards, and Tim will run several experiments using their sensors.

Liz Upton, head of communications for Raspberry Pi, said: “Once Tim gets there, he’ll be doing some experiments with the computers, and they’ll then stay up there. It’s possible they will also later be used by Nasa as well. “The results of Tim’s experiments will be downloaded back to Earth for everyone to see.”

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Astronomers question claim of super planet found at solar system’s edge

ALMA_potw_eso_130415-640x426Scientists and amateur astronomers have long been fascinated by the possibility of a “Planet X” at the edge of the solar system that may explain some apparent anomalies in the orbits of planets such as Neptune and Uranus. However, in recent years, astronomers have largely ruled out the possibility of a large, unseen planet far beyond the orbit of Pluto.

Research groups from Sweden and Mexico have now submitted pre-prints of two research papers to arXiv (here and here) that claim to have discovered a massive object at the edge of the solar system. Using observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile during 2014 and 2015, the astronomers spied “a new blackbody point source” that appears to be moving in conjunction with the Alpha Centauri star system, about 4.3 light years from Earth.

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NASA is hosting the workshop to collect proposals for locations on Mars that would be of high scientific research value while also providing natural resources to enable human explorers to land, live and work safely on the Red Planet. Maybe you have your own ideas and proposals for landing sites? Look at all the available resources and share your thoughts to boost your space career. More information


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