Fast Radio Bursts mystery, new CubeSats and SpaceX launch halt

grb_danaberry.jpg.CROP.original-originalAstronomers Solve One Mystery of Fast Radio Bursts and Find Half the Missing Matter in the Universe

A new paper just published in Nature describes a Fast Radio Burst detected just last year, and a bit of sleuthing revealed its most critical characteristic: its distance. Turns out, it’s far away. Very far away.

The burst is called FRB 150418, so named because it was detected on April 18, 2015. It was first spotted by the Australian Parkes radio telescope as it was sweeping the sky, performing a survey to look for astronomical sources of radio waves. When the burst was detected, a rapid alert was sent out to other radio telescopes with higher resolution (and therefore able to better nail down the burst’s position on the sky). Within hours the Australian Telescope Compact Array was on it, pinpointing the burst’s location.

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New CubeSats to test Earth science tech in space

To take advantage of the space-bound opportunities these small satellites offer, the Earth Science Technology office, or ESTO, part of NASA’s Earth Science Division, has selected four new projects to be developed, built and launched into low-Earth orbit.

  • (CubeRRT) – a project to observe, detect and mitigate radio frequency interference (RFI) for microwave radiometers.
  • Compact Infrared Radiometer in Space (CIRiS) – will adapt an existing instrument to be CubeSat-compatible to validate instrument performance in low-Earth orbit.
  • CubeSat Infrared Atmospheric Sounder (CIRAS) – a CubeSat-size instrument system capable of matching the temperature and water vapor profile measurements in the lower troposphere of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder.
  • Precipitation Profiling Radar in a CubeSat (RainCube) – will be the first active radar on a CubeSat platform. It will use a very compact deployable antenna and new processing technologies to validate a Ka-band precipitation radar.

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Issues with supercold fuel again halt SpaceX launch

151220-spacex1A design change in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket that requires its liquid oxygen fuel to be kept cold even by rocket-science standards again proved tricky to implement at the launch pad Thursday, delaying liftoff of a communications satellite for a second straight day.

The countdown for the SES-9 satellite launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, was halted with only 1 minute, 40 seconds to go due to problems loading the liquid oxygen into the rocket, said John Insprucker, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 product director, during the company’s launch webcast.

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