Planet with triple suns, SpaceX cargo launch ready and FemtoSats

artist-concept-hd-1885-abNew alien planet boasts rare triple suns

While scientists know of many planets with two suns, a planet with three bright stars in its sky is much rarer. The newly found distant world, known as KELT-4Ab, orbits one star. That star in turn is orbited by a nearby pair of stars. The twin stars are close enough to the planet to appear about as bright as the full moon in the sky, new research has revealed.

In addition to providing an example of a solar system very different from Earth’s, the strange arrangement may help provide insight into how gas giants that lie close to their parent star — known as “hot Jupiters” — evolve.

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SpaceX says cargo launch ready, hopes to “nail the landing” this time

A little more than nine months after the loss of its Dragon spacecraft during a cargo flight to the International Space Station, SpaceX is ready to set matters right. On Wednesday, the company completed a successful static firing of its Falcon 9 rocket engines, and a Thursday readiness review found all systems were go for a launch on Friday afternoon.

The resupply flight will carry 3,136kg of cargo to the station inside the Dragon capsule, including the 1,413kg Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. And while there has been some excitement about the potential for expandable habitats in space, which may lead to much larger living quarters for human activity, much of the anticipation for Friday’s launch again revolves around whether SpaceX will make a historic landing on a drone ship at sea. Launch is scheduled for 4:43pm ET (9:43pm BST) on Friday.

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The next big thing in space may be really, REALLY small satellites

femtosats-640x390The miniaturization of space continues, unabated. First came CubeSats, measuring about 11cm long and weighing no more than 1.33kg. These small research payloads have helped spur the development of a small satellite launch industry, and using the International Space Station to deploy them has become one of the national lab’s hottest commercial activities.

However, the evolution of satellites downward from thousands of kilograms, down to a single kilogram, does not seem to be stopping. On Thursday, Arizona State University announced it is developing FemtoSats, a 3cm cube with a mass of just 35g. These “SunCubes” grew out of a research project begun in 2014 by Jekan Thangavelautham, a professor in the university’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

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Job opening for a Composites Development Engineer Associate, Lockheed Martin (USA). Performs a variety of mechanical, physical, chemical, and performance evaluations on products, raw materials, in-process materials, or development materials and processes in support of the company’s engineering development programs. More information


Build up your space experience by participating in the Project MESDT (for US citizens only). Some of the tasks student groups would be responsible for: work during mission operations, analyzing real Mars mission data; be responsible for specific exploration topics (i.e. polar caps, high latitudes, volcanic regions, MSL landing site locations, Phoenix lander location, etc.); retrieve current information from datasets (THEMIS, MRO, MER, etc.) More information

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