Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: 2014-03-09

March 14, 2014

ISS data communication boosted by the laser OPALS

Dear followers and readers,

The bandwidth speed of the communications between the International Space Station and Earth is a real bottleneck for the scientific experiments. But NASA decided to fix this problem. The slowness of capturing data from ISS is about to go into serious overdrive with a new laser communication experiment set which will be launch to ISS this weekend. The experiment gear is called OPALS for Optical Payload for Laser Science

OPALS transfers the video data from ISS to the ground receiver at JPL's Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) in Wrightwood, California. As the ISS travels across the sky, a laser beacon is transmitted from the ground telescope to the payload on ISS and tracked. The main existing deep space missions send back 200k to 400k bits of information per second. OPALS will send information by laser beam rather than radio wave, demonstrating a speed of up to 50 megabits per second. Future deep space optical communication systems should reach up to one gigabit per second.
The OPALS module will be sent up to the space station aboard the cargo Dragon from the private company Space X. Its launch is planned next Sunday, March 16th.

Credit: NASA 

Stay tuned for the space launch of OPALS module

[Update] The Dragon launch was postponed to March 30. Stay tuned 

March 13, 2014

[Update] Chinese satellites may detected debris from the missing malaysia Airlines flight [nor not]

Dear readers and followers,

last week we knew about the dramatic missing of the Malaysia Airline flight. Today, Chinese satellites may have detected debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, as illustrated below. 

Credit: AFP

Chinese government satellites orbiting Earth may have detected floating, crash related debris from the missing Malaysian Airline flight MH-370. This discovery could be a key finding in spurring the ongoing and so far fruitless search efforts.

Stay tuned

[Update] Chinese admitted mistake in releasing images. They retracted that statement and said the picture was not supposed to be released.

Star trail and Aurora in Scotland captured by amateur photographer

Credit Chris Sinclair 

The picture has been taken in March 2nd in Scotland

March 12, 2014

NASA proposes a reward of 35 k$ for an asteroid hunter software

Dear followers and readers,

the danger for the Earth planet induced by hazardous asteroids is a field which interests strongly all the space agency. NASA is used to detect, track and characterizes space comets and hazardous asteroids. A dedicated program called Near-Earth Object Observation, also named Spaceguard has been created by the space agency in order to present dramatic event. For this reason +NASA decided to propose a reward of 35 k€ for an asteroid hunter software.

During the three months of 2014, couple hazardous asteroids passed close to Earth such as the asteroid called 2014 DX110 last week. This asteroid was quite small, around 30 meters of diameter. However, in February 2014, an other wider asteroid was observed close to Earth, 2000 EM26: this one was really wide, around 270 meters of diameter, the equivalent of 3 football field.
With the number of asteroids growing, the US space agency would mine the talent from the general public. NASA hopes to spot dangerous space rocks such as the one that saw off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. In order to increase the interest of people, NASA is offering up to $35,000 over the next six months to anyone who is able develop computer code that can identify life-threatening asteroids.

The challenge started by NASA consists in developing significantly improved algorithms to identify asteroids in images captured by ground-based telescopes.
"The winning solution must increase the detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false positives, ignore imperfections in the data, and run effectively on all computer systems" defined NASA.

Stay tuned and try your chance to save Earth !

March 11, 2014

Video of sunset and night at the National Astronomical Observatory in Bulgaria

Credit: Nikola Petrov and Emil Ivanov

The video was performed in 2010 at NAO Rozhen, Bulgaria, with images taken with Canon 40D camera and 18mm f/1,8 lenses.

March 10, 2014

Explore the land of Mars with Curiosity for its 531 martian days on the red planet

Dear readers and followers,

After, 531 Martian days the NASA's rover, Curiosity is still working and performing its exploration of the red planet even if the space rover had some power glitch which perturb its functioning. This new interactive 360° panorama has been built with 130 images for a total resolution of 30,000 pixels widths !!! Dingo Gap is visible on the left where the rover traversed a small dune ripple to get into more better terrain for its wheels.

Credit : +Andrew Bodrov