CSA Issues Letter of Interest for 7 Priority Technologies

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has issued a Letter of Interest (LOI) for seven priority technologies the agency wants industry to develop under its Space Technology Development Program.

The technologies include: improved wide-field astronomical imaging; exoplanet search; advanced planetary exploration instruments; improvements in synthetic aperture radar imaging; and the use block chain with Earth observation data.

Below is a table summarizing the seven technologies.

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Airbus Successfully Completes In-orbit Commissioning of CHEOPS Exoplanet Satellite

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

MADRID, 26 March 2020 (Airbus PR) – Airbus has received confirmation from ESA of a successful end to the In Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of CHEOPS after the IOC review yesterday. This critical phase was performed by Airbus in Spain with the support of the Instrument Team (University of Bern), Mission Operation Centre (INTA), Science Operation Centre (University of Geneva) and ESA.

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NASA Approves Development of Universe-Studying, Planet-Finding Mission

Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (Credit: NASA)

Editor’s Note: NASA continues to develop WFIRST even as the Trump Administration continues to try to kill it. The administration’s FY 2021 budget request cancels the telescope, a proposal Congress rejected last year.

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project has passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing.

The WFIRST space telescope will have a viewing area 100 times larger than that of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which will enable it to detect faint infrared signals from across the cosmos while also generating enormous panoramas of the universe, revealing secrets of dark energy, discovering planets outside our solar system (exoplanets), and addressing a host of other astrophysics and planetary science topics.

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LOFAR Pioneers New Way to Study Exoplanet Environments

OUDE HOOGEVEENSEDIJK, The Netherlands (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy PR) — Using the Dutch-led Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope, astronomers have discovered unusual radio waves coming from the nearby red dwarf star GJ1151. The radio waves bear the tell-tale signature of aurorae caused by an interaction between a star and its planet.

The radio emission from a star-planet interaction has been predicted for over thirty-years but this is the first time astronomers have been able to discern its signature. This method, only possible with a sensitive radio telescope like LOFAR, opens the door to a new way of discovering exoplanets in the habitable zone and studying the environment they exist in.

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How Earth Climate Models Help Scientists Picture Life on Unimaginable Worlds

Illustration of an exoplanet. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

by Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — In a generic brick building on the northwestern edge of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center campus in Greenbelt, Maryland, thousands of computers packed in racks the size of vending machines hum in a deafening chorus of data crunching. Day and night, they spit out 7 quadrillion calculations per second. These machines collectively are known as NASA’s Discover supercomputer and they are tasked with running sophisticated climate models to predict Earth’s future climate.

But now, they’re also sussing out something much farther away: whether any of the more than 4,000 curiously weird planets beyond our solar system discovered in the past two decades could support life.

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A New Tool for ‘Weighing’ Unseen Exoplanets

The NEID instrument, mounted on the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. The NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research (NN-EXPLORE) partnership funds NEID (short for NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy). (Credits: NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory /KPNO/NSF/AURA)

TUCSON (NASA PR) — A new instrument funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation called NEID (pronounced “NOO-id”; sounds like “fluid”) will help scientists measure the masses of planets outside our solar system — exoplanets — by observing the gravitational pull they exert on their parent stars. That information can help reveal a planet’s composition, one critical aspect in determining its potential habitability.

NEID recently made its first observations on the WIYN 3.5-meter (11.5-foot) telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory when it studied 51 Pegasi, which in 1995 was the first Sun-like star found to host an exoplanet.

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NESSI Emerges as New Tool for Exoplanet Atmospheres

The Hale Telescope is located on Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, California. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Palomar Mountain, Calif. (NASA PR) — The darkness surrounding the Hale Telescope breaks with a sliver of blue sky as the dome begins to open, screeching with metallic, sci-fi-like sounds atop San Diego County’s Palomar Mountain. The historic observatory smells of the oil pumped in to support the bearings that make this giant telescope float ever so slightly as it moves to track the stars.

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“Cold Neptune” And Two Temperate Super-Earths Found Orbiting Nearby Stars

Artist’s concept of GJ229Ac, the nearest temperate super-Earth to us that is in a system in which the host star has a brown dwarf companion. Top Right Image: An artist’s concept of GJ180d, which is the nearest temperate super-Earth to us that is not tidally locked to its star, making it more likely to be able to host and sustain life. Illustrations are by Robin Dienel, courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Washington, DC (Carnegie Institution for Science PR) — A “cold Neptune” and two potentially habitable worlds are part of a cache of five newly discovered exoplanets and eight exoplanet candidates found orbiting nearby red dwarf stars, which are reported in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series by a team led by Carnegie’s Fabo Feng and Paul Butler.

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New Technique May Give NASA’s Webb Telescope a Way to Quickly Identify Planets with Oxygen

Conceptual image of water-bearing (left) and dry (right) exoplanets with oxygen-rich atmospheres. Crescents are other planets in the system, and the red sphere is the M-dwarf star around which the exoplanets orbit. The dry exoplanet is closer to the star, so the star appears larger. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Friedlander-Griswold)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Researchers may have found a way that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope can quickly identify nearby planets that could be promising for our search for life, as well as worlds that are uninhabitable because their oceans have vaporized.

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NASA Planet Hunter Finds its 1st Earth-size Habitable-zone World

The three planets of the TOI 700 system orbit a small, cool M dwarf star. TOI 700 d is the first Earth-size habitable-zone world discovered by TESS. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations.

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NASA’s TESS Mission Uncovers Its 1st World with Two Stars

By Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — In 2019, when Wolf Cukier finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York, he joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern. His job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and uploaded to the Planet Hunters TESS citizen science project.

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Liftoff for Cheops, ESA’s Exoplanet Mission

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — ESA’s Cheops mission lifted off on a Soyuz-Fregat launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 09:54:20 CET on 18 December on its exciting mission to characterise planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.

Signals from the spacecraft, received at the mission control centre based at INTA in Torrejón de Ardoz near Madrid, Spain, via the Troll ground tracking station at 12:43 CET confirmed that the launch was successful.

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ESA to Launch Cheops Exoplanet Satellite on Tuesday

CHEOPS space telescope (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Tune in to ESA Web TV from  08:30 GMT (09:30 CET) Tuesday, 17 December to watch ESA’s exoplanet mission soar into space on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Cheops, the CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite, is scheduled for liftoff at 08:54 GMT (09:54 CET)  on its exciting mission to study planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. It is ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of exoplanets.

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NASA’s TESS Presents Panorama of Southern Sky

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The glow of the Milky Way — our galaxy seen edgewise — arcs across a sea of stars in a new mosaic of the southern sky produced from a year of observations by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Constructed from 208 TESS images taken during the mission’s first year of science operations, completed on July 18, the southern panorama reveals both the beauty of the cosmic landscape and the reach of TESS’s cameras.

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Exoplanet and Cosmology Discoveries Win Nobel Prize in Physics

Exoplanet imaginarium (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA congratulates 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who have been awarded the prestigious prize for the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star, and James Peebles, honoured for the theoretical framework of cosmology used to investigate the Universe on its largest scales.

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