To the Moon! U.S. Space Force’s Operational Area Just Got Much Larger

The Moon seen from the International Space Station. The image was taken by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli during his second mission to ‘MagISStra’ on 20 March 2011. Paolo commented on the image: “Supermoon was spectacular from here!” (Credit: ESA/NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

I looked a bit more into this memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was signed earlier this week by NASA and the U.S. Space Force (USSF) to deepen cooperation between the two agencies. And there’s a really fascinating aspect to it.

“With new U.S. public and private sector operations extending into cislunar space, the reach of USSF’s sphere of interest will extend to 272,000 miles and beyond — more than a tenfold increase in range and 1,000-fold expansion in service volume,” the MOU said.

(more…)

IG Audit: NASA Planetary Program Faces Major Financial, Managerial Challenges

Dragonfly flying over the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) faces a series of managerial, financial and personnel challenges as it prepares to conduct a series of ever more ambitious missions to the moon and planets, according to a new audit by the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).

(more…)

Tiny Asteroid Buzzes by Earth – the Closest Flyby on Record

This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An SUV-size space rock flew past our planet over the weekend and was detected by a NASA-funded asteroid survey as it departed.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12:08 a.m. EDT (Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9:08 p.m. PDT).

(more…)

Using Tethers to Protect Earth from Asteroid Impacts

These photos show the relative size of three asteroids that have been imaged at close range by spacecraft. Mathilde (37 x 29 miles) (left) was taken by the NEAR spacecraft on June 27, 1997. Images of the asteroids Gaspra (middle) and Ida (right) were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/NEAR and Galileo missions

NEW YORK (Springer PR) — Our planet exists within the vicinity of thousands of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), some of which — Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) — carry the risk of impacting Earth causing major damage to infrastructure and loss of life. Methods to mitigate such a collision are highly desirable.

(more…)

ISRO, ARIES Sign MOU on Space Situational Awareness, Astrophysics Cooperation

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Bengaluru and Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital for cooperation in the field of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Astrophysics was signed by Shri.R. Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary, ISRO and Prof. (Dr.) Dipankar Banerjee, Director, ARIES through video at ISRO Headquarters and ARIES Headquarters on 4th June 2020. 

(more…)

University of Arizona Looks Toward Work on NASA’s Potential Asteroid-Hunting Space Telescope

Bi-static radar images of the binary asteroid 2017 YE5 from the Arecibo Observatory and the Green Bank Observatory on June 25. The observations show that the asteroid consists of two separate objects in orbit around each other. (Credit: Arecibo/GBO/NSF/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

TUCSON, Ariz. (University of Arizona PR) — The University of Arizona is spearheading work that would begin efforts to construct a space-based infrared telescope that could provide the capabilities NASA needs to search for asteroids and comets that pose impact hazards to Earth, called near-Earth objects, or NEOs.

(more…)

Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
(more…)

Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

(more…)

Newly Discovered Comet Is Likely Interstellar Visitor

Comet C/2019 Q4 as imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii’s Big Island on Sept. 10, 2019. (Credits: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A newly discovered comet has excited the astronomical community this week because it appears to have originated from outside the solar system. The object — designated C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) — was discovered on Aug. 30, 2019, by Gennady Borisov at the MARGO observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. The official confirmation that comet C/2019 Q4 is an interstellar comet has not yet been made, but if it is interstellar, it would be only the second such object detected. The first, ‘Oumuamua, was observed and confirmed in October 2017.

(more…)

New NAS Report Recommends NASA Build Space-Based Infrared Telescopes to Detect Near-Earth Asteroids

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

WASHINGTON (NAS PR) — The likelihood of a large asteroid hitting Earth in any given year, or even over one’s lifetime, is very small. However, the consequences of such a strike would be great. Detecting near-Earth objects (NEOs), determining their orbits, and estimating their mass is critical knowledge necessary to quantify their destructive potential.

A new report titled, Finding Hazardous Asteroids Using Infrared and Visible Wavelength Telescopes , from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of telescope capabilities in detecting NEOs and says that space-based infrared NEO survey telescopes are more effective than visible wavelength telescopes, provide diameter information that visible wavelength telescopes cannot provide, and do not cost significantly more than in-space visible wavelength telescopes.

The report also says that if NASA develops a space-based infrared NEO survey telescope, it should also continue to fund both short- and long-term ground-based observations to refine estimates of the orbits and physical properties of NEOs, which helps to assess the risk they might pose to Earth.











B612 Foundation’s Sentinel Telescope Will Cost $450 Million

sentinel_heritage

Dan Leone at Space News has a great update on plans by the B612 Foundation to launch its $450 million Sentinel asteroid-hunting telescope:

B612 plans to launch Sentinel in 2017 or 2018 aboard a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rocket, possibly as a secondary payload, according to Troeltzsch.

(more…)











Asteroid Detecting Sensor Passes Critical Design Milestone

JPL_asteroid_satellite
Editor’s Note:
As the Planetary Defense Conference gets underway in Flagstaff, Ariz., NASA reports progress on a sensor designed to detect asteroids and comets.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — An infrared sensor that could improve NASA’s future detecting and tracking of asteroids and comets has passed a critical design test.

The test assessed performance of the Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) in an environment that mimicked the temperatures and pressures of deep space. NEOCam is the cornerstone instrument for a proposed new space-based asteroid-hunting telescope. Details of the sensor’s design and capabilities are published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Optical Engineering.

(more…)











Deep Space Industries Announces Fleet of Asteroid Hunting Spacecraft

dsi_logo
SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (DSI PR) —
Deep Space Industries announced today that it will send a fleet of asteroid-prospecting spacecraft out into the solar system to hunt for resources to accelerate space development to benefit Earth.  These “FireFly” spacecraft utilize low-cost cubesat components and get discounted delivery to space by ride-sharing on the launch of larger communications satellites.
(more…)











Deep Space: Mine

deep_space_industries
Move over, Peter D! You’ve got company!

Former Astrobotic Technology President David Gump has resurfaced with a new company, Deep Space Industries, which will announce the “world’s first fleet of commercial asteroid-prospecting spacecraft” during a press conference at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Deep Space Industries is the second asteroid mining company to make a public announcement in the past year. Planetary Resources — founded by Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson — is aiming for the same market.

Eric Berger over at Space News has more information on the company.











Russia Eyes New Agency to Monitor NEOs, Space Debris

Asteroid Ida

Roscosmos held a meeting last week during officials reviewed a plan for meeting threats to Russia from both near Earth objects (NEOs) and space debris. One of the key recommendations was the establishment of a new agency to oversee the effort:

“Proposed the creation of a single (national) Monitoring Space Administration (SMC) to integrate information from the space control system (SKKP) Russian Defense Ministry and a set of specialized tools to detect and monitor hazardous space objects operated by industry organizations (Roscosmos, Russia Ministry of Industry) and the Russian Academy of Sciences.”

A Roscosmos press release that outlines the recommendations is reproduced below via Google Translate.

(more…)