NASA has announced that it will be increasing the network speeds on the International Space Station soon, without a new router or satellite - with the upgrades being mainly terrestrial.
TechCrunch reports: "The ISS and dozens of satellites rely on the Space Network, a more or less unified architecture for sending large amounts of data from orbit to base stations around the world. Its maximum bandwidth is 300 Mbps, which is of course much faster than most ISPs provide, and more than enough for everyone on the ISS to stream videos at once".
28TB of high-definition, real-time space data is transmitted back to Earth everyday, as well as the astronauts' internet browsing, video calls - and if it were me, Overwatch gaming. All of the transmission goes through a dedicated network of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, which then blast the signals to base stations, and then pass them through to their destinations here on our pale blue dot.
These base stations are being upgraded, with the new hardware getting installed in the White Sands and Guam terminals, with NASA's Mark Severance explaining: "Fundamentally, this upgrade of both the onboard and ground data communications systems enables an increase in the scientific output from the space station".
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft made history back in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth, a feat previously achieved only by governments. Although Dragon currently carries cargo to space, it was designed to carry humans, and it should have a major role in getting to Mars.
The Dragon spacecraft has yet to welcome its first crew onboard, which was planned for December 2017. However, according to NASA's Commercial Crew Program Target Flight Dates list, the 14-day test flight has been rescheduled for May 2018.
This decision is most likely related to Falcon 9's explosion in September and the company's investigation of the incident. Elon Musk said that the cause of the accident was "a combination of liquid helium, advanced carbon fiber composites, and solid oxygen," but earlier this month they rescheduled the launch of satellites for Iridium Communications because they are "completing the final steps necessary to safely return to flight."
The planned launch of NASA's CYGNSS spacecraft aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus rocket has been postponed. According to the company, a hydraulic pump aboard the Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer aircraft, which is required to release the latches holding the Pegasus in place, was not receiving power.
The three-stage Pegasus XL will be used to deploy eight small satellites for NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission into a Low-Earth orbit. Pegasus is carried aloft by Orbital ATK's Stargazer L-1011 aircraft to approximately 40,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, where it will be released and free-fall for five seconds before igniting its first stage rocket motor. With its unique delta-shaped wing, Pegasus will deliver these satellites into orbit in a little over 10 minutes.
CYGNSS will be used to study hurricanes and to learn about their rapid intensification.
NASA opened an official channel on Giphy and uploaded 462 GIFs. They range from historical moments in space exploration, fascinating views of our planet from space, to newer ones from International Space Station and first images of other planets in our system.
You can find funny GIFs or even learn something while browsing through hundreds of GIFs.
NASA also uploaded a bunch of photos from their archive to Pinterest, so you might want to check that too.
Former astronaut and US Senator John Glenn died today, December 8th, at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. He was 95.
Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person in space in 1962 when he flew with the Friendship 7 mission, a part of Project Mercury. His flight made him an instant hero. He received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978 and was inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990.
Glenn is also the oldest person to fly in space so far, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs. He was 77 when he flew on Discovery mission in 1998. The purpose of his flight was to study the effects of spaceflight on the elderly. NASA doctors have followed Glenn's health since he first became an astronaut.
He also holds the record for the longest time any astronaut had gone between two spaceflights.
SpaceX grounded its rockets for more than three months after September's Falcon 9 explosion, but they were supposed to end this year with a new launch on December 16th.
However, that launch has now been canceled, and SpaceX is looking at a new launch date in early January. On a blog posted on their website, SpaceX stated that they are completing the final steps necessary to safely return to flight.
We are finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1. This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch.
After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings, and moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017.
Now, the Cassini spacecraft has sent its first views of Saturn's atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn's northern hemisphere.
This collage of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's northern hemisphere and rings as viewed with four different spectral filters. Each filter is sensitive to different wavelengths of light and reveals clouds and hazes at different altitudes. Clockwise from top left, the filters used are sensitive to violet (420 nanometers), red (648 nanometers), near-infrared (728 nanometers) and infrared (939 nanometers) light. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 2, 2016, at a distance of about 400,000 miles (640,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 95 miles (153 kilometers) per pixel.
The ESA concluded a two-day Council meeting at the ministerial level in Lucerne, Switzerland and ministers in charge of space matters from ESA's 22 member states plus Slovenia and Canada have allocated 10.3 billion euros (roughly around $11 billion) for space activities and programs based on the vision of a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0.
The members also approved the commitment to extend European participation in the International Space Station program to 2024. Funding for the ESA's extension will amount to about 807 million euros ($861 million) on usage and 153 million euros ($163 million) for science projects involving the Space Station.
NASA's Administrator Charles Bolden expressed his excitement about the decision on NASA's official blog.
The European Space Agency (ESA) member nations have approved an additional $425 million dollars to complete the ExoMars mission, a two-part multi-year Martian astrobiology life searching project and joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). ESA asked for the additional funds after their Schiaparelli lander crashed onto the surface of Mars in October.
The member nations held a two-day meeting in Switzerland where it has been announced that they will provide extra funds.
The European-Russian ExoMars project have sent an orbiter and a test lander to Mars, which were supposed to lay groundwork for the next part of the mission scheduled in 2020 when they planned to send a rover to Mars.
However, while the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) successfully entered orbit around Mars, contact was lost with the Schiaparelli lander, and it has later been confirmed that it crashed.
"The Christmas tree is filled with flowers. I swear it's Christmas Eve", might not sound like a typical Christmas carol, it certainly won't make it to the top of the charts, but this is how an AI-generated song sounds.
The song, if we can call it that, was created with a program named "neural karaoke." Scientists uploaded a Christmasy image to the program and let it do its magic. The program then analyzed the photo and came up with words and a melody. The result is...unique.