Tag Archives: Satellites

A Few Reasons Why Tomorrow Might Be A Bit of a Strange Day…

Tomorrow will not be your ordinary Friday. For starters, tomorrow is the 13th, making tomorrow a Friday the 13th.

There will also be a full moon in the sky when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning. The last time that happened? October 13, 2000. The next time it will happen? August 13, 2049.

I’m not one for superstitions, but there is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. Our sun has been shooting off powerful solar flares the last few days, including this one captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory early Tuesday morning:

Three recent solar X-flares emitted by the Sun. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of NASA/SDO)

Solar flares are brief, high-radiation eruptions that happen on the surface of the Sun. The three flares emitted in the past two days (pictured above) have been X-flares, the most powerful classification of solar flare. X-flares emit radiation at virtually every wavelength, from radio waves, to the light we can see, to x-rays and gamma rays.

Because of all of the different electromagnetic waves that the flares emit, they can disrupt communications here on Earth. In fact, the flare in the video above caused a temporary radio blackout here on Earth, according to Space.com.

The electromagnetic spectrum. Click to enlarge

Did I mention CMEs? CME stands for coronal mass ejection. This occurs when a powerful solar flare emits a plasma burst along with the radiation. A plasma burst can cause polar geomagnetic storms which are capable of severely disrupting communications and satellite systems, including GPS.

Along with having the potential to cause low levels of radiation poisoning in humans, a strong CME would also create surges in electrical wires, destroying transformers and leaving millions without power.

Despite the scary stuff, CME’s are pretty fascinating. These plasma burst clouds actually compresses Earth’s own magnetic field, which is what causes so many of the potential issues.

Artist depiction of how a CME plasma burst interacts with Earth’s magnetoshpere (Courtesy of NASA)

At first, officials at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center didn’t think that the flare in the video above had emitted a CME, only to find later that it had actually produced two of them.

They are expected to give Earth a glancing blow when they reach Earth orbit…tomorrow, Friday the 13th.

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What Does The Shadow of A Solar Eclipse Look Like From Space? (gif)

This amazing gif was generated using images captured by a weather satellite owned by EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites).

Click to enlarge

The satellite is traveling in geosynchronous orbit, meaning it’s orbiting Earth at the same speed that Earth rotates on its axis. This is what allows the satellite to focus on the same region the whole time.

(Feature photo courtesy of nethskie2010)

Record-Breaking: Space Station to Launch 33 “Cubesats” This Month (Video)

According to Space.com

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are preparing for the deployment of nearly three dozen tiny satellites from the orbiting lab over the coming weeks.”

The International Space Station astronauts have installed special equipment preparing for the launch of 33 Cube Satellites (aka “Cubesats”) this month, with the first ejections beginning on Feb. 6th.

According to Michael Johnson, chief technology officer of the space-hardware firm NanoRacks…

We believe this will be a world-record deployment, of the number of satellites in one deployment”

Check Out the below video interview with Texan Mike Johnson (NanoRacks Chief Technology Officer) to find out more about the new technology needed for this record-breaking satellite deployment.

Japan Testing Magnetic Space Net to Clean Up Orbiting “SPACE JUNK”

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and a company that manufacturers fishing equipment are teaming up to create a wire net that will generate a magnetic field and – theoretically – attract debris that is circulating beyond our atmosphere.

The net is scheduled to begin testing in late February (2014) with a small sized net. A rocket will be launched and a satellite developed by researchers at Kagawa University will be deployed. Once in orbit, the satellite is designed to unreel the first test net.

This floating debris, that is desperately needing to be removed, is mostly man-made and mainly made up of parts of obsolescent and degrading satellites and rocket. But as small as these particles and pieces may be, even a single bolt, for example – could have a catastrophic result if it collides with a functioning satellite or the International Space Station (which has a permanent human crew aboard).

According to South China Morning Post…

A recent study in the US suggested that a collision between two satellites could trigger an “uncontrolled chain reaction” that could destroy the communications network on earth.”

Also experts are estimating that 100 million bits of man-made junk are currently orbiting the earth. Of that 100 million bits, some 22,000 are believed to measure up to 10 cm and are considered very dangerous.

In the future, JAXA plans to use space craft to attach nets to larger pieces of space junk – rocket engines or satellites that are no longer operational – and let gravity and the atmosphere complete the task of eradicating the threat. JAXA is planning further trials next year and a functioning system could be deployed as early as 2019.” –According to South China Morning Post

Record-Setting Rocket Launch Puts Nearly 30 Satellites Into Orbit (Video)

On November 19 the Minotaur 1 Rocket launched successfully carrying 29 satellites, breaking the record for most satellites sent into orbit in a single launch. The United States Air Force run launch is managed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, which is one of two private companies that currently hold a contract with NASA to fly unmanned cargo missions to the International Space Station.

Check Out the full video coverage here…