Category Archives: Space and Satellites

The Space and Satellite blog posts news about the aerospace industry, including links to industry news and articles, and announcements of continuing education for professionals who are working in the space and satellite profession.

DEORBITING SPACE DEBRIS FRAGMENTS USING ONLY EQUIPMENT LOCATED ON THE GROUND

The researchers at NORAD*, which is located under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are currently tracking 20,000 objects in space as big as a softball or bigger.  Most of these orbiting objects are space debris fragments that can pose a collision hazard to other orbiting satellites such as the International Space Station.

Tracking these fragments of debris is complicated and expensive.  Preventing collisions is expensive, too.  So, too, is designing and building space vehicles that can withstand high-speed impacts.  A cheaper alternative may be to sweep some of the debris out of space to minimize its hazard to other orbit-crossing satellites.

When two orbiting objects collide with one another, the energy exchange can be large and destructive.  Two one-pound fragments impacting each other in a solid collision in low-altitude orbits intersecting at a 15-degree incidence angle can create the energy caused by exploding two pounds of TNT!!

One scientific study showed that returning substantial numbers of debris fragments to Earth with a hydrogen-fueled spaceborne tug would cost approximately $3 billion for each percent reduction in the fragment population – which has been increasing by about 12 percent per year, on average.

Fortunately, a powerful, but relatively inexpensive laser on the ground pointing vertically upward can be used to deorbit fragments of space debris traveling around the earth in low-altitude orbits.  The radial velocity increment provided by such a ground-based laser causes the object to reenter the earth’s atmosphere as shown in  the sketch in the upper left-hand corner of Figure 1.

The total required velocity increment can be added in much smaller increments a little at a time over days or weeks.  Drag with the atmosphere was neglected in the case considered in Figure 1, but, in the real world, atmospheric drag would help the object return to Earth.

Radiation pressure created by the assumed 50,000 watt laser beam is equivalent to 40 suns spread over the one square foot cross section of the object.  The total photon pressure equals 1/13th of a pound per square foot.

*  NORAD = North American Aerospace Defense (Command)

Figure1The researchers at NORAD*, which is located under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are currently tracking 20,000 objects in space as big as a softball or bigger.  Most of these orbiting objects are space debris fragments that can pose a collision hazard to other orbiting satellites such as the International Space Station.

Tracking these fragments of debris is complicated and expensive.  Preventing collisions is expensive, too.  So, too, is designing and building space vehicles that can withstand high-speed impacts.  A cheaper alternative may be to sweep some of the debris out of space to minimize its hazard to other orbit-crossing satellites.

When two orbiting objects collide with one another, the energy exchange can be large and destructive.  Two one-pound fragments impacting each other in a solid collision in low-altitude orbits intersecting at a 15-degree incidence angle can create the energy caused by exploding two pounds of TNT!!

One scientific study showed that returning substantial numbers of debris fragments to Earth with a hydrogen-fueled spaceborne tug would cost approximately $3 billion for each percent reduction in the fragment population – which has been increasing by about 12 percent per year, on average.

Fortunately, a powerful, but relatively inexpensive laser on the ground pointing vertically upward can be used to deorbit fragments of space debris traveling around the earth in low-altitude orbits.  The radial velocity increment provided by such a ground-based laser causes the object to reenter the earth’s atmosphere as shown in  the sketch in the upper left-hand corner of Figure 1.

The total required velocity increment can be added in much smaller increments a little at a time over days or weeks.  Drag with the atmosphere was neglected in the case considered in Figure 1, but, in the real world, atmospheric drag would help the object return to Earth.

Radiation pressure created by the assumed 50,000 watt laser beam is equivalent to 40 suns spread over the one square foot cross section of the object.  The total photon pressure equals 1/13th of a pound per square foot.

*  NORAD = North American Aerospace Defense (Command)

Figure2

Figure 2:  These engineering calculations show that the 20,000 space debris fragments now circling the earth in low-altitude orbits could, on average, each be deorbited with ground-based lasers for approximately $40,000 worth of electrical power.  Those same ground-based lasers could be used in a different mode to reboost valuable or dangerous payloads in low-altitude orbits or to send those payloads bound for geosynchoronous orbits onto their transfer ellipses.  (SOURCE:  Short course “Fundamentals of Space Exploration”.  Instructor: Tom Logsdon. (Seal Beach, CA)

See all the ATI open-enrollment course schedule

https://www.aticourses.com/schedule.html

See all the ATI courses on 1 page.

What courses would you like to see scheduled as an open-enrollment or on-site course near your facility?

ATI is planning its schedule of technical training courses and would like your recommendations of courses

that will help your project and/or company.

These courses can also be held on-site at your facility.

http://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm

AMERICA’S INFRARED SPITZER TELESCOPE by Tom Logsdon

ASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which launched Aug. 25, 2003, will begin the “Beyond” phase of its mission on Oct. 1, 2016. Spitzer has been operating beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of its mission, and making discoveries in unexpected areas of science, such as exoplanets.
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which launched Aug. 25, 2003, will begin the “Beyond” phase of its mission on Oct. 1, 2016. Spitzer has been operating beyond the limits that were set for it at the beginning of its mission, and making discoveries in unexpected areas of science, such as exoplanets.

Tom Logsdon teaches a number of courses for Applied Technology Institute including:

  1. Orbital & Launch Mechanics – Fundamentals
  2. GPS Technology
  3. Strapdown and Integrated Navigation Systems
  4. Breakthrough Thinking: Creative Solutions for Professional Success

The article below was written by him could be of interest to our readers.

AMERICA’S INFRARED SPITZER TELESCOPE

“As in the soft and sweet eclipse, when soul meets soul on lover’s lips.”

 

British Lyric Poet

                                                                                                Percy Shelly

                                                                                                     Prometheus Unbound, 1820

America’s famous inventor, Thomas Edison, The Wizard of Menlo Park, had long admired the somber, romantic words penned by England’s master poet Percy Shelly.  And, like Shelly, he, too, was enchanted with the sensual experiences conjured up by the periodic eclipses that blotted out the sun and the moon.

In 1878 Edison clambered aboard the newly constructed transcontinental railroad headed from New Jersey to Wyoming where he hoped to utilize his newly constructed infrared sensor to study the total solar eclipse he knew would soon sweep across America’s western landscape.  When he arrived in Wyoming, the only building he could rent was an old chicken coop at the edge of the prairie.  And, as soon as the moon slipped in front of the sun causing the sky to darken, the chickens decided to come to roost.

Soon The Wizard of Menlo Park was so busy trying to quiet his squawking companions, he caught only a fleeting glimpse of the rare and colorful spectacle lighting up the darkened daytime sky.  His infrared sensor, unfortunately, remained untested that day.

Even if those agitated Wyoming chickens had behaved themselves with proper decorum during that unusual event, Thomas Edison’s sensor would have been entirely ineffective because most of the infrared frequencies emanating from the sun and the stars are absorbed by the atmosphere surrounding the earth.  However, sensors of similar design can, and do, handle important astronomical tasks when they are installed in cryogenically cooled telescopes launched into space by powerful and well-designed rockets.

The infrared rays streaming down to earth from distant stars and galaxies lie just beyond the bright red colors at the edge of in the electromagnetic spectrum our eyes can see.  As such, they penetrate the clouds of dust found, in such abundance, in interstellar space.  The dust that has accumulated under your bed is not particularly valuable or interesting.  But the dust found in outer space is far more beneficial – and exciting, too!

The Spitzer Space Telescope – a giant thermos bottle in space – now following along behind planet earth as it circles the sun, was an effective infrared telescope until it used up its entire supply of liquid helium coolant.  In the meantime, it has become a “warm” space-age telescope seeking out previously undiscovered exoplanets orbiting around suns trillions of miles away.  This is accomplished by observing their shadows periodically dimming the star’s visible light as the various planets coast in between the Spitzer and the celestial body being observed.

See all the ATI open-enrollment course schedule

https://www.aticourses.com/schedule.html

See all the ATI courses on 1 page.

What courses would you like to see scheduled as an open-enrollment or on-site course near your facility?

ATI is planning its schedule of technical training courses and would like your recommendations of courses

that will help your project and/or company.

These courses can also be held on-site at your facility.

http://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm

 

New Color Maps of Pluto

The Principal Investigator (PI) for the LORRI instrument is Andy Cheng, and it is operated from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Laurel, Maryland. Alan Stern is the PI for the MVIC and Ralph instruments, which are operated from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas. And as you can plainly see, the maps are quite detailed and eye-popping!

Dr. Stern, who is also the PI of the New Horizons mission, commented on the release of the maps in a recent NASA press statement. As he stated, they are just the latest example of what the New Horizons mission accomplished during its historic mission:

“The complexity of the Pluto system — from its geology to its satellite system to its atmosphere— has been beyond our wildest imagination. Everywhere we turn are new mysteries. These new maps from the landmark exploration of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons mission in 2015 will help unravel these mysteries and are for everyone to enjoy.”

 

Maps at
https://www.universetoday.com/136498/hey-map-collectors-heres-new-map-pluto/

SpaceX successfully launches third satellite in 12 days

34718447506_7ff2cfa1b2_oRApplied Technology Institute offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.  SpaceX launched a commercial communications satellite using a Falcon 9 rocket, its third flight in just 12 days.

The rocket blasted off on Wednesday evening at 7.38 p.m. (local time) from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, delivering the satellite called the Intelsat 35e to a geostationary transfer orbit, reports Xinhua news agency.

The satellite was deployed about 32 minutes after launch.

The California-based company tried to launch the satellite on Sunday and Monday, but stopped twice in the final seconds of countdown.

With a launch mass of over 6.7 tonnes, the Intelsat 35e is the heaviest satellite Falcon 9 has ever sent to orbit.

As a result, SpaceX did not attempt to recover the rocket’s first stage after launch this time, the company said.

It was lofted to provide high-performance services in both the C- and Ku-bands. Wednesday’s mission came just 10 days after SpaceX’s first-ever “doubleheader” weekend, when it launched two missions within about 50 hours.

One saw the launch of BulgariaSat-1, the first geostationary communications satellite in Bulgaria’s history, from the Kennedy Space Centre on June 23.

Another had 10 satellites launched to low-Earth orbit for the U.S. satellite phone company Iridium from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California two days later.

The Intelsat 35e also marked the tenth of SpaceX’s more than 20 launches planned this year. Last year, the company completed eight successful launches before an explosion during routine ground testing temporarily halted Falcon 9 launches.

Meanwhile, while the Intelsat 35e mission involved an expendable Falcon 9 first stage, SpaceX has recovered 11 first stages on previous missions, re-flying and re-landing two of them. The company has also started tackling the challenge of recovering and reusing the launch vehicle’s payload fairings.

 

 

NASA bets the farm on the long-term viability of space agriculture

Old MacDonald had a space farm.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering.

Also, our president, Jim Jenkins, is an avid gardener who grows a garden full of tomatoes, peppers, squash, peas.

Jim_Tomato

If you give an astronaut a packet of food, she’ll eat for a day. If you teach an astronaut how to farm in space, she’ll eat for a lifetime—or at least for a 6-month-long expedition on the International Space Station.

Since its earliest missions, NASA has been focused on food, something astronauts need whether they’re at home on Earth or orbiting 250-odd miles above it. Over the years, the administration has tried a series of solutions: John Glenn had pureed beef and veggie paste, other flight crews used new-age freeze drying technology. More recently, NASA’s been trying to enable its astronauts to grow their own food in orbit.

Bryan Onate, an engineer stationed at the Kennedy Space Center, is on the forefront of this technology. He helped lead the team that built Veggie, NASA’s first plant growth system, and next month he’s sending up Veggie’s new and improved brother, the Advanced Plant Habitat.

The habitat is the size of a mini-fridge. But instead of storing soda, it will carefully record every step in the growth of plants aboard the space station. This will allow researchers on the ground unprecedented insight into how plants are shaped by microgravity and other forces at work in outer space. And, Onate says, “astronauts may get to enjoy the fruit of our labor.”

Read more here.

Babylon 5 solar system bears striking resemblance to our own

 

The number of planetary systems discovered seems to grow on a daily basis, but most of them are wildly different to our own solar system. Now a team of University of Arizona researchers led by Kate Su have used NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) flying observatory to take a closer look at a system 10.5 light years away and discovered it has a familiar general structure.


 

The star in question is Epsilon Eridani (ε Eri) in the southern hemisphere of the constellation of Eridanus. Its previous claims to fame were as the setting for the sci fi television series Babylon 5 and the disputed location of Star Trek‘s planet Vulcan. It’s also been the subject of several early studies seeking extrasolar planets and was even monitored in the 1960s by Project Ozma as a possible source of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Much of the previous work on Epsilon Eridani involved the Spitzer Space Telescope, but SOFIA is over twice the size of Spitzer, has three times the resolution, and can operate in the infrared at wavelengths between 25 and 40 microns. What this meant was that SOFIA could discern much smaller details, especially from warm materials, than before, which suggested an alternative model to the one provided by Spitzer’s data.

 

NASA astronaut: Space toilet inspires ‘sheer terror’

Forget motion sickness and adjusting to microgravity. Astronaut Jack Fischer is most worried about facing the space station’s intimidating bathroom facilities.

On Thursday, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer is scheduled to embark on his first voyage to the International Space Station. He’s excited to be working on a variety of experiments, including ones dealing with plant growth and bone growth, but he’s less than thrilled about the prospect of using the loo in microgravity.

In a NASA Q&A, Fischer reveals what he expects his greatest challenge will be. He says it’s the toilet. “It’s all about suction, it’s really difficult, and I’m a bit terrified,” Fischer says.

In case you think Fischer is exaggerating his toilet trepidation, here’s NASA description of how the commode functions: “The toilet basically works like a vacuum cleaner with fans that suck air and waste into the commode.” It also requires the use of leg restraints.

“Unlike most things, you just can’t train for that on the ground,” Fischer says, “so I approach my space-toilet activities with respect, preparation and a healthy dose of sheer terror.”

 

Stunning Space Station photo of glowing auroras

Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) photographed brightly glowing auroras from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 27, 2017. (ESA/NASA)
Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) photographed brightly glowing auroras from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 27, 2017. (ESA/NASA)

NASA has released an amazing photo show by Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, who photographed bright auroras from the International Space Station on March 27, 2017.

“The view at night recently has been simply magnificent: few clouds, intense auroras. I can’t look away from the windows,” Pesquet wrote in a tweet that included the image.

Here’s what NASA wrote about the image:

“The dancing lights of the aurora provide stunning views, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs.’

Check out more images from NASA’s Aurora Image Gallery

Super-Moon Photos and Facts

One of the super-moon photos is a humorous hoax. Can you spot it? We knew that ATI’s instructors are world-class experts. They are the best in the business, averaging 25 to 35 years of experience, and are carefully selected for their ability to explain advanced technology in a readily understandable manner. We did not know that many are talented photographers. We challenged them to take some photographs of the November 13-14 super-moon.  See our previous post and then the resulting photographs.

http://www.aticourses.com/blog/index.php/2016/11/13/get-your-camera-ready-super-moon-november-13-14/

Tom Logsdon, who teaches Orbital & Launch Mechanics – Fundamentals provided us some of the orbits key parameters.

Here are the best, most appropriate, average orbital parameters for Earth’s.

perigee radius: 363,300 Km (for the super-moon it was 356,508 Km (or 221,524 miles)

apogee radius: 405,400 Km

Inclination to the ecliptic plane: 5.145 deg

(the plane containing the Earth and the moon)

orbital eccentricity: 0. 0549 (sometimes quoted as 5.49 percent)

recession rate from the Earth: 3.8 cm/yr

Siderial month: 27.3 days

Synodic month: 29.5 days

( the sidereal month is the time it takes for the moon to make one 360 deg trip around the earth;

the synodic month is the month we observe from the spinning earth…it involves a few extra degrees of travel beyond the sidereal month)

Dr. Peter Zipfel Shalimar, Florida

  Dr. Peter Zipfel

Six Degree of Freedom Modeling of Missile and Aircraft Simulations

Aerospace Simulations In C++

  James  Jenkins, Riva, MD

Sonar Signal Processing

 Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Engineering Systems Modeling with Excel / VBA

Thermal & Fluid Systems Modeling

  Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

Fundamentals of Synthetic Aperture Radar

Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

The photos that beat them all! Taken by the wife or Matt Moran