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Ep. 29, Page 100
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Comic 2235 - Ep. 29, Page 100

20th Sep 2016, 10:09 PM in Episode 29 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
Average Rating: 5 (1 votes)

Author Notes:

smbhax 20th Sep 2016, 10:09 PM edit delete
Space news has piled up on me a little bit so it's time for....space news roundup!

- Watch the launch of an asymmetric rocket (Ars Technica) - An Atlas V rocket only needed one strap-on booster to lift a satellite into orbit, and to compensate for the booster's one-sided weight, it had to gimbal (ie, pivot) its main thruster sideways a tad; an interesting launch style you don't see often!

- Gaia space telescope plots a billion stars (BBC) - The first load of data is back from the ESA's Gaia space telescope, giving the position and brightness of over a billion stars (or other sources of light) in unprecedented detail—so ground-breaking is Gaia's vision that 400 million of those objects had never been catalogued before. For 2 million of the objects, by comparing Gaia's readings with readings from its predecessor, Hipparcos (ESA), scientists were able to determine their distance and sideways motion; this type of information, combined with analysis of radial velocity (movement of stars as they turn toward or away from Gaia as they rotate around the galaxy), will allow scientists to construct a much more precise map of the galaxy, and one that includes where stars are going and where, by projecting their motion backwards, they came from, ie how the galaxy evolved. There is so much data that they have made it available on the web so the public can help sift through it. Gaia's 2 million object catalogue is already twice as precise and 20 times as big as Hipparcos', which has been the definitive reference catalogue for the past 20 years. Gaia's mission goal is to plot 1 billion objects fully—but interestingly, the satellite has found that there are more faint stars out there than had been previously thought, so its full catalogue—approximately yearly data updates are anticipated, with a little over two years left in its original mission duration—may end up consisting of 2-3 billion objects. (I wonder if these newly discovered faint stars account for any of the so-called "dark matter"?)

- China launches second trial space station (BBC) - China has put the Tiangong-2 space station into orbit; it follows a smaller test station, Tiangong-1, which went up in 2011 (and is expected to burn up in the atmosphere some time late next year). "Heavenly Palace 2" is 15 meters long, and will host two astronauts for a month, beginning in October. Tiangong-3, due to launch in 2022, will be 18.1 meters long, a full size prototype for the core module of an eventual modular space station.


cattservant 21st Sep 2016, 5:52 AM edit delete reply
That's going to be a bumpy road.
smbhax 21st Sep 2016, 9:34 PM edit delete reply