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Space News and Facts Newsletter - July 11 - July 17, 2021

Space News and Facts Newsletter
Space News and Facts Newsletter - July 11 - July 17, 2021
By Paul Fulford • Issue #9 • View online
Here are several articles posted to the SN&F website and social media pages this past week. There are many more. Click here for Facebook. The website also embeds space agency videos from YouTube. View everything in one place. Click here for the website.

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Further to yesterday’s (July 15, 2021) post, NASA has brought the #Hubble Space Telescope’s payload computer (which houses its scientific instruments) back online. The issue was with the Power Control Unit, so the payload computer was switched over to a backup PCU.
NASA Brings Hubble Space Telescope Back Online After Month in Safe Mode
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A quite spectacular 4-minute video made from images of Jupiter and its satellite (moon) Ganymede last month (June 7 & 8, 2021). The images come from the probe #Juno travelling only 1038 km above Ganymede. The next day, Juno reached speeds of up to 210,000 kph as it surveyed Jupiter from pole-to-pole. A small portion of the video was animated, such as simulated lightning but using real collected data.
Cruise by Jupiter and its giant moon Ganymede in this gorgeous Juno flyby video | Space
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This article from #JPL looks at the curious auroras found at both of #Jupiter‘s poles. These are rare X-ray auroras and have stumped astronomers as to why they occur. By combining data from JPL’s #Juno spacecraft, currently orbiting Jupiter, and one of the #ESA’s Earth satellites, XMM-Newton*, astronomers have determined these X-ray auroras are ions (electrically charged atoms) “surfing” Jupiter’s magnetic field. Full details are in the article.
* XMM-Newton was specifically designed to observe X-rays. It has the most sensitive telescope mirrors ever built.
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A further update on the malfunctions with the #Hubble Space Telescope. I last posted on July 2 that NASA was testing a fix on simulators. That didn’t work. It is now believed the power supply is the issue. The Power Control Unit (PCU) is housed with the payload computer that controls the onboard scientific instruments. Details of the nature of the PCU problem are in the article, so a switch to an alternative power unit is the next step.
NASA begins high-stakes repair to Hubble Space Telescope - CNN
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Here’s a look at the new and visually stunning Shanghai Astronomy Museum direct from the architect’s website. The Museum opens this Sunday, July 18, 2021. (There seems to be some confusion about the exact date it opens to the public, but July 18th is the broad consensus.) It’s massive. (As is everything in China, if you’ve ever been there. Yes, I have visited more than once.) It’s 420,000 square feet and is the only museum dedicated to the study of astronomy.
Shanghai Astronomy Museum - ennead
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This is a good overview of some of the artificial intelligence (#AI) and machine learning (#ML) technologies being used in the space industry. It starts by covering some of the AI and ML technologies used by well-known companies such as #SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. It then looks at things like sensors and actuators, voice control, and even data analysis of everything from images to fluid systems. It’s about an 8-minute read and helps to scope out just what a broad subject AI and ML are.
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This is a very interesting article about “forward contamination.” That means when we go exploring other planets, we don’t want to contaminate their environment with Earth life. It recounts what authors Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley went through when visiting the JPL’s Mars rover clean room back in December 2019. From facial wipes to high-pressure air showers, if you wanted to work on the rover, you had to be clean! “I don’t know that we can say it’s the most sterile object that humans have ever created,” said one engineer. “But it’s extremely clean.” This is a long article, about a 20-minute read.
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Something you don’t think about very often is that airplanes must avoid rocket launches and re-entries into the National Airspace System (NAS). The US Federal Aviation Administration (#FAA) used to rely on manual communication to obtain and disseminate space data. A new tool called the “Space Data Integrator” (#SDI), currently in prototype, will allow them to collect data from “Launch and Reentry Operators” (LROs). (Think NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc.) The SDI then distributes that data to the “Traffic Flow Management System” (TFMS) of the FAA. The TFMS is the FAA’s main computer system for managing air traffic.
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After yesterday’s (Sunday, July 11, 2021) trip to the edge of space (below the Karman Line) by Richard Branson in a #Virgin Galactic rocket plane, Russian news agency, #TASS, editorializes on the necessity of state involvement in space exploration. According to the Kremlin, the likelihood of “whether private space initiatives could emerge in Russia without the state’s participation” … is unlikely. The cost is too much for private initiatives alone, and #Roscosmos, like NASA, wants private investments and ventures.
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An interesting article about environmental control and life support aboard the Chinese Space Station (#CSS). The primary considerations are air and water because neither can be easily resupplied from Earth. On the CSS, there are 5 “regenerative” systems: 1) the removal of carbon dioxide from the air, 2) the electrolysis of water to make oxygen, 3) urine treatment into distilled water, 4) the collection of water condensation, and 5) water purification. Also mentioned, but not fully explored in the article is the consideration that actual storage space is a factor.
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Paul Fulford

Every week on I publish a newsletter containing space-related articles that I have found interesting.

I read a lot of material on the space industry. There's a lot going on out there other than NASA and SpaceX (although I am not excluding those sources). It is my hope that this newsletter will bring these interesting articles and insights to your attention, and that you, too, will gain a broader appreciation for the vastness of space.

Most of these articles are curated from my own social media posts. Each issue contains links directly to the article that has caught my attention. The article links are not affiliate links - I don't make money from them. They're just what I have discovered and want to share.

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