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Space News and Facts Newsletter - July 4 - July 10, 2021

Space News and Facts Newsletter
Space News and Facts Newsletter - July 4 - July 10, 2021
By Paul Fulford • Issue #8 • 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.

SpaceNews columnist Paolo Venneri makes the case for nuclear power in space exploration. Solar power, as Paolo points out, is useful here on Earth, but when you go to darker regions of space, or even to the dark side of the Moon, an alternative is necessary. Nuclear is the alternative. Fission Surface Power (#FSP) reactors can be made compact, resilient, and scalable. They can operate anywhere for long periods of time. This idea is not entirely new. In fact, radioisotope thermoelectric generators are on NASA’s Voyager 2 probe launched back in 1977, and also on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (FYI: A radioisotope thermoelectric generator is a type of nuclear battery that uses thermocouples to convert the heat released by the decay of radioactive material into electricity.)
Op-ed | America’s permanent and resilient presence in space will be nuclear powered - SpaceNews
How are galaxies classified? There is a relatively straightforward and rigorous system for such taxonomy. It’s primarily based on shape. The issue is the sheer number of galaxies that need to be accounted for, in the millions. Consequently, Australian astrophysicists are starting to use “convolutional neural networks” (#CNN). As a result, rather than taking months to classify a single galaxy, the process is now taking seconds. Not only that, but the correct classification is more likely than with a group of scientists.
Thousands of galaxies classified in the blink of an eye
Back on May 23, I posted about Virgin Atlantic and Richard Branson’s upcoming July 11 trip to “outer space.” (Bezos plans going up there on July 20.) I also mentioned the “Kármán Line” boundary between Earth and outer space. This article better explains the Kármán Line in more detail. It’s at 100 km (~62 miles). The billionaires plan on reaching just above 88 km (~50 miles), which is what NASA defines as outer space. So, there is some differing scientific opinion on what constitutes outer space. The 100 km Kármán Line was chosen because that’s the point where the air is too thin to support lift.
What is the Karman line and where is the edge of space?
A timely look at how satellite constellations block our view of the night sky. In 2019, there were about 2,000 active satellites. By the end of this decade, expect some 100,000! That doesn’t include inactive ones and various other debris. (This article talks about the Kessler Syndrome where there are so many objects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) that a collision between two objects could cascade into further collisions, compounding eventually to the point where space activities are all but impossible.) Anyway, the way around light pollution so far has been to place Earth telescopes in geographic locations less affected by the amount of light pollution from satellites. The article also looks at tracking programs that would allow Earth telescopes to time their observational windows. This is a lengthy article, about a 15-minute read. Lots of charts and diagrams, and one embedded video.
How Can Astronomers Overcome The Damage Being Done By Satellite Mega-Constellations?
A new space industry trade show is underway as of today and tomorrow, July 7 and 8, 2021, in Farnborough, England. The first Space-Comm Expo “will showcase the manufacturing supply chain for products, services and solutions supplying commercial enterprises and developments in space.” I’ve noticed a number of PR articles from companies attending the show. As well, it is supported by the ESA, the UK Space Agency, and others. Looking at the list of Exhibitors, it really is a massive event. Companies dealing in everything from metal alloys for spacecraft to high-res cameras to cubesat designs. Other interesting services such as specialized procurement management, a requirement for any business, not just space companies.
Space-Comm Expo 7-8th July 2021
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (#NOAA) is a sub-agency within the US Department of Commerce. NOAA manages a constellation of satellites, has stations in both the Arctic and Antarctica, and warns of severe storms and other weather and atmospheric events. (Not in the article, just FYI: NOAA owns 9 satellites and operates another 7. They even have a deep-space satellite orbiting at 1 million miles out to watch for “harmful space weather.”) This article looks at their plans for additional satellites in the near future, in particular, smaller satellites (“cubesats”) that can form “cooperative constellations” for wider data collection. This model is expected to be more efficient and cheaper, too.
NOAA to take first step toward a small satellite constellation - SpaceNews
This article is about NASA’s #Artemis mission to establish stations on the Moon. But that’s not what caught my attention. The article itself requires a subscription to access, anyway. But the website is ROOM. Their tagline is, “Space Journal of Asgardia.” Huh? Was I being hoaxed? Apparently not. Their website does have good, well-written, serious space-related articles. The “Asgardia” part is also interesting. In 2016, Igor Ashurbeyli, a Russian-Azerbaijani scientist, formed a pseudo nation called “Asgardia.” There are, of course, all kinds of issues regarding the “creation” of an independent “nation.” Nonetheless, at first, he was a self-appointed leader, but as more people joined the nation, they later voted him in as leader. In November 2017, on a Cygnus spacecraft to resupply the ISS, the first of 3 satellites owned by Asgardia was released into orbit, making it the first “nation” with all of its independent territory in space! (Although the legality of such a claim is in question.) To conclude, ROOM website’s Editor-in-Chief is also Igor Ashurbeyli. Asgardia, the Nation, has its own website where you can join the Nation if you so desire.
A shared vision for space exploration - Room: The Space Journal
On June 10, 2021, I posted about Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Units (aka “xEMU”). That’s the official NASA term for a spacesuit. The China National Space Administration (#CNSA) calls them Extravehicular Activity (EVA) spacesuits. This article points out some of the features of the Chinese #EVAs. They weigh 120 kg, can withstand temperature fluctuations over 200 C. Designed for walks between 7 - 8 hours, they also have radiation shields. The face shield itself has 4 layers including anti-glare and 2 pressure-resistant layers. My suspicion is that the NASA xEMUs and the CNSA EVA spacesuits likely share technologies and manufacturing backgrounds.
Space log: How do China's spacesuits ensure taikonauts' safety? - CGTN
A look at ancient Greek #astronomers and their contributions to space knowledge. Contributors such as Greek mathematician #Metonas from the 5th century BC, who used the Sun to create a predictable calendar. #Ptolemy from the 4th century BC, who invented the #Astolabe, a tool that could determine the altitude of celestial bodies above the horizon (and therefore identify planets and stars). #Eratosthenes from the 3rd century BC who was able to calculate the Earth’s circumference and axial tilt. Many others mentioned. Article is a long read, about 15 minutes. Some pictures, and a 13 minute embedded video about Copernicus from the 1500s.
How Ancient Greeks Set Humanity on the Path to Space Exploration
A fascinating and surprising article about some of the lesser-known and strange aircraft operated by #NASA. With accompanying pictures, these include the Super Guppy, the AeroVironment Helios, the B-52 Stratofortress, the Vertol VZ-2 (sort of a helicopter), the LTV XC-142 (another tilt-type pseudo helicopter/plane), the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, and a couple others. Some are no longer in service, but some are. Good history.
These Are Some Of The Most Interesting Aircraft NASA Has Operated
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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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