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Space News and Facts Newsletter - June 6 - June 12, 2021

Space News and Facts Newsletter
Space News and Facts Newsletter - June 6 - June 12, 2021
By Paul Fulford • Issue #4 • 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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More on China today (Friday, June 11, 2021). This is a very good overview of China’s participation in the new space race. There’s some history, a look at its current missions, and some speculation on future ambitions. It’s a fairly long article, about a 15-minute read.
Everything you need to know about China’s space race | The Week UK
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Back on January 3, 2019, the Chinese probe Chang'e 4 landed on the far/dark side of the Moon. However, because the Moon’s far/dark side always faces away from Earth*, communication can be tricky. This article looks at how the Chinese have overcome this issue with a satellite strategically placed (sort of) behind the Moon in a special position called the “Libration point 2.” They call this satellite arrangement the “Queqiao.” (FYI: Queqiao 鹊桥 is a Chinese term for a fabled bridge formed by magpies, or between the reunion of a man and wife. The characters translate as “Magpie Bridge.”)
* The Moon always faces away from Earth because Earth’s tidal forces slowed its rotation to the point where it no longer rotates. This is known as “tidal locking” or, as stated in the article, “gravitational locking.”
Queqiao: The bridge between Earth and the far side of the moon
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You’ve seen Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Units before. AKA “xEMU,” we just call them “spacesuits.” (FYI: yes, xEMU is the official NASA name for spacesuits.) This article takes a closer look at the complexities of those suits. I didn’t know … it can take up to 4 hours to suit up, and an xEMU can have as many as 16 layers! Meanwhile, back at the desk, there’s a 30 page procedure to assist astronauts on spacewalks.
NASA’s New Spacesuits Are Incredible – 2oceansvibe News | South African and international news
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The Committee on Space Research (#COSPAR), based in Paris, promotes scientific research on space. This article investigates that committee’s “Planetary Protection Policy” which is concerned with issues of contamination of “potentially dangerous material <brought> home to Earth (backward contamination) or indeed carry anything from Earth that may jeopardize the scientific exploration of these worlds (forward contamination).” Such a policy is needed because there is no international policy in place. There is the United Nations Outer Space Treaty of 1967, but it places responsibility on each individual country.
To boldly go where no germs will follow: The role of the COSPAR Panel on Planetary Protection
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As a follow-up to my June 7th post on Jupiter’s satellite, #Ganymede, here are some of the images being returned by NASA’s #Juno spacecraft. Ganymede is a water-ice-encrusted “moon” - more correctly called a satellite.
NASA's Juno Spacecraft Sends Stunning Images of Jupiter's Largest Moon | The Weather Channel - Articles from The Weather Channel | weather.com
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This article is about a 3D printed, reuseable rocket, the #Terran_R. A 6-year-old company, #Relativity_Space, develops its rockets using a combination of 3D printing, robotics, and AI. It plans on being a competitor to #SpaceX and #Blue_Origin, putting commercial payloads (satellites) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). While this article expounds on the Terran R, Relativity Space is actually planning on launching their first rocket, the Terran 1, later this year. There’s some interesting promo material and embedded videos. Chance to see a legit space competitor at work.
Relativity Space unveils fully reusable, 3D-printed Terran R rocket | Space
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Three Canadian universities are developing tools for #NASA to be used in upcoming missions to the #Moon. This is being coordinated through the Canadian Space Agency (#CSA). The focus of the article is on the team at #Simon_Fraser_University, led by Professor Behraad Bahreyni. The group is developing micro-systems to analyze gravitational forces and seismic activity on the Moon.
SFU prof leads Canadian team designing tools for exploring the moon | Vancouver Sun
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This is quite a fascinating article about “ultrasonic additive manufacturing” (#UAM) as it relates to critical components for spacecraft. Apparently, the #JPL has been experimenting with the process to “improve reliability in heat exchangers, a crucial component of any spacecraft.” Through UAM, items that once required many (or at least several) parts can now be manufactured as a single piece. Particularly applicable to heat exchangers, for maintaining a steady temperature, used on spacecraft. There’s a lot of detail here, as well as some promo bits about a couple of the contractors doing the work for JPL. Follow SN&F on social media and subscribe to the free weekly newsletter.
Additive technologies developed for space are being adopted for Earth
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This article looks at the possibility that particles from our Sun may have formed metals that in turn formed out planet Earth. Apparently, samples from an iron-core meteorite are similar to our Earth’s core. The meteorite was discovered way back in 1927 but continues to be the subject of new experiments. It isn’t the iron itself, but the presence of two noble gases, solar helium and neon, that come from solar winds, that lead to this idea of the Earth being formed from our Sun. (FYI: nobles gases, aka inert gases, are a group six gases that are odourless, colourless, and have a low chemical reactivity.)
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Today, June 7th, 2021, NASA’s #Juno spacecraft will make a close pass of Jupiter’s satellite, #Ganymede. This is significant (other than the amazing fact that we could even get there) because it is the largest “moon” in the solar system. (FYI: it is correctly called a “satellite,” the term “Moon” refers to the one and only satellite orbiting Earth.) Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury. Juno will measure the satellite’s magnetic fields, gravity, and atmosphere. And take some pictures.
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Back in February 2020, the #ESA launched a probe to our Sun. Its purpose is to collect data about the Sun’s magnetic fields, gravity, and energy usage. The “Solar Orbiter” (aka Solo) won’t reach its observation point until later this year (2021). (FYI: this is different from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which I posted about on May 3rd, and is observing the #Sun‘s outer corona.) This article describes how one instrument, the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (#PHI) will measure the Sun’s magnetic fields. The issue of interest is the constant vibrations encountered by the probe … and how to compensate for that jitter. Two mirrors are involved, and they must be micro-adjusted in real-time using a sophisticated system of “piezoelectric actuators.” The article, part PR promo for manufacturer Physik Instrumente (PI) GmbH & Co., describes this is detail and its uses in other, Earth-bound, applications. Still very interesting. A long read, about 15 minutes.
Solar mission propels tip/tilt systems into commercial applications – Physics World
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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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