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Space History Is Made in This NASA Robot Factory – Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Built in 1961, the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA'sJet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is the cradle of roboticspace exploration.

The first probes launched to the Moon, Mars and Venus wereassembled here. So were all of NASA's Mars rovers, Galileo and Cassini (thefirst orbiters to Jupiter and Saturn), and the twin Voyager spacecraft that arescouting the farthest reaches of the solar system. A new rover, Mars 2020, isgoing through final testing in this facility before being shipped in Februaryto Cape Canaveral, Florida, where it will launch this summer.

The Spacecraft Assembly Facility's construction marks whenJPL transitioned from missiles to space exploration, according to JPL historianErik Conway. "It's where all JPL-built missions from 1962 onward were assembled,"he said. "It was originally just one high bay. They added a second in 1976,during the construction of the Voyagers."

The facility's best-known featuresare a pair of eggshell-white clean rooms called High Bay 1 and High Bay 2. Throughthe windows of each room's viewing gallery, visitors can watch engineers gownedin white "bunny suits" testing Earth-observing satellites and robotsbuilt for alien worlds. More than 30,000 members of the public visit HighBay 1 each year, and many also tune in online to see the workgoing on there.

This summer, visitors will be able to see an Earth-sciencemission called NISAR being built inHigh Bay 1. It will be followed by EuropaClipper. High Bay 2 will be home to an Earth-science mission called SWOT before a mission to a metalasteroid, Psyche, takes its place.

What's a CleanRoom?

As the name implies, a clean room has to be pristine: Dust,hair, oils and other particulates in the air can interfere with electronics andmoving parts. All efforts are made to keep bacteria to a minimum as well. Scientistsdon't want to discover life only to find it was accidentally sent from Earth.

"The whole idea of a clean room for spacecraft assemblycomes out of the Ranger program," Conway said.

As pathfinders for the Apollo missions that followed, the nineRanger missions were essentially unarmed missiles fired at the Moon. All butthe first two were built in High Bay 1, back when it looked more like anaircraft hangar; engineers even smoked in it. The standards for manufacturingspacecraft were just being established.

Sterilizing a spacecraft with heat appeared to fry Ranger3's electronics, causing it to miss the Moon by 22,000 miles (35,000kilometers). Debris floating inside Ranger 4 is believed to have led to itsfailure. Engineers began to realize that specialized clean rooms and cleaningprocesses were needed to build successful missions.

"When JPL started, we knew more about spacecraft thananybody else - and we knew nothing," saidArden Acord, a systems engineer who began working at JPL in 1971. "Welearned a lot of things along the way."

Many of his first coworkers had built the Sergeant andCorporal missiles when JPL was still a U.S. Army lab. Acord was aself-described long-haired hippie working alongside guys with crew cuts:"It was a tough club to break into for a while. But eventually I becameaccepted." He went on to help build the twin Viking orbiters, which carriedthe first successful Mars landers, Voyager 1 and 2, and Galileo and Cassini.

Two Rooms for Earthand Beyond

Almost all the spacecraft Acord worked on were built inHigh Bay 1, which in 1973 became what's known as a Class 10,000 clean room.That means there are fewer than 10,000 particles of 0.5 micronsor larger in size per cubic foot of air volume (0.5 microns is about 200 timessmaller than the width of a human hair).

Opened in 1976, High Bay 2 is aClass 10,000 clean room as well. The air in both rooms cycles about 70times per hour through extensive filtration systems. To keep the workerscomfortable, High Bay 2 is kept at 70 degrees, while High Bay 1 is kept at 68degrees.

Deep space missions tend to bebigger and require more ground equipment, so they typically go in High Bay 1and involve more gowning for planetary protection purposes. Being the smallerof the pair, High Bay 2 is more suitable for the spacecraft of Earth sciencemissions. The high bays' hangar-door dimensions determine the maximum size ofthe spacecraft that can be built within.

Keeping It Clean

Of course, filtered air is only part of what makes a cleanroom clean.

"The level of cleanliness changes depending on thespacecraft you're building," said Roger Francis, the building's facilitymanager. "If you have special lenses, like a telescope, it requires moreeffort to make sure particles don't affect your instruments."

But regardless of the type of spacecraft, staff regularlywipe down surfaces with 180-proof isopropyl rubbing alcohol, push microfibermops across the floors and use HEPA vacuums along wall corners, while the wallsthemselves are cleaned up to 10 feet (3 meters) high. Most metal is stainlesssteel, which resists corroding and releasing particles into the air.

Then there are the rigorous procedures required foreverything that enters the clean room.

For spacecraft and their separate components, that meansbeing wrapped in plastic and brought into an airlock outside the clean room. They'reunwrapped on the "dirty side" of the room and wiped down before beingmoved to the clean side.

A crane capable of lifting 30,000 pounds (13,608kilograms) slides along the ceiling of each room, assisting workers as theymove equipment through the high bays. A white parasol on each crane's cablecatches any grease or debris from the crane that could land on the sensitivehardware below.

Dressing the Part

People follow a special process before entering the cleanroom as well: Automated shoe brushes and sticky mats remove debris from theirshoes before they enter a locker room. Once their feet are covered withbooties, they step over a line onto the clean side of the room.

Then it's time to don a bunny suit, face mask, hair coverand latex gloves before taping sleeves closed. (A mannequin called High Bay Bobstands on the floor of High Bay 1, demonstrating proper attire and givingvisitors a sense of scale.) Finally, they step into an "air shower"that blows stray particles off the outside of their garments.

Static electricity can interfere with electronics, so personnelwear an antistatic cord around one wrist, with a clip on the other end toattach to hardware in the clean room. As added precautions against staticelectricity, humidity in the room is kept at about 45% and the concrete floor hasa special epoxy coating to bleed static charge that builds up in garments aspeople move about the room.

The Wall of Fame

The mission emblems that line the top of High Bay 1'ssouth wall aren't exempt from the cleanliness requirements. The idea for theplacards came about in 2008, when Acord was tasked with preserving theSpacecraft Assembly Facility's history. Representing JPL's biggest missions,the emblems would serve as a testament to engineers' hard work assembling andtesting hardware.

Visitors to High Bay 1 may have noticed the south wall is runningout of room for additional placards. But there's always more space to explore: Emblemsmight expand onto the east wall in the future.

News Media Contact

Andrew GoodJet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.818-393-2433andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Alana JohnsonNASA Headquarters, Washington202-358-1501alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

2019-253

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Space History Is Made in This NASA Robot Factory - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

10 Amazing Scientific Discoveries and Achievements in Space Exploration Made in 2019 – Asgardia Space News

2019 was full of amazing scientific discoveries and achievements in space exploration. These 10 events are just the tip of the iceberg, but they're definitely some of the most memorable milestones of the year!

A snowman-shaped asteroid known as Arrokoth is the farthest object ever explored by a spacecraft. A 34-kilometers-wideasteroid is one of thousands of icy bodies that exist beyond the orbit of Neptune. First discovered in 2014 with the Hubble Space Telescope, the object was captured by the New Horizonsspacecraft on the first day of the year, January 1 2019.

2019 continued with the tremendous success of Change 4ssoft touchdown with the lunar surface. January 3, Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the Moon for the first time in history! Later this year, we have witnessed 2 more attempts to land a craft on the Moon safely, however, both of them failed. Unfortunate Israeli Beresheet mission and the Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan-2mission couldnt achieve the lunar milestone.

The Japanese sample-returning mission Hayabusa2 was launched from Earth on December 3, 2014,and met the 900-meters-wideasteroid 162173 RyuguJune 27, 2018. It orbited the space rock for months before it dared to collect the samples. On February 22,the spacecraft approached the surface of the asteroid and fired a bullet made of tantalum into Ryugu, blasting up debris. The material was collected using the spacecrafts specialized sampling horn. Thesecond touchdown was conducted July 10, made a carefully choreographed descent and collected another batch of samples using the same technique. November 2019 Hayabusa 2left the space rock alone andante headed back to Earth. Were expecting its return in late 2020.

Running more than two years behind schedule, the SpaceX Crew Dragon finally was launched atop aFalcon 9 rocket on March 2. The spacecraft docked with the ISS the next day as planned. The uncrewed mission ended on 8 March with a successful splashdown. This test flight was a critical milestone for the US: SinceNASA retired its fleet of space shuttles in 2011, the UShad to rely on Russianrockets and ships to carry astronauts to and from theISS.However, later this year, not everything went according to a plan: on April 20, 2019, the capsule used on Crew Demo-1was unexpectedly destroyed during a test of the SuperDracoengines.

This April, the world was astonished by the image of a black hole captured for the first time in history. The iconic picture showed a ring of light stretched around the supermassive 100-billion-kilometer-wide black hole in the heart of the M87 galaxy, 55 million light years away. To capture this giant, a team of 347 researchers from around the world linked 8 radio telescopes located in different parts of the globe to observe the same point of cosmos. This achievement couldnt be unnoticed by the scientific community: the team received$3 millionSpecial Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physicsand the result of their work was named the top scientific breakthrough of 2019 by the journal Science.

On May 23, 2019,SpaceXlaunched60 Starlink satellites into the low Earth orbit. The train of satellites maneuvering to the final orbit was spotted by people around the globe, that day it rained with UFO reports. The magnificent train of light was even captured on camera by a satellite tracker from the Netherlands, who shared his mind-blowing video with the world. The next batch was launched in November,60 more Starlinks joined companys growing broadband internet constellation. Overall, SpaceX has now permission to launch12000 satellites in order to provide internet connection to the remotest locations on the planet.

July 13Spektr-RG was launched to space from the Baikonur cosmodrome. The astrophysical space observatory, designed to study our Universe in the X-ray band, is an international Russian-German project. The spacecraftfeatures two telescopes:German eROSITAwill detect new clusters of galaxies and active galactic nuclei, while Russian ART-XC will be busy tracking supermassive black holes. The observatory will be performing eight all-sky surveys for 4 years, and next three years will be dedicated to observations of individual galaxies.

After years of simulations, tests and effort, LightSail 2proved that it is possible to change a spacecrafts orbit using only the power of sunlight. OnJuly 31, the Planetary Society announced that the experimental spacecraft successfully raised its orbit around Earth, demonstrating new revolutionary technology for space exploration in action.

Physicists reached a long-awaited milestone in quantum computing.In October, a team atGooglereported that it had used a quantum computer to perform a calculation that would be practical impossible for even the most sophisticated classical machine. Using a quantum computer called Sycamore, the researchers entangled its 53 qubits into a complex superposition state and then asked the computer to perform an operation similar to random-number generation, it took the machine200 seconds to complete the task. The same computation would take a classical supercomputer 10,000years to complete.

Despite the failure to reach the ISS, Boeing's new Starliner unmanned spacecraft successfullylanded in the New Mexico desert, US on December 22. The spacecraft, built to carry up to seven astronauts, didnt reach the right orbit, so it was returned to Earthas soon as possible. The spacecraft will probably be launched for another test before taking a crew aboard.

Continued here:

10 Amazing Scientific Discoveries and Achievements in Space Exploration Made in 2019 - Asgardia Space News

The Space News We’re Excited About in 2020 – Gizmodo

Artists conception of NASAs Artemis mission, which is slated to deliver American astronauts to the Moon by 2024but well likely know if this timeline is for real in 2020. Image: NASA

Its time to look ahead to the coming year and all things that will be happening in space exploration. With new missions to Mars, a probe returning to Earth with samples taken from an asteroid, and even more batches of Elon Musks Starlink satellites going into orbit, its going to be another fascinating year.

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration accelerated the timeline for returning Americans to the Moon. The space agency was told, in rather blunt terms, that the Artemis lunar mission has to be done by 2024, but Congress raised serious concerns about this rather aggressive deadline.

For NASA to be able to pull this off, it needs the requisite funding. The U.S. government will be passing its fiscal 2021 budget in March of 2020, at which time well learn how much money NASA will be receiving and how feasible it will be for the space agency land astronauts on the Moon by 2024.

In terms of specifics, NASA has suggested itll need an additional $25 billion over the next 5 years to speed things along. That said, NASA hasnt provided the House Appropriations Committee will full cost estimate. Should Congress fail to provide sufficient fundswhatever the real total may beitll likely spell doom for the admittedly ambitious 2024 timeline but not necessarily for the Artemis mission as a whole. Both the President and the House see a mission to the Moon as an important stepping stone to a manned Mars mission.

In 2020, we should also find out which private company will get to design and build a lunar lander for the Artemis mission. Contenders include Boeing and Blue Origin, with rumors that SpaceX might also be interested.

As for the inaugural test of NASAs Space Launch Systemthe rocket thats supposed to get astronauts and their equipment to the Moonthats not supposed to happen until 2021. Thats cutting it close for a 2024 deadline.

Due to the unfortunate death of NASAs Opportunity rover, there remains just one mobile probe on the Red Planet: the Curiosity rover (with all due respect to the stationary InSight lander). Thats set to change as three new rover missions will be launched to Mars in 2020: NASAs Mars 2020 rover (still not named), the European Space Agency/Roscosmos ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover, and Chinas Mars Small Rover.

All three rovers will be launched in late July and early August to take advantage of a three-week launch window known as the Hohmann transfer orbit, in which Mars and Earth are optimally aligned in their respective orbits. All rovers are expected to arrive at Mars in 2021.

NASAs 2020 Mars rover will land in Jezero crater, where it will scour a former lake in search of signs of ancient microbial life. The probe will be capable of extracting surface samples and leaving them in caches for future missions to retrieve and deliver to Earth. Excitingly, the Mars 2020 rover is equipped with a drone, called the Mars Helicopter Scout, so well finally have a birds eye view of the Red Planet.

The Rosalind Franklin will also search for signs of ancient life, but a landing site has yet to be chosen for this mission. The rover will be deployed by Russias Kazachok lander. The mission could be delayed due to ongoing problems with the parachute, which must safely transport the probe through the achingly thin Martian atmosphere and onto the Martian ground. Missing the Hohmann transfer window would result in a 26-month delay.

We know less about the Chinese mission, which will reportedly involve an orbiter, a 240-kilogram (530-pound) rover, and 13 science payloads, according to SpaceNews. The orbiter will be equipped with a high-resolution camera, and the rover will be capable of performing spectroscopy, among other sciencey tasks. The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has selected two preliminary sites near Utopia Planitia, and a final decision is pending, according to IEEE Spectrum.

Not to be outdone, the United Arab Emirates will launch its Hope Mars Mission to the Red Planet next year. It will be the first interplanetary mission headed by an Arab-Islamic country, reports Space.com, and the orbiter will be launched atop a Japanese rocket. Once in orbit around Mars, the satellite will study Martian weather, the reasons why Mars has leaked so much oxygen and hydrogen, and possible connections between the upper and lower atmosphere, according to Space.com. Like the other missions, it wont arrive until 2021.

To date, SpaceX has launched 120of its Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit, but thats just the tip of the iceberg. The broadband megaconstellation is expected to consist of 42,000 individual satellites, a tally SpaceX is hoping to achieve by the mid 2020s. Thats obviously going to require plenty of Falcon 9 rocket launchesmany of which will happen next year.

The private space company is hoping to launch 24 Starlink missions next year, according to SpaceNews. Thats a breakneck pace of two launches per month, which would result in approximately 1,440 new Starlink satellites in Earth orbit by the end of the year. For context, there were approximately 4,987 satellites in Earth orbit at the start of 2019, many of which are no longer functional, according to United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

These SpaceX launches and their associated light shows in the night sky will most assuredly ruffle the feathers of some astronomers, who prefer an unhindered view into space. SpaceX is aware of the problem, and is reportedly working on a special coating that will darken the satellites to reduce their reflectivity.

In other SpaceX news to expect next year, the company will begin orbital testing of its next-gen Starship. Once ready, Starship will be the worlds most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, according to SpaceX, capable of transporting crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, and Mars.

If NASA wants to send astronauts to the Moon, itll need the capacity to launch astronauts to spacesomething the country hasnt been able to do independently since the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Happily, 2020 could finally be the year in which this ability is restored, with could being a key caveat here. Currently, both private participants in NASAs Commercial Crew Development Program, SpaceX and Boeing, are behind schedule.

But theres good reason for optimism. On December 20, Boeing finally launched an uncrewed CST-100 Starliner, though the spacecraft was unable to dock with the space station owing to an apparent automation software malfunction. NASA chief Jim Bridenstine downplayed the incident, hinting that a crewed test could be imminent.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is planning to perform an in-flight abort test of its Crew Dragon early next year, possibly in January. The Elon Musk-led company would then have to conduct an uncrewed test followed by a crewed test, assuming no more setbacks, such as the testing anomaly that happened earlier this year.

Since its arrival at Bennu on December 3, 2018, NASAs OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has mapped the oddly shaped asteroid and studied its strange surface emissions. The primary goal of the mission, however, is still yet to come. The probe is getting ready to briefly touch down and extract sample materials from the asteroids surface. Should all go well, OSIRIS-REx will be the first American mission to collect samples from an asteroid and bring them back to Earth for analysis.

After choosing four candidate locations on the surface, NASA has selected a boulder-free zone dubbed Nightingale. The asteroid is basically a rock pile, so finding an area with easily extractable dust proved to be a difficult exercise. In early 2020, OSIRIS-Rex will fly over the site at lower altitudes to take higher resolution photos, and touchdown is expected in July 2020. The probe should return to Earth with its 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of Bennu in 2023.

Speaking of probes visiting asteroids and then returning their samples back to Earth, JAXAs Hayabusa2 spacecraft is expected to arrive back at Earth in December 2020 with materials scooped up from asteroid Ryugu. These samples will land somewhere in Australias protected outback.

With the successful Change 4 mission all but wrapped up, China is now preparing for its next mission to the Moon, which will feature an important new element.

With the Change 5 mission, China is hoping to land a probe in Oceanus Procellarum and scoop up 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of dusty lunar regolith, possibly from a depth of around 2 meters (6.5 feet). This sample will then be returned to Earth for analysis, a feat the CNSA has never tried before (itll be the first sample-return mission from the Moon since the Soviet Unions Luna 24 mission in 1974).

NASA says the mission will consist of four modules:

Two of the modules will land on the Moon, one designed to collect samples and transfer them to the second module, designed to ascend from the lunar surface into orbit, where it will dock with a third module. Finally the samples will be transferred to the fourth module, also in lunar orbit, which will return them to Earth.

The Change 5 mission will launch in late 2020, according to NASA.

China is also expected to begin the construction of its own space station, called Tianhe, but this could be delayed until 2021 as the CNSA still needs to test its Long March 5B rocket, which will make this project possible.

Launched in 2018, NASAs Parker Solar Probe is getting progressively closer to the Sun with each passing orbit. The spacecraft is taking unprecedented measurements of the Suns corona, and the closer it gets, the more exotic the data.

The Parker Solar Probe is scheduled for four perihelions in 2020, when the spacecraft comes closest to the Sun during its elliptical orbit: January 29, June 7, July 11, and September 27. During the September perihelion, the Parker Solar Probe will come to within 14.2 million kilometers (8.8 million miles) of the Sun, when it will be moving at 129 kilometers per second (80 miles per second). The spacecraft will continue with this pattern until 2025, when its expected to come to within 6.9 million kilometers (4.3 million miles) of the Sun, at which time the spacecraft is likely to burn up.

In related news, the NASA/ESA Solar Orbiter will be launched from Kennedy Space Center on February 5, 2020. The Solar Orbiter will study the Sun, its outer atmosphere and what drives the constant outflow of solar wind which affects Earth, according to NASA.

With the ESAs new CHEOPS satellite now in space, we can expect to see tantalizing new details emerge about planets outside our solar system.

Importantly, CHEOPS wont be on the hunt for new exoplanets. Rather, itll take a closer look at previously discovered exoplanets to study them in greater detail, particularly planets between the size of Earth and Neptune. CHEOPS will also observe exoplanetary atmospheres and take better recordings of their transits across their host stars.

And finally for you amateur stargazers out there, a full list of astronomical events for next year can be found at Sea and Sky. Nothing too spectacular is scheduled for 2020 (well, as far as we knowwe could be visited by another interstellar object or a surprise comet, for example), but there are some neat things to be aware of.

A number of partial solar eclipses will happen in 2020, but whether youll be able to enjoy them depends on where you live. A total solar eclipse visible in parts of South America will happen on December 14. A rare full moon will appear on Halloween, and that should be pretty cool for trick-or-treatersit wont happen again until 2035. A conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter will occur on December 21, causing the gas giants to appear as a bright double planet.

So, lots of neat space-related happenings to watch in 2020. As always, itll be our pleasure at Gizmodo to report on these events as they unfold.

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The Space News We're Excited About in 2020 - Gizmodo

The Decade That Made Space Fashionable Again: From The Shuttle’s Demise To A Tesla In Space – Forbes

In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket ... [+] with a dummy driver named 'Starman' heads towards Mars. (Photo by SpaceX via Getty Images)

After a decade of incredible changes and achievements in space exploration, the Universe is back in fashion.

The 2010s did not start particularly well. In 2011, NASA retired its Space Shuttle program, and the U.S. relinquished its position as a space power capable of crewed spaceflight. Almost a decade later, you could say that nothings changed, except it has. Everything has changed. The U.S. is now on the cusp of a new era of quasi-commercial crewed spaceflight thanks to SpaceX and now Boeing. More globally, we can look back at the 2010s as a decade that saw the exploration of new worlds and new frontiers by the likes of NASA, Europes ESA, Japans JAXA and Chinas CNSA. It was a decade when crewed missions to Mars, and even Martian colonies, were openly discussed. Space caught the publics attention and imagination in a way not seen since Apollo.

Here are a just a few of the moments that contributed to, and benefitted from, a new-found lust for space exploration.

The decade started with a death. In 2011, NASAs space shuttle Atlantis took the programs last flight, but it got everyone asking a question: what happens next? It started to focus minds that had long since got tired of the same old missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The 33rd and final mission by space shuttle Atlantisbefore it was installed as a museum exhibit in Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complexin Floridabegun at 11:29 a.m. EDT on Friday, July 8, 2011 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. This 135th shuttle mission (STS-135) lasted 12 days and landed on July 21. The U.S. still doesnt have a way to send astronauts to space from its own territory, and for now relies on Russia, but SpaceX and Boeing are about to change that. Despite delays, the U.S. getting its own launch capability back has been a constant source of public interest in space throughout the 2020s.

China's moon rover on the lunar surface.

Theres a decent chance that well look back at the first few decades of this century as being most notable for the emergence of China as the pre-eminent spacefaring nation of the 21st century. After becoming only the third country to launch astronauts into orbit in 2003, there followed a space station, a moon landing and, in the last decade, two Tiangong space stations and two successful Change missions to land on, and explore, the lunar surface. The most recent in 2019 was a daring trip to the moons far side that required a relay satellite in a very complicated halo orbit. It doesnt rush things, it doesnt make much noise about its plans, and its PR is terrible, but the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is going places next stop a lunar rock return by Change-5, a space station, a moon base and summer 2020s Huoxing mission to Mars.

If nothing else, the 2010s saw a billion people take an interest in space exploration for the first time.

There was one private company in the 2010s that was more responsible for the new interest in space exploration that any other. So much so that many in the U.S. appear to now think that NASA and SpaceX are in competition with each other.

It was all about money. In a bid to drive down costs and speed up flights, Elon Musks SpaceX experimented rocket boosters that could be re-used, thus saving money and making trips to space much cheaper. That meant landing boosters after the payload had gone into orbit. It worked, and as well as being a tremendous technical achievement, iconic views of boosters landing back on the launchpad was also a massive PR success for SpaceX. There were plenty of big moments for SpaceX. One was the sending of Musks own Tesla Roadsterdriven by a mannequin called Starman dressed in a spacesuitinto orbit of the Sun after a test flight of the Falcon Heavy in February 2018. Another was Elon Musks appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; he famously said Mars could be warmed up by dropping thermonuclear weapons over the poles of Mars. Musks Mars obsession stretched to headline-grabbing plans for Mars colonies and interplanetary transport systems. SpaceX ended the decade marred in controversy over the effect on astronomy of its Starlink mega-constellation of satellitesand all for a rather uninteresting broadband internet service. However, with Crew Dragon and Starship on the horizon, the 2020s are nevertheless a mouth-watering prospect for SpaceX fans ... and who isnt a SpaceX fan?

Did you watch the video? Eight years later it can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Landing on the red planet on August 6, 2012, NASA's Curiosity rover has been hunting for evidence of Mars' habitable past and has sent back some incredible photos of the Martian surfacein particular this huge 15,000-pixel-wide mosaic of Mount Sharp. However, its Curiositys arrival that has to rank up there with the great moments of space exploration.

In July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA's Cassini spacecraft slipped into ... [+] Saturn's shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings -- and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.With the sun's powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini's onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry. They acquired a panoramic mosaic of the Saturn system that allows scientists to see details in the rings and throughout the system as they are backlit by the sun. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn's orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.

Although their scientific worth is incalculable, un-crewed robotic missions do tend to struggle to capture the publics imagination. Not so NASAs Cassini, which spent most of the 2010s sending back jaw-dropping images that reminded everyone why Saturn is our favourite planet apart from Earth. Cassini helped reveal a global ocean on Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn, but publicity-wise its finest moment came when, in July 2013, it moved 750,000 miles behind Saturn with regard to the Sun, creating an eclipse (above) that included Earth 900 million miles away. Gulp.

Baily's Beads and a double diamond ring effect at the end of totality of the moon eclipsing the sun ... [+] during The Great American Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017 at Sesquicentennial State Park in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Chris McKay/WireImage)

Total solar eclipses happen roughly every 18 months, but mostly they occur at sea or in unpopulated areas. Theyre expensive to travel to. So the arrival of a coast-to-coast Great American Eclipse stretching from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21, 2017, was a massive cause for celebration. Most Americans just didnt get it, didnt travel to the narrow path of totality to glimpse the solar corona, and will probably never know what they missed. However, for those that did get clued-up and travel to experience totality, it was life-changingas eclipse-chaser David Barron eloquently explained in a TED talk. If youve never experienced a total solar eclipse, what exactly is on your bucket list? North America will get another chance in April 2024.

An artist's concept of the alien planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size alien planet to be ... [+] discovered in the habitable zone of a sunlike star. NASA unveiled the exoplanet discovery on July 23, 2015.

In 2010 astronomers knew of about 450 exoplanetsplanets orbiting other stars. Now they know of over 4,000 thanks to the incredible work of the Kepler Space Telescope between 2009 and 2018. Kepler-452b was the first near-Earth-size alien planet to be discovered in the habitable zone of a sunlike star, unveiled on July 23, 2015, but there have been countless others. The number of known exoplanets now doubles approximately every 27 months, so it was fitting when, in October 2019, the Nobel Prize in Physics was split between cosmologist Jim Peebles and Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who found the first exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star (51 Pegasi) in 1995. No doubt about it, during the 2010s exoplanet-hunting went from being a niche area to become the pre-eminent area of enquiry in modern astronomy.

It may not be a planet anymore, but Pluto was revealed to be a wondrous world when, in July 2015, NASAs New Horizons spacecraft whizzed past its icy surface and collected some remarkable data. As well as taking our first-ever close-up photos of Pluto, New Horizons discovered that the dwarf planet is geologically active and may have a subsurface ocean beneath its crust.New Horizons then sped-off to rendezvous on New Years Day 2019with Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule. but since renamed Arrokoth. What a mission!

This one wasnt planned, but it was easily the most impactful astronomical event of 2013. On February 15 that year the entire planet got a wake-up call when a 19-meter-wide, 12,000-ton asteroid detonated above Chelyabinsk in west-central Russia. A long vapor trail and its startling light was captured by hundreds of dash cams, while the explosions shock wave moments later shattered windows and injured thousands. Overnight, asteroid impactavoidance became the business of space agencies.

What is missing from this list? A lot, for sure. There are dozens more SpaceX moments that could be included and a few from Blue Origin, too, though space tourism never really got off the ground (and even cost lives in the crash of Virgin Galactics VSS Enterprise in 2014). For British space fans, Tim Peakes six months in the ISS in 2015 -2016 were a game-changer. In Israel, SpaceILs brave Beresheet moonshot mission sparked incredible enthusiasm.

In the end, though, space exploration is all about looking forward, not back. Come the summer of 2020, were all be talking about NASA astronauts finally going up to the ISS from American soil, and then its Mars seasonNASA, ESA and Chinas CNSA all blast-off to the red planet in a short launch windowbefore we start watching for progress on NASAs ambitious Artemis mission.

None of that would be on the slate if it wasnt for the decade just gone, one that renewed public and private interest in space, astronomy and space exploration.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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The Decade That Made Space Fashionable Again: From The Shuttle's Demise To A Tesla In Space - Forbes

UB stories heard around the world in 2019 – UB News Center

UB architecture alumnus and adjunct instructor Randy Fernando was among the designers of Ocean Cube, a pop-up exhibition in New York City that asked visitors to consider the ocean and sustainability. Credit: Randy Fernando

From analyzing the avocado genome to designing a stingray-inspired space exploration vehicle, here are some highlights from a year of discovery

Release Date: December 26, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. We predicted new forms of superhard carbon, including some that could be harder than diamonds. We made groundbreaking discoveries about memory loss. We told the forgotten stories of women who helped build the Bauhaus, a design school and movement known around the world.

In 2019, University at Buffalo faculty and students conducted scientific research and produced creative works that could shape the way we think about the world for years to come. News outlets worldwide covered these endeavors, with UB projects featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, NBC News, Fast Company and more.

Whether we are peering through a microscope or considering problems of a cosmological scale, our community of thinkers and tinkerers is working together on a shared mission here at UB: Understanding our world, and making it better.

Oceans | The art of pollution

One-thousand plastic beverage containers and counting dangle from the ceiling of the last room of Ocean Cube. Credit: Randy Fernando

Come for the Deep-Sea Selfies. Stay to Learn About Sustainability, read the headline in The New York Times. The article profiled Ocean Cube, a pop-up exhibition in Manhattan that immersed visitors in dreamlike rooms filled with objects such as floating jellyfish sculptures, luminescent bubbles and curtains of hanging plastic bottles. Ocean Cube whose designers included UB architecture alumnus and adjunct instructor Randy Fernando explored underwater wonders while provoking people to ponder pollution. Fabrication took place at UB, in workshops in the School of Architecture and Planning and the Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART) Community of Excellence. Watch a video of "Ocean Cube."

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Materials | Harder than diamonds?

An illustration depicts three newly predicted superhard carbon structures. Credit: Bob Wilder / University at Buffalo, adapted from Figure 3 in P. Avery et al., npj Computational Materials, Sept. 3, 2019. The original diagrams from the paper are licensed under CC BY-4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Superhard materials can slice, drill and polish other objects. They also hold potential for creating scratch-resistant coatings. Research led by UB chemist Eva Zurek opens the door to the development of novel materials with these seductive qualities. Her team used computational techniques to predict 43 new forms of superhard carbon, including some that could be harder than diamonds. Theoretical studies like these are becoming more important in the quest for new materials, as Zurek discussed with Science Friday and Scientific American.

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Food and agriculture | DNA of guacamole

As Earths climate changes, avocado growers worry that extreme environmental conditions could threaten crops. To protect the fruit and keep prices down for future generations, UB biologist Victor Albert co-led a study to sequence the avocado genome. The findings shed light on the origins of the popular Hass variety and could aid breeders in enhancing traits like disease resistance and drought tolerance. The research was led by UB, the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity in Mexico and Texas Tech University.

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The brain | Restoring memory function

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Memory loss, a hallmark of Alzheimers disease, can be devastating for patients and their loved ones. A study led by UB medical researcher Zhen Yan asked the question: Is it possible to restore memory function? The answer was yes, at least in mice with cognitive impairment resembling that seen in people with Alzheimer's. Yans team used an epigenetic approach to improve the working memory of the rodents, giving them drugs that reversed the loss of glutamate receptors and synaptic transmission in cortical neurons, which are important for cognitive processes.

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Sleep | Good for the bones?

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If getting more sleep is one of your New Years resolutions, heres another reason to make it happen: It could help keep your bones healthy. In a study of postmenopausal women in the U.S., UB epidemiology and environmental health researcher Heather Ochs-Balcom and co-authors found that sleeping five or fewer hours a night was associated with lower bone mineral density and higher odds of osteoporosis. The research included thousands of participants in the Womens Health Initiative.

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Queer history | Blurring boundaries, 50 years after Stonewall

"Spring Awakening," by Nick Cave with Bob Faust, installed near the entrance to the Wrightwood 659 gallery space in Chicago as part of the exhibition, "About Face: Stonewall, Revolt and New Queer Art. Photo by James Printz

The Stonewall rebellion, in which protestors clashed with police raiding New York Citys famed Stonewall Inn, is often said to be the spark that gave rise to the modern LGBTQ movement. To mark the uprisings 50th anniversary, UB art and queer history expert Jonathan Katz curated an expansive exhibition that asked visitors to reconsider rigid definitions of Stonewall as a beginning and of gender and sexuality as binary concepts. The focus was on art in which boundaries blur, according to the description of the exhibition, About Face: Stonewall, Revolt and New Queer Art.

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Technology and politics | Deepfakes are here

Just a few years ago, expertly doctoring videos to show someone doing something they didnt might have seemed like a device in a sci-fi plot. But deepfakes, as such content is known, have arrived. In June, David Doermann, director of UBs Artificial Intelligence Institute, testified before Congress on the issue. According to Doermann, The technology behind these videos is getting so sophisticated, yet simple to use, that it poses an increasingly serious national security threat. He later told the Financial Times, We knew it was coming, but not nearly this fast.

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Automation | The most vulnerable jobs

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Among self-employed workers, artificial intelligence (AI) poses the greatest risk to those in some of the lowest paid and most popular jobs, according to a report co-authored by Kate Bezrukova in the UB School of Management. The analysis, published by the Centre for Research on Self-Employment, found that independent sales people, drivers, and agriculture and construction workers are in the most danger of seeing their livelihoods computerized. AI could also create jobs in areas such as robot maintenance, but society needs to prepare for changes through public awareness programs, education and research, Bezrukova says.

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Design | Forgotten histories of the Bauhaus

Students on the balustrade of the canteen terrace, around 1931 (photographer unknown). Collection of the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau

The Bauhaus school of design opened its doors in Germany in 1919, and female artists were heavily involved in building the institution, whose teaching philosophy has influenced art education worldwide. But their stories were largely forgotten until now. As the Bauhaus marked its centennial, UB art historian Libby Otto co-authored Bauhaus Women: A Global Perspective, a book that profiles 45 of the many women who helped the institution rise to international acclaim. Haunted Bauhaus, a second book Otto released in 2019, further elucidates the Bauhaus movements rich history, tracing how the schools teachers and students engaged with occult spirituality, gender fluidity, queer identities and radical politics. Her research reclaims the Bauhaus legacy often associated with a few famous men to include a diversity of lives and voices.

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Civil rights | Railroad porters in Canada

In the history of U.S. slavery, Canada is oft thought of as a free land, a destination for former slaves escaping the American South. A book by Cecil Foster, UB professor of transnational studies, adds a new dimension to this narrative by exploring the experiences of black railroad porters in Canada, laying bare social injustices that existed there well into the 1900s. They Call Me George: The Untold Story of the Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada, describes how these workers struggle against racism helped secure civil rights for marginalized populations, putting the country on a multicultural path.

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Psychology | Choice overload

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Whether youre shopping for a winter coat online or picking a movie to stream, the choices may seem limitless. But variety isnt always good. A study led by UB psychology researchers Thomas Saltsman and Mark Seery adds to evidence that too many options can trigger stress. The research looked, in part, at biological factors such as how much blood peoples hearts were pumping as they contemplated fictional dating partners. To help take some of the pressure off, Saltsman suggests thinking about which choices are actually important. As he points out, Choosing the wrong menu item for dinner or what to binge-watch is not going to define you as a person.

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Opioid epidemic | On the front lines

Folders with information on the Buffalo MATTERS program were available at a UB media briefing about the program's statewide rollout. Credit: Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo

Emergency rooms are a frontline in the opioid crisis. To steer opioid users toward the care they need, UB emergency medicine expert Joshua Lynch created Buffalo MATTERS, which gives emergency department patients a short course of the opioid treatment buprenorphine, along with the chance to enroll at a treatment clinic within two days. This program has been so successful that its now being rolled out statewide.

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Childhood obesity | Risk factors in babies

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A mothers warmth and sensitivity during play time can reduce obesity risk in infants who experience adversity in the womb, according to research led by UB pediatrics expert Kai Ling Kong. One reason the results matter: The study engaged high-risk families from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Nearly all participating mothers had used cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine during pregnancy. In a separate project, Myles Faith in the UB Graduate School of Education researched another high-risk group: babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes. The study found that these children were in more danger of becoming obese if they were easy to soothe temperamentally as infants, possibly due to the use of sweet drinks for calming.

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Sports law | Not just a pastime

UB expert Helen Nellie Drew has established a reputation as a leading academic expert on legal issues in sports. Now, as director of the UB School of Laws Center for the Advancement of Sport, shes running a unique education and research program focused on the growing fields of sports law and sports business. In 2019, media outlets nationwide sought her expertise on matters ranging from compensation for college athletes to womens hockey leagues.

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Cybersecurity | Unlock your smartphone with earbuds

When a sound is played into someones ear, the sound propagates through and is reflected and absorbed by the ear canal all of which produce a unique signature that can be recorded by a microphone attached to the earbud, which then sends the info via Bluetooth to the user's smartphone for verification. Credit: University at Buffalo

Visit a college campus, and chances are youll spot students sporting earbuds. With this technology proliferating, UB computer science and engineering researcher Zhanpeng Jin wondered: What other purposes could earbuds serve? That curiosity led to EarEcho, a biometric tool that authenticates smartphone users via the unique geometry of their ear canal. The device, under development in Jins lab, would consist of modified wireless earbuds.

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Space exploration | The dark side of Venus

The spacecraft would circumnavigate Venus every four to six days, with solar panels charging every two to three days on the side of planet illuminated by the sun. Credit: CRASH Lab, University at Buffalo

What is night on Venus like? The planet rotates very slowly, and as a result, parts of it stay shrouded in darkness for long periods of time. To learn about these mysterious regions, UBs Crashworthiness for Aerospace Structures and Hybrids Laboratory (CRASH Lab) is developing a stingray-inspired spacecraft with wings that flap like the animals pectoral fins. UB engineering researcher Javid Bayandor is leading the project, with support from a highly selective NASA program that funds revolutionary, early-stage advanced space technologies.

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Cosmology | Spotting a wormhole (if they exist)

An artists concept illustrates a supermassive black hole. A new theoretical study outlines a method that could be used to search for wormholes (a speculative phenomenon) inthe background of supermassive black holes. Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists dont know if wormholes, theorized to connect two separate regions of spacetime, exist. But if they do, UB cosmologist Dejan Stojkovic and former UB postdoc De-Chang Dai have come up with a way to potentially spot them. As Stojkovic explains, If you have two stars, one on each side of the wormhole, the star on our side should feel the gravitational influence of the star thats on the other side. The result? Astronomers could detect a wormhole by searching for small deviations in the orbit of stars near hypothesized passages.

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UB stories heard around the world in 2019 - UB News Center

Congress greenlights NASA’s crewed moon lander sort of | TheHill – The Hill

The good news is that the NASA spending bill for the current fiscal year, passed months late, has enough money to start the development of a crewed lunar lander. The bad news is that Congress is being stingy with the amount of money it is allowing the space agency to spend and has added conditions.

Space Policy Online notesthat the bill provides $600 million of lunar surface and cis-lunar space development, which includes lunar landers, less than half of what was requested. Also, NASA must provide a detailed timeline for implementing Artemis, the lunar landing program, which will include budget estimates and key milestones per fiscal years before funding above 40 percent of that total is released. The article concludes, The decision to provide less than half the request for the human lunar landers, a sine qua non for landing people on the Moon, already may seal the fate of that 2024 goal, a date tied to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump lashes out at Pelosi on Christmas, decries 'scam impeachment' Christmas Day passes in North Korea with no sign of 'gift' to US Prosecutors: Avenatti was M in debt during Nike extortion MOREs potential reelection.

NASA Administrator Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineCongress greenlights NASA's crewed moon lander sort of Boeing launches first Starliner test flight Doug Loverro's job is to restore American spaceflight to the ISS and the moon MORE, on the other hand,chose to take a glass half full reactionto the new spending bill. Great news! If passed, the spending bill gives @NASAfunding for a human lunar lander for the first time since Apollo! We are grateful for the BIPARTISAN support & will continue to work with Congress to secure the funds needed to land the 1st woman & next man on the Moon by 2024!

Clearly while some are ready to throw in the towel for landing anyone on the moon by 2024, Bridenstine regards the goal as a work in progress. Indeed, if the appropriations bill had not passed, he had a plan to get the ball rolling on human lunar landers anyway. The new head of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, has saidthat funding will not be used as an excusefor not meeting the 2024 goal.

Reading between the lines of Bridenstines tweet, it is clear that the NASA administrator hopes to shake loose more money from Congress to keep Artemis on schedule for a 2024 moon landing.But NASA can enhance its chances of getting more money by doing a number of things.

First, it must articulate a plan to get moon boots on the lunar soil by 2024. Congress is demanding it. The General Accounting Officeis recommending it. Currently the space agency suggests that a detailed plan wont be available until the end of 2020. If at all possible, it should happen sooner rather than later. Naturally such a report will have the usual caveats that every plan for developing new space hardware has since technical glitches and funding shortfalls can delay milestones.

Next, NASA should get serious about explaining why America is returning to the moon. So far, the space agency is largely depending on the coolness factor to get Americans, particularly Congress, to buy into going back to the moon. NASA must articulate the tangible benefits, especially inscience,commerceandpolitical soft powerthat American and allied astronauts living and working on the moon will garner. Such an explanation would be an effective answer to those who ask, Why are we going to the moon when we could be... And then they insert a pressing earthly problem such as the environment, homelessness, health care or any other issue that is not space exploration. Teach such people the awesome power of the word and.

Finally, NASA and her international and commercial partners need to perform. Crucial events such as space launches cannot keep shifting to the right on timelines as has been the case with so many other large-scale space projects. The folks who are working on Artemis will find more support and excitement forthcoming when they start launching things and eventually people to the moon.

Incidentally, scrapping the super-expensive space launch system in favor of commercial rockets such as the SpaceX Falcon Heavy and the upcoming Starship and the Blue Origin New Glenn has been ubiquitous among experts outside of NASA.But the political reality that the SLS benefits too many powerful members of Congress, their constituents and their campaign contributors to be cancelled must be lived with. NASA has to make the SLS work and find ways to make building and operating it less expensive, while using as much commercial hardware as possible. The task will be difficult, but the space agency has achieved much more difficult things, after all.

Mark R. Whittington, who writes frequently about space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration entitled,Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? as well asThe Moon, Mars and Beyond. He blogs atCurmudgeons Corner.

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Congress greenlights NASA's crewed moon lander sort of | TheHill - The Hill

Space Alert: Review of the key legal, regulatory and political developments for the space sector in 2019 – Lexology

From continued growth across the global space industry to key decisions being made on spectrum and European space funding, 2019 has been an important year for stakeholders across the space sector. In 2019 the Satellite Industry Association valued the global space economy at US$360 billion. We witnessed many developments in the industry, including an increasingly competitive launcher market, growth in downstream applications and the launches of the first batch of satellites that will form the mega constellations by OneWeb and SpaceX.

As we now look ahead to 2020, we reflect on some of the key legal and political developments from this past year.

Legal, regulatory and policy developments

National laws, regulations and policies

A growing number of countries recognise the important link between having a national space law regulatory framework for the licensing of space activities and the growth of a country's space sector. For a country that has ratified the UN Space Treaties and accepted the legal obligations contained within these treaties (in particular those relating to a country's obligation to authorise and continually supervise the activities of private actors and a country's international liability for damage), having a national law in place and a licensing framework serves as a means for a country to flow down certain of its international obligations and even offset potential liability. A national law provides legal certainty to space operators and can be a driver for innovation and growth in the sector. In 2019, several countries, with developed space capabilities or those seeking to develop such capabilities further, enacted national laws:

This year also saw progress being made by a number of other countries around the world, including in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, towards developing or enhancing their national legal and regulatory frameworks for space activities. There were also notable policy developments such as the African Space Policy and Strategy (adopted by the African Union), which requires African countries to begin establishing their own national space laws in order to promote domestic space capacities and participation across the continent.

The EU and space

In 2018, the EU Commission introduced a proposal for a regulation establishing the EU space programme and the EU Agency for the Space Programme. This proposal set out an ambitious EU space budget with an increase from 11.1 billion to 16 billion between 2021 and 2027 for satellite navigation, Earth observation and secure communications (GOVSTACOM). In 2019, this increased budget was approved and it was announced that the new agency to be created, the EU Agency for the Space Programme, will open in 2021.

The EU's increased interest and investment in its space programme was demonstrated by the reorganisation of the different portfolios within the EU and the restructuring of Directorates-General, introduced following the start of the new European Commission, presided by Ursula von der Leyen. One of the most significant changes which the von der Leyen Commission intends to make is the introduction of the new Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space. The combination of defence and space under the same directorate is also indicative of the EU's view on the potential role that space can play (in addition to civil and commercial purposes).

International rules on space sustainability

Space sustainability

One of the outcomes of the 62nd session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was the referral of the Guidelines for Long-Term Sustainability of Space to the UN General Assembly. These Guidelines (annexed to the Final Report of the 62nd session, available here), set out voluntary measures to ensure that space remains an "operationally stable and safe environment". On 1 November 2019, the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly considered and approved the draft resolution referred by COPUOS which contained the guidelines.

While these guidelines are not binding on countries, this development represents important progress in ensuring the long-term sustainability of space activities. This is an area that has long been important at the international and diplomatic level (especially in the United Nations), but is now increasingly important to space operators. An example of industry's recognition of the importance of space sustainability is the Responsible Space programme introduced this year by OneWeb.

Space and defence

The global space economy continued to grow in 2019 and this upward trend is expected to continue. In addition to the growth in commercial space, 2019 was noteworthy for the developments that occurred in the area of military space. Space is an important domain for national military capability, but three developments in particular made clear that space is now recognised as vital for national and inter-governmental defence:

Inter-governmental and political developments

UNCOPUOS Legal Subcommittee (April 2019)

The Legal Subcommittee of the UN COPUOS ('LSC') met for its 58th session from 1 12 April 2019. As in most sessions of the LSC, there were several topics of particular relevance to industry on the agenda. These include (i) small satellites activities, (ii) space resource exploration, exploitation and utilisation and (iii) space traffic management.

Some of the key views expressed by the Subcommittee included:

The LSC's final report, which includes full details of the agenda items, is available on the website of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs here.

WRC-19 (October November 2019)

The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from 28 October to 22 November 2019. In advance of the start of WRC-19, we provided commentary on what the possible outcomes of the decisions made at the conference could mean for the satellite industry going forward, ranging from 5G to satellite coordination processes and procedures (of particular relevance to large satellite constellations).

The following summarises some of the key outcomes of WRC-19 for the space and satellite industry:

The revised ITU Radio Regulations, Resolutions and Recommendations following WRC-19 are all contained in the Final Acts, the provisional version of which is available on the ITU website here.

ESA Council at Ministerial Level (November 2019)

The ESA Council at Ministerial Level, which takes place every two to three years, met from 27 to 28 November 2019. At this occasion, ESA Member States are asked to approve the forthcoming ESA programmes and to indicate their level of investment (called 'subscriptions' in the Agency's various programmes which range from human and robotic exploration, space safety and space transportation to science, telecommunications and Earth observation.

The 2019 Council at Ministerial Level centred on the theme of Space 19+, intended to be an "opportunity to direct Europe's 'next generation' ambitions in space, and address the challenges facing not only the European space sector but also European society as a whole".

The outcome of this meeting was an endorsement by Member States of the largest budget to date: contributions by Member States of 14.4 billion. The majority of the funding by Member States was towards Earth observation, space transportation, telecommunications and human and robotic exploration, with programmes such as navigation and space safety receiving smaller contributions.

This overall record investment is noteworthy, as is the individual contributions by Member States. The four largest contributing Member States to the budget are Germany (22.9%), France (18.5%), Italy (15.9%) and the UK (11.5%). The UK has increased its previous contributions to ESA to 374 million per year (for the next five years).

Looking to 2020

We can expect to see continued commercial growth in the space and satellite sectors in 2020. Some of the trends that we will be looking out for include:

These exciting, innovative industry developments will necessarily be accompanied (and enabled by) regulation. In 2020, we therefore expect to see new national and international legal, regulatory and policy developments.

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Space Alert: Review of the key legal, regulatory and political developments for the space sector in 2019 - Lexology

Even from space, Anne McClain stays tethered to young people in Spokane – The Spokesman-Review

When Ned McEwen was a sophomore at Gonzaga Prep, a VIP alumni came to visit: Anne McClain, class of 97.

McClain had not yet broken the bonds of Earth as an astronaut, had not yet taken her famous space selfie or been the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit. But her record of achievement was extraordinary. West Point grad and international scholar. National class athlete in rugby and softball. Decorated Army helicopter pilot and officer. On and on and on

McEwen realized McClains path the road of discipline and self-improvement as a form of service to the country began at Prep.

Right where his path was beginning.

It really showed that I could do the same thing, said McEwen, 18. I had never even heard of a military academy at that point.

Gonzaga Prep students Rigee Olavides, 16, Ned McEwen, 17, and Molly Niedermeyer, 18, watch live NASA video as the Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut, Spokane native and Gonzaga Prep alumna, Lt. Col. Anne McClain just before docking with the International Space Station, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Today, McEwen is home on break from his first year at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he intends to study to be a mechanical engineer. That visit from McClain several years ago was just one of the times McEwen and his fellow students at Gongaza Prep heard from McClain over the years.

Even as she went to space and became internationally famous as an ambassador for NASA and space exploration, McClain remained tethered to Prep and Spokane. She even video-chatted with Prep students from space, and visited them, along with students from other schools citywide, upon her return to Earth.

It is not, in McClains view, a mere sideline to her main job.

That is one of the products of our space program: inspiration and motivation, McClain said last week. My space flight wasnt mine. Its yours. Its everybodys. Its everybodys whos reading this article. Its everybodys on Earth. Its their space mission. I have to share it.

McClain has rocketed to worldwide fame over the past year as a member of the Expedition 58 and 59 to the International Space Station. She spent 204 days in space and went on two space walks that amounted to more than 13 hours. In the months since she returned to Earth in June, shes been undergoing medical tests, participating in debriefings and doing outreach around the country.

She was due to be a member of the first all-female space walk but NASA scrubbed the mission because they didnt have the right-sized spacesuits.

When McClain visited McEwens sophomore class, though, her career had operated entirely in Earths gravity.

She had been a Marshall scholar in England after graduating from West Point in 2002, and she earned a pair of masters degrees overseas. She was commissioned as an Army officer, and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. She published research on aerodynamics, security in developing countries and other subjects.

In the Iraq War, she flew 216 combat missions more than 800 hours in all. Shes a senior Army aviator with more than 2,000 hours of flying 20 different forms of aircraft. She was awarded the Bronze Star, which heads a long list of military honors, and she was a distinguished graduate of seemingly every course and school in the Army.

What gets lost in her story is how much she served in the military, and how many missions she flew, said Shari Manikowski, McClains former math teacher and softball coach at Gonzaga Prep. Shes done so much to serve her country.

Space was always her goal. As a very young child, McClain had seen astronauts and moon launches at home on TV. It was part and parcel of growing up in a family with a mother who was a science teacher.

This detail of a July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA shows astronaut Neil Armstrong reflected in the helmet visor of Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. The astronauts had a camera mounted to the front of their suits, according to the Universities Space Research Association. So rather than holding the camera up to his eye, as were accustomed to, Armstrong would have taken the photos from near his chest, which is where Armstrongs hands appear to be in his reflection. (Neil Armstrong/NASA / Associated Press)

Anything that launched, anything that went to the moon and back all of that, we always watched it when she was little, said Charlotte Lamp, Annes mother.

And so, when she began preschool, Anne had already settled on a career path.

She said, Mom, Im going to school to learn to be an astronaut, Lamp said.

Charlotte Lamp, Anne McClains mother

McClain grew up in Spokane, attending parochial schools, playing sports and never wavering in her dreams of space.

By the time she graduated from high school, she recognized her goal was extraordinarily ambitious, and two important precepts began to guide her: the understanding she would have to work very hard to get where she wanted to be, and the understanding even if she did that, she might not achieve it.

She chose an Army career in part because, if she never became an astronaut, she would still be able to be a helicopter pilot, she said.

It was a pathway that required intense devotion. And McClain whose nickname from her rugby days is Annimal has that in spades.

Its not as simple as dream big and your dreams will come true, she said in a Thursday interview. Its just not that simple. Its dream big and then spend 20 years missing holidays, moving to cities that you dont know, working with people that you dont know, taking jobs that you dont want but having to excel anyway, and doing the extra credit and getting up at 5 oclock on a Tuesday to hit the gym when everybody else is sleeping in, and skipping parties, skipping trips, missing weddings and then your dream might come true.

Manikowski said McClains determination was apparent early on.

She worked as hard or harder than any student Ive ever had, she said.

Lamp said that as a girl, McClain was active and energetic, curious and optimistic.

She always wanted to see further, go further, she said.

Go further she did, gathering challenges and honors along the way for 16 years after leaving Spokane. And in 2013, around the same time she was graduating from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, the first step in the lifelong dream came true: She was selected by NASA as one of eight members of the 21st astronaut class.

Lamp was out gardening when her daughter called her with the news.

She said, Where are you? Lamp said. I said, Im out pruning the roses. She said, Are you sitting?

I kind of screamed.

Anne McClain

The next step, following five more years of that intense training and work McClain talks about, came around this time last year. As part of an international crew of astronauts, McClain launched into space.

Expedition 58 and 59 conducted hundreds of research projects on the space station in biology, biotech and other disciplines, including investigating small devices that replicate human organs and editing DNA in space for the first time.

McClain was a trailblazer in a couple other ways, as well. She was expecting to participate in the first all-female space walk in history before problems with the suits forced her to scrap it.

The space-suit kerfuffle and McClains stiff-upper-lip response to it became the basis for a skit on SNL, in which Aidy Bryant pretended to be McClain trying to cheerfully subdue her outrage. McClain tweeted from space: I am still laughing about this, and Aidy, your uniform looks impeccable!

McClain also became, in an awkward and roundabout way, the first out LGBTQ astronaut in history, when a divorce dispute with her former wife became public. McClain was accused of improperly accessing her exs bank records from space, but everything so far points to a misunderstanding and not malfeasance.

While at the space station, McClain floatingly conducted interviews with CNN and other media outlets on Earth. It was the beginning of her becoming more well-known internationally, and becoming a more prominent ambassador for space exploration and for NASA.

You get this amazing perspective when youre up there about how reliant we are on one other and how everyone you meet you have more in common with than you do differences, she said.

Shes spoken in interviews about the beauty of space, and the mind-bending view down upon Earth where everyone youve ever known lives and where everything that ever happened to you happened.

Its overwhelming, its awe-inspiring, its a view I wish every person on Earth could have so we could understand our home better, she told CNN.

Along the way, Manikowskis students and others were tracking McClains mission from Earth. In February 2019, she did a live chat with Prep students from the space station. McEwen was a part of that event as well. At the time, he intended to enroll at the Naval Academy, and was just a matter of months away from graduating and heading off to the next step in his education.

Seeing her in space, he told a reporter at the time, really shows me I think Im going down the right path right now.

Anne McClain

McClains crew returned to Earth in June 2019, landing in Kazakhstan. The return from space is a physical ordeal. After months living in zero gravity, the astronauts return to Earth plunges them into a period of gravitational force that is four-and-a-half times Earths gravity.

McClain recalls the intense return of gravity as the Soyuz MS-11 entered the plasma layer.

I thought we must be getting close to that four-and-a-half times the force of gravity four-and-a-half Gs we call it, McClain said.

She took a peek at the gravity meter and saw that not only was it not close to 4.5 it was at 0.4.

I was like, Oh my gosh, Im not even to my own body weight yet and I feel like I have an elephant standing on me, she said.

After plunging through the plasma layer, the force eases and the craft begins a free fall with a spinny cup sensation at the fair feel to it.

I found that to be a lot of fun, honestly, she said.

Then, Earth. Home.

It starts to sink in that this whole space flight mission that carried risk you just did it, and youre going to be one of the people who gets to walk around on Earth and say youve been to space, she said.

McClain entered a six-month period of post-flight testing and debriefings. Finally, in October, she got some time off. Thats about to come to an end, and shell be returning to her regular duties continued training to prepare for possible space missions and carrying our her ground assignments.

McClain gets a lot of questions about the Artemis mission, which has the goal of landing the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. There are a dozen female astronauts who qualify, and McClains been named more than once in speculative reporting about the possible crew members.

Those decisions are made above me, for sure, she said. You and I will probably find out not too far apart when those names are going to be put to that mission.

Anne McClain

Its not typical for a crew to be named five years before a mission its usually two but its possible a larger cadre of possible crew members would be named in advance, or that this mission would follow a different schedule. Shed love to go, obviously, but emphasized there are a lot of considerations and 50 or so other candidates.

Thatd be a dream mission, absolutely, and Im in an office with a lot of people who think the same thing, she said. To be honest, my career so far and getting the flight I did earlier this year was a dream come true. Everything else is how much icing is going to be on the cake?

McClains achievements are sometimes cast in terms of firsts, as a woman of great achievements in fields that have historically been male-dominated. McClain said that growing up in Spokane, she was never told she couldnt be an astronaut because she was a girl something for which she credits her family and friends.

Anne McClain. (NASA / Associated Press)

Throughout her career as a military officer and astronaut, she said her gender has never been an issue. She was treated as an equal and judged on her merits, she said. But shes come to appreciate how the women who came before her helped make it possible for her to achieve her dreams.

Now, when she talks to students in Spokane and around the country, students like Ned McEwen and his Gonzaga Prep classmates, shes helping to lay the foundation for the next generation.

When I go out now, its not just little girls that are looking up to me, she said. I talk to girls and boys. And they both look at me and say, I want to do what youre doing.

Originally posted here:

Even from space, Anne McClain stays tethered to young people in Spokane - The Spokesman-Review

What’s the Deal with Space Telescopes? – Interesting Engineering

Today, astronomers are able to study objects in our Universe that are over thirteen billion light-years from Earth. In fact, the farthest object studied is a galaxy known as GN-z11, which exists at a distance of 13.39 billion light-years from our Solar System.

But since we live in the relativistic universe, where time and space are similar expressions of the same reality, looking deep into space means also looking deep into the past. Ergo, looking at an object that is over 13 billion light-years away means seeing it as it appeared over 13 billion years ago.

This allows astronomers to see back to some of the earliest times in the Universe, which is estimated to be 13.8 billion years old. And in the future, next-generation instruments will allow them to see even farther, to when the first stars and galaxies formed - a time that is commonly referred to as "Cosmic Dawn."

Much of the credit for this progress goes to space telescopes, which have been studying the deep Universe from orbit for decades. The most well-known of these is Hubble, which has set the precedent for space-based observatories.

Since it was launched in 1990, the vital data Hubble has collected has led to many scientific breakthroughs. Today, it is still in service and will mark its 30th anniversary on May 20th, 2020. However, it's important to note that Hubble was by no means the first space telescope.

Decades prior to it making its historic launch, NASA, Roscosmos, and other space agencies were sending observatories to space to conduct vital research. And in the near future, a number of cutting-edge telescopes will be sent to space to build on the foundation established Hubble and others.

The idea of placing an observatory in space can be traced back to the 19th century and the German astronomers Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich Mdler. In 1837, they discussed the advantages of building an observatory on the Moon, where Earth's atmosphere would not be a source of interference.

However, it was not until the 20th century that a detailed proposal was first made. This happed in 1946 when American theoretical physicist Lyman Spitzer proposed sending a large telescope to space. Here too, Spitzer emphasized how a space telescope would not be hindered by Earth's atmosphere.

Essentially, ground-based observatories are limited by the filtering and distortion our atmosphere has on electromagnetic radiation. This is what causes stars to "twinkle" and for celestial objects like the Moon and the Solar Planets to glow and appear larger than they are.

Another major impediment is "light pollution", where light from urban sources can make it harder to detect light coming from space. Ordinarily, ground-based telescopes overcome this by being built in high-altitude, remote regions where light pollution is minimal and the atmosphere is thinner.

Adaptative optics is another method that is commonly used, where deforming mirrors correct for atmospheric distortion. Space telescopes get around all of this by being positioned outside of Earth's atmosphere where neither light pollution nor distortions are an issue.

Space-based observatories are even more important when it comes to frequency ranges beyond the visible wavelengths. Infrared and ultraviolet radiation are largely blocked by Earth's atmosphere, whereas X-ray and Gamma-ray astronomy are virtually impossible on Earth.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Spitzer lobbied US Congress for such a system to be built. While his vision would not come to full fruition until the 1990s (with the Hubble Space Telescope), many space observatories would be sent to space in the meantime.

During the late 1950s, the race to conquer space between the Soviet Union and the United States began. These efforts began in earnest with the deployment of the first satellites and then became largely focused on sending the first astronauts into space.

However, efforts were also made to send the observatories into space for the first time. Here, "space telescopes" would be able to conduct astronomical observations that were free of atmospheric interference, which was especially important where high-energy physics was concerned.

As always, these efforts were tied to military advancements during the Cold War. Whereas the development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) led to the creation of space launch vehicles, the development of spy satellites led to advances in space telescopes.

In all cases, the Soviets took an early lead. After sending the first artificial object (Sputnik 1) and the first man (Yuri Gagarin and the Vostok 1 mission) into orbit in 1957 and 1961, they also sent the first space telescopes to space between 1965 and 1968.

Artist's impression of the OAO-2 satellite, Source: NASA

These were launched as part of the Soviet Proton program, which sent four gamma-ray telescopes to space (Proton-1 through -4). While each satellite was short-lived compared to modern space telescopes, they did conduct vital research of the high-energy spectrum and cosmic rays.

NASA followed suit with the launch of the four Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) satellites between 1968 and 1972. These provided the first high-quality observations of celestial objects in ultraviolet light.

In 1972, the Apollo 16 astronauts also left behind the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph (UVC) experiment on the Moon. This telescope and camera took several images and obtained spectra of astronomical objects in the far-UV spectrum.

The 1970s and 1980s proved to a lucrative time for space-based observatories. With the Apollo Era finished, the focus on human spaceflight began to shift to other avenues - such as space research. More nations began to join in as well, including India, China, and various European space agencies.

Between 1970 and 1975, NASA also launched three telescopes as part of their Small Astronomy Satellite (SAS) program, which conducted X-ray, gamma-ray, UV, and other high-energy observations. The Soviets also sent three Orion space telescopes to space to conduct ultraviolet observations of stars.

The ESA and European space agencies also launched their first space telescopes by the 1970s. The first was the joint British-NASA telescope named Ariel 5, which launched in 1974 to observe the sky in the X-ray band. The same year, the Astronomical Netherlands Satellite (ANS) was launched to conduct UV and X-ray astronomy.

In 1975, India sent its first satellite to space - Aryabata - to study the Universe in the X-ray spectrum. In that same year, the ESA sent the COS-B mission to space to study gamma-ray sources. Japan also sent its first observatory to space in 1979, known as the Hakucho X-ray satellite.

Between 1977 and 1979, NASA also deployed a series of X-ray, gamma-ray, and cosmic-ray telescopes as part of the High Energy Astronomy Observatory Program (HEAO). In 1978, NASA, the UK Science Research Council (SERC) and the ESA collaborated to launch the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE).

Before the 1980s were out, the ESA, Japan, and the Soviets would contribute several more missions, like the European X-ray Observatory Satellite (EXOSAT), the Hinotori and Tenma X-ray satellites, and the Astron ultraviolet telescope.

NASA also deployed the Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) in 1983, which became the first space telescope to perform a survey of the entire night sky at infrared wavelengths.

Rounding out the decade, the ESA and NASA sent their Hipparcos and Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) in 1989. Hipparcoswas the first space experiment dedicated to measuring the proper motions, velocities, and positions of stars, a process known as astrometry.

Meanwhile, COBE provided the first accurate measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) - the diffuse background radiation permeating the observable Universe. These measurements provided some of the most compelling evidence for the Big Bang theory.

In 1989, a collaboration between the Soviets, France, Denmark, and Bulgaria led to the deployment of the International Astrophysical Observatory (aka. GRANAT). The mission spent the next nine years observing the Universe from the X-ray to the gamma-ray parts of the spectrum.

After many decades, Spitzer finally saw his dream of a dedicated space observatory come true with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This observatory was developed by NASA and the ESA and launched on April 24th, 1990, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31), commencing operations by May 20th.

This telescope takes its name from the famed American astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889 - 1953), who is considered by many to be one of the most important astronomers in history.

In addition to discovering that there are galaxies beyond the Milky Way, he also offered definitive proof that the Universe is in a state of expansion. In his honor, this scientific fact is known as the Hubble-Lematre Law, and the rate at which it is expanding is known as the Hubble Constant.

Hubble is equipped with a primary mirror that measures 2.4-meters (7.8-feet) in diameter and a secondary mirror of 30.5 cm (12 inches). Both mirrors are made from a special type of glass that is coated with aluminum and a compound that reflects ultraviolet light.

With its suite of five scientific instruments, Hubble is able to observe the Universe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths. These instruments include the following:

Wide Field Planetary Camera: a high-resolution imaging device primarily intended for optical observations. Its most recent iteration - the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) - is capable of making observations in the ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelengths. This camera has captured images of everything from bodies in the Solar System and nearby star systems to galaxies in the very distant universe.

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS): an instrument that breaks ultraviolet radiation into components that can be studied in detail. It has been used to study the evolution of galaxies, active galactic nuclei (aka. quasars), the formation of planets, and the distribution of elements associated with life.

Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS):a visible-light camera that combines a wide field of view with sharp image quality and high sensitivity. It has been responsible for many of Hubbles most impressive images of deep space, has located massive extrasolar planets, helped map the distribution of dark matter, and detected the most distant objects in the Universe.

Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS): a camera combined with a spectrograph that is sensitive to a wide range of wavelengths (from optical and UV to the near-infrared). The STIS is used to study black holes, monster stars, the intergalactic medium, and the atmospheres of worlds around other stars.

Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS):a spectrometer that is sensitive to infrared light, which revealed details about distant galaxies, stars, and planetary systems that are otherwise obscured by visible light by interstellar dust. This instrument ceased operations in 2008.

Between 1990 and 2003, NASA sent three more telescopes to space that (together with Hubble) became known as the Great Observatories. These included the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (1991), the Chandra X-ray Observatory (1999), the Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope (2003).

In 1999, the ESA sent the X-ray multi-Mirror Newton (XMM-Newton) observatory to space, named in honor of Sir Isaac Newton. In 2001, they sent the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) to space, which succeeded COBE by making more accurate measurements of the CMB.

In 2004, NASA launched the Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer (aka. the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory). This was followed in 2006 by the ESA's Convection, Rotation and planetary Transits (COROT) mission to study exoplanets.

2009 was a bumper year for space telescopes. In this one year, the Herschel Space Observatory, the Wide-field Infrared Telescope (WISE), the Planck observatory, and the Kepler Space Telescope. Whereas Herschel and WISE were dedicated to infrared astronomy, Planck picked up where left off by studying the CMB.

The purpose of Kepler was to advance the study of extrasolar planets (i.e. planets that orbit stars beyond the Solar System). Through a method known as transit photometry, Kepler spotted planets as they passed in front of their stars (aka. transited), resulting in an observable dip in brightness.

The extent of these dips and the period with which they occur allows astronomers to determine a planet's size and orbital period. Thanks to Kepler, the number of known exoplanets has grown exponentially.

Today, there have been over 4000 confirmed discoveries (and 4900 awaiting confirmation), of which Kepler is responsible for discovering almost 2800 (with another 2420 awaiting confirmation).

In 2013, the ESA launched the Gaia mission, an astrometry observatory and the successor to the Hipparcos mission. This mission has been gathering data on over 1 billion objects (stars, planets, comets, asteroids, and galaxies) to create the largest and most precise 3D space catalog ever made.

In 2015, the ESA also launched the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna Pathfinder (LISA Pathfinder), the first-ever observatory dedicated to measuring gravitational waves from space. And in 2018, NASA sent the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) - Kepler's successor - to space to search for more exoplanets.

In the coming decades, the space agencies of the world plan to launch even more sophisticated space telescopes with even higher-resolution. These instruments will allow astronomers to gaze back to the earliest periods of the Universe, study extrasolar planets in detail, and observe the role Dark Matter and Dark Energy played in the evolution of our Universe.

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an infrared telescope built with generous support provided by the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). This observatory, the spiritual successor to Hubble and Spitzer, will be the largest and most complex space telescope to date.

Unlike its precessors, the JWST will observe the Universe in the visible light to mid-infrared wavelengths, giving it the ability to observe objects that are too old and too distant for its predecessors to observe.

This will allow astronomers to see far enough through space (and back in time) to observe the first light after the Big Bang and the formation of the first stars, galaxies, and solar systems.

There's also the ESA's Euclid mission, which is scheduled for launch in 2022. This space telescope will be optimized for cosmology and exploring the "dark Universe." To this end, it will map the distribution of up to two billion galaxies and associated Dark Matter across 10 billion light-years.

This data will be used to create a 3D map of the local Universe that will provide astronomers with vital information about the nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. It will also provide accurate measurements of both the accelerated expansion of the Universe and strength of gravity on cosmological scales.

By 2025, NASA will be launching the Wide-Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST), a next-generation infrared telescope dedicated to exoplanet detection and Dark Energy research. It's advanced optics and suite of instruments will reportedly give it several hundred times the efficiency of Hubble (in the near-IR wavelength).

Once deployed, WFIRST will observe the earliest periods of cosmic history, study Dark Energy, and measure the rate at which cosmic expansion is accelerating. It will also build on the foundation built by Kepler by conducting direct-imaging studies and characterization of exoplanets.

The launch of the ESA's PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) will follow in 2026. Using a series of small, optically fast, wide-field telescopes, PLATO will search for exoplanets and characterize their atmospheres to determine if they could be habitable.

Looking even farther ahead, a number of interesting things are predicted for space-based astronomy. Already, there are proposals in place for next-next-generation telescopes that will offer even greater observational power and capabilities.

During the recent 2020 Decadal Survey for Astrophysics hosted by NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD), four flagship mission concepts were considered to build on the legacy established by Hubble, Kepler, Spitzer, and Chandra.

These four concepts include the Large Ultraviolet/Optical/Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR), the Origins Space Telescope (OST), the Habitable Exoplanet Imager (HabEx) and the Lynx X-ray Surveyor.

NASA and other space agencies are also working towards the realization of in-space assembly (ISA) with space telescopes, where individual components will be sent to orbit and assembled there. This process will remove the need for especially heavy launch vehicles capable of sending massive observatories to space - a process that is very expensive and risky.

There's also the concept of observatories made up of swarms of smaller telescope mirrors ("swarm telescopes"). Much like large-scale arrays here on Earth - like the Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) and the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) - this concept comes down to combing the imaging power of multiple observatories.

Then there's the idea of sending up space telescopes that are capable of assembling themselves. This idea, as proposed by Prof. Dmitri Savransky of Cornell University, would involve a ~30 meter (100 ft) telescope made up of modules that would assemble themselves autonomously.

This latter concept was also proposed during the 2020 Decadal Survey and was selected for Phase I development as part of the 2018 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.

Space-based astronomy is a relatively new phenomenon whose history is inextricably linked to the history of space exploration. The first space telescopes followed the development of the first rockets and satellites.

As NASA and Roscosmos achieved expertise in space, space-based observatories increased in number and diversity. And as more and more nations joined the Space Age, more space agencies began conducting astronomical observations from space.

Today, the field has benefitted from the rise of interferometry, miniaturization, autonomous robotic systems, analytic software, predictive algorithms, high-speed data transfer, and improved optics.

At this rate, it is only a matter of time before astronomers see the Universe in the earliest stages of formation, unlock the mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, locate habitable worlds, and discover life beyond Earth and the Solar System. And it wouldn't be surprising if it all happens simultaneously!

Further Reading:

Link:

What's the Deal with Space Telescopes? - Interesting Engineering

Accenture Celebrates Five Years of Working with Code.org – AiThority

Global Events Led by Accenture Volunteers Will Help Students Learn about Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

For the fifth consecutive year, Accenture is teaming up with Code.orgto supportHour of Code, a global educational movement that reaches more than 100 million students through a one-hour introduction to computer science. This year, in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week (December 9-15), thousands of Accenture employees have pledged to teach an hour of code at events in their communities, helping students around the world learn coding and other computer science skills.

For the past five years, Accenture has partnered with Code.org, using the latest technologies to give students a chance to learn about computer science and coding, said Paul Daugherty, Accentures chief technology & innovation officer and chief coder. Kids believe anything is possible, and so do I. Last year our people led events that helped more than 100,000 students learn to code. The impact from just one hour of coding, creativity and inspiration can be astounding - the coders of today have the opportunity to be the changemakers of tomorrow.

Read More: Pet Technology Unleashed! Pawtocol Launches Its First IEO

Accenture will again provide the Accenture Intelligent Space Exploration coding tutorial, in which students discover how artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can be applied to teach a robot to explore a new planet - recognizing animals and plants, understanding a new language and conversing with inhabitants. More than 160,000 individuals have participated in the tutorial since its debut.

We believe that ideas can change the world, and that an individual can spark a movement, added Jill Huntley, global managing director for corporate citizenship at Accenture. With Hour of Code, were further bringing our Social Innovators initiative to life, inspiring young minds to use computer science and technology to improve the lives of millions now, and for future generations.Read More: MetricStream and the AI Sustainability Center Announce Collaboration to Automate Ethical AI Risk Scanning

To support Hour of Code, Accenture employees are developing and leading activities around the world aimed at inspiring students in new ways:

Read More: HEROW and Intercom Partner to Integrate Location Intelligence and Deeper User Context Within Intercoms Business Messaging Platform

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Accenture Celebrates Five Years of Working with Code.org - AiThority

#SpaceWatchGL Op’ed: Space And Hybrid Warfare – Part One – SpaceWatch.Global

By Ralph Thiele

thousands

Satellites are a critical infrastructure. They enable television, internet, telecommunications, energy, trade, and financial networks to function. As access to space gets cheaper, the commercial sector continues to grow its presence in space.

For fifty years, space innovation meant scaling Apollo-era technologies into ever larger, more durable satellites parked above their terrestrial clients in geosynchronous orbit. Exotic space-ready parts, militarised defences and layered redundancies became multi-billion-dollar systems designed to last forty years or more beyond their conceptions. Only a few organisations with thousands of aerospace engineers could participate. Space was reserved for major corporations, in turn dependent on government and military bodies.

This scenario has changed radically. Satellites are no longer the exclusive domain of rival superpowers, but rather a business opportunity based on falling technology costs. As access to space gets cheaper, the commercial sector continues to grow its presence there. Satellites are becoming mass-produced devices. Commercial space companies are fielding hundreds of small, cheap satellites. Companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are building cheaper, reusable rockets to add as many as 100 new satellites with every launch. Soon, there will be thousands of such satellites, providing eyes and ears over the entire world to include low earth orbit nano-satellites for navigation and communications, surveillance and reconnaissance, intelligence and missile warning.

In 2018, there were 114 government and private space launches worldwide, the first time in three decades that the number exceeded 100. The United States had 31 launches including a record number of commercial launches and China had 39. More than 80 countries have entered the global space industry. These countries have realised that space is a strategic industry that creates a highly technical workforce, triggering spinoff technologies and economic growth. Seventy-five percent of space industry revenues are commercial.[1]

no fence in space

Serious threats to space infrastructure are a relatively new phenomenon. For a long time, space used to be an ecosystem of its own. As more countries and commercial firms have begun participating in satellite construction, space launch, space exploration, and so forth, new risks and threats have also emerged for space-enabled services.

An important element of the debate concerns access: it has to be recognised that there is no fence in space. The unhindered access to and freedom to operate in space is of vital importance to nations and international organisations, such as NATO and the European Union.[2] Navigation and weather monitoring, communications and financial networks, military and intelligence systems all of these and more have components in the space domain. Military Command and Control use space-based systems coupled with meshed networks systems to support deployed operations and allow data exchange in austere environments wherein units will join ad hoc networks built upon the devices belonging to friendly forces. Mobile communication devices share intelligence, translate languages, provide navigation, targeting data and blue force position, while maintaining visual contact with the surrounding environment.

Given that there are few distributed technological systems that do not rely on satellites for some vital piece of their functionality, the importance of space assets and of retaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information that they carry cannot be overstated. Opponents understand this well. Space has become their centre of gravity for downgrading Western C4I. China for example has adopted the if you cant beat them, hack them strategy for space. Denying the use of space capabilities will be very high in the next conflicts Electronic Orders of Battle.

vulnerable assets

Satellites are vulnerable to a wide array of intentional and unintentional threats. Several nations have learned how to attack the global commons of space.[3] To this end, Florence Parly, French Minister of Defence, reported recently: we know very well that very large space powers deploy intriguing objects in orbit, experiment with potentially offensive abilities, conduct manoeuvres that leave little doubt about their aggressive vocation. [4]

Attacks against satellites can be very targeted, but they can also have wide-ranging implications for nearly all militaries and the global economy. Disrupting global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GALILEO, GLONASS, BEIDOU) as a means of degrading military targeting and navigation systems will have considerable repercussions for other militaries that leverage these systems. There may also be potential implications for civilian and commercial applications of these systems, for example car or cell-phone navigation systems.

Similarly, the destruction of a satellite in space will create spacedebris that could threaten a much broader spectrum of space architecture, as successful direct ascent anti-satellite missile tests by China in 2007 and India in 2019 have both shown. With the prospect of large constellations consisting of thousands of satellites the challenge of space congestion will augment. This is why it is indispensable that Space Situational Awareness (SSA) comes up with detailed knowledge of any given space objects location, and ensures the ability to track and predict its future location, incorporating the understanding of an actors intent for their spacecraft.

The spectrum of threats is impressive:

Of particular concern is the vulnerability of military, commercial, and dual-use space infrastructure that has become critical not just to military C4I capabilities, but also civilian and commercial communications that rely on space-based assets. Development and deployment in the last decade of a growing range of counter-space capabilities is shaping the need for new concepts and capabilities to ensure the resilience of space-based communications.

In August 2019, French Minister of Defence Florence Parly announced plans to develop and deploy an active defence system for Frances space assets and infrastructure to include satellites equipped with cameras, lasers and maybe even guns by 2030. The announcement follows closely French President Emmanuel Macrons announcement during Bastille Day celebrations in July 2019 of a new Space Command that improves upon the French Joint Space Command concept established in 2010.[5] Together, these announcements offer valuable insight into the military and security competition unfolding in space.

Space will likely emerge as its own domain of manoeuvre warfare. Spacecraft will be able to manoeuvre and fight, and the first orbital weapons could soon enter the battlefield. So far, the near impossibility of refuelling spacecraft has largely limited them to orbiting the earth. But as it becomes feasible to not just refuel spacecraft mid-flight but also build and service satellites in space, process data in orbit, and capture resources and energy in space for use in space, space operations will become less dependent on earth.

The space environment is particularly vulnerable to hybrid threats, such as spying or service interruption. Upcoming challenges cross-cut space and cyber domains. Actors can use offensive cyberspace capabilities as other hybrid means to enable a range of reversible to non-reversible effects against space systems. There are plenty of access points which can be attacked including the antennae on the satellites, the ground stations, and the earth-based user terminals, ranging from physical vulnerabilities of a ground site to electronic warfare (EW) disrupting the connection between the space segment and the operator. Attacks include stealing data, sending fake or corrupt data, and a complete shutdown of all the satellites operations. It is increasingly understood that space assets have been vulnerable to hybrid attacks for far too long.

Part Two of this essay will be published tomorrow.

Bio: Colonel (Ret`d) Ralph Thiele is President of EuroDfense-Germany, Chairman of the Berlin based Political-Military Society and Managing Director of StratByrd Consulting, Germany. Thiele brings 25 years experience in top national and international political-military leadership and policy assignments.In his honorary and business functions he advices on Defence Innovation and Disruptive Technologies in times of digital transformation. He has published numerous books and articles and is lecturing on defence and security issues on global scale.

[1] Wilbur Ross. Remarks at the Sixth National Space Council Meeting. U.S. Department of Commerce. Washington, Tuesday, August 20, 2019. https://www.commerce.gov/news/speeches/2019/08/remarks-us-commerce-secretary-wilbur-l-ross-sixth-national-space-council

[2] EDA. 2018 CDP Revision. The EU Capability Development Priorities. Brussels. Pg. 9. https://www.eda.europa.eu/docs/default-source/eda-publications/eda-brochure-cdp

[3] EDA. 2018 CDP Revision. The EU Capability Development Priorities. Brussels. Pg. 9. https://www.eda.europa.eu/docs/default-source/eda-publications/eda-brochure-cdp

[4] Florence Parly. French Minister of the Armed Forces. Remarks on Space & Defence at the French space agencys Toulouse headquarters. September 7th, 2018. Posted in English translation on 23 September 2018. https://satelliteobservation.net/2018/09/23/space-defence-policy-speech-by-the-french-ministry-of-the-armed-forces/

[5] Mahlandt, Taylor, France is Getting Serious About Its Space Command, Slate, 1 August 2019, https://slate.com/technology/2019/08/france-space-command-plan-satellites-lasers.html

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#SpaceWatchGL Op'ed: Space And Hybrid Warfare - Part One - SpaceWatch.Global

2019 Might Be The Best Year So Far For The African Space Industry – Space in Africa

As the year winds up, it is exciting to recap Africas journey in space in 2019 which is the best year so far in the continents 21-year space history.The year started on a high note with consultations on integrating the African space sector through the establishment of an umbrella agency that will co-ordinate the continents space programmes.

Although the conversation on founding an African space agency started long before 2019, it reached a new milestone with Egypt winning the host country at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in February at the AU headquarters Addis Ababa. The year gradually progressed with further developments in formulating the modalities of the agency and setting guidelines for its operations.

Although still at the embryonic stage, the African Space Agency dominated political and business conversations on multilateral space cooperation in Africa at various high-level panels and industry events on the continent and abroad. This, in essence, set the tone and the urgency for kick-starting formal operations of the Agency in 2020.

On a national scale, 2019 witnessed an emergence of new entrants into the league of space-faring African nations nations that have successfully launched a satellite into space. Before 2019, the elite league comprised of only 8 African countries: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. Now the league includes Rwanda, Sudan and Ethiopia following the launch of RwaSat-1 in September, SRSS-1 in November and ETRSS-1 in December, respectively.

The industry is expected to grow about 40% in the next five year from its current valuation of USD 7.37 billion to over USD 10.24 billion. Presently, 11 countries in Africa have launched at least a satellite and it is projected that before 2024, the number will rise to at least 18. Click here for the breakdown of revenue from the industry and the future projection.

Also, the continent witnessed tremendous growth in the number of countries that have declared an interest in space exploration. Particularly, Uganda and Zimbabwe that announced their space ambitions with plans to launch a satellite by 2022, whileCameroon commissioned a feasibility studyfor the launch of a national space programme.

In June, Ugandan President,Yoweri Museveni pushed for space technology research with Russiaafter a meeting with delegates from the Russian-Uganda Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Science and Technical Cooperation. In October,Museveni held another bilateral meeting with the Russian President,Vladimir Putin and different leaders of Russia and Africa exploring partnerships in areas of space science and technology during the 2019 Russia-Africa summit. The consultations heralded the possibility of launching a Ugandan satellite by 2022 according to Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, the Ugandan Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, who disclosed the information at the 2019 World Science Day held in Makerere University, Kampala, in November.

Similarly, the Zibwawean government in January 2019 commenced the implementation of its national space science programmes through the Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development Ministry under the coordination of theZimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agencywhich was established in July 2018. Zimbabwe embarked on several space science activities in 2019. However, the highlight of the year for the Southern African nation is the announcement of a fund set aside for the launch of its satellite which was disclosed in November 2019 by the Zimbabwean Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube during a national budget hearing session.

Beyond the declaration of interest to start space programmes, Africa launched a record eight satellites in 2019, the highest ever launched by the continent in a calendar year. Starting with the launch of EgyptSat-A in February, the year progressed with the launch of XinaBox Thinsat in April. The second quarter recorded the launch of Egypts indigenously-built 1 CubeSat, NARSSCube-2, in July. The last quarter witnessed a record launch of five satellites: Egypts NARSSCube-1 and Rwandas RwaSat in September, Sudans SRSS-1 and Egypts TIBA-1 in November, and Ethiopias ETRSS-1 in December.

African countries have now successfully launched 41 satellites into space to date, with Egypt holding the record for the highest number of satellites having launched four satellites into space in 2019 to bring its total record to nine. South Africa closely follows with record eight satellites. Algeria and Nigeria hold the third place with six satellites each. Morocco has launched three satellites into space while Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan have a record for one each.

There is an increase in the national governments budget and investment in the space industry across the continent, more countries are starting to develop space programs, there is an increase in the number of satellites being launched and space technologies is having massive positive impacts in the growth and development of the continent. There is also growth in the number of NewSpace companies on the continent with more efforts into supporting the establishment of more. While 2019 is unequivocally the best year in Africas 21 year space history, we envisage an upward trend in 2020 across all the segments of the industry.

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2019 Might Be The Best Year So Far For The African Space Industry - Space in Africa

The Space Force has gone from joke to reality | TheHill – The Hill

When the Trump administration first proposed the Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States military in June 2018, many people were undecided whether the idea was an atrocity or a joke. On the atrocity side, some analysts believed that the Space Force constituteda dangerous plan to militarize space. On the joke side, social media became littered with images from Star Wars and Star Trek. Netflix even greenlit a workplace comedy calledSpace Force.

The United States Space Force transitioned from joke to reality recently when the House authorized its establishment as part of a defense authorization bill. Remarkably, a considerable number of Democrats voted for the bill that contained the Space Force. They did so in return for a provision that allowed for a 12-week family leave for federal workers. Thus, a space-faring, war-fighting military service was born, thanks to good, old-fashioned backroom wheeling and dealing.

More importantly, the Space Force became a reality with the help of Democrats who at the same time were hell bent in impeaching the president who proposed and championed it in the first place.

The United States Space Force is starting out modestly. Personnel to fill out its organization will have to be recruited. The Space Force will have to develop what it needs to accomplish its main mission of keeping the peace in space. Its goal is to not just become a force that can wage war beyond the Earth but to deter war, to demonstrate to enemies of the United States that attacking its space assets would be folly. A space war with both sides attacking the satellites of the other would be catastrophic for both parties. The Space Force will be an expression of peace through strength. It will develop ways to defend against attacks on Americas space infrastructure while placing that of an enemy at risk of destruction.

In the long term, the Space Force will become the third leg of a triad that includes NASA and commercial space companies. The space triad will ensure that the United States and her allies dominate the economic development, scientific exploration and human expansion into space.

NASA will continue its mission of space exploration, scientific study and technological development that will further the vision of the United States as a space faring nation. The Artemis program will return humans to the moon, this time to stay. Eventually, astronauts will land on Mars as a first step to making that planet a new home for human civilization. Robotic probes will continue to ferret out the secrets of the solar system and beyond.

Meanwhile, the private sector will continue to oversee the economic development of space. Private spacecraft that will take humans and cargo to and from factories in low Earth orbit, bases on the moon, settlements on Mars and mining facilities on the asteroids will evolve with increasing range and capabilities. Commercial companies will manufacture products in space and mine the moon and the asteroids for their mineral wealth.

The United States Space Force will ensure that no unfriendly power can impede these activities through military attack. The new service branch will have to be so strong and capable that no other country would think of trying to bring fire and destruction to American and allied space infrastructure.

The United States Space Force, as an operational service branch, could take on two other related missions.

The Space Force could start the process of cleaning up orbiting space debris. Decades of dead satellites and other junk have created a ring around our planet that is increasingly becoming a hazard to space navigation. Even the International Space Station must, from time to time, alter its orbit a little to avoid being hit by space junk.

The Space Force can also defend the planet from a threat that does not come from any human agency, but nature. The prospect of an asteroid or comet hitting the Earth with such devastating effect that it ends human civilization or even life itself is very real.

If the Space Force can put assets in place to prevent an Earth-approaching object from ending the human species, it will have justified any effort and expense to create and maintain it.

Mark Whittington, who writes frequently about space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration entitledWhy is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?as well asThe Moon, Mars and Beyond. He blogs atCurmudgeons Corner.

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The Space Force has gone from joke to reality | TheHill - The Hill

The 15 Best Space Images Of 2019: From A Black Hole And A New Planet To A Dazzling Solar Eclipse – Forbes

Its been a stunning year for space exploration. Yes, it was the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first crewed moon landing, but so much more happened that increased our knowledge of the cosmos.

Here are 15 of the most amazing space images from 2019, in no particular order:

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes ... [+] forged through international collaboration was designed to capture images of a black hole. In coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of the supermassive black hole in the centre of Messier 87 and its shadow.

Were you impressed by the first-ever image of a black hole? If not, youre not looking at it properly. Created by daily observations of eight ground-based radio telescopes synced to atomic clocks, what youre looking at is actually the shadow of the black hole in the center of the supergiant elliptical M87 galaxy in Virgo, one of the most massive galaxies in the observable universe.

Comet 2I/Borisov, the first confirmed interstellar comet, as photographed by the Hubble Space ... [+] Telescope.

Remember 'Oumuamua, the cigar-shaped rock that entered our solar system in 2017 to become the first interstellar object astronomers had ever detected? It happened again in 2019 with the detection of Comet 2l/Borisov, which was also found to host water.

Into the Shadow, winner of the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 ... [+] competition organised by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London.

Hungarian photographer Lszl Francsics won Septembers Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 competition organised by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London with his image Into the Shadow. Taken in Budapest, Hungary, the photograph depicts a creative and artistic composition of the 35 phases of the total lunar eclipse that occurred on January 21, 2019 also called the Super Blue Blood Moon.

On July 2 denizens of planet Earth could stand in the Moon's dark umbral shadow during South ... [+] America's 2019 total solar eclipse. It first touched down in the Southern Pacific Ocean, east of New Zealand. Racing toward the east along a narrow track, the shadow of the Moon made landfall along the Chilean coast with the Sun low on the western horizon. Captured in the foreground here are long shadows still cast by direct sunlight though, in the final moments before totality began. While diffraction spikes are from the camera lens aperture, the almost totally eclipsed Sun briefly shone like a beautiful diamond ring in the clear, darkened sky.

Although many had stayed away because of the threat of cloud, July 2, 2019 saw crystal clear skies and an achingly beautiful total solar eclipse across northern Chile and Argentina (I was there myself to witness it). Winner of NASAs Astronomy Picture of the Day, this image from Yuri Beletsky shows eclipse observers witnessing a diamond ring from the Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory, which by lucky chance happened to be within a narrow path of totality over Chile.

A new SPHERE/VLT image of Hygiea, which could be the Solar System's smallest dwarf planet yet.

Did the Chiles Very Large Telescope reveal a new planet? A study of Hygieaan object in the main asteroid beltsuggested it could be the solar system's smallest dwarf planet yet. It already met three of the four requirements to be classified as a dwarf planet: it orbits around the Sun, it is not a moon and, unlike a planet, it has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit. The VLT found that it also met the fourth requirement; that it has enough mass that its own gravity pulls it into a roughly spherical shape. 2019 also saw the confirmation of Hippocamp, a seventh inner moon of Neptune.

This striking view of Jupiters Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by ... [+] NASAs Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet.

NASAs Juno spacecraft at Jupiter has been doing some awesome work. It took three images used to produce this color-enhanced view on February 12, 2019, which were turned into this sublime image by citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill, who has consistently produced some incredible images from Junos raw data.

This new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures two galaxies of equal size in a ... [+] collision that appears to resemble a ghostly face. This observation was made on 19 June 2019 in visible light by the telescopes Advanced Camera for Surveys. Residing 704 million light-years from Earth, this system is catalogued as Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424) in the Arp-Madore Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations.

Based on an observation made by the Hubble Space Telescope on June 19, 2019 in visible light, the image shows a couple of galaxies colliding about 704 million light-years from Earth. The two eyes are the bright cores of the two galaxies, one of which slammed into the other, while the outline of thefaceis a ring of young, hot blue stars.

Apollo 11 Saturn V Rocket Projected On The Washington Monument

The 50 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission with NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin was celebrated in a 17-minute show, Apollo 50: Go for the Moon, by the Smithsonians National Air and Space Museum. It combined full-motion projection-mapping artwork on the Washington Monument and archival footage to recreate the launch of Apollo 11 and tell the story of the first moon landing.

The SpaceX Starship test vehicle, September 2019.

First unveiled in Texas during September was the SpaceX Starship, which could one day take 100 people to Mars. Is this 50m-tall hunk of stainless steel the most exciting things to happen in human spaceflight in recent decades? It will launch on a SpaceX Super Heavy rocket, and is destined for a short test flight followed by a go for orbit in 2020 ... though it did blow its top in late November.

The most detailed images of Ultima Thule -- obtained just minutes before the spacecraft's closest ... [+] approach at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1 -- have a resolution of about 110 feet (33 meters) per pixel.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft raced past the most distant object ever explored, a Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule about four billion miles from Earth. Its appearance, unlike anything astronomers had seen before, illuminates the processes that built the planets four and a half billion years ago.

The latest view of Saturn from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures exquisite details of the ring ... [+] system which looks like a phonograph record with grooves that represent detailed structure within the rings and atmospheric details that once could only be captured by spacecraft visiting the distant world. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Saturn on June 20, 2019, as the planet made its closest approach to Earth, at about 845 million miles away. This image is the second in a yearly series of snapshots taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project. OPAL is helping scientists understand the atmospheric dynamics and evolution of our solar system's gas giant planets. In Saturn's case, astronomers will be able to track shifting weather patterns and other changes to identify trends.

The Hubble Space Telescope once again proved that Saturn is by far the solar systems most photogenic planet when it photographed the gas giant as it neared opposition. Its magnificent ring system was near its maximum tilt toward Earth.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches the STP-2 mission from Launch Complex 39A at NASAs Kennedy Space ... [+] Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket for the third time, this time at night, from Launch Complex 39A at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its client was the US Air Force, whose Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) contained a bunch of payloads. More importantly, it made the Falcon Heavy fit for future national security missions.

Recorded at regular intervals before and after the total eclipse phase, the frames in this composite ... [+] sequence include the moment the Moon's dark shadow fell across some of planet Earth's advanced large telescopes. The dreamlike view looks west toward the setting Sun and the approaching Moon shadow. In fact La Silla was a little north of the shadow track's center line, so the region's stunning, clear skies are slightly brighter to the north (right) in the scene.

Another winner of NASAs Astronomy Picture of the Day, this image by the European Southern Observatorys photo ambassador Petr Horlek shows a time-lapse of the total solar eclipse on July 2, 2019 from the ESOs La Silla Observatory in Chile. Totality occurs on average at any specific location every 360 years.

This remarkable image of Mars was taken in the Terra Sabaea region of Mars, west of Augakuh Vallis, ... [+] by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

Heres Mars as youve never seen it before, with dust devils having churned up the surface material, exposing fresher material below. The reason why the streaks are so concentrated on the ridges is not known.

A spectacular image of the 2019 transit of Mercury taken from North Carolina by Zack Stockbridge ... [+] using a Lunt Solar Systems H-alpha telescope. Stockbridge was part of the Citizen ToM Project that collected data to measure the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

That little black dot is Mercury. A rare transit of Mercuryacross the face of the Sun took place over five hours in November, the last time the tiny inner planet will make that visual journey until 2032.In fact, a transit of Mercury wont be visible again from North America for a whopping 30 years.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

Continued here:

The 15 Best Space Images Of 2019: From A Black Hole And A New Planet To A Dazzling Solar Eclipse - Forbes

The Richest Man On Earth Just Sent Thousands Of Postcards To Space And Back – Forbes

Jeff Bezos

On Wednesday evening, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos posted a video on his official Twitter account to tout about the success of his self-funded space exploration company, Blue Origin.

Dressed in a camo parka, cowboy hat and aviators, Bezos looked less like the richest man in the world (now worth $109 billion) and more like a Texas ranger.The video shows him walking towards a reusable Blue Origin rocket called New Shepard, presumably at the companys launch site in West Texas. [T]his vehicle has now flown to space & back six times making this a new milestone, Bezos tweeted.

While there were no humans onboard on its most recent mission, the rocket did carry thousands of postcards that children had written as part of the Space Mail campaign from Club For The Future, a nonprofit funded by Blue Origin. The organization is open to students, parents and teachers, with a mission to give children affordable, frequent and reliable access to space in order to foster a future generation of space explorers. The postcards will be sent back to the children after their voyage to spacewith a Blue Origin stamp newly affixed. Bezos is shown stamping a few of the postcards in the video. Alright, thats a success guys. Thats beautiful, Bezos says in the video.

Eventually, Blue Origin hopes to carry humans to space in the reusable rocket. This mission was another step towards verifying New Shepard for human spaceflight as we continue to mature the safety and reliability of the vehicle, the company said in a statement.

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The Richest Man On Earth Just Sent Thousands Of Postcards To Space And Back - Forbes

Is This the Best Way to Invest in Outer Space? – Yahoo Finance

Space exploration has returned in force to the popular imagination, thanks in large part to a rapidly expanding space economy. Rising investor enthusiasm has sparked financial institutions to offer methods of exposure to the space sector as a whole.

The latest investor-facing innovation: Procure Space ETF (NASDAQ:UFO), an exchange-traded fund dedicated to companies touching the space economy.

An ETF for the new space age

Procure Space was designed to create diversified exposure to the many companies, large and small, that have a presence in space or that support companies embedded in the orbital industry. Based on the S-Network Space Index, the ETF is currently composed of 30 stocks covering a number of key pieces of the space economy.

Launched in April, the ETF's track record to date is still limited. Since its inception, it has traded in a fairly tight range. As of Dec. 13, it was down about 2%, which represents one of the lowest trading points since its debut.

According to Procure Space's creators, its mandate is to focus principally on companies that are currently engaged directly in space-related enterprise:

"At least 80% of the index weight is allocated to companies that derive a majority of revenues from space-related industries, including those companies utilizing satellite technology."

This mandate is reflected in its top holdings, which include Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR), Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB), Viasat (NASDAQ:VSAT), Eutelsat Communications (EUTLF), Iridium Communications (NASDAQ:IRDM) and Inmarsat (IMASF).

Investing in a booming sector

It seems as if everyone knows the space economy is gearing up for growth. However, according to UBS, financial markets barely comprehend the scale of growth on the horizon:

"Mainstream financial markets are only just starting to awaken to the commercial and disruptive opportunities that space offers, as technology is starting to tear down the high entry barriers to access space. We forecast that the combination of declining space launch costs and advances in satellite technology will raise the value of the space economy from $340 billion currently to nearly $1 trillion over the next two decades."

Story continues

Procure Space, while focused principally on the opportunities available in the existing space economy, is also looking to the future with an eye toward evolving right alongside the space sector:

"The Index Provider believes that additional companies engaged in other space-related industries may emerge in the future, including: Space Tourism, Including Transportation and Hospitality, Space-based Military and Defense Systems, Space Resource Exploration and Extraction, Space Colonization and Infrastructure, Space Technologies that Enable the Space Economy."

Many of these technologies remain speculative, while others are rapidly approaching reality. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (NYSE:SPCE), for example, has become the first publicly traded space tourism company. Clearly, the space economy is changing and growing rapidly. Exposure to the space as a whole thus has some obvious appeal to a reasonable investor.

Missing the private sphere is a problem

While the ETF offers exposure to publicly traded companies serving the space economy, it does not do the same for private companies. That is a severe limitation, given the importance of a number of private names driving and accelerating the development of the space economy.

Obvious examples of private companies at the forefront of the space economy are Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies (widely known as SpaceX) and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin. Both companies are engaged in rocket development, orbital transportation and satellite communication endeavors, all of which are likely to have an outsized impact on both the expansion of, and public enthusiasm for, pushing further into space.

Of course, the exclusion of private companies is simply a fundamental limitation of an exchange-traded fund, so the Procure Space ETF can hardly be blamed for their absence. SpaceX and Blue Origin do not trade publicly, and therefore cannot be included in any ETF. However, while not a fault per se, this fact does obviously limit its ability to truly reflect the space economy as it is actually developing.

Verdict

Overall, Procure Space represents an interesting, and cleverly constructed, derivative security. It certainly provides exposure to a significant number of key stocks in the space. However, its limitations are quite apparent. Without exposure to the important private market, it cannot be considered a true space economy ETF. Moreover, the heterodox collection of companies and sectors represented in the ETF make it a somewhat unwieldy vehicle.

Investors looking to buy into the space economy would probably be better served looking elsewhere.

Disclosure: No positions.

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Is This the Best Way to Invest in Outer Space? - Yahoo Finance

The Most Important Space Policy Events of the 2010s – The Planetary Society

Casey Dreier December16,2019

The 2010s was a decade of major changes to space policy, particularly regarding human exploration in the United States. While the end of the 30-year Shuttle program and the sudden cancellation of the Constellation program were themselves major policy events, the resulting political reaction created major programs and policies that defined NASA during the 2010s and, very likely, for decades to come.

Marcia Smith, founder of Space Policy Online, joined me on a recent episode of Planetary Radio: Space Policy Edition to explore the most impactful space policy events the 2010s. The following is a condensed and edited version of that discussion.

Marcia: On February 1 2010, President Obama revealed that he was canceling the Constellation program. There was a huge furor in Congress. It was not a partisan issue; it was the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue disagreeing strongly with each other.

On April 15, President Obama went down to Kennedy Space Center and gave a speech and said (paraphrasing) "we're not going back to the Moon, been there, done that. Instead, we're going to go to Mars. Mars is our goal, and we need a stepping stone, and that is going to be an asteroid." The asteroid mission never really won a lot of support. So a lot of the early part of the decade was lost because of this battle between Congress and the White House over the future of the human spaceflight program.

NASA / MSFC

Also at this time there was tremendous churn when the Space Shuttle program was being terminated, so the future of human spaceflight was very unclear. This characterized the early tumult of the first part of the decade.

Casey: This is all happening in the context of the greatest recession that this country had seen in almost a century.

Marcia: Obama was enthusiastic about space exploration. He's the only presidential candidate I have known in my lifetime who actually used space in his campaign ads. But then he walks into his office on January 20 and he has this huge recession. The Constellation program was costing a lot more than had been advertised. He had this expert commission brought together under Norm Augustine and they said, basically, you need $3 billion a year more. He had to change some of his plans.

Marcia: The termination of the Space Shuttle without anything to replace it was a questionable policy choice. You can look back on it and say it didn't look so bad in 2011. We were friendly with the Russians and it was only supposed to be a 4-year gap. People were not as worried about it. Now, of course, if you look at the decade that we're just finishing up the geopolitical relationship between the United States and Russia has changed dramatically after Russia took over Crimea in 2014. And now it's an 8-year gap and we're hoping it's not going to be 9.

NASA

Casey: Do you think that that tight inter-relationship of sending humans into space through Russia altered the overall foreign policy of the U.S. with Russia?

Marcia: I see it as space being isolated into its own little pocket. Both sides are protecting it because it's important to them for different reasons. Both countries want the national prestige of operating the International Space Station. But Russia also gets a lot of money from the deal and they need money for their space program. The United States is willing to pay that money because it has no choice, although it's working on alternatives.

Casey: Is there a long-term consequence from this? Has Russia grown too dependent on NASA money to fund its space program?

Marcia: Well, that's going to be a very interesting question. Obviously, the Russian space program has been struggling because they don't have a lot of money going into it. Once commercial crew is operational, NASA and Russia both said that they're going to be flying their astronauts and cosmonauts on each other's vehicles, because they want to be sure there's always at least one American and one Russian up there. But it'll be an era where the money is not coming from NASA to pay Russia for those seatsat least that's what NASA is expecting.

So is Russia going to be able to maintain the production levels of the Soyuz and their rockets without that money coming in from NASA? I think that's a very good question and I don't know the answer to it.

But I think that, overall, the space station partners feel that ISS is the prime example of international cooperation. Getting through the difficult marriage over the course of this programthe on-again, off-again program that starts in the 1980s, then adding Russia in the 1990sthrough all of that it's really been a Herculean task to keep the partnership together. I think that people see this as an encouraging sign that, as we move further out into the solar system, we will get these partnerships, including new commercial partnerships, and be able to keep them together, no matter what happens.

Casey: We're still living with the consequences of this. The attempt to cancel Constellation led to the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. It mandated the Space Launch System rocket, maintained the Orion crew capsule from the Constellation program, and endorsed commercial providers for cargo and crew into low Earth orbit.

Marcia: You can look at the Constellation program and say that Obama canceled it, but if you look at the work that was going on at NASA during his presidency, it was never really canceled. The destination temporarily changed from the Moon to an asteroid and then on to Mars. But NASA was still building a big new rocket. The "multi-purpose crew vehicle" turned out to be Orion. So those fundamental elements that you needed for a bold human spaceflight program, were built under Obama because Congress forced them to do it through that NASA Authorization Act.

NASA / Paul E. Alers

Casey: It's an extraordinary piece of legislation to read. They're specifying the minimum metric tonnage for heavy-lift rockets and that it has to use the same workforce from the Space Shuttle and constellation programs. And this is a Congress of President Obama's same political party.

Marcia: It was Congress versus the administration. And Congress wanted to move forward with a human spaceflight program. They made clear also in that law that they wanted a balanced NASA program. They didn't want money being siphoned off from science and other areas in order to fund it. There was a lot in that law, it was very important.

Casey: In 2010 the Democrats lost the House of Representatives and were replaced by a very Republican majority focused on budget-cutting. They implemented a law that we know as sequestration a few years later. It was supposed to limit overall government spending and impose across-the-board cuts if no specific cuts were agreed by Congress. During this period of the Obama presidency, NASA takes a significant dip in terms of its real spending power, which is unusual compared to most presidential administrations. New programs such as the SLS really squeezed NASA's portfolio, which is one of the reasons we had the Asteroid Redirect Mission: NASA had no money to create a human-qualified lunar lander or spacecraft beyond what they were already designing with Orion. You saw significant cuts to planetary science and the delay or cancellation of major programs at NASA that we're still rebuilding back from. We're facing a 5-7 year gap in planetary science and astrophysics due to these cuts and overruns with the James Webb Space Telescope. These are going to manifest themselves in the next few years because of budgeting decisions made seven years ago.

Marcia: Sequestration was a Damoclean sword hanging over all the agencies until quite recently. They actually implemented sequestration in fiscal year 2013 and you can see the big dip NASA and other agencies. After 2013, when they saw what direct impact it had across government, Congress said to themselves "never again". But they didn't want to just vacate the 2011 budget act, so they did it in 2-year chunks. Every two years, they would pass another waiver to the Budget Control Act, but then you'd have the Damoclean sword hanging over you for the next two years. And so it was just a long, drawn-out process. We never knew from year to year, whether or not agencies were going to be hit with sequestration or not. It's been a very challenging time for research and development agencies like NASA to plan their futures.

NASA's annual budgets during the Obama Administration, adjusted for inflation using the NASA New Start Inflation Index. The vertical axis displays NASA's Presidential Budget Request and the final congressional appropriation in billions of dollars. Note that the y-axis is scaled for clarity. The horizontal axis is fiscal years. Detailed data including outlays, alternate inflation indices, non-inflation adjusted numbers, and White House budget requests are available to view or to download as an Excel spreadsheet.

Casey: After sequestration was implemented, they kind of lost the taste for it. You can see the gradual increase of NASA's budget after 2013, and the political dynamics changed once President Trump came into office.

Marcia: Right now, Congress has been very generous with NASA. They're giving it a lot more money than is being requested. It's the good times and I don't know how long that's going to last. Sooner or later there's going to be a reckoning and someone's going to be interested in deficit control again, and I think that NASA needs to be aware of that. You really never can rest on your laurels.

Antonio Peronace for The Planetary Society

Casey: Another item that is important in terms of implementation of policy is the ascension of John Culberson to the chairmanship of the Commerce, Justice and Science Committee Subcommittee of Appropriations in the House of Representatives.

John Culberson is an honest-to-God space fan. He exudes a passion for space at a level that I don't even see in most people who work in the space business. His passion was finding life on Europa. And Europa Clippera flagship-class, $3 billion dollar missionexists today because John Culberson effectively forced NASA to take it on by appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars to the project as chair of the committee that funds NASA.

Marcia: Mr. Culberson clearly is a space cadet, I don't think there's any question about that. I agree with you that Europa would not be happening if it were not for his personal enthusiasm for it. The planetary science community owes a lot to him.

Casey: I went back and forth on whether to include this because we just don't know the outcomes yet, but I think enough has happened to consider Space Policy Directive #1, the first Space Policy directive of the Trump administration, as consequential.

It was signed in December of 2017. And all it really did was change a line of text the official National Space Policy released in the Obama era to say that the United States will lead the return of humans to the moon for long term exploration and utilization. You saw significant movement towards this goal in a way that we just never saw under the previous administration for sending astronauts to an asteroid, particularly with the progress toward the Lunar Gateway.

NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Marcia: Is it a significant space policy development? Sure, because it puts us on another path towards the future. But I think it is overshadowed by the March 26 decision by Vice President Pence to land on the Moon by 2024.

After Trump put the Moon back in the plan, NASA came up with a plan to implement it saying we're going to get back there by 2028. I thought it wasn't a bad plan, I thought it was reasonable and achievable if Congress came up with a reasonable amount of money.

But then you have this pivot back on March 26, when suddenly we have to get there in five years, which just seems a bridge too far in terms of the amount of money it's going to take, even if you do this with public-private partnerships.

I see a huge change after March 26. The Gateway was going to be International, and a big feature of it was sustainable exploration. And suddenly, no, we have to be there by 2024. So first we're going to do it fast, and then we're going to do it sustainably. And they start pouring money into public-private partnerships to create human lunar landers, and they change how they are going to do Gateway, also through public-private partnerships

At the same time, you had NASA getting frustrated with SLS and deciding to put the exploration upper stage (EUS) to the side because they wanted Boeing to focus just on the Block 1A for Artemis. And now you're getting pushback from the Senate saying no, you have to build EUS. We have a chaotic soup of competing interests. I feel like we're right back to where we were after Obama canceled Constellation. You have pushback from Congress on some of these things that NASA and the White House want to do by people in their own party.

Casey: Let's talk about public-private partnerships, which you suggested as one of the critical developments in this decade.

Marcia: The way NASA defines a public-private partnership is that the government and the private sector put money into the development of something and NASA will buy services instead of owning the hardware. The idea is that the companies will make money off of selling services to the government as well as other customers.

With commercial crew, (then-Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate) Bill Gerstenmaier came the closest to publicly saying what the percentage split was between government money and the private sector money, which was that NASA was paying 80% to 90% of it. So there's still largely government money going into these programs and it's the government currently buying the services. They still haven't gotten to the point where NASA is one of many customers, which is NASA's overall goal for these things.

NASA TV

Casey: Why do you think that public-private partnerships have grown so popular, despite seeing mixed outcomes in the last 10 years?

Marcia: I think that NASA is hoping to offload some of the upfront costs of development and get things done more quickly. We haven't seen it play out yet. The only success so far is commercial cargo. And I give credit to both SpaceX and to Orbital Sciences (now owned by Northrop Grumman). Both of those companies demonstrated that you could technically build the vehiclesthe rockets and the spacecraftto accomplish a task for a government customer. They probably did it less expensively than if NASA had used the traditional cost-plus contracts. What they haven't demonstrated is that there are other customers, so that from a business standpoint, they can make a go of it even if NASA stops paying for those services for whatever reason.

That's the key for these other things that NASA wants to use them for, like having commercial space stations where NASA is only one customer. I just don't know how you get there. We've had space stations galore. The first space station went up in 1971, a Russian station called Salyut 1, and after all these decades over which we've had space stations, we're still looking for that killer app that's going to demonstrate that there's something profitable that you can do with humans in space.

They're using a model that's unproven, not just for today, but they're building it into their future plans without any evidence that it's going to work out.

Casey: When the government is depending on these companies to provide a required service, it's never really a fixed price, right? It's never truly a partnership if the government needs a capabilityit gives a lot of leverage to the companies developing it.

Marcia: We saw that decades ago with the evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) program. That was an early example of a public-private partnership. In the 1990s it looked like there was going to be a lot of launch business. So Boeing invested a lot of money in upgrading its rockets and Lockheed Martin spent a lot of money upgrading their rockets, in addition to some government money. And then the market collapsed. The government had to have launches and the companies said, "pay us more, otherwise we can't build these rockets." That's an example of a public-private partnership not working out.

We now have one example, commercial cargo, where it worked out from a technical standpoint. And that's all we have for data points. And yet, all the eggs are going into these public-private partnership baskets. Maybe it'll work out. I just note that, from a policy perspective, it's an additional risk.

Casey: The next decade is going to be a test of this hypothesis. We've made a lot of promises in terms of policy in the 2010s that are going to define the 2020s, and we're going to have to live with those consequences.

Casey: What was frustrating or exciting in this last decade for you? Did you experience any kind of emotional color in last 10 years that was unique?

Marcia: I hate to use negative terminology. Because I don't really feel negative about the space program overall. But it was a surprise when Obama decided out of the blue to cancel Constellation without working that through the political system in advance, that's a lot of what undid it. If he had a great new idea of how to do human exploration, and he could have worked it out with key members of Congress in advance so it didn't just fall in their laps, then maybe something better could have come out of that.

So when we had Vice President Pence come seemingly out of the blue with this idea to do something which seems absolutely impossible, which is to get people back on the moon in 5 years, it had that same feel to it. It's a frustration.

I can't say that I feel more frustrated in 2019 than I did in previous decades, because I've been feeling pretty frustrated for quite a long time. We can't just seem to agree on the path forward and execute the plan.

Casey: I hear you. I'll put in a request for a discussion at the end of 2029 to and we can follow up then.

Marcia: [Laughs] I am not discussing Moon vs. Mars again. I'm done! Just pick one and do it.

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The Most Important Space Policy Events of the 2010s - The Planetary Society

Trumps US Space Command will bring Earths battlefields to the stars – The Boston Globe

Space is more than a legally defined domain; it is an integral part of our understanding of the human experience. Space advances our understanding of our fundamental place in the universe and serves as a testing ground for science that has dramatically changed how we live. Now, space is also critical infrastructure for the daily survival of our human species. Our cell phone communications, GPS, banking systems, air travel, and more all depend on our space assets. If we lose them or they are attacked, Americans will become collateral damage.

The US government accepted space as a global commons during the Cold War, after a series of arms tests including the July 9, 1962 detonation of a 1.4 megaton hydrogen bomb by the United States that disabled six satellites .

But now our restraint is waning.

In December 2017, Scott Pace, executive secretary of the US National Space Council, said, It bears repeating: Outer space is not a global commons, not the common heritage of mankind, not res communis, nor is it a public good. Two years later, US Space Command was established as one of 11 Unified Commands under the Department of Defense. Its responsible for defending US action in space, delivering combat-relevant space capability, and joint warfighters to advance US interests in, through, and from the space domain. This is an aggressive militaristic approach that will be mimicked by other nations.

There is no precedent for assuming that weaponizing space will benefit humanity. In fact, we should assume the opposite, especially when reviewed in the context of its closest corollary: the Internet.

US Cyber Command, based within the National Security Agency, is the model for the US Space Force. Created in 2009 with the original mission to defend the nations cybersecurity, US Cyber Command has increasingly acted as an offensive force. The Internet is a war-fighting domain and becoming more so daily. On any given day, 30 nations are actively engaged in acts of war against one another. Cybercriminals and other bad actors use the Internet to maliciously target American citizens, companies, and institutions, steal data, and spread disinformation.

A war in a global commons is not traditional war: It is not finite, with strict boundaries and rules of engagement. Instead, wars in global commons spill outward and impact our entire world. For example, WannaCry ransomware, a top secret exploit developed by the NSA and released by hackers, brought China, Russia, Britain, and the United States to their knees by holding users files hostage until a ransom was paid. It spread to hospitals and other vital institutions. A cyber weapon knows no physical boundaries. Neither does a space-based one.

In wars that take place where there is no sovereign claim, weapons take new and ever-changing forms and have unintended consequences. Weapons in space could be used to defend against attacks on space-based critical infrastructure, but they could also lead to unprecedented damage. Space is large and unknown. Physical weapons like rockets would be hard to intercept. But physical weapons are only one scenario. Cyber weapons attacking vulnerable satellites are a real threat that will cross multiple commons.

Space is a blank canvas on which to paint a new existence, or it is a chance to repeat the failures of our past.

We need to figure out a way to create a resilient system in space where we put the common goodfirst. This includes a vision where our critical infrastructure is protected. But to do this, we need to have a broad discussion about space as a global commons. It must include understanding the role that space plays for humanity, the impacts of weaponizing space, how much of a role individual nation-states can play, identifying the policing force, how we envision space exploration, and more. If we do not develop a global vision for space, the militarization of space and inevitable conflicts will impact every one of us here on Earth.

Space is, indeed, our final frontier. It belongs to all of us. It should not be colonized or controlled by any nations military. We have the opportunity to get this one right and develop the future with a blockbuster Hollywood happy ending: a world where space is safe, secure, and stable for human exploration.

Kristina Libby is an adjunct professor at New York University and executive vice president of future science and research at Hypergiant. Follow her on @kristinalibby. Maggi Molina is a US Air Force veteran and a TechCongress alumni.

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Trumps US Space Command will bring Earths battlefields to the stars - The Boston Globe

How can IoT innovations resulting from space missions be used? – TechTarget

The push to rapidly develop technology for space exploration has resulted in many IoT innovations. IT pros have been able to use these innovations to develop sensors, communication networks and compute processes that collect and transmit data and images over limited network bandwidth.

Space missions have served as the launch point for many of the latest innovations people use every day, including PCs, smartphones and solar panels, as well as medical innovations such as the insulin pump, scratch-resistant lenses for glasses and artificial limbs.

Organizations that developed these space and IoT innovations pursued them because of the need to develop smaller, faster and more reliable systems. Once successfully demonstrated on missions, researchers began to explore how the technology could be used on earthbound systems. The application of space technology to other areas was both planned through research and discovered as the result of experiments in space.

Satellites are primary examples of devices that gather data, collect images and transmit information -- through calls, streaming or emails -- about the environment to monitor storms or agriculture. The data has traditionally been sent to government or university labs. IT pros had to figure out how to broadcast this data to users who weren't in a lab or didn't have high-tech equipment, which pushed them to create IoT technology that could transfer data without needing supercomputing facilities.

IoT innovations continue to expand the uses of IoT in a variety of industry applications. Doctors can monitor patients by using bandages or other wearables that incorporate sensors to collect patient health information. IoT can add value in rural and undeveloped areas where access to medical care is limited. For example, if fears of a communicable disease were to arise, data could be shared quickly with a lab and the areas of the outbreak to try to contain the spread of disease.

In the enterprise, organizations can use IoT sensors for predictive maintenance on their machines to monitor conditions in factories or asset tracking. Many smart buildings incorporate sensors to adjust temperature and lighting based on the presence of people in rooms to lower energy waste. Tracking devices reduce the time spent locating equipment and products.

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How can IoT innovations resulting from space missions be used? - TechTarget

Top 20 games of 2019 | Games – The Guardian

20Death Stranding

Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima crafts a strange, highly contemplative dystopian adventure about a deliveryman who must bring hope, along with couriered parcels, to the lonely survivors of a supernatural cataclysm.

What we said: This uncompromising, unashamedly political work of artistic intent is 2019s most interesting blockbuster game by a distance. Read the full review

The cleverest puzzle game of the year is this series of lo-fi mazes, in which blocks containing nouns, conjunctions and verbs can be rearranged to remix the rules of each conundrum. Ingenious and mind-bending.

What we said: From a simple premise, Teikari spins dozens of ingenious challenges an invitation to play the role of a chaotic god, rewriting the rules of the universe. Read the full review

Waking early on a ship bound for the furthest human colony in the galaxy is the intriguing start point for Obsidians epic and amusing role-playing adventure. With beautiful worlds and interesting characters, this treatise on unencumbered space capitalism is a joy.

What we said: The Outer Worlds is vital proof that mid-sized indie teams can take on the big guns at their own game, and leave them looking a little foolish. Read the full review

Described as a pop album video game, this joyous adventure sends you scorching through a brash, electric neon landscape, collecting hearts and dodging obstacles to a synth-drenched soundtrack.

What we said: Embellishes its ideas in step with its fizzing tracks, which sustain second and third listens as you try to beat your score. Stylish, memorable game-making. Read the full review

An overlooked treasure, Horace is both an innovative and brilliant genre-bending platform-adventure game and an unexpectedly moving story about a robot butler, stuffed with references to the pop-cultural obsessions of its British creators. It spirals outwards from deceptively humble beginnings into a sprawling and singularly strange experience.

The grand tactical role-playing adventure returns, this time pitting three regal households against each other in a quest to rule the land. Players swap between battlefields and academy classrooms in a mix of war and romantic entanglements.

What we said: By turns grandiose and silly, but always engrossing, this bubbling school soap opera is a game to spend a summer with. Read the full review

A Gothic-horror space exploration game, where every journey between space stations is a life-or-death gamble. Inspired by the novels of HG Wells and Jules Verne, this is a singular sci-fi role-playing game, filled with weird characters fighting it out to survive in a galactic Victorian empire.

What we said: Depending on what you want from it, Sunless Skies is a merciless odyssey of oddball sci-fi survival, or a fantasy novel trilogys worth of wild, written ideas. Read the full review

On a space station floating in the ether, something has gone very wrong and you watch it unfold not from the perspective of the astronauts, but as the stations AI. A novel, intelligent space thriller that draws from several cinematic sci-fi greats, and doesnt suffer by comparison.

What we said: An idea so good that you wonder why it hasnt been done before. Its unsettling and unconventional, and I was totally unable to turn away. Read the full review

A supremely clever, funny detective game set in a surreal recreation of the early-90s internet, complete with obscure message boards, dodgy low-bitrate music downloads and MySpace beef. Youll never have played anything like it.

What we said: Rather than lazily pastiching the ugliness and awkwardness of turn-of-the-century web pages, it really conjures that time, when the internet was a place to go rather than a liminal omnipresence. Read the full review

Of all the games to jump on the battle royale bandwagon, Tetris was surely the least expected but it turns out that 99-player Tetris is genius. Insanely moreish, competitive and just chaotic enough to keep things interesting, this is one of 2019s best multiplayer games.

What we said: Forget serene, calming Tetris, where you arrange blocks into pleasing configurations to make them disappear. This is survival Tetris, where youre squeezing tetrominos into teensy gaps at high speed as the screen fills. Read the full review

A resurgent Capcom resurrects a dormant series to great effect. The screaming guitars and gothic fashions might be a bit early 2000s, but the hack-and-slash action is unquestionably stylish and the challenge enticing.

What we said: Its bloody, spectacular and irresistible, all cheesy one-liners, guns, swords, explosions, and it plays like a dream. Read the full review.

Stealing peoples shoes and glasses, knocking over pints, fleeing from irate gardeners: who could have foreseen the fun there was to be had in waddling around as a horrible goose? There are those who remain resolutely uncharmed by Untitled Goose Games ramshackle whimsy, but we are not among them.

What we said: Certainly not fowl, most definitely worth a gander, its a whimsical little game full of charm and joy, a wonderful experience for just about anyone. Read the full review.

A musical Zelda spin-off thats suffused with love and respect for Nintendos peerless series of colourful adventure games, remixing both the music and the sword-swinging monster-bashing.

What we said: Stylish and excellent fun, this tribute captures the excitement and sense of discovery that makes Zelda what it is: a real adventure. Read the full review.

Supernatural adventure specialist Remedy Entertainment returns with another bewildering sci-fi romp, this time following Jesse Faden of the Federal Bureau of Control, a secretive agency invaded by paranormal forces. Literally nothing not even the furniture is what it seems in this dizzying thrill ride.

What we said: Remarkably, it all manages to hang together, providing a meaty, exciting and utterly unforgettable video game experience. Read the full review.

The follow-up to the fascinating CCTV thriller Her Story uses a similarly voyeuristic interface as you raid stolen National Security Agency archives for phone videos and webcam footage that may or may not implicate a group of characters in a major investigation.

What we said: Telling Lies requires a deliberateness from its players that turns us from viewers to active plot participants. Its a game that doesnt hold your hand, and ultimately its down to you to decide the truth. Read the full review.

Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment takes on the battle royale genre, with 100 players descending on a bright, detailed sci-fi landscape to do deadly battle. Smooth controls, excellent weapon balancing and thoughtful co-op features make this a true contender to the mighty Fortnite.

What we said: You cant really blame this talented team for shooting at the biggest target in modern gaming. And with Apex Legends, it scores a direct hit. Read the full review.

Among the most difficult games of the modern era, Hidetaka Miyazakis sublime samurai game is punishing, extraordinary and dense with meaning for those with the time and skill to delve into it.

What we said: If you have frequent long evenings to throw at its mountainous challenges, you will find here an exquisite game whose subtle themes, gradually unfurling mysteries and beautiful sights reward the determined and skilled player. Read the full review.

Arguably the finest title in Capcoms survival horror series is brought chillingly up to date with rookie cop Leon Kennedy and student Claire Redfield exploring a redesigned version of the zombie-filled Raccoon Police Station. All the old monsters and puzzles are there, but not necessarily in the places that veteran players expect.

What we said: A reminder of how beautifully crafted survival horror games were in their heyday. From a terrifying orphanage to the festering sewers beneath the city, the feel of the action is always perfectly matched with the aesthetics of the setting. Read the full review.

An amnesiac detective wakes up in a grotty hotel room with the hangover from hell and a murder to solve. From this noir-esque opening comes an open-world role-playing adventure like no other, mixing grim psychodrama with wonderful comic writing.

What we said: This is a quietly important game, singular in direction, filled with unexpected, thrilling effects on its player. Read the full review.

Outer Wilds asks you to plumb the depths of space in a ramshackle ship with a primitive clutch of gadgets, probing the mysteries of a capsule universe of bizarre planets without firing any guns or killing any aliens. Survive long enough without getting swallowed by a space creature or crashing fatally into an asteroid and the nearby sun goes supernova but every time you die, you wake up at the start of a time loop, ready to piece together more knowledge of this mysterious little solar system and progress towards learning its secrets. Offbeat and exceptional, Outer Wilds is a game for the curious and the contemplative, an intricate and endearing space adventure with the ambience of a camping trip.

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Top 20 games of 2019 | Games - The Guardian


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