NASA Awards Spacecraft Avionics Development Contract

NASA has selected The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to provide development and operations support for the avionics software suite that will guide the agency's next generation of human rated spacecraft on missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

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1 SOPS supports weapons school training

Schriever Air Force Base recently conducted a simulated training scenario to expand its space situational awareness capabilities. In light of the space environment becoming more congested physically and contested intellectually, it demands deliberate planning and insight to navigate successfully.

From Feb. 22 to March 2, 2016, the 328th Weapons Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, trained with 1st Space Operations Squadron, Air Force Space Command's only space-based SSA squadron, to learn about tactics, techniques and procedures and apply them to a threat scenario presented by the 328 WPS instructors.
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Hubble Peers Into the Heart of the Milky Way Galaxy

Peering deep into the dusty heart of our Milky Way galaxy using infrared vision, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveals a rich tapestry of more than half a million stars. Except for a few blue foreground stars, the stars are part of the Milky Way’s nuclear star cluster, the most massive and densest star cluster in our galaxy.

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The galactic centre

This infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the centre of the Milky Way, 27 000 light-years away from Earth. Using the infrared capabilities of Hubble, astronomers were able to peer through the dust which normally obscures the view of this interesting region. At the centre of this nuclear star cluster – and also in the centre of this image – the Milky Way's supermassive black hole is located.

Read more about this Hubble image in Journey to the centre of our galaxy

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Going to space

With liftoff for Sentinel-1B, the next Copernicus mission, just weeks away, teams at ESA’s ESOC mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, are undergoing intensive training.

Sentinel-1B is already in French Guiana being prepared for liftoff on 22 April. It will join its twin, Sentinel-1A, in orbit to provide more radar views of Earth for Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring effort.

The satellites each carry an advanced radar for all-weather, day-and-night coverage of Earth’s surface. Working together, they will image the entire planet every six days.

Simulations are a crucial aspect of launch preparations at ESOC, training the permanent Flight Control Team together with other teams, including flight dynamics, ground systems, the satellite builder and the project team.

‘Sims’ often run 8–12 hours, with an extensive and detailed debriefing at the end of the day. If a mistake is made, the team repeats the simulation, until they know the process by heart and can react correctly in any situation.

Teamwork is honed to a sharp edge, and all the engineers know their role and their own portion of the satellite’s systems – and they can assist team mates if needed.

More information

http://www.esa.int/ops
http://www.esa.int/esoc
http://www.esa.int/ Sentinel-1

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Help keep heat on Mars Express through data mining


Mars Express has been orbiting the Red Planet for 12 years. While its controllers know the spacecraft inside out, additional valuable insights may well be hidden within the mounds of telemetry the mission generates – inspiring the first of ESA’s new data mining competitions, open to all.

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Cheops competition drawings

Selection of drawings submitted to the Cheops competition.

Cheops is a small space telescope dedicated to observing nearby stars that are already known to have planets. The satellite is being built as a collaboration between ESA and a consortium of European countries led by Switzerland.

The competition was coordinated by the University of Bern, Switzerland, the lead institution, and run in collaboration with ESA and mission partner institutions in the Cheops countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

The competition ran between May and October 2015 and was aimed at children between the ages of 8 and 14 from ESA member and cooperating states. Around 1700 drawings were sent directly to ESA, while the partner institutions across Europe received thousands more.

Out of the many excellent entries featuring a variety of cosmic settings, a total of 3000 were selected. These will now be scanned and shrunk by a factor of 1000 to be engraved on two metal plaques that will be attached to the satellite and fly into space.

A showcase of all winning entries can be viewed online.

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Space Enthusiasts Invited to Learn about Ames Space Biology Experiments, View Televised SpaceX Launch

The Ames Office of Education and Public Outreach will host a public event to view the televised launch of the eighth SpaceX mission to resupply the International Space Station on Friday, April 8, 2016.

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NASA’s Spitzer Maps Climate Patterns on a Super-Earth

Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have led to the first temperature map of a super-Earth planet -- a rocky planet nearly two times as big as ours. The map reveals extreme temperature swings from one side of the planet to the other, and hints that a possible reason for this is the presence of lava flows.

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NASA’s Spitzer Maps Climate Patterns on a Super-Earth

Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have led to the first temperature map of a super-Earth planet -- a rocky planet nearly two times as big as ours. The map reveals extreme temperature swings from one side of the planet to the other, and hints that a possible reason for this is the presence of lava flows.

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