Student Experiments to Fly

NASA selected 10 student experiments from across the country to fly on a rocket mission June 7 from the Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

During the weeks leading up to the launch, students and their teachers will work with engineers and technicians at Wallops to prepare their experiments for flight. The student experiments will be flown on a NASA Orion suborbital sounding rocket.

In its ninth year, this program provides students the unique opportunity to participate in all aspects of a science mission. Five of the experiments will fly in the main body of the rocket’s payload section, called the Suborbital Student Experiment Module, while the other five will be placed in the nosecone.

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Skyquest Displays

Skyquest Aviation, the UK manufacturer of specialist airborne surveillance equipment, announced that the UK’s Metropolitan Police have selected their Video Management System for installation in their new fleet of EC145 helicopters.

Under the contract Skyquest will supply a comprehensive surveillance suite for each aircraft giving the police new capabilities in airborne surveillance. Each aircraft will be fitted with 5 multi-function mission displays and multiple digital video recorders. Operators, regardless of their position in the aircraft, can select any sensor image or multiple sensor images to be called to their display and send any selected data to microwave downlink or recording equipment onboard the helicopters.

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Stardust Findings

Samples from comet Wild 2 have surprised scientists, indicating the formation of at least some comets may have included materials ejected by the early sun to the far reaches of the solar system.

Scientists have found minerals formed near the sun or other stars in the samples returned to Earth by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft in January. The findings suggest materials from the center of the solar system could have traveled to the outer reaches where comets formed. This may alter the way scientists view the formation and composition of comets.

“The interesting thing is we are finding these high-temperature minerals in materials from the coldest place in the solar system,” said Donald Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Scientists have long thought of comets as cold, billowing clouds of ice, dust and gases formed on the edges of the solar system. But comets may not be so simple or similar. They may prove to be diverse bodies with complex histories. Comet Wild 2 seems to have had a more complex history than thought.

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Design of Satellite Constellation Awarded

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), announced that MDA of Richmond, British Columbia has been awarded a contract to carry out the conceptual design and mission definition critical design conceptfor a new fleet of Earth Observation satellites. Approved in Budget 2005, the specialised satellite constellation is made up of three small spacecraft to complement the legacy RADARSAT Program, and will be known as the RADARSAT Constellation.

“The small satellite constellation will enhance Canada’s ability to ensure its sovereignty and security through space-borne coastal surveillance,” said Minister Bernier. “It will also ensure the continuity of data services for government departments and a growing number of commercial clients in more than 60 countries worldwide.” Like RADARSAT, the three-satellite radar constellation will be designed to function day and night in all weather conditions.
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First Ariane launch of 2006

On 11 March 2006 an Ariane 5 ECA launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two telecommunications satellites into geostationary transfer orbits. Lift-off took place at 19:32 local time, 22:32 GMT/UTC. Both satellites were accurately delivered into the required orbits.

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NASA researchers using the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft have developed a method of seeing through the sun to the star’s far side. The sun’s far side faces away from the Earth, so it is not directly observable by traditional techniques.

“This new method allows more reliable advance warning of magnetic storms brewing on the far side that could rotate with the sun and threaten the Earth,” said NASA-supported scientist Phil Scherrer of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.

Magnetic storms resulting from violent solar activity disrupt satellites, radio communications, power grids and other technological systems on Earth. Advance warning can help planners prepare for operational disruptions. The sun rotates once every 27 days, as seen from Earth, and this means the evolution of active regions on the far side of the sun previously has not been detectable.

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