9th-generation GPS satellite blasts off from ‘The Cape’

The Air Force and the 45th Space Wing supported the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket that roared to life from Launch Complex 37, March 25, 2015, carrying the Air Force's ninth Block IIF-09 navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System at 2:36 p.m. EDT.

This launch is the fourth ULA launch this year and the 95th launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

GPS IIF-09 launched aboard a Delta IV Medium-plus (4,2) Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine, along with two ATK GEM 60 solid rocket motors.

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Black-hole wind

Some supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies are devouring the surrounding material. They also divert part of it away through powerful winds and jets.

Astronomers studying the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy IRAS F11119+3257 have found proof that the winds blown by the black hole are sweeping away the host galaxy’s reservoir of raw material to form stars.

This finding was made by using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, together with the Suzaku X-ray astronomy satellite. Combining these data, the astronomers could detect the winds driven by the central black hole in X-rays, and their global effect, pushing the galactic gas away, at infrared wavelengths.

This artist's impression shows how the black hole accretes the surrounding matter through a disc (orange). Part of the accreted material is pushed away in a wind (blue), which in turn powers a large-scale galactic outflow of molecular gas (red).

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Expedition 43 Soyuz Rolls Out for Launch

The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, and Russian Cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko, and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 28, Kazakh time (March 27 Eastern time.) As the one-year crew, Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-18M in March 2016. More information on one year crew. Image Credit NASA/Bill Ingalls

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NASA Announces Next Steps on Journey to Mars: Progress on Asteroid Initiative

NASA Wednesday announced more details in its plan for its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which in the mid-2020s will test a number of new capabilities needed for future human expeditions to deep space, including to Mars. NASA also announced it has increased the detection of near-Earth Asteroids by 65 percent since launching its asteroid initiative three years ago.

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Pine Island Glacier on Sentinel-1A’s radar

This image combining two scans by Sentinel-1A’s radar shows that parts of the Pine Island glacier flowed about 100 m (in pink) between 3 March and 15 March 2015. Light blue represents stable ice on either side of the stream.

Pine Island is the largest glacier in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and one of the fastest ice streams on the continent, with an average of over 4 km per year. About a tenth of the ice sheet drains out to the sea by way of this glacier.

With its all-weather, day and night radar vision, the Sentinel-1 mission is an important tool for monitoring polar regions and the effects that climate change has on ice.

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Electrodynamic Shaker on BBC Stargazing Live

The normally shuttered doors of ESA’s satellite testing facility were thrown open to the BBC’s popular Stargazing Live programme last Friday. Some 1.8 million viewers witnessed a live demonstration of the earthquake-strength Electrodynamic Shaker, used to simulate the intense vibrations of a space launch.

BBC presenter Dallas Campbell, seen atop the shaker here, was careful to jump off it before the session began. The shaker sweep began at three times per second, building up to 200 times per second.

The vibrating test item atop the shaker was not actual flight hardware but a mockup created expressly for the show.

ESA engineer Matteo Appolloni explained the workings of the shaker to viewers.

ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands is the largest facility of its kind in Europe, providing a complete suite of equipment for all aspects of satellite testing under a single roof.

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