exactEarth Ltd. announces that it will issue its 2016 third quarter financial results at 06:30 ET on Wednesday September 14, 2016.
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL ? The telecommunications giant SES is boldly going where no company has gone before by making history in inking a deal today, Aug. 30, to fly the expensive SES-10 commercial satellite on the first ever launch of a ?Flight-Proven? SpaceX booster.
Luxembourg-based SES and Hawthrone, CA-based SpaceX today jointly announced the agreement to ?launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster? before the end of this year.
?The satellite, which will be in a geostationary orbit and expand SES?s capabilities across Latin America, is scheduled for launch in Q4 2016. SES-10 will be the first-ever satellite to launch on a SpaceX flight-proven rocket booster,? according to a joint statement.
That first launch of a flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage will use the CRS-8 booster that delivered a SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station in April 2016.
The deal marks a major milestone and turning point in SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk?s long sought endeavor to turn the science fictionesque quest of rocket reusability into the scientific fact of reality.
?Thanks for the longstanding faith in SpaceX,? tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after today?s joint SES/SpaceX announcement.
?We very much look forward to doing this milestone flight with you.?
Elon Musk?s goal is to radically slash the cost of launching rockets and access to space via rocket recycling - in a way that will one day lead to his vision of a ?City on Mars.?
Over just the past 8 months, SpaceX has successfully recovered 6 of the firms Falcon 9 first stage boosters intact - by land and by sea since December 2015 - in hopes of recycling and reusing them with new payloads from paying customers daring enough to take the risk of stepping into the unknown!
SES is that daring company and repeatedly shown faith in SpaceX when they were the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX with SES=8 back in October 2013. Earlier this year the firm also launched SES-9 on the recently upgraded full thrust version of Falcon 9 in March 2016.
?Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX's first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket. We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight, and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management,? said Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES, in the statement.
?This new agreement reached with SpaceX once again illustrates the faith we have in their technical and operational expertise. The due diligence the SpaceX team has demonstrated throughout the design and testing of the SES-10 mission launch vehicle gives us full confidence that SpaceX is capable of launching our first SES satellite dedicated to Latin America into space.?
For the SES-10 launch, SpaceX plans to use the Falcon 9 booster that landed on an ocean going drone ship from NASA?s CRS-8 space station mission launched in April 2016, said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of Flight Reliability, to reporters recently at the Kennedy Space Center during NASA?s CRS-9 cargo launch to the ISS.
SpaceX has derived many lessons learned on how to maximize the chances for a successful rocket recovery, Koenigsmann explained to Universe Today at KSC when I asked for some insight.
?We learned a lot ? from the landings,? Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of Flight Reliability, told Universe Today during the media briefings for the SpaceX CRS-9 space station cargo resupply launch on July 18.
?There are no structural changes first of all.?
?The key thing is to protect the engines- and make sure that they start up well [in space during reentry],? Koenigsmann elaborated, while they are in flight and ?during reentry.?
?And in particular the hot trajectory, so to speak, like the ones that comes in after a fast payload, like the geo-transfer payload basically.?
?Those engines need to be protected so that they start up in the proper way. That?s something that we learned.?
The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage is outfitted with four landing legs at the base and four grid fins at the top to conduct the landing attempts.
?In general I think the landing concept with the legs, and the number of burns and the way we perform those seems to work OK,? Koenigsmann told me.
?Re-launching a rocket that has already delivered spacecraft to orbit is an important milestone on the path to complete and rapid reusability,? said Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX.
?SES has been a strong supporter of SpaceX?s approach to reusability over the years and we?re delighted that the first launch of a flight-proven rocket will carry SES-10.?
SES-10 will be the first SES satellite wholly dedicated to Latin America. .
?The satellite will provide coverage over Mexico, serve the Spanish speaking South America in one single beam, and cover Brazil with the ability to support off-shore oil and gas exploration,? according to SES.
It will replace ca[acity currently provided by two other satellites, namely AMC-3 and AMC-4, and will ?provide enhanced coverage and significant capacity expansion over Latin America - including Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The high-powered, tailored and flexible beams will provide direct-to-home broadcasting, enterprise and mobility services.?
It is equipped with a Ku-band payload of 55 36MHz transponder equivalents, of which 27 are incremental. It will be stationed at 67 degrees West.
SES-10 was built by Airbus Defence and Space and is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform. Notably it will use ?an electric plasma propulsion system for on-orbit manoeuvres and a chemical system for initial orbit raising and some on-orbit manoeuvres.?
The most recently SpaceX Falcon 9 booster to be recovered followed the dramatic overnight launch of the Japanese JCSAT-16 telecom satellite on Aug. 14.
It was towed back into port on atop the diminutive OCISLY ocean landing platform that measures only about 170 ft × 300 ft (52 m × 91 m). SpaceX formally dubs it an ?Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship? or ASDS.
The 6 successful Falcon upright first stage landings are part of a continuing series of SpaceX technological marvels/miracles rocking the space industry to its core.
SpaceX had already successfully recovered first stages three times in a row at sea earlier this year on the ocean going drone ship barge using the company?s OCISLY Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) on April 8, May 6 and May 27, prior to JCSAT-16 on Aug. 14.
Two land landings back at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone-1 were accomplished on Dec. 21, 2015 and July 18, 2016.
Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
The post SES Boldly Goes Where No Firm Has Gone Before, Inks Deal to Fly on 1st SpaceX ?Flight-Proven? Booster appeared first on Universe Today.
6 million years ago, when our first human ancestors were doing their thing here on Earth, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way was a ferocious place. Our middle-aged, hibernating black hole only munches lazily on small amounts of hydrogen gas these days. But when the first hominins walked the Earth, Sagittarius A was gobbling up matter and expelling gas at speeds reaching 1,000 km/sec. (2 million mph.)
The evidence for this hyperactive phase in Sagittarius' life, when it was an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN), came while astronomers were searching for something else: the Milky Way's missing mass.
There's a funny problem in our understanding of our galactic environment. Well, it's not that funny. It's actually kind of serious, if you're serious about understanding the universe. The problem is that we can calculate how much matter we should be able to see in our galaxy, but when go looking for it, it's not there. This isn't just a problems in the Milky Way, it's a problem in other galaxies, too. The entire universe, in fact.
Our measurements show that the Milky Way has a mass about 1-2 trillion times greater than the Sun. Dark matter, that mysterious and invisible hobgoblin that haunts cosmologists' nightmares, makes up about five sixths of that mass. Regular, normal matter makes up the last sixth of the galaxy's mass, about 150-300 billion solar masses. But we can only find about 65 billion solar masses of that normal matter, made up of the familiar protons, neutrons, and electrons. The rest is missing in action.
Astrophysicists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have been looking for that mass, and have written up their results in a new paper.
"We played a cosmic game of hide-and-seek. And we asked ourselves, where could the missing mass be hiding?" says lead author Fabrizio Nicastro, a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and astrophysicist at the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF).
"We analyzed archival X-ray observations from the XMM-Newton spacecraft and found that the missing mass is in the form of a million-degree gaseous fog permeating our galaxy. That fog absorbs X-rays from more distant background sources," Nicastro continued.
Nicastro and the other scientists behind the paper analyzed how the x-rays were absorbed and were able to calculate the amount and distribution of normal matter in that fog. The team relied heavily on computer models, and on the XMM-Newton data. But their results did not match up with a uniform distribution of the gaseous fog. Instead, there is an empty "bubble", where this is no gas. And that bubble extends from the center of the galaxy two-thirds of the way to Earth.
What can explain the bubble? Why would the gaseous fog not be spread more uniformly through the galaxy?
Clearing gas from an area that large would require an enormous amount of energy, and the authors point out that an active black hole would do it. They surmise that Sagittarius A was very active at that time, both feeding on gas falling into itself, and pumping out streams of hot gas at up to 1000 km/sec.
Which brings us to present day, 6 million years later, when the shock-wave caused by that activity has travelled 20,000 light years, creating the bubble around the center of the galaxy.
Another piece of evidence corroborates all this. Near the galactic center is a population of 6 million year old stars, formed from the same material that at one time flowed toward the black hole.
"The different lines of evidence all tie together very well," says Smithsonian co-author Martin Elvis (CfA). "This active phase lasted for 4 to 8 million years, which is reasonable for a quasar."
The numbers all match up, too. The gas accounted for in the team's models and observations add up to 130 billion solar masses. That number wraps everything up pretty nicely, since the missing matter in the galaxy is thought to be between 85 billion and 235 billion solar masses.
This is intriguing stuff, though it's certainly not the final word on the Milky Way's missing mass. Two future missions, the European Space Agency's Athena X-ray Observatory, planned for launch in 2028, and NASA's proposed X-Ray Surveyor could provide more answers.
Who knows? Maybe not only will we learn more about the missing matter in the Milky Way and other galaxies, we may learn more about the activity at the center of the galaxy, and what ebbs and flows it has gone through, and how that has shaped galactic evolution.
The post 6 Million Years Ago The Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole Raged appeared first on Universe Today.
In 2014, Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Chadwick Trujillo of Northern Arizona University proposed an interesting idea. Noting the similarities in the orbits of distant Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), they postulated that a massive object was likely influencing them. This was followed in 2016 by Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown of Caltech suggesting that an undiscovered planet was the culprit.
Since that time, the hunt has been on for the infamous "Planet 9" in our Solar System. And while no direct evidence has been produced, astronomers believe they are getting closer to discerning its location. In a paper that was recently accepted by The Astronomical Journal, Sheppard and Trujillo present their latest discoveries, which they claim are further constraining the location of Planet 9.
For the sake of their study, Sheppard and Trujillo relied on information obtained by the Dark Energy Camera on the Victor Blanco 4-meter telescope in Chile and the Japanese Hyper Suprime-Camera on the 8-meter Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. With the help of David Tholen from the University of Hawaii, they have been conducting the largest deep-sky survey for objects beyond Neptune and the Kuiper Belt.
This survey is intended to find more objects that show the same clustering in their orbits, thus offering greater evidence that a massive planet exists in the outer Solar System. As Sheppard explained in a recent Carnegie press release:
?Objects found far beyond Neptune hold the key to unlocking our Solar System?s origins and evolution. Though we believe there are thousands of these small objects, we haven?t found very many of them yet, because they are so far away. The smaller objects can lead us to the much bigger planet we think exists out there. The more we discover, the better we will be able to understand what is going on in the outer Solar System.?
Their most recent discovery was a small collection of more extreme objects who's peculiar orbits differ from the extreme and inner Oort cloud objects, in terms of both their eccentricities and semi-major axes. As with discoveries made using other instruments, these appear to indicate the presence of something massive effecting their orbits.
All of these objects have been submitted to the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Minor Planet Center for designation. They include 2014 SR349, an extreme TNO that has similar orbital characteristics as the previously-discovered extreme bodies that led Sheppard and Trujillo to infer the existence of a massive object in the region.
Another is 2014 FE72, an object who's orbit is so extreme that it reaches about 3000 AUs from the Sun in a massively-elongated ellipse - something which can only be explained by the influence of a strong gravitational force beyond our Solar System. And in addition to being the first object observed at such a large distance, it is also the first distant Oort Cloud object found to orbit entirely beyond Neptune.
And then there's 2013 FT28, which is similar but also different from the other extreme objects. For instance, 2013 FT28 shows similar clustering in terms of its semi-major axis, eccentricity, inclination, and argument of perihelion angle, but is different when it comes to its longitude of perihelion. This would seem to indicates that this particular clustering trend is less strong among the extreme TNOs.
Beyond the work of Sheppard and Trujillo, nearly 10 percent of the sky has now been explored by astronomers. Relying on the most advanced telescopes, they have revealed that there are several never-before-seen objects that orbit the Sun at extreme distances.
And as more distant objects with unexplained orbital parameters emerge, their interactions seem to fit with the idea of a massive distant planet that could pay a key role in the mechanics of the outer Solar System. However, as Sheppard has indicated, there really isn't enough evidence yet to draw any conclusions.
?Right now we are dealing with very low-number statistics, so we don?t really understand what is happening in the outer Solar System,? he said. ?Greater numbers of extreme trans-Neptunian objects must be found to fully determine the structure of our outer Solar System.?
Alas, we don't yet know if Planet 9 is out there, and it will probably be many more years before confirmation can be made. But by looking to the visible objects that present a possible sign of its path, we are slowly getting closer to it. With all the news in exoplanet hunting of late, it is interesting to see that we can still go hunting in our own backyard!
Further Reading: The Astrophysical Journal Letters