Has the solar maximum arrived?

  During 2008 and 2009 an eerie quiet descended on the sun.  Sunspot counts dropped to historically-low levels and solar flares ceased altogether.  As the longest and deepest solar minimum in a century unfolded, solar physicists wondered  whether  a solar maximum  would ever return and if so when? “It’s back,” says Dean Pesnell of the […]

Curiosity takes a self-portrait at “Windjana” drilling site

  NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used the camera at the end of its arm in April and May 2014 to take dozens of component images combined into a  self-portrait where the rover drilled into a sandstone target called “Windjana”. The camera is the Mars hand lens imager (MAHLI), which previously recorded portraits of Curiosity at […]

Satellite detects a series of Kelvin waves, possible El Niño brewing

  Every ten days, the NASA/CNES (French Space Agency) Jason-2 satellite maps all the world’s oceans, monitoring changes in sea surface height – a measure of heat in the upper layers of the water.   Because our planet is more than 70% ocean, this information is crucial to global forecasts of weather and climate. Lately, a […]

Black hole “Doughnut” theory – a big mistake

  Information collected by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) does not corroborate the black hole doughnut  theory. Researchers found evidence that something other than a doughnut structure may, in some circumstances, determine whether a black hole is visible or hidden. The team has not yet determined what this may be, but the results suggest […]

SANSA to bid for 2018 Space Operations Conference in SA

by Hans van de Groenendaal, features editor, EngineerIT SANSA will make a bid to host the 2018 international SpaceOps conference at the event to be held from 5 – 9 May 2014  in Pasadena, USA. Every two years, the worlds’ major space-fareing nations get together to discuss the latest operations technology, trends and best practices […]

Manufacture of MeerKat antennas will boost local industry

  Hans van de Groenendaal, features editor, EngineerIT At least 75% of the components making up the 64 MeerKAT antennas will be manufactured in South Africa, but several industries in the SKA Organisation partner countries are also making crucial contributions. The global technology collaborations bring cutting-edge know-how and many years of antenna experience to the […]

Hubble peers at the heart of NGC 5793

  NGC 5793, a Seyfert galaxy, is of great interest to astronomers as it houses masers, which tell us a lot about their environment and supermassive black holes.  This new Hubble image is centred on NGC 5793, a spiral galaxy over 150-million light-years away in the constellation of Libra. This galaxy has two particularly striking […]

Space technology grows locally

  South Africa may not have a satellite launch facility yet – it is on the cards for the future – but several satellites are under construction at various institutions and locations. South Africa’s first satellite, SunSat, was built by students and staff at Stellenbosch University, and was launched by NASA in 1999. The outflow […]