NASA’s Orion Spacecraft nears completion

  NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft in preparation for the capsule’s first trip to space in December 2014. Orion is built to take humans further than ever before. It will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the […]

South Africa’s TshepisoSat 14 MHz beacon still elusive

  The satellite built by students and engineers at F’SATI at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, TshepisoSat, is continuing to send telemetry signals and has taken some interesting photographs, but its 20 m (14,099 MHz) beacon has not yet been heard on the ground. Before any conclusions can be drawn, further tests will be […]

Mars – here we come again!

  If there is anyone on Mars they must be wondering about the strange object flying around their planet. In science-fiction stories we have given a particular identity to the people that supposedly live on Martian soil. The object troubling our fictional Martians is NASA’s Mars atmosphere and volatile evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft which entered Mars’ […]

SANSA monitoring geomagnetic storm

  According to the Space Weather Centre of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) active region 2158 near the centre of the solar disk erupted on 10 September 2014 with an X1,6 class solar flare, accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME). The CME is travelling towards Earth and was expected to impact the […]

Solar flares return

  Although over the past few months solar activity has been very low, with at one stage no visible sunspots, we could still be in for some surprises. On 24 August 2014  the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare.  NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of […]

Chandra X-ray observatory celebrates 15 years in space

  Fifteen years ago, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched into space aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Since its deployment on 23 July  1999 Chandra has helped revolutionise the understanding of the universe through its unrivalled X-ray vision. Chandra, along with the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, is specially designed to detect X-ray […]

Solar flare’s impact underestimated

  If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news. Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn’t mention it. The “impactor” was an extreme […]

First gamma ray pulsar measured in southern sky from ground level

  For the first time from ground level the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) has measured pulsed gamma rays in the southern sky. The radiation originates from the Vela pulsar, a neutron star that was formed when a massive star collapsed. This is the first pulsar detected by HESS II – the latest upgrade of […]

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