Getting ready for next mission to the Red Planet

  Testing is underway on NASA’s next mission on the journey to Mars (the Red Planet), a stationary lander scheduled to launch in March 2016. The lander is called InSight, an abbreviation for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. It is about the size of a car and will be the first […]

Could solar sails de-orbit satellites?

  The question of space debris has been a concern of many nations and with the large number of satellites being launched, space debris is increasing at an alarming rate.  The obvious answer would be to deorbit a satellite after it has served its purpose and is no longer needed. It will then burn up […]

ISS astronaut answers questions from SA learners

  It was a day they will long remember!  Learners from the Sol Plaatje primary school in Mmbatho linked up with the Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti  on the International Space Station (ISS) via a link established  by an radio amateur ground station on Saturday 2 May 2015. Commander Cristoforetti is spending almost six months on […]

Iconic satellite’s life ends as it crashes into Mercury

Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, have confirmed that Messenger slammed into the surface of Mercury on 30 April 2015 at 21h26. It had used the last of its propellant on 24 April and could no longer maintain a stable orbit. Travelling some 14 000 km per hour, the […]

Celestial fireworks celebrate Hubble’s 25th anniversary

  The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resembles a glittering fireworks display in the 25th anniversary of the NASA Hubble space telescope image – commemorating a quarter century of exploring the solar system and beyond since its launch on 24 April 1990. Hubble has completely transformed our view of the universe, revealing […]

Scientists are another step closer to figuring out dark matter

  “Dark matter is an enigma we have long sought to unravel,” said John Grunsfeld, assistant administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With the combined capabilities of these great observatories, both in extended mission, we are ever closer to understanding this cosmic phenomenon.” Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray […]

Eight African SKA partner countries agree on draft MoU

  At the second annual meeting of the SKA African Partner Countries ministerial meeting several key agreements were concluded, propelling the African very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) network (AVN) and SKA projects forward. The meeting was hosted by South Africa in Pretoria and attended by minsters and senior representatives from Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, […]

SDO continues to add information about the sun

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), designed to study the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth is continually adding to the body of knowledge about solar activity and the impact on Space weather and Earth. The SDO was launched  on 11 February 2010. On 10 February 2015 a dark, snaking line across the […]

SKA project takes a major step forward

The design of the €650-million first phase of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA1) is now defined, consisting of two complementary world-class instruments: one in South Africa and one in Australia – both expected to deliver exciting and transformational science. At their meeting last week at the SKA Organisation headquarters in Manchester, UK, the SKA Board […]