Just a few weeks after the US National Science Foundation announced they were decommissioning the Arecibo Observatory Telescope due to a cable snap causing safety concerns, the platform has collapsed causing irreparable damage. The central receiver platform, weighing 815 tonnes, fell 140 metres into the reflector dish below causing damage to the dish, towers and the learning centre, thankfully the NSF have reported there has been no reports of injuries following the collapse.
This has been a sad loss for many, especially for the group of researchers working there who have been left with a very uncertain future. Built in the 1960’s the Arecibo observatory telescope has been a powerful resource in a number of scientific discoveries. Initially the intention of the telescope was to help explore the ionised upper part of Earth's atmosphere, the ionosphere, however, ended up being used for much more than this.
Uses and achievements included:
· Providing the first solid evidence for a neutron star
· It identified the first example of a binary pulsar and its discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
· It made the first definitive detection of exoplanets, planetary bodies orbiting other stars, in 1992
· It was used to listen for signals from intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos and to track near-Earth asteroids
Find out more about the telescope, its history and future on:
The National Geographic
UK astronomers at Cambridge University have created the first accurate 3D map of the milky way which includes 1.8 billion stars, using data from the European Space Agency (ESA) Gaia space observatory. The ESA Gaia mission has two satellites which measure the distance to and between stellar objects throughout the galaxy and they are placed 930,000 miles from Earth. The map and the data will be used by researchers to gather a more clear understanding of our galaxy, how stars are spread out, and identify stars that are similar to our own Sun.
The Gaia mission launched in 2013 begun observations back in 2014 and has cost 450 million euros. This most recent set of data is the third release since the mission launched, Timo Prusti ESA's Gaia Project Scientist said ‘ Gaia EDR3 is the result of a huge effort from everyone involved in the Gaia mission. It's an extraordinarily rich data set, and I look forward to the many discoveries that astronomers from around the world will make with this resource,' says Timo Prusti, ESA's Gaia Project Scientist.
Find out more on:
The Daily Mail
The space tourism company space perspective has raised $7 million which will allow them to begin testing their technology, a high-altitude balloon which will take people up to an altitude of 30km in a pressurised cabin. The commercial flights will give people a similar experience to some aspects of spaceflight, mostly the view. The balloon will spend 2 hours at altitude and then gradually descend, splashing down on water where it will be retrieved by a ship.
The company plans to test the technology without crew in the first half of 2021 and co-founder and co-chief executive of Space Perspective Taber MacCallum says, the test flight will “really take us through the concept of operations”. The funding however won’t be enough to carry the company through further operations meaning their will be further rounds of funding in 2022 to continue development and testing.
Space Coast Daily
A Japanese capsule carrying the world’s first asteroid subsurface samples has landed in Australia, sent from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, it was collected by Japanese officials in the the sparsely populated area of Woomera. The sample taken from the asteroid Ryugu about 180 million miles away, was released from the spacecraft in the capsule on Saturday, which then it set off on a new expedition. The capsule containing the asteroid samples was found by officials in a helicopter just 2 hours after re-entry with the pan-shaped capsule, measuring only about 40 centimetres (15 inches) in diameter. The samples will now be sent back to Japan where they will be used for research and study.
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Start-up company Aevum have unveiled 80ft long and 60ft wide drone called Ravn X. All the drone needs is one mile of runway in order to launch and once it reaches the right altitude it drops a rocket which ignites and launches into low-earth orbit. The drone does not need a hangar, a launch pad, automates a great deal of the usual paperwork and requires only 10% of the usual staff needed in a rocket launch, improving flexibility, efficiency and function.