...the who's who,
and the what's what 
of the space industry

Copernical Team

Copernical Team

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NASA challenges students to design moon-digging robots
Credit: NASA

NASA seeks young engineers to help design a new robot concept for an excavation mission on the Moon. The Lunabotics Junior Contest is open to K-12 students in U.S. public and private schools, as well as home-schoolers.

The competition, which is a collaboration between NASA and Future Engineers, asks students to design a robot that digs and moves , called , from an area of the lunar South Pole to a holding container near where Artemis may explore in the future.

As part of the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and establish long-term lunar science and exploration capabilities that will serve as a springboard for future exploration of Mars. Lunar regolith is instrumental in this development and could be used to create lunar concrete, reducing the amount and cost of materials that need to be transported from Earth.

To enter the contest, students must submit entries, which must include an image of the robot design and a written summary explaining how the design is intended to operate on the Moon, by Jan.

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NASA will hold a series of virtual media briefings and events leading up to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the premier space science observatory of the next decade.
Wednesday, 20 October 2021 11:56

Studying the edge of the sun's magnetic bubble

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Studying the edge of the sun’s magnetic bubble
This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Our corner of the universe, the solar system, is nestled inside the Milky Way galaxy, home to more than 100 billion stars. The solar system is encased in a bubble called the heliosphere, which separates us from the vast galaxy beyond—and some of its harsh space radiation.

We're protected from that by the , which itself is created by another source of radiation: the sun. The sun constantly spews charged particles, called the solar wind, from its surface. The solar wind flings out to about four times the distance of Neptune, carrying with it the from the sun.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 12:01

Image: Auroras viewed from orbit

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Image: Auroras viewed from orbit
Credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet

Auroras make for great Halloween décor over Earth, though ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet snapped these green smoky swirls of plasma from the International Space Station in August. Also pictured are the Soyuz MS-18 "Yuri Gagarin" (left) and the new Nauka module (right).

The Station saw quite some aurora activity that month, caused by colliding with Earth's atmosphere and producing a stunning light show.

Fast forward to October and space is quite busy.

On 9 October the sun ejected a violent mass of fast-moving plasma into space that arrived at Earth a few days later. The (CME) crashed into our planet's magnetosphere and once again lit up the sky.

CMEs explode from the sun, rush through the solar system and while doing so speed up the solar wind—a stream of charged particles continuously released from the sun's upper atmosphere.

While most of the is blocked by Earth's protective magnetosphere, some become trapped in Earth's magnetic field and flow down to the geomagnetic poles, colliding with the upper atmosphere to create the beautiful Aurora.

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Dubaï at night

Ten start-up companies and SMEs secured the top places in ESA’s 2020 start-up competition and the Agency’s 2021 Global Space Markets Challenge

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 08:30

Opened-out ‘FlatSat’ for CubeSat testing

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CubeSat FlatSat

ESA’s latest CubeSat mission is destined to never leave the ground. Instead it is doing its duty as an opened-out ‘FlatSat’ – with its interlinked subsystems spread out across a table at the Agency’s Data Systems and Microelectronics Laboratory at its ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands.   

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 09:56

Dwarf galaxy catches globular cluster

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Amsterdam, Netherlands (SPX) Oct 19, 2021
Astronomers already knew that our own Milky Way grew by taking in smaller galaxies. But now a team of Italian-Dutch researchers have shown that a small galaxy neighbouring the Milky Way has in turn absorbed an even smaller galaxy from its vicinity. The researchers will publish their findings on Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy. According to the prevailing theory, large galaxies such
Wednesday, 20 October 2021 09:56

Astronomers see white dwarf switch on and off

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Durham UK (SPX) Oct 19, 2021
White dwarfs are what most stars become after burning off the hydrogen that fuels them. Now our astronomers have seen one of these galactic objects switching on and off for the first time. Researchers used a planet-hunting satellite to observe the unique phenomenon in a white dwarf about 1,400 light years from Earth. This particular white dwarf is known to be accreting, or feeding, f
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Belfast UK (SPX) Oct 19, 2021
Astronomers at Queen's University Belfast have launched a new online initiative, calling for volunteers to come forward and help to search for extrasolar planets. The online citizen project, hosted by Zooniverse.org, Planet Hunters Next-Generation Transit Search (NGTS), is enlisting the help of the public to examine five years' worth of digital footage showing some of the brightest stars i
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Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 19, 2021
Thanks to two microphones aboard NASA's Perseverance rover, the mission has recorded nearly five hours of Martian wind gusts, rover wheels crunching over gravel, and motors whirring as the spacecraft moves its arm. These sounds allow scientists and engineers to experience the Red Planet in new ways - and everyone is invited to listen in. "It's like you're really standing there," said Bapti
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