Past Week in Space #1

A hopefully weekly column in this blog that seeks to track the weekly space news. It doesn’t have the usual NASA/ESA traffic unless it is important. I think there are enough blogs/forums out there covering such things without having to add something of my own. The timeline is in reverse chronology.

  1. The NASA’s M3 team which has been discussing the science behind the mission on its blog announced the final result of its efforts by announcing that the M3 had found iron-bearing minerals on the lunar surface. Data from this 7 kg mapper on board Chandrayaan 1 provides an opportunity for scientists to look at the Moon with high spatial and spectral resolution.
  2. The ISRO chairman said that anyone who is “young, healthy, physically active and has a terrific spirit of adventure” can come and be a part of India’s cosmonaut corps. This is an oppertunity that I guess, many of you have been waiting for!
  3. Europe got its first dark sky park in southern Scotland this week. As the report clarifies further this is a recognised park by the International Dark-Skies Association. There are also only two other dark sky parks – one in Utah and another in Pennsylvania.
  4. Every Christmas the guys at the top-secret NORAD use their useful and super-secret equipment to track Santa. In this venture they have tied up with Know-it-All Google giants. Here is Santa going past the Taj Mahal(YouTube video) captured using its top secret web cams and advanced surviellance cameras. These cameras are used only once in a year to track Santa.
  5. ISRO also updated its website with more images from Chandrayaan 1’s . The images posted on the Chandrayaan 1 website has very poor captioning. I do hope that with the announcement of more missions like the manned space flight and mission to Mars, ISRO’s information skills improve. The images were updated on December 24.
  6. Chairman, ISRO announced a slew of missions at the CII conference in Delhi. Confirmed are the fact that Chandrayaan II’s design is ready and that the agency was on the road to putting a rover on the Moon by 2012. It also announced the year of India’s Mars Mission – 2013. Following these more robotic missions involved landing a space craft on an asteroid and a comet flyby mission. On the Indian human space flight front, Indians are going to fly on board a Russian space craft in 2013 and will fly in an indigenous space craft in 2015.
  7. A state of the art communication satellite jointly built by Antrix/ISRO and EADS Astrium for one of Europe’s largest telecom operators Eutelsat was successfully launched from Kourou, French Guyana. The satellite weighing a huge 3463 kgs lifted off on an Ariane-5 rocket at 0405 hrs (IST) on December 21. ISRO completed the satellite in a cool 26 months at a cost of $80 million. The Economic Times reported that Antrix/ISRO made a handsome $40 million profit from the same. The Ariane 5 placed the satellite in Geosynchronus Transfer Orbit or GTO after which ISRO controlled the satellite from its Master Control Facility or MCF-Hassan, stabilized the satellite with repeated Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) firing to place it in final orbit and deployed its appendages.
  8. In another rocketry related event at ISRO this week, ISRO tested the new indigenously developed cryogenic engine. The test was conducted at the Mahendragiri facility of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC). The engine will be used on the third stage of Geosynchronus Satellite Launch Vehicle or GSLV. The engine develops a thrust of 73kN in vaccum with a specific impulse of 454 seconds. The engine works on staged combustion cycle and runs an integrated turbopump at a speed of 42000rpm. This will allow GSLV to place a 2200 kg payload in Geosyncrhonus Transfer Orbit.

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