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Entries in Satellite (9)

Wednesday
Jan302013

South Korea Launches Rocket Carrying Satellite into Orbit

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- It looks like the third time's a charm for South Korea.  The country said on Wednesday that it successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite into orbit after two previous failed attempts.

The 140-ton rocket named Naro blasted off from the Naro Space Center at around 4 p.m. local time.

While weather conditions had looked less than perfect on Wednesday, there has been considerable pressure on South Korea to carry out a launch due to recent threats from North Korea.

Wednesday's launch was also South Korea’s last chance with Russian backing.  Russia has said it would back a maximum of three attempts and after that, South Korea must find another partner.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov272012

North Korea Readying for Another Rocket Launch?

PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images (file photo)(TOKYO) -- North Korea could be weeks away from its fifth satellite launch.  That's according to a new image captured by American satellite operator Digital Globe.

The photo at North Korea's missile launch site shows increased activity, including new tents, trucks and fuel oxidizer tanks.

Digital Globe says all the activity is similar to what they saw leading up to Pyongyang's failed launch in April of this year.

Analysts say North Korea could be ready to test yet another long-range missile within three weeks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb222012

Solar Eclipse, Seen Only By US Satellite

NASA(WASHINGTON) -- A NASA probe caught a solar eclipse Tuesday.  Though we earthlings could not see it, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory traveling 22,000 miles overhead was in the right place at the right time.

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The moon’s odd motion -- seeming to come in from the top of the picture and then skittering off to the right -- is created by the relative motion of the moon and the satellite. The moon orbits about 240,000 miles from Earth, circling us once every 29 days, while SDO is in a geosynchronous orbit, circling us once every 24 hours. Put their motions together and it gets complicated.

If you want to be pedantic, what SDO saw was really a transit instead of an eclipse. While the moon appeared to pass over the face of the sun, the word eclipse is often reserved for when that’s seen from Earth. The next eclipse visible from down here (mostly over the Pacific, but ending at dusk over the southwestern U.S.) will be May 20, and it will be an unusual annular eclipse -- the moon, whose orbit is not quite circular, will be far enough away that even when standing in the right place, the sun will appear to form a bright ring around the moon’s disc.

After a period of relative quiet, the Sun is becoming more active this year, with more sunspots and charged gas, or plasma, being hurtled out into space. But in truth, it’s never quiet. SDO, which has been keeping watch for two years, has returned pictures showing a 30-hour period on the sun’s surface Feb. 7-8, and the video has gone viral online.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Japan Earthquake Knocked Satellites off Their Orbits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- The 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan in March was so powerful, it not only triggered a tsunami and a nuclear crisis, but also knocked a couple of satellites off their orbits

Natural disasters can often change the Earth's gravitational field, but a NASA researcher says the massive quake affected gravity's pull of satellite orbits, marking only the third time that has happened.

Satellites were previously shifted off track during the Indonesian quake in 2004 and the powerful quake in Chile last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

NASA Now Predicts Satellite Re-Entry Friday Night or Saturday Morning

Artist's rendering of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (NASA)(WASHINGTON) -- Re-entry of NASA's abandoned UARS satellite into earth's atmosphere is expected late Friday or early Saturday, the space agency said in a new update. While NASA maintains that it will not be over North America at that time, they also insist it's too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with real certainty.

"The satellite's orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent," said NASA in an update. "There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent."

At last report, UARS was just over 100 miles in altitude. The atmosphere there, thin as it is, is thick enough to slow the satellite until it finally cannot stay in orbit.

The Aerospace Corporation, a private firm in California that is tracking UARS, independently predicted the satellite would come down around 11:16 p.m. EST, in an oval area that includes countries in northern Africa from Libya to Chad. But it said the time could change by several hours.

NASA said some 26 chunks of the old satellite -- which is roughly the size of a bus -- are likely to survive the descent, and fall at hundreds of miles per hour over an area of some 500 square miles. The agency has said it knows of no case in which people have been hurt by space junk.

"We believe that the risk is sufficiently low that no one needs to change their behaviors," NASA's Mark Matney said.

This is the largest NASA satellite to fall back to Earth uncontrolled since Skylab in 1979. Skylab was much larger -- about the size of a house -- and debris fell in the Australian Outback and the Pacific.

But according to Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief orbital debris scientist, any one person's chances of getting hit by debris are tiny -- something like 1 in 21 trillion. The chances that of the 7 billion people on Earth, one of them, somewhere, could be hit are more like 1 in 3,200.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep232011

Falling Satellite Forecast to Re-Enter Friday Afternoon off Chilean Coast

Conceptual image of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. NASA(HOUSTON) -- If you live in North America and are wondering where NASA's aging Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) will crash on Earth, the space agency says you can rest easy.

"Re-entry is possible sometime during the afternoon or early evening of Sept. 23, Eastern Daylight Time," NASA said in an update Thursday night.  "The satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period."

The Aerospace Corporation, a private firm that is tracking UARS, offered a more specific prediction, saying the satellite would likely come down off the coast of Chile at 6:06 p.m. EST.  But William Ailor, who heads the company's center for orbital and re-entry debris studies, said the time and location would almost undoubtedly change as Friday afternoon approaches.

NASA repeated that the risk to people or property is "extremely small."

As of Thursday evening, UARS had an altitude of about 110 miles, skimming the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere at more than 17,000 mph.  At some point, a little like a stone skipping over a pond, it will encounter enough resistance that it will no longer be able to keep moving at orbital speeds.

UARS is the largest NASA satellite to fall back to Earth uncontrolled since Skylab in 1979.  It is 35 feet long and weighs about six tons, but most of it will burn up on re-entry.  The little that doesn't is what worries NASA.

Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief orbital debris scientist, said their analysis shows that 26 parts of UARS are dense enough to make it to the Earth's surface.

"These 26 components, which we anticipate will survive all the way down, will be going at a moderate velocity of tens to hundreds of miles an hour," he said.  "All these 26 have been identified as potentially causing damage if they hit a structure or a person, but the odds of that are very, very, low."

Johnson said any one person's chances of getting hit by debris are tiny -- something like 1 in 21 trillion.  The chances that one of the seven billion people on Earth could be hit are more like 1 in 3,200.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

Space Satellite UARS Expected to Hit Earth Friday

Conceptual image of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. NASA(HOUSTON) -- On Friday, the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere, a 20-year-old dead satellite will re-enter the atmosphere, a little sooner than NASA anticipated.

Originally, the space agency predicted the nearly 6-ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, could hit the planet as early as Sept. 24.

While NASA can basically track the arrival of UARS, figuring out where it will fall is another matter entirely.  NASA officials told ABC News that they won't know where the satellite will hit until two hours before it enters the Earth's atmosphere.  And the target range for where the satellite might fall is broad: 57 degrees north of the equator to 57 degrees south of the equator.

UARS will break into pieces as it crashes toward Earth but not all of it will burn up.  Scientists have identified 26 separate components that will likely survive with the debris, spreading out over 400 to 500 miles.  Engineers say 1,200 pounds of metal chunks could make it down to the surface.

NASA said the chances of anyone getting hit by the satellite are 1 in 3,200.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep162011

Space Satellite UARS Adrift and Heading for Earth

Conceptual image of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite. NASA(HOUSTON) -- A nearly 6-ton satellite is heading toward Earth and could crash into the planet as early as Sept. 24, NASA officials said.

The UARS -- short for Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite -- has been in orbit since the space shuttle Discovery launched it in 1991, but it's gradually coming closer to the ground as it encounters friction from the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

NASA officials told ABC News that they won't know where the satellite will hit until two hours before it enters the Earth's atmosphere, moving at 5 mph.

The chances of anyone getting hit by the UARS satellite are 1 in 3,200, NASA said.

The "productive science life" of the satellite ended in 2005 when it ran out of fuel, according to NASA's website.  That fuel could have been used by the satellite to ditch itself in the Pacific.

The satellite will break into pieces as it crashes toward Earth but not all of it will burn up.  Scientists have identified 26 separate components that will likely survive with the debris, spreading out over 400 to 500 miles.  Engineers say 1,200 pounds of metal chunks could make it down to the surface.

"Things have been re-entering ever since the dawn of the Space Age; to date nobody has been injured by anything that's re-entered," Gene Stansbery of NASA's orbital debris office told ABC News last week.

The target range for where the satellite might fall is broad: 57 degrees north of the equator to 57 degrees south of the equator.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May272011

Lost Pyramids of Egypt Discovered with Satellite Images

Brand X?Thinkstock(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- With satellite imagery (and more than a decade of experience), Archeologist Sarah Parcak uncovered the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis and as many as 17 lost pyramids and thousands of tombs and settlements buried under an Egyptian floodplain.

"This just hints at the possibilities and the potential of the archeology of Egypt," said Parcak, an Egyptologist and assistant professor of archeology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "There's just so much there."

Funded with a grant from the BBC, which will air a documentary on the project next week, Parcak and her team spent more than a year poring over NASA and commercial satellite imagery of Egypt's Nile Valley Delta -- an area that covers thousands of square miles.

By looking at images of the surface in different wavelengths of light, they discovered differences on the ground that reveal the presence of ancient temples, houses and pyramids.

"All of a sudden, these features jump out at you," she said. "It's almost like you've got Superman or Superwoman X-ray vision and you're able to look at the world a little differently."

When you walk on the ground over an Egyptian floodplain, Parcak said, you can't see much more than a brown, silty surface. But pictures from satellites about 435 miles above Earth show the chemical changes in the soil caused by the mud brick walls used to build the hidden structures.

Though the imagery showed a treasure trove of ancient antiquities buried 8 to 20 inches below the surface, Parcak emphasized that excavation or ground surveys still need to confirm their existence. But initial excavations have already validated some of her findings, including one pyramid.

In an era of budget cuts and reduced travel, Parcak said her project shows that satellite technology can help archeologists explore remotely, strategically and more efficiently. Ultimately, Parcak said, satellite technology's greatest contribution to archeology is the breadth of information it's able to uncover more quickly.

By giving scientists an overview of a geographic area, it lets them turn their attention to the people and society that lived there, she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio