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Volume 11 –July 21, 2009


Successful Satelite Launch

On Tuesday July 14th, placing a Malaysian satellite into orbit, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) succeeded in its second successful launch.  SpaceX, a California based company, has been developing launch vehicles for missions to Earth orbit and beyond. To date in their Falcon family of rockets, they have worked on Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Falcon 9 Heavy.  Among their designs, one can also find Dragon, a reusable free-flying spacecraft for transporting cargo and crew to and from orbiting destinations.

In Tuesday's launch, Falcon 1 lifted off from Omelek Island in Central Pacific. According to the company, the separation and deployment stages went perfectly, launching The RazakSAT satellite. The satellite built by Astronautic Technology Sdn. Bhd of Malaysia, was carrying a high resolution camera. For more information, please visit:

Free 3-D Space Simulation

Aptly named Celestia, is a free 3D space simulation that runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. The view on this program is not limited to the surface of the Earth, but users can travel through the solar system or even beyond the galaxy.

Celestia features a wide range of zooming capability from galaxy size to few meters and comes with a large catalog of stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets and space craft with the capability to install multiple add-ons. to learn more please visit: http://www.shatters.net/celestia/index.html

Venus's Earth-Like Past

For some time, it was thought that the similarities between Earth and Venus was  limited to size, bulk composition, and their orbits around the sun. However, utilizing 1000 images, taken over a period of 20 months, Venus Express has produced a map of Venus's southern hemisphere that indicates more similarities; as an ocean of water and a plate tectonics system.

Using infrared wavelength that can see past the clouds covering the surface of Venus, the new data suggests the highland plateaus of Venus are continents that were once surrounded by oceans and produced by past volcanic activity.

Although this is not a proof, but it is highly consistent with the theory of an Earth-like past. For now the only method to gain more certainty is to send a lander on the surface of Venus, but meanwhile the new map provides a new tool in trying to understand the similarities between the two planets.

For more information please visit: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/New_Map_Hints_At_Venus_Wet_Volcanic_Past_999.html
Internet in Space
To efficiently communicate between Earth and the different rovers, probes, orbiters and spacecraft, NASA has been developing DTN (delay Tolerant Networking) technologies. and it is planning to use it as early as 2011. 
There are many obstacles that cause a time gap when it comes to transfer of information in space. One obvious obstacle is the constant motion of the planets in their orbit around the sun. 
"What we have to do instead is to tell all the nodes that these are the changes that are going to occur," says Scott Burleigh, a software engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., and one of the original developers of DTN. "You are going to be able to communicate from A to B at this data rate starting at 12:30 and ending at 3:30, and then you are not going to be able to communicate on that link anymore... until next Tuesday."

After the first test of DTN in Fall of 2008 was a success, in May of 2009 DTN protocols were installed on the International Space Station. The summer testing has used computers on board of the ISS to send images to Earth. The third test is scheduled for October 2009 at which time a security protocol will be introduced and they will be utilizing the Deep Impact spacecraft.

For more information please visit:



Anousheh's Favorite Quote:

"Space isn't that far
-it's only an hour's drive, if your car could go straight up."

Sir Fred Hoyle, English Astronomer