The planet, known as HD 131399Ab, is 320 light-years from Earth and orbits the brightest of the three stars in the triple-star system. This orbit is the widest known of any planets in similar star systems, and for this reason was very surprising to astronomers. The gravitational interaction between the three stars is always changing, making larger orbits of planets inherently unstable
Artist’s conception of the star system HD 131399, with the planet HD 131399Ab in the foreground. Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser
2. Universe Today – ESA Prepares revolutionary air breathing rocket engine A new funding agreement with the ESA will provide Reaction Engines with 10 million Euros for continued development of SABRE. This will add to the 50 million Pounds that the UK Space Agency has already contributed.
Reaction Engines wants to build a ground demonstrator engine by 2020. If the continued development of SABRE goes well, and if testing by 2020 is successful, then these Air Breathing rocket engines will be in a position to truly revolutionize access to space.
In ESA’s words, “ESA are confident that a ground test of a sub-scale engine can be successfully performed to demonstrate the flight regime and cycle and will be a critical milestone in the development of this program and a major breakthrough in propulsion worldwide.”
6. Urban Astronomer – A reader asked why we can’t determine the absolute speed of the Earth by using the site of the Big Bang as a reference point. In this article we explain how the Big Bang was not an explosion that happened somewhere in the universe, but was the event that created the Universe itself, including time and all of space. Which means that the Big Bang actually happened everywhere.
7. TheSpacewriter recaps the events of a year ago, when she and a cast of hundreds lauded the New Horizons mission flyby of Pluto from “Pluto HQ” at the Applied Physics Lab. In the year since then, many scientific discoveries have been made about the planet. She talks about the highlights in this blog entry.
8. Nextbigfuture – A metallic ring big enough for astronauts and cargo to fit through is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station in July as part of the cargo aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft loaded with materials for the orbiting laboratory and its crew. The ring is known as an International Docking Adapter, or IDA, and its main purpose is to provide a port for spacecraft bringing astronauts to the station in the future.
The Dragon and its cargo will fly into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will take about 10 minutes to lift the spacecraft from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to an orbit to catch up with the station. It will take about two days for the Dragon to reach the station. Once within reach of the station’s robotic arm, the Dragon will be berthed to the orbital complex by the astronauts already on the station.
Reaction Engines Ltd., today announces the signing of a €10m European Space Agency (ESA) contract which will enable the development of a ground based demonstrator of SABRE, a new class of aerospace engine which is highly scalable with multiple potential applications in hypersonic travel and space access.
SABRE is at heart a rocket engine designed to power aircraft directly into space (single-stage to orbit) to allow reliable, responsive and cost effective space access, and in a different configuration to allow aircraft to cruise at high speeds (five times the speed of sound) within the atmosphere.
In the past, attempts to design single stage to orbit propulsion systems have been unsuccessful largely due to the weight of an on-board oxidiser such as liquid oxygen, needed by conventional rocket engines. One possible solution to reduce the quantity of on-board oxidizer required is by using oxygen already present in the atmosphere in the combustion process just like an ordinary jet engine. This weight saving would enable the transition from single-use multi-stage launch vehicles to multi-use single stage launch vehicles.
10. An international team of astronomers have discovered a new dwarf planet orbiting in the disk of small icy worlds beyond Neptune. The new object is roughly 700 kilometers in size and has one of the largest orbits for a dwarf planet. Designated 2015 RR245 by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, it was found using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii, as part of the ongoing Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS).