Categories
Space

Small satellites are displaying their necessity in Earth science

Recently, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has been championing for small satellites in the Small Satellite Conferences. The association started naming and awarding the best performing small satellite companies to encourage more progress in this sector. 

Missions like HARP started studying cloud and atmospheric particles to display their importance in the field of science. HARP tests equipment technology to study cloud patterns and the particles in the atmosphere and advise satellite companies to survive launch missions. 

The chief of operations in the HARP project at SDL, Tim Neilsen, stated that the project would demonstrate the efficiency of small satellites in giving specific details that are trustworthy compared to large satellites that only provide a general perspective. The miniature sensors on small satellites take full details of the surroundings and allow scientists to make crucial inferences about the science in the low-Earth orbit. 

HARP is NASA’s project to study Earth science technology using small satellites or cubesats with miniaturized scientific equipment. This program is vital since the small satellites can host small scientific and technological instruments that would perform poorly in large satellites. These instruments are those that tend to perform poorly because the large satellites have complex systems that drain these small instruments. 

NASA started the HARP program from its mega program called InVEST. InVEST is a program that keeps tabs on the scientific experiments by small satellites motivating these cubesats to consider different scientific dimensions of the science in the Earth atmosphere. 

InVEST has been manufacturing miniature instruments to suit the cubesats that run around the low-Earth orbit. One of the devices can measure the intensity of the solar radiation penetrating the atmosphere of Earth. 

The program is currently examining the frequencies of communications satellites operating in the P-band since these signals can venture the deep of the Earth to calculate crucial aspects like moisture. The other ongoing mission by InVEST is the Nanosat Atmospheric Chemistry Hyperspectral Observation System, which explores the fossil fuel emissions, greenhouse gases, and volcanic particles roaming the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Small satellites have proven to give additional details for big missions that want to be resolute. Some companies like Planet and Spire have developed small cubesats that provide data on Earth-imaging and allow meteorologists to predict a particular region’s weather. 

Although large satellites continue to dominate the space industry, companies are slowly aspiring to have small satellites to help in the big missions’ architectural predictions before they kick-off. This move enables them to plan for unprecedented operations that would have otherwise been catastrophic for the big missions. 

To conclude, small satellites can form an interconnected communication network vital for companies offering space data. These companies can collect vast quantities of data and classify it before distributing it to their customers. 

Categories
Space

Iranian cybercriminals under siege for utilizing data from satellite companies without authorization

Three Iranian hackers are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for allegedly hacking satellite operator data and taking out tracked data by the satellites conducting optical data tracking. The bureau is investigating a probable hack by these Iranians who later on relayed the data concerning the US aerospace and satellite technology to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This terrorist group can use the data to threaten US agencies.

John C. Demers, an executive of National Security, explained that the hack could have delivered potential intelligence of the US space security after accessing America’s commercial space systems. He added that the US would not tolerate space intelligence theft after the country has worked its way to achieve this technology.

The FBI estimated that the level of intelligence that these hackers have accumulated must have taken about three years. The hackers must also have been receiving financial support from the IRGC to supply all the data they tap from the American systems. 

The FBI also submitted that the suspects have been in possession of over 1000 accounts, with some of them directly linked to the US space companies with critical technology for developing new systems. Other companies in this mix are from Australia and the United Kingdom. 

The three suspected Iranian hackers are Said Pourkarim, Mohammad Bayati and Reza Espargham. The FBI added that it would be supplying the details linking these defendants to the hacks they have been tailing.

One of FBI’s directors, James A. Dawson, submitted that the defendants have been associating with accounts that bring them close to thousands of people’s details through the aerospace technology and intelligence. 

The FBI expounded on how the suspects cloned the details Americans to download aerospace data through satellite links. The agency added that the three defendants used the data to buy their way into America’s space systems and technology. 

The defendants then linked their cloned emails to receive data from the systems immediately. The space companies transmit it to their servers. The FBI admitted that the cloned details allowed the suspects undeniable access to all sensitive data. 

Finally, the FBI explained that details of the hack are so alarming after submitting it to the court hoping that the court would make the right judgment. The conspiracy of the hack could imprison the defendants if found guilty for two decades.

Categories
Space

Swarm Technologies rolls out a $5 proposal to connect devices

Swarm Technologies, located in San Francisco, has revealed that it will be data connection and transfer services for $5 monthly for a single device throughout the subscription. Over 200 firms have applied to utilize this network, according to a report released by Swarm Technologies chief executive, Sara Spangelo. Swarm Technologies intends to finalize the 150-satellite constellation by next year after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authenticating the project one year ago. Initially, the satellites of this company were miniature that the FCC raised concerns over their visibility in space and the danger they could inflict on other satellites that are unable to see them. 

Swarm Technologies intends to solve the problem of device connection and unfavorable prices that were hindering the connection of people globally through their gadgets. Swarm Technologies stated that its technology allows it to link devices on a broad scale coverage. Spangelo explained that Swarm is the only company that can give cheap access to countercurrent communication from any location on Earth. Spangelo admitted that their satellites allow businesses to expand by utilizing the satellite connectivity technology to communicate with their branches and employees. The Swarm Technologies modem allows companies to connect their Internet of things devices to this capable network that has the fastest feedback retrieval.

Swarm Technologies offers connectivity services at an affordable cost compared to the available satellite solutions, which is essential in various industries like agriculture, logistics, fishing, energy, and vehicle monitoring. An excellent example of applying this technology is Ford through its ongoing Transportation Mobility Cloud project. Ford’s immediate company, Autonomic, will be looking forward to this technology to link communication between vehicles, service providers, and other infrastructure. Swarm Technologies will enable companies to transfer information to monitoring centers via vehicles where cellular services are inadequate or insecure.

Swarm Technologies was on the radar for deploying satellites secretively without FCC’s supervision. The satellites deployed back then were of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Nevertheless, Swarm reconciled with the FCC, which then authorized its constellation program as a sign of goodwill. Recently, internet connectivity has been a primary focus for technological companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple, with some of them applying for network connectivity in space companies like SpaceX that have the capacity to offer this a service.

SpaceX stated that they are preparing to deploy more satellites to fill up its Starlink constellation. The company explained that this group of satellites would cover Canada and the US’s Northside to provide internet connectivity. Finally, through the constellations, internet connectivity will help detect areas where emergency aid must be sent and avert accidents before they occur. The signals would be able to reach areas where natural disasters impede communication.

Categories
Space

Astroscale’s Series E funding of $51 million increases its investment to a total of $191 million

Humanity’s ambitious goal to explore outer space continues to spearhead the increasing number of space mission launches that send spacecraft and satellites into Earth’s lower orbit. The primary concern with massive satellite constellations is space debris accumulation, such as unfunctional satellites and unreusable rocket boosters. Experts and astronomers said that the clusters of satellites interfere with the observations made by ground-based telescopes. The numerous satellites disrupt the clarity and tranquility of night skies, the ideal field of view for astronomers taking telescopic observations while studying outer space. 

A recent report indicated that some fragments of the rocket nearly collided with the International Space Station. The near-catastrophe served as a wake-up call for innovation of solutions to eliminate the space debris. Many space technology companies continue to institute programs that help create space technology to deal with the menace. 

Astroscale Holdings Incorporation is among the space technology companies based in Tokyo that offer a solution to the build-up of space junk. The organization recently raised $51 million during its Series E funding stage, summing up to a total startup investment of $191 million. Astroscale plans to use the investment in its space program to conduct launch missions for orbital space junk removal. The company is working on a revolutionary technology that identifies the size, shape, and exact location of space debris for extraction and elimination from Earth’s lower orbit. The new investment boosts the Astroscale’s plan to advance the state-of-the-art system that pioneers the vision for removing space junks. 

Nobu Okada, the Chief Executive and founder of Astroscale, said that the company ranks as the top-funded international organization that offers space logistics and on-orbit services. Following the recent $50 million funding, Astroscale becomes a space venture with Japan’s highest investment. Okada delivered the statement during an online 2020’s International Astronautical Congress held on October 13. The annual event aims to evaluate the progress of space industries worldwide. The event advocates for new space technologies that aim to solve challenges that scientists and astronauts encounter in space while conducting their research works. 

Nobu Okada said that Astroscale’s multi-investment rounds prove the power of the company’s vision to achieve space sustainability. The core objective of the technological advancement team at Astroscale to develop the idea for space debris removal. The company plans to use its latest investment in pioneering the space junk elimination technology, alongside on-orbit services for the growing market for space technologies. In conclusion, Astroscale schedules to illustrate its revolutionary debris-removal technology using a self-funded launch mission to Earth’s lower orbit. The mission, dubbed the End-of-Life Service, is the demonstration of its prototype for removing space debris. After the demo mission, the plans to make adjustments to the technology. 

Categories
Space

Japan and Indian Space Explorations to resume in November

The global pandemic, Coronavirus, has affected many sectors, including space launches. Fortunately, Japan and India are now ready to resume launch activities. For instance, India prepares to launch the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C49 (PSLV C49) in early November. According to a statement by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chairman, K. Sivan. Sivan spoke about the same on October 12. It was a panel comprising of Heads of Agencies at the International Astronautical Congress.

The launch’s schedule was late 2019, but that had to change because of the pandemic. It will be the first one for the country this year and will occur at the Satish Dhawan Space Center. The launch will lift off the RISAT-2BR2 radar imaging satellite, which weighs 615 kg, into a low Earth orbit.

Aboard will be satellites by Spire Global and Kleos Space. The former will be launching several Lemur 2 satellites that day. On the other hand, Kleos Space will send to space four satellites designed to carry out radio-frequency mapping. These satellites will be on board due to the rideshare agreement.

India’s first crewed mission, which is a part of the Guganyaan project, will also delay. According to ISRO, a suitable schedule is August 2022, as India will be celebrating the 75th year since gaining its independence.

On the other hand, Japan is also planning to resume. The last launch was in July when it launched the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Mars mission. According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Japanese Data Relay Satellite-1 (JDRS-1) will launch in late November. The venue and the launch vehicle will be Tenegashima Space Center and H-IIA, respectively. The schedule is not final, but the progress is incredible.

The JDRS satellite is a collaboration of the Government of Japan and JAXA. The latter’s role is to work on optical data relay. During the IAC’s plenary session attended by seven heads of agencies, JAXA’s president Hiroshi Yamakawa highlighted various exploration missions that the agency is currently working on. He pointed out that come 2022,  JAXA will launch SLIM, the Smart Lunar Lander. 

According to JAXA and ISRO, the two countries are still planning to develop a polar lunar mission jointly. They hope that they will have sent a rover and a lander to the lunar South Pole by 2022. The main objective of the Luna Polar Exploration will be a search for water ice.

At around that time, JAXA will be planning to launch the Martian Moon eXploration (MMX), a planetary exploration mission. It will collect samples from Phobos Moon on Mars, which will be a first. The technology used to return the primary sample is the same as the one for the Hayabusa2 mission whole return capsule will land on Earth on December 6.

Categories
Space

Developers of a pioneer Exoplanet Satellite collect the first-ever data that identifies planets with extreme environments

Natural resources on planet Earth continue to shrink from over-utilization by overpopulation. Rapid industrialization and increasing need for settlement areas continue to demand more than what mother nature can offer. Despite measures set to regulate the disposal of industrial refuse and byproduct gases, the environment is still under threat. Nations continue to endorse environmental conservation initiatives, but there is always more that needs attention. Otherwise, future generations will never enjoy the resources available. 

They will only hear stories of certain things that no longer exist because of destruction from human activities. Going by these statistics, experts advised companies in the space industry to expand their operations alongside developing revolutionary space technologies that will take humanity to planet Mars. The industry inaugurated several SmallSat missions to the red planet to study the atmosphere to determine the possibility of establishing a permanent human inhabitance. 

Switzerland and the European Space Agency partnered to form a joint space mission known as CHEOPS. The University of Bern and the University of Geneva collaborate as learning institutions that offer research and technical support to the CHEOPS mission. The consortium of over 100 scientists, engineers, and researchers from 11 individual European nations is under ESA’s leadership and the University of Bern. The collaboration took more than five years to design, develop, and construct the exoplanet satellite. The consortium conducted its operations at CHEOPS’s Science Operations Center at the University of Geneva’s observatory.

CHEOPS planned to reveal the details of an exoplanet through its telescopic observations identified in space. CHEOPS delivers on its promise by unveiling the information on the WASP-189b, ranking it among planets with the most extreme environment. After the space telescope’s observation, CHEOPS launched its mission, and eight months later, the mission released its first-ever scientific publication of the data collected by the pioneer Exoplanet Satellite. The periodical, dubbed the Astronomy & Astrophysics, accepted the research results deducted by the CHEOPS mission. 

The CHEOPS mission is the pioneer space program endorsed by the European Space Agency (ESA), dedicated to identifying known exoplanets that orbit stars in outer space. The locations of some of the stars are in far galaxies beyond the solar system. Didier Queloz and Michel Mayor, the Swiss astronomer who discovered the first-ever exoplanet in 1995. The two astronomers received the 2019 Nobel Prize in recognition of their extraordinary discovery. Willy Benz, the University of Bern’s astrophysics professor, said that the observations illustrate the full extent of the CHEOPS mission. Benz, the consortium director for the CHEOPS mission, said that team anticipated the high expectations for the mission’s performance. In conclusion, the concept of transit is a phenomenon whereby a star appears faint when another planet passes between the star and Earth.

Categories
Space

The Satellite developed by the University of Hawaiʻi to measure space neutrons 

Recent innovations in space technologies continue to open up new possibilities for exploring other planets, space bodies, and resources such as rock materials on asteroids and planets’ surfaces. Space agencies and expedition corporations fund projects that encourage the development of spacecraft, satellites, and other space equipment to pioneer state-of-the-art technologies that achieve humanity’s vision of inhabiting other planets such as Mars. Moreover, humankind plans to extract resources from space and analyze it to determine the usefulness of improving people’s lives on Earth. 

Students, staff, members of different faculties, and volunteers from the University of Hawaiʻi developed the Neutron-1, a miniature satellite scheduled to launch on October 1. The Neutron-1 will board the ELaNa 31 during the Cygnus NG-14 resupply mission to the International Space Station. NASA plans to launch the Cygnus NG-14 from its launch site in Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. The Neutron-1 will determine the amounts of space neutrons during the launch mission, alongside Sun’s radiation’s intensity. 

The data from measurements is vital for analyzing the space activities for more effective launch missions. Peter Englert, a researcher at Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, and Lloyd French, a researcher at Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory, proposed the space science project. In the development and management of the Neutron-1 Space Mission, Englert is the principal investigator, while Lloyd is the project manager. Englert and Lloyd proposed the project in 2011 to study and analyze neutrons orbiting in space.

In 2012, the CubeSat Launch Initiative by NASA accepted the proposal for the space mission project. Englert and Lloyd formed a team to work on the project upon receiving the endorsement from the agency. In 2015, other institutions partnered with the University of Hawaiʻi through the RockSat-X mission during the mission’s developmental stage. Learning and research institutions include the Kapiʻolani Community College, the Kauaʻi Community College, the Honolulu Community College, and the Windward Community College. 

A community, college innovation program, known as Project IMUA, brought together different researchers who developed a neutron detector with functioning capabilities. However, a trial suborbital launch mission lost the sensor during its inauguration from the launch location in Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. The program suffered a significant setback until Arizona State University joined the project partnership in 2018, providing the team with its innovative neutron detector.

Amber Imai-Hong, the avionics engineer that coordinates the project’s ground-based mission control, said that the Neutron-1 mission is a miniature 3U CubeSat. The team from UH Mānoa’s HSFL developed the Neutron-1 by conducting rigorous testing processes for the proto-flight environment. The performance trials involve students from multi-departmental fields of computer science and engineering. 

In summary, the bread loaf-size Satellite will collect data that will provide information for understanding the inter-relationship between the Sun and planet Earth by studying the locations of neutrons in Earth’s lower orbital path. 

Categories
Space

Landsat Next expected to be different from its predecessors

Landsat Next, which will be the new observation system after Landsat 9 is being worked on, and NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are expected to give out a Request for Information instrumentation and platforms for the system late this year.

According to Jim Reilly, the USGS Director, the two entities are looking for new options to transform the system from its traditional single large satellite bus. NASA and USGS have already successfully carried out a study on Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture, which was run for 18 months. The study aimed to assess the competences of the existing government satellites and the planned ones. 

With the field of space exploration facing significant changes and advancement, NASA looks forward to taking advantage of these changes, and according to Reilly, NASA and USGS are poised to come up with a successful way to combine all the information, standardize and be able to authenticate it.

The Landsat program was started in the 1970s and has successfully offered a global record of land areas. The data began being provided with no charge in 2008, and it will continue being free according to NASA Earth Science Division director, Karen St. Germain. NASA and USGS have been considering to share the imagery obtained by other government agencies like the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to acquire statistics that can be used by the regime in the future. 

The Landsat 9 is expected to be launched by September 2021. The difference between this satellite to its predecessor, the Landsat 8, is that Landsat 9 can process more volumes of data though it operates just like the Landsat 8. Landsat 9 satellite was built by Northrop Grumman based in Gilbert, Arizona, and is structured to stock the Operational Land Imager2 built by Ball Aerospace and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight center based in Greenbelt, Maryland. The whole project is estimated to cost around 1 billion U.S. dollars. 

A report released in 2019 by the U.S. Interior Department and USGS indicated that the imagery obtained in 2017 was worth over 3.4 US dollars to international users and around 2.1 billion U.S. dollars to customers based in the United States.

According to the study, the Landsat program has provided economic benefits in billions of dollars to the United States. This has been achieved through support and application in areas like monitoring and forecasting agriculture, water resource management, wildfire mapping, and remediation. The program has also helped in the forest and rangeland management and observing of hazards and their mitigation.

Categories
Space

Iranian cybercriminals under siege for utilizing data from satellite companies without authorization 

Three Iranian hackers are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for allegedly hacking satellite operator data and taking out tracked data by the satellites conducting optical data tracking. The bureau is investigating a probable hack by these Iranians who later on relayed the data concerning the US aerospace and satellite technology to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This terrorist group can use the data to threaten US agencies.

John C. Demers, an executive of National Security, explained that the hack could have delivered US space security’s potential intelligence after accessing America’s commercial space systems. He added that the US would not tolerate space intelligence theft after the country has worked its way to achieve this technology.

The FBI estimated that the level of intelligence that these hackers have accumulated must have taken about three years. The hackers must also have received financial support from the IRGC to supply all the data they tap from the American systems. 

The FBI also submitted that the suspects have been in possession of over 1000 accounts, with some of them directly linked to the US space companies with critical technology for developing new systems. Other companies in this mix are from Australia and the United Kingdom. 

The three suspected Iranian hackers are Said Pourkarim, Mohammad Bayati and Reza Espargham. The FBI added that it would be supplying the details linking these defendants to the hacks they have been tailing.

One of FBI’s directors, James A. Dawson, submitted that the defendants have been associating with accounts that bring them close to thousands of people’s details through the aerospace technology and intelligence. 

The FBI expounded on how the suspects cloned the details Americans to download aerospace data through satellite links. The agency added that the three defendants used the data to buy their way into America’s space systems and technology. 

The defendants then linked their cloned emails to receive data from the systems immediately. The space companies transmit it to their servers. The FBI admitted that the cloned details allowed the suspect’s undeniable access to all sensitive data. 

Finally, the FBI explained that the hack’s details are so alarming after submitting it to the court, hoping that the court would make the right judgment. The conspiracy of the hack could imprison the defendants if found guilty for two decades.

Categories
Space

Detecting the spread of locusts using satellite services 

2020 has been a tragic year, with one of the tragic events being the invasion of locusts in Eastern Africa. EUMETSAT has been on the forefront under the guidance of IGAD Climate Prediction & Applications Centre (ICPAC) in observing the impact of the locusts in the invaded East African countries using satellites. 

Locusts are known in the biblical aspect as a curse from God on the enemies of his children. The locusts invade the farmlands clearing all the food supplies with a swarm to wipe food enough to feed a community of over 20000 people. Locusts are a particular type of grasshopper which moves around in swarms wiping every green stalk standing in their way.

This year locusts approached East Africa, clearing over 70000 hectares of planted crops in and 2400 kilometers of Pasteur in East Africa. These swarms spread to Uganda but are now controllable. Nevertheless, the new breed of locusts is coming from Yemen, raising questions over their primary cause.

ICPAC has been monitoring climatic changes evaluating how to mitigate disasters in East Africa. These processes take place through careful analysis of satellite services.

The satellites gather vital data in regions where natural disasters are likely to occur before the information disseminates to tackle the challenges. The satellites also help in the preparation of areas to handle the upcoming challenges and tragedies. The satellite services provided data on locusts and how to control them, and they are now working towards the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Kenneth Kemucie Mwangi of ICPAC advised that the countries infested with locusts can analyze the locusts’ next breeding ground and clear the eggs with pesticides to prevent their multiplication. This move can help the states stop the locusts’ survival and their mutations to overcome the effects of the pesticides.

The satellites can help predict the next path that the locusts will take. This data can help the governments of different countries prepare early enough to mitigate the risks. Additionally, the satellites can ascertain what the locusts are doing, be it feeding, breeding, or gathering together to move away like a swarm. This move implies that ground troops must ascertain if what the satellites are telling is true.

The scientists who are on the ground can tell the next behaviour of the swarm by observing their colour, how far they move on land, and their feeding rate. This data can help them advise the government on the next plan of action to save the farmlands and pasture from an impending invasion. Data from the Copernicus satellite can show the areas where vegetation is greener and a possible next invasion point by the locusts. Detecting the moisturized areas in dry countries would likely indicate that this region is the next breeding ground for the locusts. Additionally, observing the speed and direction of the wind will help predict the next migration zone of the locusts and when to prepare to spray them with pesticides once they settle. 

Kenneth reported that the coronavirus slowed the control of the locusts in Kenya since the shelter-in-place measures restricted the transfer of workers to the affected areas. Additionally, the ban on travels limited the inception of pesticides from abroad as exports making control of the locusts a big problem.

Finally, Kenneth hopes that the satellite services can be more effective and deliver data on time for the troops on the ground to respond appropriately. Additionally, he thanked the satellite operators for providing such crucial data to resolve the locusts’ problem.