RAS PN06/31: Space & Astronomy Digest June 2006
5-6 JUNE: BAYESIAN METHODS IN COSMOLOGY
A meeting to discuss Bayesian statistical methods in Cosmology will be held at the University of Sussex on 5-6 June. This meeting, aimed at the specialist and non-specialist alike, will inform about the possibilities of Bayesian methods and their application to Cosmology.
Topics will include:
Invited speakers include Sarah Bridle (UCL), Peter Coles (Nottingham), Martin Hendry (Glasgow), Mike Hobson (Cavendish, Cambridge), Andrew Jaffe (Imperial), Ofer Lahav (UCL), Antony Lewis (IoA, Cambridge), Pia Mukherjee (Sussex), Andy Taylor (Edinburgh) and Roberto Trotta (Oxford).
6 JUNE (?): LAUNCH OF SAR-LUPE 1, GERMANY’S FIRST MILITARY SATELLITE
The SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance spacecraft - the first German military satellite - features a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) which will have a spatial resolution of less than 1 metre. SAR-Lupe operates independently of weather conditions on a 24 hour basis, delivering up-to-date and highly detailed images from virtually all regions of the world.
A constellation of five identical small satellites in three orbital planes is planned at a cost of more than 250 million Euro. The first of these satellites is scheduled for launch from Plesetsk cosmodrome in June on board a Russian Kosmos-3M booster. The overall system, intended to deliver radar images for the German Armed Forces for at least ten years, should be completed in 2008.
7 JUNE: "SPACE TOURISM: FROM LOFTY DREAMS TO COMMERCIAL REALITY"
This one-day conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society, 4 Hamilton Place, London W1, brings together all parties interested in the future of passenger flights into space, to allow them to present perspectives on the evolution of the space tourism industry over the next decade, with the goal of stimulating enthusiasm for the creation of a profitable industry and affordable space travel for a global mass market.
On 4 October 2004, SpaceShipOne rocketed into history, becoming the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within the span of a 14 day period, thus claiming the $10,000,000 Ansari X-Prize. In addition to winning the X-Prize, pilot Brian Binnie also broke the unofficial world altitude record, set in 1963 by X-15 pilot Joseph A. Walker.
On Wednesday, 7 June, Brian Binnie and representatives of the private spaceflight community will gather at Hamilton Place to consider the evolution of space tourism over the next decade - where is the industry now, where is it heading and what is needed to realise the dream of affordable space travel across the globe? It brings together those with a stake in its future (private space companies, venture capitalists, industrial partners, tourism agencies, media interest, politicians, legal experts and potential space tourists) to create a forum for increasing awareness, forging relationships for and breaking down barriers to the development of private spaceflight. Speakers from Clyde & Co, European Space Agency, Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers, Incredible Adventures, New Mexico Economic Development Department, Scaled Composites, Space Adventures, SpaceVest, Virgin Galactic. Plus supporting exhibition.
The Royal Aeronautical Society
RAeS Space Group web site:
12 JUNE: MEDIA INVITATION: AURORA - UK PREPARES FOR RETURN TO MARS
A press conference to learn about PPARC’s preparations for the UK’s return to Mars will be held at The Royal College of Pathologists, Carlton House Terrace, London, starting at 10.30.
In December 2005, the UK committed itself to a return to Mars with the European Space Agency’s Aurora programme. The first mission in this exciting programme of exploration – ExoMars – is slated for launch in 2011. ExoMars will consist of a lander and a rover, and builds on the technology developed for Beagle 2 and Huygens, and the scientific and technological success of its mother ship Mars Express.
PPARC is announcing a £1.7 million investment in R&D for the rover; entry, descent and landing systems technology; and to develop a suite of sensors that will probe the Red Planet in unprecedented detail, including the tantalising search for life. Speakers include:
- Dr Mike Healy, EADS Astrium
- Dr Mark Sims, University of Leicester
- Professor John Zarnecki, Open University
A prototype of the ExoMars rover will be on show at the event.
PPARC WEB PAGE:
13 JUNE: LAUNCH OF GENESIS PATHFINDER 1 INFLATABLE SPACECRAFT
The first Genesis Pathfinder satellite is scheduled for launch from Yasny cosmodrome, Russia, on 13 June. The spacecraft will be on board a silo-launched Dnepr-1 rocket. Genesis Pathfinder is a technology demonstration for the inflatable Nautilus space station structure being developed by Bigelow Aerospace. Once in Earth orbit, the one-third scale hardware will produce important test data related to many of the features of a full-scale spacecraft. However, the first Genesis will be pressurised with nitrogen, whereas later units will use an oxygen/nitrogen mixture. Genesis will also include windows and an airlock simulator with key seal interfaces. It will measure 10 ft x 8 ft (3 m x 2.4 m) when inflated.
Bigelow Aerospace is an advocate of private ownership and use of space stations by making habitable space modules affordable for corporate communities. It is drawing upon NASA’s former TransHab inflatable structures programme, although the company is pioneering its own design. Two Genesis Pathfinder spacecraft are expected to be orbited by Russian Dnepr-1 launchers.
Following two Genesis spacecraft will be two Guardian spacecraft, which are almost half the size of the full Nautilus and will be used to test life support systems. The Genesis and Guardian spacecraft are designed to last for several years in orbit. Bigelow is offering free rides in them to any corporate or government research payload that would like to take advantage of flying in such a pressurised vehicle.
14 JUNE: TOWN MEETING OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY COMMUNITY
The Institute of Physics (IoP) and the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) have invited Professor Sir Keith O’Nions, Director General of the Research Councils, to address a town meeting of the physics and astronomy community on the government’s “Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014: Next Steps” consultation process. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for the community to discuss the formal responses of both the IOP and the RAS. Places are strictly limited. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, 14 June, at the Institute of Physics, 76 Portland Place, London W1B 1NT.
12.30 Lunch and Registration
13.30 The Consultation Process - Prof Sir Keith O’Nions, Office of Science and Innovation
14.00 Question & Answer Session - with Prof Sir Keith O’Nions
14.30 IoP Response - Prof Peter Main, Institute of Physics
15.00 RAS Response - Prof Michael Rowan-Robinson, Royal Astronomical Society
15.30 General Discussion
16.15 Tea and Close
The Institute of Physics
76 Portland Place London W1B 1NT
Tel: +44 (0)207-470-4800
17 JUNE: CLOSE CONJUNCTION OF MARS AND SATURN
During the first half of June, Mars edges closer to Saturn in the western evening sky. By the evening of 15 June, Mars will appear in the centre of the Beehive star cluster. The much smaller, fainter red planet (magnitude +1.8) will be at its closest to Saturn (magnitude 0.4) - approximately half a degree or one Moon’s width to the NNE. This is the closest the two planets have been in the night sky since the conjunction of 1978.
21 JUNE: SUMMER SOLSTICE
The Sun reaches its most northerly point on the ecliptic at the June solstice - commonly known as midsummer’s day. This will take place at 12:26 GMT (13:26 BST). The Sun will then begin its six-month return journey southward. This is the official beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
The word solstice comes from the Latin “solstitium” - “sol” meaning “sun” and “-stitium” meaning “stoppage”. The summer solstice marks the longest day and shortest night of the year. It is also the time in the northern hemisphere after which the days begin to grow shorter and the nights longer.
In ancient times, people gathered at midsummer to celebrate the life-giving power of the Sun. Today, people still flock to Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain to greet the dawn on the summer solstice. As seen from inside the inner circle of large stones on this day, the Sun rises over the Heel Stone, which lies outside the main ring.
This release has been written in order to assist the media in planning and researching future stories related to space science and astronomy, particularly those with UK involvement. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive. Dates and times may be subject to change.