Space and astronomy digest: June and July 2014
The latest digest of upcoming space and astronomy news events. The next two months will see three major astronomy conferences and launches of the Orbital Carbon Observatory, the Automated Transfer Vehicle Georges Lemaitre and TechDemoSat-1 carrying an instrument built by UK schoolchildren.
1-5 June: 224th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Boston, United States
From 1-5 June, astronomers will gather in Boston in the United States for the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society. This conference, one of the largest in the world astronomy meetings in the world, brings together researchers working in diverse fields in astronomy and space science, from extrasolar planets to cosmology.
Full press office facilities will be available during the meeting and free registration is available to accredited members of the press.
Dr Rick Fienberg
23-26 June: RAS National Astronomy Meeting 2014, Portsmouth, UK
The Royal Astronomical Society will hold the 2014 National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2014) in Portsmouth from 23-26 June. Hosted by the University of Portsmouth and principally sponsored by the RAS and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the conference will bring together around 500 astronomers, solar physicists and space scientists to present and discuss the latest work in their fields.
NAM 2014 will this year have scientific sessions on topics including high-energy particles in space; the chemistry of material between the stars, activity on the surface of the Sun, planets around others stars, first results from the GAIA mission, archaeoastronomy and engaging the public with astronomy.
Dr Robert Massey
28 June: Launch of TechDemoSat-1, Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Developed by UK academics and spin-out company Surrey Satellite Technologies Ltd, the TechDemoSat-1 satellite is scheduled to launch on 28 June from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. Carried into orbit atop a Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle, TechDemoSat-1 will serve as a technology test bed, fitting eight payloads into a 1-m cubed, 150kg platform.
The payloads include the Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector (LUCID) instrument developed by pupils at the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, Kent. This will provide data on high energy particles present in Earth orbit. LUCID was created under the guidance of physics teacher and RAS Patrick Moore Medal winner Dr Becky Parker MBE.
30 June – 4 July: European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS), Geneva, Switzerland
The annual European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) conference will take place in Geneva from 30 June to 4 July. Bringing together astronomers and space scientists from across Europe, EWASS sessions cover topics from star formation in galaxies to the origin of cosmic dust and astronomy using the SKA and ALMA observatories.
1 July: Launch of Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA
On 1 July the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite is scheduled to launch from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in the United States. OCO-2 will map carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere, allowing scientists to locate regional sources and sinks of this greenhouse gas for the first time.
OCO-2 replaces the first Orbiting Carbon Observatory that was due to begin work in 2009. The earlier spacecraft crashed into the ocean after a section of its launch vehicle failed to separate.
25/26 July: Launch of ATV Georges Lemaitre, Kourou, French Guiana
The European Space Agency is expected to launch the spacecraft Georges Lemaitre (named after the Belgian astronomer who first proposed that the universe was expanding) on the evening of 25 July (corresponding to early in the morning on 26 July in the UK). The vehicle, the fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV 5) will blast off atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.
A few days later it will rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS), delivering propellant, water, oxygen and cargo to the orbiting outpost. After unloading the ATV, ISS astronauts will then load it with waste and the vehicle will leave the Space Station in about six months’ time. The ATV and its contents will then re-enter and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Pal A. Hvistendahl / Brigitte Kolmsee
ESA Media Relations Office
Night sky in June and July
Information on stars, planets, comets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA), the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) and the Jodrell Bank night sky guide.
Notes for editors
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3800 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.
Follow the RAS on Twitter via @royalastrosoc