News That Matters

Tag: mission

A mission to the Pacific plastic patch

A mission to the Pacific plastic patch

Science
A mariner who has spent years travelling "hundreds of thousands of nautical miles" to measure the impact of plastic waste in the ocean has estimated that a "raft" of plastic debris spanning more than 965,000 square miles (2.5m sq km) is concentrated in a region of the South Pacific. Capt Charles Moore has just returned from a sampling expedition around Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. He was part of the team which discovered the first ocean "garbage patch" in the North Pacific gyre in 1997 and has now turned his attention to the South Pacific.Although plastic is known to occur in the Southern Hemisphere gyres, very few scientists have visited the region to collect samples.Oceanographer Dr Erik van Sebille, from Utrecht University, says the work of Capt Moore and his colleagues wi...
BepiColombo: Joint Mercury mission ready for 'pizza oven'

BepiColombo: Joint Mercury mission ready for 'pizza oven'

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceThe two satellites that make up the BepiColombo mission to Mercury were presented to the media on Thursday. This joint European-Japanese venture has been in development for nearly two decades, but should finally get to the launch pad in 15 months' time.The two spacecraft will travel together to the baking world but separate on arrival to conduct their own studies.Thursday's event in the Netherlands was the last chance for journalists to view the so-called "flight stack".This is the edifice that goes on top of the rocket and comprises Europe's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and Japan's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), as well as the propulsion module to control their path towards the world that circles closest to the Sun.As a single item, th...
Organic compounds found by Saturn moon mission

Organic compounds found by Saturn moon mission

Technology
Scientists have urged caution after finding organic compounds around Saturn's moon Enceladus.Enceladus was discovered by the British astronomer William Herschel in 1789 using what was then the largest telescope in the world, measuring 1.2m across.Almost 230 years later, the Cassini spacecraft conducted another fly-past of its southern pole, travelling through one of the mysterious cryovolcanic plumes which had been discovered to be erupting from the moon.Cassini sampled the water-rich plumes, suspected to originate from a vast liquid ocean beneath the surface of Enceladus, and discovered organic compounds - molecules which contain carbon and are essential to all known life.These compounds, including the molecule methanol, have now been detected in a much more massive quantity than previous...
New Reaper drone variant performs first combat mission

New Reaper drone variant performs first combat mission

Business
June 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force reported Thursday that its new Block 5 variant of the MQ-9 Reaper drone has performed its first combat mission against Islamist terrorists.The recent 16-hour sortie, flown June 23 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, involved the unmanned aerial vehicle dropping a GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions bomb and firing two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles in support of ground forces in the Middle East.Operation Inherent Resolve is the U.S. military name given to operations against ISIS fighters."Working in conjunction with coalition joint terminal attack controllers, other MQ-9 aircraft and crews, our aircrews employed two Hellfires and one GBU-38," Maj. Dan, the 432nd Wing director of operations, said in a press release. "All three strikes met the ground for...
Europe selects grand gravity mission

Europe selects grand gravity mission

Science
It is set to be one of the major science projects of the 2030s. The European Space Agency has just given the green light to the LISA mission to detect gravitational waves. This will see lasers bounced between three identical satellites separated by 2.5 million km. By looking for tiny perturbations in these light beams, the trio hope to catch the warping of space-time that is generated by cataclysmic events such as the merger of gargantuan black holes. Ground-based laboratories in the US have recently begun detecting gravitational waves from coalescing objects that are 20-30 times the mass of our Sun. But by sending an observatory into space, scientists would expect to discover sources that are millions of times bigger still and to sense their activity all the way out to the edge of the ob...