According to Douglas Adams, in his famous book The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, space is big. However, it seems near-Earth space is not big enough. In December 2001, the Space Shuttle pushed the International Space Station away from a discarded Russian rocket booster that was due to pass uncomfortably close. Space litter is a growing problem but smarter satellite design may help in the future.
From the beginning of the space era, satellites and deep-space probes have populated the Solar System. There are now a huge number of satellites orbiting the Earth, for different purposes including Earth observation, weather forecasting, telecommunications, military applications, and astronomy. The space around Earth is therefore becoming more and more crowded. Aside from the aspect of `space traffic control`, there is the question of what to do with space litter.
ESA`s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, tracks space litter. It estimates that over 23 000 objects larger than 10 centimetres have been launched from Earth. Of these, about 7500 are still orbiting - only a very small proportion of them (6%) is operational. Half of all the objects are inoperable satellites, spent rocket stages, or other large space litter; the remaining 44% is debris from explosions and accidents in space. To make things worse, there are an estimated 70 000 to 120 000 fragments smaller than 1 centimetre and the amount of space debris increases by about 5% every year.
Monica Talevi | alfa
Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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