Search for gravitational waves set to resume following COVID-19 setbacks
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by No Author
2d ago
The LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA collaboration has announced that the search for gravitational waves will resume in May. The next observational run – the project’s fourth – was meant to start last year but was postponed due to a series of engineering delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The run will be the longest to date, operating for 18 months. Gravitational-wave detectors are L-shaped interferometers with arms several kilometres long. Laser beams are sent down each arm and then bounce off mirrors, called test masses. The beams are then recombined at the centre of the interferometer producing a ..read more
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Wind energy could power human habitations on Mars
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by No Author
1w ago
Wind energy could help power human missions on Mars, according to a study that used the NASA Ames Mars Global Climate Model to calculate the short-term and seasonal variability of wind power that would be generated by wind turbines on the Red Planet. Led by NASA’s Victoria Hartwick, the research team suggests that the wind could supply sufficient energy on its own or be used in conjunction with solar or nuclear power. The success of a crewed mission to Mars would rely on many factors including site selection. Previous studies of site viability have focused on access to physical resources inclu ..read more
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Seeking cosmic particles using a super-pressure balloon, the physics of babies
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by Hamish Johnston
1w ago
This episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast features an interview with Angela Olinto, who is principal investigator of the EUSO-SPB2 mission. EUSO stands for Extreme Universe Space Observatory and SPB refers a super pressure balloon, which will soon be hoisting the experiment to an altitude of 33 km. There it will spend about 100 days detecting neutrinos and ultra-high energy cosmic rays. Olinto, who is based at the University of Chicago, talks about the challenges of operating a particle-detection system floating high above Earth and what the EUSO-SPB2 collaboration hopes to observe. Als ..read more
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Telescope with large-aperture metalens images the Moon
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by No Author
1w ago
Future telescope: photomontage showing the metalens (bottom left) and part of its microscopic structure (upper right). Also shown is an image of the moon (not taken by the metalens) and an artistic impression showing how the metalens was used in a telescope. (Courtesy: Lidan Zhang et al/ACS Nano Letters) An important step towards the practical use of optical metasurfaces has been taken by researchers in the US. The team used a common semiconductor manufacturing process to produce a large aperture, flat metalens. Its optical performance was demonstrated by using it as the objective lens in a si ..read more
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Exploring the first science from the James Webb Space Telescope
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by James Dacey
2w ago
It is just over a year since the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched and astronomers have already been treated to a glut of data. The first science results from the JWST were discussed during a three-day event in December at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. This video highlights where we might see key breakthroughs in the near future – from understanding how the earliest stars and galaxies formed, to probing the atmospheres of exoplanets in search of signs of life. One slight concern to emerge in the JWST’s first year is the damage caused by micrometeoroid impacts. En ..read more
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Breathing new life into the iconic photos of NASA’s Apollo missions
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by No Author
2w ago
If you’re a fan of space travel, chances are that you’ve already got coffee-table books featuring photographs from NASA’s Apollo missions. So you might be wondering whether you really need another one to add to your collection. In my opinion, the answer is yes – and the reason you do is evident as soon as you open Apollo Remastered by Andy Saunders. This glossy photograph book takes readers from NASA’s first human-spaceflight programme, Project Mercury, through to the final Apollo mission in 1972. By using modern photography restoration techniques, and having trawled through the 35,000 images ..read more
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Quantum error correction could help astronomers image stars
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by Maria Violaris
2w ago
Space is not a studio: when studying stars, astronomers have no control over the objects they are trying to image. Instead, they rely on improvements to telescopes and analysis techniques to create higher-resolution images from whatever light they receive, however faint or noisy it may be. Now, a team of scientists has proposed a way of using quantum error correction to combat noise in the starlight captured by telescopes. According to the team, even the simplest error-correction protocols run on near-term quantum devices could offer a significant advantage for astronomical imaging. Imaging re ..read more
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First UK space launch fails to reach orbit
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by No Author
2w ago
The first space launch from UK soil ended in failure last night when the rocket suffered an anomaly preventing it from reaching orbit. The mission, if successful, would have been the first time that orbital satellites had taken off from Europe and a landmark moment for the UK space industry. Unlike traditional vertical launches, where a rocket is fired into the sky from the ground, the UK’s “Start Me Up” project consisted of a modified Boeing 747-400, dubbed Cosmic Girl, carrying a 31-tonne rocket named LauncherOne under the left wing. Dropped by the jumbo jet in flight, the rocket was suppose ..read more
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JWST is performing ‘phenomenally’ one year on, say scientists
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by No Author
1M ago
It’s been a year since the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched, and after its dangerous deployment and careful collimation, it’s finally sending back incredible images and data. Getting from the launchpad to full operations, however, was no easy task. Here’s a reminder of how it all happened. Christmas Day 2021: After nearly 25 years of development, the JWST soared into space atop an Ariane 5 rocket. Its launch was a triumph over technological tribulations, budget and schedule overruns, and even a (temporary) cancellation by the US Congress. Consequently, emotions were high as the launc ..read more
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US targets new generation of great observatories
Physics World » Astronomy and Space
by James Dacey
1M ago
The past decade has seen awe-inspiring breakthroughs in astronomy and astrophysics. From the first detection of gravitational waves, to the first direct image of a supermassive black hole, and the discovery of thousands of extrasolar planets. Astronomers are once again looking to the future: last year the US National Academies published its latest decadal survey Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s (ASTRO 2020). This video summarizes the key messages from the 614-page report. The dream is for a new generation of world-class missions, to return complementary da ..read more
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