Iodine-powered spacecraft tested in orbit for the first time

French aerospace company ThrustMe has successfully tested an iodine-powered spacecraft for the first time, showing that this fuel is a viable alternative to the more expensive and difficult-to-store xenon. The satellite industry is booming: over the next decade, experts predict that up to 24,000 satellites will be launched into orbit, with most of them requiring … Continue reading Iodine-powered spacecraft tested in orbit for the first time

Mountains of space junk could carry us to Mars

Space is big. Really big. And there’s not much up there – except all the trash. And that’s suddenly become a valuable resource, as recycling space junk could put an end to the days of fire-and-forget satellite launches. Thanks to South Australian space-industry start-up Neumann Space, every piece of scrap metal in orbit above us … Continue reading Mountains of space junk could carry us to Mars

COVID-19 and the bush mechanics of satellite construction

Fishing line. Measuring tape. And there aren’t many problems that can’t be solved with a tiny spring. But Australia’s embryonic satellite-construction industry has had to get innovative in overcoming pandemic supply chain problems. Inovor Technologies operations manager Benjamin Adams says the situation hasn’t quite got to the level of scrabbling through salvage yards. Not quite… … Continue reading COVID-19 and the bush mechanics of satellite construction

Satellite mapping is preparing Australian cities for a warming earth | Cosmos Weekly Taster

This article on Satellite mapping for future cities first appeared in Cosmos Weekly on 17 September 2021. For more stories like this, subscribe to Cosmos Weekly. Imagine you’re an urban planner, worried about your city’s resilience in the face of the growing threat of climate change. You’ve seen research that shows urban environments – particularly neighbourhoods without … Continue reading Satellite mapping is preparing Australian cities for a warming earth | Cosmos Weekly Taster

Whale watching from space

Scientists are deploying an unlikely tool in the bid to track and monitor whale populations: satellites. As described in a new paper in PLOS ONE, a team of researchers from whale-watching technology company Whale Seeker analysed images from the WorldView-3 (WV3) satellite, a very high-resolution (VHR) Earth-observation satellite that’s hovering in orbit 670km up, to … Continue reading Whale watching from space

CSIRO makes satellite eye in the sky available for Aussie Earth observation

Australian researchers in industries such as agriculture and disaster management can, from today, apply to direct the Earth observation satellite NovaSAR-1, which is part-managed by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. This will be the first time Australia has managed its own source of Earth observational data. NovaSAR-1 was developed in the UK and uses S-band … Continue reading CSIRO makes satellite eye in the sky available for Aussie Earth observation

Spotting coral bleaching from space

A world-first space-based coral reef monitoring project has just got off the ground – literally. The Allen Coral Atlas project is now using high-resolution satellites to scan nearly a quarter of a million reefs across the globe – from space – to monitor coral-killing bleaching events in real-time. “The current prognosis for the world’s coral … Continue reading Spotting coral bleaching from space

Solving the satellite data challenge

A newly launched Australian space start-up is set to tackle the challenge of a huge influx of satellite data – by tracking hundreds of satellites at the same time. The satellite industry is currently booming, with a predicted 57,000 to be launched around the world over the next decade. These will increase the amount of … Continue reading Solving the satellite data challenge

Flood forecasting: what next?

Easing rainfall today will start to bring some relief to flood-hit parts of eastern Australia – not immediately in many areas – and the focus will turn to improving our flood forecasting and readiness capabilities. Australians used to rely on historical flood gauges – sometimes just a painted stick in the water – and a … Continue reading Flood forecasting: what next?

Tracking elephants from space

It’s often said that certain geographical landmarks – like the Sahara Desert, or human-made structures like the Great Wall of China – are visible from space. But what about individual animals?  In a collaborative project between the University of Oxford, UK, and the University of Twente, in the Netherlands, scientists successfully used high-resolution satellite cameras … Continue reading Tracking elephants from space

It’s hip to be square

By Bianca Nogrady Like orbiting LEGO bricks crammed with tech, CubeSats are simple, customisable and the next big thing for communications, real-time weather warnings and eyes in the sky. At a barely $100,000 a pop, they are also far cheaper than a typical Sydney house, which is why governments, states, companies, universities and even schools … Continue reading It’s hip to be square

Australian space industry satellite launch

The Australian space agency has hit another milestone with the successful launch of the M2 Pathfinder satellite. The M2 Pathfinder, a collaboration between UNSW Canberra Space researchers and engineers and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), follows the launch of M1 in late 2018. It is the second of four cube satellites to be flown in … Continue reading Australian space industry satellite launch