Friday, June 14Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Tag: space

The Death of the Kepler Satellite
Science & Technology

The Death of the Kepler Satellite

After 9 years in operation, the Kepler space satellite has finally run out of the hydrazine fuel used to control its orientation. NASA has decided to retire the satellite while it is still in a safe orbit far from Earth. Launched in March 2009, Kepler was originally intended to look at one patch of the sky and detect planets orbiting around distant stars. This patch in the constellation of Cygnus contained 150,000 stars.  Four years in, a fix for a mechanical issue led to the development of the K2 mission where the satellite had to be periodically reoriented, expanding its field of view to a further 500,000 stars. How to Find a Planet The satellite’s only scientific instrument was a photometer designed to detect drops in brightness that occur when a planet passes in front of a star, ...
What’s Up in Space?
Science & Technology

What’s Up in Space?

If you’re asked the question “What is orbiting the Earth?”, the first answer to come to your mind might be “The Moon”. Another answer could be “The International Space Station” or a number of other television or GPS satellites. If you stop for a moment and think about it, you will realise that for people to be able to have global network coverage, there must be a very large number of satellites surrounding the Earth, careful moving around each other. But these aren’t the only things bouncing around in our exosphere. The current count of trackable “space junk”, the term for assorted space debris, is over 500,000, and this is creating a massive negative impact on the future of space travel. Space junk is mainly artificial, caused by leftover bits of rockets and space stations that have f...
Heavens Above
Science & Technology

Heavens Above

Already this year the Moon has been at its closest point to the Earth. Known as the perigee, the Moon’s closest approach to the Earth occurred on January 2.  This is fairly common, but was made more exciting by coinciding with the full moon, making the moon appear a bit brighter and larger. Two full moons will occur in January, and in March as well. When this happens it is known as a ‘blue moon’. Just before dawn is an excellent time to see some visible planets in January. On January 6, Mars and Jupiter are visible together just above the Southern horizon; perfect for if you’re just leaving the pub! On the January 17, there will be a new moon meaning no moon in the sky, making it perfect conditions for observing the Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest galaxy to our own Milky Way and the la...