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What's out there? - About Space

astronautThe goal of the Puli is to reach the Moon, but we can’t forget about the other parts of Space. Our Solar System, the Milky Way and the other galaxies far away are interesting, unexplored areas, what humanity tries to know. Because of that, beside our own celestial follower we have to look elsewhere too, to know the natural objects and those instruments, which are analyzing them.

This collection of articles from Puli-members or others tries to present the most important moments of space sciences. Don’t forget: we advise these for everyone, and not only for those, who are interested in this topic!

Have fun reading!

Márton Deák

 

The articles are:

The European Lunar Lander you (probably) never heard of before

Pocket satellites from pocket money

Russia aims for the Moon - Luna-program in the 21st century

Animals in space

50 years of satellite navigaton

A travel in the Sun – launching in 2018

The European Lunar Lander you (probably) never heard of before

ESA is busy planning its first lunar lander for a daring mission to the South Pole of the Moon - they are so busy in fact that there's hardly any thought left for PR and publicity. Take the name of the project for example, which is currently called “the” Lunar Lander. There is plenty of time though to name it properly, as the launch is planned to happen in 2018. And what a mission it will be!

Last Updated (Monday, 27 August 2012 07:17)

 

Pocket satellites from pocket money

At first there were the small satellites. The reason was very prosaic: early rockets simply weren't powerful enough to launch more than a few then kilos to Earth orbit. The Sputnik-1 with its 84 kg and 61 cm diameter sphere was a real monster compared to the first American attempts, the 1.5 kg, grapefruit-sized (and mocked) Vanguard-1 or the 14 kg Explorer-1. Capacities expanded rapidly of course and in a short few years launching a human in a spacecraft wasn't a problem any more. Satellites and space probes grew more and more large and complex and entire space stations were orbiting the Earth. But small ones remained throughout to carry out one or two selected experiments or tasks.

But size was the only real difference: be tiny or enormous, they were built slowly and costly, often topped with overcomplicated management. And to assure success and return of investments, specialized and expensive space-rated hardware was used that lagged behind commercial products as much as 10-15 years in capacities. So the question remains: is there another, cheaper and faster way to reach space?

OSCAR-1, the first radio-amateur satellite, was launched in 1961. It achieved other firsts as well: it was built commercially and flew together with the Discoverer 36 reconnaissance satellite as secondary payload.

Last Updated (Friday, 27 May 2011 07:00)

 

Russia aims for the Moon – Luna-program in the 21st century

The Soviet Union and the US raced through the sixties and seventies to conquer the Moon, but the Soviets only managed to deliver some automated sample return spacecrafts instead of cosmonauts strolling on the surface. Then the exploration of the Moon ended, somewhat abruptly, with the Luna-24 mission and priorities were shifted towards Mars and even farther planets in the next decade. After the decade of the Viking, Voyager or Phobos missions, the Moon started to slowly gain interest once again in the nineties in Russia, just as in the rest of the world. After the failed Mars-'96 mission in 1996, the new goal was to search for affordable resources in the Solar System and pave the way towards the industrial exploitation of the Moon and near-Earth asteroids in the middle of the 21st century. Although money was virtually absent, such planning only required pen and paper. So the Russian planetary exploration plans were set to explore the Moon and Mars' moon Phobos (as a stand-in for an asteroid) once again through the Luna-27 and Phobos-Grunt missions in the early 2000s. The former would have send an orbiter, lander and penetrators (spear-like probes that impact into the surface) to the Moon while the latter should have make up for the two failed Phobos missions by bringing back samples from the tiny body. But the grave financial state of Russia and the international pressure to save the prospective Spektr-RG space telescope meant that one of the missions had to be chosen over the other to have at least some chance to be ready in the decade. Decision was finally made to carry on with the Phobos-Grunt which was considered more ambitious and sophisticated while the Luna program was put on hold, waiting for better economic times.

The Lunokhod-2 examines it's own tracks in this raw, scanned image. Detailed surface imagery hasn't been collected on the Moon since the (quite overlooked) missions of the Soviet rovers in 1970-74. (Courtesy of the Laboratory of Comparative Planetology, Vernadsky Institute, Russia. You can browse the Lunokhod archives here.)

Last Updated (Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:45)

 

Animals in space

Lajka

The aim of Team Puli is to send Hungary’s first probe to the Moon. Although the Puli bears the name of a Hungarian herding dog breed, it is itself a machine; but we still consider it important to commemorate all the actual animals that ventured first into space and gave their lives to help the start of human spaceflight.

Space research, now more than 50 years old, owes a lot to the barely recognized but still pioneer spacefarers, without whom it would not have been able to develop in such an unbelievable pace. These first cosmo- and astronauts however were not human, but animals.

Today it might seem trivial but at the dawn of the space age, scientists were not sure if humans could stay alive in space. There were serious debates about how zero gravity or increased radioactivity might affect future astronauts. Herre too, as in many areas of science, the researchers turned to our earthly neighbours and only with their help was space science able to get where it is today.

Most consider the dog Laika the first spacefarer who travelled aboard the Sputnik-2 probe on the 3rd of November, 1957, however, the story starts before his journey.

Last Updated (Saturday, 05 March 2011 10:47)

 

50 years of satellite navigation

One of the first prototípes of the transit-1B

Transit-1B, the first experimental navigational satellite has been launched on 13 April, 1960, laying the foundations of - the now ubiquitous - space-based navigation.

Events have started - as in other American space programmes - with Sputnik. The first satellite of the world started to beep on a Friday and only on Monday did the idea of measuring its orbit come to western researchers. Scientists at John Hopkins University tested their new receiver with success, measuring the Doppler-shift of the radio signals and from them proving mathematically that the broadcast indeed came from an object in low Earth orbit. That evening they made estimations for the orbital elements. The next few days were in fever of calculating the exact orbit. George Weiffenbach and William Guier developed an algorithm for the orbital elements using the Doppler-shift and the known position of the radio receiver. It did not take long to create the inverse theorem: knowing the satellite's orbit and measuring its radio signals we can determine the location of a receiver on Earth. The use of such a method? The most obvious use was for mobile receivers, of which the USA had several: ships, submarines, airplanes (as the military is usually the first to fund new ideas..). The Navy soon adopted the idea.

 

Last Updated (Monday, 20 December 2010 17:00)

 
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