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All About Space No. 114

Every issue All About Space delivers fascinating articles and features on all aspects of space and space travel with mind-blowing photography and full-colour illustrations that bring the amazing universe around us to life.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
R 57,76
R 477,54
13 Issues

in this issue

1 min

As you read through this issue of All About Space, you’ll notice there’s something a little different. This month, we’ve launched our very own augmented reality (AR) experience, enhancing your journey through the universe with the aid of your smartphone. This issue – and for many editions to come ― scan the QR code and you’ll be able to play videos, see spacecraft in three dimensions as they leap off the page and much more. Turn to the contents page for a quick tutorial and look out for the ‘AR’ stamps as you move through the magazine. This month we’ve got plenty to keep you entertained throughout lockdown ― whether you’re keeping out of the harsh wintry weather or have been gifted with crystal-clear skies for a spot of observing. Our…

3 min
launch pad

8 JANUARY 2021 Return to sender This image captures the moment Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter departed the International Space Station (ISS) after a lengthy three-month stay. Cygnus successfully delivered over 3,500 kilograms of scientific equipment and supplies while attached to Canadarm2, the ISS’ robotic arm. Canadarm2 lends a helping hand to the Space Station by aiding in maintenance, moving supplies and ‘catching’ visiting vehicles. The freighter was released from the robotic arm on 7 January 2021, but it wasn’t sent away empty handed: the ISS crew loaded Cygnus with the Saffire-V investigation, the SharkSat- hosted payload, and a large amount of rubbish to be used in an extended mission in orbit. The junk safely burned up on re-entry. 27 JANUARY 2021 Interstellar synergy The chaotic nature of space is depicted in this image as the…

3 min
twisted space light could reveal brand-new physics

YOUR FIRST CONTACT WITH THE UNIVERSE Atwist in the universe’s first light could hint that scientists need to rethink physics. Two Japanese scientists looked at the polarisation, or orientation, of light from the cosmic microwave background radiation, some of the earliest light emitted after the universe’s birth. They found that the polarisation of photons, or light particles, might be slightly rotated from their original orientation when the light was first produced. And dark energy or dark matter may have been responsible for that rotation. Dark energy is a hypothetical force that is flinging the universe apart, while proposed dark matter is a substance that exerts gravitational pull, yet does not interact with light. The rotated signature tells the scientists that something may have interacted with those photons ― specifically something that violates a…

1 min
broadcaster’s satellite fails in orbit

SiriusXM’s newest satellite, SXM-7, has suffered undisclosed failures during in-orbit testing, the company revealed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on 27 January. “During in-orbit testing of SXM-7, events occurred which have caused the failure of certain SXM-7 payload units. An evaluation of SXM-7 is underway. The full extent of the damage to SXM-7 is not yet known,” SiriusXM said in the filing. At this time, it’s unclear if the satellite can be recovered. The satellite, which was built by Maxar Technologies, launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on 13 December. The company has said the failure was unrelated to the launch vehicle and that a full evaluation of the satellite is underway. The SXM-7 satellite is based on Maxar Technologies’ SSL 1300 satellite bus. Powered by…

1 min
osiris-rex to leave asteroid in may to deliver samples

NASA’s asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx probe will spend two extra months at its target space rock before heading back to Earth. OSIRIS-REx snagged lots of dirt and rock from the 1,640-foot (500-metre) wide near-Earth asteroid Bennu in October 2020 ― so much stuff, in fact, that the probe’s sample collector was overflowing. The original mission plan called for OSIRIS-REx to leave Bennu’s vicinity with this precious cargo on 3 March. But the departure date has been pushed back to 10 May, NASA officials announced on Tuesday 26 January. “Leaving Bennu’s vicinity in May puts us in the ‘sweet spot,’ when the departure manoeuvre will consume the least amount of the spacecraft’s onboard fuel,” said Michael Moreau, OSIRIS-REx deputy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Nevertheless, with over 954…

1 min
extreme black holes probably have ‘hair’

YOUR FIRST CONTACT WITH THE UNIVERSE Black holes may not be so simple after all. According to a leading idea known as the ‘no-hair’ or ‘black hole uniqueness’ theorem, black holes can be fully characterised using just three data points ― their mass, spin and electric charge. There’s no other observable information to be had about these light-gobbling behemoths, which therefore seem to be sleekly and uniquely ‘bald’. But new research casts doubt on the no-hair idea, or at least its universal application: computer simulations suggest that ‘extreme’ black holes ― the ones whose spin or electrical charge is fully maxed out – do sport a few wispy hairs here and there. “This new result is surprising because the black hole uniqueness theorems are well established, [as is] their extension to extreme…