Space technology Current Affairs - 2019
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Morocco successfully launched its second earth observation satellite named Mohammed VI-B on board of Arianespace Vega rocket from launch pad at Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana in South America. It will be placed at same orbit as its twin satellite Mohammed 6-A, the first Moroccan satellite launched in November 2017 also on Vega rocket. The launch completes Morocco’s two-satellite constellation for Earth observation.
The 1,100-kilogram satellite was developed by Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Airbus Defence and Space. Airbus had built platform of satellite while Thales Alenia Space supplied payload and ground segment for image processing. It will be mainly used for mapping, land surveying, agricultural monitoring, prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification as well as border and coastal surveillance.
It is multinational company founded in 1980. It is world’s first commercial launch service provider. It has its headquarters in Courcouronnes, Essonne, France. It offers a number of different launch vehicles: heavy-lift Ariane 5 for dual launches to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), Soyuz-2 as medium-lift alternative, and solid-fueled Vega for lighter payloads. As of May 2017, Arianespace has launched more than 550 satellites in 254 launches over 34 years. It uses Guiana Space Center in French Guiana as its main launch site. ISRO uses Arianespace’s services for launching its heavy satellites. Arianespace’s Vega is a four-stage rocket designed by Arianespace launch small commercial and science satellites into orbit. The rocket is 98 feet (30 meters) tall and can launch payloads of up to 2,500 kilograms (5,511 pounds) into orbit.
NASA has retired Kepler space telescope after it ran out of fuel needed for further science operations. This brings end of nine-and-a-half year mission of Kepler space telescope in which it had discovered over 2,600 intriguing exoplanets from outside our solar system some of which may harbour life.
Kepler space telescope
The unmanned space telescope was launched in 2009 on 3.5-year mission (from 2009 until November 2012), but operated for 9 years. It was NASA’s first planet-hunting mission. It was named after German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. During its over nine years life, Kepler had observed 530,506 stars and detected 2,662 planets. It used transit photometry detection method for searching for exoplanet, which looked for periodic, repetitive dips in visible light of stars caused by planets passing or transiting in front in front of its host star. The telescope had suffered mechanical failure in 2013. But it was made functional by changing its field of view periodically. This had paved way for K2 mission.