Ukraine and Starlink

Source/Credit: Starlink terminals posted in a Ukrainian tweet.

Three cheers for SpaceX’s assistance to Ukraine during this difficult time. After Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov made a plea to SpaceX for assistance with its Internet, Mr. Must approved the shipment of Starlink terminals to Ukraine to allow the country to use the company’s satellites for its communications.

Vice Prime Minister Fedorov had tweeted:

@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.

We can haggle about the number of Starlink satellites in orbit another time. Fortunately, such satellites are there when the beleaguered Ukrainians need them.

You can read more about it via The Verge.

Russia Interrupts Space Missions

Source/Credit: Guiana Space Center launch pads from the ESA.

Be prepared. With the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the related U.S. and European sanctions, we can expect some delays and cancellations in upcoming space missions. The latest news story is Russia’s pull out of the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, leading to the delayed launch of two European Space Agency (ESA) Galileo navigation satellites that were to be sent into orbit on Soyuz rockets.

Director General of Russia’s Roscosmos tweeted:

In response to EU sanctions against our enterprises, Roscosmos is suspending cooperation with European partners in organizing space launches from the Kourou cosmodrome and withdrawing its technical personnel, including the consolidated launch crew, from French Guiana.

Luckily, the world is becoming less and less reliant on Russian rockets. Nonetheless, it would be better for Russia to focus on scientific missions again rather than military missions. Rockets should be aimed at the stars instead of the Ukrainian people.

Remnants of Another Galaxy Found in the Milky Way

Source/Credit: Gaia spacecraft map of the Milky Way from ESA.

The European Space Agency (ESA) reported scientists found the remnants of another galaxy that collides with our galaxy 8-10 billion years ago. This would be the sixth such grouping or galaxy to be found within the Milky Way. We commonly hear about merging planets in the early stages of our solar system, but that is small stuff by comparison. Observations from ESA’s Gaia spacecraft led to this discovery. This merged galaxy is called “Pontus,” the name of one of the first children of Gaia, the Greek goddess of the Earth.

An earlier ESA release discussed the number of galaxies that arrived more recently and may pass us by or be caught by the Milky Way and pulled apart like Pontus and the others:

François Hammer, Observatoire de Paris – Université Paris Sciences et Lettres, France, and colleagues from across Europe and China, used the Gaia data to calculate the movements of 40 dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way. They did this by computing a set of quantities known as the three-dimensional velocities for each galaxy, and then using those to calculate the galaxy’s orbital energy and the angular (rotational) momentum.

They found that these galaxies are moving much faster than the giant stars and star clusters that are known to be orbiting the Milky Way. So fast, that they couldn’t be in orbit yet around the Milky Way, where interactions with our galaxy and its contents would have sapped their orbital energy and angular momentum

So will these newcomers settle into orbit or simply pass us by? “Some of them will be captured by the Milky Way and will become satellites,” says François.

I wonder what is would be like sitting in one of those smaller galaxies awaiting your fate. Of course, it will be a very long wait.

Source/Credit: Dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way from ESA.
Source/credit: Gaia spacecraft from the ESA/- C. Carreau.
Posted in ESA

Space Quote: Sanctions and the ISS

Source/Credit: International Space Station (ISS) from NASA.

“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from uncontrolled deorbiting and falling on US or European territory?”

–Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin, Director General of Roscosmos, commenting on US sanctions against Russia’s aerospace industry resulting from that country’s invasion of Ukraine this week. The ISS is expected to stay aloft until 2031, assuming everyone cooperates.

Pic of the Week: Giant Star on the Edge of Destruction

Source/Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

This week’s image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows an erupting star, as explained by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hubble site:

The giant star…is waging a tug-of-war between gravity and radiation to avoid self-destruction. The star, called AG Carinae, is surrounded by an expanding shell of gas and dust — a nebula — that is shaped by the powerful winds of the star. The nebula is about five light-years wide, which equals the distance from here to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

The huge structure was created from one or more giant eruptions several thousand years ago. The star’s outer layers were blown into space, the expelled material amounting to roughly 10 times the mass of our Sun. These outbursts are typical in the life of a rare breed of star called a Luminous Blue Variable (LBV), a brief unstable phase in the short life of an ultra-bright, glamorous star that lives fast and dies young. These stars are among the most massive and brightest stars known. They live for only a few million years, compared to the roughly 10-billion-year lifetime of our own Sun. AG Carinae is a few million years old and resides 20,000 light-years away inside our Milky Way galaxy. The star’s expected lifetime is between 5 million and 6 million years.