Author Archives: Henry Wright

Spektr-RG space telescope carried in Russian rocket orbit

A new space telescope born of a collaboration between the Russian and German space agency called Spektr-RG was launched without problems by a Russian rocket Proton-M.

The telescope was brought into a “parking” orbit before the final push that will take it to the Lagrange L2 point. It is a specific position in which an object can maintain its orbital position similar to both the Sun and the Earth. This point is 1.5 million miles away from the Earth and is very suitable for space telescopes.

The journey should last three months and, if all goes well, it will be the first Russian spacecraft to surpass Earth’s orbit since the Soviet era.

The Spektr-RG telescope will allow a more efficient investigation thanks to the fact that it works on X-rays.

This is a project that dated back to the early 1980s but was then paused to be brought back to life in 2005 when the telescope was redesigned and the whole project became cheaper and simpler.

Circumplanetary disc discovered around planet 370 light years away

A circumplanetary disk was sighted by a group of astronomers through the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA). This is the first time, according to the same researchers, that a disk of planetary material is identified by optical light, composed mainly of dust and gases which are the remnants of the formation of a planet.

The disk has been identified around PDS 70 c, a planet that orbits PDS 70, a young star that is at a distance of 370 light-years from us. PDS 70 c is an external planet that is at a distance from its star similar to the distance between Neptune and the Sun.

This planet had already been identified along with another gaseous planet, PDS 70 b, which is located at a distance from its star similar to that which separates Uranus from the Sun and which presents a mass of dust that resembles a tail.

“For the first time, we can definitely see the telltale signs of a circumplanetary disk, which helps support many of the current theories on planet formation,” explains Andrea Isella, a researcher at Rice University in Houston and one of the authors of the study. The astronomer thinks that the material that circulates around this planet, formed relatively recently, is favoring the formation of moons of planetary dimensions.

The identification at the level of optical light of the disk around PDS 70 c was possible thanks to ALMA which analyzed in particular millimeter and submillimetre wavelengths, wavelengths at which the stars emit relatively little light and are therefore not in able to completely hide planets and elements that revolve around them, with their brightness.

New drone with two propellers boasts more autonomy and stability

A new drone with two propellers and with what is defined as an “advanced stabilization system” was developed by a group of engineers from Flybotix, a start-up of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).

According to the EPFL press release, this drone can boast better autonomy as it can fly twice as long as classic models. It is also smaller in size, always compared to the average, and this means that it can also be used in those cases where it is necessary to inspect cavities or areas that are difficult to reach, such as those in industrial plants.

This new drone would, therefore, resolve what is considered the main defect of today’s drones, or the low battery autonomy. The drone created by Samir Bouabdallah and colleagues, can count on a new propulsion system that mimics that of helicopters. Thanks to this system it can only use two propellers and this already reduces battery consumption.

The engineers then added a special stabilization based on algorithms that provide better aerodynamic performance, once again similar to those of a helicopter.

The new stabilization system is necessary: ​​a drone with only two propellers is less stable and more difficult to manipulate than a quadcopter, ie a drone with four propellers. The stabilization was obtained through a particular ring structure with the propellers which, stacked one above the other in the center, turn in a different direction.