Feeds

A year in spaaaaace: El Reg looks back on 2011

Era of the spaceplane ends, robot exploration continues

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Sharing space in space

The US and Russia are unquestionably still the main players in our universe, but other countries are starting to take more of an interest in the wonders of our galaxies as well.

The European Space Agency is fast becoming an important player in the space (pun intended), helping out their Russian boffin mates with contacting Phobos-Grunt and sending astronauts and very heavy space trucks up and down to the International Space Station, but that's not all it's been busy with.

The agency announced in July that it had finished a billion-pixel camera for use in its Gaia mission to chart a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way, due to start in 2013.

Aboard the ISS, with a little help from NASA astronaut Ron Garan, the agency shot the first 3D footage in space on a futuristic camera developed by the ESA.

The ESA is also hoping to get a space probe closer to our Sun than any other craft has ever managed.

The Solar Orbiter is aiming for a 2017 launch on a NASA-provided Atlas rocket, after which it will pass within just 26 million miles of the Sun.

solar_orbiter_esa

Artist's impression of the Solar Orbiter. Credit: ESA

China's Martian satellite went down with the Phobos-Grunt, but it doesn't seem to have dented their enthusiasm for space too much.

This year saw the Asian nation become the third country after America and Russia to master the art of docking.

The Shenzhou-8 unmanned capsule set out at the start of November on its trip to the Tiangong-1 or 'Heavenly Palace' module, which had been orbiting since September.

The craft then succeeded in coupling with the module not once, but twice, before returning safely back to Earth.

China is planning Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 for next year, and hoping to man (or woman) at least one of them after the docking success.

All of these missions are stepping stones towards China's very own space station, which the space agency is hoping to have aloft sometime this decade.

Meanwhile, the UK is also getting in on the act with its very own space agency - the UK space agency (good name).

The new body got the go-ahead in April this year and so far seems mostly interested in satellites.

To be fair, it's not a good time for any government-related body to be sticking its hand out for money in Blighty, so small ambitions are probably good for now.

These include the CubeSat mission, lots of teeny-tiny satellites made from off-the-shelf components leading, the agency hopes, to more and cheaper launches. The design for UKube-1, the first of the microspacecraft, was approved in November.

Sticking with satellites, George Osbourne's Autumn Statement on the UK's budget included funds earmarked for science, part of which will go on a British-built satellite constellation.

Artist's impression of a NovaSAR satellite over Earth

Artist's impression of a NovaSAR satellite over Earth. Credit: SSTL

"NovaSAR will keep us at the forefront of space technology, and will drive growth and innovation as governments and businesses across the globe develop scientific and commercial uses for the data," science minister David Willetts enthused.

However, the cash is still conditional on agreeing a business case and "other contract terms".

Anyway, the UK can't expect to be taken seriously as a proper space agency until it gets some telescopes on the go to send back amazing shots of our cosmos, a task the Hubble Space Telescope has been doing for 21 years this year.

To celebrate the anniversary, NASA released a suitably awe-inspiring image from the space observer that showed a spiral galaxy the agency decided looked like a galactic rose.

Arp 273 - a

The galactic 'rose'. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

It also shows just why it's so worth it for governments to find the budget to keep sending spacecraft to the stars. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release
Result? 'Way more carbon being released into the atmosphere as methane'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.