Science Space

Tianwen-1 gets into orbit around Mars

Tianwen-1 has entered orbit. This is the first Chinese interplanetary mission. Tianwen-1 burned its thrusters in 15 minutes at around 6:52 a.m. Eastern.  This allowed the spacecraft that weighs five tonnes to reduce speed to be captured by Mars gravitationally. The Mars orbit insertion was developed to put Tianwen-1 into the orbit of 400 by 180000KM. Tianwen-1 inclined by 10-degree and has an orbital time of 10 days.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. said that Tianwen would lower its orbit for Mars observations. It is also expected to start preparing for the entry and landing trial of a 240KG solar-powered rover, which will be held in May or June. At bout 265KM from the Earth’s surface, the orbiter will approach, enabling a high-resolution camera to capture images with a resolution of 0.05 meters per pixel.

Tianwen-1 joins Hope, the United Arab Emirates’ mission that reached orbit on Tuesday around the Red Planet. On 18th February, NASA’s Perseverance rover made a soft landing. Some of the spacecraft that had failed before during the orbital insertion stage of the mission include the Japanese, Soviet, and the US. For instance, in 1999, NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter was near Mars, but the mission was interrupted. The Soviet Mars 4 did not burn its engines, making it go past Mars.

Science objectives

Tianwen-1 is developed such that it will be able to gather diverse data on the Martian surface and from orbit. A planetary scientist at the China University of Geosciences, Long Xiao, said that Tianwen-1 has 13 scientific payloads to help study the following: topography and Martian morphology, surface materials’ composition, surface regolith, ionosphere characteristics, environment, climate, and magnetic field. It will also help to search for the water ice with radars.

Long said that the main intention of Tianwen-1 is searching and mapping the water ice distribution on the subsurface and surface. Tianwen-1 has two autonomous sounding radars. One onboard the orbiter for carrying out a global survey with the primary focus being on high latitude regions. The other is placed on the rover. The two will offer more reliable data than a single one since radar data interpretation and processing are complex processes.

An associate professor who works at Macau University of Science and Technology, Zhang Xiaoping, said that using the radar system will help measure the Martian surface’s subsurface structure like the buried water ice. He added that this is essential as it will aid in studying Mars’ underlying geologic structures.


Satellites overtake balloons in leading the internet technology

Satellites reached their peak usage when they gained entrance into internet connectivity in areas where the internet is unavailable. Initially, they were the most expensive and the slowest in broadband services before the pandemic brought a new perspective of this concept.

Moreover, high technology companies decided to venture into this technology with the likes of SpaceX and OneWeb developing satellite constellations to provide broadband services. Google had initiated the Loon company to develop network balloons for internet coverage in remote and sidelined areas. Another company that deviated from balloon technology is Facebook. The company halted the Aquila project that intended to run the internet drones two years ago.

Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX decided to develop satellites to provide internet services. Moreover, satellites have demonstrated that they can be relied upon when the weather changes, unlike the balloons, which would be less effective in bad weather.

Big satellites in the low-Earth orbit have the potential to provide internet to remote areas globally. Satellites have proved to offer high-speed internet connection with low latency. The Starlink constellation will dealing with 42000 satellites that will provide broadband internet connectivity for the UK and North American people. The rival to SpaceX, OneWeb, is also deploying constellation to provide internet connection services.

Another company that declared its intention of offering broadband internet connectivity is Amazon, which is deploying 3000 satellites to serve its customers through the Kuiper project. However, these mega-constellations have angered the astronomer who loves monitoring the systems of the cosmos from Earth.

The astronomers argue that the satellites hinder them from viewing the stars and confuse them to be stars. Dr. Alice Girman, an astronomer, stated that the satellites are going into space in huge quantities that are dangerous, with the industry defending itself as the provider of internet services. She emphasized that the industries behind these projects should stop rallying behind the philanthropy concept and accept that they are making profits from this business.

Gorman explained that satellites are not the answer to all the problems facing Earth. She pointed out that some areas for internet services’ inaccessibility are because they have not witnessed terrestrial infrastructure installations.

The assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Regina, Samantha Lawler, is in support of the arguments raised by these astronomers stating that the satellites reflect light, hindering the observation of stars. Elon Musk came to the support of satellite companies stating that there are about 4900 satellites in space and no incidence of satellite obscurity has been reported. He tweeted that astronomers should stop making excuses to hinder space exploration.


A detailed discussion on the impact of the existence of satellites in the world we live in

There is a high availability of relatively small satellites, and their materials are now cheaper than before. That has seen rapid growth in their manufacturing and, more so, launches. For the record, the number of spacecrafts orbiting the Earth, excluding now-defunct ones for one reason or the other, is about to hit the 3000 marks. People would look at it on a lousy note whereby there are chances of a collision. After all, the number of satellites that no longer work yet still orbiting the Earth is also relatively high. Space junk is terrible news, but it shouldn’t let us turn a blind eye to the fact that satellites do more good than harm. Let’s take a look at the good side of satellites.

First of all, it turns out that most financial transactions rely on them may it be for location, timing, or security in most cases. So, if there were no satellites, imagine how one would survive without some things. Subscribing your Netflix every month could be a big hustle or, to make matters worse, impossible. The same case with stock market transactions, ATM transactions, Google Pay, and many other online payment systems. After all, the providers of these services rely heavily on Global Navigation Satellite Systems. They include America’s GPS, Russian GLONASS, and Europe’s Galileo. They ensure that financial transactions occur at precise timing, especially in fluctuating cases such as stock markets.

Besides money, satellites have also played a huge role in saving lives. As climate change and its effects become more evident, readiness on Earth is seemingly lacking. That’s where satellite comes in to help with tropical storms, forest fires, and other natural disasters that are becoming more common with many dire consequences nowadays. They monitor them and study their behaviors as well. With such information, it becomes easy for them to respond accordingly, which ends up saving lives.

The likes of investigators, journalists, and activists have found satellites as the oasis of much-needed information. That’s because they are not controlled by things such as jurisdiction. Neither a country nor an entity can stop any satellite from accessing a particular part of the space. That makes them more reliable when it comes to information than even drones are aircraft.

Satellite networks are the only option when one is in the middle of the sea or ocean. Their existence has helped in tracking the ships and boats. If one is spotted with its beacon turned off, there are high chances it belongs to illegal fishers or pirates. Immediate action is taken before something bad happens.

Others are looking for alternative habitable areas, including planets other than Earth, conducive for human life. Last but not least, it helps in identifying the number of species, especially the endangered ones. It simplifies counting.


Shell’s plan to step up 500,000 Charging points of EVs

The popularity of electric vehicles keeps rising rapidly with time. Why not when the world seems to be electrifying every moving instrument. Different companies have taken up various roles in the mission to help achieve net zero-emission. Let’s check out Shell‘s new plan. It seems the company has been swept up in the Electric vehicles sector.

The company’s recent announcement has come to everyone’s attention that Shell plans to make electric vehicle charging stations readily available for all. In this new project, the management team is working on setting up 500,000 stations. It is a short-term project which will last for four years. The EVs infrastructure industry is rapidly gaining its fame, with many investors working with companies to get in the business.

Since the start of 2021, it is clear that three companies are now under special purpose acquisition vehicles. And these companies will go public soon. However, a third of the companies have raised tens of millions from some big private equity sector names. The first successful dealing kicked off in 2020 September. Chargepoint partnered with a special purpose acquisition company with accounts of up to $2.4 billion in an electric charging network. From the deal, the company’s listing was scheduled in 2021, 16th February in New York.

In January, an operator and owner of an electric charging station, EVgo, partnered with the SPAC Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition. The deal’s market evaluation runs up to $2.6 billion. These ratings are a huge win for the privately held company and the investment company. The two will combine their company to achieve more profits and offer better deals.

Another deal happened recently where Volta Industries struck an agreement with Tortoise Acquisition II. This partnership will give the charging infrastructure company name Alessandro Volta, a battery inventor. As a result of this collaboration, SPAC Company’s shares were over the moon in these recent days. Currently, the stock is trading at about $15 per share.

Not to be left behind, private equity firms are also forming partnerships. One of the leading names in the Private equity energy investment, Riverstone Holdings, placed its bet on the charging space. It invested in FreeWire. From the deal, the company was able to raise $50 million in funding this year.

In a statement from Arcady Sosinov, FreeWire Chief executive, he confirmed the partnership. He also went ahead to express his excitement for the collaboration. Arcady spoke about the many considerations put in place before arriving at a decision. In addition to that, Sosinov referred to the deal as an enormous opportunity to venture in for the next ten years.

A partner in Riverstone also gave details on the deal. Robert appreciated the Electric vehicles industry and commented on the coming transition in the auto motor industry.


Central government concerned that major cities ditching Eskom for renewable energy could divide South Africa

South Africa was one of the most hit African countries by the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, that is not the only challenge ailing the nation. Power outages have become a constant headache to the South African population, especially those living in urban areas. Lack of a reliable supply of electricity has threatened to divide South Africa as federal governments root for their own, abandoning the troubled national electric-utility, Eskom. Eskom has been faced with a couple of problems such as corruption and ill management.

Eskom gets its electricity supply from coal plants. Over the past ten years, these plants have aged, and the government has not serviced them. This has been caused by inadequate funds and the embezzlement of available resources. The aging coal plants have caused a drop in the capacity of power produced, leading to frequent power outages. Eskom’s power capacity is about 44,000 megawatts (MW) currently. This value is decreasing, courtesy of the ill service and wear of the plants. It is estimated that in two months, the coal plants will lose 16,000MW of power-producing capacity.

Since 2008, South Africa has experienced frequent power blackouts.2019 was the apex of this problem, where power cuts contributed to economic losses worth between $3billion and $8billion.If this were to go on, the nation would incur $22 billion losses in the next ten years. These power cuts have taken a toll on the manufacturing sector, making growth in this industry slow. Since the central government under President Ramaphosa has not laid out plans to handle the Eskom problem, provincial and municipal administration has taken it upon themselves to develop new power sources for their subjects.

Cape Town, being South Africa’s tourism epicenter, has been frustrated the most by power cuts. It has led the city’s government to look for renewable energy sources as an alternative to Eskom. The coastal town is finally standing on its own in energy matters. However, the central government has raised concerns about this move.

Cape Town will easily find investing partners for their green energy projects, being a tourism hub. It is even better than the Eskom power. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, solar and storage battery costs are predicted to go down.

However, the national government does not support this initiative. For instance, in 2020, the central government declined to grant Cape Town the constitutional right to develop its electricity infrastructure. There have been rumors that the western part of Cape Town wants to break away into an independent region. This is one of the reasons why Cape Town lost the constitutional battle with the central administration. Another city that has developed its electricity grid is Durban. Durban recently announced its plan to break away from Eskom in the next 30 years. Durban also directed that 40% of the total energy consumed in the city should come from renewable sources by 2050.

Pretoria, being the capital city of South Africa, houses Eskom. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has delayed economic recovery, the city has to put its house in order by transforming Eskom to solve the power shortage crisis.


With a second orbital test deployment, iSpace experiences a drawback

Chinese private company iSpace‘s deployment of a Hyperbola-1 rocket finished in tragic loss shortly after Monday’s liftoff from Jiuquan’s launch center. By about 3:00 a.m. Eastern, Hyperbola-1 4-stage solid rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center situated in the Gobi Desert. The deployment itself was performed with no official notice or even advertisement just moments after the issuance of a navigational warning. Soon after the liftoff, clear amateur footage emerged on the Chinese social media. Later pictures show that the launch didn’t go according to schedule. However, over three hours later, the Chinese state media had not commented on the liftoff at the time of publication. After 7:00 a.m. Eastern, a terse (Chinese) news article was released.

The flight failure arose 18 months after the iSpace, with the very first Hyperbola-1 rocket, was the first predominantly private Chinese launch firm to enter orbit. Failed efforts by other Chinese companies such as Onespace and Landspace and in March 2019, as well as in October 2018, respectively, followed the achievement. Hyperbola-1 comprises 3 solid phases with the 4th stage liquid-propellant which has a length of about 20.8 meters and a mass of about 31 metric tons at the takeoff. With the liquid-propellant fourth stage, the launcher does have three solid stages. Pictures of the first as well as second Hyperbola-1 missiles show major design changes between these two launches.

For its Hyperbola rocket sequence, iSpace received $173 million in the Series B financing last year. Initiatives for an Initial Public Offering on the STAR Market (Science and Technology Innovation Board) were unveiled on Jan. 12. Following the effective deployment of Tiantong-1 (03) communications satellite as well as the Yaogan-31 (02) group of the reconnaissance satellites in January, the Hyperbola-1 mission became China’s third launch bid in the year 2021. In the second half of the year 2020, the Hyperbola-1 launch was postponed.

After a 2014 government announcement to open the launching and tiny satellite fields to the private capital, various Chinese commercial space firms have arisen. – The new firms were primarily founded by ex-employees of CASIC, CASC, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as related actors from large government-owned space sector conglomerates. Companies also attracted private funding, while state-linked financial assets have also been funded in some cases. Firms have also obtained funding from massive space contractors which are owned by the state, regional as well as local government contracts as well as Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) in the mode of policy support

The MCF is a national policy that promotes the exchange of skills, capital, and technology to accelerate innovation, minimize costs and develop new supply chains. As per the Chinese data program Tianyancha, 6 billion Chinese yuan ($933 million) was invested in China’s commercial aerospace industry in 2020, up from about $296 million in the year 2019. Despite Monday’s loss, 2021 is predicted to be a major year in terms of operation for China’s latest commercial launch firms.


Slovakia plans to send its second satellite to space

Slovakia made history a while back after launching its first satellite to space. A lot of people have been looking forward to their second mission to launch a satellite to space. This wait has come to an end recently after their latest announcement. The second satellite from Slovakia will start its orbiting journey in the Earth’s orbit this autumn.

It goes by the name of GRBAlpha and is an international project. The satellite’s shape is cubic and measures 10 by 10 by 10 cm. currently, this popular satellite is located in Moscow, where it is waiting for its grand launch. The satellite will go onboard on one of Russia’s space rockets, whose launching area is the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Its launching date month on the space calendar is between March and April.

The Project coordinator, Miroslav Smelko, in an interview explained the primary role of this satellite. He stated that its core task is to support amateur radio activities. Not the mention the promotion Of Slovakia abroad. This satellite comes after its predecessor, the skCUBE, which liftoff to the Earth’s orbit in 2017. The satellite made a name for Slovakia after deploying over a million data packets and also responding to 544 commands from the team on the ground. All these tasks took place 569 days after its launch when it was active on the Earth’s orbit. However, it went silent. Experts claim that the main cause for its interference was overheating by radiation.

For the Amateur radio experiment, the satellite will be carrying a transmitter with two frequency bands. The transmitter will be able to transmit a regular beacon with a call sign in Morse code and the basic telemetry in the digital mode. Also, this device should give a retranslation function. With these primary functions, the amateur radio stations can comfortably communicate with another which is not around the direct radio signal.

Part of the experiment gives credit to Norbert Werner, an astrophysicist. This scientist aims to verify some new possibilities of monitoring gravitational waves about the detection of gamma-ray bursts in orbit. Smelko went ahead to speak about plans for the experiment. If these experiments are functional, then they plan on moving to different nanosatellites to create detectors in various orbits.

This project is an international project whose main developers include Slovakia, Hungary, and Japan. It was backed up by different companies, organizations, and the Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava. In 2019, the project became the first runners up in the nanosatellite launch competition under the International Aeronautical Federation and Russian GK Launch Services. With that, the project received a 75% discount on space launch dealing. This project confirms the potential of Slovakia in regards to space matters.


The European Investment Bank (EIB) is banking $46.5 million in the development of renewable energy in Burkina Faso

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will be pouring in $46.5 million to Burkina Faso to facilitate the development of clean energy projects and other projects that shape the country for the minimization of emissions into the atmosphere. This funding will accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources into the country’s power grids, propelling it towards economic development. Moreover, these clean energy projects will preserve the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, from imminent flooding problems. This program will start the development of a solar power plant that will expand the power supply from 37MW to 50MW. The project will be operating under a public electricity firm called SONABEL.

With electricity demand growing by 10% per annum, Burkina Faso is experiencing a low electricity supply because the resources required to transfer imported power from Ivory Coast are few. This challenge forces the country to depend on the neighbor because its energy utilities are scarce and can’t meet their demand. The Minister of Economic, Finance, and Development in Burkina Faso, H.E. Lassané Kaboré, stated that new investment for upgrading the accessibility of energy and preserving the energy sources from generating environmental problems. Kaboré added that if these projects kick-off, they will align the country towards economic development. The EIB has been essential to Burkina Faso, especially in the financial help and providing international technical expertise for the expansion of projects in the country, for over five decades.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) started helping Burkina Faso in its projects in 1970 and has continued to help the country in achieving its projects and plans without ceasing. The vice president of EIB, Ambroise Fayolle, explained that their bank is ready to help SONABEL in developing the solar power plant to realign renewable energy production in Burkina Faso and preserve the lives of the people in Ouagadougou from flood problems.

Fayolle pointed that the partnership between Burkina Faso and entities like the AFD, the European Union, and the EIB is unraveling the country’s potential that investors can pursue. This pursuit will bring profits to the investors and inform the economic and social development of Africa to prepare it to overcome climate change problems. Moreover, these projects can spill over and take up the citizens’ employment opportunities to improve their lifestyle and open remote and rural areas for electricity and health care services. All these activities are possible if the people are ready for change.


High-pressure heat exchanger from BENTELER expected to reduce the charging time for electric vehicle batteries

The mileage range of electric vehicles and the time taken to recharge their batteries are among the things that are annoying the electric vehicle drivers and possibly some of the reasons why some people don’t want to purchase them. The executive vice president of BENTELER Automotive, Dr. Rainer Lübbers, stated these are some of the complaints that the customers have raised which most of the industry players are forcing their way around it by, for instance, developing numerous electric vehicle charging stations and doing more research on the substitute elements for the electric vehicle batteries that they manufacture. Customers think that these factors hinder the flexibility and mobility of electric vehicles, making them restrain even from purchasing the cheap second-hand models.

Electric vehicle manufacturers ought to develop batteries or work around the technology that ensures the cars charge for a short time without increasing the costs that the drivers were hoping would end with ICE cars. Moreover, the idea of fast-charging units has been dejected because this concept not only heats the batteries but also reduces their durability. Nevertheless, BENTELER has emerged with a variant technology that ensures fast cooling of the batteries after they have gone through fast-charging. The technology is high-pressure heat exchangers. The exchangers are small, compact, and powerful to sustain the cooling process.

The BENTELER high-pressure heat exchanger is fitted into the air-conditioning circuit to combine the two concepts and increase the system’s cooling power as it undergoes fast-charging. The developer of this technology, Jens-Eike Jesau, stated that this ideology minimizes the charging time and maintains the integrity of the battery. The cooling medium in these BENTELER high-pressure heat exchangers is carbon dioxide. The coolant, which is labelled R744, is converted to a liquid to ensure it flows in the system as it enters the cooler. The heat generated by the battery in the charging procedure is absorbed by the liquefied carbon dioxide making it evaporated. Luckily, the sealed equipment contains this evaporate carbon dioxide from entering the environment.

Lübbers explained that the cooling capability of the coolant is high compared to the standard heat exchangers. He added that they are happy to provide this technology to the electric vehicle manufacturers for installation to encourage consumers’ uptake. The company’s systems experts have supported this technology, calling it a global breakthrough that will accelerate the minimization of carbon emissions once the electric vehicles enter the market.


Satellite deployment in Egypt at the end of 2021

The Egyptian Space Agency‘s Executive Director stated on Saturday that a set of Egyptian satellites called “Next” will be deployed beginning in December. Mohamed al-Qousy informed Middle East News Agency that, in collaboration with Germany, the very first satellite was going to weigh 65 kilograms for scientific research and remote sensing. In March 2022, a collection of nanosatellites will be deployed in parallel with the Next to track climate change, particularly atmospheric levels of the carbon dioxide as well as gases, Qousy stated.

EgyptSat 2, which weighs 330 kilograms, will be deployed in September 2022 for use in sensor applications with the photographic precision of two meters. In partnership with China, EgyptSat 2 has been planned under an arrangement that involves a grant valued at $45 million, he said. In September 2022, International Space City will officially launch a satellite assembly as well as a research center to be the first hub of its nature in the Arab world. Pure Egyptian satellites are also expected to be developed for construction purposes in Egypt as well as Africa and the scientific research.

Qousy also stated that Egypt would serve as the host nation of the African Space Agency after the ratification of the African Union. There is a proposal to deploy a joint satellite named the African Development Satellite in collaboration with Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Nigeria. The African Space Agency’s offices are now being set up in the International Space City at a $10 million cost.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi extended the tenure of Mohammed Afifi El-Quosy, the Chief executive of Egyptian Space Agency, at the conclusion of his first tenure in office. Since the Egyptian Space Agency’s board was established in 2019, El-Quosy became the Chief executive. Via Decree Number. 411/2019, President El-Sisi released the order creating the council. The nomination of Mohamed Afifi El-Quosi as Chief executive was made by Decree No. 410/2019, and the extension of his term was completed by the President’s announcement of Decree No 457/2020. Until the year 2021, El-Quosy will remain to be the CEO of the Agency.

To date, El-Quosy has implemented a variety of cooperation arrangements between Egypt and several countries and organizations, as well as launching several initiatives and projects within the organization. A network of space technology centers across the nation will be built at universities by the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA). This creation was reported via the Agency’s Facebook page by the Agency’s Chief executive, Dr. Mohammed Al-Quosy. The declaration also suggested that the Agency would fund Egyptian universities via the process of developing technology centres on their separate campuses.