NBN Co taps Arianespace for two satellite launches worth $300M

The Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) expanded its business partnership with French company Arianespace after signing an agreement worth $300 million to procure and send two Ka-band satellites into space, which are expected to be both operational in 2015. California-based Space Systems/Loral is currently building the Australian satellites which has a design life of 15 years.

The satellite deal, signed in Sydney, Australia, by NBN CEO Mike Quigley and Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall, aims to deliver broadband Internet access to approximately 250,000 households, businesses and farms in remote areas, including overseas territories and Christmas, Macquarie and Cocos (Keeling) and Norfolk islands. As NBN CEO Quigley said, the Ka-band satellites hold the key promise of finally bridging the digital divide between cities and remote areas.

“Faster speeds will allow people in regional communities to work from home like they would from the office, access video-based health services and make high-quality video calls to family and friends,” NBN CEO Quigley said. “Just as importantly, the NBN is helping to foster real competition in communications in the bush. That drives affordable prices for consumers. Every broadband provider on the NBN has equal access to the network and NBN Co’s wholesale prices to broadband providers are no different in the city or the bush.”

The two Australian satellites will weigh 6.25 tons, cost $620 million each, and will be linked to ten $180 million Earth stations, each with 13.5m dishes. A national Australian competition will be held for students to give a name for the satellites.


Satellites find freshwater losses in Middle East

A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.

Scientists at the University of California, Irvine; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., found during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.

The findings, to be published Friday, Feb. 15, in the journal Water Resources Research, are the result of one of the first comprehensive hydrological assessments of the entire Tigris-Euphrates-Western Iran region. Because obtaining ground-based data in the area is difficult, satellite data, such as those from NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, are essential. GRACE is providing a global picture of water storage trends and is invaluable when hydrologic observations are not routinely collected or shared beyond political boundaries.

“GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India,” said Jay Famiglietti, principle investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. “The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.”

“Water management is a complex issue in the Middle East — an area that already is dealing with limited water resources and competing stakeholders,” said Kate Voss, lead author of the study and a water policy fellow with the University of California’s Center for Hydrological Modeling in Irvine, which Famiglietti directs.

“The Middle East just does not have that much water to begin with, and it’s a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change,” said Famiglietti. “Those dry areas are getting dryer. The Middle East and the world’s other arid regions need to manage available water resources as best they can.”

“Groundwater is like your savings account,” Rodell said. “It’s okay to draw it down when you need it, but if it’s not replenished, eventually it will be gone.” 

Image credit:NASA/UC Irvine/NCAR

(Reblogged from distant-traveller)


Earth-Observing Satellite Launches Today

Carrying on a four-decade tradition, a new Earth-observing satellite is set to provide another watchful eye over our planet’s glaciers, forests, water resources and urban sprawl. If all goes as planned, the Landsat satellite will be launched into orbit today aboard a 200-foot-tall Atlas V rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base along California’s central coast.

It would be the eighth such satellite in a series designed to continuously track natural changes and society’s influence on Earth’s resources. Since the maiden launch in 1972, the satellites have been providing “uninterrupted observations,” David Jarrett, program executive at NASA headquarters, said during a pre-launch news conference. The newest Landsat will be the most powerful yet. Once in orbit, it will circle Earth 14 times a day from its 440-mile-high perch.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/02/earth-observing-satellite-launches-today

(Reblogged from laboratoryequipment)


Scotland’s first satellite to be launched this summer

Scotland’s first satellite is to be launched into space in June, it has been announced.

The cutting-edge device is the first spacecraft to be designed and built in Scotland. It will be launched on board a Russian rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Clyde Space, the Glasgow company behind the nanosatellite, is hoping it could be the first of many from Scotland.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond described the project as being “one small satellite for Clyde and a giant leap for their extraterrestrial export business and a new hope for space science in Scotland”.

The UKube-1 satellite is said to be one of the most advanced of its kind. When it is launched it will take part in a UK Space Agency mission that will see it use GPS technology to measure plasmaspheric space weather, as well as testing how cosmic radiation could improve the security of communication satellites.

The satellite will also carry five experiments that students across the UK can become involved in.

(Reblogged from europeinspace)


Landstat 8 is launching this week. The stakes are very high because Landstat 7 is running out of fuel, and could possibly go offline. Landstat 8 will provide higher resolution images of the earth. The satellite project has provided scientists, researchers, private businesses, and governments with incredible wealth of data.

Landsat data has become a fundamental data source for addressing basic science questions. It is a valuable resource for decision makers in the fields of agriculture, forestry, land use, water resources and natural resource exploration.

Landsat has also played an increasing role in diverse applications such as human population census, growth of global urbanization and deletion of coastal wetlands.

As human populations increasingly dominate the Earth’s land areas, understanding changes in land cover and land use from year to year becomes increasingly important for both decision makers and human occupants of the Earth.

I’ll be writing more about Landstat over the coming months. It is one of the most important systems in shaping climate adaptation policy and other environmental decision making.

You can read the history of Landstat at NASA.

More on the new launch, via Wired.

(Reblogged from climateadaptation)