Virgin Galactic flight is one of the most fascinating events for space enthusiasts! Therefore, it announced on Monday that it’s planning its third commercial spaceflight. The name of this space flight is Galactic 03. Virgin Galactic’s next flight 2023 would be as early as September 8. Moreover, this flight will carry three passengers who bought their tickets in the early 2000s.

 If it happens in September, it will be Virgin Galactic’s fourth spaceflight in four months. It will be showing their quick pace after a long break. It also puts them ahead of Blue Origin, which has been grounded for almost a year since a launch accident.

Virgin galactic spaceship

Virgin Galactic Space Flight 2023:

The ‘Galactic 03’ crew are among Virgin Galactic’s first customers, known as ‘Founder’ astronauts. What is more important is their assistance in this project. They have helped turn the idea of regular commercial spaceflights of Virgin Galactic into reality with their early ticket purchases.

Furthermore, crew members got their tickets back in 2005 and have been active in Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronaut community. Which has around 800 members from over 60 countries. This community offers unique experiences to inspire and enhance their spaceflight journey.

The Virgin Galactic flight 03 pilots are Nicola Pecile and Michael Masucci for VSS Unity. Besides this, Jameel Janjua is the VMS Eve Commander, assisted by Pilot Kelly Latimer.

Virgin Galactic will Have Its First Privately Funded Space Tourists!

Virgin Galactic achieved a remarkable milestone as it flew beyond the 50-mile space threshold. Besides these, it will be carrying its very first group of privately funded adventurers and lucky space sweepstakes winners. Among the passengers was Keisha Schahaff, whose exciting journey began with a win in an online contest organized by the Omaze charity.

But what makes this voyage even more captivating is that it etched its name in history by allowing a mother-and-daughter duo, Keisha Schahaff, and her daughter Anastasia Mayers. Therefore it is quite an amazing experience for Virgin Galactic to fly in space together for the very first time. Moreover, this extraordinary feat also marked a significant moment for the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. These intrepid travelers became the first to represent their island nation in the realm of space exploration.

“I kind of feel like I was born in this life for this,” Schahaff, a wellness coach, told NBC’s “Today” show.

Her daughter is a college student who aims to become an astrobiologist.

Virgin Galactic Flight Number 2- Passenger Details:

Jon Goodwin, is an 80-year-old British adventurer and former Olympic canoeist from 1972. He did something extraordinary on the Galactic 02 flight today. He reserved a spot with Virgin Galactic back in 2005 when tickets cost $200,000. Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nearly a decade ago, he became only the second person with Parkinson’s to go to space today in a Virgin Galactic flight. Besides this, the flight is following NASA shuttle astronaut Rich Clifford.

What is the Virgin Galactic flight?

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, a rocket-powered space plane, had a successful launch and landing on Thursday. This mission, called Galactic 02, took off just after 11 a.m. Eastern Time from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying the company’s first group of tourists into space.

Galactic 02 flight
A view of VSS Unity’s nozzle after the Galactic 02 flight. Credit: Eric Berger

How far is Virgin Galactic?

The VSS Unity rocket plane separated from the carrier plane over New Mexico at about 9:20 a.m. local time. It then took the four passengers, consisting of a company instructor and three tourists, to an altitude of roughly 55 miles (88.51 km).

How fast does Virgin Galactic go?

On Virgin Galactic flight 02, the space plane reached a speedy Mach 3, three times the speed of sound, and reached an altitude of 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) before returning to Earth. Virgin Galactic confirmed a smooth landing on the runway at Spaceport America at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (1530 GMT).

Who flew on the Virgin Galactic Space flight?

Galactic 02, the flight, took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico. Furthermore, let us tell you about the customers too. Onboard Galactic 02 were three customers: British former Olympian Jon Goodwin and two passengers from the Caribbean, Keisha Schahaff and Anastasia Mayers.

How many people can fit in Virgin Galactic?

Virgin Galactic launched the VSS Unity spaceplane 50 miles above Earth on Thursday. This spaceplane has windows all around the cabin and can carry four tourists in its 60-foot long, 27-foot wingspan frame. Additionally, the cabin inside of Virgin Galactic Flight is designed to be minimalistic and is described as providing an elegant yet forward-looking, experience-focused concept.

What makes Virgin Galactic unique?

Virgin Galactic proudly stands as the world’s pioneer in commercial space travel, with a mission that transcends boundaries. Besides these, the aim is to unite people from all corners of the world with the boundless love, wonder, and awe that space exploration can offer. They firmly believe that spaceflight possesses a remarkable power to alter our viewpoints, advance our technology, and chart a new course for our journey as a species.

Why did Virgin Galactic drop so much?

In the second quarter, Virgin Galactic Holdings (SPCE 2.38%) certainly made significant strides. However, despite all their efforts, the results didn’t align with Wall Street’s high expectations. Following the release of the company’s financial figures and less-than-enthusiastic forecasts for the upcoming quarters, the stock of this space startup experienced a roughly 5% decline. It’s a clear example of anticipation not quite matching reality in the dynamic realm of space ventures.

How long does Virgin Galactic stay in space?

Key Details Information:

  • Flight Duration 60 minutes
  • Altitude Reached 55 miles (88km) above Earth
  • Notable Passengers Former Olympian, Mother-daughter pair
  • Founder Sir Richard Branson

What is the aim of Virgin Galactic?

The mission is to make human spaceflight accessible to people worldwide. Therefore, working at Virgin Galactic lets many astronomers have an inspiration present and future generations by shaping the future of space travel.

Can you go to space with Virgin Galactic?

The flight window officially opened Thursday morning, and tickets are up to $450,000.

Now, for the first time, a satellite device known as Lightning Imager has been turned on that can always spot lightning across Europe and Africa. New animations of the novel Lighting Imager show that it will change how violent storms are found and predicted.

Today, ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat) shared the first images from the Lightning Imager on the first Meteosat Third Generation satellite.  The date for launching this satellite is December 13, 2022.

How does the lightning imager work?

Leonardo made the Lightning Imager, which can keep track of lightning flashes in the Earth’s atmosphere day or night. The distance the device is capable of recording is 36000 km. The device has four cameras that can look at Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and parts of South America. Each camera can take up to a thousand pictures per second and will always be looking at lightning from space.

Each animation comprises a series of pictures made by adding lightning readings from one minute to a single image of Earth taken by the Lightning Imager. The Lightning Imager will give weather experts more trust in their predictions of severe storms. It will be helpful especially in remote areas and on the seas where there aren’t as many ways to spot lightning.

What were the different perspectives regarding the capabilities of lightning imager?

Director of Earth Observation Programs at ESA Simonetta Cheli once said about the instrument’s impressive abilities:

“The animations show that the instrument can accurately and effectively detect lightning activity over the whole area of the cameras’ field of view, 84% of the Earth disc.”

ESA and Eumetsat, along with European industrial partners, are making sure that communities and parts of the economy in Europe and beyond can take advantage of highly innovative new technology.”

Getting data on lightning and figuring out what it means eventually will help a lot with studying short-term weather forecasts and how such events affect climate change. At the same time, the Lightning Imager will be crucial to keeping air traffic safe since lightning can damage the instruments on board an airplane.

The head of Eumetsat, Phil Evans, also said;

“Severe storms are often preceded by sudden changes in how often lightning strikes. By watching these changes in activity, Lightning Imager data will give weather experts more trust in their predictions of severe storms.”

“When these data are combined with the high-resolution data from the Flexible Combined Imager, weather forecasters will be better able to track the development of severe storms and have more time to warn authorities and communities.”

What were the thoughts of Lightning Imager’s charge?

Guia Pastorini, in charge of engineering for the Lightning Imager at Leonardo, said,

“The Lightning Imager has four cameras. Each one can take 1000 pictures per second, day or night. This means that even a single lightning bolt can be found in less time than blinking an eye. Thanks to specific algorithms, data is processed to send only useful information to Earth. This, as a result, helps make weather predictions more accurate, helps study weather events, and improves safety in air travel.”

“Additionally, Leonardo has worked on this great technology for ten years with ESA, Eumetsat, and an international industrial team. Today, we are very proud to show the images of the first European lightning hunter, the only one in the world with these unique capabilities.”

Even though the videos are the first result from the Lightning Imager, the Meteosat Third Generation Imager is still being set up. During this time, the devices are calibrated, and the data is checked. Afterward, starting in early 2024, data from the Lightning Imager will be more sensitive and ready to be used.

The MTG satellites are made by a big group of European companies working together, led by Thales Alenia Space and including OHB. Leonardo, an Italian company, made the innovative Lightning Imager, and Telespazio helps Eumetsat get into space and stay there.

Meteosat’s Third Generation:

The Meteosat Third Generation Imager is the first of six satellites comprising the entire MTG system. Over the next 20 years, this system will give important information for short-term and early warnings of possible extreme weather events. When the mission is entirely up and running, two MTG-I satellites and one MTG Sounding (MTG-S) satellite will work together.

Additionally, there is another primary device, Flexible Combined Imager on the satellite that looks at Earth. Its images were shared earlier this year. The MTG-S sounding satellites will have an Infrared Sounder and an Ultraviolet Visible Near-Infrared instrument. This is a first for Meteosat.

Advancing Atmospheric Insights

By measuring the instability of the atmosphere in three dimensions throughout the clouds, the sounder will, therefore, be a big step forward in giving early warnings of severe thunderstorms. It is also expected to provide unique information from a geostationary orbit about how the atmosphere comprises ozone, carbon monoxide, and volcanic ashes.

A new European weather satellite MTG-I1 has taken a high-quality picture of Earth. The image shows our planet looking beautiful, but with lots of clouds that could mean bad weather.

When was the new weather satellite MTG-I1 launched and what is its purpose?

On December 12, 2022, Europe’s meteorological satellite agency, EUMETSAT, and the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a new weather satellite called MTG-I1. It’s the first of a new generation of weather satellites called the MTG system. The satellite was launched using an Ariane 5 rocket. By 2016, a system of six satellites will be up and running. 

Picture of Earth

Which regions of the Earth are visible in the picture taken by the MTG-I1?

A new weather satellite in Europe took a picture of the Earth that shows how beautiful our planet is, even with clouds in the sky.  The Meteosat Third Generation – Imager 1 (MTG-I1) took an amazing picture that shows Europe, Africa, and the Atlantic with incredible detail. This satellite is going to change the way we predict the weather, especially severe weather.

Simonetta Cheli:

“This image is a great example of what European cooperation in space can achieve,” ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Simonetta Cheli, says. “The level of detail MTG-I1’s image reveals, unachievable over Europe and Africa from a geostationary orbit until now, will give us a greater understanding of our planet and the weather systems that shape it.”

What does the picture released by EUMETSAT and ESA show about the weather?

These satellites will provide important information about extreme weather events for the next 20 years. This week, EUMETSAT and ESA released a new picture taken by a satellite’s Flexible Combined Imager on March 18, 2023. The picture displays cloudy weather over Northern and Western Europe and Scandinavia, while Italy and the Western Balkans have clear skies.

Swirling clouds:

The picture shows swirling clouds over the Canary Islands, snow on the Alps, and sediment in the water along the coast of Italy. ESA has released new images that show more details than older images from the Meteosat Second Generation satellites. These new images are from the MTG-I1 and other third-generation spacecraft that will replace the older ones. Some features were missing in older satellite images.

MTG-I1 can observe cloud structures in high-latitude areas. This will help weather forecasters track severe weather that develops quickly in those regions.

Phil Evans:

“This remarkable image gives us great confidence in our expectation that the MTG system will herald a new era in the forecasting of severe weather events,” EUMETSAT director general, Phil Evans, said in ESA’s statement. “It might sound odd to be so excited about a cloudy day in most of Europe. But the level of detail seen for the clouds in this image is extraordinarily important to weather forecasters.”

What is the purpose of the new Meteosat meteorological satellites?

The new Meteosat meteorological satellites will take better pictures of the Earth than the old ones. They will also take more pictures more often. Once it’s up and running, the system will take pictures of the entire Earth every 10 minutes. The MTG system needs this frequency to keep an eye on severe weather. 

meteorological satellite

 Natalia Donoho:

“The high-resolution and frequent repeat cycle of the Flexible Combined Imager will greatly help the World Meteorological Organization community to improve forecasts of severe weather, long-term climate monitoring, marine applications, and agricultural meteorology, and will make an important contribution to the Early Warnings For All Initiative, in particular on the African continent,” Head of the World Meteorological Organization Space Systems and Utilization Division, WMO, Natalia Donoho, said in the statement.

How long MTG-I1 will take to provide weather data?

MTG-I1 won’t provide weather data to Europe and the rest of the world until late 2023. In the next year, they will turn on the satellite’s Flexible Combined Imager and Lightning Imager instruments and make sure the data it collects is accurate. 

Who will join the MTG-I1 in space?

A new satellite called MTG-S will soon join the MTG-I1 in space. It has special tools on it like an Infrared Sounder and an Ultraviolet Visible Near-Infrared spectrometer. MTG-S is a new technology that can predict severe thunderstorms more accurately. It models atmospheric instability in 3D throughout the clouds, which is a big improvement for early warning systems. 

Paul Blythe:

“Following the launch of the MTG-I1 satellite, the momentum in the MTG program is relentless,” ESA’s Meteosat program manager Paul Blythe said. “The initial results from MTG-I1 are hugely motivating for those who have worked on the program and create a major impetus to complete the full MTG constellation by 2026.”

The MTG-S satellite will be ready by the middle of next year. It will give us information about ozone, carbon monoxide, and volcanic ash in the air around Earth.

The skies over Australia and neighboring regions were ablaze with wonder as the rare and breathtaking solar eclipse of April 20, 2023, took center stage. From Western Australia to Timor-Leste and Indonesia, thousands of people gathered to witness this extraordinary astronomical event. The eclipse was a hybrid, starting as an annular eclipse in the Indian Ocean and transforming into a mesmerizing total solar eclipse before reaching the Australian continent.

Let’s start with the,

Solar eclipse over Australia on April 20, 2023:

Australia witnessed a rare and spectacular solar eclipse on April 20, 2023. The eclipse was visible from Western Australia, Timor-Leste, and Indonesia, near North West Cape. The eclipse was a hybrid. It began as an annular eclipse in the Indian Ocean. Then it transformed into a stunning complete eclipse before reaching Australia. The partial phase of the eclipse started at 10:04:32 AWST in the North West Cape region. This happened specifically in the town of Exmouth and lasted until 11:29:50 AWST.

The duration of totality was only 54 seconds, and the eclipse ended at 13:02:34 AWST. While the residents of the North West Cape were lucky enough to witness the full totality, the entire continent of Australia also witnessed a partial solar eclipse, where the Moon blocked some, but not all of the Sun’s disk as seen from Earth. Witnessing this incredible event was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to behold the awe-inspiring power and beauty of nature. Those who were present at the eclipse can capture spectacular images and videos. These can be shared with others who were not within the eclipse path. This allows them to admire the magnificence of the event

Observing the Total Solar Eclipse:

Today, a total solar eclipse occurred, an uncommon and fascinating astronomical phenomenon caused by the moon’s passage across the sun’s disk. The eclipse, which took up to three hours to complete, was observed by skywatchers at the Ningaloo Eclipse site.

During around 60 seconds (depending on where you were), the moon fully blocked out the sun, leaving behind a breathtaking sight of the dwindling solar crescent. As the last of the sun disappeared behind the moon, an interesting optical phenomenon occurred, known as Baily’s Beads or the Diamond Ring Effect. This occurred when the final rays of sunlight passed between the rugged Lunar topography, leaving behind an enchanting diamond ring-like formation.

The total solar eclipse is a rare opportunity for astronomers and sky enthusiasts to witness this incredible natural phenomenon.

However, for the citizens of Australia, we got,

The Eclipse Quartet Of 2023–2038 In Australia:

Over the next 15 years, Australia will be able to witness five total solar eclipses. Four more eclipses will occur after this one.

  • On July 22, 2028, it will make its first appearance in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, the southwestern section of Queensland, and New South Wales, eventually reaching the center of Sydney.
  • Beginning in South Australia on November 25 and continuing over Northwest New South Wales and Southern Queensland until sunset on November 25 in Southeast Queensland.
  • 13 July 2037 Over Brisbane and the Gold Coast from the south of Western Australia and the Territory’s western region.
  • On December 26, 2038, in the middle of Western Australia and South Australia and then along the New South Wales and Victoria border.

Follow the graphic below to see where these eclipses will be visible in Australia.

solar eclipse australia
The path of the solar eclipse on 20 April 2023. Michael Zeiler /

There are a few questions that might pop up in your head when we say Total eclipse. Some of them we have answered in the following,

When did people first record a total solar eclipse?

According to historians and astronomers, the epic eclipse that the two Chinese astrologers Hsi and Ho failed to predict occurred on October 22, 2134, B.C.E. Research shows that the Babylonians were familiar with the Saros Cycle (18 years and 11 days) and could use it to estimate when eclipses would occur, as this cycle was used to successfully anticipate and record the May 3, 1375, BCE eclipse.

Does a solar eclipse reduce the sun’s radiance?

The Moon temporarily blocks the Sun’s brightness during solar eclipses. During an eclipse, the sun emits less extraterrestrial irradiance (solar radiation) towards Earth. During an eclipse, the amount of solar power that reaches the Earth’s surface is reduced. This is due to the attenuation of the sun’s light by the atmosphere and clouds.

Solar eclipses and irradiance have a straightforward relationship, at least until you include the effects of the atmosphere and do the math. To accurately transfer extraterrestrial radiation to surface irradiance, several factors must be calculated. These include the zenith, azimuth, atmospheric conditions, cloud cover, and the position of the observer or asset. Understanding how an eclipse affects solar energy output and weather requires accurate modeling of these aspects.

How clouds will affect solar irradiance during the eclipse?

Cloud cover and atmospheric conditions affect solar irradiance as well as the eclipse’s direct effect. Solcast’s satellite cloud tracking technology provides accurate cloud cover and irradiance forecasts. These forecasts help us understand how the eclipse will affect solar energy production. Experts utilize satellite data to track cloud cover in real time to estimate solar irradiance during the eclipse. Experts use this data and eclipse irradiance modeling to understand how this event will effect solar energy output.


Published by: Sky Headlines

Military Satellites have become integral to military operations around the world. They provide crucial services such as communication, reconnaissance, navigation, and weather data. As the demand for these capabilities grows, so does the need for increased space budgets, particularly in the United States. However, military space spending patterns are evolving. The focus now is on finding a balance between the need for advanced and capable systems and the need for more rapid deployment, while also weighing satellite needs against the requirement for other equipment, particularly cyber defense systems.

Before we get started, let’s discuss,

Military Operations and Commercial Satellites:

Military operations around the globe are increasingly relying on commercial satellites to achieve their objectives. The use of commercial communication satellites is particularly cost-effective and beneficial for military purposes. Additionally, commercial reconnaissance satellites are proving to be an asset for countries that cannot afford to launch their satellites, allowing them to access photos of their rivals.

Despite decades of research by superpowers, there has never been a clear military role for humans in space. In the 1960s, the United States experimented with several piloted military space systems, including the DynaSoar spaceplane and the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL). The MOL was intended to carry a large reconnaissance camera, and two astronauts were to spend up to a month in orbit, taking photos of ground targets. However, the program was canceled in 1969 as it became evident that humans were not required for the task, and robotic systems could perform the work efficiently and often better than humans. Similarly, the Soviet Union briefly operated manned space stations resembling the MOL, but they also abandoned the program for the same reason as the United States.

Now you probably might be wondering,

What is the job of military satellites?

Military satellites have been playing an important role in modern warfare. People use them for a variety of purposes such as conducting reconnaissance, navigating, communicating, gathering signals intelligence, monitoring meteorology, and defending against satellites. Reconnaissance and surveillance satellites take photographs of targets on the ground and relay them to receiving stations. They are in low orbits and can photograph a target for only a little over a minute before they move out of range. 

In addition, there exist satellites that utilize diverse wavelengths to penetrate through camouflage, identify the composition of objects, and scrutinize emissions from smokestacks. Signals intelligence satellites listen for communications from cellular telephones, walkie-talkies, microwave transmissions, radios, and radar. They relay this information to the ground, where it is processed for various purposes. Satellites for communication purposes enable communication with sea vessels, ground troops, and submarines having small dish antennas. Navigation satellites are also vital to military forces as they help determine positions at sea or on land. Accurate weather information is also critical to military operations, and the United States and Russia operate meteorology satellites for military use. Antisatellite and missile defense satellites are not currently part of any nation’s arsenal, but ASAT weapons may be used to intercept missiles in the future.

You should also know,

Why satellites are essential for modern warfare?

Effective military operations depend on the transfer of data. Despite the reduced number of troops stationed overseas compared to previous years, the need for satellite capabilities has remained significant. Militaries around the world face tight budget environments, especially in Western Europe and the U.S. Nonetheless, the U.S. will continue to invest more money in satellites than any other country, and the production of military satellites will remain steady for years to come.

Poland, Germany, and Japan are just a few of the countries launching military satellites. China and Russia will largely drive the market for military satellites during Forecast International’s current forecasting period of 2023-2032. However, the war in Ukraine may hamper Russian efforts. Western countries will require replacements for their aging satellites by the start of the next decade, which should drive production through the 2020s.

Now let’s dig into the past and upcoming,

Military Space Innovation:

SATCOMBw and Syracuse IV are satellite-based networks providing secure communication capabilities for the German and French Armed Forces respectively. Both programs consist of military satellites and ground stations to provide long-range communications between areas of operations and decision-making centers. Airbus is the prime contractor for SATCOMBw and Syracuse IV, responsible for designing, implementing, and delivering deployable systems that provide autonomy, security, and absolute reliability for satellite telecommunications. Additionally, Airbus is the partner for space for the UK Ministry of Defence and has been providing Skynet services for over eighteen years. Skynet is a hardened X-band constellation of satellites providing all Beyond Line of Sight communications to the UK military. Airbus designs, enhances the Skynet fleet, builds the Skynet 6A satellite for launch in 2025, and ensures the sustainability and system availability of Skynet.

military communications satellite
Illustration of the ESPAStar-HP satellite bus. Credit: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) gateway system has achieved 200,000 combat operational flight hours since its deployment in 2008, as a leader in the design, development, and delivery of end-to-end communications and advanced networking capabilities. The company’s gateway systems, including BACN, are capable of securely sharing mission information across military branches and enhancing the flow of data, and strengthening the overall command-and-control structure of the Defense Department. The BACN system functions as a communications gateway in the sky, operating at high altitudes to disseminate voice, imagery, and tactical data from various sources. This results in improved communication, coordination, and situational awareness for joint military personnel operating across different domains, including space, air, land, and sea.

Northrop Grumman is creating a geostationary communications satellite that will compete with Boeing’s similar design in a military procurement worth $2.4 billion. The U.S. Space Force selected both companies to develop Protected Tactical Satcom prototype payloads, known as PTS, which will become the military’s next-generation secure communications satellites. Northrop Grumman’s PTS payload will fly on a dedicated spacecraft built on an ESPAStar-HP satellite bus and will launch on a national security space mission aboard a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket in 2025. The ESPAStar-HP is faster to manufacture and launch than traditional military satellites and can be operated in geostationary orbit. The Space Force could select one or both companies to produce additional payloads, and whichever PTS version is selected will provide “uninterrupted communications even in the presence of sophisticated jamming threats.”

However, scientists and astronomers around the globe are concerned about the,

The Future of Military Satellites:

As the demand for satellite capabilities grows, militaries will begin to rely on alternative means of accessing the services required to conduct operations. One option is to lease capacity on commercial communications satellites to supplement government-owned birds. For instance, SpaceX offers a business line called Starshield, which derives from the Starlink system created for the military. Another possibility is the use of hosted payload arrangements, where a government pays a commercial satellite operator to install a government-developed payload on board a commercially operated satellite. This offers commercial satellite operators extra funding while also providing a means for militaries to decrease their overall expenses.

Moreover, the US Department of Defense is exploring a plan called disaggregation. This involves purchasing larger numbers of smaller, simpler satellites rather than smaller numbers of larger, complex satellites such as Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) and Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) spacecraft. The Pentagon believes that disaggregation will lead to satellite networks that have more redundancy, allowing them to survive an attack, and will reduce development costs and timelines. The rise of small satellites in the commercial market, driven by hardware miniaturization, will further accelerate interest in small disaggregated satellites.


On the Whole:

Satellites have revolutionized military operations by providing crucial services. Military operations across the world depend heavily on satellites to provide essential services such as communication, reconnaissance, navigation, and weather data. The need for satellite capabilities continues to grow, leading to increased space budgets worldwide. The future of military satellites lies in finding a balance between the need for advanced and capable systems and the need for rapid deployment while weighing satellite needs against other equipment requirements. The rise of alternative means of accessing satellite capabilities, such as commercial leasing and hosted payload arrangements, will also help reduce overall costs. The future of the military satellite market looks bright, with stable production forecasts for the next decade.


Published by: Sky Headlines

Have you ever heard of a solar storm? These fascinating and dangerous phenomena occur when the Sun releases a burst of energy in the form of charged particles and electromagnetic radiation into space, which can cause geomagnetic storms on Earth. However, if you are wondering what would happen if a solar storm were to hit Earth, or what it would take for us to reverse its effects, then you are not alone in your curiosity. Moreover, you may have questioned whether solar storms pose any real danger to humanity or if they are merely a misconception. For all your questions, we are here to answer.

First, let’s find out:

What is a Solar Storm?

Solar storms are a fascinating yet dangerous phenomenon that occurs due to the sun’s complex magnetic field. A solar storm is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the Sun releases large amounts of charged particles and electromagnetic radiation into space. A solar storm is a burst of energy emanating from the sun’s surface through charged particles and electromagnetic radiation.

According to atmospheric and space scientist Aaron Ridley of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor: “We understand a little bit about how these solar storms form, but we can’t predict [them] well,”

This continuous stream of particles and radiation is known as the solar wind. However, sometimes the Sun releases more energetic bursts of charged particles called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The sun’s corona rejected these massive clouds of plasma and magnetic fields. They can travel at high speeds toward Earth. When these particles interact with Earth’s magnetic field, they can cause geomagnetic storms.

solar flare
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare on Oct. 2, 2014. Credits: NASA/SDO

Moreover, you should know:

What Happens When a Solar Storm Hits Earth?

When a solar storm occurs, it can send coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and shock waves hurtling toward Earth. These events can create

geomagnetic storms when they interact with the planet’s magnetic field. The storms can trigger auroras or Northern and Southern Lights, which are beautiful natural displays of colorful lights in the sky. However, these charged particles can also cause significant disruptions in electronic systems. Geomagnetic storms can cause disturbances in Earth’s power grids and navigation systems and disrupt radio communication. A massive solar flare that occurred on August 7, 1972, triggered an intense magnetic storm that disrupted radio waves, telecommunication networks, and power systems. While auroras are a stunning sight, the effects of a solar storm hitting Earth can be significant and potentially damaging.

Note: What are Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)?

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are the most potent source of solar storms. The sun’s corona ejected these massive clouds of plasma and magnetic fields. They can travel at speeds of up to 3 million miles per hour. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are large bubbles of plasma from the Sun’s corona, consisting of strong magnetic field lines that are discharged into space over several hours.

coronal mass ejections
This movie, captured by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). It shows two eruptions from the Sun called coronal mass ejections, which blasted charged particles into space on Oct. 28 and 29, 2003.Credits: NASA/ESA

Fortunately, We are safe. However, there is another question that arises:

Do Solar Storms Affect Humans?

The answer is no! However, solar storms do not directly affect human health. They can impact the technology we rely on in our daily lives. Solar storms can affect humans, including disruption of communication and navigation systems, damage to electrical grids, and radiation exposure. When a solar storm hits Earth, it can produce powerful electromagnetic fields that induce electrical currents in power lines and pipelines. It potentially leads to blackouts and infrastructure damage.

Solar radiation storms can also pose a risk to astronauts and airline crew and passengers. As they can be exposed to high levels of radiation. For example, a severe solar storm in 1989 caused a power outage in Quebec that lasted for 12 hours. In today’s increasingly connected world, the effects of such an event would be much more widespread and devastating.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Heliophysics Science Division Associate Director for Science is Alex Young. He says: “We live on a planet with a very thick atmosphere… that stops all of the harmful radiation that is produced in a solar flare”.  Moreover, he says: “Even in the largest events that we’ve seen in the past 10,000 years, we see that the effect is not enough to damage the atmosphere such that we are no longer protected,”

You may not worry if you are wondering:

When is the Next Solar Storm Expected?

Solar storms are a natural phenomenon. The frequency and intensity of solar storms vary based on the sun’s activity cycle, which lasts about 11 years. Currently, we are in a minimum solar phase where the Sun is relatively quiet. And the number of solar storms is low. However, the next solar maximum phase is expected to occur around 2025. During this phase, solar activity is at its highest, and the frequency and intensity of solar storms are likely to increase.

Despite studying the Sun for decades, scientists have yet to determine what causes these storms to erupt or how to predict when the next solar storm will occur. However, NASA has several satellites, including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). It monitors the Sun’s activity and provides warnings of a potential storm. Additionally, ongoing missions like the Parker Solar Probe are collecting data that will help scientists better understand the Sun and its behavior. It leads to more accurate predictions of when the next solar storm may occur.

The AI got us covered with,



How it Works and its Potential Impact!

DAGGER’s developers compared the model’s predictions to measurements made during solar storms in August 2011 and March 2015. At the top, colored dots show measurements made during the 2011 storm. Credits: V. Upendran et al.

The DAGGER model (formally, Deep Learning Geomagnetic Perturbation) is an innovative computer model that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict and quickly identify geomagnetic disturbances or perturbations that could affect our technology. To develop this model, a team of international researchers from the Frontier Development Lab used deep learning AI to recognize patterns between solar wind measurements and geomagnetic perturbations observed at ground stations globally. The team utilized real measurements from heliophysics missions such as ACE, Wind, IMP-8, and Geotail to train the computer and develop the DAGGER model.

Advantages of DAGGER

DAGGER can predict geomagnetic disturbances worldwide 30 minutes before they occur, making it faster and more accurate than previous prediction models. The computer model can provide predictions in less than a second. And the predictions update every minute, providing prompt and precise information for sites globally. The team tested DAGGER against two geomagnetic storms that occurred in August 2011 and March 2015 and found that DAGGER was able to quickly and accurately forecast the storm’s impacts around the world.

Professor Vishal Upendran of India’s Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics. He authored a paper on the DAGGER model for Space Weather. It says: “With this AI, it is now possible to make rapid and accurate global predictions and inform decisions in the event of a solar storm. Thereby minimizing – or even preventing – devastation to modern society,”

Unlike previous models that produced local geomagnetic forecasts for specific locations on Earth or global predictions that weren’t very timely, DAGGER combines the swift analysis of AI with real measurements from space and across the Earth to generate frequently updated predictions that are prompt and precise for sites worldwide. Power grid operators, satellite controllers, and telecommunications companies can adopt the open-source computer code in the DAGGER model and apply the predictions to their specific needs. Such warnings could give them time to take action to protect their assets and infrastructure from an impending solar storm.

With models like DAGGER, there could be solar storm sirens that sound an alarm in power stations and satellite control centers worldwide. Similar to how tornado sirens warn of threatening terrestrial weather in towns and cities across America. The potential impact of the DAGGER model could be significant in mitigating the effects of solar storms on technology and infrastructure.


To Put It All Together:

Solar storms are an unpredictable force of nature that can seriously impact our society. Despite decades of research, scientists still cannot predict when the next solar storm will occur. However, the DAGGER model developed by NASA provides advanced warnings of impending solar storms. It gives organizations time to take necessary precautions. This development highlights the potential of AI in space weather forecasting and its critical role in mitigating the impact of natural disasters on our technology-dependent world.


Published by: Sky Headlines

Both COWVR and TEMPEST show that smaller, less expensive scientific instruments can contribute significantly to weather forecasting. NASA creates a pair of weather instruments. The purpose of the instruments was to evaluate the possibility of using small and affordable weather sensors to replace some of the larger, more expensive satellites. During their test phases, both devices perform very well. They are currently providing accurate forecasts for the most destructive storms and tropical cyclones.

Mission to record wind speed and direction!

In late 2021, the Compact Ocean Wind Vector Radiometer (COWVR) and the Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems (TEMPEST) were sent to the International Space Station. The purpose is to record wind speed and direction at the ocean’s surface and atmospheric water vapor. The United States Space Force supported the development of both weather sensors through the Space Test Program-Houston 8 (STP-H8), a three-year demonstration mission. The TEMPEST spacecraft was originally constructed by NASA as a flight spare for a different mission but was later converted by Space Force for use in STP-H8.

The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center uses the imagery from the data. The imagery helps in tracking the intensity and location of typhoons and cyclones in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Moreover, the images taken by the COWVR and TEMPEST play a significant role in the forecast of an intense typhoon in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This helped to locate the main region of Tropical Cyclone Mandous, which roiled the Bay of Bengal off southern India in December 2022.

NASA Creates weather sensors with dynamic abilities!
Credits: U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center/U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Naval Research Laboratory!

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is located in Monterey, California. NRL has been collaborating with NASA to calibrate and validate the COWVR and TEMPEST data. For several months, the NRL has been providing images based on this data to the center. The director of the institute, Brian Strahl, says that storm forecasters have been using these images from weather sensors to test how they influence predictions. The NRL images are also being compared to other sources of data.

The center has the responsibility to monitor tropical cyclones. The monitoring area covers the region between the east coast of Africa and the west coast of the Americas. To effectively perform this task, the center requires accurate and regularly updated data. This data includes information about the storm’s structure, position, wind speed, and humidity.

Brian Strahl explains: “It’s challenging outside of the continental U.S. – where you don’t have weather aircraft routinely flying – to give a really good ground truth of where these storms are, so we’re reliant on satellites,”. Moreover said. “Any new additions of good quality data, which we believe these are, can be very useful.”

Features – Low-cost and small in size!

COWVR and TEMPEST are capable of measuring microwave emissions from Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The information obtained from these scans is more comprehensive than what can be obtained from infrared or visible light. This allows forecasters to see inside a tropical cyclone and locate its eye, even if clouds hide it.

Prior to the mission’s launch, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) began considering the development of the next generation of weather sensors. These sensors would replace instruments such as WindSat, a DoD weather radiometer that is scheduled for decommissioning in 2020.

The Jason Series!

NASA’s Jason series of ocean-observing satellites inspired the incorporation of technology and concepts created at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory into COWVR. Jason’s measurements of sea level had to be adjusted by scientists for the effects of humidity in the air. COWVR centers on water vapor and its motion.

Spinning dishes allow larger weather sensors to cover a wider area than would be possible with a stationary sensor. COWVR is similar to other instruments in that it uses a rotating dish, but JPL engineers were able to streamline the instrument’s design to reduce its energy consumption without sacrificing its capabilities.

The appliance is about the size of a standard mini-fridge and draws about as much power (47 watts) to operate as one. In contrast, WindSat required 350 watts of power and weighed 990 pounds (450 kilograms). Compared to WindSat’s budget of $80 million, COWVR’s design and construction cost a mere $24 million.

The TEMPEST spacecraft was a spare from the 2018 NASA TEMPEST-D mission. It is about the size of a cereal box, with a budget of less than $2 million, weighs around 8 pounds (4 kilograms), and requires about 6.5 watts of power. Researchers from Colorado State University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Blue Canyon Technologies collaborated on a CubeSat demonstration called TEMPEST-D.

Shannon Brown is the Principal investigator for COWVR at JPL. He explained: “NASA developed these instruments to be compact and simple, without many moving parts, and using technology that has matured over the decades,” Moreover, he said: “We are now seeing that instruments like that can perform as well as the more expensive operational sensors.”

NASA is actively considering incorporating information that COWVR and TEMPEST gather, along with other similar small satellites, into its weather survey, in addition to data from STP-H8.

What comes next?

The U.S. National Hurricane Center receives the information from COWVR and TEMPEST, where forecasters have begun analyzing the data. The images obtained from COWVR are helpful. However, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center wants to investigate further. They want to determine if the wind speed and direction data from COWVR can improve the accuracy of tropical cyclone predictions.The U.S. Navy’s global numerical weather models rely on data from both COWVR and TEMPEST. Hence, the Naval Research Laboratory continuously analyzes the raw data collected by these two programs.

NRL’s lead for calibration and validation of data Steve Swadley from spaceborne microwave weather sensors says: “These are critical behind-the-scenes efforts that enable us to feel confident using measurements from these new instruments,”. Moreover, he said: “So far, it looks good, so that’s exciting.”


Published by: Sky Headlines