A satellite that predicts natural disasters, a self-charging drone, the “Super Moon”, a flying car and the oldest female astronaut in space. A global look that the past month’s events in aviation world
A forecasting revolution: the GOES-R (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R Series) satellite launched by NASA and manufactured by “Lockheed Martin” was designed to provide unprecedented high-res imagery and information gathering. These advanced systems will help up predict natural disaster and forecast weather far more accurately.
The new satellite is part of an $11B effort to take the next step forward in forecasting and will provide unprecedented functions alongside existing functions of a much higher quality such as a first of its kind lightning mapper. Stephen Volz, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) director for satellites said that the GOES-R represents “a quantum leap above any satellite NOAA has ever flown”.
“If we can give people another 10, 15, 20 minutes (in the case of tornadoes) we’re talking about lives being saved.” he added. In addition, the new satellite will help monitor solar flares, volcanic ash clouds, wildfires and more.
Even though there are drones that can fly autonomously, an operator is still required to change and charge batteries. “Skysense” has created a commercial-grade drone charging station that can change all of that. “Skysense is enabling drone deployments with minimal human intervention through automatic charging and deployment-oriented software services,” says Andrea Pulatti, CEO of Skysense.
The charging station operates on direct-contact technology, when the UAV’s battery nears depletion, it autonomously flies to the pad and begin recharging the moment it touches down “If keeping downtime to an absolute minimum is vital, battery-swapping stations are being prototyped that can swap in a precharged pack”, he says. “However, this speed is achieved by sacrificing reliability, as they are mechanical devices with lots of moving parts”.
The “Super Moon” phenomenon, is the coincidence of a full moon that coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth and causes it to seem 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter. This month, millions of people around the world climbed up to the highest point they could reach and tried to get a glimpse of the curious occurrence.
It is difficult to notice the change in size with a naked eye, while the heightened brightness is clear. The November “Super Moon” is only one of three in 2016 – the first was on October 16, the second on November 14 and the last will occur on December 14. Nevertheless, this month’s super moon was the rarest and most important one of all. The closest the moon comes to earth is 356,509 km, as opposed to 406,000 km at its farthest. According to NASA, such a close encounter will reoccur only on November 2034.
Photography: Amit Shabi
The Flying Taxi
A first prototype of a commercial flying car will be built and tested by the end of 2017 as part of the Airbus Group’s ambitious “Vahana” project. The initial tests that began this month are expected to be concluded in late 2017, with the vehicle’s first test flight.
The model is powered by eight rotors and two wings and can hold a single passenger positioned under a flyable dome. “I’m no big fan of Star Wars, but it’s not crazy to imagine that one day our big cities will have flying cars making their way along roads in the sky”, said Tom Enders, Airbus Group CEO. “In a not too distant future, we’ll use our smartphones to book a fully automated flying taxi that will land outside our front door – without any pilot”, he concludes.
The Oldest Woman in Space
NASA has announced that three new astronauts have joined the ISS (International Space Station) following a successful launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The head of the new mission is Peggy Whitson, American Astronaut and Biochemist.
Whitson (56) who recently begun her third space mission, is the oldest member of her team and has spent over 376 days in space – the most by any women. In doing so she has become the oldest woman in space, breaking the former record (55).