Australian universities joined a European fleet of CubeSats to explore a
little-known layer of the atmosphere.
In May 2017, the European Union led a mission called QB50 to
launch a constellation of 50 mini-satellites from the International Space
Station. The pocket-sized CubeSats set out to study the thermosphere, the layer
of Earth’s atmosphere between 90 and 600 kilometres above the ground that
carries signals from GPS and other satellites.
A passenger jet could one day fly halfway around the world
in just a few hours. That’s the goal of the High-speed Experimental Fly project
(HEXAFLY): going beyond the supersonic realm pioneered by the now-defunct
Concorde to reach hypersonic speeds more than five times as fast as sound.
The Copernicus Earth-observation program delivers a steady stream of
information about how the planet changes from day to day.
Run by the European Commission and the European Space
Agency, Copernicus uses satellites called Sentinels that continuously monitor
Earth from space and tools on the ground for calibration and cross-checking.