Leah Beeferman

Monitoring the architecture of science: a studious, imaginative investigation of space-bound and land-based far-traveling and distant-looking orbiting and non-orbiting structures

an ongoing weekly project distributed by e-mail running from February 2009 to February 2010.


NASA announces twenty-four hour-long potential launch windows for its new Solar Dynamics Observatory – a spacecraft designed to study the sun’s atmosphere simultaneously over a range of wavelengths in “small scales of space and time”

NASA’s Kepler telescope has located five new Jupiter-sized exoplanets – named Kepler 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B and 8B – which orbit their respective stars once every 3.2, 3.5, 3.2, 4.9 and 3.5 Earth days; also found are two “hot companions,” mysterious objects each circling its own star and measuring temperatures of 26,000ºF

NASA’s Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor Satellite (ACRIMSAT) enters its tenth year of monitoring the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth, discovering ties to global warming

On December 29, 2009, NASA plans to “pop off” the lens cap on its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft, currently covering the mechanisms keeping the craft cold – including its coldest detector, now at an internal temperature of less than -447º F

As of November 17, 2009, the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite has completed 60 percent of its first of two all-sky surveys

The Cassini spacecraft, orbiting within the Saturn system since 2004, took images in July 2009 revealing significant periodical brightness variation in the planet’s rings; these variations, potentially caused by a collision with comet or asteroid in the 1980s, are characterized by “rippled” or “corrugated” areas that extend for up to 11,000 miles

On November 13, 2009, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft made its third and final swing-by of Earth, using Earth’s gravity to propel it towards its future destinations: a “close encounter” with asteroid 21 Lutetia in July 2010 and its approach to – and landing on – the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet in mid-2014

In the past week, NASA has begun the process of relocating TDRS-1 – a newly retired 25+ year-old tracking and communications satellite – from its geosynchronous orbit to an orbit 300km (136mi) higher, one referred to as “supersynchronous orbit” and “graveyard orbit”

NASA’s interstellar boundary explorer (IBEX) has recently completed the first all-sky map of the heliosphere – a huge “bubble” of magnetism surrounding the solar system – which reveals a previously unknown bright “ribbon”, glowing not from light but from its source particles

Observations made by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft showing the presence of water molecules in the polar regions of the moon have been confirmed by two other spacecraft, NASA’s Cassini and Epoxi; while the amounts of water were larger than predicted, levels are still extremely small

Collaborative data collection by the Centre Nationale D’Etudes Spatiales’ (CNES) COROT satellite and the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph at the La Silva Observatory in Chile suggests the size and speed of Corot 7B, the fastest-orbiting known exoplanet

With new software loaded onto a computer aboard the International Space Station, “Interplanetary Internet” becomes a reality – revolutionizing communication between Earth and instruments flying in space

A GPS satellite, launched in March 2009, remains out of service due to technical problems: signal distortions that render navigation measurements slightly inaccurate and thus unreliable

On June 29, 2009 at 11:45 GMT, one of NOAA’s eastern Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) documents the water vapor winds over the southern hemisphere – an ongoing image-taking process repeatedly performed every six hours

On June 17 2009, NASA plans to launch its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a satellite programmed to maintain a polar orbit of the moon that will enable it to fly over dozens of past lunar landing sites – U.S. and Soviet, robotic and human – to investigate the effects of lunar time on the hardware left behind

As of 3:11pm PST on May 15 2009, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has run out of coolant – the liquid helium keeping its instruments cool – and entered its next phase of exploration: the so-called ‘warm mission

Using its Moderate Resolution Spectrometer (MODIS), NASA’s AQUA satellite detects fluorescent red light emitted from Earth’s ocean photoplankton providing valuable data on the health of the oceans and the plant life within

Cassini, NASA’s spacecraft orbiting and studying the Saturn System, makes a flyby of Titan – Saturn’s largest moon – on May 21 2009 to investigate Titan’s southern hemisphere dune field, referred to as ‘Shangri-La

On May 16, 2009, the Hubble Space Telescope’s 800lb COSTAR corrective optics package – installed in orbit in 1993 to compensate for the spherical aberration in the telescope’s primary mirror – was removed and replaced with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), an instrument designed to study interstellar medium, the space between stars, and the space between galaxies

NASA’s SWIFT satellite – a multi-wavelength space-based observatory making observations about gamma-ray burst (GRB) science – records the x-ray afterglow of an event called GRB090423, the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen

TACSAT3, an experimental tactical satellite designed by the US Military towards integrating low-cost space technology onto “tactical battlefields”, is set to launch around 8PM on Tuesday, May 5, from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia

Locating the production sites of the industrial team responsible for designing and building the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, the largest ever infrared space observatory at the time of its launch, May 6 2009, part 2 of 2

Locating the production sites of the industrial team responsible for designing and building the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, the largest ever infrared space observatory at the time of its launch later in 2009, part 1 of 2

The Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) – a pair of nearly identical space-based observatories, one ahead of the earth in its orbit, the other behind – continues beyond its two year mission to observe and document the sun and its coronal mass ejections (CMEs), powerful eruptions spewing up to 10 million tons of the sun’s atmosphere into interplanetary space at speeds up to 1 million miles per hour

By analyzing data from optical satellite instruments such as ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) – an imaging device flying on the Terra satellite launched in 1999 – GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurements from Space) monitors over 52,000 of Earth’s glaciers

Diagramming Earth’s orbits: An investigation prompted by NASA’s NOAA-N Prime weather satellite reaching its polar orbit (2/6/09); the proliferation of orbital debris as two satellites collide in Low Earth Orbit (2/18/09); NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory’s failure to make orbit (2/24/09); and two launches – by Norway and Canada respectively – of new communications satellites into geostationary orbit (Thor 5, 2/11/09 and Telstar 11N, 2/26/09)

Celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s 102,716.58th orbit around the Earth, February 10 2009, 7:42AM