The Pioneer Anomaly.
Something's up in deep space: the Pioneer spacecraft
, now out of contact, have shown an unexplained Doppler drift, indicating sunward acceleration, effectively decelerating the probes cumulatively. The effect may be be nongravitational, and could be explained by any number of factors: an undiscovered twist in Newtonian physics, localized cosmological contraction issues, or just venting gas. Other deep space probes may have experienced the anomaly as well, and a new mission could explore the puzzle
; but for now, all we have is past Pioneer data, and that's stored on old 9 track tape
which can only be read by antique readers. What's to be done? (Also see Pioneer Odyssey
for a nostalgic romp through those early days of deep space exploration. And NASA, bring back the original Pioneer home page
posted by brownpau
on Jun 13, 2005 -
is an interesting JAVA web-app offered by NASA which gives a 3D interactive display of over 500 satellites currently orbiting the Earth.
posted by numlok
on Feb 16, 2005 -
Thanks to Yahoo's video search
, I've spent the morning thrilling to movies from Nasa's earlier space programs.
Ed White does the first american spacewalk
, the crew of apollo 8 sends out a christmas message
(wonder how that would play these days), Neil Armstrong goes for a walk
, Buzz Aldrin gives a science lesson
, John Young goes muddin'
, Apollo 17 lifts off from the moon
. Galileo gets his due
via Apollo 15, as does Kubrick
, via Skylab
all this makes the Challenger explosion
just incredibly sad.
Though I still don't know why searching for apollo 8 turned up gay porn
and I don't wanna know.
What is really interesting though, is watching this Apollo 17 astronaut work on the moon
. His body is moving in all sorts of subtle ways that highlight how odd it must be to work in lower gravity
posted by Brandon Blatcher
on Jan 9, 2005 -
NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory recently detected
[reg required] the largest explosion ever detected in the universe: an eruption releasing the energy of hundreds of millions of gamma ray bursts
. Just to put it in perspective, a single GRB
releases enough radiation to wipe out
just about everything human beings would require for survival in a 1000 light year radius. (The Milky Way spans ~100,000 light years, while the United Federation of Planets
spans about 8,000). Arthur C. Clarke has gone so far as suggesting that GRBs might be one of the reasons for Extra-Terrestrial silence: Gamma Ray Bursts
are so large and inescapable, a single one would wipe out even an enormous galactic empire. Makes killer asteroids
seem downright quaint
posted by absalom
on Jan 8, 2005 -
Move over X-Prize
- in order to win the next big space prize($50 million) one will have to build a spacecraft capable of taking a crew of no fewer than five people to an altitude of 400 kilometers and complete two orbits of the Earth at that altitude. Then they have to repeat that accomplishment within 60 days.
posted by sourbrew
on Nov 8, 2004 -
"Standard orbit, aye, sir."
Following a nail-biting ring-plane crossing and 96-minute engine burn, Cassini has arrived
, and is now in orbit around Saturn, 84 light-minutes away, sending in the first closeup pictures of the planet's rings
. Also see the Planetary Society's details on the Orbit Insertion
, Spaceflight Now's mission updates in weblog-like format
, and raw images from the spacecraft
as they come. Kudos, JPL! (Aside: the press has yet to tire of Lord of the Rings
posted by brownpau
on Jul 1, 2004 -
With all this talk of wars in distant countries, it's easy to forget that there's exciting things going on just 300 million km from your back porch. NASA has provided 90 second videos of the first 90 sols of the Spirit
[5MB .mov] and Opportunity
rovers [5MB .mov].
posted by fatbobsmith
on May 18, 2004 -
Mars Rover Blog
, move over: SpiritRover
are on Livejournal, along with Pathfinder(ess)
, Voyager 1
, and the Planet Mars Himself
. (Educational. Sort of. And very LJ. Very, very
posted by brownpau
on Apr 2, 2004 -
Life on Mars? Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign of present-day life on Mars. It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft. Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished. There are two possible ways to do this. Either active volcanoes, but none have yet been found on Mars, or microbes
. The Independent has it as Methane find on Mars may be sign of life
. The second group to detect signals of methane in the Martian atmosphere is led by Michael Mumma of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, who used powerful spectroscopic telescopes based on Earth. This team is even believed to have detected variations in the concentrations of methane, with a peak coming from the ancient Martian seabed of Meridiani Planum, which is being explored by a Nasa rover. This could indicate a subterranean source of methane which is pumping out the gas, either due to some residual geological activity or because of the presence of living organisms producing it as a waste gas. Asked whether the continual production of methane is strong evidence of a biological origin of the gas, Dr Mumma said: "I think it is, myself personally." As to how...
posted by y2karl
on Mar 28, 2004 -
To the moon, Alice! (And then, on to Mars)
Time will tell whether this declaration will lead to an actual rebirth of NASA and realignment of goals for the agency. But I for one am absolutely thrilled that Bush is planning to give NASA a long-overdue new mission and goal. Avoiding the obvious pro/con debate of doing this (or the cost), I think it's absolutely vital to the national psyche for the United States to have a long-range goal that it can focus positive energy upon. This could be the first real "Challenge to the Union" that I think should become an annual event to replace the State of the Union.
posted by tgrundke
on Jan 9, 2004 -
Mars, take II
- Still no word from Beagle 2
), unfortunately, as Mars maintains its tough reputation. However, the first of two rovers much larger than 1997's very successful Pathfinder is expected to hit the Martian surface with a giant bounce tonight at 8:35 p.m. PST. Check out the realistic simulation videos
of how it will land and get to work, then watch Nasa TV
(RealVideo) for live coverage.
posted by planetkyoto
on Jan 3, 2004 -
In about 24 hours, the Beagle 2 lander
will descend to the surface of Mars, courtesy of the European Space Agency. After a few mighty bounces, encased in a giant rubber ball, the lander will open up and allow its instrument payload to start sampling the surface.
This is the first in a trifecta of landers
destined for Mars during the next month. NASA's landers
, Spirit and Opportunity
, land on January 3rd and January 24th.
posted by warhol
on Dec 23, 2003 -
Far, far away.
Today, Voyager 1 will reach 90 AU
from the sun, around which distance it is expected to cross the "termination shock," finally crossing into the fuzzy boundary between the heliosphere
and true interstellar
space. (Yes, it's taken that long
to get there.) Some even think that the termination shock has already been reached
, but then re-expanded past the spacecraft. Tears need not be shed yet for these distant explorers: both Voyagers have juice
till about 2020, and the mission remains very much alive.
(No word, however, on a possible return to the Creator
posted by brownpau
on Nov 5, 2003 -
The largest solar flare of the current solar cycle
shot off the sun earlier today. After the media latched on to what was predicted to be mostly a non-event last week (probably due to a NASA article released around the same time about a super spacestorm
) , it's not making as much news this time. But you should pay attention this time
. This could be the best and last chance for a lot of us farther south to see some auroras before the sun dives into solar minimum, assuming all the variables line up
correctly this time. I recommend watching the Solar Terrestrial Dispatch
, as it is a great all around resource for solar activity and auroras that includes live data and sightings reports by the general public. Unfortunately though, no doubt as word IS spreading, that site is being hammered again and may be quite slow.
posted by yupislyr
on Oct 28, 2003 -
NASA's Official 'Galileo Dies' Page.
Galileo is set to crash into Jupiter on Sunday. Responsible for many great images
and tons of information, Galileo served well. Find a complete history of the Galileo mission here
. Also, don't forget to watch the End of Mission webcast this Sunday at approx. 2 PM EST here
posted by Ufez Jones
on Sep 16, 2003 -
Asteroid orbits Enter the designation or name of any asteroid or comet, and a 3D orbit visualization tool will appear for that object
If Chicken Little had this link he might have calmed down a little. Or not...Find out if your favorite asteroid is about to rock your world.
posted by konolia
on Sep 2, 2003 -
"These are good people"...but changes must be made. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board final report was released on Tuesday.
Putting technical answers aside for the moment, the report targets the organizational
and behavioral issues
that led to a breakdown in communication, safety and responsibility. While acknowledging the good will at NASA, the report holds no illusions that changing this culture will be very difficult and very necessary in order to return to flight. What types of management/behavioral obstacles have you encountered in home, work, school or social organizations? How did you try to effect change and what obstacles did you encounter in an effort to make it more effective, safe, productive or enjoyable?
posted by tgrundke
on Aug 28, 2003 -
Lego Astrobots Blog From Mars Rovers
- The Planetary Society has teamed with NASA to "man" it's two Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft with Lego "Astrobots." The bots, Biff Starling and Sandy Moondust, are blogging their adventure
"to allow kids to vicariously experience life in space, from launch, through the six-month space cruise, to landing and roving on the Martian surface."
posted by tpl1212
on Jun 13, 2003 -
NASA scientists want to know what the pristine inside of a comet looks like. What better way, then, than by blowing a 25-meter crater in one? Comet Tempel 1
, to be specific. Even better, send them your name
and they'll put it on a disc attached to the impactor spacecraft, which will be launched on December 30, 2004. It'll hit on the 4th of July, 2005.
posted by gottabefunky
on May 13, 2003 -
I drink my tea with chopsticks.
At least, I would if I lived in outer space. Cool movie (achtung: Quicktime) from the international space station showing the effects of surface tension in the absence of gravity. I wonder if any of us will ever live long enough to experience this in person?
posted by jonson
on Apr 9, 2003 -
Orbiter - A Free Space Flight Simulator
Starving for a high realism space simulator ever since Microsoft's Space Simulator was discontinued? Look no further than Orbiter, a free realistic space simulator written and maintained by Dr. Martin Schweiger. How realistic? You might want to start off by consulting NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Basics Of Space Flight
to get you grounded so to speak. This is a free, non-commercial simulator that uses accurate math and orbital physics (more or less) to try to model space flight. However hard it may appear, after orbiting Earth with the high-res (8192x4096) mod-pack installed, or sitting on the launch pad with the seamless OrbiterSound 2.1b
sound environment installed, you will be well rewarded for reading the manual and participating in the dance of the heavens. (Even if all you want to do is fly around the solar system!)
posted by Tystnaden
on Mar 22, 2003 -