"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 -
ISS-Jupiter Transit tonight.
Notable space station flyover tonight for you skywatching East Coasters: the ISS will pass quite close to Jupiter, and some of you lucky ones [coordinates
] will even see the station briefly eclipse the planet. (Side note: Remember those days when everyone was using its radio call sign "Alpha?"
Now the media just say "space station." Sigh.) East Coast, 9:30pm, I'll be outside, looking up.
posted by brownpau
on May 13, 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 -
Meanwhile, on Mars, The Spirit rover has reached Bonneville Crater, a primary mission objective, and snapped photos of the far side of the crater rim with its navcam. But what is that glint to the left side?
posted by brownpau
on Mar 11, 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 -
The most accurate navigation in history
. "We had to know everything from how the iron molten lava in the center of the Earth was churning to how plate tectonic movements were affecting the wobble of the Earth to how the plasma in the atmosphere delayed the radio signals to and from the Deep Space Network stations". ..even the seemingly insignificant solar radiation pressure and thermal radiation forces acting on the spacecraft to a level equal to less than a billionth of the acceleration of gravity one feels on the Earth needed to be taken into account. This mission set a new standard for navigation accuracy for all future interplanetary missions.
posted by stbalbach
on Jan 4, 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 -
The Best of Hubble
Its mission will end in 2010. Four years later it will re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. Many astronomers are calling for Hubble to be refurbished
and its mission extended to 2020. Here
are some of it's best pictures.
posted by reverendX
on Dec 10, 2003 -
ET Could Hack SETI. SETI
, which uses down time on the computers of thousands of volunteers to search for intelligent signals from space, has a potential problem—besides information, a broadcast to us from an alien intelligence could also carry a computer virus. Leonard David
writes in the main link's space.com article that physicist Richard Carrigan (who works here
) takes it seriously. He thinks SETI should figure out how to decontaminate any signals it receives.
posted by jasonspaceman
on Nov 24, 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 -
ESA astronaut, Pedro Duque writes
"I am writing these notes in the Soyuz with a cheap ballpoint pen. Why is that important? As it happens, I've been working in space programmes for seventeen years, eleven of these as an astronaut, and I've always believed, because that is what I've always been told, that normal ballpoint pens don't work in space... and here I am, it doesn't stop working and it doesn't 'spit' or anything. Sometimes being too cautious keeps you from trying, and therefore things are built more complex than necessary." From Snopes
: Fisher spent over one million dollars in trying to perfect the ball point pen before he made his first successful pressurized pens
in 1965, which NASA uses. [via GearBits]
posted by riffola
on Nov 4, 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 -
Breathtaking Hubble picture
of the Sombrero Galaxy (also identified as M104). The Hubble Heritage team took the original images during May and June of this year using the Advanced Camera for Surveys and multiple color filters. They then stitched 6 images together to make the final composite image.
posted by Irontom
on Oct 10, 2003 -
An Elevator to the Stars.
The paper of record claims this isn't science fiction, but do we really believe that in ten years we'll be able to build a 60,000 mile long cable capable of supporting 13 ton cargo loads? Would you trust this to take you into asynchronous orbit? (Or maybe you just want to make like Joe Kittinger and jump out at 100,000 feet
posted by alms
on Sep 23, 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 -