The silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun.
May 8, 2021 3:44 PM   Subscribe

This week in humanity's exploration of the solar system. Let's start at the center. The Parker Solar Probe set two new records as the fastest object ever made by humanity (330,000 miles per hour, 532,000 km/h) and the closest any spacecraft has gotten to the sun (6.5 million miles, 10.4 million km). Back on Earth, scholars published research into Venusian data Parker caught when it last hurtled past that planet (previously).

Speaking of Earth, China launched Tianhe (天和), the core module of the Tiangong Space Station (天宫). More missions are scheduled. But first the Long March 5 (长征五号) rocket is falling to Earth. Also on and near Earth's surface, the SpaceX Starship SN15 successfully launched, hovered, and landed without exploding (video). Meanwhile, Blue Origin hopes to launch a crewed New Shepherd craft this summer. Up in orbit, the ISS is getting ready for a privately funded visitor.

On Earth's Moon, the Yutu-2 rover is apparently still functional. (Previously)

A bit further out from the sun, 287,024,219 kilometers or 178,348,581 miles from Earth, the OSIRIS-REx probe, having finished its last study of an asteroid and having "discover[ed] the extent of the mess it made on asteroid Bennu’s surface during last fall’s sample collection event," is about to break orbit and commence a two+ year return trip to Earth. At the same time Hayabusa-2, 107,270,649 kilometers or 66,654,891 miles from Earth, makes its way to fly past another asteroid, (98943) 2001 CC21, five years from now. (previously)

On Mars, the Ingenuity helicopter flew off to establish a new base of operations, while also sharing some sounds. The Tianwen-1 (天問) orbiter will attempt to land its newly named Zhurong (祝融) rover on the Martian surface later this month. (Previously)

Farther out still, Juno keeps orbiting Jupiter, years beyond its expected lifetime. (Previously)
posted by doctornemo (11 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
While the post title is meant, I'm sure, to refer to Yeats, for me it brings to mind this album, which could be considered spacey as well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:14 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I had that album! Go Morton.
posted by sammyo at 4:25 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


The newspersons panic reports of the imminent dire crashing of the Long March second stage is just so annoyingly ignorant (omg eighteen thousand miles per hours) which is the normal speed of anything up there, sheesh.

(I mean really if none, and I mean no national news person, can have a basic understanding of something that's been done regularly for 50+ years, in the news, how much can we expect on any other actually complex ambiguous topic, another sheesh and do not want a derail in this thread, thanks)

There is certainly room to critique the Chinese space program decisions but just poor reporting about the giant flaming crash tonight. Most likely in an ocean, in the dark.
posted by sammyo at 4:37 PM on May 8


Likely in the dark, probably somewhere near the Mediterranean at last calculation.

On another topic, Starship didn't hover, it launched itself to 20km, belly flopped like a skydiver 19.5km back down, then relit its engines and landed.
posted by wierdo at 5:25 PM on May 8


(CheeseDigestsAll, the title refers to Ray Bradbury's use of those lines in his short story about a solar expedition, "Golden Apples of the Sun")
posted by doctornemo at 5:25 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


Space exploration is awesome...

Even given that we don't have long enough lifespans to see the end results.
posted by Windopaene at 7:46 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


x37b51720-unkn.
SSPIDR
seeds.
What's that thing doing up there.
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


By way of comparison: 532,000 km/h is 147 kilometers per second... incredibly fast, but only 0.0005% of the speed of light. Moving that rate it would take the probe 8000 years to reach Proxima Centauri: about as long as the construction of Göbekli Tepe until now.

Fantastic post, doctornemo: I look forward to exploring this.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:46 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


147 kilometers per second... incredibly fast, but only 0.0005% of the speed of light.

Tiny nitpick, 147 k/s is 0.0005 of the speed of light, which is 0.05%, not 0.0005%.
posted by xigxag at 1:11 AM on May 9


The newspersons panic reports of the imminent dire crashing of the Long March second stage is just so annoyingly ignorant (omg eighteen thousand miles per hours) which is the normal speed of anything up there, sheesh.

The thing that makes it notable is it being out of control and also bigger than anything that's fallen out of orbit since 1991. Not as big as Skylab, though.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:55 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The newspersons panic reports of the imminent dire crashing of the Long March second stage is just so annoyingly ignorant (omg eighteen thousand miles per hours) which is the normal speed of anything up there, sheesh.

Here in Ontario, our premier Doug Ford’s slapdash COVID response has lately included shutting down all golfing. If the booster lands on an Ontario golf course, he will look like a genius.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:55 AM on May 9


« Older What if our enemies know us better than we know...   |   Out There I Have to Smile Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments