Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Vostok 6 and the first woman in space: Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.
Tereschkova orbited the Earth 48 times over almost three days and she logged more flight time than the combined flight times of all American astronauts before that date. It is doubtful if the time in space was in part a bit of intended one-upmanship, however there can be no question she certainly did her part in developing a very robust space program.
Her call sign for the flight was Chaika, which translates to Seagull and was later given the honor of having an asteroid named 1671 Chaika
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra Satellite provides a great planning tool for fighthing fires like this.
It sounds like the fire fighters are starting to get a handle of sorts on this one according to the Denver Post. I sure hope so.
From NASA click for the original and a larger image:
The Royal Gorge fire which began on June 11 has now consumed 3,100 acres. Twenty structures have been lost, however, the Royal Gorge Bridge is intact. This fire continues to burn west of Canon City in piñon and juniper forests.
“We have made good progress on the fire today without any accidents or injuries thanks in large part to our many partners”, said Dennis Page, Incident Commander for the Royal Gorge Fire. Crews from Canon City, Fremont County, and the State of Colorado are working alongside firefighters from the BLM and U.S. Forest Service.
Some challenges firefighters will face today (June 13) include a Red Flag Weather Warning (hot, dry conditions with winds), downed power lines, and active fire moving in stands of beetle killed trees.
The Black Forest fire started Tuesday, June 12, and has already grown to 8500 acres. It is located one mile west of Black Forest, CO in El Paso County. According to the El Paso Sheriff’s Office, 92 homes have already been declared a complete loss but others were seen burning even as that count was prepared for release. Since this fire is in what is essentially a residential area, the evacuation area is quite large.
“The fire has now doubled back. Properties that we identified as standing are now engulfed in flames, so the count and the numbers are changing as I speak,” said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa during a 5 p.m. fire update yesterday.
Maketa said the fire’s official acreage was still 8,500 but is expected to increase to 11,000 or 12,000 acres when better mapping is completed. “The possibilities for this fire to continue to spread are extreme,” he said.
Up to 487 firefighters are battling the blaze, including personnel from 28 local fire districts. They are backed by 112 law enforcement officers from eight law enforcement agencies, including Denver. Colorado National Guard and Fort Carson soldiers are also being dispatched to help.
The structure of the faint D ring has always been elusive and I have to confess, for me it still it. I need to do what the JPL Cassini site suggest by way of the title and give it A Long, Hard Stare.
Here’s the caption from the JPL site:
Saturn’s D ring may be faint and difficult to observe, but it rewards our patience. In this image, the Cassini spacecraft has captured some of the structure of the tenuous ring, appearing here as light/dark banding in the upper-right of the image. (The brightest ring material, in the lower-left here, is the C ring.) This banding, which is distinct from the vertical warping pattern Cassini scientists are monitoring (see A Twisted Tale), remains something of a mystery to scientists.
The vertical lines in this image are the tracks of stars. The D ring is so faint that long exposures are required to capture it and during the imaging the stars appear to move significantly due to the spacecraft’s motion.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 8 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 2, 2013.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 317,000 miles (510,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 147 degrees. Image scale is 2 miles (3 kilometers) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Dry Ice Snowboards on Mars
I saw this title on the Science@NASA site, I was a little skeptical.
Not anymore, below is a video from that article on Science@NASA, pay it a visit if you have few extra minutes.
Here’s the video:
Boy, now I have just got to try this. Next time I have dry ice I’m going to try it. I’ve introduced and watched dry ice in a variety of environments: dry, damp, flooded, hot cold etc. I’m up for it .
You have no doubt heard of freezing things in liquid nitrogen I’m sure. I’ve not done that but I have had the fortune to be able so freeze bits of stuff in liquid oxygen a few times. LOL, no I’m not kidding, it’s true. I have a LOX system here and on rare occasions a valve on a tank will start to seep so I could collect up some liquid. It’s a pretty dangerous thing really, I’ve been cold burned (not badly) from a valve handle that was frozen open and I wasn’t using a glove at first. You only do that once the cold is amazing.
No I do not recommend doing anything of the sort with liquid gasses, don’t do it!
Another great colloboration for astronomical research, this between the ESO, Chandra and NuSTAR. The Sculptor is a great target for such things AND it is a great backyard target too.
The press release from JPL (click to get larger versions of the image)
The Sculptor galaxy is seen in a new light, in this composite image from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Visible data from the European Space Observatory show the backbone of the galaxy made up of stars, while NuSTAR data, which appear as colored blobs, show high-energy X-rays. The NuSTAR observations are the sharpest ever taken of this galaxy in high-energy X-rays.
The findings, when combined with those from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, suggest that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Sculptor galaxy, also known as NGC 253, has dozed off, or gone inactive, sometime in the past decade. Future observations from both telescopes should help address this mystery.
There is a so-called interface layer in the Sun’s atmosphere between the photoshphere and corona that is very difficult to study. Mostly this is due to the lack of tools and that is about to change with the The Interface Region Imaging Spectorgraph mission – IRIS.
The mission is going to trace the flow of energy and plasma through the chromoshpere and the transition region into the corona. We do know a fair amount about parts of the Sun’s atmosphere and lack knowlege in others. This interface region is such an area.
IRIS has the capability, along with the latest in 3D modeling to answer some fundamental questions and give insight into the understanding of energy transport into the corona and solar winds and perhaps give us enough knowledge to serve as a prototype for all stars.
The Interface Region Imaging Spectorgraph mission is set to launch on June 26, 2013 from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California.
If you live in the shaded area depticted in the map above you might be lucky enough to see a rather rare meteor shower called gamma Delphinids. gamma Delphinus being the radiant hence the name.
Or not. Let me explain, on June 11, 1930 a flurry of meteor activity was seen in Maryland and reported by three observers from the American Meteor Society. The whole shower lasted only 30 minutes. No other reports of meteors are recorded for that night – anywhere. Why? I can’t say for sure, one thing could be there was a full moon (99.5 percent illumination) that night in so it was bright reducing visiblity. Another factor could be June 11, 1930 was on a Wednesday, considering the finacial turmoil going on, the people with jobs were meaning to keep them and were more worried about keeping them and not staying up watching the sky and the ones out of work had more to focus on. No matter, but it is easy to see why doubt has been cast that the shower occurred at all.
Peter Jenniskens a Dutch and US astronomer and a senior research scientist at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute and at NASA Ames Research Center and also an expert on meteor showers suggests the shower was indeed real and might be repeated 83 years later to the day, that’s tonight/tomorrow morning.
I’d be out there looking if it were not for the fact I have copious amounts of rain moving in (50 to 75 mm) so there is NO chance for me. If I were, I’d make myself comfortable in a reclining chair, looking to the East as the constellation Delpinids rises about 22:30 EDT and it is due East at 23:30 EDT not far above the horizon. The key word is comfort especially since this may or may not actually happen, but if it does and I could see it – cool! Oh and just for the record, the constellation Delphinus is within a few degrees of where it was 83 years ago so who knows?
I’d also probably put my camera out in a very dark location with no chance of a light flashing by and open the shutter and leave it for a suitable amount of time (like the whole time I’m out there) on a tripod (I’m just gloating because I found it LOL).
The AMS has a finders chart but sometimes it doesn’t show up for some reason, so here it is (credit: AMS via The Watchers) just in case.
What about Twitter? Check out this NASA page for even more about the shower and Chat details.
ESA’s ISS resupply ship ATV-4 known as “Albert Einstein” launched atop an Ariane rocket from French Guiana on June 5, 2013. This video is from the STEREX experiment.
The STEREX experiment is a system of four camera’s that can produce 3D stereo images. It worked perfectly! We end up the video with the first ever entry of an Automated Transfer Vessel (ATV) into free flight orbit.
NASA and partners have made some improvements on radar imagery of the asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon. The original image was taken on June 1, 2013 when 1998 QE2 was 3.75 million miles or 6 million km from Earth.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR
Just this morning at 04:42 UTC a smaller asteriod buzzed by Earth at about 65,000 miles / 105,000 km. This asteroid named 2013 LR6 was discovered just hours before on June 6, 2013 by the Catalina Sky Survey. 2013 LR6 30 ft or 10 meter asteroid has an orbital period of about 2.7 years.
More about these on JPL’s Asteroid Watch
If it seems we are hearing more about asteroid flybys, we are, thankfully are looking harder.
The Mars science Laboratory (Curiosity) has been capturing the Mars bylines in the news lately. It’s easy to forget there is another rover up there still doing science. The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is very much alive and well, as well as can be expected anyway after all this time on the red planet.
Opportunity is going to celebrate the soon to be the 10 anniversary of starting it’s trip to Mars by getting ready to move to and study a new area called “Solander Point”.
Yes, I know the MER Spirit is up there too but that particular rover has given its all for science plus there are various parts and pieces from ill-fated missions but they don’t count.
PASADENA, Calif. – Approaching its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is on the move again, trekking to a new study area still many weeks away.
The destination, called “Solander Point,” offers Opportunity access to a much taller stack of geological layering than the area where the rover has worked for the past 20 months, called “Cape York.” Both areas are raised segments of the western rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.
“Getting to Solander Point will be like walking up to a road cut where you see a cross section of the rock layers,” said Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis, deputy principal investigator for the mission.
T.Pyx is in the constellation Pyxis. Not one of those constellations I get to see being in the north. The star is 16,000 light-years away and is a known recurrent nova.
I had a hard time figuring this one out so I’ll let Hubblesite explain it, looking at the large version of the image helps too.
These three images taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal a disk of previously ejected material around an erupting star being illuminated by a torrent of light unleashed during a stellar outburst.
Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 imaged the double-star system T Pyxidis, or T Pyx, over a four-month period. T Pyx is a recurrent nova, erupting every 12 to 50 years. T Pyx’s latest outburst was in April 2011. The star is the white blob in the middle of each image.
Astronomers used Hubble to trace the path of the light emitted from the outburst as it lit up the disk and material from previous ejecta. The white ovals in each image highlight the areas being illuminated by the light. The disk is so vast, about a light-year across, that the nova’s light cannot brighten all of the material at once. Instead, the light sweeps across the material, sequentially illuminating parts of the disk, a phenomenon called a light echo. The light reveals which parts of the disk are nearer to Earth and which ones are farther away. By tracing the light, the team assembled a 3-D map of the structure around the nova.
A nova erupts when a white dwarf, the burned-out core of a Sun-like star, has siphoned enough hydrogen off a companion star to trigger a thermonuclear runaway. As hydrogen builds up on the surface of the white dwarf, it becomes hotter and denser until it detonates like a colossal hydrogen bomb, leading to a 10,000-fold increase in brightness in a little more than one day.
T Pyx is located 15,600 light-years away in the southern constellation Pyxis, the Mariner’s Compass. The images were taken Sept. 16, Nov. 16, and Dec. 10, 2011.
So just what does happen when a washcloth is wrung out in space? Not exactly what I expected I will tell you that.
This is the infamous Sunday accidental post so if you happened by you might have seen it. LOL.
Hubble is going to be looking for planets in around Proxima Centuri and the way it is going to do it is pretty VERY cool. I hope it works! It should be noted so far planets have not been detected there. Now there is a couple of opportunities to try a new technique.
Proxima Centuri is a red dwarf sun and it is also the closest Sun to our system. To have a new look for planets what they have done is to searched a star catalog and found out Proxima Centuri will pass in front of two stars, the first in October 2014 and February 2016. When these events occur there will be microlensing effects lasting from a few hours to a few days.
Here’s the explanation from NASA’s Hubble page:
Astronomers will measure the mass by examining images of each of the background stars to see how far the stars are offset from their real positions in the sky. The offsets are the result of Proxima Centauri’s gravitational field warping space. The degree of offset can be used to measure Proxima Centauri’s mass. The greater the offset, the greater the mass of Proxima Centauri. If the red dwarf has any planets, their gravitational fields will produce a second small position shift.
Because Proxima Centauri is so close to Earth, the area of sky warped by its gravitation field is larger than for more distant stars. This makes it easier to look for shifts in apparent stellar position caused by this effect. However, the position shifts will be too small to be perceived by any but the most sensitive telescopes in space and on the ground. The European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope on Mt. Cerro Paranal in Chile may be able to make measurements comparable to Hubble’s.
The Mars Express has been at Mars for 10 years. It’s almost hard to believe that much time has passed.
The image above from the ESA site (yes it is LOL). Hopefully everyone clicked on the link from yesterday’s post so you could see the Beagle 2 video. I tried to embed it and nothing would happen, tried to figure it out while racing a thunderstorm moving in and ended up with an unrelated video in the post. THEN there was the bloomer regarding the linked site, still chuckling over that one. Hey it’s all good, it would be a shame to sweep the whole thing under the rug.
As dissapointing as the Beagle 2 was and most every attempt by ESA to put a lander successfully on Mars, the Mars Express is just the opposite. From the very begining the Mars Express has been amazing. Before anybody jumps on me about ESA’s attempts at a lander, the problems are not entirely their doing couple that with some bad luck and there you go. ESA has, and is doing incredible things that would seem to make a landing seem easy; the kinds of things you just sit back and marvel at and not just the mechanics but the insight to make the missions happen. The Mars Express (and Venus Express) are excellent examples of how efficient ESA really is.
Here is the image description from the ESA site titled Crowning Glory:
A swirling mound of ice riddled with dark spiral troughs crowns the north pole of Mars, seen here in a new mosaic from ESA’s Mars Express.
The mosaic comprises 57 separate images taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera throughout the entire mission, which yesterday celebrated ten years since launch. The images were taken when Mars Express was closest to Mars along its orbit, at about 300-500 km altitude.
The Beagle 2 was launched 10 years ago today. The mission was going well until sometime after the rover separated from the mother-ship. contact was never established and sadly the mission failed.
Here is the mission page for the Beagle 2 including results of the inquiry. As I look through the site, something I’ve done a few times over the years, I am struck with the excitement and hope of the mission that of course never came to be. It was kind of good ESA left those pages up as they were.
On the other hand, part of the very same mission: the Mars Express is a resounding success.
As difficult at Mars is to get to, it is even harder to land-on sucessfully.
Gotta run this post is racing a thunderstorm. I win! (I hope).
I started out looking for data from the Mars Science Laboratory Rover Environmenatal Monotoring station and got this far and that was that.
It almost seems like Curiosity can’t move without finding “signs” of liquids in the historical record that is the Martian surface. Hopefully they will try to quantify the size of the “steambed” if indeed it is one. It might also give some hints as to how much liquid was there, seems like a good thing to know. Not to mention what happens to the “flow”. Great data just the same.
You know sooner or later that “ah HA” moment is going to come along where the evidence is certain and irrefutable. What then?
The image above was “white balanced” to see the colors the way the camera did click the image. Here’s part of the image description from NASA:
NASA’s Curiosity rover found evidence for an ancient, flowing stream on Mars at a few sites, including the rock outcrop pictured here, which the science team has named “Hottah” after Hottah Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It may look like a broken sidewalk, but this geological feature on Mars is actually exposed bedrock made up of smaller fragments cemented together, or what geologists call a sedimentary conglomerate. Scientists theorize that the bedrock was disrupted in the past, giving it the titled angle, most likely via impacts from meteorites.
One of the larger news agencies was calling this encounter a “rare” event, I’m like what? How do you know that? Ah well, you will recognise some to the video as most of the news agencies with a story about the flyby is using parts of it.
I’m glad it is getting some coverage even if only because it is similar to the asteroid believed responsible for the dinosaur extinction.
It is going to be a great radar target and there will be some great video of it out in the coming days. Hey it even has a little moon. I’m hoping for some particulars on that, especially mass and density. Velocities of the pair should be coming out too, well the velocity of the asteroid is, but I want to know about the moon. When it is too hot to play with Holly in the yard I can fiddle with some calculations and see how much it would take to get the moon to part with the asteroid.
Check out the detail on this crater called Cunningham on the planet Mercury. The image was of course taken by the MESSENGER spacecraft.
By the way, the MESSENGER spacecraft recently completed its 2,000th orbit of Mercury. Talk about resilient, this spacecraft goes from the blazing sunny side of the planet which is over 600oF (300oC) to the frigid dark side which is in the vicinity of -300oF (-185oC).
I learned a really cool new word too, from the MESSENGER website:
From May 6 to May 14, MESSENGER traversed a superior solar conjunction, during which the spacecraft was on the far side of the Sun from Earth. Scientists used the opportunity to measure the characteristics of the solar magnetic field from the Faraday rotation of its radio-frequency carrier.
“We found the orientation of the magnetic field within a coronal mass ejection (CME) that crossed the line of sight on May 10,” says Elizabeth Jensen, of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. “We saw the rotation of the plane of polarization of MESSENGER’s radio-frequency signal as it moved deeper into the corona, giving information on the Sun’s magnetic field configuration on May 11; and on May 12, we saw magnetohydrodynamic waves, a very important mode of energy transfer in the corona.”
Magnetohydrodynamic, I like that, but I digress.
Cunningham has a diameter of 24 miles/38 km and sports an extensive ray system which you can see at this image at the MESSENGER website.
The resolution of this image is 30 meters/pixel and you might notice the crater features seem to look different than similar craters you’ve seen on our moon. If you did, good job, you would be correct. Mercury has more mass than the moon and gravity plays its part so the features are a bit muted in comparison.
Mercury is kind of an odd place too, one Mercury day last’s about two Mercury years. Mercury has the smallest tilt of any planet and it is the most eccentric of all the planets (no pun intended). what does that mean? Simply put it means that it travels further away from the Sun at one end of its orbit than the other – think of it as off-center in its orbit and MORE so than any of the other planets, which are all a little “off-center”.
In case you missed it:
Expedition 36/37 Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency launched on the Russian Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft yesterday (May 29, Kazakh time or May 28, U.S. time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhsta.
I barely made it in time to watch the launch, I mean barely, like with 2 seconds to spare. Great launch from a great setup.
The view from inside the capsule was interesting, they have stuffed animals hanging there like those objects you see from some rear view mirrors. LOL. I spent all my time watching them and it appeared they showed the effects of acceleration and at the third stage cut-off suddenly showed they weightless. At least it looked that way.
A Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft will carry a new crew to the International Space Station if all goes as scheduled.
The Expedition 36 crew will launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on 29 May 2013 at 22:32 UTC, that is 16:31 EDT today.
The Expedition 36 crew is: Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano
Luca Parmitano will be Flight Engineer for Expedition 36 AND 37. Luca is the fourth Italian citizen to go to the space station. This is also long duration mission for ESA scheduled to last 166 days, the mission and logo came out of two competitions for Italian citizens and the winning name was proposed by 32 year-old engineer Norberto Cioffi and that name is Volare with according to ESA means ‘to fly’ in Italian.
The Volare logo competition was won by 28 year-old Ilaria Sardella, congrats to them!
A really amazing thing about the trip up is will only take about 6 hours give or take a few seconds that’s only about 4 orbits. It used to be a three-day trip.
NASA TV and ESA will be providing launch coverage and you might try to watch if you can, 4:30 EDT is afternoon but at the launch site it will be 02:31 AM so it will be dark making for a spectacular launch of what has to be one of the coolest launch systems in use.