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Official Space Exploration Coolness Thread
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
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2011-09-11, 21:42

That's one of my all-time favorite Butt-Headed Astronomer quotes. (obscure reference get!) Always worth remembering.
  quote
Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2011-09-11, 23:05

That is maybe one of the coolest astronomical photographs I've ever seen.
  quote
Moogs
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2011-09-12, 14:42

Set course for "Super Earth" Mr. Data.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...y.html?hpid=z1

...into the light of a dark black night.
  quote
Moogs
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Join Date: May 2004
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2011-09-14, 14:41

STS, make way for SLS... coming to a launch pad near you (we hope). Men to Mars, asteroids and beyond?

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/sls1.html

Last edited by Moogs : 2011-09-14 at 15:11.
  quote
Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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2011-09-14, 15:25

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
STS, make way for SLS... coming to a launch pad near you (we hope). Men to Mars, asteroids and beyond?
Meh, I'll wait for the ATS. Or maybe a CTS-V.
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2011-09-16, 12:11

Not quite 'farthest from the bright centre of the universe', but...



Quote:
A planet orbiting two suns - the first confirmed alien world of its kind - has been found by Nasa's Kepler telescope, the US space agency announced.

It may resemble the planet Tatooine from the film Star Wars, but scientists say Luke Skywalker, or anyone at all, is unlikely to be living there.

Named Kepler-16b, it is thought to be an uninhabitable cold gas giant, like Saturn.

The newly detected body lies some 200 light years from Earth.

Though there have been hints in the past that planets circling double stars might exist - "circumbinary planets", as they are known - scientists say this is the first confirmation.

It means when the day ends on Kepler-16b, there is a double sunset, they say.

Kepler-16b's two suns are smaller than ours - at 69% and 20% of the mass of our Sun - making the surface temperature an estimated -100 to -150F (-73 to -101C).


The planet eclipses, or transits, both stars; and the stars regularly eclipse each other too
The planet orbits its two suns every 229 days at a distance of 65m miles (104m km) - about the same distance out as Venus.

... continues ...
  quote
Maciej
M AH - ch ain saw
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2011-09-22, 13:41

NASA Sounds for ringtones. (Found it via macrumors.)
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Moogs
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2011-09-22, 16:31

Duck and Cover.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15021323
  quote
curiousuburb
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2011-09-23, 02:04

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
Hay Americans... Want to buy a UARS-proof* umbrella?

* Offer not valid yet in Europe, Asia, Africa, or Australasia.

Belushi notwithstanding, odds of getting smacked are small... odds of a groovy lightshow are somewhat higher... unless you live in the cloudbound UK

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2011-09-23 at 02:20.
  quote
curiousuburb
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2011-09-23, 02:07

But on the Space Exploration Awesomeness front, check out this movie of the Aurora Australis earlier this week after newly agitated solar activity...



longer 33sec M4V clip
Video of the Aurora Australis taken by the crew of Expedition 29 on board the International Space Station. This sequence of shots was taken September 17, 2011 from 17:22:27 to 17:45:12 GMT, on an ascending pass from south of Madagascar to just north of Australia over the Indian Ocean.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2011-09-23 at 03:09.
  quote
dmegatool
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2011-09-23, 02:20

Holy shit that's beautiful !!

The one at night is pretty amazing too with the sunrise at the end...
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curiousuburb
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2011-09-28, 06:01

Released about the same time and making the rounds on Twitter, YouTube, Bad Astronomy, etc.... nighttime views down the Pacific coast... in 1080p

What does it feel like to fly over planet Earth?


Quote:
A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy.

--

As they soar above Earth on the International Space Station, astronauts frequently train their cameras toward home, and their shots are stored on a massive archive of astronaut photos. Science educator James Drake took 600 such images and stitched them together into a movie, which you can watch below.

The movie starts in the Pacific Ocean and flies over North and South America before sunrise over Antarctica. The neuronal network of nighttime cities is marvelous to behold — not to mention the lightning storms off the southern coast of Mexico and into the Pacific.

It takes roughly a minute to fly from Vancouver Island to the southern portion of Chile. A real latitudinal arc on the ISS takes much longer, of course, but I like this fast view because it’s somewhat humbling — this planet is not really that big. Plus, you get an appreciation for just how much if it is oceans.

Raw data was downloaded from the Gateway To Astronaut Photography of Earth, a Johnson Space Center project. Visit the site to see even more astronaut images, which should keep you sated until the ISS gets a pair of streaming video cameras sometime next year.

text source

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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curiousuburb
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2011-09-28, 07:34

Ron Garan's last day in Space - pic may definitely one of the best from ISS.

<-- click for big awesomeness.

"The halo is airglow. Energy released by excited oxygen atoms (visible at night). The line is at about 60 miles above Earth."

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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curiousuburb
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2011-10-30, 19:47

Asteroid updates:

Vesta rocked by mighty impacts

Quote:

The scale of the pummelling Asteroid Vesta has taken through its history is starting to become clear.

Analysis of data returned by the orbiting Dawn spacecraft shows this giant rock took a mighty double beating in its southern polar region.

One impact had long been recognised from images of the asteroid acquired by the Hubble telescope.

But Dawn's measurements indicate that Vesta was also hit much earlier in time in almost exactly the same location.

These two major impacts gouged out depressions hundreds of kilometres in diameter, and sent shockwaves rippling around the body.

Scientists are fairly confident that the deep system of troughs extending around Vesta's equator and northern hemisphere are fractures that opened up in the surface as a direct consequence of the southern bombardments.

Images from Dawn reveal grooves parallel to Vesta's equator. They cover 240 degrees of longitude
"We can see some things in the visual imagery of Vesta, but it's only when you get in close enough to map the topography that other features come to light," said Debra Buczkowski from the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US.

"And when we did this it was like 'woah! - there's another impact basin there'.

"We simply didn't know of its existence until we had the topography," she told BBC News.

'Impressive' peak

Craters on the asteroid are being named after the vestal virgins - the priestesses of the goddess Vesta - and famous Roman women.

Before Dawn, our best image of Vesta was supplied by the Hubble Space Telescope
In that vein, the biggest crater at the south pole has been called Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus.

The impact depression measures some 475km in diameter, and gives Vesta the look of a punctured football in Hubble pictures.

Since Nasa's Dawn spacecraft arrived at the asteroid in July, scientists have been able to examine the basin's key features in detail.

It has a central mountain that would have formed when rock that had been depressed in the impact rebounded upwards.

The peak's height is impressive - it rises about 22km (13 miles) above the surrounding terrain, making it more than twice as high as Mount Everest here on Earth.

This much has been clear now for several weeks, but as Dawn has circled closer in to the asteroid it has been able to get better and better information on the surface shape of Vesta.

An analysis of this data has shown that Rhea Silvia actually overlies another, older impact basin that is only marginally narrower in extent - about 375km across.

Better information on surface shape (topography) reveals that Rhea Silvia sits on top of an older impact crater. Rhea Silvia itself may be 2.5 billion years old. The equatorial trough system is also visible in this image.
... continues ...

---

Asteroid 21 Lutetia had a molten metallic core

Holy primordial planetesimals, Batman!

Bring on the asteroid miners!

Quote:

Spacecraft casts new light on asteroid's history

New findings suggest the giant rock may be a remnant of the early solar system

Could this be the battered face of a planet that never was? Photograph: AFP/Getty
A battered asteroid that was intercepted and surveyed by a European spacecraft last year may be the ancient remains of a planet that never formed, scientists say.

Fresh analysis of measurements taken from the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe found evidence that beneath the cracked and cratered exterior of asteroid 21 Lutetia was a molten, metallic core.

The findings, if confirmed, suggest the giant rock is a "planetisimal", a remnant of the early solar system that represents a snapshot of planetary development, rather than a fragment of a larger asteroid or a cosmic pile of rubble.

The Rosetta probe swung by the speeding asteroid in July 2010 at a distance of 282 million miles from Earth. At the time, Lutetia was the largest asteroid to have been visited by a spacecraft.

Close-up images of Lutetia revealed a surface scarred with large cracks and impact craters, evidence of the asteroid's long and battered history. The lump of space rock measured 121km long, 101km tall and 75km wide.

Infrared cameras aboard Rosetta found the surface temperature of the rock never exceeded -19C. Further measurements of the asteroid's density surprised scientists, because they suggest that the asteroid's interior has a dense, metallic core.

Benjamin Weiss, a planetary scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was involved in the study, said a molten core within Lutetia might indicate "hidden diversity" within the broader asteroid belt. "There might be many bodies that have cores and interesting interiors that we never noticed, because they're covered by unmelted surfaces," he said. "The asteroid belt may be more interesting than it seems on the surface."

If Weiss is right, Lutetia is a case of arrested development. The asteroid may have grown large enough to develop and retain a melting core, but then avoided the larger collisions that drive planet formation. It would be the first asteroid known to be partially differentiated, that is having a melted interior overlain by cooler layers. An international team of researchers describe the findings of the Rosetta fly-by in three papers published in the journal Science.

The spacecraft has flown past a number of asteroids since its launch in 2004 en route to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. On arrival, Rosetta will release a small lander onto the icy comet and spend the next two years orbiting the asteroid as it heads towards the sun.

Images (from left to right) taken 60, 30 and 3 minutes prior to closest approach showing the different regions of asteroid (21) Lutetia.
... continues ...
^ Click links in the Guardian story above for the ESA pages and status updates

Not your average 'roids. Or maybe we just need to reevaluate what average interplanetary pebbles can be.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2011-10-30 at 20:33.
  quote
Dave
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Bay Area, CA
 
2011-11-05, 00:29

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you not an artist's impression, but an actual photograph of a black hole. Click through for the article.


When I was a kid, people who did wrong were punished, restricted, and forbidden. Now, when someone does wrong, all of the rest of us are punished, restricted, and forbidden... and the one who did the wrong is counselled and "understood" and fed ice cream.
  quote
Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: NSA Archives
 
2011-11-05, 20:35

Which day was it again that God created Black Holes? Day 3....?

...in the year 013,456,255,872 BC (that's way before Noah gave the boot to the dinosaurs btw).

...into the light of a dark black night.
  quote
Dave
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Bay Area, CA
 
2011-11-05, 22:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs View Post
Which day was it again that God created Black Holes? Day 3....?
Towards the end, yeah. He was getting tired, and that's how the whole "black holes are where God divided by zero" thing came about.
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2011-11-08, 10:49

Today's Coolness: Spiral Stars, Progress plasmic reentry, and Near miss Asteroid tonight ... as always, click pics for teh big

---

Not all stars are spherical, apparently.

Quote:
Researchers using the Subaru telescope in Hawaii have found a star with spiral arms.

Two spiral arms emerge from the gas-rich disk around SAO 206462, a young star in the constellation Lupus. This image, acquired by the Subaru Telescope and its HiCIAO instrument, is the first to show spiral arms in a circumstellar disk. The disk itself is some 14 billion miles across, or about twice the size of Pluto's orbit in our own solar system. (Credit: NAOJ/Subaru) [larger image]
The name of the star is SAO 206462. It's a young star more than four hundred light years from Earth in the constellation Lupus, the wolf. SAO 206462 attracted attention because it has a circumstellar disk--that is, a broad disk of dust and gas surrounding the star. Researchers strongly suspected that new planets might be coalescing inside the disk, which is about twice as wide as the orbit of Pluto.

When they took a closer look at SAO 206462 they found not planets, but arms. Astronomers have seen spiral arms before: they’re commonly found in pinwheel galaxies where hundreds of millions of stars spiral together around a common core. Finding a clear case of spiral arms around an individual star, however, is unprecedented *1.

The arms might be a sign that planets are forming within the disk.

"Detailed computer simulations have shown us that the gravitational pull of a planet inside a circumstellar disk can perturb gas and dust, creating spiral arms,” says Carol Grady, an astronomer with Eureka Scientific, Inc., who is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. “Now, for the first time, we're seeing these dynamical features."

... continues ... via NASA

*Footnote: (1) "There have been other examples of circumstellar disks imaged with partial spiral arms or blurry spiral arms," notes Marc Kuchner of Goddard, who organized the conference. "So it's not completely unprecedented. But this is really the first clear image of this phenomenon--clear enough that you could trace the arms and possibly use them to make quantitative inferences about what's causing them."
Nitpickers may argue it's technically the circumstellar disk with arms, but still...


---

Progress re-entry video from ISS
Quote:
Originally Posted by BadAstronomy

Holy wow! You can see the trail of plasma starting to blow off the main spacecraft just as the video begins, and if you look carefully you can see bigger chunks of material falling off the main body — just like in the big picture I posted earlier (seen below).


... continues on BadAstronomy


---

How to Spot today's asteroid near-miss (less than Earth-Moon distance)*

*valid for Western Europe and North America - clear skies required.

Quote:
Roll out the red carpet! Earth is about to be visited by the largest close-approaching asteroid on record. Known as 2005 YU55, it comes closest to us on November 8th at 23:28 Universal Time (6:28 p.m. EST), when it passes 198,000 miles (319,000 km) from Earth's surface — closer than the Moon's orbit.

This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was generated from radar data taken on November 7, 2011, using NASA's giant radio dishes in California. At the time the asteroid was 860,000 miles (1,380,000 km) from Earth. Radar illumination is from the top, so only half of the asteroid is apparent.
NASA / JPL
Discovered nearly six years ago by Robert McMillan at Steward Observatory's Spacewatch Telescope in Arizona, 2005 YU55 has been this way before. In April 2010 it passed close enough for detailed radar probing by the giant radio dish at Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

The Arecibo observations showed this asteroidal emissary to be a quarter mile (400 m) across and remarkably round. Given its size and diminutive brightness, the object must be quite dark and thus likely carbon-rich. Its rotation period is relatively long, 18 to 20 hours.

In the grand scheme of things it's more micro-planet than minor planet, but we've never knowingly had something this big come this close before. Were it to strike Earth, 2005 YU55 would deliver a kinetic-energy punch equivalent to several thousand megatons of TNT. It's the kind of potential threat that outer-space sentries lose sleep over.

This animation shows the trajectory of asteroid 2005 YU55 as it cruises past Earth on the night of November 8-9, 2011.
NASA / JPL
But fear not: the Arecibo observations allowed dynamicists to recompute the big rock's orbit with enough accuracy to ensure that it won't strike Earth within the next 100 years. (That said, it will pass just 175,000 miles from Venus in 2029, close enough to alter its orbit slightly. This adds uncertainty to predictions for its next close encounter with Earth in 2041, when the minimum distance could be anywhere from 200,000 to 30 million miles.)


Best seen from North America, the little asteroid 2005 YU55 will race far across the constellations in just 11 hours. Click here for a more detailed chart and instructions.
Sky & Telescope illustration


... continues ... via Sky & Telescope
Damn clouds here... but for the rest of you...



All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2011-11-08 at 11:04. Reason: credits and links tweaked
  quote
Brad
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2011-11-08, 11:49

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb View Post
Ha! Winner for Most Appropriate Animated Smiley for an Astronomical Event goes to…
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2011-11-08, 19:17

Damn... beat me to it. [/it'sTheEnd!]
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drewprops
Magnificent Basturd™
sagacious-d
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2011-11-08, 19:31

I'm watching this, just to beef up on my continued survival.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLwreD9NL7c


...
  quote
Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2011-11-09, 11:24

Russia's Phobos-Grunt probe suffers engine (maybe software) failure and is stuck in earth orbit. The Russians have three days to fix the problem before the batteries run out.

An American rocket scientist said to a Danish newspaper that the 14 ton spacecraft carries 7 tons of highly toxic fuel (hydrazine?), potentially making it the most dangerous object to ever crash back onto Earth. Maybe it's just me being too much of a layman, but what kind of rocket fuel chemical can survive reentry on a craft with no heat shields. I'm pretty sure that it's not the fuel itself that can survive reentry, but even the toxic byproducts must get scorched away. Right?
  quote
curiousuburb
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2011-11-10, 07:23

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mugge View Post
Russia's Phobos-Grunt probe suffers engine (maybe software) failure and is stuck in earth orbit. The Russians have three days to fix the problem before the batteries run out.

An American rocket scientist said to a Danish newspaper that the 14 ton spacecraft carries 7 tons of highly toxic fuel (hydrazine?), potentially making it the most dangerous object to ever crash back onto Earth. Maybe it's just me being too much of a layman, but what kind of rocket fuel chemical can survive reentry on a craft with no heat shields. I'm pretty sure that it's not the fuel itself that can survive reentry, but even the toxic byproducts must get scorched away. Right?
Hydrazine tanks are generally Titanium spheres... which are remarkably good at surviving reentry due to heat resistance of material and pressure resistance of spherical design.
There's a wee bit of Cobalt in one of the experiments, too... but not enough to worry about radioactive fallout or serious contamination.

Still... the Russkies are 0-for-16 or so on Mars missions in the last few decades. This doesn't help that record. And makes the Chinese piggyback mission 0-for-1.

Bet the Chinese are wishing they hitched their ride with NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover mission due to launch Nov 25th) instead.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
  quote
Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2011-11-10, 14:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb View Post
Hydrazine tanks are generally Titanium spheres... which are remarkably good at surviving reentry due to heat resistance of material and pressure resistance of spherical design.
Remarkable might be an understament in this case.

  quote
Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Denmark
 
2011-11-14, 15:31

Apparently the hydrazine tanks are made of aluminium and will go boom according to the Russians. I suppose they have a better track record with explosions than Mars missions.
  quote
curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2011-11-23, 20:24

Known Exoplanets now total more than 700... so it's about time somebody rated the best destinations.

Most liveable alien worlds ranked

There's some dispute which planets of Gliese 581 are confirmed, but several make the top 5, despite it being a Red Dwarf.



And despite proximity, our Moon isn't even in the top 5

---

NASA did recently release a new super-accurate and groovy looking elevation map of the Moon though.

Quote:
The map was produced using data sent back by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, which was launched in June 2009.

It reveals troughs and bumps over nearly the entire Moon with a pixel scale close to 100m (328 ft).

(Purple is lowest, white is highest)
A single measure of elevation (one pixel) on the map is roughly the size of two football pitches placed side-by-side.

... continues ...
---

But all fingers are crossed and eyes are on Florida for the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Rover on Nov 26.

Quote:
It is expected to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Saturday.

Lift-off is actually a day later than originally planned, to give engineers time to replace a problem battery in the spacecraft's Atlas rocket.

The one-hour-and-43-minute launch window will now open at 10:02 local time (15:02 GMT). MSL's cruise to Mars should take eight-and-a-half months.

The rover will aim to touch down in an equatorial depression called Gale Crater, where it will use its suite of 10 instruments to assess whether the Red Planet has ever been habitable.



... continues ...
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory homepage

Go Curiosity!

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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hflomberg
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Denver, Colorado
 
2011-11-24, 12:25

How's this - Planet - Big thing in the Sky that's not a star?
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Brad
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone of Pain
 
2011-11-24, 13:22

Possible good news followup today for Phobos Grunt: it might be salvageable albeit for a shorter mission!

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/sh...s-home-as.html

Quote:
Update: The European Space Agency tracking station in Perth, Australia that first contacted the Russian spacecraft Phobos-Grunt on Tuesday has again been in touch with the probe.

In a communication that lasted just six minutes, a clear signal from the craft allowed ESA technicians to access telemetry reports, which could help them identify what caused the engine failure that has halted the mission to Mars.

Contact with Phobos-Grunt was first established earlier this week, but the Perth station was not ready to receive data from the spacecraft, according to Russian news agency, Ria Novosti.

Having missed the window of opportunity for its flight to Mars, the probe could still be used in another research mission depending on what technicians learn from the telemetry data.

Phobos-Grunt mission scientist Alexander Zakharov said that if the spacecraft is fully operational, the best scientific mission for it would be to study a near-earth asteroid.

ESA says it will continue to try to contact the probe throughout the night.

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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Dorian Gray
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Join Date: May 2005
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2011-11-26, 06:11

Seeing how often these missions go kaput renews my respect for people willing to strap themselves to these vehicles and hurl themselves into orbit.

I saw this photo on the BBC website, and thought it was so good that I looked up the photographer and found him on Flickr. So incongruous to see the scorched capsule sitting in a frozen field like that!
  quote
AWR
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2011-11-28, 12:50

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray View Post
Seeing how often these missions go kaput renews my respect for people willing to strap themselves to these vehicles and hurl themselves into orbit.

I saw this photo on the BBC website, and thought it was so good that I looked up the photographer and found him on Flickr. So incongruous to see the scorched capsule sitting in a frozen field like that!
No doubt!

Scraping guys off the walls of that scorched capsule, in miraculous shape it seems, is quite a feat.
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