The latest on activities on board the Int. Space Station and upcoming traffic of spaceships coming and going:
The latest on activities on board the Int. Space Station and upcoming traffic of spaceships coming and going:
A very impressive short film in tribute to ESA’s Rosetta mission to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Rosetta: the ambition to turn science fiction into science fact – ESA
Ambition is a collaboration between Platige Image and ESA. Directed by Tomek Bagiński and starring Aiden Gillen and Aisling Franciosi, Ambition was shot on location in Iceland, and screened on 24 October 2014 during the British Film Institute’s celebration of Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, at the Southbank, London.
Here’s a video about the making of Ambition:
Following American college football from the Int. Space Station:
Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 41 Flight Engineer Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA discussed football and other aspects of sports and life on orbit with the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Network during an in-flight interview Oct. 23. Wilmore, who arrived on the station in late September, is an avid football fan with degrees from Tennessee Tech University and the University of Tennessee, which is a member of the SEC. Wilmore will remain aboard the station until March 2015.
The SETI Institute posts a summary discussion of “a two-day workshop held to explore nonhuman communication research. Participants for this two-day workshop [included] scientists who currently work in one of three areas: animal communication, information theory, or astrobiology/intelligence”:
More from the caption:
The panel will explore and discuss the implications for SETI and astrobiology at this colloquium, including ideas about new tools and techniques that may provide insight into advanced communication systems and intelligence. This summary will be followed by a panel discussion and open to the public for questions.
If we can define complex communication systems on Earth, we may be able to develop tools for potential future assessments of life on other planets. It is expected that this initial workshop and colloquium on nonhuman communication will lead to a working group and future workshops to continue to address this important area of exploration.
The orbiters circling Mars survived the fly-by of Comet Siding Spring last Sunday just fine. The NASA JPL site Comets: Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) has lots of images and reports about the event. For example,
Researchers used the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity to capture this view of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it passed near Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured images of a comet passing much closer to Mars than any previous known comet flyby of Earth or Mars. The images of comet Siding Spring were taken against a backdrop of the pre-dawn Martian sky on Sunday (Oct. 19).
Images of comet A1 Siding Spring from the rover’s panoramic camera (Pancam) are online at:
Researchers used Opportunity’s Pancam to image at a range of exposure times about two-and-one-half hours before the closest approach of the nucleus of comet Siding Spring to Mars. By the time of closest approach at about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers), dawn had lit the sky above Opportunity.
“It’s excitingly fortunate that this comet came so close to Mars to give us a chance to study it with the instruments we’re using to study Mars,” said Opportunity science team member Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, who coordinated the camera pointing. “The views from Mars rovers, in particular, give us a human perspective, because they are about as sensitive to light as our eyes would be.”
Three NASA Mars orbiters, two Mars rovers and other assets on Earth and in space are studying comet Siding Spring. This comet is making its first visit this close to the sun from the outer solar system’s Oort Cloud, so the concerted campaign of observations may yield fresh clues to our solar system’s earliest days more than 4 billion years ago.
Opportunity has been roving on Mars since January 2004 and has provided evidence about the Red Planet’s ancient wet environments.
For more about Opportunity, visit:
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter capture images of the comet as well:
Mars Orbiter Image Shows Comet Nucleus is Small
These images were taken of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Oct. 19, 2014, during the comet’s close flyby of Mars and the spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured views of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring while that visitor sped past Mars on Sunday (Oct. 19), yielding information about its nucleus.
The images are the highest-resolution views ever acquired of a comet coming from the Oort Cloud at the fringes of the solar system. Other spacecraft have approached and studied comets with shorter orbits. This comet’s flyby of Mars provided spacecraft at the Red Planet an opportunity to investigate from close range.
Images of comet Siding Spring from HiRISE are online at: http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6682
The highest-resolution of images of the comet’s nucleus, taken from a distance of about 86,000 miles (138,000 kilometers), have a scale of about 150 yards (138 meters) per pixel. Telescopic observers had modeled the size of the nucleus as about half a mile, or one kilometer wide. However, the best HiRISE images show only two to three pixels across the brightest feature, probably the nucleus, suggesting a size smaller than half that estimate.
For more about HiRISE, visit: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu
For more about Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: http://mars.nasa.gov/mro/
NASA released a composite image showing the comet and the Red Planet together without under or over-exposing either:
This composite NASA Hubble Space Telescope Image captures the positions of comet Siding Spring and Mars in a never-before-seen close passage of a comet by the Red Planet, which happened at 2:28 p.m. EDT October 19, 2014. [Larger image]
This composite NASA Hubble Space Telescope Image captures the positions of comet Siding Spring and Mars in a never-before-seen close passage of a comet by the Red Planet, which happened at 2:28 p.m. EDT October 19, 2014. The comet passed by Mars at approximately 87,000 miles (about one-third of the distance between Earth and the Moon). At that time, the comet and Mars were approximately 149 million miles from Earth.
The comet image shown here is a composite of Hubble exposures taken between Oct. 18, 8:06 a.m. EDT to Oct. 19, 11:17 p.m. EDT. Hubble took a separate photograph of Mars at 10:37 p.m. EDT on Oct. 18.
The Mars and comet images have been added together to create a single picture to illustrate the angular separation, or distance, between the comet and Mars at closest approach. The separation is approximately 1.5 arc minutes, or one-twentieth of the angular diameter of the full Moon. The background starfield in this composite image is synthesized from ground-based telescope data provided by the Palomar Digital Sky Survey, which has been reprocessed to approximate Hubble’s resolution. The solid icy comet nucleus is too small to be resolved in the Hubble picture. The comet’s bright coma, a diffuse cloud of dust enshrouding the nucleus, and a dusty tail, are clearly visible.
This is a composite image because a single exposure of the stellar background, comet Siding Spring, and Mars would be problematic. Mars is actually 10,000 times brighter than the comet, and so could not be properly exposed to show detail in the Red Planet. The comet and Mars were also moving with respect to each other and so could not be imaged simultaneously in one exposure without one of the objects being motion blurred. Hubble had to be programmed to track on the comet and Mars separately in two different observations.
The images were taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.
Several years ago, 4 comics (Alex Koll, Sean Keane, Louis Katz & Chris Garcia) got together to create several short, funny, space-elevator vignettes entitled Elevator To Space. The premise was four guys in a (building) elevator, riding it up to space. They created 39 of these videos and they range from mildly humorous to laugh-out-loud funny.
Here are a couple of examples starting with an illustration of how to deal with elevator music on a space elevator:
And the drawbacks of a Mexican style birthday party in a space elevator:
An announcement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
Two Families of Comets Found Around Nearby Star
Biggest census ever of exocomets around Beta Pictoris
The HARPS instrument at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has been used to make the most complete census of comets around another star ever created. A French team of astronomers has studied nearly 500 individual comets orbiting the star Beta Pictoris and has discovered that they belong to two distinct families of exocomets: old exocomets that have made multiple passages near the star, and younger exocomets that probably came from the recent breakup of one or more larger objects. The new results will appear in the journal Nature on 23 October 2014.
Beta Pictoris is a young star located about 63 light-years from the Sun. It is only about 20 million years old and is surrounded by a huge disc of material — a very active young planetary system where gas and dust are produced by the evaporation of comets and the collisions of asteroids.
Flavien Kiefer (IAP/CNRS/UPMC), lead author of the new study sets the scene: “Beta Pictoris is a very exciting target! The detailed observations of its exocomets give us clues to help understand what processes occur in this kind of young planetary system.”
For almost 30 years astronomers have seen subtle changes in the light from Beta Pictoris that were thought to be caused by the passage of comets in front of the star itself. Comets are small bodies of a few kilometres in size, but they are rich in ices, which evaporate when they approach their star, producing gigantic tails of gas and dust that can absorb some of the light passing through them. The dim light from the exocomets is swamped by the light of the brilliant star so they cannot be imaged directly from Earth.
To study the Beta Pictoris exocomets, the team analysed more than 1000 observations obtained between 2003 and 2011 with the HARPS instrument on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.
The researchers selected a sample of 493 different exocomets. Some exocomets were observed several times and for a few hours. Careful analysis provided measurements of the speed and the size of the gas clouds. Some of the orbital properties of each of these exocomets, such as the shape and the orientation of the orbit and the distance to the star, could also be deduced.
This analysis of several hundreds of exocomets in a single exo-planetary system is unique. It revealed the presence of two distinct families of exocomets: one family of old exocomets whose orbits are controlled by a massive planet , and another family, probably arising from the recent breakdown of one or a few bigger objects. Different families of comets also exist in the Solar System.
The exocomets of the first family have a variety of orbits and show a rather weak activity with low production rates of gas and dust. This suggests that these comets have exhausted their supplies of ices during their multiple passages close to Beta Pictoris .
The exocomets of the second family are much more active and are also on nearly identical orbits . This suggests that the members of the second family all arise from the same origin: probably the breakdown of a larger object whose fragments are on an orbit grazing the star Beta Pictoris.
Flavien Kiefer concludes: “For the first time a statistical study has determined the physics and orbits for a large number of exocomets. This work provides a remarkable look at the mechanisms that were at work in the Solar System just after its formation 4.5 billion years ago.”
This composite image represents the close environment of Beta Pictoris as seen in near infrared light. This very faint environment is revealed after a very careful subtraction of the much brighter stellar halo. The outer part of the image shows the reflected light on the dust disc, as observed in 1996 with the ADONIS instrument on ESO’s 3.6 m telescope; the inner part is the innermost part of the system, as seen at 3.6 microns with NACO on the Very Large Telescope. The newly detected source is more than 1000 times fainter than Beta Pictoris, aligned with the disc, at a projected distance of 8 times the Earth-Sun distance. This corresponds to 0.44 arcsecond on the sky, or the angle sustained by a one Euro coin seen at a distance of about 10 kilometres. Because the planet is still very young, it is still very hot, with a temperature around 1200 degrees Celsius. Both parts of the image were obtained on ESO telescopes equipped with adaptive optics.
Credit: ESO/A.-M. Lagrange et al
Here’s a NASA interview with Jeff Goldstein, the director of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education SSEP Program. The Student Spaceflight Experiment Program will launch aboard a Cygnus module on the Orbital CRS-3 mission.
On two recent episodes of his Mars Pirate Radio podcast, Doug Turnball interviewed George D. Morgan, author of Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First Female Rocket Scientist.
Mary Morgan was George’s mother. He originally told her story in a play.
There is a video of George Morgan giving a talk about his mother and about the book from the Sept. 2013 episode of the C-SPAN2 BookTV program: Book Discussion Rocket Girl | Video | C-SPAN.org.
This is from the book description:
An Unsung Heroine of the Space Age – Her Story Finally Told.
This is the extraordinary true story of America’s first female rocket scientist. Told by her son, it describes Mary Sherman Morgan’s crucial contribution to launching America’s first satellite and the author’s labyrinthine journey to uncover his mother’s lost legacy–one buried deep under a lifetime of secrets political, technological, and personal.
In 1938, a young German rocket enthusiast named Wernher von Braun had dreams of building a rocket that could fly him to the moon. In Ray, North Dakota, a young farm girl named Mary Sherman was attending high school. In an age when girls rarely dreamed of a career in science, Mary wanted to be a chemist. A decade later the dreams of these two disparate individuals would coalesce in ways neither could have imagined.
World War II and the Cold War space race with the Russians changed the fates of both von Braun and Mary Sherman Morgan. When von Braun and other top engineers could not find a solution to the repeated failures that plagued the nascent US rocket program, North American Aviation, where Sherman Morgan then worked, was given the challenge. Recognizing her talent for chemistry, company management turned the assignment over to young Mary.
In the end, America succeeded in launching rockets into space, but only because of the joint efforts of the brilliant farm girl from North Dakota and the famous German scientist. While von Braun went on to become a high-profile figure in NASA’s manned space flight, Mary Sherman Morgan and her contributions fell into obscurity–until now.
1. Monday, Oct. 20, , 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. PAUL SPUDIS to discuss his recent postings on www.spudislunarresources.com/blog and blogs.airspacemag.com/moon.
2. Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): WAYNE WHITE, space attorney, returns to discuss space property rights and his new proposal for creating them.
3. Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT):TBD. We welcome BRIAN ALTMEYER regarding his recent Space Review article, “The Strange Contagion Of a Dream” .
4. Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT) We. welcome space attorney MICHAEL LISTNER to the program to discuss the proposed NASA Air Traffic Control System for drones & much more..
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
Tom Hanks has written a short story that’s published in The New Yorker magazine: “Alan Bean Plus Four”
He reads it on Soundcloud:
Hanks is also interviewed: This Week in Fiction: Tom Hanks – The New Yorker.
I recently mentioned the 3o day simulation of life in a space habitat underway by three grad students at the Univ. of North Dakota Department of Space Studies. Here are a couple of updates via the NDX Space Suit Projects blog:
On Day 8 there was an EVA:
I recently listed some relatively low cost, near(er) term nuclear fusion power projects, most of which originated at government labs or from government funded research at universities but are now being pursued by private ventures:
Brian Wang lists these and two that I left out – General Fusion (backed by Jeff Bezos and others) and Tri-Alpha Energy (back by Paul Allen and others) : Updated Prospects for Commercial Nuclear Fusion – NextBigFuture.com.
Here’s a discussion about the L-M Compact Fusion scheme : Video: Podcast: Could The Fusion Age Be Upon Us? – Aviation Week.
In this PBS News Hour segment, Miles O’Brien reports on efforts to find and track asteroids and comets that could impact earth:
The latest show from TMRO (formerly Spacevidcast) is now online: Chasing Atlantis – TMRO.
They interview Paul Muzzin and Matthew Cimone about their in-work documentary, Chasing Atlantis.
The comet Siding Spring is just about to reach its closest approach to Mars. Below are links to various sites with info and imagery:
Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1)
Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) is racing toward Mars
for a close encounter on October 19, 2014.
* Latest NASA news and images:
On Sunday, Oct. 19, Comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Red Planet — less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. Siding Spring’s nucleus will come closest to Mars around 11:27 a.m. PDT (2:27 p.m. EDT), hurtling at about 126,000 mph (56 kilometers per second).
Hubble Image of Comet Siding Spring
The images above show — before and after filtering — comet C/2013 A1,
also known as Siding Spring, as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA’s
* ESA live webcast: European Space Agency – live streaming video powered by Livestream
* Live webcast from the SLOOH online observatory: live.slooh.com – Comet Siding Spring Swings by on a Close Approach to Mars
* Display of the current position of the comet in the sky: Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) Live Position and Finder Chart – TheSkyLive
* An animation of NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter maneuvering to image Comet Siding Spring:
Path of the comet:
Planet. That rock we live on. We think we’re so significant, but we’re merely a cosmic hickup. In a timespan of 100 cycles of this planet around the Sun, we think we already killed it.
Nothing is less true. Nature will overcome us, like <snap> that. With or without us. We still don’t get it; Nature adapts as it always had… A rock weighing a ton couldn’t eradicate Nature. A vulcanic eruption blowing an entire island off the map couldn’t, either.
And the cosmos will spin on and on… We’re just stardust walking and talking.
Time to put things in perspective.
I recently listed updates on five fusion power projects. There are an number of other such alternative projects underway that stand a good chance of beating the big tokamak and laser fusion programs that eat up all the government fusion funding. (Similar to the way NASA’s SLS/Orion boondoggles eat up funding from useful space projects that would get us into space far faster.)
(Link via nextbigfuture.com)