The latest NASA Space to Ground report on activities in the past week related to the Int. Space Station:
The latest NASA Space to Ground report on activities in the past week related to the Int. Space Station:
An announcement from the Heinlein Prize Trust:
The Heinlein Prize Trust
recognizes innovative solar sail propulsion used
in the MESSENGER mission to Mercury
The Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust’s new Heinlein Award honors
space-tested technology that can benefit commercial space activities.
The inaugural winner of the Heinlein Award for technology is Daniel J. O’Shaughnessy, the first to employ solar panels as sails to control the path of a spacecraft without using its rocket propulsion system.
O’Shaughnessy is lead mission systems engineer for the MESSENGER spacecraft, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.
His technique was first used when the APL team accurately aimed MESSENGER for its first flyby of Mercury in 2008.
“This was the most critical part of the mission,” O’Shaughnessy says. “Performance was key, and I wanted to keep the risk low.”
The technology uses the force generated by sunlight to guide the craft, allowing for more precise — and less risky — course adjustment. It also conserves propellant, helping extend the life of the spacecraft and the mission.
Cost-efficient technology that is designed and implemented quickly is a hallmark of APL.
“Whenever we can reduce difficulty and cost, it helps accomplish our goals,” O’Shaughnessy says.
MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of Mercury and the first mission to orbit the planet closest to the Sun.
MESSENGER was launched August 3, 2004, and entered orbit on March 17, 2011. It’s on its second extended mission, scheduled to conclude in Spring 2015. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, director of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, leads the mission as principal investigator.
Robert A. Heinlein™ was an American writer of speculative fiction who published more than 150 novels, short stories and articles.
The Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization, founded in 1988, recognizes accomplishments which advance the couple’s dream of humanity’s future in space.
The Heinlein Award, introduced in 2014, recognizes the use of new technologies in space that can benefit commercial space activities.
Gerald W. Driggers, author of the Earth-Mar Chronicles book series, was interviewed on the Space Show this week: Gerald Driggers, Monday, 11-3-14 | Thespaceshow’s Blog,
They talked about the books and about Mars settlement in general.
A portion of the payment for the books goes to the Mars One project. Popular Science has an interesting extended article about the Mars One project and the motivations of those who want to sign up for it : Why Thousands Of People Are Willing To Die On Mars – Popular Science “More than 200,000 aspiring space explorers have volunteered for a one-way trip to Mars. Are they insane?”
The astronauts on the Int. Space Station have fun with a large ball of water and a GoPro camera: ISS Astronauts Encase GoPro In Orb Of Floating Water – Popular Science
Here is the 3D version:
An announcement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
This new image from ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, reveals extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around a young star. These are the first observations that have used ALMA in its near-final configuration and the sharpest pictures ever made at submillimetre wavelengths. The new results are an enormous step forward in the observation of how protoplanetary discs develop and how planets form.
For ALMA’s first observations in its new and most powerful mode, researchers pointed the antennas at HL Tauri — a young star, about 450 light-years away, which is surrounded by a dusty disc . The resulting image exceeds all expectations and reveals unexpectedly fine detail in the disc of material left over from star birth. It shows a series of concentric bright rings, separated by gaps .
“These features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disc. This is surprising since such young stars are not expected to have large planetary bodies capable of producing the structures we see in this image,” said Stuartt Corder, ALMA Deputy Director.
“When we first saw this image we were astounded at the spectacular level of detail. HL Tauri is no more than a million years old, yet already its disc appears to be full of forming planets. This one image alone will revolutionise theories of planet formation,” explained Catherine Vlahakis, ALMA Deputy Program Scientist and Lead Program Scientist for the ALMA Long Baseline Campaign.
HL Tauri’s disc appears much more developed than would be expected from the age of the system. Thus, the ALMA image also suggests that the planet-formation process may be faster than previously thought.
Such high resolution can only be achieved with the long baseline capabilities of ALMA and provides astronomers with new information that is impossible to collect with any other facility, even the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. “The logistics and infrastructure required to place antennas at such distant locations required an unprecedented coordinated effort by an expert international team of engineers and scientists,” said ALMA Director, Pierre Cox. “These long baselines fulfill one of ALMA’s major objectives and mark an impressive technological, scientific and engineering milestone.”
Young stars like HL Tauri are born in clouds of gas and fine dust, in regions which have collapsed under the effects of gravitation, forming dense hot cores that eventually ignite to become young stars. These young stars are initially cocooned in the remaining gas and dust, which eventually settles into a disc, known as a protoplanetary disc.
Through many collisions the dust particles will stick together, growing into clumps the size of sand grains and pebbles. Ultimately, asteroids, comets and even planets can form in the disc. Young planets will disrupt the disc and create rings, gaps and holes such as those seen in the structures now observed by ALMA .
The investigation of these protoplanetary discs is essential to our understanding of how Earth formed in the Solar System. Observing the first stages of planet formation around HL Tauri may show us how our own planetary system may have looked more than four billion years ago, when it formed.
“Most of what we know about planet formation today is based on theory. Images with this level of detail have up to now been relegated to computer simulations or artist’s impressions. This high resolution image of HL Tauri demonstrates what ALMA can achieve when it operates in its largest configuration and starts a new era in our exploration of the formation of stars and planets,” says Tim de Zeeuw, Director General of ESO.
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft now orbiting the Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko will release its Philae lander to touch down on the comet on November 12th at 08:35 UTC (09:35 CET, 03:35 EST) . They have now chosen the name Agilkia for the landing spot: Farewell ‘J’, hello Agilkia – ESA
On October 31st, Rosetta made a maneuver to align itself for the release of the lander : Rosetta lined up for lander delivery – Rosetta blog.
the next planed orbit-changing manoeuvres will occur on the 12th at (a) 2 hours before separation and (b) about 40 minutes after (see animation below), in between which Philae will be released.
The pre-delivery manoeuvre will shift Rosetta’s trajectory so that the orbiter would be on a path so as to pass over the comet at a distance of 5 km, while the separation will occur at 08:35 UTC on board the spacecraft about 22 km (the confirmation signal will arrive on Earth at 09:03 UTC).
The second manoeuvre will cause a deflection of the Rosetta trajectory away from the comet; it will occur 40 minutes after separation, and help guarantee visibility of Philae at touchdown.
This video shows the orbital path (accelerated in time) of the orbiter
This video is about the landing and the people involved in the project:
Simon Owens writes about an interesting citizen science project at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics : Why Harvard and the Smithsonian teamed up to crowdsource a century of astronomical history – Simon Owens
The goal of the project is
to transcribe logbooks for nearly half a million photographic plates of the night sky that had been taken over the course of a hundred years.
The project, called Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard (DASCH for short), is actually a collaboration between the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Institution, the latter of which has embarked on a much larger endeavor to crowdsource the transcription of millions of pages of archival material.
Craig Russell at Space Operations Inc. in Huntsville, Alabama points me to a Kickstarter campaign they have initiated to fund a simulator for their Eclipse spacecraft, a two person module modeled after the Gemini capsules : ECLIPSE 2-seat orbital spacecraft; first step: simulator by Space Operations Inc.- Kickstarter
The crew procedures simulator will be a used to train people for orbital missions in the ECLIPSE spacecraft. SpaceOps will upgrade the existing cockpit layout and procedures from NASA’s successful Gemini spacecraft of the 1960’s. All avionics will be replaced with current qualified technology. Some new equipment will be added to the ECLIPSE that did not exist before, such as GPS.
This simulator will be a simple table mounted modular design to allow for easy relocation of panels and components to determine the best interior layout for a modern 2-seat orbital spacecraft. As we progress from the initial testing through final design of the actual ECLIPSE spacecraft, we will be upgrading this simulator along the way until it is certified to train crewmembers.
Here is a NASA interview with Cari Goulard of the Sally Ride EarthKAM program, which
enables middle school students all around the world to take photographs of Earth with a camera mounted in a window on the International Space Station. More than 800 schools in 51 countries, representing more than 70,000 students, are signed up for the current session.
Set your sights to outer space by becoming the highest bidder on a vintage piece of space memorabilia, a rare astronaut autograph, or an exciting adventure with a real space hero! The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s 2014 Fall Auction of Astronaut Memorabilia boasts a thrilling array of space collectibles from the very beginnings of the Mercury era up through the more recent Space Shuttle missions.
Register here to claim your virtual paddle number and start bidding today!
Auction closes November 8, 2014 at 9:30 p.m. EDT.
See the rules and regulations for the auction guidelines.
Don’t forget to check out our signature astronaut experiences, hosted this year on BiddingForGood.com!
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield‘s famous rendering of David Bowie’s song Space Oddity while on the Int. Space Station is now available again. The legal issues involved in obtaining the rights to the song to allow him to post the video for two more years are described at Space Oddity – Chris Hadfield.
1. Monday, Nov. 3, 2014: 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome GERALD DRIGGERS to the show to discuss his Mars settlement ideas.
2. Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014:,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): No show so we can pay attention to election returns.
3. Friday, Nov. 7:, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30-1 PM CST): We welcome back DR. ROB MANNING regarding his new book, Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer.
4. Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST): We welcome back MARK WHITTINGTON to the show. Mark is a well known space journalist and publishes his blog, “Curmudgeons Corner” at curmudgeons.blogspot.com.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
The latest TMRO program deals with the SpaceShipTwo accident and Antares rocket failure : SpaceShipTwo and Antares – 7.33 – TMRO
They can’t yet display Princess Leia’s message to Obi Wan but it looks like it’s just a matter of resolution, not principle: These Lasers Can Create 3D Signs in Mid-Air – Popular Mechanics
The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory on the University of Arizona campus recently hosted The Art of Planetary Science, an
See the slideshow of the artworks and this video:
More about the exhibition:
Sunday Oct 26th we flew six high altitude balloon to the top of the stratosphere. We carried over 1700 PongSat student experiments, two MiniCubes, twelve HD cameras and a host of in house experiments. We also flew the reward signs for our Kickstarter effort that raised the funds for the flights. The last flight of the day was our 171st mission.
Some of the photos from the flights:
A message from the Challenger Center:
STEM education organization continues to inspire and
educate students around the globe
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center), the international science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education organization, unveiled a newly designed Challenger Learning Center at San Antonio College. The state-of-the-art Center has quickly become Challenger Center’s flagship facility. It is the first completely new design since the organization was founded nearly 30 years ago and represents the future look and feel of Challenger Center’s simulated STEM education experience.
“Today’s students have different expectations than students did years ago,” said Dr. Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “We know our model works, and the concept of Mission Control and the Space Station will always be our foundation. But it was time to take that classic Challenger Learning Center to a new level.”
The new Center features a futuristic look and a more functional design while incorporating the best parts of the organization’s original Challenger Learning Center. A revamped open floor model gives students more room to work together in the Space Station. Each student has the chance to interact with at least one hands-on lab during the mission. Large monitors above each work station display emergency alerts and videos throughout the sequence, providing additional engagement and interactivity. Mission Control now resembles what current Mission Control rooms look like with collaborative work stations, large high-definition screens to enhance the visual experience, and computer monitors that drop down into the tables to allow for more flexibility.
The Center is part of the Scobee Education Center, a state-of-the-art 22,000 square foot facility combining the school’s planetarium with the new Challenger Learning Center. The completed Scobee Education Center is named in honor of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee and his widow June Scobee Rodgers who attended the college together. June Scobee Rodgers along with the other Challenger crew families founded Challenger Center after the shuttle tragedy.
“We are so very grateful for the opportunity to open our first next generation Challenger Learning Center, a design that represents the future of Challenger Center, in San Antonio” said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chair, Challenger Center. “It is especially meaningful for it to be part of the Scobee Education Center, extending the relationship between my family, the Challenger astronauts, and San Antonio College.”
Building on students’ natural enthusiasm for space, Challenger Center uses simulated space missions to strengthen knowledge and excitement about STEM subjects. The newest educational missions, Earth Odyssey and Lunar Quest, were developed with the help of NASA and NOAA so that students would be given the opportunity to analyze real-life data. In addition to applying the knowledge they have learned in the classroom, the missions allow students to practice important skills like problem-solving, communication and teamwork. Today, Challenger Center has more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers around the globe in 26 states and three other countries.
About Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center)
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its international network of Challenger Learning Centers use space simulations to engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities. These experiences strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Centers reach hundreds of thousands of students each year. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. Learn more about Challenger Center at www.challenger.org and connect with us on facebook.com/challengerctr, twitter.com/challengerctr and youtube.com/ccsse.
Yale grad student Joseph R. Schmitt says that the discovery of a new exoplanet was enabled by the work of volunteers in the Planet Hunters citizens science program. Schmitt is first author on a paper about the discovery:
We’re happy to announce the discovery of a new planet discovered by Planet Hunters volunteers, which is now published in The Astrophysical Journal. You can read the article for free on the arXiv here.
The star (PH3/Kepler-289/KOI-1353/KIC 7303287) is young and Sun-like. Two planets in the system, with periods of 35 and 126 days, had been previously validated statistically, the outer planet being a gas giant. However, Planet Hunters volunteers discovered a third transit signal between these two planets at a period of 66 days (PH3 c).
A quirk in the system allowed us to actually measure the mass of all the planets using only the exact times that each planet transited. The outer two planets, PH3 c and d, do not have a constant period like most planets do. Instead, it oscillates around an average value in a regular manner, which meant that it had been missed by computer algorithms but was easy to find for human eyes. In particular, the period of PH3 c changes by 10.5 hours in just 10 orbits due to the gravitational influence of the outer gas giant tugging on the middle planet. If Earth experienced such large changes, then if 2014 were 365 days long, 2024 would be 367.4 days long, almost two and a half days longer than 2014.
The new planet is about 2.7 times the radius of Earth and 4 times as massive. Its low density means that, despite its low mass, a large chunk of the planet must be composed of hydrogen and helium: 2% by mass and 50% by radius. The outer planet, on the other hand, is like a warm version of our Saturn, while the inner planet’s mass is poorly known. It could be mostly rocky, watery, or gassy.
We would like to thank all of the people involved in the project and all of the Planet Hunters volunteers for making this possible. We hope to find more gems like this in the future.