Comet ISON swings around the sun [Update]

The Comet ISON  swung behind the Sun today. Initial reports were that it did not survive its close encounter with the big heat but others are now saying that there appears to be a small object that remains on the same trajectory. Will watch for updates.

[ Update 1:10 am Nov.29.13: It’s still unclear as to whether there is a substantial remnant of the ISON core remaining after the comet’s encounter with the sun or if there is just a fading dust cloud:


Here’s are some great images of  ISON taken from the SOHO spacecraft before it went around the sun:  Comet ISON Streams Toward the Sun – NASA

ISON approaches the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C3 (Nov 28, 2013)

NASA / ESA / SOHO / Emily Lakdawalla
ISON approaches the Sun as seen from SOHO LASCO C3 (Nov 28, 2013)

This animation contains 123 images captured by the SOHO spacecraft between November 26 at 21:20 UT and November 28 at 15:37 UT.

Comet ISON Streams Toward the Sun


Comet ISON moves ever closer to the sun in this image from ESA and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured at 9:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 28, 2013.

Latest updates at

Mars One to announce robotic Mars probe project

The Mars One project that aims to put a human colony on the Red Planet by the 2020s will hold a press conference on Dec. 10 to discuss plans for an unmanned mission in the 2016 time frame. Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite will participate in the event: Mars One planning December 10 announcement about robotic Mars mission – NewSpace Journal


Chinese Chang’e 3 lunar lander soon to launch

The Chinese are expected to launch the Chang’e 3 lunar lander this Sunday, December 1st. This would be the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon since the Soviet Union did it with the Luna 24 rover in 1976.

Here’s a map of the Moon showing where the landing is expected to occur.

The Chinese space agency held a public contest to name the rover and Yutu or Jade Rabbit was the winner. Yutu was the “legendary companion of the goddess Chang’e”.

More about Yutu at


Space policy roundup – Nov.28.13 [Update]

Another collection of space policy/politics related items:


“The Kepler Story” : The background of a one-man performance work about Johannes Kepler

Here is a SETI Institute Google Hangout discussion about the Kepler Story | California Academy of Sciences.

The work is described as follows:

As a one-man performance with dramatic supporting music and full dome visuals, the Morrison Planetarium in collaboration with Motion Institute presents The Kepler Story – an innovative, immersive performance piece about the life and story of 17th-century astronomer and mystic Johannes Kepler. The story of his life, including his discovery of the three laws of planetary motion which removed Earth once and for all from its position at the center of the Universe, took an even more dramatic turn when his mother was arrested for witchcraft and Kepler was forced to defend her. On the way to her trial, reading Galileo’s father’s book on harmony, Kepler experienced one of his greatest epiphanies about the harmony of the universe.

History, religion, passion and science intersect in this remarkable individual’s life with a performance in the Academy’s planetarium that has the capacity to elicit moments of transcendence as it enlivens your senses and stimulates your mind. We will explore Kepler’s unique capacity to integrate a worldview steeped in mysticism with a rigorous scientific perspective based on observation and experimentation.

The Kepler Story is produced by Motion Institute, a Bay Area nonprofit theater production company that offers audiences a singular view of current issues, presented in ways that are contemporary, unpredictable, and embedded in the narratives of their own lives. Written and directed by Nina Wise and performed by Norbert Weisser, a veteran film and stage actor, The Kepler Story integrates spectacular visuals developed by the Morrison Planetarium visualization studio and Toshi Anders Hoo, deeply moving music by composer and cellist Zoë Keating and sound design by Emmy Award winner Christopher Hedge.