Ceres at Opposition

Ceres diameter:  945 km / 587 miles.  Ceres is estimated to contain almost a third of mass of the entire asteroid belt.  Those movies with the spaceship having to do thrilling flying to get through the asteroid belt are far from being accurate.

NASA – This enhanced color image of Ceres’ surface was made from data obtained on April 29, 2017, when NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was exactly between the sun and Ceres. Dawn’s framing cameras took images of Ceres with a clear filter as well as five different color filters.

Images combining these different color filter perspectives reveal fine details of Ceres’ surface. For example, they emphasize the distinct compositions and textures of the material ejected from craters. The brightest region on Ceres, called Cerealia Facula, is highlighted in Occator Crater in the center of this image. Vinalia Faculae, the set of secondary bright spots in the same crater, are located to the right of Cerealia Facula.

One of the darkest regions on Ceres is next to Occator, and represents ejected material from the impact that formed the crater. The ejected material forms a large arc that extends over several hundred kilometers, below the center of Ceres in this image. That material’s distribution is partly determined by Ceres’ rotation.

Other craters also show a mixture of bright and dark regions. While the bright areas are generally identified as salt-rich material excavated from Ceres’ crust, the origin of the dark material remains to be explained. It may have been excavated from a different layer within Ceres’ subsurface than the rest of the ejecta blanket. Scientists will continue analyzing the color data to look for clues about the nature of the different materials on Ceres.

The blueish color is generally found in association with young craters. Scientists believe the color relates to processes that occur when an impact ejects and redistributes material on the surface. The continuous bombardment of Ceres’ surface by micrometeorites alters the texture of the exposed material, leading to its reddening.

This image was taken altitude of about 12,000 miles (20,000 kilometers). See the Dawn Journal for more detail about this opposition observation.

For more information about the Dawn mission, visit http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA


Juno Completes Perijove 6

Juno has completed Perijove 6, the sixth orbit around the planet Jupiter.  The image above is from the previous close pass and was processed by J.P. Hershey one of many citizen scientists processing the images from Juno data.

This data is available to anyone; everyone is encouraged to try their hand at processing and submit their entries.  You can too, just go to NASA’s JunoCam page.  I have made some rather primitive attempts with rather primitive results.  The problem is my knowledge of the program I am using (The GIMP), I am more used to Photoshop CS.  The newest images, from Perijove 6 are already downloaded and available.  Interesting, the images are down and ready before too much of the details of the pass are.  Probably this is due to the pass timing with the weekend.  All seems good, I’m sure we’d know by now if something was amiss.

So, undaunted, I have downloaded a set of images and am trying again.




Data Relay Box Fails on ISS

That’s why there are back-ups!
NASA/Mark Garcia — International Space Station managers will meet Sunday morning to discuss a forward plan for dealing with the apparent failure of one of two fully redundant multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay boxes on the S0 truss of the complex.

External MDM-1 apparently failed at 1:13 p.m. Central time Saturday. Multiple attempts by flight controllers to restore power to the relay box have not been successful. Troubleshooting efforts are continuing. The Expedition 51 crew was informed of the apparent failure and is not in any danger. The MDMs on the truss control the functionality of the station’s solar arrays and radiators among other equipment, and provide power to a variety of other station components.

Because the two MDMs have full redundancy, the apparent loss of MDM-1 has had no impact on station operations.

The image at flickr.

Saturn’s Summer Shadow


The projection of Saturn’s shadow on the rings grows shorter as Saturn’s season advances toward northern summer, thanks to the planet’s permanent tilt as it orbits the sun. This will continue until Saturn’s solstice in May 2017. At that point in time, the shadow will extend only as far as the innermost A ring, leaving the middle and outer A ring completely free of the planet’s shadow.

Over the course of NASA’s Cassini mission, the shadow of Saturn first lengthened steadily until equinox in August 2009. Since then, the shadow has been shrinking. These changes can be seen by comparing the shadow in the above view to its appearance as Cassini approached Saturn in 2004 (PIA06077), equinox in 2009 (PIA11667), and two years ago, in 2015 (PIA20498).

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 10 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Feb. 3, 2017.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 760,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 46 miles (73 kilometers) per pixel.

Image and caption : NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Arianespace Satellite Launch – Replay

Arianespace Launching SES-15 Communications Satellite. Launching from the Spaceport’s ELS launch complex adjacent to the commune of Sinnamary, Flight VS17 delivered a total payload lift performance set at 2,447 kg; it was Arianespace’s fifth mission of 2017 and the Russian-built Soyuz’ 17th liftoff from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport.

Opportunity Update

Yes the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is STILL doing good science on the Martian surface since arriving at  Mars on 25 January 2004 – that’s over 13 years ago!  Go Oppy!

The image above is a cropped version of the original (find it here at NASA). The tracks are visible in the lower center of the image.

Here’s the NASA caption:

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity worked for 30 months on a raised segment of Endeavour Crater’s rim called “Cape Tribulation” until departing that segment in mid-April 2017, southbound toward a new destination. This view looks back at the southern end of Cape Tribulation from about two football fields’ distance away. The component images were taken by the rover’s Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on April 21, during the 4,707th Martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s mission on Mars.

Wheel tracks can be traced back to see the rover’s route as it descended and departed Cape Tribulation. For scale, the distance between the two parallel tracks is about 3.3 feet (1 meter). The rover drove from the foot of Cape Tribulation to the head of “Perseverance Valley” in seven drives totaling about one-fifth of a mile (one-third of a kilometer). An annotated map of the area is at PIA21496. (edit: link goes off site use your back button to return)

The elevation difference between the highest point visible in this scene and the rover’s location when the images were taken is about 180 feet (55 meters).

This view looks northward. It merges exposures taken through three of the Pancam’s color filters, centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near-infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). It is presented in approximately true color.

Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.



On Mars that is.

This is from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO.  Fantastic observation.  Imagine this landslide unfolding; the gravity on Mars is just a bit less than 38 percent of what it is here on Earth so it probably seem to be happening in slow motion.   Or would it?  Lower gravity means that the perception of time would change as compared to Earth too so then what?  WHERE you are doing the observation from would make a difference I think.  Putting a pencil to that problem would be a good rainy day project

Here’s the NASA caption:

This image NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) finally completes a stereo pair with another observation acquired in 2007. It shows a fresh (well-preserved) landslide scarp and rocky deposit off the edge of a streamlined mesa in Simud Valles, a giant outflow channel carved by ancient floods.

The stereo images can be used to measure the topography, which in turn constrains models for the strength of the mesa’s bedrock. Do look at the stereo anaglyph.

This is a stereo pair with PSP_005701_1920.

The map is projected here at a scale of 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) per pixel. [The original image scale is 31.5 centimeters (12.4 inches) per pixel (with 1 x 1 binning); objects on the order of 94 centimeters (37 inches) across are resolved.] North is up.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona



Space X Launches Inmarsat-5

The launch of the Inmarsat-5 from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). LC-39A saw many of the Apollo missions and eventually Apollo 11. After Apollo LC-39A was used for the Shuttle program and now the site is being used by Space X and after much modification Space X can support launches of both commercial and crew missions on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

This is the fourth of the Inmarsat-5 spacecraft in the Global Xpress (GX) constellation. Inmarsat, the only operator of a global Ka-band network, created the GX platform to enable communities across the world to benefit from the emerging digital society.

Because of mission requirements there was no attempt to land the Falcon 9 rocket. is about 9-minutes into the video.