ALMA and NTT and a Newborn

ALMA and NTT and a Newborn Star Click for larger. Credit:ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/H. Arce. Acknowledgements: Bo Reipurth

ALMA and NTT and a Newborn Star Click for larger. Credit:ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/H. Arce. Acknowledgements: Bo Reipurth

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the 3.58-meter New Technology Telescope (NTT) team up for a very nice look at a newborn star. The colors and filters are explained in the ESO caption below, you might get a better sense of them by going to the ESO website. While you are there you can get desktop versions of the image, it looks good on mine.

Unrelated Observing note: The full moon was quite orange when it was setting this morning. Apparently the color I am seeing is from smoke high in the atmosphere from the fires in western Canada, that according to the local weather guy. He’s good like that, even announces visible Hubble passes.

Here’s the ESO caption:

This unprecedented image of Herbig-Haro object HH 46/47 combines radio observations acquired with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) with much shorter wavelength visible light observations from ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT). The ALMA observations (orange and green, lower right) of the newborn star reveal a large energetic jet moving away from us, which in the visible is hidden by dust and gas. To the left (in pink and purple) the visible part of the jet is seen, streaming partly towards us.

UFO Near Space Station?

No don’t leave this is true! Seriously.

On 19 August an Unidentified Flying Object, well really a Unidentified Floating Object was seen by Expedition 36 crew member Chris Cassidy. Flying, floating it’s still was a UFO.

Not for long, Russian ground control quickly identified the object.

I was cracking up over a couple of the comments which you can read at the video source.

Nova Delphini 2013

Nova Delphini 2013 on August 16, 2013 Image: Andrew Dumont

Nova Delphini 2013 on August 16, 2013 Image: Andrew Dumont

A new “star” popped up late last week.  I didn’t get an opportunity to take a look until night before last. I was glad I did too!

First things first, this Nova was discovered by Koichi Itagaki (Teppo-cho, Yamagata, Japan), reported by S. Nakano (Sumoto, Japan) on August 14, 2013. Initially it was pretty bright at a mag. 6.8. By the time I got skies it was in the mag 4.5 range.

The moon isn’t helping because it is washing Nova Delphini out a little but this is still a BINOCULAR target! I’ve seen it in both the scope and binoculars.

If you have fair skies you can take a look (provided you can see the stars Deneb and Vega in the northern hemisphere). I’ve included telescope coordinates for those with telescopes.

If you don’t have a scope or don’t have the faintest idea how to use the one you might have access to other than set it up and point it. Here’s how to find it:

Two methods:

The first is how I found it with binoculars you can refer to a finders chart, and by the way the location marked is only approximate however the coordinates are correct.

Find Vega / Find Deneb both are easy and bright, now find Altair. Draw a line from Altair (the moon works too) to Deneb look along that line until you are across from Vega. It is the bright spot apart from those larger stars.

Another way is to to use a compass and orient yourself at:

Azimuth = 105°17′  and
Altitude 59°25′ .

That will put you right near it.

I did not get a camera on it due to less than desirable atmospheric sky conditions and a barn fire about a mile away (no animals were hurt) puring out smoke, but my brother Andrew, despite his own very milky skies did and the image above is his. Thanks bro!

Here is a very nice image from Efrain Morales via Flickr taken on August 16, 2013.

Like I said the moon is bothering things some, but if you get a chance try taking a look.

Landslides in a Crater

Landslides can be seen in this Martian crater imaged by the Mars Express. Copyright ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Landslides can be seen in this Martian crater imaged by the Mars Express. Copyright ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Those how have followed me for a while know that I have a “thing” for boulders and craters. While most of my looking is on the moon, here is an example from the ESA Mars Express. The image is of the Tagus Valles an ancient cratered southern highlands of Mars and was released in January 2013.

I’ve isolated a crater from the main image, which is exceptional on its own. You can pick out landslides inside the crater as evidenced by the grooves and the material piles below them. The material piles are easiest to see between the 2:00 and 4:00 o’clock positions AND if you click the image to see a larger version of the crater.

Visit the ESA page with this image.

Two Moons Pass in the Night

The Curiosity rover had an eye to the sky on 1 Aug 2013 and caught an eclipse of sorts.

The Mastcam instrument took a series of images of the Martian moon Phobos passing directly in front of the other Martian moon, Deimos.

In the press release from NASA/JPL (below), the apparent size of the moons is compared to how we see our moon so and NASA included a pictoral comparison>/a>.

The NASA press release:

PASADENA, Calif. — The larger of the two moons of Mars, Phobos, passes directly in front of the other, Deimos, in a new series of sky-watching images from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity.

Large craters on Phobos are clearly visible in these images from the surface of Mars. No previous images from missions on the surface caught one moon eclipsing the other.

Continue reading

Icarus Starship Congress 2013

No really! The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress is meeting in Dallas Texas today August 15 and running through August 18th.

Actually this is very cool, getting the interstellar community to discuss and maybe generate tangible action. The idea is to move towards some sort of interstellar civilization.

This year the IISC is a four-day event with an eye towards to generate what I call an “action timetable”, simply setting project management goals.

Obviously none of this is going to happen all at once and that’s sort of the point. For example ‘Day 1′ of the congress will focus on what can realistically be accomplished in the next twenty years. Taking stock in what is possible now and some reasonable guesses on what sort of advances can be expected. By day three the discussion will focus on 50 years and longer out.

If you think this is fanciful keep in mind these are for the most part, visionary people and the interstellar concepts are just part of what some of the involved groups are doing and they are very-very good at what they do. The leading think tank in the meeting is The British Interplanetary Society or the BIS. The BIS was founded in 1933 and even then the group was forward thinking. The fledgling BIS members Harry Ross and Ralph Smith designed and worked on the logistics of living and working on a space station – the year? 1948.

The British Interplanetary Society is really quite the interesting group.

One thing is for sure, when I get to London I just have to pay them a visit!

Some of the others in the Congress are:

Institute for Interstellar Studies

Tau Zero Foundation

Global Starship Alliance (GSA)

Hopefully they will publish an synopsis of the proceedings, I’d like to see them.

Video

Masten Xombie Technology

A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, California ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port. Click to see the wider picture.  Image:  NASA/Masten

A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, California ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port. Click to see the wider picture. Image: NASA/Masten

Masten Space Systems tested a new “Xombie technology” experimental vertical-takeoff and landing rocket along collaboratively with the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to test a new algorithm for “pinpoint” landing of spacecraft on other planets.

Masten was involved with the sky crane landing of Curiosity on Mars and judging from that the term “pinpoint” isn’t just hyperbole.

The wide shot might make a nice desktop you can get a full-res version here.

The press release from JPL:

A year after NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity’s landed on Mars, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are testing a sophisticated flight-control algorithm that could allow for even more precise, pinpoint landings of future Martian spacecraft.

Flight testing of the new Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance algorithm – G-FOLD for short – for planetary pinpoint landing is being conducted jointly by JPL engineers in cooperation with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif., using Masten’s XA-0.1B “Xombie” vertical-launch, vertical-landing experimental rocket.

Continue reading

Juno Halfway to Jupiter

Cartoon depiction of Juno's location enroute to Jupiter.  Click for expanded view. Credit: NASA

Cartoon depiction of Juno’s location enroute to Jupiter. Click for expanded view. Credit: NASA

Yesterday at 12:25 UTC the Juno spacecraft marked the halfway point in its journey to Jupiter. The odometer just turned 1,415,794,248 km or 92,955,807.273 miles. In easier numbers its 9.464 astronomical units. Since one astronomical unit is the mean distance from the Sun to Earth ( 149,597,870.7 km / 92,955,807.3 miles) you would think it would be a lot further away than it appears in the cartoon depiction of Juno’s flight path. In fact you could make the argument that Juno it appears, is closing in on planet Earth!

You would be correct, Juno was only 55.46 million km / 34.46 million miles away and approaching. Although the cartoon is a little dated, it was approxiamtely accurate on 8 Aug 13, just a few days ago. So what’s going on? Mission managers plotted out a circuitous route that takes advantage of an Earth gravity assist and that is coming in October when on the 9th when it will fly by at just 559 km (337 miles)! The flyby will increase the velocity of Juno by 7.3 km/sec or 1,330 mph. Two years later Juno arrives at Jupiter.

To get a nice overview of what Juno is going to be doing once it gets to Jupiter check out the NASA webpage:  Juno Mission to Jupiter: Unlocking the Secrets of a Giant Planet.

You can get map updates from Eyes on the Solar System.

Opportunity Update

Oportunity approaches a boulder field on sol 3392.  Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Oportunity approaches a boulder field on sol 3392. Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Here’s one of the very latest images from the Navigation Camera aboard the Opportunity rover.

The image is from Sol 3392 (08 Aug 13). Located on the rim of Endeavor crater at the base of ‘Solander Point’ Opportunity approached this boulder field on 5 August.

In the past day or two Opportunity used its robotic arm to collect a sample from a target called ‘Red Poker” and used the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer on a target for an overnight integration.

Currently the rover is moving towards another target. Could it be that seemingly large boulder in the image?

The energy production (6 Aug 13) was 385 watt-hours, not too bad. The total odometry is 39.2 km (23.7 miles).

The Mars Exploration Rover website.