The Cygnus cargo ship just after being released from the ISS robotic arm. Click for larger. Credit: NASA TV
Orbital Sciences Corporation is putting the final touches on the first its first operational resupply of the International Space Station with the Cygnus cargo ship.
Cygnus left the the ISS this morning at 11:41 UTC when it was released the robot arm 260 miles above the South Atlantic east of Argentina. Once released Cygnus “set sail” so to speak by firing thrusters for a minute and a half to get it out of a safety zone maintained around the ISS.
On Wednesday (19 February) a couple of braking manuvers will slow the Cygnus enough to cause it to fall out of orbit in a controlled fashion.
Cygnus was launched a little over a month ago and on 12 January after a three day journey from Wallops Island Virginia, it arrived at the ISS with almost 2,800 pounds of supplies.
After the supplies were removed from Cygnus it was refilled with trash from the station. No recycling here, the Cygnus and its contents will burn up during the re-entry interface with the atmosphere. The re-entry if we can call it that, will occur at around 18:20 UTC tomorrow, Wednesday 19 February over the Atlantic between South America and New Zealand.
Static image from OVATION. Click to go to the OVATION page with live images. Credit NOAA
The US Space Weather Prediction Center and the Space Weather Prediction Testbed recently introduced a new Auroral Foercast (test) product.
The Auroral Forecast product is based ont eh OVATION Prime model providing a 30 to 40 minute forecast on auroral displays and probabilities for both polar regions. The model itself was developed by P. Newell at the Johns Hopkins, Applied Physics Lab. Scientists at the NESDIS National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) added further refinements to make the model run in real time.
The model uses data from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satelite. For the displays, the model takes the ACE data and provides output in terms of energy per unit area and converts that into a relative intesity map and that is further translated into a probability of observation. The resulting images show where the aurora most likely will be seen and how intense it is likely to be.
The release of the OVATION product is timely as we should be seeing an increase in auroral activity.
What is the solar cycle progression shaping up? Quite close to predictions.
The image is a static image of the northern hemisphere, click it to go to the OVATION page and get a live look at both poles or you can click here.
On 5 April and 20 May 2013 Saturn was on the receiving end of blast of solar wind. The electrons in the solar wind and collided with hydrogen molecules and an aurora resulted.
Between the Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope a series of ultraviolet and infrared images were taken and put into video form.
BTW: Snowing here, 300 to 360 mm expected overnight.
A new look at Centaurus A.Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U. Birmingham/M. Burke et al.
Centaurus A is always a treat to see in a good image. This Chandra image gives us an especially good look at those huge jets of material being rejected by the supermassive blackhole at the center of the galaxy.
This image shows those bubble structures too.
Just weeks after NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory began operations in 1999, the telescope pointed at Centaurus A (Cen A, for short). This galaxy, at a distance of about 12 million light years from Earth, contains a gargantuan jet blasting away from a central supermassive black hole.
Since then, Chandra has returned its attention to this galaxy, each time gathering more data. And, like an old family photo that has been digitally restored, new processing techniques are providing astronomers with a new look at this old galactic friend.