Ambition – The Film

About the video from ESA (YouTube)

Ambition is a collaboration between Platige Image and ESA. Directed by Tomek Bagiński and starring Aiden Gillen and Aisling Franciosi, Ambition was shot on location in Iceland, and screened on 24 October 2014 during the British Film Institute’s celebration of Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, at the Southbank, London.

More information.
Rosetta: the ambition to turn science fiction into science fact: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Spa…

Video Source (ESA)

Mars and Comet Siding Spring

A Hubble look at Mars and comet Siding Spring. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/PSI/JHU/APL, STScI/AURA

A Hubble look at Mars and comet Siding Spring. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/PSI/JHU/APL, STScI/AURA

Have a look at this Hubble image of Mars AND comet Siding Spring in the same field of view during the close pass on 19 October. The comet came as close as 140,000 km / 87,000 miles – only a third of our Earth to Moon distance. I am trying to imagine what that would be like.

This from Hubblesite:

This composite of NASA Hubble Space Telescope images captures the positions of comet Siding Spring and Mars in a never-before-seen close passage of a comet by the Red Planet, which happened at 2:28 p.m. EDT October 19, 2014. The comet passed by Mars at approximately 87,000 miles (about one-third of the distance between Earth and the Moon). At that time, the comet and Mars were approximately 149 million miles from Earth.

 

The comet image shown here is a composite of Hubble exposures taken between Oct. 18, 8:06 a.m. EDT to Oct. 19, 11:17 p.m. EDT. Hubble took a separate photograph of Mars at 10:37 p.m. EDT on Oct. 18.

The Mars and comet images have been added together to create a single picture to illustrate the angular separation, or distance, between the comet and Mars at closest approach. The separation is approximately 1.5 arc minutes, or one-twentieth of the angular diameter of the full Moon. The background starfield in this composite image is synthesized from ground-based telescope data provided by the Palomar Digital Sky Survey, which has been reprocessed to approximate Hubble’s resolution. The solid icy comet nucleus is too small to be resolved in the Hubble picture. The comet’s bright coma, a diffuse cloud of dust enshrouding the nucleus, and a dusty tail, are clearly visible.

 

This is a composite image because a single exposure of the stellar background, comet Siding Spring, and Mars would be problematic. Mars is actually 10,000 times brighter than the comet, and so could not be properly exposed to show detail in the Red Planet. The comet and Mars were also moving with respect to each other and so could not be imaged simultaneously in one exposure without one of the objects being motion blurred. Hubble had to be programmed to track on the comet and Mars separately in two different observations.

 

The images were taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Partial Solar Eclipse

Tomorrow afternoon there will be a partial solar eclipse that most of North America is going to get to see.  Heavy rain expected here and the eclipse being very near or at sunset, well, I’m going to miss out on the “live” version but NASA TV will be showing coverage stating at 17:00 EDT / 22:00 UT, you should be able to find it at the link in the banner.

Hopefully YOU are going to be more fortunate!  Here is a static image of the “timing map” from the video:

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC - http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC – http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Video source

Comet Dunes?

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from just 7.8 km away. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from just 7.8 km away. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Here is one panel of four images from the Rosetta spacecraft on 18 October when the spacecraft was only 7.8 km from the surface.

The image scale is about 92 cm per pixel according to the caption

The images here were taken about 20 minutes apart and the rotation is apparent, so Photoshop route of putting them together isn’t working out so good. Trying to accomplish the task of putting the four frames together is made more difficult because I am doing it on a laptop. I have a new plan: I am going to print each panel out and see if I can stick them together just for fun, if it works out I will print the frames out on photo paper and put everything on the wall.

You can see all four panels at the Cometwatch Blog you can see if you can put them together too.

I picked this particular image for a couple of reasons: check out the boulders. Seems like they should be rolling down the hill, that’s what having little gravity does for you.

The really interesting thing is towards the center of the image, are those dunes? If they are how did they form?

A Rover View of Comet

NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU

NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU

This is the (annotated) view of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity about two-and-a-half hours before the close encounter with Mars.

Want an non-annotated version?

You will notice some cosmic ray hits are labeled. Very common artifact as anyone who dabbles even a little in astrophotography will attest. This image has been processed to remove detector artifacts and a slight twilight glow. The processing was very well done, sometimes the processing is half the fun.

You can see more images, including a blink between two frames from Opportunity. Do have a look.

HAYABUSA 2

The JAXA Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Sagamihara Campus.  Credit: JAXA

The JAXA Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Sagamihara Campus. Credit: JAXA

On 30 November 2014 JAXA will launch the Haybusa2 mission to asteroid 1999JU3. This mission is a successor to Haybusa which launched in 2003 to the asteroid Itokawa. The spacecraft arrived in 2005 and released a little probe called “Minerva” which actually touched down on the asteroid twice.

There was a sample return on the Hayabusa mission which eventuualy did make it back but not until major obstacles were overcome. In December 2005 communications with the spacecraft was lost. JAXA never once gave in, they regained contact in January 2006, fired up the ion engine and headed home in February 2007. Finally in June 2010 and after an engine anomaly the samples were returned to Earth.

Hayabusa was an incredible mission to say the least.

Now Hayabusa 2 is set to launch and this time it sports a small impactor to make a small crater on 1999JU3. More details are sure to come out but Hayabusa 2 will also be a sample return mission.

Launch date: 30 November 2014
Launch time: 13:24 JST (only if launched on first try, it will vary after that)
Launch site: Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center

Rosetta Orbital Plans

A great ESA animation depicting Rosetta’s orbits and separation of the Philae lander.

On 12 November, Rosetta will move to 22.5 km from the comet and release Philae.

The lander will take about seven hours to get to the surface. In the meantime Rosetta will be maneuvered back to about 50 km from the comet so the lander stays visible. The lander communicates via Rosetta so the visibility is important. Eventually Rosetta’s orbit will be moved back to 20 km.

The actual rotation rate of the comet is 12.5 hours so yes the animation is sped up considerably – it does help the animation.

Video source (ESA)

Widowiak Ridge

The rover Opportunity looks north. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

The rover Opportunity looks north. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

Here’s a look at Widowiak Ridge on Mars from the rover Opportunity on sol 3,786! The color approximates natural color on Mars.

The ridge is on the western rim of Endeavour crater, this look is about 70 compass degrees from north-northwest on the left to east-northeast on the right. Widowiak Ridge rises about 12 meters / 40 feet and runs about 150 meters / 500 feet. The view of the area from above.

The name Widowiak is an informal name given to the feature given as a tribute to Opportunity science team member Thomas J. Wdowiak (1939-2013). Informal? Perhaps an exception to the naming convention is in order.

If you have a pair of 3D glasses (Red on left eye, Blue on right eye) there is a really nice 3D image on a companion image.

Another view in false color is located here, no 3D but if you have the glasses take a look anyway. I quite liked it.

Plasma Blob

Part of a CME from the sun.  Credit: SDO / NASA et.al.

Part of a CME from the sun. Credit: SDO / NASA et.al.

On 26 September there was a coronal mass ejection from the Sun. The Solar Dynamic Observatory captured a “twisted blob” of ionized Helium at 60,000 oC.

The image was taken in the extreme UV light to show amazing detail and it is the SDO image of the week.

Here is a link to a video from the SDO site. The link goes to the small version of the video, I liked it best. Other versions are available at the SDO site.