Finally the video hits YouTube. I watched this as it happened and kept saying “wow”. This is one of the better launch videos out there. No animation upon satellite separation here.
Do check it out.
Congrats to SpaceX on the first commercial mission, putting the SES-8 satellite in a geostationary orbit to provide HD communications to India and southeast Asia.
Also thanks to SpaceVids.tv for putting it up.
Saturn’s northern vortex – the hexagon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University
WOW! Cassini took the best images yet of Saturn’s northern vortex we know as the hexagon. Be sure to check out the animated gif from the JPL page (linked below).
This colorful view from NASA’s Cassini mission is the highest-resolution view of the unique six-sided jet stream at Saturn’s north pole known as “the hexagon.” This movie, made from images obtained by Cassini’s imaging cameras, is the first to show the hexagon in color filters, and the first movie to show a complete view from the north pole down to about 70 degrees north latitude.
Scientists can see the motion of a wide variety of cloud structures that reside within the hexagon in this movie. There is a massive hurricane tightly centered on the north pole, with an eye about 50 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. (More information about that Saturn hurricane is at Saturn Hurricane Movie.)
Titan’s Polar Vortex from Cassini. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
It is probably just me but that vortex always looks like it sticks out a little, like a 3-D effect. Nice picture though.
BTW: There is a nice image of the Kliuchevskoi Volcano taken from the ISS on the wallpaper link above. Looks quite nice on my desktops.
The JPL caption released with the image:
The sunlit edge of Titan’s south polar vortex stands out distinctly against the darkness of the moon’s unilluminated hazy atmosphere. The Cassini spacecraft images of the vortex led scientists to conclude that its clouds form at a much higher altitude — where sunlight can still reach — than the surrounding haze.
The compact solar system. Click for larger. Credit: DLR
A very interesting system too. A group of astrophysicists have found a small solar system of seven planets around a sun-like star 2,700 light-years away in the direction of Draco.
The press release doesn’t talk too much about the star KOI-351; it is just a little bigger than our sun in terms of mass (sun * 1.13), and in radius (sun * 1.2). It’s a a little warmer too at just over 5900 K.
The outermost planet which is close to being as far from its sun as we are from ours. That’s the outermost. Instead of an Earth-sized planet this one Kepler-90 h is 11.3 times the radius of Earth. Don’t know what the density is, but being that big I would expect the atmosphere to contain more in the way of hydrogen, helium and methane than ours.
The really cool, but hot planets are the inner most. The inner two are both larger than Earth and speed around KOI-351 in 7 days for the inner most and 9 days for the next one out. By the time we get to the third planet we are nearly the same orbital time as Mercury.
Read the press release here.
There has been a number of launches in the past weeks, and now China gets in on the act.
China launched a mission to the moon. The payload the “Jade Rabbit” launched on 01 December 2013 at 17:30 UTC aboard a Long March IIIB rocket from the Xichang launch facility. Note: there is some confusion about the date, the YouTube video says 02 December at 12:30 EST but everything was released before then.
Chang’e-3 heading to the moon, click the image to go to the launch video. Credit: CCTV News
The “Jade Rabbit” is the translated name of the Chang’e-3 lunar rover Yutu. Yes they are attempting to put a rover on the lunar surface with the intent of exploring for “several months”.
The journey to the moon should take around four days and orbit insertion should be on Friday 06 December. Landing is expected on 14 December in the Sinus Iridum. It is said the lander will operate for up to a year.
It will be fun to watch how things go this week. There is a big difference between getting to the moon and successfully landing a rover there, so here’s wishing them good luck! You know somehow I think in not so many years China will put people on the moon.
A close up of an active region on the sun. Credit: SDO
The Solar Dynamics Observatory zoomed in on an active region on 18-19 November and the coils around it. The coils are charged particles running along the magnetic field lines as seen in extreme ultraviolet light.
We are getting along in the solar cycle and activity should be evident in an increase of the number of solar storms. After the last solar minimum cycle, I would hate to make any predictions. It’s a little early yet and time will tell.
ISON comes around the sun. ©ESA/NASA/SOHO via SpaceRef
An update to yesterday’s post when I was unsure of whether ISON actually did survive and apparently it did although it could be in pieces. Glad I didn’t jump on the ISON is dead bandwagon the one newscast had running around — no wonder I don’t listen to that one network.
Hope to have a look at it soon, naturally there is a hill in the way though so it might be a few days from here. Time for a short road trip to get around the hill in question.
Thank goodness for my little Meade ETX scope, I can toss it in the car an go. Looking for a Christmas gift? The smaller Meade’s (and probably Celestron) are priced reasonably. A pair of image stabilizing binoculars would be a great gift too, best thing about them is the fact you can use them anytime. I heard once the best scope is the one you use the most and there is much truth in that. I would stay away from the department store “telescopes” though, and notice I’m not going to admonish you to NOT buy one, just if possible get something from a company that knows something about quality optics. If a sales pitch involves telling you how powerful the product is, consider that a red-flag. Concern yourself with optical quality first.
There, before I really get going, back to the original point of the post. Here’s a press release from the Max Planck Institute:
The unusual shape of the comet’s tail permits conclusions about yesterday’s encounter with the sun November 29, 2013
At the time of its closest approach to the sun, comet ISON still had an active nucleus which was spewing gas and dust. This is the assessment made by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg- Lindau. They are currently analyzing actual pictures of the instrument LASCO which enjoys a unique view of the comet from its vantage point on board of the Solar Observatory SOHO. From the assessments, it is not clear whether the nucleus still exists or whether it partially fragmented on its fiery swing around the sun.
First the sizzle:
ISON appears to have lost a lot of it’s “comet goodness” during its sizzling close-encounter with the Sun. There does seem to be a little bit of it left and a tail seems to be growing as you can see at the very end of this (SOHO) video at the ESA channel. How long will it last and is there really anything left that the solar wind won’t strip away? Too soon to tell.
I was watching television this morning and the program did one of those “cut-ins” with a “news” network, one that I never watch on its own, and they were declaring ISON dead. This is the same “news” network ridiculing SpaceX for aborting last afternoon’s launch attempt, the attempt being the second this week and how inept they were yada-yada.
I did see the launch attempt and no the launch didn’t happen, still, it was quite exciting. The abort came at the moment after the main engines lit off, then poof it was over. No word on the reason for this abort yet. You must know the coverage by Space X was excellent, the two hosts and non-PR Space X employees, Molly and John were awesome in their explanations of the events of the countdown and mission. They made the time spent watching worth it. Really a very-very good job.
A NAV_LEFT_B image from Curiostiy on Sol 465. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Curiosity rover has resumed operations on the Martian surface. The the voltage drop of 17 Nov. that halted Curiosity’s operations was diagnosed (see Curious Troubles).
The “likely” cause of the voltage drop was determined to be an internal short in Curiosity’s Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. The design is robust and the short apparently does not affect operation of the power source or the rover. These systems are on other spacecraft, Cassini for example and the shorts don’t seem to result in a loss of capability. Putting those two things together mission managers decided to resume operations.
Interestingly after the decision to resume science activities was made engineers learned the voltage level drop had reversed and is back at the pre-drop level of 17 Nov.
The image is from the left Navcam on Curiosity of Sol 465 (26 November 2013). Makes me wonder about how much mileage they are going to get out of the wheels, that one looks more beat up than I would have thought. Perhaps the wear could simply be from the way Curiosity landed, I’m not sure.
Here’s a short video made from images taken by the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO – A). The video was made over a five day period from 20 to 25 November 2013 (Image Credit: NASA/STEREO).
ISON is heading towards perihelion, the point in the orbit where it is closest to the sun as it passes around. That distance is going to be about 0.013 AU on 28 November.
ISON is also in the region where, if it is going to break up the next few days is when it is going to happen. I read somewhere ISON needs to be around 200 meters in diameter to survive and current estimates has it between 500 meters and 1.2 km so my fingers are crossed it will make it around and give us a nice show on the way out.
You will notice another object crossing ISON’s path about the time ISON is in line with Mercury. That is another comet, Comet Enke.
See this and other versions leading up to this video here.