All posts by Tom

Hitome Data

So there WAS data!  And to think I had written the mission off. Japan’s Hitomi mission launched on 17 February 2016 and there were only two short contacts with the spacecraft before communications was lost. What happened to the spacecraft is not known for certain but according to Japan’s space agency JAXA: “it is estimated that Hitomi separated to five pieces at about 10:42 a.m.”

From NASA — Before its brief mission ended unexpectedly in March 2016, Japan’s Hitomi X-ray observatory captured exceptional information about the motions of hot gas in the Perseus galaxy cluster. Now, thanks to unprecedented detail provided by an instrument developed jointly by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), scientists have been able to analyze more deeply the chemical make-up of this gas, providing new insights into the stellar explosions that formed most of these elements and cast them into space.

The Perseus cluster, located 240 million light-years away in its namesake constellation, is the brightest galaxy cluster in X-rays and among the most massive near Earth. It contains thousands of galaxies orbiting within a thin hot gas, all bound together by gravity. The gas averages 90 million degrees Fahrenheit (50 million degrees Celsius) and is the source of the cluster’s X-ray emission.

Using Hitomi’s high-resolution Soft X-ray Spectrometer (SXS) instrument, researchers observed the cluster between Feb. 25 and March 6, 2016, acquiring a total exposure of nearly 3.4 days. The SXS observed an unprecedented spectrum, revealing a landscape of X-ray peaks emitted from various chemical elements with a resolution some 30 times better than previously seen.
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Arrival and Departure

We have both an arrival and departure today!

First the docking of the S.S. Gene Cernan cargo-spacecraft at the International Space Station (coverage) at 08:15 UT  / 03:15 ET and an hour later the launch of an American weather satellite the JPSS-1.

Missed the coverage?  NOTE: The JPSS launch has been scrubbed. Rescheduled for tomorrow morning, I will update the time.

Docking replay and I will replace this with a more concise version shortly:

Heads Up

In just a few hours at 08:15 UT / 03:15 ET NASA TV will carry coverage of the docking of the S.S. Gene Cernan cargo-spaceship to the International Space Station.

An hour later coverage begins on the attempted launch of an American weather satellite.  The satellite will be put into a polar orbit and as you can imagine is packed with the latest technology — have a look at the JPSS-1 mission here.

If all goes well coverage can be found here at 08:20 UT / 03:20 ET.

I know, for the North/South American east and points there to the west it might not be the most opportune time so with any luck replays will be available.

Rare Solar Filament Spotted

NASA — NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory came across an oddity that the spacecraft has rarely observed before: a dark filament encircling an active region (Oct. 29-31, 2017). Solar filaments are clouds of charged particles that float above the sun, tethered to it by magnetic forces. They are usually elongated and uneven strands. Only a handful of times before have we seen one shaped like a circle. The black area to the left of the brighter active region is a coronal hole, a magnetically open region of the sun. While it may have no major scientific value, it is noteworthy because of its rarity. The still was taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.

Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Orbital Launch Attempt 2 — REPLAY

Here is a replay (thanks to Space Videos) showing all the good bits as far as action goes.

This is the second attempt to get the cargo spacecraft in the air. Yesterday’s attempt was scrubbed due to an aircraft in the area.

I don’t know how they handle flight restrictions in an area for a launch. I looked yesterday (and this morning) for a temporary flight restriction for the area and did not see one, I’m sure there is I just don’t know the procedure.

Good luck again Orbital!

Wow! Great video of the pad during early ascent!

The Cygnus cargo ship “Gene Cernan” is on the way and all is proceeding perfectly.

I will leave this feed up for a while, next up is solar array deployment in about an hour (now 12:34 UT).

Orbital ATK CRS-8 Launch – SCRUBBED

UPDATE:  Launch time is 12:14 UT /  07:14 EST on 12 November 2017.

The image above shows the Orbital ATK Antares being rolled out to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s pad 0A.  Antares will carry the company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft with more than 7,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station when it gets off the ground.

Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

The launch SCRUBBED DUE TO AN AIRCRAFT IN THE AREA. What? Gee, I didn’t  guess that would happen.  Oh well, probably a 24 hour turn around. Pity though, the weather was perfect.

Will update later with a new date/time.  Today the  launch was scheduled for 12:37 UT / 07:37 EST;  I am going to guess if it goes tomorrow it will be around the same time.  We’ll see.

Home Sweet Home

Just look at this beautiful view of Earth from 10,000 miles / 16,100 km — taken in 1967!   As is usually the case you can click the image for a larger version; however in this case you should go to NASA’s Image of the Day and get the REALLY large version.

NASA — On November 9, 1967, the uncrewed Apollo 4 test flight made a great ellipse around Earth as a test of the translunar motors and of the high speed entry required of a crewed flight returning from the Moon. A 70mm camera was programmed to look out a window toward Earth, and take a series of photographs from “high apogee.” Seen looking west are coastal Brazil, the Atlantic Ocean, West Africa and Antarctica. This photograph was made as the Apollo 4 spacecraft, still attached to the S-IVB (third) stage, orbited Earth at an altitude of 9,544 miles.

Credit: NASA/Yvette Smith

BTW: There will be launch of a Cygnus cargo spaceship to the International Space Station on Saturday. Orbital ATK is planning on launching the CRS-8 mission from NASA’s Whallops Flight Facility.

Another Hero Gone

Astronaut Richard “Dick” Gordon passed away on 06 November 2017 at the age of 88. Mr. Gordon was the pilot of Apollo 12 and was one of only a handful of people to visit the moon.

NASA had this nice biography (NASA / Steve Fox):
Gordon, a retired U. S. Navy captain, became an astronaut in 1963. He spent more than 316 hours in space on two missions. He was the pilot for the three-day Gemini 11 mission in 1966 and performed two spacewalks. At the time of the flight, Gemini 11 set the world altitude record of 850 miles.

Gordon was born in Seattle, Washington in 1929. He graduated from North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo, Washington in 1947, then received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Washington in 1951.

In 1953, Gordon received his wings as a naval aviator. He then attended All-Weather Flight School and jet transitional training and was subsequently assigned to an all-weather fighter squadron at the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1957, he attended the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and served as a flight test pilot until 1960. During this tour of duty, he did flight test work on the F8U Crusader, F11F Tigercat, FJ Fury, and A4D Skyhawk, and was the first project test pilot for the F4H Phantom II. He served with Fighter Squadron 121 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station as a flight instructor in the F4H and participated in the introduction of that aircraft to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was also flight safety officer, assistant operations officer, and ground training officer for Fighter Squadron 96 at Miramar.

Gordon made a second flight in 1969 as command pilot on Apollo 12 with spacecraft commander, Charles Conrad and lunar module pilot, Alan Bean. Throughout the 31-hour lunar surface stay by Conrad and Bean, Gordon remained in orbit around the moon on the command module, “Yankee Clipper.”

Since retiring from NASA, Gordon served as Executive Vice President of the New Orleans Saints Professional Football Club in the National Football League and held executive positions at several companies in the oil and gas, engineering and technology industries.

In November 2005, NASA honored veteran Gordon with an Ambassador of Exploration award. NASA presented these prestigious awards to the astronauts who took part in the nation’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs from 1961 to 1972. Ambassadors of Exploration help NASA communicate the benefits and excitement of space exploration.

Video: News, Science, Tech and Health

This is a Cool Drone!

Around here we are seeing the beginning of drone use in a few activities for hire, for example crop and field mapping, monitoring wetlands, oh and just a few kilometers from here monitoring a public road infrastructure projects. If I am seeing this, I know you must be also.

In this case this drone is a scientific instrument that will plainly be a remarkable platform for science especially for our students.

NASA / Goddard / Lori Keesey — NASA scientists, who always are on the hunt for new platforms from which to carry out their research, now may avail themselves of two agency-developed unmanned aerial systems, or UASs, that some say represent the future for drone aircraft.

Unlike most commercially available unmanned aircraft systems, Vanilla Aircraft’s VA001 and Black Swift Technologies’ S2 small Unmanned Aircraft System, or sUAS, purposely were designed for scientific investigations.

Both provide one-of-a-kind capabilities that represent a significant success for NASA’s Small Business Innovative Research, or SBIR, program, which funded their development, said Geoff Bland, a research engineer at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

“Our goal always is to advance state-of-the-art airborne capabilities and platforms tailored to the needs of our scientists,” said Bland, who oversaw the aircrafts’ development. “The SBIR program offered us an outstanding venue for engaging small businesses in our quest to develop new tools for gathering scientific data.”

Now operational after months of development, the aircraft are offering the scientific community complementary, easy-to-use capabilities at a lower cost.

To Antarctica and Back

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