All posts by Tom

Create Your Own Mosaic

From ESA:
The International Space Station has been invaded by alien… artwork! ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has been decorating the space station with mosaic artwork of aliens. Now Samantha is inviting you to show off your artistic skills by designing your very own space mosaic!

Contest page

This contest is open to kids age 12 and younger. Too bad in a way this would make for a good second contest for ages 12 and up too perhaps by age group. it will be fun to see the results.

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Space X Landing Attempt

The other day Space X launched the CRS-6 and then attempted to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket onto a barge floating in the ocean.

Space X has released the video of the “failed” landing. Thank you Space X! The attempt is amazing and I would not necessarily call this a failure, not a complete failure anyway, merely another step to success.

Video

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Ceres North Pole

ceresnorthpole

Here’s a shot of the north pole of the dwarf planet Ceres. The image was taken on 10 April 2015 with the Framing camera on the Dawn spacecraft.

At the time the distance between Dawn and Ceres was 33,000 km / 21,000 miles and the spacecraft was getting ready to enter its first science orbit which it will enter on 23 April.

There were a quite a few images, enough for the mission team to put together a nice animation showing the rotation of Ceres. Click here (431 kb).

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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A Calm Beauty

A_calm_beauty

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti posted this aptly titled photograph on social media with the comment: “An aurora in the distance and the Space Station bathed in moonlight.”

In addition to being a valuable member of the Expedition 43 crew and the six-month Futura mission, Samantha can count photography among her many talents.

You can see more of her photos on Samantha’s Flickr page.

Follow Samantha at samanthacristoforetti.esa.int

Image: ESA/NASA

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CRS 6 Leaves Falcon Returns

The Space X mission CRS 6 launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral Florida in a beautiful launch and nobody does a launch video like Space X.

Part of the Space X scenario is the ability to return and reuse the Falcon 9 first stage.

Space X doesn’t mean just splash down in the ocean for retrieval but a powered return and landing. No simple feat, the plan is to land on a floating platform.

falconlanding

 

The image shown is the Falcon 9 first stage just before landing on the platform. Apparently the Falcon landed but “excess lateral velocity” caused it to tip over post landing. There never seems to be video available, too bad the attempts are still incredible.

See more images and a little background here.

Images: Space X

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Pluto and Charon

plutocolor

This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on April 9 and downlinked to Earth the following day. It is the first color image ever made of the Pluto system by a spacecraft on approach. The image is a preliminary reconstruction, which will be refined later by the New Horizons science team. Clearly visible are both Pluto and the Texas-sized Charon. The image was made from a distance of about 71 million miles (115 million kilometers)-roughly the distance from the Sun to Venus. At this distance, neither Pluto nor Charon is well resolved by the color imager, but their distinctly different appearances can be seen. As New Horizons approaches its flyby of Pluto on July 14, it will deliver color images that eventually show surface features as small as a few miles across.

Original content at New Horizons website

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

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VIR Images of Ceres

ceres413

New images of the dwarf planet Ceres are starting to come in. This image is from the VIR instrument which is the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer.

The images is from two different regions on Ceres. The top row from Region 1 and the bottom Region 5. What is special already about the two regions is they contain those mystery bright spots and Region 5 has the brightest of the bright.

Having an infrared component we can look at the relative surface temperatures and what we are seeing is Region 1 looks to be cooler than the rest of Ceres. Region 5 seems to be the same temperature as its surroundings.

As more clues are added the mystery of the bright spots will be solved.

The Dawn mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.The Dawn mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/ASI/INAF

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SpaceX Launch Day – UPDATED

Mission/Orbiter: SpaceX CRS-6 / Dragon

Launch Vehicle:  SpaceX Falcon 9 

Note: The CRS-6 mission will carry more than 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads to support science and research activities on the ISS. A number of CubeSats are also scheduled to be part of the payload.

Click here for a more detailed overview of the mission (PDF file).

Current Status: Go for the second attempt

Launch Date: Tuesday April 2015 16:40 EDT / 20:40 UTC

ISS arrival: 15 April 2015 at 0700 ET / 11:00 UTC Pending Update

Odds of Launch: 50 percent – note this is worse than for the original launch date which was scrubbed for weather violations.

NOAA’s Forecast:

Tuesday:  Scattered showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. South wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station’s 57.7-foot robotic arm to reach out and capture Dragon at approximately 7 a.m. Flight Engineer Terry Virts of NASA will support Cristoforetti as they operate from the station’s cupola.

You can catch the launch and return at NASA-TV link above and will link the replay after the launch when it comes available.

 

Image Credits: NASA / NOAA

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Yuri’s Night

Yuri’s Night is a World Space Party and it is tonight! Many observatories, science centers and astronomy clubs are hosting Yuri’s Night events.

Everywhere! The entire world is involved, there’s even a South Pole Yuri Night so if you happen to be in Antarctica near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, check it out 😉

If you don’t happen to be near an event, you can still participate. Go outside, pick out a constellation or two, find a planet. A telescope isn’t required and if you have a pair of binoculars they will work just fine.

Go outside and see what you can see.  Have fun!

Yuri’s Night

Video

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Apollo 13 Launch

45 years ago today, 11 April 1970 at 14:13 EDT (18:13 UTC) NASA’s Apollo 13 launched. The mission was the third mission destined to land on the moon.

The moon landing was not to be and the crew: Commander James Lovel, Command Module Pilot John Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise encountered major problems resulting from an oxygen tank explosion.

What resulted was a life and death undertaking to bring the crew back to Earth.

The newscast was from the American network CBS with reporting by Walter Conkite and former astronaut Wally Schirra.

Video – hat tip to zellco321

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