All posts by Tom

Image From the Far Side

Congratulations to China and the Chinese space program. They made history by putting the Chang’e4 lander on the surface of the Moon, on the far side – the first time in history.

The lander which includes a rover will study mineral composition and reportedly do low frequency radio-astronomy landed in Von Karman crater.

The crater you see in the image above is not Von Karman, it is a small crater within Von Karman. Von Karman is a very large crater 180 Km / 106 miles across and is located in he south-eastern quadrant on the far-side of the moon and thus never visible to us (Longitude: 176.245 east / Latitude: 44.451 south). From the photo it appears the part of the crater wall might be visible in the background.

Here is a view from the Virtual Moon Atlas. I checked and there is no information on the smaller caters within the main crater. So I was unable to figure out exactly where it is from the image.  If you don’t have the Virtual Moon Atlas you can download it here. it is free and a great program.

The upper image is from China Xinhua News and by the way, if you are wondering how they got the signal back to Earth, it was done by a relay from the Queqiao relay satellite operating in orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the earth-moon system.

The lower image as noted is from the Virtual Moon Atlas and you can (or should be able to) get larger versions by clicking the images.

Ultima Thule First Look – Oh My!

OUTSTANDING! What else can one say? Just outstanding. We have the first clear look at Ultima Thule.

Yes we have color too! (click the image below for a larger version)

And of course you want particulars. I wasn’t going to put up another video but you might as well get the particulars straight from John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory — really good stuff:

Ultima Thule Flyby

Here’s the video from the first part of the coverage – data acquisition.

Ultima Thule flyby signal acquisition comes first at 14:45 UT / 09:45 ET. I’ll leave the link up for the post flyby press conference a couple hours later (16:30 UT / 11:30 ET).

Note: it is 15:15 UT and the coverage is about to start.

The spacecraft has data!  Press conference in about 45 minutes @ 16:30 UTC.


Info on Ultima Thule Flyby Coming

There will be information on the Ultima Thule Flyby at 14:45 UT / 09:45 ET.

First is signal acquisition, it takes over SIX hours for the radio waves to reach us from the New Horizons spacecraft.

Catch it on NASA-TV or you can check back here. I’m sure there will be replays if you miss it live.

New Horizons On Track to Ultima Thule

This update video is from a couple of days ago; there will be a press conference later today but for now everything looks good for New Horizons on its way to flyby the Kuiper Belt Object called Ultima Thule at 05:33 UT / 00:33 ET tomorrow, New Years Day! I’ll try to update after the press conference if anything substantial happens. EDIT: If you noticed the ET time-conversion, you might be scratching your head – or not. I used 12:33 ET which would be correct as probably most North Americans are concerned, but it is indeed not proper if not just plain incorrect. I’ve corrected the time to be accurate.

Happy New Year wishes to everyone and if you are celebrating please be safe!!

Boulders Sliding Down the Hill

This image is from the Dawn spacecraft in June 2018, prior to it running out of fuel and ending the mission. The view is the southeastern wall of Occator crater on the dwarf planet Ceres showing “blocks” or boulders sliding down the side of the crater.

Keep in mind the slide must be very slow; the surface gravity is only 0.28 m/s2 compared to 9.8 m/s2 here on Earth.  That’s something like 35 times slower.

Image: From Dawn’s Framing camera / JPL / NASA