All posts by Tom

Hurricane Matthew – KSC Update

It looks like Kennedy Space Center is right in the path of Matthew. Good luck!

Update from Kennedy Space Center at 19:17 UTC 15:17 EDT:
The wind conditions at Kennedy Space Center have dropped below 40 knots and preliminary damage assessments are under way. KSC is now in a “Weather Safe” condition as of 2 p.m. Friday. While there is damage to numerous facilities at KSC, it consists largely roof damage, window damage, water intrusion, damage to modular buildings and to building siding. There does not appear to be damage to flight hardware at this time. The Damage Assessment and Recovery team will undertake more detailed inspection on Saturday and will enter all facilities. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be closed on Saturday and will reopen on Sunday. Based on the damage assessment, the return to work status for KSC employees will be determined Saturday afternoon.



If you were on a rocket and things went wrong how would you escape?

The scenario happens every time astronauts are launched into space, but what if that astronaut was YOU?

It could be. Blue Origin‘s New Shepard capsule was tested to evaluate the escape mechanism and it appears to have worked perfectly and that puts the company one rather large step closer to launching people like you and me into space, at least sub-orbital space. Plus the rocket comes back too!

Very cool!


Rosetta Last Images


One of the last images from Rosetta prior to touching down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The view above is from about 16 km / 10 mi and was obtained with the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera.

The image scale is about 30 cm / 12 in per pixel with a 614 m / 2,000 ft wide field of view!


And this my friends is the very last image from Rosetta:


WOW! AT just 20 meters or 66 feet Rosetta took this. According to ESA: “The image scale is about 5 mm/pixel and the image measures about 2.4 m across.” The image was taken with the OSIRIS wide-angle camera.


In The October Sky

This edition of What’s Up for October 2016 from JPL shows a little of what we can see in the night skies of October – when the sky is clear this month gives great viewing crisp and clear viewing conditions around these parts.


Rosetta Coverage


NASA Television and the agency’s website will air the conclusion of ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Rosetta mission from 6:15 to 8 a.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 30, with NASA commentary, interviews and analysis of the successful mission. The Rosetta mission will end with the controlled decent of the spacecraft onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at around 7:20 a.m.

There will be a link here for the live feed of the end of this epic mission.

Credits: ESA/ATG medialab

See Mercury


Today Mercury is at its greatest WESTERN elongation. Put in simple terms it is the point where Mercury appears to be at its furtherest point in it’s orbit as seen from Earth. The planet In western elongation appears to the West of the Sun and will be at its highest in the sky as seen by us, so that means we can see Mercury in the mornings just before sunrise, leading the Sun. If the planet is in EASTERN elongation it will be in its highest point in the evening sky just after sunset.

The same can be said for Venus and the other planets, however for the Superior planets, i.e.: not Mercury or Venus things are a little different. Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation.

Mercury is one planet we don’t get to see often or as often as the other planets so I always try to have a look. Mercury this time around is 18 degrees above the horizon today and will start receding rather quickly day by day. I cannot see that low to my east, so the other day I took a little ride where I could.

If you try and see Mercury and I do encourage it, be careful. The Sun is not far off and you don’t want to look at the Sun especially with binoculars or a telescope, you can seriously damage your sight.