May Camelopardalis

Earth is set to cross the debris path of comet 209P/LINEAR on 24 May 2014. No one knows quite what to expect. I’ll be finding out provided we have decent clouds.

The video suggests the best time is going to be around 0600 to 0800 UTC. If you are on the east coast of North America earlier in that range might be better because daybreak will be shortly after 0800 UTC.

How to find Camelopardalis? On the 24th (or any other time in the near future) you can find Camelopardalis by looking north. If the meteor shower is as busy as it could be, the location will be self evident. However, if there are only a few meteors or you just want to find it and have no idea, find the “Little Dipper” aka: Ursa Minor, and look from the dipper part down the “handle”, it points right to the area.

Still confused? Look above your northern horizon. Here’s a guide to help you out.

Video source

Ride Along

Watch this! They (Airanespace) call it remarkable, I call that an understatement!  This is astounding is what it is.

One of the many really cool video showing up recently.

This from Arianespace:

Remarkable images from on-board cameras provide a detailed “ride-along” view of Arianespace’s Flight VS07, which orbited Europe’s Sentinel-1A from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

Recorded during the 23-minute mission on April 3, multiple cameras covered the action from final countdown to separation of the mission’s payload.

The Arianespace/European Space Agency/Roscosmos-copyrighted video begins with the pre-launch steps as seen from two cameras – mounted on opposite sides of the medium-lift launcher.

Looking down from the launcher’s upper portion, the opening sequence includes separation of umbilical connections for Soyuz’ Fregat upper stage, followed by the tilt-back of two umbilical masts. One of these masts provides fluids and electrical connections for the launcher’s Block I third stage, while the second mast services the Soyuz vehicle’s Block A core stage.

Soyuz’ engine ignition is clearly seen in the video with the startup sequence for the first stage’s four boosters and central core second-stage. This is followed by liftoff and the opening of four arms that supported the vehicle while on the pad – and which are opened by Soyuz’ upward movement.
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Take the Plunge

Submit your guess!  Image: NASA

Submit your guess! Image: NASA

The LADEE spacecraft is coming to the end of it’s mission. The spacecraft is going to go out with a bang, literately, it is going to impact the surface of the moon.

You can be a part of end of the mission too. Go on, take the challenge!


First, read the short background below from NASA on what is going on.

Then just make your best guess and SUBMIT IT HERE.

The NASA link below will take you to the complete press release as I only included enough to get you going.

My entry is in, that certificate of success is as good as mine. . . or not. LOL.

Good luck and have fun.

From NASA:

When will it impact the lunar surface? NASA wants to hear your best guess!

LADEE mission managers expect the spacecraft will impact the moon’s surface on or before April 21. On April 11, ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will command LADEE to perform its final orbital maintenance maneuver prior to a total lunar eclipse on April 15, when Earth’s shadow passes over the moon. This eclipse, which will last approximately four hours, exposes the spacecraft to conditions just on the edge of what it was designed to survive.

This final maneuver will ensure that LADEE’s trajectory will impact the far side of the moon, which is not in view of Earth and away from any previous lunar mission landings. There are no plans to target a particular impact location on the lunar surface, and the exact date and time depends on several factors.

“The moon’s gravity field is so lumpy, and the terrain is so highly variable with crater ridges and valleys that frequent maneuvers are required or the LADEE spacecraft will impact the moon’s surface,” said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at Ames. “Even if we perform all maneuvers perfectly, there’s still a chance LADEE could impact the moon sometime before April 21, which is when we expect LADEE’s orbit to naturally decay after using all the fuel onboard.”

Anyone is eligible to enter the “Take the Plunge: LADEE Impact Challenge.” Winners will be announced after impact and will be e-mailed a commemorative, personalized certificate from the LADEE program. The submissions deadline is 3 p.m. PDT Friday, April 11.

A New Dwarf Planet

Dwarf Planet 2012 VP113 in three different images stacked together, it's the red, blue and green dots. Image: Courtesy Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo.

Dwarf Planet 2012 VP113 in three different images stacked together, it’s the red, blue and green dots. Image: Courtesy Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo.

A new dwarf planet has been found in our solar system, its name: 2012 VP113. The new dwarf planet is a long ways out, coming no closer to the sun than 80 AU.

Not just that, but it sounds like there is a potential of a new planet out there, possibly up to 10 times the size of the Earth! This remains to be seen though.

This from the Carnegie Institute:

New work from Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory reports the discovery of a distant dwarf planet, called 2012 VP113, which was found beyond the known edge of the Solar System. This is likely one of thousands of distant objects that are thought to form the so-called inner Oort cloud. What’s more, their work indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth, not yet seen, but possibly influencing the orbit of 2012 VP113, as well as other inner Oort cloud objects.

Read the rest of the press release at the Carnegie Institute (more images too).

The “Other Earthrise”

The less famous Earthrise image. Credit: LOIRP

The less famous Earthrise image. Credit: LOIRP

Very nice! This is an Earthrise image taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966. The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) just released the newly enhanced image they call: the “Other Earthrise.

The image is actually one of two images taken. The first of the pair was released by NASA is of course famous and one you’ve probably seen before.

There is a great story and more images at Moon Views – The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP).

Evidence of Cosmic Inflation

"The swirly B-mode pattern is a unique signature of gravitational waves because of their handedness. This is the first direct image of gravitational waves across the primordial sky," said co-leader Chao-Lin Kuo (Stanford/SLAC).  Credit: Keck, NASA, JPL, Harvard CfA

“The swirly B-mode pattern is a unique signature of gravitational waves because of their handedness. This is the first direct image of gravitational waves across the primordial sky,” said co-leader Chao-Lin Kuo (Stanford/SLAC). Credit: Keck, NASA, JPL, Harvard CfA

The Big Bang, the (not so aptly named) inflationary event that began the universe we know, has until now been theory.

The researchers took great care to be sure they were not missing something so now  I’m  trying to wrap my head around this and the implications for what is yet to come.

From NASA’s press release:

Astronomers are announcing today that they have acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe during an explosive period of growth called inflation. This is the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation theories, which say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye.
The findings were made with the help of NASA-developed detector technology on the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation.
“Operating the latest detectors in ground-based and balloon-borne experiments allows us to mature these technologies for space missions and, in the process, make discoveries about the universe,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director in Washington.

Read more at NASA / JPL.

Live From Space

In Saturday’s post I mentioned another television show from the National Geographic Channel apart from the Cosmos series.

Live from Space isn’t so much a television show as it is a television event.

The show comes from Arrow Media and will be broadcast LIVE from the International Space Station and NASA Mission Control in Houston TX. We literally will get to see a trip around the world in 90 minutes from the ISS.

The show will be hosted by Soledad O’Brien and astronaut Mike Massimino. Along with the Live broadcasts there will be some segments on launches (featuring Rich & Koichi) , from the trailers I have seen (but can’t find online) it appears there will be segments on the food the crews eat. Food costs about 10,000 dollars per pound to get up there so everything is dehydrated. I have tried the dehydrated ice cream, surprisingly good. They do get a VERY limited supply of fresh fruit but not much. It has to be a treat! Also we will see the dramatic spacewalk that went wrong for Luca Parmitano when water got into his helmet. Water does not behave the same up there as it does on Earth, he easily could have drowned! I’m am presuming O’Brien will interview the described by the people involved during the videos. I don’t actually know that but it would be perfect.

This is being described as a “Global Event”, premiering on the National Geographic Channels on March 14 at 20:00 ET / March 15 at 0:00 UTC. Check your local listings.