Category Archives: Cool Stuff

The 2016 Time Adjustment

I wonder if when the new year rang in if the countdown included the extra second that was added to the world clocks. Probably not and while it might not seem like much,  the time change is important to our view of the world thanks to our modern technology even if we don’t realize it.

We have added 27  “leap-seconds” to the clock since the practice started in 1972. Read more about adding leap-seconds.

sdojan1

From (mostly) NASA:   On Dec. 31, 2016, official clocks around the world added a leap second just before midnight Coordinated Universal Time — which corresponds to 6:59:59 p.m. EST. NASA missions also had to make the switch, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, which watches the sun 24/7.

Clocks do this to keep in sync with Earth’s rotation, which gradually slows down over time. When the dinosaurs roamed Earth, for example, our globe took only 23 hours to make a complete rotation. In space, millisecond accuracy is crucial to understanding how satellites orbit.

“SDO moves about 1.9 miles every second,” said Dean Pesnell, the project scientist for SDO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “So does every other object in orbit near SDO. We all have to use the same time to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate. So we all add a leap second to the end of 2016, delaying 2017 by one second.”

The leap second is also key to making sure that SDO is in sync with the Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, used to label each of its images. SDO has a clock that counts the number of seconds since the beginning of the mission. To convert that count to UTC requires knowing just how many leap seconds have been added to Earth-bound clocks since the mission started. When the spacecraft wants to provide a time in UTC, it calls a software module that takes into consideration both the mission’s second count and the number of leap seconds — and then returns a time in UTC.

Credit: NASA/SDO

Greetings From Tiangong-2

Greetings from one space station to another.   Very nice.

This video was recorded inside the Chinese space station Tiangong-2 by astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong. The Chinese astronauts returned to Earth after spending a month in orbit. A few hours before leaving the Chinese space station Tiangong-2, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet was launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Depending on your location you could see both Chinese satellites (Tiangong 1 and 2) and the International Space Station. The places I look for such information are below:

  1. Heavens Above
  2. Spaceweather.com or,
  3. N2YO

Video from ESA

Water Plumes on Europa?

europaplumes

Does Saturn’s moon Enceladus have an analog at Jupiter?  Hubble images of Europa seem to make this a possibility.

There’s a video too, a couple minutes long. Have a look.

Caption released with image:

This composite image shows suspected plumes of water vapor erupting at the 7 o’clock position off the limb of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The plumes, photographed by NASA’s Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, were seen in silhouette as the moon passed in front of Jupiter. Hubble’s ultraviolet sensitivity allowed for the features — rising over 100 miles (160 kilometers) above Europa’s icy surface — to be discerned. The water is believed to come from a subsurface ocean on Europa. The Hubble data were taken on January 26, 2014. The image of Europa, superimposed on the Hubble data, is assembled from data from the Galileo and Voyager missions.
Credits: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center

More from NASA detail here.

Gancedo Meteor

What a find!

About 4,500 years ago a huge meteor hit Argentina.  It was found a few days ago on 10 September by explorers from the Astronomy Association of the Chaco (Asociación de Astronomía del Chaco).   Chaco is a province of Argentina and the meteor fall area is located in the southwestern part of the province in the town of Gancedo.

When I saw this on the news I had to go to Impact Earth and see what would happen if this hit near me.   Try it.

Video