Free air gravity map of the Moon. Credit: NASA
Here is a gravity map of the Moon’s southern area made from data collected by the GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) by S. Goossens and others.
Because the moon is not a smooth homogeneous sphere of equal altitude, gravity varies from area to area, just as it does here on Earth. The GRAIL spacecraft was able to measure gravitational differences from what would occur of the Moon was like a cue ball. The differences are expressed by color, in this case purple is the low end of the range, yellow is average and red is at the high end.
Get an more in-depth explanation at NASA Goddared Space Fight Center’s photostream at Flickr (along with other pictures).
Something a little different for today.
The NACA the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a US government agency founded on 3 March 1915 to” undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research”. The NACA was dissolved and its assets and personnel were transferred to what we all know as NASA.
This archived footage comes from the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center (formerly Dryden Flight Research Center) and was made available courtesy the US Department of Defense, NASAimages and the US National Archives. The film shows 1940’s experimental aircraft including the YB-49 flying wing and the X-1 and X-15 space plane.
A few days ago you may recall there was an asteroid that passed by Earth. The asteroid passed about three times further from us than our moon. Yes that is quite a ways out, but compared to cosmic distances, pretty close.
NASA was able to get some great images of the more than 366 meter (1200 ft) long oblong shaped rock once it had passed. The video above was pieced together from images taken at a range of 1.25 and 1.39 million km (774,000 to 864,000 miles).
The images were captured by the 70-meter Goldstone antenna working with the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
As an aside: Arecibo is located in a seismically active area being not far from the Caribbean plate boundary. Generally the quakes are fairly small, for example yesterday 14 June there was a magnitude 2.7 quake at a depth of 26 km (22.4 miles) occurred 75 km (47 miles) out in the ocean and that was among eight occurring in the previous 24 hours having magnitudes of 2.7 to 3.2. Sure those are pretty small but I wonder if they are noticed by the observatory especially during an observing run.
The same could be asked of the ESO and Keck now that I think of it, it’s just that Arecibo is so huge.
The coolest place in the universe will soon be on the International Space Station.
The ham operator in me says: This is too cool!! ;mrgreen:
“The Sun Watchers” from AstronomyOutreach network on Vimeo.
Very nice! Be sure to visit the AstronomyOutreach network at the link above.
“The Sun Watchers” was funded through a grant by Explore Scientific and produced by the AstronomyOutreach network. The Sun Watchers is a look inside the solar observatory in Big Bear, CA. The telescopes and instruments at the observatory are designed and employed specifically for studying the activities and phenomena of the Sun.
Artist rendering of IEEE. Credit: Space College
Wow, can an old spacecraft launched in the 1970’s and currently in a heliocentric orbit be contacted and rebooted while passing by the Earth?
Dennis Wingo, president of Moffett Field, California-based Skycorp Inc, Internet publisher Keith Cowing and many donors and volunteers, are going to try do not just that, they are going to try to coax the 70’s era spacecraft into telemetry mode and perhaps get it back into an Earth orbit. We will find out soon, IEEE is passing by right now.
The IEEE-3 spacecraft was launched on 12 August 1978. Originally the mission was cooperative effort between NASA and ESRO/ESA to study the interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind.
On 10 June 1982 IEEE-3 became the International Cometary Explorer with the primary scientific objective of ICE was to study the interaction between the solar wind and a cometary atmosphere. The mission required the spacecraft to leave the Earth/moon system and orbit around the sun instead.
After encounters with comet Giacobini-Zinner in 1985 and the famous Halley’s comet in 1986 and the study of CME’s from the sun in 1991, the “plug” was pulled in the spacecraft on 5 May 1997.
Read all about this incredible effort at Space College: ISEE-3 Reboot Project Status and Schedule for First Contact gives the current status and you can read other posts leading up to now.
The planet GU Psc b and its star GU Psc composed of visible and infrared images from the Gemini South telescope and an infrared image from the CFHT. Image: CRAQ and Gemini
Way to go Canada! A team led by Université de Montréal researchers has discovered and photographed a new planet 155 light years away.
The planet, named GU Psc b, is so far from the parent star (GU Psc)it takes 80,000 years to make the trip! The parent star is about three times LESS massive than our own Sun. So this planet is still gravitationally bound enough to orbit 2,000 (Earth/Sun) AU from a star a third (?) the mass of our Sun? That’s amazing, I gotta do the math on this.
An image from 155 light-years? Read how at the Gemini site.
This image shows BETTII interns and graduate students with their project. Front: Intern Arpan Rau and graduate student Arnab Dhabal. Back: Interns Sophie Johnson-Shapoval, Marcelo Canaparro, Stephen Weinreich, Spencer Gore, graduate student Maxime Rizzo, and interns John Alcorn and Debora Andrade.
Image and caption credit: NASA Goddard/Bill Hrybyk
Things look to be on track for NASA’s BETTII mission. BETTII or more properly, Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometry. The mission is being put together seven student interns working with Dr. Stephen Rinehart, associate chief of the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Fhight Center in Greenbelt,MD.
The students (including a high school student) are doing a great job.
The plan is to put two small telescope above all but the faintest traces of atmosphere. The observations of the two telescopes will be combined to increase the viewing power to that of a very much larger telescope. The telescopic view needs to be distortion free as much as possible for the best possible observations. Since they will be lifted by a tether from a balloon they must be small
The small telescopes are each less than two feet wide (~9 to 10 cm), combined by a technique called spatial interferometry would equate to one large telescope with a diameter of (about) 65 feet! The thing would weigh more than 1,000 lbs (453 kg. A lot to ask from a balloon.
The balloon has a height of about 250 ft (76 m) and 290 ft (88 m) in diameter.
Balloon borne observations are certainly not new, but nowadays they’re getting it done. They are very complicated and quite exciting, I hope the interns get to be in on the launch when it happens. I know I’d jump at the chance.
Check out the NASA press release.
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.