Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Tomorrow is the premier of the updated version of the iconic television series, Cosmos. The original version is of course was hosted by Carl Sagan and aired in 1980, Cosmos: A personal journey.
The new version is hosed by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I was lucky enough to have seen the first episode and Tyson seems perfect for the role.
The 13-episode series is billed as “An epic Adventure in time, space and life”. Tyson has a line in the first episode that sums things up nicely: ”It’s time to get going again”.
One of the show’s producers is Ann Druyan, a producer known for Contact (1997) and was married to Carl Sagan from 1981 until his death in 1996.
I could not believe my eyes when I read another of the group of producers was Seth MacFarlane – yes THAT Seth MacFarlane. I’m not sure why this surprises me, although I am very pleased so see him on the team.
You can see this in FOX starting on 9 March 2014 and NatGeo on 10 March 2014. Check your local listings for times. The series premier is scheduled for 9pm Eastern 8pm Central on FOX (01:00 UTC if I did the math correctly).
Visit the official site: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
There is another show coming at weeks end “Live from the Space”, more on that about mid-week.
An image of the flash resulting from the impact of a large meteorite on the lunar surface on 11 September 2013, obtained with the MIDAS observatory. Credit: J. Madiedo / MIDAS
A meteorite with about the mass of a small car impacted the moon last September and it was seen by Spanish astronomers. I don’t often mention Spanish astronomers, more the pity and bad on me. Spain has some of the best observers and astronomers as there are anywhere.
In this case on 11 September 2013, Prof. Jose M. Madiedo was operating two telescopes in the south of Spain that were searching for these impact events. At 2007 UTC he witnessed an unusually long and bright flash in Mare Nubium, an ancient lava-filled basin with a darker appearance than its surroundings.
We are hearing about this now because the scientists involved published their description of the event in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. By the way, video links are included below the fold.
The Spanish telescopes are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) system that monitors the lunar surface. This project is being undertaken by Prof. Jose Maria Madiedo, from the University of Huelva (UHU), and by Dr. Jose L. Ortiz, from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) and continues a pioneering program that detected sporadic lunar impact flashes for the first time.
Static image from OVATION. Click to go to the OVATION page with live images. Credit NOAA
The US Space Weather Prediction Center and the Space Weather Prediction Testbed recently introduced a new Auroral Foercast (test) product.
The Auroral Forecast product is based ont eh OVATION Prime model providing a 30 to 40 minute forecast on auroral displays and probabilities for both polar regions. The model itself was developed by P. Newell at the Johns Hopkins, Applied Physics Lab. Scientists at the NESDIS National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) added further refinements to make the model run in real time.
The model uses data from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satelite. For the displays, the model takes the ACE data and provides output in terms of energy per unit area and converts that into a relative intesity map and that is further translated into a probability of observation. The resulting images show where the aurora most likely will be seen and how intense it is likely to be.
The release of the OVATION product is timely as we should be seeing an increase in auroral activity.
What is the solar cycle progression shaping up? Quite close to predictions.
The image is a static image of the northern hemisphere, click it to go to the OVATION page and get a live look at both poles or you can click here.
The same Solar Radiation Storm that delayed the Cygnus launch on Thursday should provide some of us with an aurora. Note the Cygnus cargo ship HAS launched!!
I’m not sure this will be a huge display, it will however be one of the better displays in a long while.
Right now, not much is happening, but things should be getting going in a few hours, I for one am planning on being outside a few hours before daylight here and that would be about 08:00 or 09:00 UTC.
A visual from the SWPC page (it should be current)
The latest WWV Geophysical Alert Message:
Solar-terrestrial indices for 09 January follow.
Solar flux 184 and estimated planetary A-index 10.
The estimated planetary K-index at 2100 UTC on 09 January was 3.
Space weather for the past 24 hours has been strong.
Solar radiation storms reaching the S3 level occurred.
Space weather for the next 24 hours is predicted to be strong.
Geomagnetic storms reaching the G3 level are likely.
Solar radiation storms reaching the S2 level are expected.
Radio blackouts reaching the R1 level are expected.
A very nice concise page of data including all updates to the above message can be found at the SWPC and by clicking here.
Yesterday was a look back at highlights from ESA, today we have the same for NASA.
Although I only mention two agencies, there were more including Japan, India and especially China making their mark.
The same can easily be said for the new commercial space companies such as Space X and Orbital,
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
At 17:11 UTC, the very time of this posting, the December solstice occurred.
The word solstice comes from mid-13c., from Old French solstice (13c.), from Latin solstitium “point at which the sun seems to stand still,” especially the summer solstice, from sol “sun” (see sol) + past participle stem of sistere “to come to a stop, make stand still” (see assist (v.)).
One mis-conception about the December solstice (same for the June Solstice) is it occurs on the same day. While most of the time the winter solstice does fall on 21 December, depending on the moon the date can change a little.
The moon? Yep, the moon.
Watch the ISS spacewalks at the NASA TV link just below the banner at the top of the page.
GOCE comes home. Credit: Bill Chater via ESA.
Now that MAVEN has launched, it might be a good time to sort of catch up a little on the newer unmanned missions.
The image above shows the GOCE spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere. It was taken by Bill Chater in the Falklands at 21:20 local time on 11 November. Nice image, made the page this week too.
NASA’s LADEE mission is around halfway though the lunar commissioning phase, the orbit is about 250 km (155 mi) above the lunar surface. Instrument testing and calibration is continuing. Contact passes via a European ground station in Tenerife Spain have begun. NASA’s Update
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Mars Orbiter Mission continues to go well. On an earlier update (11 Nov) the spacecraft’s apogee was increased to 78276 km (48,638 miles), apogee being the part of the orbit where it is farthest from Earth. Another maneuver to increase Apogee has been completed and the current distance has increased to 118,642 km (73,720 miles). ISRO Mars Mission Page.
Plenty of activity to come too. Something like 60 (?) small cubesats are to be sent up in two separate launches on the 20 and 21 November and the SWARM launch on 22 November.
I am hoping the Gaia launch comes off in December too – that’s going to be a fantastic mission.
Among other things on This Week @ NASA, an update and a brief overview of the MAVEN mission to Mars scheduled for liftoff Monday.
Source: This Week @ NASA
Radiation plumes from 3C353. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Tokyo Institute of Technology/J.Kataoka et al, Radio: NRAO/VLA
From JPL and click the link for wallpaper sizes, looks great on my screen:
Jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies can transport huge amounts of energy across great distances. 3C353 is a wide, double-lobed source where the galaxy is the tiny point in the center and giant plumes of radiation can be seen in X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio data from the Very Large Array (orange).
3C353 is located in the constellation Ophiuchus and about 126-million parsecs / 410-million light-years away. I believe those radiation plumes span something like 181,000 parsecs / 590,000 light-years.
There is news on the LADEE mission. I got a kick out of the SpaceRef entry, made it sound like a secret. Oh yes, I know the gov”shutdown” and all, spacecraft controllers are “essential”, right? I would hope so anyway. Good news just the same.
According to someone at NASA: “Early this morning (October 6), we fired LADEE’s main engine in a braking maneuver known as the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) burn.”
“This slowed the spacecraft’s velocity enough for it to be captured by the Moon’s gravity. This critical burn went flawlessly and LADEE is now in lunar orbit! Two more main engine burns, on October 9 and 12 will adjust LADEE’s trajectory, settling it into its commissioning orbit.”
There should be two more orbital adjustment burns, one today, October 9th and the third on October 12 when LADEE should be close to the 250 km (155 mile) altitude goal.
After the low orbit has been achieved the 30 day commissioning of the three science instruments begins, sensors are exposed and the laser communication demonstration of high-speed optical communications will start. It will be fun to see how the laser communications works out.
After the commissioning phase the mission begins. Hopefully the bickering in the government will be over with and the mission teams can get to work. We shall see.