Category Archives: History

25 Years of Hubble

NASA Unveils Celestial Fireworks as Official Hubble 25th Anniversary Image

Happy Anniversary Hubble! Hubble was launched 25 years ago today on 24 April 1990 aboard the Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-31.

The Hubble was deployed on 25 April 1990 and immediately a problem with the optics was noticed and it would take a couple of years to get a correction in place. Once the corrective optics, kind of like “eye-glasses” for the telescope were flown up in December 1993 aboard the Shuttle Endeavour along with a few other upgrades and the repairs were made, the images were stunning.

Hubble has be serviced a few times since and continues to advance our knowledge and will for many more years with any luck at all.

About the image from Hubblesite:

NASA and ESA are celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s silver anniversary of 25 years in space by unveiling some of nature’s own fireworks — a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster resides inside a vibrant stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina. The comparatively young, 2-million-year-old star cluster contains some of our galaxy’s hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. The largest stars are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds that etch away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud. This creates a fantasy celestial landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys.

Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

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Apollo 13 Launch

45 years ago today, 11 April 1970 at 14:13 EDT (18:13 UTC) NASA’s Apollo 13 launched. The mission was the third mission destined to land on the moon.

The moon landing was not to be and the crew: Commander James Lovel, Command Module Pilot John Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise encountered major problems resulting from an oxygen tank explosion.

What resulted was a life and death undertaking to bring the crew back to Earth.

The newscast was from the American network CBS with reporting by Walter Conkite and former astronaut Wally Schirra.

Video – hat tip to zellco321

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Ranger 8

Launched on 17 February 1965, Ranger 8 reached the moon on 20 February when it impacted the surface. The spacecraft sent back some of the closest images of the lunar surface and helped select landing sites for the Apollo missions.

Ranger 8 impacted the surface at something a little less than 2.68 km/sec or 6,000 mph. I spent a bit of time looking for the possible impact site in LROC data, still looking too.


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Good Luck Philae!

GOOD LUCK!  I can hardly believe the day has finally come – it’s been a long time!

Update:  Landing confirmed.  Harpoons did not fire, investigation in progress.  The one way radio travel time is a bit over 28 minutes – each way.

ESA is reporting all is well with Philae is in good shape despite the harpoons.

If you see no video above it is because ESA isn’t broadcasting at the time.

Check out the Rosetta Blog and for last second updates.


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Making History

Just three days away.

This is Friday’s press conference with Rosetta mission experts hosted by Emily Baldwin, ESA space science editor / Rosetta Blog

The video is in distinct segments of about 15 minutes and questions at the end.

Introduction and mission plans fellowed by Science at 15 minutes, Landing at 30 minutes and Summary at 45 followed by questions.

Video link

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End of an Era

When NASA astronauts and any support staff that might have to quickly exit the had to get off the 60 meter/195 foot level of Launch pad 39A and B at Cape Canaveral they would do so by using slide-wire baskets.

The baskets could hold three people could get in the baskets at the Fixed Service Structure and travel 366 meters/1200 foot to safety in just about 30 seconds. The braking system was a drag chain braking system and a catch net.

via Live Leak

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Neptune’s Clouds

Voyager's look at clouds on Neptune.  Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory / NASA Planetary Photojournal
Voyager’s look at clouds on Neptune. Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory / NASA Planetary Photojournal

The bit of an interlude in the ESA’s Comet watch blog is a good time to look at some of Voyager 2’s images of Neptune. This is one of my favorites. I don’t really know if there is more than coincidence that the New Horizon’s spacecraft crossed the Neptune orbit 29 years almost to the day after Voyager started its Neptune encounter.

There is a lot of comparisons being drawn between the New Horizon’s and Voyager missions. Hey I’m on board with it. If I had my way there would be a “Le Verrier” or “Galle” spacecraft, a Neptune analog of the Cassini spacecraft in orbit right now.

In case you were wondering what was going on with Rosetta, everything is fine. Mission managers are looking at images from as close as 50 km trying to select the best landing spot. New images will be posted shortly.

This image comes from NASA’s Solar System Exploration (and Planetary Photojournal) site:

This Voyager 2 high resolution color image, taken 2 hours before closest approach, provides obvious evidence of vertical relief in Neptune’s bright cloud streaks.

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