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

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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20 Years Ago

sl9impact

20 years? Already? Hard to believe but true.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted the planet Jupiter 16 July 1994. The comet broke up under the influence of the gravitational pull of the planet during a close pass in July 1992 (was within the Roche limit) and impacted two years later.

The image above is one of many images you can find at our Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 page. Be sure to visit the links for the legendary Eugene Shoemaker too.

Image credit: NASA et.al

Ring around the Asteroid

Until now we thought only big things had rings, really big things like Saturn and Jupiter. Turns out rings can occur around much smaller objects, like the asteroid Chariklo.

Chariklo or more formally 10199 Chariklo is a minor planet orbiting beyond Saturn, in fact its orbit is such it gets out to the orbit of Uranus.

Chariklo is only about 248 to 258 km / 154 to 160 miles in diameter (plus or minus 18 km), it has not one but two ring named Oiapoque and Chuí. It is almost unbelievable the rings could be detected, especially since Charilko was found only relatively recently, in February of 1997 by James Scotti of Spacewatch.

NOTE: Not sure what is going on with the Space X launch scheduled for 20:58 UTC (4:58 EDT). The last I have heard is there is an 80 percent chance of launch (from KSC) due to weather. There will be a press conference in a little while, I hope to be back with more news then.

Space X update:  

Sounds like there are adding a “late load” to the spacecraft right now and are attempting to have things ready tomorrow.

Space X is go for launch.

Video

The Travels of the Torch

I’m watching some of the Olympic coverage this morning. Got to thinking about how much work the athletes have put into for the honor of representing their respective countries. The dedication and ability is simply amazing.

The whole event is a great spectacle, even the travels of the torch were over the top.

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