Juno Flyby

The Juno spacecraft will make a very close flyby of Earth tomorrow as it gains a gravitational boost in speed along its way to Jupiter.

There will be a lot of data collected including images from the JunoCam observations of the Moon and Earth. The closest part of the flyby will bring the spacecraft to just 559 km / 347 miles at 19:25 UTC. Will we ever see the data? Eventually, it’s a question of how long we will have to wait.

If you happen to be a ham radio operator you can participate.

Video

Happy Birthday NASA

A 1952 version of "a typical liquid propellant rocket" diagrammed by NACA the predecessor of NASA.  Credit: NASA

A 1952 version of “a typical liquid propellant rocket” diagrammed by NACA the predecessor of NASA. Credit: NASA

On March 3, 1915 the American government formed the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The mission of the new agency was to undertake, promote and organize aeronautical research.

Hugh Dryden a NACA director established the Special Committee on Space Technology on November 21, 1957. The committee was ostensibly created to coordinate various branches of the government, universities and private companies to develop a space program.

Then came Sputnik and that changed everything. On January 14, 1958, Dryden published “A National Research Program for Space Technology,” which stated:

It is of great urgency and importance to our country both from consideration of our prestige as a nation as well as military necessity that this challenge (Sputnik) be met by an energetic program of research and development for the conquest of space….

It is accordingly proposed that the scientific research be the responsibility of a national civilian agency working in close cooperation with the applied research and development groups required for weapon systems development by the military. The pattern to be followed is that already developed by the NACA and the military services….

The NACA is capable, by rapid extension and expansion of its effort, of providing leadership in space technology.

Shortly after the publication President Eisenhower established NASA with a civilian orientation to encourage peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958.

The NACA was dissolved and NASA because officially operational on October 1, 1958, 55 years ago today.

Happy Birthday NASA.

the NASA History Series has a wonderful and complete work telling the story by John Henry et. al. Orders of Magnitude: A History of the NACA and NASA, 1915-1990.

PGC 10922

Hubble's view of PGC 10922.  Click for larger.  ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Hubble’s view of PGC 10922. Click for larger. ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Here is an image of PGC 10922. The ESA caption is below but for some other particulars that makes this Hubble view even more outstanding:

The galaxy is located at RA 02h 53m 35.9s and DEC -83d 08m 32s and it’s about 67.92 Mpc away (about 221 million light-years).  It shines  at a magnitude 13.7 and is small at around one (1) arc minute +/-.

Want a comparison between Hubble and a ground based image?  Have a look at this image from the 2MASS 1.3m telescope at the ESO.

One other interesting thing about the image is it is has a redshift velocity (moving away from us) of 4,830 km/second (z = 0.016111), that’s nearly 11 million mph for the metrically challenged.

Here’s the ESA caption (via NASA and you can get different sizes of the image at this link):

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this image of PGC 10922, an example of a lenticular galaxy — a galaxy type that lies on the border between ellipticals and spirals.
Seen face-on, the image shows the disk and tightly-wound spiral structures of dark dust encircling the bright center of the galaxy. There is also a remarkable outer halo of faint wide arcs or shells extending outwards, covering much of the picture. These are likely to have been formed by a gravitational encounter or even a merger with another galaxy. Some dust also appears to have escaped from the central structure and has spread out across the inner shells. An extraordinarily rich background of more remote galaxies can also be seen in the image.

LADEE

A video about the upcoming launch of LADEE.

The launch date is scheduled for 6 September 2013 at 03:27 UTC (11:27 EDT) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This is the first lunar launch from that facility.

One of the interesting tests that isn’t mentioned in the video is to show, or attempt to show, two-way laser communication is possible beyond Earth.

I will have more about the launch and the mission later this week.

The LADEE site at NASA.

Video Source – Science@NASA

Masten Xombie Technology

A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, California ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port. Click to see the wider picture.  Image:  NASA/Masten

A Xombie technology demonstrator from Masten Space Systems, Mojave, California ascends from its pad at Mojave Air and Space Port. Click to see the wider picture. Image: NASA/Masten

Masten Space Systems tested a new “Xombie technology” experimental vertical-takeoff and landing rocket along collaboratively with the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to test a new algorithm for “pinpoint” landing of spacecraft on other planets.

Masten was involved with the sky crane landing of Curiosity on Mars and judging from that the term “pinpoint” isn’t just hyperbole.

The wide shot might make a nice desktop you can get a full-res version here.

The press release from JPL:

A year after NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity’s landed on Mars, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are testing a sophisticated flight-control algorithm that could allow for even more precise, pinpoint landings of future Martian spacecraft.

Flight testing of the new Fuel Optimal Large Divert Guidance algorithm – G-FOLD for short – for planetary pinpoint landing is being conducted jointly by JPL engineers in cooperation with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif., using Masten’s XA-0.1B “Xombie” vertical-launch, vertical-landing experimental rocket.

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Juno Halfway to Jupiter

Cartoon depiction of Juno's location enroute to Jupiter.  Click for expanded view. Credit: NASA

Cartoon depiction of Juno’s location enroute to Jupiter. Click for expanded view. Credit: NASA

Yesterday at 12:25 UTC the Juno spacecraft marked the halfway point in its journey to Jupiter. The odometer just turned 1,415,794,248 km or 92,955,807.273 miles. In easier numbers its 9.464 astronomical units. Since one astronomical unit is the mean distance from the Sun to Earth ( 149,597,870.7 km / 92,955,807.3 miles) you would think it would be a lot further away than it appears in the cartoon depiction of Juno’s flight path. In fact you could make the argument that Juno it appears, is closing in on planet Earth!

You would be correct, Juno was only 55.46 million km / 34.46 million miles away and approaching. Although the cartoon is a little dated, it was approxiamtely accurate on 8 Aug 13, just a few days ago. So what’s going on? Mission managers plotted out a circuitous route that takes advantage of an Earth gravity assist and that is coming in October when on the 9th when it will fly by at just 559 km (337 miles)! The flyby will increase the velocity of Juno by 7.3 km/sec or 1,330 mph. Two years later Juno arrives at Jupiter.

To get a nice overview of what Juno is going to be doing once it gets to Jupiter check out the NASA webpage:  Juno Mission to Jupiter: Unlocking the Secrets of a Giant Planet.

You can get map updates from Eyes on the Solar System.

ATV-4 Albert Einstein

ATV-4 Albert Einstein docked to the ISS. Credit: ESA / NASA

ATV-4 Albert Einstein docked to the ISS. Credit: ESA / NASA

I was poking around the ESA website and ran across this image of the Automated Transfer Vehicle Albert Einstein docked to Russia’s Zvezda module.

The ATV-4 delivered about 6,589 kg (14,526 lbs) of various types of cargo to the ISS was the heaviest payload ever launched by Ariane 5.

The European ferry was launched on June 5, 2013 from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

The name (ATV-4) Albert Einstein follows ATV’s 1 to 3 having the names: Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler and Edoardo Amaldi.

The image makes for a lovely desktop and you can find those at the Wallpaper link above.

Curiosity’s Travels

The MRO captures the travels of the rover Curiosity in this HiRISE image.  Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The MRO captures the travels of the rover Curiosity in this HiRISE image. Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter aimed it’s high resolution camera known as HiRISE (High Resolution Science Experiment)at the area where the rover Curiosity is working. I should say where it was on June 27th.

On the left you can see two dark spots called Bradbury Landing. The spots were created when the landing jets from the Curiosity lander blew away the red surface coating with the rocket jet blast.

From there going to the right you can easily see Curiosity’s tracks. To put some scale on this image, those tracks are about 3 meters (10 feet) apart. If you follow the tracks sure enough you will end up at Curiosity which shows up as a shiney object near an outcrop called Shaler located in the “Glenelg” area of Gale Crater. The rover has since moved to the southwest.

Larger versions including a full-res TIFF are availble at the JPL/Cal Tech web page with the image located here.
The MRO captures the travels of the rover Curiosity in this HiRISE image. Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

This Week @ NASA

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY6gn-RCtA0[/youtube]

Good episode, well they all are. This one video had about four of the things I wanted to show a video of and couldn’t decide which.

One of these was the spacewalk when the helmet of Italy’s Luca Parmitano had water collecting in it during the spacewalk. Don’t worry he is fine, the walk was teminated, well you’ll see (or saw).

I got a look at what I think is one of those “Earth from Saturn” pictures. No I won’t put it up until it is released, mostly because I don’t know exactly what I am looking at in terms of “What is where”. Of course I made a guess! I’ll let you know if I was correct when the time comes. Besides, for all I know it was some sort of test image of a completely different area.

I REALLY can’t wait to see that MESSENGER image of Earth! By the way, NASA MESSENGER folks, a similar picture of Venus would be worth imaging too someday . . . . just saying.

Source

The Heliotail

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhAzMdoOe5E[/youtube]

The what?

Combining three years from imagery from the IBEX spacecraft (Interstellar Boundry EXplorer) scientists have put together a boundry map of the twisted tail from our solar system called the heliotail.

Source