Category Archives: Uncategorized

Martian Aurora

The MAVEN spacecraft returned this ultraviolet spectroscopic data from Mars after the effects of a solar storm arrive.

NASA/Univ. of Colorado: These images show the sudden appearance of a bright aurora on Mars during a solar storm in September 2017. The purple-white color scheme shows the intensity of ultraviolet light seen on Mars’ night side before (left) and during (right) the event.

A simulated image of Mars for the same time and orientation has been added, with the dayside crescent visible on the right. The auroral emission appears brightest at the edges of the planet where the line of sight passes along the length of the glowing atmosphere layer.

The data are from observations by the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument (IUVS) on NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution orbiter, or MAVEN.

Note that, unlike auroras on Earth, the Martian aurora is not concentrated at the planet’s polar regions. This is because Mars has no strong magnetic field like Earth’s to concentrate the aurora near the poles.

Solar Minimum Approaches

Yes the solar minimum approaches and ham radio operators around the world (including me) rejoice!

There is a Geomagnetic Storm watch out for today. The storm is a rather mild G1 event resulting from an increase in the solar wind due to an isolated, positive polarity coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS). Mild as it may be, there could still be auroras visible from possibly 45 degrees north and south onward to each of the poles, so if you have clear dark skies have a look.

More info at the US Space Weather Prediction Service

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has an excellent Solar Physics page about the sun spot cycle.

Data Relay Box Fails on ISS


That’s why there are back-ups!
NASA/Mark Garcia — International Space Station managers will meet Sunday morning to discuss a forward plan for dealing with the apparent failure of one of two fully redundant multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay boxes on the S0 truss of the complex.

External MDM-1 apparently failed at 1:13 p.m. Central time Saturday. Multiple attempts by flight controllers to restore power to the relay box have not been successful. Troubleshooting efforts are continuing. The Expedition 51 crew was informed of the apparent failure and is not in any danger. The MDMs on the truss control the functionality of the station’s solar arrays and radiators among other equipment, and provide power to a variety of other station components.

Because the two MDMs have full redundancy, the apparent loss of MDM-1 has had no impact on station operations.

The image at flickr.

Launching To The ISS

Tomorrow is another launch to the International Space Station, is one is a manned mission. Wait until you find out how quickly they will arrive below!

I expect to have a live link up at the 02:15 EDT / 06:15 UTC provided my time arithmetic is correct.

From NASA:

Fischer and his Expedition 51-52 crewmate Fyodor Yurchikhin, of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to launch at 3:13 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 20 (1:13 p.m. Baikonur time), from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft. NASA TV coverage of the launch will begin at 2:15 a.m.

The pair will travel on a fast-track, six-hour course to the space station and dock to the Poisk module at 9:23 a.m. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 8:30 a.m. Once at the station, they will be welcomed by Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). Hatches between the Soyuz and space station will open at 11:05 a.m. NASA TV coverage of hatch opening and welcome ceremonies will begin at 10:45 a.m.

Expedition 51 will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only microgravity laboratory.

Fischer, a first-time space flier, and Yurchikhin, a veteran of four spaceflights, will spend more than four months aboard the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in early September.

Keck’s Vortex Coronagraph

The new addition to the Keck telescope, the vortex coronagraph, has returned some fantastic early results – a brown dwarf orbiting a larger star!

The brown dwarf named HIP79124 B is 23 astronomical units from the larger star, so if that were in our solar system it would be more or less half way between Uranus and Neptune.

Read the press release here.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Iridium 1 Launch on Space X Falcon

Live event starts at 12:54 ET / 17:54 UTC, since this is the launch window opening time it is a little unclear how long between the start of the event time and launch.

WOW!!!!!!!  FANTASTIC!!!!!! If you missed this fantastic launch, I will have a replay posted tomorrow, simply amazing, we got to watch not just the launch but the First-stage successfully land on the barge!

From Space X:

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications. The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.

SpaceX is targeting launch of Iridium-1 from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window opens on January 14 at 9:54:39 am PST or 5:54:39 pm UTC. The satellites will begin deployment about an hour after launch.

— Live link removed — See replay post

John Glenn 1921 – 2016

johnglenn

John Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth passed yesterday at the age of 95.

Glenn was launched into space on 20 February 1962 aboard an Atlas rocket inside a Mercury capsule, the mission: Friendship 7

John Glenn also went to space aboard a Space Shuttle at the age of 77 years, he was and still is the oldest person in space.

Obituary

John Glenn was a true hero. Before he was launched atop the Atlas missile he knew the risk:

The very first time we saw a missile launch, it went up and blew up at 27,000 feet and that wasn’t a confidence builder” – John Glenn

John Glenn I salute you.

Martian Ice

marsscallops

The original caption from NASA:
This vertically exaggerated view shows scalloped depressions in Mars’ Utopia Planitia region, one of the area’s distinctive textures that prompted researchers to check for underground ice, using ground-penetrating radar aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

More than 600 overhead passes with the spacecraft’s Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument provided data for determining that about as much water as the volume of Lake Superior lies in a thick layer beneath a portion of Utopia Planitia.

These scalloped depressions on the surface are typically about 100 to 200 yards or meters wide. The foreground of this view covers ground about one mile (1.8 kilometers) across. The perspective view is based on a three-dimensional terrain model derived from a stereo pair of observations by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. One was taken on Dec. 25, 2006, the other on Feb. 2, 2007.

The vertical dimension is exaggerated fivefold in proportion to the horizontal dimensions, to make texture more apparent in what is a rather flat plain.

Similar scalloped depressions are found in portions of the Canadian Arctic, where they are indicative of ground ice.

marsicemap

Diagonal striping on this map of a portion of the Utopia Planitia region on Mars indicates the area where a large subsurface deposit rich in water ice was assessed using the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The scale bar at lower right indicates 140 kilometers (76 miles). The violet vertical bars show depth to the bottom of the ice-rich deposit, as estimated from SHARAD passes overhead. Darkest violet indicates a depth of about 550 feet (about 170 meters). Palest violet indicates a depth of about 33 feet (10 meters). The value of 2.8 plus-or-minus 0.8 in the upper right corner denotes the dielectric constant, a property related to radar reflectivity. The value of 14,300 cubic kilometers is an estimate of the volume of water in the deposit. — NASA

Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Rome/ASI/PSI/Univ. of Arizona