Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Space X Falcon 9 Heavy

Here’s the business end of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy and it’s a beast. This rocket will be the most powerful rocket in use by a factor of two according to Space X.

The Falcon 9 Heavy is built from three Falcon 9 nine engine cores to yield a thrust of 2.27 million kg / 5 million pounds of thrust. All that power will enable huge payloads to be launched depending on what the goal of the flight is. For example, a low Earth orbit the payload can be 62,800 kg / 140,660 lbs while a flight to Mars the payload can be 16,800 kg / 37,040 lbs. Check out the specifications on the Space X site.

If all goes well, we will get to see this behemoth take to the sky sometime this month.

Image: Space X via Twitter

Micro Transmitter – Receiver Combo

Now here’s a transmitter/receiver module ham radio operators like myself fawn over and thanks to ESA’s Sentinel programme maybe someday. . .

From ESA — A prototype transmit/receive module on a single 6×6 mm chip, intended to deliver miniaturised space radar systems for future missions.

Traditional transmit/receive modules used on Europe’s Sentinel-1 and comparable radar missions employ separate circuits for the high-power amplifier, the low-noise amplifier and the switch/isolator.

The aim, developed for ESA by TNO in the Netherlands, UMS in France, and Airbus Defense and Space in Germany, was to integrate all these functions onto a single chip, while delivering increased efficiency and a threefold increase in radio-frequency power.

The added ingredient enabling this was that the chip was made using gallium nitride (GaN) – the most promising semiconductor since silicon. If you have a Blu-ray player than you own a tiny crystal of GaN, used in high-performance blue lasers.

GaN can operate with high radio-frequency output power, low noise or at much higher temperatures than silicon. As a plus, it is also inherently resistant to radiation. ESA has been leading the industrialisation of GaN through the GaN Reliability Enhancement and Technology Transfer Initiative consortium.

This prototype was developed through ESA’s Basic Technology Research Programme.

A follow-up project to integrate the chip into a complete radar module suitable for a future Sentinel-1 successor mission is being undertaken through the Agency’s follow-up General Support Technology Programme.

Image: ESA/TNO

By the way, today is my brothers birthday.  He is a sometimes contributer here with some great photography.  Happy Birthday Andrew!!!!

 

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