Category Archives: Uncategorized

Two Views of a Comet


This image of “Rosetta’s Comet” by Paolo Bacci from San Marcello Pistoiese gives us a nice perspective on  Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  It’s almost hard to believe it is the same comet as we see below from Rosetta’s NAVCAM.



Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0
Hat tip: Epic Cosmos

The Smith Cloud


Here is a  composite image showing the size and location of the Smith Cloud on the sky, note the scale size of the full moon. The cloud appears in false-color in this image as observed  by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. While the cloud was observed in radio wavelengths, the visible-light image of the background star field shows the cloud’s location in the direction of the constellation Aquila.
Credits: Saxton/Lockman/NRAO/AUI/NSF/Mellinger
From NASA:

Though hundreds of enormous, high-velocity gas clouds whiz around the outskirts of our galaxy, this so-called “Smith Cloud” is unique because its trajectory is well known. New Hubble observations suggest it was launched from the outer regions of the galactic disk, around 70 million years ago. The cloud was discovered in the early 1960s by doctoral astronomy student Gail Smith, who detected the radio waves emitted by its hydrogen.

The cloud is on a return collision course and is expected to plow into the Milky Way’s disk in about 30 million years. When it does, astronomers believe it will ignite a spectacular burst of star formation, perhaps providing enough gas to make 2 million suns.

Read and see more here.

A Year on the ISS

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos will be ending a year-long mission aboard the ISS.

How they adapted to the weightless environment after a  the year in space will be of great interest as well as how they re-adjust to gravity.  The findings will assist with any future long duration missions, say to Mars.



Cryovolcanos On Pluto

Glad to see Pluto In a Minute videos are back! Thanks New Horizon’s team.

From the YouTube description:

Recent detailed surface images from New Horizons show an interesting surface feature on Pluto. The mountain feature informally named Wright Mons is about 100 miles wide and 13,000 feet high. There are two interesting things about this feature. One is the deep depression on top that team members estimate to be about 35 miles across. The other is the distinctive rippled texture on its sides. It all suggests that Wright Mons, along with another feature called Piccard Mons, is a cryovolcano.

Read the rest here


I am hearing there is a nice display of the aurora.  Cloudy here so I can’t tell.

Edit: Yes a CME is interacting with us so there should be a very nice display.

Stay safe and enjoy the night!

Internet Outage?

I am in the midst of a nasty storm.  The same storm system that wreaked havoc in the Texas region  is paying me a visit.

No danger of tornado’s thankfully.  We are expecting about 18 cm of snow topped off by a good deal of freezing rain all being pushed along by rather strong  and gusty winds.

We have been warned to expect power failures. So if you don’t hear from me you’ll know why and I’ll be back sooner or later.  Oh, the power failures could run into “days” in length.

I’ll try and check in a little later.

UPDATE:  Never had a power problem, not even a blink.  Did get the snow and ice, I have it all cleaned up and I’m ready for the next one.

Orbital Launch

Scroll down for coverage (or click here), if there is a launch, only a 40 percent change of getting it off the ground due to weather.

Coverage is scheduled to begin at 21:30 UT / 16:30 EST) for a 22:33 UT / 17:33 EST launch.

There was a hold at T minus 03:09, issue was quickly resolved.  New launch time if 17:48 EST / 22:48:12.  

Another hold, waiting for resolution. They are going to try again.  New time is 23:03.12 (?)  The hold is due to ground wind exceeding the limit – so much for weather not being an issue.

This last attempt at 23:03:12 is at the end of today’s launch window. It’s now or wait for another day.

Will the third try be a charm? We will soon know.

Here we go. . we have a NO GO again because of wind.



ANGEL Balloon Flight

It turns out you can guide a high altitude balloon back to a predetermined location with a controlled descent. At least that’s what NASA Glenn’s Rocket University team did on 04 November when they brought a balloon down from an altitude of 36.5 km / 22.7 miles over the New Mexico desert.

The ANGEL experiment demonstrated how the Airborne Systems, Inc. Guided Precision Aerial Delivery System (GPADS) can benefit planetary science balloon missions through a risk-reduction flight test for high altitude balloon operations allowing for faster and cheaper recovery. Additionally, the impact forces experienced on landing are reduced with GPADS versus conventional parachutes. ANGEL shows a greater range of space science able to be performed with more sensitive equipment, as payload survivability is increased due to the system’s unique ability to perform a flared, into-the-wind landing.

Good job! Hopefully this will lead to more frequent balloon science missions.