Lights Out for JWST

It is lights out for the James Webb Space Telescope but in a good way.

I feel better about this than I did about the “shake-test“!

From NASA:
After completion of its vibration and acoustic testing in March, the James Webb Space Telescope – JWST – is shown here undergoing a detailed ‘lights out’ inspection in one of NASA’s cleanrooms at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

This is a special type of visual inspection to check for any forms of contamination. Both bright white LEDs and UV lights are used in order to better search for possible contamination, with the lights inside the cleanroom switched off to improve the contrast.

The low lighting means the image had to be taken with a longer than normal exposure time. This makes the technicians appear somewhat ghostly as they moved about the cleanroom during the exposure.

The image shows the segmented and gold-coated primary mirror of the telescope, which has a diameter of about 6.5 m when unfolded. It consists of 18 hexagonal segments, which will work together as one gigantic state-of-the-art mirror.

In order to fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that will boost it into space, some segments will be folded, which will then open in orbit.

By the end of April, the telescope and the instruments will be shipped from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to Johnson’s Space Center in Texas where, over the course of the summer, it will go through final cryogenic-temperature testing.

JWST is joint project of NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, and is scheduled for launch in October 2018 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.4\

Credit: NASA and C. Gunn

Launch Day — Replays

Here is the live link to the launch NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and  Fyodor Yurchikhin, of the Russian space agency Roscosmos to the International Space Station.

The launch time is 07:13 UTC /  03:13 EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (13:13 local time).  Too early?  No worries I will put a video replay up.  HOWEVER if you can make it back here by 13:23 UTC / 09:23 EDT you will be able to see the Soyuz TM 04 dock to the ISS – YES, just six hours later.

Here’s the launch replay:

And the docking replay:

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.

Orbital Launch Replay 2

No I didn’t forget! Here’s what I call “Replay 2” of the Orbital launch of the S.S. John Glenn cargo ship to the International Space Station. This is not the 360 view, I’m not sure how much I liked that to be honest. Still great things have to start somewhere so I say keep it up!

Asteroid 2014 JO25

Wow, this asteroid is getting a lot of press! That’s good! The asteroid is not a problem for us and won’t be for quite some time. Check out the NEODyS-2 site page for 2014 JO25. NEODyS-2 is a good place to bookmark as is Earth’s Busy Neighborhood.

The asteroid is large, around 812 meters in diameter and will be about 1.61 million km / million miles (4.57 Lunar distances from us) at the closest so it is comfortably far away.

The great part about this fly-by is it will give us the opportunity to really study something this large and therefore potentially hazardous up-close, perhaps even radar images.

Orbital ATK Launch – Replay 1

Here’s the replay already. First ever 360 degree view. Have fun!  Note: not quite what I expected.  I will put the regular replay up in a different post when it is ready.

Here we go, not sure about the 360 thing though.  T – 3 mins .  Don’t know about the initial screen where it says Soyuz  MS-04 mating.  Hit play it is just fine.

Ok here we go. . .LAUNCH . . Nice very nice!  I will post a replay here when it becomes available.

Hopefully this works! The 360 degree view has never been tried before. Got VR gear? Might be a good test.

If this doesn’t seem to be working and I think you will know soon enough if it is or now give it a try on the NASA YouTube channel.

I’m sure the replay will work and will post that when it becomes available.

Launch Day 1

If all goes well today will be the first of two launches to the International Space Station  this week, today and Thursday.

Today it is the launch of the Orbital ATK and the S.S John Glenn cargo ship for a resupply mission to the ISS.  This will be Orbital’s seventh mission to the ISS.

Launch time is set for 15:11 UTC / 11:11 EDT and there is a 90 percent chance for favorable weather.  Be sure to come back for the launch which will be live, and could be one of those 360 degree videos where you can move the mouse around.  If it works.  This is the first time this type of video has been tried.

You probably noticed the “S.S John Glenn”, this spacecraft has been named in the late John Glenn’s honor.

The video will post about 15 minutes before launch.



Europa’s Plumes – Update

Following up yesterdays post here is a pair of static images from Hubble.  Click the image for a larger view.

From NASA:

These composite images show a suspected plume of material erupting two years apart from the same location on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The images bolster evidence that the plumes are a real phenomenon, flaring up intermittently in the same region on the satellite. Both plumes, photographed in ultraviolet light by NASA’s Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, were seen in silhouette as the moon passed in front of Jupiter.

The newly imaged plume, shown at right, rises about 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Europa’s frozen surface. The image was taken Feb. 22, 2016. The plume in the image at left, observed by Hubble on March 17, 2014, originates from the same location. It is estimated to be about 30 miles (50 kilometers) high. The snapshot of Europa, superimposed on the Hubble image, was assembled from data from NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter.

The plumes correspond to the location of an unusually warm spot on the moon’s icy crust, seen in the late 1990s by the Galileo spacecraft (see PIA21444 use back button to return.). Researchers speculate that this might be circumstantial evidence for water venting from the moon’s subsurface. The material could be associated with the global ocean that is believed to be present beneath the frozen crust.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center

Space Junk

Space debris or “junk” is a known problem that is getting worse right on schedule and it is best dealt with sooner rather than later.

We hear a fair bit about the problem of space debris from time to time but it seems no body does anything about it. Well that is not quite true, it isn’t a simple task. Two videos, the first is more of a problem statement as it was in 2013 published by ESA in 2016:

The second highlights the 7th European Conference on Space Debris coming from ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany on 18 to 21 April 2017.

The promises to be a great conference.