Rosetta’s Legacy

Rosetta was an epic mission no doubt about it. For some looking at all the data from the mission is the best part; something akin to looking through a treasure chest, you never know what you might find.


SpaceX CRS-11 Launch – REPLAY

Excellent! The landing was spectacular!


Today’s launch is the second attempt at launch, the first scrubbed due to weather.

Launch Date/Time: 03 June at 21:07 UTC / 17:07 ET.

Alternate dates: 04 June at 21:07 UTC / 17:07 ET (identical to today’s window)

Historical note: This will be the 100th launch from Kennedy’s LC-39A.

Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket after 10 minutes of flight. The Falcon 9 will then attempt a landing at the SpaceX Landing Zone (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral.

If all goes according to plan the Dragon cargo ship will still dock with the International Space Station on 04 June.

Welcome Home!

In case you missed this landing.   Welcome home to Expedition 51 Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) landed safely near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

I must say, I’ve enjoyed following Thomas Presquet during his stay aboard the ISS.

Reminder: The SpaceX launch is scheduled for 21:07 UTC / 17:07 ET and you will find a link for the launch posted about a quarter to the hour.

The weather outlook does not look promising:
From (US) NOAA for Cape Canaveral: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm, mainly after noon. Cloudy, with a high near 84. South southwest wind around 5 mph becoming north northeast in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

A Scenario for Gale Crater on Mars

So this brings up the question would have the same oxidation processes interfered with life processes at a critical early state or would have it actually assisted them?   Good work by Stony Brook and NASA.

NASA — This diagram presents some of the processes and clues related to a long-ago lake on Mars that became stratified, with the shallow water richer in oxidants than deeper water was.

The sedimentary rocks deposited within a lake in Mars’ Gale Crater more than three billion years ago differ from each other in a pattern that matches what is seen in lakes on Earth. As sediment-bearing water flows into a lake, bedding thickness and particle size progressively decrease as sediment is deposited in deeper and deeper water as seen in examples of thick beds (PIA19074) from shallowest water, thin beds (PIA19075) from deeper water and even thinner beds (PIA19828) from deepest water.

At sites on lower Mount Sharp, inside the crater, measurements of chemical and mineral composition by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover reveal a clear correspondence between the physical characteristics of sedimentary rock from different parts of the lake and how strongly oxidized the sediments were. Rocks with textures indicating that the sediments were deposited near the edge of a lake have more strongly oxidized composition than rocks with textures indicating sedimentation in deep water. For example, the iron mineral hematite is more oxidized than the iron mineral magnetite.

An explanation for why such chemical stratification occurs in a lake is that the water closer to the surface is more exposed to oxidizing effects of oxygen in the atmosphere and ultraviolet light.

On Earth, a stratified lake with a distinct boundary between oxidant-rich shallows and oxidant-poor depths provides a diversity of environments suited to different types of microbes. If Mars has ever hosted microbial live, the stratified lake at Gale Crater may have similarly provided a range of different habitats for life.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stony Brook University

SpaceX CRS-11 Launch – SCRUBBED

Today’s launch was scrubbed due to weather so now we go to the back up date:

Launch Date/Time: 03 June at 21:07 UTC / 17:07 ET.

Alternate dates:
Historical note: This will be the 100th launch from Kennedy’s LC-39A.

Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket after 10 minutes of flight. The Falcon 9 will then attempt a landing at the SpaceX Landing Zone (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral.

If all goes according to plan the Dragon cargo ship will dock with the International Space Station on 04 June.

Martian Halos

REMINDER:  There will be a Space X launch at 21:55 UT / 17:55 ET today!  I will have a live feed up.  Nobody does launch video like Space X.

NASA – Pale zones called “halos” border bedrock fractures visible in this 2015 image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover which has been darkened (a previously released image can be seen at PIA20268). Measurements overlaid on the image offer a sense of scale for the size of these fractures. The rover team determined that the halos are rich in silica, a clue to the duration of wet environmental conditions long ago. The location is on the lower slope of Mars’ Mount Sharp.

Curiosity’s Navigation Camera (Navcam) acquired the component images of this mosaic on Aug. 23, 2015, during the 1.083rd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The location is along the rover’s path between “Marias Pass” and “Bridger Basin.” In this region, the rover has found fracture zones to be associated with rock compositions enriched in silica, relative to surrounding bedrock.

Image:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

Brush Fire Near Launch Pad 39A

In advance of the Space-X launch tomorrow  there was a “hold-down” test at Launch Pad 39A.   The “hold-down” test is a rehearsal for the launch to ensure the fueling and countdown procedures are all set before the actual launch.

The Falcon 9 rocket assembly consisting of nine Merlin 1D engines was fired for more than three seconds.  After the test fire crews were called to the scene and the four-acre fire was quelled by numerous helicopter water dumps.

The test is customary and apparently all is ready for the launch which you can seehere tomorrow.  Launch time is 21:55 UTC / 17:55 ET.

Strange Lunar Image – Meteor Hit


NASA/LRO (By Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD)- On Oct.13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small natural object in space.

LROC is a system of three cameras mounted on the LRO spacecraft. Two Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) capture high resolution black and white images. The third Wide Angle Camera captures moderate resolution images using filters to provide information about the properties and color of the lunar surface.

The NAC works by building an image one line at a time. The first line is captured, then the orbit of the spacecraft moves the camera relative to the surface, and then the next line is captured, and so on, as thousands of lines are compiled into a full image.

According to Mark Robinson, professor and principal investigator of LROC at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, the jittery appearance of the image captured is the result of a sudden and extreme cross-track oscillation of the camera. LROC researchers concluded that there must have been a brief violent movement of the left Narrow Angle Camera.

There were no spacecraft events like solar panel movements or antenna tracking that might have caused spacecraft jitter during this period. “Even if there had been, the resulting jitter would have affected both cameras identically,” says Robinson. “The only logical explanation is that the NAC was hit by a meteoroid.”

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The Rings of Jupiter


Bonus:  A look at the constellation of Orion from Jupiter through the eyes of the Stellar Reference Unit (SRU-1) aboard the Juno spacecraft.

We don’t hear too much about the rings around Jupiter but they are there and are quite interesting – see our Jupiter page.

Can’t see Orion?  No problem, take a look at this then come back and look again.  It should stand right out for you (hopefully).

NASA –   As NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew through the narrow gap between Jupiter’s radiation belts and the planet during its first science flyby, Perijove 1, on August 27, 2016, the Stellar Reference Unit (SRU-1) star camera collected the first image of Jupiter’s ring taken from the inside looking out. The bright bands in the center of the image are the main ring of Jupiter’s ring system.

While taking the ring image, the SRU was viewing the constellation Orion. The bright star above the main ring is Betelgeuse, and Orion’s belt can be seen in the lower right. Juno’s Radiation Monitoring Investigation actively retrieves and analyzes the noise signatures from penetrating radiation in the images of the spacecraft’s star cameras and science instruments at Jupiter.

JunoCam’s raw images are available at for the public to peruse and process into image products.

Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI