I’m watching some of the Olympic coverage this morning. Got to thinking about how much work the athletes have put into for the honor of representing their respective countries. The dedication and ability is simply amazing.
The whole event is a great spectacle, even the travels of the torch were over the top.
A calibration image from Gaia. Copyright ESA/DPAC/Airbus DS
Testing on the Gaia spacecraft is apparently going nicely if this image of NGC 1818 is any indication.
About the image from ESA:
A Gaia test image of the young star cluster NGC1818 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, taken as part of calibration and testing before the science phase of the mission begins. The field-of-view is 212 x 212 arcseconds and the image is approximately oriented with north up and east left. The integration time of the image was 2.85 seconds and the image covers an area less than 1% of the full Gaia field of view.
Curiosity looks back home. Click for an annotated verision. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU
The rover Curiosity got a look at home with the Mast Cam. The left camera was used for the image which was taken about 80 minutes after the Martian sunset. The Earth is the bright spot just left of center The moon is faintly visible too. Clicking the image will show an annotated versions.
You can click the JPL link below and select a larger version. They are large enough for you to see the moon just below the Earth. Makes a nice desktop too.
This view of the twilight sky and Martian horizon taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover includes Earth as the brightest point of light in the night sky. Earth is a little left of center in the image, and our moon is just below Earth.
› See annotated versions
The Progress 54 Cargo ship is a Russian auto-piloted craft that was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday morning.
On board is three tons of food and other supplies for the Expedition 38 crew and that has already been delivered to the ISS.
The progress docked with the ISS in only six hours after it was launched. The docking port on the ISS, called the Pirs port only became available after the Progress 52 was undocked on 03 February.
The Progress 52 will be deorbited on 11 February and will burn up in the atmosphere.
A view of Saturn from Cassini. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Cassini is still alive and well around Saturn as we can see from this image of the northern hemisphere.
From JPL’s Cassini website:
Just as Saturn’s famous hexagonal shaped jet stream encircles the planet’s north pole, the rings encircle the planet, as seen from Cassini’s position high above. Around and around everything goes!
NGC 7023: The Iris Nebula, Image Credit & Copyright: Jim Misti (acquisition), Robert Gendler (processing)
The Iris Nebula gets its name from the similarity to the flower of the same name.
The blue color comes from the star: HD 200775, a massive and very hot young star scattering off dust grains.
Located in the constellation Cepheus this bright (mag 6.8) nebula also known as Caldwell 4 and NGC 7023 is about 398 parsecs / 1,300 light-years distant.
I believe this was acquired using Spitzer and the processing was done by the great (IMHO) Robert Gendler.
The nebula has been the subject of study by Astrobiologists at the NASA Ames Research Center:
Astrobiologists at NASA Ames Research Center funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have recently published a study on the analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAH’s, in the Iris Nebula. Their analyses of individual PAH spectra have allowed them to see how different types of PAH’s map to different areas of the nebula, and also how PAH behavior changes with respect to changes in the local environment.
Source: [The Astrophysical Journal]
The latest from ESA Euronews regarding Rosetta.
This video is available many languages at the ESA YouTube site.
Today is an unofficial holiday in the States with the NFL Super Bowl.
I am hoping for a Bronco victory. However, I would not be too disappointed to see the Seahawks either as their kicker played college football just up the road.
Just how do you apply the correct aerodynamic force to test a prototype Mars parachute that is too large for any wind tunnel?
Simple, you just gather up the right gear:
- MH-60S Knighthawk Helicopter, 4000 ft Drop Altitude
- 135,000 lb Sled
- 100,000 lbf of Pull Thrust
- 50,000 lb Tripod Structure
- 2,000,000 lb Concrete Anchors
- 300 hp Winch to Fish in Parachute
And with a kick butt tune, it’s go big or go home.
I suggest clicking the source link below and watch this full screen too.
Comet 2013 A1 Siding Spring image taken by the NEOWISE mission. Click for larger. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
You may remember a story about a comet coming quite close to the planet Mars. NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured this image of the comet which is heading towards Mars and currently just inside the orbit of Jupiter.
The comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will come within 138,000 km / 88,000 miles of the Martian surface. so the comet will miss Mars, however, dust from the comet could actually enevolop the planet.
This from NASA:
NASA’s NEOWISE mission captured images of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which is slated to make a close pass by Mars on Oct. 19, 2014. The infrared pictures reveal a comet that is active and very dusty even though it was about 355 million miles (571 million kilometers) away from the sun on Jan. 16, 2014, when this picture was taken.
The infrared measurements will allow astronomers to determine the sizes and quantity of dust particles being flung off the comet. The measurements will also give engineers some indications of what orbiting spacecraft at Mars might expect when the comet gets close. Preliminary analysis of the data indicate approximately 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of dust are being ejected from the comet’s surface each second, assuming the grains are dark and nearly the density of water-ice. The comet’s activity is expected to increase as it gets closer to Mars.
There is more from NASA here.
The LRO gets a picture of LADEE passing below. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University
Precision tracking is a better title, two spacecraft around the moon and on crossing orbits cross paths. One spacecraft (LRO) was about 9 km / 5.6 miles above the other (LADEE) and they manage a picture of the lower craft.
For me the fun thing these are two different missions with different teams and they had enough interaction to know this was coming, really this is good.
You can get somewhat of a better look by clicking here, I zoomed in on the LADEE and you can see the limitation in the way the LRO camera (LROC) takes a picture. Well limitation to catching another spacecraft passes by, as a lunar imager it is amazing.
Here is a link to an unannotated version of the image above.
LADEE is in an equatorial orbit (east-to-west) while LRO is in a polar orbit (south-to-north). The two spacecraft are occasionally very close and on Jan. 15, 2014, the two came within 5.6 miles (9 km) of each other. As LROC is a push-broom imager, it builds up an image one line at a time, so catching a target as small and fast as LADEE is tricky. Both spacecraft are orbiting the moon with velocities near 3,600 mph (1,600 meters per second), so timing and pointing of LRO must be nearly perfect to capture LADEE in an LROC image.
LADEE passed directly beneath the LRO orbit plane a few seconds before LRO crossed the LADEE orbit plane, meaning a straight down LROC image would have just missed LADEE. The LADEE and LRO teams worked out the solution: simply have LRO roll 34 degrees to the west so the LROC detector (one line) would be in the right place as LADEE passed beneath.
As planned at 8:11 p.m. EST on Jan. 14, 2014, LADEE entered LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) field of view for 1.35 milliseconds and a smeared image of LADEE was snapped. LADEE appears in four lines of the LROC image, and is distorted righttoleft. What can be seen in the LADEE pixels in the NAC image?
Here’s the press release