The Eye of Jupiter

Spooky shadow on Jupiter see by Hubble. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) Acknowledgment: C. Go and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Spooky shadow on Jupiter see by Hubble. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) Acknowledgment: C. Go and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Hubble captured “the Eye of Jupiter”. Okay, it’s not an eye at all, it is the shadow of the moon Ganymede in the Great Red Spot.

Hubble is in a seasonal mood and it does look like a 16,200 km / 10,000 mile wide eye on Jupiter.

See more at Hubblesite.


Spooky :mrgreen:

Giant Sunspot

A sunspot almost as big as Jupiter!  Credit: SDO/NASA.

A sunspot almost as big as Jupiter! Credit: SDO/NASA.

From the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The largest sunspot of this solar cycle has now rotated around so that it is just about facing Earth. The video clip of filtered light images (Oct. 18-22, 2014) show this substantial active region is 125,000 km wide, almost as big as the planet Jupiter, and many times the size of Earth. The region appears to have the kind of unstable magnetic field that suggests it might well produce more solar storms. It has already blasted out three substantial flares and numerous smaller ones. Sunspots are darker, cooler regions of the sun with intense magnetic fields poking out through the surface. Credit: SDO/NASA.

Here’s a close up of the sunspot.

2014 UF56

A newly discovered 11-meter wide asteroid passed by Earth at about 164,244 km/ 102,056 miles or 0.43 LD (lunar distance) at 21:20 on 27 Oct 2014.

JPL Small-Body Database.

The asteroid discovery credit goes to a Mt. Lemmon Survey observation at 0521 UT 25 Oct. 2014

This asteroid will come back around in 2018 but shouldn’t be anywhere near as close according to NEODys.

Launch Day for ORB-3

Mission:  Orbital Sciences Corp Cygnus Cargo Flight for ISS / ORB-3

Rocket: Orbital’s Antares

Launch Facility Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia

Current Status: Go

Launch Date: Monday, 27 Oct. 2014 22:45 UTC / 18:45 EDT

Alternate Dates: 28 to 30 Oct.

Odds of Launch: Unknown numerics but the forecast looks great.

NOAA’s Forecast:

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 65oF / 19oC. West wind around 11 mph. (about 9 to 10 knots)

Some areas along the US East Coast might get a glimpse of the launch. Check the maps here.

Flight notes (from Orbital Sciences):

The ORB-3 Cygnus spacecraft is named the S.S. Deke Slayton, in honor of the late NASA astronaut Donald “Deke” Slayton.

The Orb-3 mission represents the fifth launch of the company’s Antares rocket in its first 18 months of operations. It will also be the fourth cargo delivery mission to the ISS by a Cygnus spacecraft, including the 2013 demonstration flight. For Orb-3, Orbital will deliver its largest load of cargo to date, carrying approximately 5,050 pounds (2,290 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS for NASA. At the conclusion of the Orb-3 mission, the company will have carried a total of 13,378 pounds (6,078 kilograms) of essential supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to the ISS and will have removed 13,444 pounds (6,097 kilograms) of disposal cargo, a vital capability for the maintenance and operation of the Station.

After separation from Antares, Cygnus will deploy its solar arrays and undergo initial check-out. The spacecraft will conduct a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit to bring it within 4 km of the ISS prior to receiving authorization to autonomously rendezvous with the station. When the vehicle approaches to within 12 meters, the astronauts will use the station’s robotic arm to grapple Cygnus and berth it to the Harmony node of the station. Cygnus is planned to remain berthed at the ISS for approximately five weeks during which time the station crew will load Cygnus with materials for disposal. At the end of the mission Cygnus will depart the station and reenter the Earth’s atmosphere.

New Record Jump

Google Executive Alan Eustace left an abandoned airport in New Mexico in a helium-filled balloon. He later jumped from the balloon at 41.42 km / 135,908 feet.

Eustace reached speeds of 822 mph.

Only two-years ago Felix Baumgartner jumped from 39 km / 128,000 feet to set the record. Will he respond? I hope so!

Ambition – The Film

About the video from ESA (YouTube)

Ambition is a collaboration between Platige Image and ESA. Directed by Tomek Bagiński and starring Aiden Gillen and Aisling Franciosi, Ambition was shot on location in Iceland, and screened on 24 October 2014 during the British Film Institute’s celebration of Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, at the Southbank, London.

More information.
Rosetta: the ambition to turn science fiction into science fact:…

Video Source (ESA)

Mars and Comet Siding Spring

A Hubble look at Mars and comet Siding Spring. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/PSI/JHU/APL, STScI/AURA

A Hubble look at Mars and comet Siding Spring. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/PSI/JHU/APL, STScI/AURA

Have a look at this Hubble image of Mars AND comet Siding Spring in the same field of view during the close pass on 19 October. The comet came as close as 140,000 km / 87,000 miles – only a third of our Earth to Moon distance. I am trying to imagine what that would be like.

This from Hubblesite:

This composite of NASA Hubble Space Telescope images captures the positions of comet Siding Spring and Mars in a never-before-seen close passage of a comet by the Red Planet, which happened at 2:28 p.m. EDT October 19, 2014. The comet passed by Mars at approximately 87,000 miles (about one-third of the distance between Earth and the Moon). At that time, the comet and Mars were approximately 149 million miles from Earth.


The comet image shown here is a composite of Hubble exposures taken between Oct. 18, 8:06 a.m. EDT to Oct. 19, 11:17 p.m. EDT. Hubble took a separate photograph of Mars at 10:37 p.m. EDT on Oct. 18.

The Mars and comet images have been added together to create a single picture to illustrate the angular separation, or distance, between the comet and Mars at closest approach. The separation is approximately 1.5 arc minutes, or one-twentieth of the angular diameter of the full Moon. The background starfield in this composite image is synthesized from ground-based telescope data provided by the Palomar Digital Sky Survey, which has been reprocessed to approximate Hubble’s resolution. The solid icy comet nucleus is too small to be resolved in the Hubble picture. The comet’s bright coma, a diffuse cloud of dust enshrouding the nucleus, and a dusty tail, are clearly visible.


This is a composite image because a single exposure of the stellar background, comet Siding Spring, and Mars would be problematic. Mars is actually 10,000 times brighter than the comet, and so could not be properly exposed to show detail in the Red Planet. The comet and Mars were also moving with respect to each other and so could not be imaged simultaneously in one exposure without one of the objects being motion blurred. Hubble had to be programmed to track on the comet and Mars separately in two different observations.


The images were taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Partial Solar Eclipse

Tomorrow afternoon there will be a partial solar eclipse that most of North America is going to get to see.  Heavy rain expected here and the eclipse being very near or at sunset, well, I’m going to miss out on the “live” version but NASA TV will be showing coverage stating at 17:00 EDT / 22:00 UT, you should be able to find it at the link in the banner.

Hopefully YOU are going to be more fortunate!  Here is a static image of the “timing map” from the video:

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC -

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC –

Video source

Comet Dunes?

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from just 7.8 km away. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from just 7.8 km away. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Here is one panel of four images from the Rosetta spacecraft on 18 October when the spacecraft was only 7.8 km from the surface.

The image scale is about 92 cm per pixel according to the caption

The images here were taken about 20 minutes apart and the rotation is apparent, so Photoshop route of putting them together isn’t working out so good. Trying to accomplish the task of putting the four frames together is made more difficult because I am doing it on a laptop. I have a new plan: I am going to print each panel out and see if I can stick them together just for fun, if it works out I will print the frames out on photo paper and put everything on the wall.

You can see all four panels at the Cometwatch Blog you can see if you can put them together too.

I picked this particular image for a couple of reasons: check out the boulders. Seems like they should be rolling down the hill, that’s what having little gravity does for you.

The really interesting thing is towards the center of the image, are those dunes? If they are how did they form?

A Rover View of Comet

NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU

NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU

This is the (annotated) view of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity about two-and-a-half hours before the close encounter with Mars.

Want an non-annotated version?

You will notice some cosmic ray hits are labeled. Very common artifact as anyone who dabbles even a little in astrophotography will attest. This image has been processed to remove detector artifacts and a slight twilight glow. The processing was very well done, sometimes the processing is half the fun.

You can see more images, including a blink between two frames from Opportunity. Do have a look.