1.1 Million Names and More

I am one of the 1,137,202 names on the Parker Solar Probe. I hope you are too.

The Parker Solar Probe is going to dive into the Sun’s atmosphere 24 times if all goes as expected. We are going to get a look at how the Sun works (and other stars) work from very close-up. Among the questions that could be answered is why the corona actually heats up by a factor of 1000 degrees (F). Yes by a factor of 1000 degrees. Nobody knows why.

Anyway the chip was installed on the Parker probe and if all goes as scheduled it will launch to the Sun.

The Parker Probe is names as a fitting tribute to heliophysicist Eugene Parker. It was Parker who first theorized the existence of the solar wind. This is the first NASA mission to be named for a living individual.

Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

Stellar Nursery

The Herschel Observatory is still responsible for great science even after the four or five-years or so since the end of the mission.

ESA — Stellar nurseries are cloudy and dusty places that shine brightly in infrared light. The G305 star-forming complex is no exception. It features a number of bright, intricate gas clouds heated by infant stars in their midst. In this spectacular image by ESA’s Herschel space observatory, these star-forming hotspots stand out in a blue tone that contrasts with the red-brownish colour of cooler regions.

While there are several star-formation sites dotted throughout this scene, the most striking ones surround the dark, heart-shaped area in the top right of the image. Hidden at the centre of the dark region lie the massive star WR48a and its two neighbours, stellar clusters Danks 1 and 2. All three play an important role in triggering the formation of new stars, even if they themselves are relatively young objects no older than a few million years (for comparison, the Sun is around 4.6 billion years old).

Strong winds and radiation from WR48a and the high-mass stars in the two clusters have pushed away the gas remnants from the cloud where they originated. The swept-away gas, gathered together at the edge of the heart-shaped bubble, is now forming new stars.

Using Herschel, astronomers have identified 16 sites where high-mass stars are forming in this stellar nursery. The region is one of the brightest and most plentiful star-forming complexes in the Milky Way, and an ideal ground to observe and study massive stars at different stages of formation and evolution.

The G305 complex is about 12 000 light-years away and gets its name from its location at around 305º longitude in the plane of our Galaxy. In the night sky, it appears near the Coalsack Nebula, a large interstellar cloud of dust visible to the naked eye and located in the constellation of Crux, the Southern Cross. A very prominent dark nebula, Coalsack shows up in the southern skies as a black patch against the bright, starry backdrop of the Milky Way.

This image, obtained as part of Hi-GAL – the Herschel infrared Galactic Plane Survey, combines observations at three different wavelengths: 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red).

Launched in 2009, Herschel operated for four years observing at far infrared and submillimetre wavelengths. This spectral range allowed it to observe the glow of dust in gas clouds where stars are born to investigate this process and observe their early evolution.

Image: ESA/Herschel/PACS, SPIRE/Hi-GAL Project. Acknowledgement: UNIMAP / L. Piazzo, La Sapienza – Università di Roma; E. Schisano / G. Li Causi, IAPS/INAF, Italy

SpaceX to Launch the GRACE-FO

Replay when available (if it isn’t on this link). Ground video was out of focus, they had a spot of bother with the auto-focus.

Mission: Iridium-6/GRACE-FO

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9

Date/Time: 22 May 2018 19:47 UTC / 15:47 ET

Spaceport: Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Orbital is launching CRS-9 and CubeSats

I’m back and have updated the video so it will start at around T-minus 1:00.

Wow, a fast ascent, or at least it seemed it.

Note: I switched video feeds so hopefully this one will provide replays. I won’t be able to check for the majority of the day unfortunately.

Orbital ATK is launching the Cygnus Cargo-spaceship to the International Space Station.

Spaceport: Wallops Flight Facility (Virginia USA)

Launch time: 08:39 UTC / 04:39 ET

Rocket: Orbital’s Antares

Along with the Cygnus are ten CubeSats. Including EnduroSat One a ham radio satellite for Bulgaria (yes many hams in Bulgaria), the CubeRPT an Ohio State University satellite to conduct radiometer radio frequency interference technology validation, and HaloSat, a satellite to examine the galactic halo.

I will leave this feed up for most of the day, but will post replays later.

Note: There is another launch tomorrow after 15:30 UT. The GRACE Follow-on mission will be launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Launching Tomorrow Morning

Orbital ATK will be launching the Antares rocket with the Cygnus space-cargoship bound for the International Space Station.

There will also be ten CubeSats launched at the same time.

Launch time: 08:39 UTC / 04:39 ET

Coverage begins at 08:00 UTC / 04:00 ET