Saturn’s C Ring

Cassini keeps on giving even after it became part of Saturn and the end of the epic mission.

Original caption from NASA:

Saturn’s C ring is home to a surprisingly rich array of structures and textures (see also PIA21618). Much of the structure seen in the outer portions of Saturn’s rings is the result of gravitational perturbations on ring particles by moons of Saturn.

Such interactions are called resonances. However, scientists are not clear as to the origin of the structures seen in this image which has captured an inner ring region sparsely populated with particles, making interactions between ring particles rare, and with few satellite resonances.

In this image, a bright and narrow ringlet located toward the outer edge of the C ring is flanked by two broader features called plateaus, each about 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide.

Plateaus are unique to the C ring. Cassini data indicates that the plateaus do not necessarily contain more ring material than the C ring at large, but the ring particles in the plateaus may be smaller, enhancing their brightness. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 53 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Aug. 14, 2017.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 117,000 miles (189,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 74 degrees. Image scale is 3,000 feet (1 kilometer) per pixel.

The Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Will the JPSS Satellite Launch?

We will find out  at 12:47 UT / 07:47 ET / 01:47 PT. That is the launch time, other than some possible ground wind concerns the weather looks pretty good.

And the answer is NO.  It was NOT the ground winds that were the problem rather the upper winds.  They were talking about winds in the 120 + range at an altitude of 10 km while at ground level they were negligible .

From the discussion taking place between the forecasters and the launch control, it  sounded like the launch could be delayed for at least 48 hours and likely a bit longer than that.

Hitome Data

So there WAS data!  And to think I had written the mission off. Japan’s Hitomi mission launched on 17 February 2016 and there were only two short contacts with the spacecraft before communications was lost. What happened to the spacecraft is not known for certain but according to Japan’s space agency JAXA: “it is estimated that Hitomi separated to five pieces at about 10:42 a.m.”

From NASA — Before its brief mission ended unexpectedly in March 2016, Japan’s Hitomi X-ray observatory captured exceptional information about the motions of hot gas in the Perseus galaxy cluster. Now, thanks to unprecedented detail provided by an instrument developed jointly by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), scientists have been able to analyze more deeply the chemical make-up of this gas, providing new insights into the stellar explosions that formed most of these elements and cast them into space.

The Perseus cluster, located 240 million light-years away in its namesake constellation, is the brightest galaxy cluster in X-rays and among the most massive near Earth. It contains thousands of galaxies orbiting within a thin hot gas, all bound together by gravity. The gas averages 90 million degrees Fahrenheit (50 million degrees Celsius) and is the source of the cluster’s X-ray emission.

Using Hitomi’s high-resolution Soft X-ray Spectrometer (SXS) instrument, researchers observed the cluster between Feb. 25 and March 6, 2016, acquiring a total exposure of nearly 3.4 days. The SXS observed an unprecedented spectrum, revealing a landscape of X-ray peaks emitted from various chemical elements with a resolution some 30 times better than previously seen.
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Arrival and Departure

We have both an arrival and departure today!

First the docking of the S.S. Gene Cernan cargo-spacecraft at the International Space Station (coverage) at 08:15 UT  / 03:15 ET and an hour later the launch of an American weather satellite the JPSS-1.

Missed the coverage?  NOTE: The JPSS launch has been scrubbed. Rescheduled for tomorrow morning, I will update the time.

Docking replay and I will replace this with a more concise version shortly:

Heads Up

In just a few hours at 08:15 UT / 03:15 ET NASA TV will carry coverage of the docking of the S.S. Gene Cernan cargo-spaceship to the International Space Station.

An hour later coverage begins on the attempted launch of an American weather satellite.  The satellite will be put into a polar orbit and as you can imagine is packed with the latest technology — have a look at the JPSS-1 mission here.

If all goes well coverage can be found here at 08:20 UT / 03:20 ET.

I know, for the North/South American east and points there to the west it might not be the most opportune time so with any luck replays will be available.

Rare Solar Filament Spotted

NASA — NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory came across an oddity that the spacecraft has rarely observed before: a dark filament encircling an active region (Oct. 29-31, 2017). Solar filaments are clouds of charged particles that float above the sun, tethered to it by magnetic forces. They are usually elongated and uneven strands. Only a handful of times before have we seen one shaped like a circle. The black area to the left of the brighter active region is a coronal hole, a magnetically open region of the sun. While it may have no major scientific value, it is noteworthy because of its rarity. The still was taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.

Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Orbital Launch Attempt 2 — REPLAY

Here is a replay (thanks to Space Videos) showing all the good bits as far as action goes.

This is the second attempt to get the cargo spacecraft in the air. Yesterday’s attempt was scrubbed due to an aircraft in the area.

I don’t know how they handle flight restrictions in an area for a launch. I looked yesterday (and this morning) for a temporary flight restriction for the area and did not see one, I’m sure there is I just don’t know the procedure.

Good luck again Orbital!

Wow! Great video of the pad during early ascent!

The Cygnus cargo ship “Gene Cernan” is on the way and all is proceeding perfectly.

I will leave this feed up for a while, next up is solar array deployment in about an hour (now 12:34 UT).

Orbital ATK CRS-8 Launch – SCRUBBED

UPDATE:  Launch time is 12:14 UT /  07:14 EST on 12 November 2017.

The image above shows the Orbital ATK Antares being rolled out to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s pad 0A.  Antares will carry the company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft with more than 7,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station when it gets off the ground.

Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

The launch SCRUBBED DUE TO AN AIRCRAFT IN THE AREA. What? Gee, I didn’t  guess that would happen.  Oh well, probably a 24 hour turn around. Pity though, the weather was perfect.

Will update later with a new date/time.  Today the  launch was scheduled for 12:37 UT / 07:37 EST;  I am going to guess if it goes tomorrow it will be around the same time.  We’ll see.

Home Sweet Home

Just look at this beautiful view of Earth from 10,000 miles / 16,100 km — taken in 1967!   As is usually the case you can click the image for a larger version; however in this case you should go to NASA’s Image of the Day and get the REALLY large version.

NASA — On November 9, 1967, the uncrewed Apollo 4 test flight made a great ellipse around Earth as a test of the translunar motors and of the high speed entry required of a crewed flight returning from the Moon. A 70mm camera was programmed to look out a window toward Earth, and take a series of photographs from “high apogee.” Seen looking west are coastal Brazil, the Atlantic Ocean, West Africa and Antarctica. This photograph was made as the Apollo 4 spacecraft, still attached to the S-IVB (third) stage, orbited Earth at an altitude of 9,544 miles.

Credit: NASA/Yvette Smith

BTW: There will be launch of a Cygnus cargo spaceship to the International Space Station on Saturday. Orbital ATK is planning on launching the CRS-8 mission from NASA’s Whallops Flight Facility.