Archive for the ‘Spacecraft’ Category

An Orbital Moon Station Is Our Gateway to Mars


(Discover Blogs::The Crux) – David Rothery:

The dream of a human habitat in orbit about the moon came a step closer on Sept. 27, when NASA and the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) signed up to a common vision for future human exploration. The project, a follow-up to the International Space Station (ISS), involves a facility placed in orbit somewhere between the Earth and the moon – a region known as cis-lunar space. Seen as a stepping-stone on the way to deeper space exploration, it has been dubbed the Deep Space Gateway, DSG. …

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Deep Space Gateway and NASA Orion craft


Last Days of Cassini


(Discover Blogs::Out There) – Corey S. Powell:

As Cassini’s program manager and a veteran of the mission since 1993, Earl H. Maize of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a unique perspective on the last days of this remarkable spacecraft. There is no other comparable mission on the drawing boards; given current political realities, there may not be another like it in our lifetimes. And yet, Cassini is a beginning as well as an end. Maize notes that omnibus missions like Cassini allow more targeted follow-ups, like the upcoming Europa Clipper and (here’s hoping) future visits to the moons Enceladus and Titan.

I spoke with Maize just ahead of Cassini’s heroic final plunge. He offered an insider’s view of how it all ended. …

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Enceladus setting behind Saturn 2017-09-13

Cassini Must Die


(FTB Pharyngula) – PZ Myers:

The Cassini probe is being ordered to destroy itself by crashing into Saturn. It seems harsh. You’ve sent a tourist to an exotic location to go crazy taking vacation snaps, and then instead of a return trip, you reward them with a request to send more pictures of their suicide. I guess it is a spectacular way to go. …

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Cassini spacecraft at Saturn

Voyager’s “Cosmic Map” of Earth’s Location is Hopelessly Wrong


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

The pulsar map to Earth was perfect when it was launched. By time aliens get it, it’ll be completely useless. …

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Voyager golden record

New Horizons’ Next Target


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Astronomers looked for any Kuiper Belt Objects near the New Horizons trajectory, and, after using Hubble, they found one: Called 2014 MU69, it was a perfect target. Likely to be an ancient piece of solar system left over from its formation, it was reachable using some of what was left of the spacecraft’s fuel. The course correction was made, and New Horizons will blow past MU69 on January 1, 2019, passing just 10,000 km from it. …

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2014 MU69 binary

Street View in Space


(Atlantic Science) – Marina Koren:

New images on Google Maps were taken by an astronaut as he floated from module to module inside the International Space Station. …

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Google maps interior view of ISS

The Wink of a Star


(Planetary Blogs) – Emily Lakdawalla:

After a world-spanning effort, the New Horizons team has successfully observed the tiny target of its future exploration dimming a distant star. …

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2014 MU69, artist's impression

A Front-Row Seat at Saturn


(RawStory) – Dan Reisenfeld:

Cassini now begins one last campaign. Dubbed the Grand Finale, it will end on Sept. 15, 2017 with the probe plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere, where it will burn up. Although Saturn was visited by three spacecraft in the 1970s and 1980s, my fellow scientists and I couldn’t have imagined what the Cassini space probe would discover during its sojourn at the ringed planet when it launched 20 years ago. …

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Does Earth Have a Trojan Horde?


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Are there asteroids sharing Earth’s orbit around the Sun?

Cutting to the chase: Yes, there is at least one. But how many are there? There might be a lot, but we don’t know. The cool news is, we may very well know more soon. …

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OSIRIS-REx at Earth's L4

How the James Webb Space Telescope Was Made


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

An Ariane 5 rocket, launching at dawn, will carry James Webb in full sunlight to its destination: the L2 Lagrange point, beyond the shadow of both the Earth and the Moon. For only 32 minutes, James Webb will be under battery power; after that, the solar arrays deploy and it will forever be in direct sunlight. Its mission to reveal the Universe will have begun, and every scientist and engineer who helped design and build it will get their celebratory moment of a lifetime. …

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James Webb Space Telescope