Sunday, 12 October 2014

Rosetta mission - Philae’s descent and science on the surface


The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will deploy its lander, Philae, to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 12 November.

Philae’s landing site, currently known as Site J, is located on the smaller of the comet’s two ‘lobes’, with a backup site on the larger lobe. The sites were selected just six weeks after Rosetta arrived at the comet on 6 August, following its 10-year journey through the Solar System

In that time, the Rosetta mission has been conducting an unprecedented scientific analysis of the comet, a remnant of the Solar System’s 4.6 billion-year history. The latest results from Rosetta will be presented on the occasion of the landing, during dedicated press briefings.

The main focus to date has been to survey 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in order to prepare for the first ever attempt to soft-land on a comet.


Blood Moon Photos: Total Lunar Eclipse Pictures from April 15, 2014

    After the Blood Moon comes the Pumpkin Sun

    Click to enlarge!
    On October 7, 2014 [Manila time], active regions on the sun gave it the appearance of a jack-o'-lantern. This image is a blend of 171 and 193 angstrom light as captured by the NASA-Solar Dynamics Observatory. NASA/GSFC/SDO

     Source: GMANews

    It looks like the Moon isn't the only heavenly body giving the skies a creepy feel this month.

    After last Wednesday's "Blood Moon" comes the "Pumpkin Sun" as captured by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration last Wednesday, October 8.

    Last Wednesday, the moon took on a blood-colored appearance during a total lunar eclipse.

    "Active regions on the sun combined to look something like a jack-o-lantern’s face on Oct. 8, 2014. The active regions appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy – markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona," NASA's Goodard Space Flight Center said.

    The Bermuda Triangle of Space: The High-Energy South Atlantic Anomaly Threatens Satellites

    Click to enlarge!
    Source: DefenceNews

    Much fanfare accompanied the Sept. 25, 2010, launch of the Air Force’s Space Based Space Surveillance satellite. The $833 million craft was finally going up to do its job: monitor orbiting items from space itself, free of the time constraints and atmospheric interference that hamper its earthbound counterpart, the Space Fence. Its 30-centimeter telescope, mounted on a two-axis gimbal, would help keep tabs on satellites as far away as geosynchronous orbit as well as thousands of bits of space junk closer in. The builders said SBSS would be on the job within 60 days, and forecast a working life of at least 5½ years.

    Shortly after launch, the satellite passed over the South Atlantic, and things went awry. The satellite was hit by radiation that sent the sensors reeling and knocked out an electronics board payload. Suddenly, the expensive, specially-designed satellite could no longer do what it was built for.


    Saturday, 27 September 2014

    Rosetta: Date fixed for historic comet landing attempt

    Philae is about the size of a washing machine.
    It will use harpoons and screws to try to hold itself down

    The date has been fixed for Europe's daring attempt to land on a comet: Wednesday 12 November.
    It will see the Rosetta satellite, which is currently orbiting the huge "ice mountain" known as 67P, drop a small robot from a height of 20km.

    If all goes well, the lander will free-fall towards the comet, making contact with the surface somewhere in a 1km-wide zone at roughly 15:35 GMT.

    The European Space Agency (Esa) says the challenges ahead are immense.

    Imagine pushing a washing machine out the back of an airliner at twice cruising altitude and expecting it to hit Regent's Park in London - all while the ground is moving underneath.

    Although not really analogous for many reasons, this scenario does give a sense of the difficulties involved.

    The chances of failure are high.

    Friday, 19 September 2014

    Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 - in pictures

    Click to enlarge

    The Royal Observatory Greenwich has announced the winners of this year’s international astronomy photography competition. The observatory’s annual free exhibition, which opened on Thursday, showcases these dazzling images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space. British photographer James Woodend beat over a thousand amateur and professional photographers to win the top prize.

    Inkspot - The only Dark Nebula with it's own wine?

    Is it Barnard 86 with it's own wine label or Inkspot 2010 Vin Noir with it's own dark nebula?

    - Give that man an Inkspot! From Herschel with love!

    Monday, 15 September 2014

    Space in Images - 2014 - 09 - Philae’s primary landing site

    Philae’s primary landing site will target Site J, the centre of which
    is indicated by the cross in this OSIRIS narrow-angle image.

    J is located on the head of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and is
    close to the candidate site B, the large depression to the right of the

    Site J offers the minimum risk to the lander in comparison
    to the other candidate sites, and is also scientifically interesting,
    with signs of activity nearby. At Site J, the majority of slopes are
    less than 30ยบ relative to the local vertical, reducing the chances of
    Philae toppling over during touchdown. Site J also appears to have
    relatively few boulders and receives sufficient daily illumination to
    recharge Philae and continue science operations on the surface beyond
    the initial battery-powered phase.

    Full story: 'J' marks the spot for Rosetta's lander