Archive for the 'Astronomy' Category

“At 13 billion miles from Earth, there’s no mechanic shop nearby to get a tune-up.”

Monday, December 4th, 2017

JPL CalTech: Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters After 37 Years

Voyager 1, NASA’s farthest and fastest spacecraft, is the only human-made object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars. The spacecraft, which has been flying for 40 years, relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth. These thrusters fire in tiny pulses, or “puffs,” lasting mere milliseconds, to subtly rotate the spacecraft so that its antenna points at our planet. Now, the Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980.

“With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years,” said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.”

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Some eye candy: Voyager Images from the Odysseys (NASA Space Photos) (YouTube, 2:48min)

“Some 130 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed Earth, two dead stars in a far-away galaxy collided violently…”

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

NRP Science: A New Era For Astronomy Has Begun.

“Astronomy will never be the same again. We will be able to watch extremely violent processes on the fly, and watch them in many different ways, as they run their course. […] That so many astronomers could each catch a piece of the story and then work together to patch it together is a magnificent achievement.

Everytime a new tool or technique made its way into astronomy, amazing new discoveries followed. We are now watching the skies with unprecedented precision and breadth, combining all wavelengths of light with gravitational waves.

If history is a guide, we can expect untold surprises as we dramatically amplify our grasp on physical reality. Stay tuned and enjoy the show.”

“Gosh, I’ve worked on Cassini for almost an entire Saturn year.”

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

BBC News: ‘Our Saturn years’. Cassini’s epic journey to the ringed planet, told by the people who helped make it happen. By Paul Rincon.

““The Voyagers gave us a really wonderful impression of Saturn. It’s a beautiful gas giant,” says Nasa’s director of planetary science Jim Green.

Prof Andrew Coates, from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey, UK, agrees:

“Saturn is the most spectacular planet in our Solar System. The incredible rings, visible even in binoculars or a small telescope, make it stand out compared to all the rest.”

In places, the rings are only about as tall as a telephone pole. Yet from end-to-end they are more than 20-times as wide as the Earth. “

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Space Station Transiting Eclipse

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Smarter Every Day: Space Station Transiting 2017 ECLIPSE, My Brain Stopped Working. (YouTube, 8:38min)

What it says on the tin, the eclipse as seen from Wyoming, with a bonus appearance of the International Space Station. The ISS transit across the sun is fast, much faster than I thought it would be even though I’ve watched the ISS cross the sky many times.

Bonus link: Veritasium: Eclipse 2017 (YouTube, 5:20min), including time-lapse video from first contact to totality, viewed from Oregon.

Solar eclipse in the US

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

npr speachial series skunk bear: 5 Safe Ways To View The Eclipse. (YouTube, 3min)

“Watching an eclipse? Save your eyeballs – rig up a sweet viewing set-up with some help from this video.

Read more about safe eclipse viewing from npr here.”