Archive for the 'Space' Category

“You don’t want to be politically correct. You want to be right.”

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

The Washington Post: NASA: Legendary astronaut, moonwalker John Young has died.

“Young was the only spaceman to span NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs, and became the first person to rocket away from Earth six times. Counting his takeoff from the moon in 1972 as commander of Apollo 16, his blastoff tally stood at seven, for decades a world record.

He flew twice during the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, twice to the moon during NASA’s Apollo program, and twice more aboard the new space shuttle Columbia in the early 1980s.

His NASA career lasted 42 years, longer than any other astronaut’s, and he was revered among his peers for his dogged dedication to keeping crews safe — and his outspokenness in challenging the space agency’s status quo.”

There also is a MetaFilter thread about him, of course: The Astronaut’s Astronaut.

“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.”

Link via MetaFilter.

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

The last of Earth

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

The Economist: Joseph Schmitt died on September 25th.

“He was there when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947; when Alan Shepard made America’s first manned space flight, in 1961; when John Glenn first orbited Earth, in 1962; when Apollo 8 went round the moon in 1968, and when Apollo 11’s module landed on it in 1969, for him the most mind-boggling moment of all. The team had never worked so hard at anything. But he went on for many years yet, to suit up men for the first Skylab flight and the first Shuttles, before in 1983 he left to get on with all the stuff at home that needed fixing.”

“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. “

Link via MetaFilter.


Friday, September 8th, 2017

Some links for you science teachers out there:

ESA: Mission 1: Newton in Space (English). “While on board the ISS, Pedro Duque was filmed conducting demonstrations explaining Newton’s Three Laws of Motion”.

ESA: Mission 2: Body Space (English). “During the DELTA Mission, André Kuipers performed a number of physiology demonstrations showing the effects of weightlessness on the human body”.

ESA: Mission 3: Space Matters (English). “During the Eneide Mission in 2005, Roberto Vittori was filmed conducting demonstrations designed to explore the different structures, states and properties of matter”.


Für die Physik-, Biologie- und Chemielehrer vor den Bildschirmen: Diese Filme der ESA wurden ursprünglich auf DVD herausgebracht, sind aber inzwischen auf YouTube angekommen.

ESA: Mission 1: Newton in Space (Deutsch). Pedro Duque führte auf der ISS Experimente durch, die Newtons drei Gesetze für Bewegungen verdeutlichen.

ESA: Mission 2: Body Space (Deutsch). Auf der DELTA-Mission führte André Kuipers einige physiologische Experimente durch, welche die Auswirkungen der Schwerelosigkeit auf den menschlichen Körper zeigen.

ESA: Mission 3: Space Matters (Deutsch). Während der Eneide-Mission 2005 wurde Roberto Vittori gefilmt, während er Versuche zum Aufbau von Materie, ihren Eigenschaften und den Aggregatzuständen durchführte.

(Den ersten Film habe ich schon oft im Mittelstufenunterricht eingesetzt. Die deutsche Synchronstimme ist zwar etwas nervig, ich warne meine Schüler immer vor.)