Category Archives: Space

“Houston, we’ve had a problem”

For the past few days I’ve been listening to the most recent episodes of the Brady Heywood Podcast about the Apollo 13 mission:

These five episodes apparently were almost a year in the making, but they are excellent. Of course I knew the story of Apollo 13 beforehand, and I’ve read books about it and watched the movie (starring Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell) several times, but this recount was very gripping and and had the right balance between the technical aspects and the human side for my taste. Highly recommended!

I think I found them recommended on Ask MetaFilter a little while ago, but cannot seem to find the link any more, sorry.

“We came in peace for all mankind”

NPR: How Do You Preserve History On The Moon?

“Historic preservationists are hoping that the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this summer will persuade the United Nations to do something to protect Neil Armstrong’s footprints in the lunar dust.

Some of his boot marks are still up there, after all, along with other precious artifacts from humanity’s first steps on another world. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left behind tools and science equipment, a plaque that read, “We came in peace for all mankind” and the U.S. flag, which has likely been bleached white by five decades of harsh ultraviolet light.

Other than a dusting of lunar soil or the random micrometeorite impact, Tranquility Base has been an untouched time capsule since the astronauts departed — though that could change as more nations and even commercial companies start to explore the moon.

“There has never been historic preservation off our planet. It’s a really difficult subject,” says Michelle Hanlon, a law professor and space law expert at the University of Mississippi who co-founded For All Moonkind, a nonprofit group devoted to protecting historic sites in space.”

Farewell, Oppy

The Washington Post: Opportunity, NASA’s record-setting Mars rover, is declared dead after 15 years. “A eulogy for the spacecraft that transformed our understanding of the Red Planet.” By Sarah Kaplan.

Opportunity’s historic mission, which uncovered signs of Mars’s watery past and transformed our understanding of the Red Planet, has finally come to an end after 15 years, NASA declared Wednesday.

The cause was system failure precipitated by power loss during a catastrophic, planetwide dust storm that engulfed the Mars rover last summer.

“It’s going to be very sad to say goodbye,” said John Callas, the mission’s project manager. “But at the same time, we’ve got to remember this has been 15 years of incredible adventure.”

Opportunity’s mission was planned to last just 90 days, but it worked for 5,000 Martian “sols” (which are about 39 minutes longer than an Earth day) and traversed more than 28 treacherous miles — two records for NASA.”

Link via MetaFilter.

The far side of the moon

Deutsche Welle: China gelingt erste Landung auf Mondrückseite. “Das schwierige Manöver ist den Chinesen nach eigenen Angaben im ersten Versuch geglückt: Eine Raumsonde erreichte die Mondoberfläche und soll jetzt die Umgebung erkunden – an Bord ist auch deutsche Technik.”

“Es ist ein historischer Erfolg der noch jungen Raumfahrt-Nation China: Um 3.26 Uhr (MEZ) landete die am 8. Dezember gestartete “Chang’e 4” am Aitken-Krater in der Nähe des Südpols des Erdtrabanten. Das berichteten die amtliche Nachrichtenagentur Xinhua und der Staatssender CCTV.

Damit ist China die erste Nation, die auf der erdabgewandten Seite des Mondes gelandet ist. Nach der erfolgreichen Landung der “Chang’e 4″ soll ein Roboterfahrzeug das Terrain um die Landestelle erkunden. Dafür ist es mit einer Panoramakamera und vielen Messgeräten ausgestattet.”