Category Archives: Space

“Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.”

NPR Science: 50 Years Ago, Americans Made The 2nd Moon Landing… Why Doesn’t Anyone Remember?

“Fifty years ago, astronaut Pete Conrad stepped out of the lunar module onto the surface of the moon.

His first words were: “Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.”

Conrad, who stood at just 5 feet 6 inches tall, was only the third human to set foot on the lunar surface. He did it on November 19, 1969, just four months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the first lunar landing. However, unlike Armstrong and Aldrin, Conrad and fellow astronaut Alan Bean are not household names.”

Space Analogies

Alexander Gerst’s Horizon Blog: Cave Life for Space. “When you ignore some details, it is amazing how similar cave exploration is to going to space. After my experience with CAVES, I can say that, so far, this is the best analogue that I know for astronauts to mentally prepare for space.”

See also ESA: Caves 2019. (YouTube, 5:50min)

“In September 2019 in Slovenia, astronauts from five space agencies around the world took part in ESA’s CAVES training course – Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills.

The six ‘cavenauts’ were ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Jeanette Epps, Roscosmos cosmonaut Nikolai Chub, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Joshua Kutryk and Japan’s space agency JAXA’s Takuya Onishi.

The three-week course prepares astronauts to work effectively in multicultural teams in an environment where safety is critical.

As they explored the caves, they encountered caverns, underground lakes and strange microscopic life. They tested new technology and conducted science – much like life on the International Space Station.

Inhospitable and hard to access, caves are untouched worlds and hold many scientific secrets. The astronauts performed a dozen experiments and were on the lookout for signs of life that has adapted to the extremes. They paid special attention to their environment, monitoring air and water quality, and looking for signs of pollution.”

I have just one piece of advice: Don’t!

NASA Goddard: NASA’s Guide To Black Hole Safety. (YouTube, 2:39min) “Have you ever thought about visiting a black hole? We sure hope not. However, if you’re absolutely convinced that a black hole is your ideal vacation spot, watch this video before you blast off to learn more about them and (more importantly) how to stay safe.”

Link via Astronomy Picture of the Day.

7 Tage 20 Stunden und 49 Minuten im Weltall

Deutsche Welle: Erster deutscher Raumfahrer Sigmund Jähn ist tot. “Der DDR-Bürger Sigmund Jähn flog als erster Deutscher ins All. Er wollte nie ein Held sein – und war es doch für Generationen. Aber nach der Wende wurde er arbeitslos. Nun ist Jähn im Alter von 82 Jahren gestorben.”

“Sigmund Jähn, der erste Deutsche im Weltraum, ist tot. Der DDR-Kosmonaut starb bereits am Samstag im Alter von 82 Jahren, wie das Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) jetzt erst mitteilte. “Mit Sigmund Jähn verliert die deutsche Raumfahrt einen weltweit anerkannten Kosmonauten, Wissenschaftler und Ingenieur”, sagte die Vorstandsvorsitzende des DLR, Pascale Ehrenfreund.

Jähn war mit der Rakete “Sojus 31″ am 26. August 1978 vom russischen Raumfahrtzentrum Baikonur aus gestartet. Gemeinsam mit dem sowjetischen Kosmonauten Waleri Bykowski (1934-2019) war er sieben Tage, 20 Stunden und 49 Minuten im All. Der Kosmonaut war in der DDR ein Volksheld und genoss große Popularität. Trotz seines Ruhmes blieb er immer bescheiden und wurde deshalb besonders verehrt.”

Sigmund Jähn: Ein Leben für die Raumfahrt. “Der Buchdrucker legte eine sozialistische Bilderbuchkarriere hin: Vom Pionier zum Kampfflieger zum Kosmonauten und am Ende zur Polit-Ikone. Auch nach der Wende ist Sigmund Jähn mit Herz und Hand Raumfahrer geblieben.”

USA 224

NPR: Amateurs Identify U.S. Spy Satellite Behind President Trump’s Tweet.

“Amateur satellite trackers say they believe an image tweeted by President Trump on Friday came from one of America’s most advanced spy satellites.

The image almost certainly came from a satellite known as USA 224, according to Marco Langbroek, a satellite-tracker based in the Netherlands. The satellite was launched by the National Reconnaissance Office in 2011. Almost everything about it remains highly classified, but Langbroek says that based on its size and orbit, most observers believe USA 224 is one of America’s multibillion-dollar KH-11 reconnaissance satellites.
[…]
Melissa Hanham, a satellite imagery expert and deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network in Vienna, Austria […] says she is amazed a satellite can provide such clear imagery. Spy satellites must peer down through Earth’s atmosphere, which is a bit like trying to look at objects in the bottom of a swimming pool. They also must snap their pictures while whizzing across the sky. Both effects can blur the fine details in images.

“I’m now scratching my head and curious about how they account for the effects of the atmosphere and motion of the objects,” she says.

And she says she thinks she’s not alone. Others will be trying to use the image to learn more about how USA 224 works. “I imagine adversaries are going to take a look at this image and reverse-engineer it to figure out how the sensor itself works and what kind of post-production techniques they’re using,” she says.

Hanham questions whether Trump’s tweet zinging the Iranians was worth the information this image provides to other nations, but she adds: “It’s his decision as the president.””