By Mercedes Kirkel This week I told a friend that since my mother died I’ve been having very frequent nightmares. I added that I’m surprised by this because I almost never have nightmares. My friend responded with a story from his life that involved a relative of his who committed suicide. (I’ll call […]
April 30, 2015 / Greg Giles / Comments Off on "Catastrophic end" for out-of-control space cargo ship ~ Video from Spacecraft Cockpit
Excerpt from cbsnews.com A Russian Progress cargo ship bound for the International Space Station spun out of control Tuesday. Engineers were unable to direct the wayward ship and soon gave up any hope that it would be able to dock t...
After years of silence on all but the most prosaic aspects of the secretive X-37B space plane program, the Defense Department has revealed that the mysterious, truck-sized craft's next mission will host an experimental new thrust system that could greatly improve the shelf life of satellites.
The X-37B program has sent its shuttle-like Orbital Test Vehicle craft into space three times for a total time in orbit of almost four years. What the spacecraft has been doing up there is anybody's guess — its creators have declined to comment except to say that everything is working properly. But a news release this week from the Air Force says in no uncertain terms that the next flight of the X-37B, set to begin next month, will be the platform for testing a Hall thruster.
Hall thrusters combine electricity and a noble gas like xenon to produce a miniscule amount of direct force — weak in comparison with thrusters that use ordinary solid fuel, but at a far lesser cost of fuel. Trading power for fuel efficiency would allow satellites and probes to make course adjustments for much longer, extending their lives and versatility. Spaceflight Now has more details on how the system works.
Of course, this sheds no light on what the last three X-37B missions were — but in light of this new information it seems more likely that it's a test bed for high-tech space experiments, and not an orbital bomber or elite spy satellite. But you never know.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has set up a website at which members of the public can register their votes as to the identify of the strange and unexpected bright spots seen on Ceres by the Dawn probe. Although Dawn will study the spots in much greater detail in the near future, having just assumed its first scientific orbit, in the meantime the nature of spots in anyone’s guess. This author voted for “ice”.
It seems ice is the most popular possibility so far, with 33 percent of the vote. The next most popular choice is “other”, with 28 percent. “Volcano” and “geyser” both have 11 percent, “salt deposit” has nine percent, and “rock” has eight percent.
At about 590 miles in diameter, Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Dawn had imaged Ceres’s surface throughout its approach. Dawn entered orbit of Ceres on March 6, the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet. From 2011 to 2012, Dawn also orbited the asteroid Vesta, the second-most massive body in the asteroid belt. Having studied both Vesta and Ceres, Dawn is the first spacecraft in history to orbit two extraterrestrial objects. Dawn’s investigations of Vesta and Ceres will shed light on the early evolution of our solar system; both bodies represent incipient planets, gravitationally perturbed early in their formation.
“The approach imaging campaign has completed successfully by giving us a preliminary, tantalizing view of the world Dawn is about to start exploring in detail. It has allowed us to start asking some new and intriguing questions,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s mission director and chief engineer at the JPL, in a separate NASA statement.
Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comKarl Pillemer, a Ph.D. gerontologist at Cornell University, has spent the last several years interviewing hundreds of older Americans to systematically collect their practical wisdom.His first book, 30 Lessons for Livin...
Ceres Excerpt from cnet.com It's a real-life mystery cliffhanger. We've come up with a list of possible reasons a large crater on the biggest object in the asteroid belt looks lit up like a Christmas tree. We could be approachin...
pittsburgh.cbslocal.com Astrobotic Technology Inc. announced the launch of their Moon Mail program, which will send a small memento to the moon for you on its Griffin lunar lander.
“For the first time ever, people from all over the world can take their keepsakes, mementos, and fly them all the way directly to the moon,” John Thornton told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.
The company was found in 2008 and is a licensed contractor with NASA. They are also an official partner with NASA on the Lunar CATALYST program.
According to a press release, the program is, “an opportunity to commemorate major life events – graduations, weddings, birthdays, a loved one’s memory – with a lasting symbol on the moon.” “With Moon Mail, people from around the world can send a memento on Astrobotic’s lunar lander,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a statement. “They’ll make history by participating in the first commercial Moon landing.”
“We’re a delivery service. We’re just like FedEx or UPS. We take your packages and send them to the moon,” Thornton said. Looking for a cool Christmas gift for a loved one? Thornton says, send a memory of them to the moon.
“The moon is a forever place. It’s up in the sky and you can see it every single night, so we can send pieces of ourselves, stories, and mementos that mean something to us as individuals, and it will be forever immortalized on the surface of the moon.”
In about two years, Astrobotic will launch its first space craft to the moon as part of Google’s Lunar X-Prize Contest — and then land on the surface.
The lunar lander looks pretty typical, and mail will be strapped or attached right to the surface of the lander. The lander ends up on the moon where it stays forever along with your package.
It’s not cheap.
Depending on the size of your package, the price ranges from $460 to over $25,000.
“Wouldn’t interest me in the least,” says Carolyn Roberts of Murraysville.
“I want to keep everything here. Give it to the kids,” adds Daneen Miller of Murraysville.
While some have no interest, others see the possibilities. “It would be pretty cool to say you had a piece of yourself on the moon,” notes R. J. Baughman of Robinson.
“Something that means a lot to me I guess,” says Nikki Boyle of Castle Shannon. “That way if I look up at the moon, I know it’s there.