Author Archives: roamingfirehydrant

About roamingfirehydrant

I get paid to break things.

Happy Thanksgiving

A little more traditional take than XBrad’s.
We are thankful for you, dear reader. Enjoy the day.



Antares accident report released

Just about a year ago, the Orbital ATK Antares rocket on its way to resupply the International Space Station blew up shortly after launch. While Orbital ATK is responsible for their own accident investigation, NASA established an independent review team, and they released their findings earlier this week.

In a nutshell, the LOX turbopump Hydraulic Balance Assembly and thrust bearing designs were not sufficiently robust for the Antares mission, and they found foreign object debris (FOD) and workmanship defects in the LOX turbopump. One or more of those could have brought the vehicle down. Several recommendations were made to Orbital ATK for more sensors, more acceptance and qualification testing, more thorough inspections, and better contamination control.

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Double eclipse

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was aligned just right to see first the Earth, then the Moon block its view of the sun. In this picture (courtesy of “jhon henry osorio orozco” on September 13, 2015 @ Medellín-Colombia), the Moon is the black circle to the left, and the Earth is the fuzzy object at the top. The Earth is fuzzy because of the atmosphere.
double eclipse

The SDO blog has a nifty artist’s concept of what happened yesterday and also informs us that on September 28, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from most of the United States, Europe, South America and Africa.

H/t to Check ’em out for pictures from Earth of the partial lunar eclipse and last week’s auroras.

In other space news, they announced a new target for New Horizons, a Kuiper Belt Object called 2014 MU69. It will look (distantly) at 20 other Kuiper Belt Objects en route. Loads of data are still coming back from the Pluto flyby.

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Roamy’s roundup

Nice clickbait to have “Star Trek Actress to Fly on NASA Mission“, but it seems that Nichelle Nichols, Uhura from the original Star Trek, will be riding on NASA’s Boeing 747 on the next SOFIA mission. SOFIA’s recent mission included observations of Pluto’s atmosphere as it was backlit by a star.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Rosetta orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. On August 13, the comet will make its closest approach to the sun. Some of the discoveries so far include a different ratio between normal hydrogen and the hydrogen isotope deuterium than found on Earth. Comet 67P also seems to be more homogenous than expected.

The Curiosity rover celebrated its third anniversary on Mars. It has crossed Gale Crater to start ascending Mount Sharp, analyzing the rocks along the way. As of August 4, the rover has driven 6.8 miles and taken over a quarter-million photographs. So this falls under #LetsDoaScience (@SarcasticRover on Twitter) and #ILookLikeAnEngineer.
nerd at home

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) captured “a view impossible to see from Earth: the far side of the moon as it passed between the Earth and the sun.” Almost looks like a photoshop. There’s a video, but it does crashy things to my computer.

And that is the roundup for today.


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Spaceship Two pilot speaks

The rocket ship suddenly began bucking violently, Siebold told investigators, and the “G-levels went through the roof.”

The force pushed him down in his seat so hard that there was little he could do. It was hard to even breathe.

“It felt as though the vehicle pitched over on its back,” he said.

He heard that single loud crack and the cabin rapidly depressurized. The last air was sucked from his lungs.

Read the whole thing.
LA Times article link here.

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Load HEAT – Lara Pulver

XBrad is on the road, so while the cat’s away, the mice will play. I picked Lara Pulver for today’s Load HEAT. She played Clarice Orsini on Da Vinci’s Demons and Irene Adler on BBC’s Sherlock.
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New Horizons rendezvous with Pluto

Tomorrow is the close encounter between the New Horizons spacecraft and the ninth planet. I read that this mission was inspired by the 1991 space exploration stamp series.
Stamps were 29 cents back then. Nice to know this is outdated in more ways than one.
pluto 1991
This is a flyby like the Voyager missions, not an orbiting mission. A computer glitch a few days ago has been resolved, and more pictures are being sent back to Earth.
This is the far side of Pluto, from 2.5 million miles away.
farside pluto
What we know so far:
New Horizons was launched in 2006 and is moving at an Earth-relative speed of 36,373 mph. It is 31.9 AU or approximately 3 billion miles away from home, and it takes the signal four and a half hours to reach Earth.

Pluto’s newly estimated size [1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter] means that its density is slightly lower than previously thought, and the fraction of ice in its interior is slightly higher. Also, the lowest layer of Pluto’s atmosphere, called the troposphere, is shallower than previously believed…

Nix and Hydra were discovered using the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005. Even to Hubble, they appeared as points of light, and that’s how they looked to New Horizons until the final week of its approach to Pluto…Nix is estimated to be about 20 miles (about 35 kilometers) across, while Hydra is roughly 30 miles (roughly 45 kilometers) across. These sizes lead mission scientists to conclude that their surfaces are quite bright, possibly due to the presence of ice.

Other NASA craft are supporting this mission, including Cassini, Kepler, the SOFIA airborne observatory, and the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes.

Because of the sheer amount of data and the number of spacecraft using the Deep Space Network, it will take a year for all of the data from the flyby to reach Earth.

New Horizons will continue on to the Kuiper Belt, heading in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

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