Author Archives: roamingfirehydrant

About roamingfirehydrant

I get paid to break things.

Comet landing attempt today

From the NASA press release:

Earlier this morning, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission deployed its comet lander, “Philae.” Seven hours later at 11 a.m. EST, the experiment-laden, harpoon-firing Philae is set to touch down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

It will be the first time in history that a spacecraft has attempted a soft landing on a comet. Rosetta is an international mission led by ESA – European Space Agency, with instruments provided by its member states, and additional support and instruments provided by NASA.

NASA Television will provide live coverage from 9-11:30 a.m. EST of Rosetta scheduled landing of a probe on a comet today. NASA’s live commentary will include excerpts of the ESA coverage and air from 9-10 a.m. EST. NASA will continue carrying ESA’s commentary from 10-11:30 a.m. EST. ESA’s Philae (fee-LAY) lander is scheduled to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 10:35 a.m. EST. A signal confirming landing is expected at approximately 11:02 a.m. EST.

After landing, Philae will obtain the first images ever taken from a comet’s surface. It also will drill into the surface to study the composition and witness close up how a comet changes as its exposure to the sun varies. Philae can remain active on the surface for approximately two-and-a-half days. Its “mothership” is the Rosetta spacecraft that will remain in orbit around the comet through 2015. The orbiter will continue detailed studies of the comet as it approaches the sun and then moves away. NASA has three of the 16 instruments aboard the orbiter.

Comets are considered primitive building blocks of the solar system that are literally frozen in time. They may have played a part in “seeding” Earth with water and, possibly, the basic ingredients for life.

Watch NASA TV online at: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

comet 67p

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‘Thanks Joni’: Hardee’s CEO congratulates Senator-elect Ernst with newspaper ad [photo] | Twitchy

During her acceptance speech, Iowa Senator-elect Joni Ernst joked that “It’s a long way from Red Oak to Washington, from the biscuit line at Hardee’s to the United States Senate.” Ernst hadn’t forgotten her days working at the fast food chain, and her shout-out to her former employer didn’t go unappreciated. Hardee’s took out a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register to congratulate Ernst and thank her for reminding us that “your job and your life are what you make of them.”

via ‘Thanks Joni': Hardee’s CEO congratulates Senator-elect Ernst with newspaper ad [photo] | Twitchy.

hardees

My cousin saw this as a good response to the “living wage” minimum wage hike. Hardees taught Senator-elect Ernst to show up on time, do a good job, get along with co-workers, etc. That is what minimum wage jobs are supposed to do. They are meant to be the beginning, not the be-all and end-all of a career. My cousin pointed out that theaters used to have ushers, gas stations had attendants, and all of the grocery stores had bagboys. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there was 60.5% labor participation for 16 to 24 years old this part July, compared to 77.5 percent in 1989. Another hike in the minimum wage, and that will drop even further as companies automate and cut back on service.

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Mars Spacecraft Reveal Comet Flyby Effects on Martian Atmosphere | NASA

The MAVEN spacecraft, recently arrived at Mars, detected the comet encounter in two ways. The remote-sensing Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph observed intense ultraviolet emission from magnesium and iron ions high in the atmosphere in the aftermath of the meteor shower. Not even the most intense meteor storms on Earth have produced as strong a response as this one. The emission dominated Mars’ ultraviolet spectrum for several hours after the encounter and then dissipated over the next two days.

MAVEN also was able to directly sample and determine the composition of some of the comet dust in Mars’ atmosphere. Analysis of these samples by the spacecraft’s Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer detected eight different types of metal ions, including sodium, magnesium and iron. These are the first direct measurements of the composition of dust from an Oort Cloud comet.

via Mars Spacecraft Reveal Comet Flyby Effects on Martian Atmosphere | NASA.

Spaceweather.com posted the actual atmosphere spectrum measurements.

MAVEN did not actually see streaks of light in the Martian atmosphere–the spacecraft was sheltering behind the body of Mars during the comet’s flyby. But when MAVEN emerged, it found a glowing layer of Mg+ (a constituent of meteor smoke) floating 150 km above the planet’s surface.

maven_strip
The blue is Mars’ atmosphere before the comet flyby, red is after.

The “smoke” was made of ionized magnesium and other metals shed by the disintegrating meteoroids. The data are consistent with “a few tons of comet dust being deposited in the atmosphere of Mars,” says Nick Schneider, the instrument lead for MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph at University of Colorado, Boulder. “A human on the surface of Mars might have seen thousands of shooting stars per hour, possibly a meteor storm.” He further speculated that the meteor shower would have produced a yellow afterglow in the skies of Mars because the meteor smoke was rich in sodium ions.

How cool is that to have MAVEN arrive in time for the flyby.

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Here’s looking at you, kid

From the Hubble Space Telescope
jupiter-eye
That’s not a new feature of the Great Red Spot, but the shadow of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede lining up just right.

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Orbital Sciences begins accident investigation, recovery

It’s the morning after, and Orbital Sciences, NASA, the NTSB, and the FAA are trying to figure out what happened. (In the immortal words of Ben Ramsey, “I know what’s wrong with it, it’s broke!”)
launch-pad-looking-south-after-failure
First, thank God no one was hurt or killed. The damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island.
From today’s Orbital press release

The overall findings indicate the major elements of the launch complex infrastructure, such as the pad and fuel tanks, avoided serious damage, although some repairs will be necessary. However, until the facility is inspected in greater detail in the coming days, the full extent of necessary repairs or how long they will take to accomplish will not be known.

And from NASA’s press release

A number of support buildings in the immediate area have broken windows and imploded doors. A sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the pad, and buildings nearest the pad, suffered the most severe damage.
At Pad 0A the initial assessment showed damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning suppression rods, as well as debris around the pad.

The Monday morning quarterbacking around the coffeepot at work focused on the age of the Soviet AJ-26 engines, how they were stored, how long they were stored, and what was involved in refurbishing these engines. Broken turbine blade? Something couldn’t handle the vibration load? It could even be something used that was not compatible with LOX.
We shall see.

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A brother in arms

ICYMI, Bruce MacKinnon, the editorial cartoonist for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, created one of the most moving tributes I’ve seen since the Challenger accident.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/editorial-cartoon/2014-10-23-editorial-cartoon

The unknown soldier aids the unarmed guard.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was just 24. Rest in peace, sir.

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Roamy roundup

There’s a lot going on.

First, the X-37B landed at Vandenberg AFB after a 674-day mission.

Next, the photos are starting to trickle in from Comet Siding Spring’s close encounter with Mars. This is my favorite one from Earth. Comet is in the lower left.
Siding spring
Looks like the Opportunity rover and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured some good images.

Nichelle Nichols, Uhura from Star Trek, talks about the Orion manned spacecraft in this video.

China is launching another probe to the Moon on Thursday.

Also on Thursday is a partial solar eclipse, visible for most of the U.S. (Warning: autoplay video)

And I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the notion that the MESSENGER spacecraft has found water ice near Mercury’s north pole.

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