Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. After an extensive mapping phase by the orbiter in August–September 2014, a landing site will be selected for Philae to conduct in situ measurements in November 2014. The image is not to scale; the Rosetta spacecraft measures 32 m across including the solar arrays, while the comet nucleus is thought to be about 4 km wide. (Photo: ESA)
Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) sounded Rosetta’s internal alarm clock to reboot the mission after two-and-a-half years of deep space slumber. Once its systems warm up, Rosetta is due to beam a signal back to Earth before it begins to home in on a frozen rock known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It is due to shoot harpoons into the 2.5-mile dirtball before its Philae lander docks on the surface – a move that has never been attempted before.
ESA project scientist Matt Taylor likened the mission to that of the action film Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis lands on an asteroid to save the world from destruction. “We’re not just landing on the Moon, we’re dealing with something dynamic, which is kicking off tons of dust and gas every minute,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. Because Rosetta, which has been sleeping to save power, is so far from Earth, it will take 45 minutes for its signal to reach scientists at mission control. They expect to see a blip on computer monitors between 1730 and 1830 GMT, indicating the spacecraft is up and running again.
Dr. Dan Andrews, a planetary scientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, said: “We’re waiting to hear Rosetta is alive and healthy. “This wake-up call kicks off a chain of events, during which the spacecraft heats itself up, points itself towards the Sun and gets itself ready. “Remember, this mission is 10 years old – it’s a bit of a stroppy teenager and it’s going to take a while to wake up.” If all goes to plan, Rosetta will arrive at Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August before descending to the comet several months later.
LROC NAC view of the Chang’e 3 lander (large arrow) and rover (small arrow) just before sunset on their first day of lunar exploration. LROC NAC M1142582775R, image width 576 m, north is up [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Chang’e 3 landed on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) just east of a 450 m diameter impact crater on 14 December 2013. Soon after landing, a small rover named Yutu (or Jade Rabbit in English) was deployed and took its first tentative drive onto the airless regolith. At the time of the landing LRO’s orbit was far from the landing site so images of the landing were not possible. Ten days later on 24 December, LRO approached the landing site, and LROC was able to acquire a series of six LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image pairs during the next 36 hours (19 orbits). The highest resolution image was possible when LRO was nearly overhead on 25 December 03:52:49 UT (24 December 22:52:49 EST). At this time LRO was at an altitude of ~150 km above the site, and the pixel size was 150 cm.(NASA)
More pictures and a full explanation courtesy of the LRO team and NASA here.
Karl Battams: It may be (almost) gone but comet ISON leaves a legacy of unprecedented data from numerous locations within the solar system! [Image credit: ESA, NASA, Annotations by Karl Battams]
ISON appears as a white smear heading up and away from the sun. ISON was not visible during its closest approach to the sun, so many scientists thought it had disintegrated, but images like this one from the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory suggest that a small nucleus may be intact.
EurtheCast (pronounced ‘earthcast’), a Vancouver company, has launched aboard a Russian Progress 53 cargo ship two cameras that will continuously photograph the surface of Earth 24/7 and relay pictures in near-real time back to earth.
One of the instruments is a still camera with a five-meter resolution and takes pictures of a 40km swath as the ISS circles the globe. The other instrument is a video camera with a one-meter resolution and will take 150 videos a day. These videos will be approximately 90 seconds long and have a 4k resolution.
With your free EurtheCast account, you can have a real time alert sent to you about locations on earth you want to watch as the UrtheCast cameras capture new imagery and video of your favorite places.
“On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.”(NASA)
Looking at the latest analysis of the data from the Kepler Spacecraft the number of habitable planets are potentially now one in five.
Analysis by UC Berkeley and University of Hawaii astronomers shows that one in five sun-like stars are potentially habitable.
“When you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Erik Petigura, who led the analysis of the Kepler data.
When the James Webb Space Telescope is launched, hopefully in 2018, it should be able to look at these habitable plants and see in even more detail the surface of the planets. One of the four James Webb science themes is Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.
It’s just a matter if time until we discover that first other ‘Blue Marble.’
(credit: Adam Block) This new image was taken by astrophotographer Adam Block on October 8 using an SBIG STX-16803 camera with a hefty 36.8-by-36.8 millimeter CCD sensor that provides a 16.8 megapixel image, attached to the University of Arizona’s 32-inch Schulman Telescope.
ISON’s green glow may be due to the presence of carbon molecules and seems to be intact.
A new image of the sunward plunging Comet ISON suggests that the comet is intact despite some predictions that the fragile icy nucleus might disintegrate as the Sun warms it. The comet will pass closest to the Sun on November 28.
In this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image taken on October 9, the comet’s solid nucleus is unresolved because it is so small. If the nucleus broke apart then Hubble would have likely seen evidence for multiple fragments.
Moreover, the coma or head surrounding the comet’s nucleus is symmetric and smooth. This would probably not be the case if clusters of smaller fragments were flying along. What’s more, a polar jet of dust first seen in Hubble images taken in April is no longer visible and may have turned off.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Although the Draconid meteors appearance this year probably peaked last night you may get a look at them after sunset tonight. In the evening give your eyes a few minutes to adjust and look towards the constellation Draco just west of the North Star.
Also in the sky tonight is the International Space Station. Here is where and when to look:
Time: Tue Oct 08 7:27 PM cdt
Visible: 5 min
Max Height: 69 degrees
Appears: SW – Disappears: NE
With a clear sky tonight and a max height of 69 degrees the ISS will look like a jewel crossing the heavens. Enjoy.
Mars Express will take photos of Comet ISON’s coma, the atmosphere that surrounds ISON’s nucleus. Also, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking ISON and may be able to get a look as well through October 2nd.
These cameras were designed to shoot high-resolution photos of Mars but scientists are going to attempt to use them to catch a glimpse of ISON as it passes. A lot depends on how bright ISON is as it gets closer to the sun. Keep your fingers crossed….
The high-resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) is one of six science instruments for NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
This illustration shows comet ISON closely passing Mars on October 1, 2013. Credit: NASA