No, I can't read this, but how could I not share this post by [livejournal.com profile] tebe_interesno at post
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когда я стану большим и взрослым... наверное с этого будет начинаться всякое предложение большого и взрослого меня.
First off, apologies for posting here so seldom. Most of my blogs appear first on Tumblr (mckitterick.tumblr.com), because it's so much faster to post stuff there, and it so easily cross-blogs to my Facebook and my Twitter accounts. LJ and DW are just SO SLOW to use.... If you're on Tumblr and/or Twitter, please follow me there and I'll do the same, so we can stay in better contact!

Anyhow. On with the AWESOME.

Welcome to a comet

These are the FIRST PHOTOS FROM THE SURFACE OF A COMET.

First touchdown

Comet from 40 metres

And if you want to see the first DRAMATIC AS HELL images of the comet from space, check out yesterday's post here.

Rosetta's little Philae probe lands safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko!

The top photo shows one of the lander's feet in the foreground, safely on the ground. The second and third shots show where Philae hoped to land, but bounced: I love this description:

"Soon after the lander touched down yesterday, scientists realized they had a problem. A pair of harpoons designed to tether the probe to the surface of the comet never fired. The probe weighed more than 200 pounds when it was on Earth, but on the comet, it weighs about as much as a sheet of paper. So with nothing to hold it down, it bounced. Data now shows the first bounce took more than two hours. A second bounce lasted just a few minutes. The first photo from the surface showed the lander's leg next to a rugged-looking outcropping of rock or ice. It is humanity's first view from the surface of a comet."

The last image was taken by Philae's down-looking descent ROLIS imager when it was about 40 meters above the surface. The photos reveal a surface covered by dust and debris ranging from millimeter to meter sizes. The large block in the top-right corner is 5 meters across.

We'll get full-panorama shots FROM THE SURFACE OF A COMET later today. The aim of the ROLIS (Rosetta Lander Imaging System) experiment is to study the texture and microstructure of the comet's surface. Photo source.

PS: Bonus photo... someone giffed the Rosetta and Philae landing images from xkcd:

I got a good question, and because I'm a big fan of space travel and questions astronomical, I did some research and came up with some fun answers. Hope you enjoy!

Q: How far away in Earth-time would it take a rocket (average sort of rocket speed assumed) to reach the moon? Same question for Mars, Jupiter, and the Sun?

The Moon is about 240,000 miles away. To get into Earth orbit, you need to zip along at 17,500 mph. To reach escape velocity from Earth, you must up that to about 23,000 mph. If you traveled at the speed of the Apollo astronauts - who roared atop Saturn V rockets to the Moon in the late 60s through early 70s at 23,000 to 24,000 miles per hour - it would take a little over 3 days (Apollo 11 did it in 3 days, 3 hours, 49 minutes).



But wait - 240/24 = 10 hours, right? What's up with these numbers? Why doesn't a trip to the Moon take just 10 hours? The answer lies in physics.

If you don't care about slowing down to land safely, no biggie. Go ahead and crater into the surface of the Moon 10 hours after launch - it'd be exciting for those of us here on Earth to watch! If you miss, though, you'll keep zooming along past the Moon. If you swing by closely enough, you'll even get a little added gravitational boost to scoot you fast enough to reach the outer Solar System.

This is because escape velocity from the Moon is only about 5,300 mph. Faster than that, you'll just fly by (unless you hit, of course). So, because you need to slow down for insertion into lunar orbit, you lose a lot of time. Then you need to orbit a bit to prep for landing, find a good spot, and so forth.

Now, if you poodle along at highway speeds (just play along - you're using a dark-matter drive so you can ignore escape velocities and such, okay?), it would take about 145 days. Get a co-driver, unless you plan to sleep, in which case add a few months. On the other hand, Apollo 10 holds the record for the the fastest any human has ever traveled: 24,791 mph.

To reach Mars is another matter. At its closest, Mars is 34 million miles away; at its farthest, 249 million miles. Its escape velocity is only 11,000 mph, so you'll want to decelerate a bunch once you get there. But at, say, an average velocity of 25,000 mph, you'll reach Mars in 9960 hours, or 13.6 months.



Flying to the Sun - 93,000,000 miles away (about 400 times farther away than the Moon) - wouldn't take you 400 times as long, because you wouldn't need to slow down at all. That's because the Sun's escape velocity is 1,380,000 mph. That's MILLION miles per hour. Heck, you'll even speed up as you approach this flaming mass of incandescent gas, eliminating even more travel time. Let's say it'll take about 3000 hours (a little over 4 months).



Same deal for travel to Jupiter, which has an escape velocity of 133,300 mph. Basically, just drop as deeply as you can into every planet's gravity well along the way to help get you going as fast as you can, because you'll have trouble attaining speeds higher than its escape velocity without bringing along lots of additional propellant for your fusion drive or whatever. It lies about 391,000,000 miles away at its closest, 577,000,000 miles at its farthest. So, traveling along at 30,000 mph, you'll reach Jupiter in 13,000 to 19,000 hours. Just call it at least two years.



I hope you enjoyed!
mckitterick: (meteor)
( Sep. 24th, 2014 02:30 pm)
The Indian Space Research Organization's Mars Orbiter Spacecraft successfully entered the orbit of Mars this morning - on their first try!



Go India!



Hello, Mars!



Indian Space Research Organization's press release here.
Aboard the ISS, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata just captured and shared this otherworldly photo of the crescent Moon rising from Earth's atmosphere:


Click the image to see the NASA page.

This is not a false-color image: The gas and dust in each layer of the atmosphere act as prisms, filtering out certain wavelengths of light. You can't really get a view like this from Earth (well, for a lot of reasons, but that's one.) Here's another shot of a moonrise from space, taken by astronaut Ron Garan in 2011:


Click the image to see Ron Garan's Twitpics page.

Happy moonrise Friday!

Chris


Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on December 24, 1968 - Christmas Eve. That evening, Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders made this then-live television broadcast from lunar orbit, during which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon as seen from Apollo 8. Later, they took the first Earthrise photo:


Click the image to see the excellent Wikipedia article (with lots of great photos).

click for transcript )

Go here to learn more about the Apollo missions.

Merry Christmas!
HUGE space news:

On Saturday, December 14, 2013 - at 7:11 AM (Central - that's 1311 GMT or 9:12 PM Beijing time), China's Chang'e 3 lander and its Yutu Moon rover (aka "Jade Rabbit") touched down on our cratered companion world. We haven't seen another soft-landing on that cratered surface since 1976, with the last Russian Luna spacecraft (Luna 24):


Click the image to see the Wikipedia article on the history of lunar landings.

Jade Rabbit touched down in Sinus Iridum ("Bay of Rainbows"), the northern part of Mare Imbrium ("Sea of Showers") in the Moon's Northern Hemisphere. CHINA IS ON THE FRAKKIN' MOON, FOLKS.



Here's the Chang'e 3 lander saying goodbye to its Yutu rover:




Check out this great ITN (British news) video with footage of the whole historic mission:



Readers of this blog are probably wondering why I haven't written about this until now. Well, beyond the usual excuses (final papers are arriving fast and furious, plus other obligations), I was just plain astounded by the news: China - the last communist-dictatorship mega-nation - is the one that has returned to the Moon, and it's a part of their military (whereas NASA, though tied to the US military, is independent). This is huge in so many ways, folks: No one has explored the Moon (except by orbiting or crashing into it; the latest hard-landing was NASA's LCROSS in 2009) since the 1970s. No one has ever set foot on the Moon except for Americans, and that ended in 1972 with Apollo 17, the program that ignited passion and excitement for space like nothing before with photos like this one of John W. Young on the frakkin' Moon:


Click the image to see the excellent Wikipedia article on the Apollo program.

The US Apollo program (and the Soviets counterpart) was motivated less by passion for space exploration than a desire to prove our technological superiority to the world. When the Soviet program faltered - after soft-landing the first rover - the steam went out of US exploration, thus beginning the era of the space-truck Shuttle. Besides the early excitement and a couple of catastrophes, most people didn't even know when a Shuttle was launching. On the other hand, the Chinese have long-term goals at play. Are they as interested in exploration as they are in displaying their techno-feathers? Do they primarily aim to prove their capability to do things no one else has done for 40 years? Or are their intentions darker?

Jade Rabbit is only the latest step in China's methodical space program. They have enjoyed a series of triumphs in crewed space flight during the past decade, including launching humans into orbit and docking two ships in space. China lost its first (and only) Mars probe soon after launch in 2011 - it's important to note that this was due to a Russian booster failure, not a failure of Chinese equipment - but both of its Moon probes (the previous Chang'e 1 and 2, named for the luminescent goddess who lives on the Moon), like its manned space missions, were successful. They plan to send another rover just like this one soon, then a robotic mission to return lunar samples by 2018. Assuming these missions are successful, they plan to send taikonauts - Chinese astronauts - to walk on the Moon a few years later. After that, who knows? Moon bases? Taikonauts leaving footprints on Mars? Chinese flags flying over a multitude of Solar System objects?


Fan-art Photoshop of an Apollo photo.

It all began with a race, then Apollo's tone hit it just right, involving everyone in what NASA cleverly forged into a human - rather than American - endeavor, thus igniting a passion for space that spread across the whole world:



With images like the first Earthrise seen from lunar orbit, taken by astronaut Bill Anders through the porthole of a frakkin' spaceship:



Until that moment, humans traveling to other worlds was "science fiction." When that image made its way back to Earth, the world had forever changed. Putting humans into space made it real for us; rockets and satellites (starting with the Soviets' 1957 Sputnik) and rovers were damned impressive, and blew us away. But putting people into space transformed the endeavor into something real, something we might do or have done, if only our lives had gone a little differently. Rovers after that have improved so much, and NASA was so brilliant with its Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, that we can identify a little with them. But if the Chinese put a person on the Moon, they'll once more re-ignite the human imagination. If they set foot on Mars? I can't even imagine how powerful that would be to the human psyche... and how terrifying to some: the Red Menace on the Red Planet.

Ultimately, if you're like me, you hope that the Chinese determination spurs a more enduring human emigration beyond this tiny world's fragile surface. I'll leave you with this quote from James Gunn, perhaps the foremost Asimov scholar:

"In 1973 [Asimov] pointed out that we were living in a science fiction world, a world of spaceships, atomic energy, and computers, a world very much like the world that he and other science fiction writers had been describing a quarter-century before. It was a world typified by the first Moon landing, four years before. 'Science fiction writers and readers didn't put a man on the moon all by themselves,' he told me, 'but they created a climate of opinion in which the goal of putting a man on the Moon became acceptable.'"

Hear, hear. As much as I feel conflicted saying this, Thank you, China. Let's hope the rest of the world feels the spurs to reach up and explore beyond our little neighborhood once again.
and now a couple of big images )
Chris

The Campbell Conference is a wrap - what a great time! Despite a million challenges, everyone able to attend seemed to enjoy the event, many were inspired by the various talks, the receptions were a blast, and awards were dispensed. Who won what? Check out the press release on the CSSF News page! Congratulations to all the winners - this was an incredibly good year. Depending on your reading tastes, your favorite book or short story for 2012 might turn out to be any of the finalists, so the jurors recommend that you read all the works on both the Sturgeon short-list and the Campbell short-list.

How about a quick bit of Astro-Porn? Check it out: Great shot of the International Space Station skittering across the surface of the Moon (I lie... nice shot of the ISS and the Moon, though):


Click the image to see the Spaceweather page. Thanks to Jeremy Tolbert for the tip!

Okay, now I'm off to the Intensive Institute on Science Fiction. Good day!

Best,
Chris

Click the image to see Keith Stokes' photo-essay of the event.

The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction's summer program is in its second week of workshops (both long and short-form), and this Friday through Sunday we host our annual Campbell Conference. A quick overview of events:

  • Best-selling SF author Kevin J. Anderson kicks off the Conference on Friday afternoon with a talk about dreaming big and making unrealistic expectations pay off.
  • On Friday evening, the Awards Ceremony and Banquet honors the winners of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and brand-new "Lifeboat to the Stars" Award, followed by a reception.
  • Saturday morning's round-table discussion theme is "To the Stars," where we will explore SF's long relationship with off-planet travel, its promises, and the future of the human race as a galactic species. We will also discuss the important steps along the path to the stars.
  • During lunch break on Saturday, get your books signed by this year's guest authors and editors at a mass autographing session. The bookstore has volumes for everyone on hand.
  • On Saturday afternoon, hear readings from Kevin J. Anderson, Andy Duncan, and James Gunn.
  • Saturday evening sees a special screening of the new Kevin Willmott film, Destination: Planet Negro!, followed by a Q&A with the director and cinematographer Matthew Jacobson. Afterward is another reception.
  • Sunday morning is an informal "meet the authors and editors" session, followed by an informal reception off-campus sponsored by Kansas City in 2016, a bid for the 74th Worldcon.

Due to a family emergency, Robert J. Sawyer is unable to attend this year's Campbell Conference.

To learn more about our events and guests, visit the Conference page: http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/campbell-conference.htm

And please help spread the word!

Best,
Chris

Colonel Chris Hadfield is a Canadian Astronaut currently living in space aboard the International Space Station. He has a Tumblr account and regularly posts images he takes out the window of the ISS. Just wow. His Tumblr is a great reason, all by itself, to get an account.

Here are a few examples:

Boston at night, glowing under a trace of fog:


Venezuelan valley framed by misty clouds - mysterious, beautiful, and surreal:


Full Moon rising. So near, and yet...

Click the images to see Colonel Chris Hadfield's Tubmlr blog.

Chris
That is so full of fantastic... you've surely seen a bunch of descent and landing photos (which this person used), and some animations from NASA, but this video created by Bard Canning is perfect!

Here's how Canning describes it: "Working frame-by-frame, it took me four weeks to produce this video. It was a labor of love. You can support my efforts with a donation or just let me know that you enjoyed it. Ultra-resolution, smooth-motion, detail-enhanced, color-corrected, interpolated from the original 4 frames per second to 30 frames per second. This video plays real-time at the speed that Curiosity descended to the surface of Mars on August 6, 2012."

Enjoy!
Chris
This post is for you science-lovers out there... that's everyone who likes heat in the winter, A/C in the summer, cell phones, food, modern roads... you get the idea. But especially for those who love contemplating the universe and our place in it, here are two things I must share. First, an event:

Did you know that the KU Natural History Museum hosts a series called, "Science on Tap"? Next Tuesday evening, October 16, the event is called "Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Expanding Universe." It's held at Free State Brewery from 7:30pm - 9:00pm. Description:

More than a decade after the Nobel-prize-winning discovery about the accelerating expansion of the universe, scientists are still trying to pin down exactly what dark energy is and solve one of the most profound questions in modern physics. This mysterious force repels gravity and is estimated to account for about 70 percent of the substance of the universe. For this Science on Tap, Bharat Ratra of Kansas State University will discuss dark matter, dark energy, and how scientists understand these components of the ever-expanding universe.

Sounds fantastic. I'll be there!

Speaking of things that fill me with joy, Neil deGrasse Tyson is my hero. Check it out:

Everyone should hear these wise words - especially our world leaders.

Chris

"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment, and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the Moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

- Armstrong's family

And if you're using a binocular or telescope, you can find where the first human beings first walked on the Moon, right here:


Click the image to see the Universe Today article about Apollo 11.

Landing people on the Moon and safely returning them - that was Kennedy's dream and goal just a few years before we did it. For a moment in time, after Armstrong spoke those famous (and oft-misquoted, due to nerves or equipment malfunction), billions around the world were joined in common elation that, yes, humankind was more than a beast, that we could dream and reach and do great things that did not involve killing or taking from others, truly great things. We could leap from our birth-world into the great unknown - and return safely! We could become an interplanetary species. This was the culmination of the promise of the Space Age, and Armstrong (and Aldrin and Collins) stood in as bearers of our own hopes and dreams.

I can hardly wait to see our next steps beyond low-orbit to other worlds and beyond. The Space Age has only just begin, in the long-term scheme of things.

In 44 more years, no one will remember much at all about the political nonsense and horrors going on today, both the ultimately meaningless things that we get so worked up over and the monstrous things we seek to resolve (and some seek to worsen).

But most of us will remember that Neil Armstrong was the first human to visit another planet on behalf of all humankind. Heck, assuming society is still intact, we'll probably remember his words in 400 years.

Chris
Last night, a friend of mine showed me a 360-degree panaoramic HD video of Mars as taken by the Curiosity rover. AMAZING AND GORGEOUS! Apparently, NASA didn't release it, but others (using stitching software) created this video from HD photos. Did I mention this is FROM MARS! (Note: Turn on full HD quality and turn off sound. Egad, who picks these soundtracks?)



And in other falling-toward-planets news, here's a video that examines the physics of falling cats. Ever wondered how they always land on their feet... without continuing to spin after they rotate feet-down? This is GREAT!



Science = LOVE

Chris
Just in case you missed it, here's one of the most amazing photos of the Space Age: the new Mars lander Curiosity descending into the atmosphere of Mars by parachute, as photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars.


Click the image to see NASA's Curiosity website, which has lots more photos and videos.

Think about that for a moment: A robotic explorer in orbit around the planet Mars has photographed a new robotic lander plummeting toward the surface below.

We live in an age of wonders.

Chris
Just popping in for a second before heading off to the CSSF Intensive Institute (novels this year - 25 of 'em!) to share a bit of Astro Porn on this poorly neglected LJ. Check out the wondrousness:


Click the image to see the NASA page for more info.

New photos from the Cassini spacecraft show high-altitude haze and a vortex materializing at the south pole, signaling a change of seasons on Titan. "The structure inside the vortex is reminiscent of the open cellular convection that is often seen over Earth's oceans," said Cassini team member Tony Del Genio. "But unlike on Earth, where such layers are just above the surface, this one is at very high altitude, maybe a response of Titan's stratosphere to seasonal cooling as southern winter approaches."

Just think: We have but to spend a few seconds on the NASA website to come up with wonders like this on any given day.

Have I mentioned that I love living in The Space Age? This is the future I dreamed of as a kid, except that more people need to be Out There doing the exploration, too.

Best,
Chris
mckitterick: At NASA's Moon-rock exhibit when it came to KU. (smiling Chris 2009)
( May. 3rd, 2012 01:12 pm)
With the Shuttle fleet now gathering dust and the Apollo bluprints pulped in 1970s Boy Scout recycling drives, it's easy to forget that we still live in the Space Age... perhaps more than ever!

Everyone knows about Virgin Galactic's upcoming space-tourism biz and Spaceport America recently dedicated in New Mexico.

NASA and the current US administration are pushing for private corporations to take the reigns of near-Earth and manned spaceflight while the NASA focuses on what they feel they do best: robotic exploration and technical research. Well, okay, but only if the private companies really DO get going on things.

So it was with great excitement that the pro-space contingent heard last week's big announcement that a heap of space-lovin' billionaires are launching Planetary Resources, a private leap into space.

And now we learn that Japan Will Have a Space Elevator by 2050.


Click the image to see the Gizmodo article.

We still live in the Space Age, folks!

Chris
In honor of the gorgeous aurora those of you who live in the high (and low) lattitudes are enjoying tonight, behold "All Alone in the Night,"



Explanation from NASA: Many wonders are visible when flying over the Earth at night. A compilation of such visual spectacles was captured recently from the International Space Station (ISS) and set to rousing music. Passing below are white clouds, orange city lights, lightning flashes in thunderstorms, and dark blue seas. On the horizon is the golden haze of Earth's thin atmosphere, frequently decorated by dancing auroras as the video progresses. The green parts of auroras typically remain below the space station, but the station flies right through the red and purple auroral peaks. Solar panels of the ISS are seen around the frame edges. The ominous wave of approaching brightness at the end of each sequence is just the dawn of the sunlit half of Earth, a dawn that occurs every 90 minutes.

Enjoy!
Chris
Check out these movies of the Northern Lights (aka Aurora Borealis and Australis, depending on where you live on the globe). First up, a video time-lapse from a Norwegian neighborhood:



Another video time-lapse from across a city:



There are tons of great photos out there, too, such as this one of the Aurora Australis as seen FROM THE SPACE STATOPM. BY AN ASTRONAUT:


Click the image to see the International Space Station page about the solar storm.

Just WOW! I miss living in a part of the world where one can observe these amazing space shows.

Chris
This wonderful time-lapse movie was made from a series of photos taken from the International Space Station as it orbited Earth at night. It begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering sunrise over Antarctica:



Cities and landmarks include (in this order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, multiple cities in Texas and New Mexico, Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, lightning over the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Also visible is the Earth's ionosphere - visible as a thin colored line above the curve of the planet - and the stars of our galaxy.

Infinity Imagined created this movie using raw photos from The Gateway To Astronaut Photography of Earth.

The Space Age: We're livin' in it!

Chris
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