China is still on track to put a space station in orbit by 2020. Not bad.
18 Jun 2012 Leave a Comment
18 May 2012 Leave a Comment
The initial launch for SpaceX is now set for tomorrow morning:
Mission plans call for an extensive set of tests in space requiring the Dragon spacecraft to show that it can move precisely in orbit and approach the space station carefully. Only after these tests are successful will the spacecraft be allowed to approach the orbiting laboratory close enough to be grappled and berthed by the station’s robotic arm.
Update: The SpaceX launch was aborted this morning, they might try again as early as Tuesday.
19 Feb 2010 Leave a Comment
First up is an infrared view of the Small Magellanic Cloud taken by the Spitzer space telescope (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI). As always, click on the image to see the picture in its full glory.
Next is a picture of the shuttle Endeavour as taken from the space station (Credit: NASA):
And the usual Friday poem:
I lie in bed
When I awake
24 Apr 2009 Leave a Comment
Hmm, I haven’t put up any pictures of the largest planet in our system. So here are a few:
first is a near-infrared picture of the full planet (Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and Erich Karkoschka (University of Arizona))
this next one was taken by the New Horizon’s spacecraft as it flew by in 2007 (Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SwRI/R.Gladstone et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (AURA/STScI)):
and finally a picture of Jupiter with its moon Io in front (Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Goddard Space Flight Center):
And I also include a really short poem:
A bit of dust
In your eye
Means you need
17 Apr 2009 Leave a Comment
Today I give the first of my two finals.
In commemoration, here’s a picture of the Galaxy triplet Arp 274 (it won the Space Telescope Science Institute’s ‘You Decide’ competition. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)):
Ok, I’m not really sure how it’s a commemoration, but anyway here’s a poem to go with it:
Is it all
Should I write
Should I die
Should I wake
10 Apr 2009 Leave a Comment
This is a little old, but here’s a video taken by Japan’s Kaguya mission of the earth rising:
And here’s a new poem:
Peeling layers one at a time
Uncovering past and Mortality
Looking tattered and red
Do we go further
03 Apr 2009 Leave a Comment
It’s a cloudy day here in Boston. I wonder if it looks like this from above (Credit: NASA):
This is a picture of the space station taken as STS-119 performed a fly around after undocking. The cloudy Earth is in the background.
Oh, I might as well include a picture of the shuttle Discovery lifting off on the STS-119 mission (Image Credit: NASA/Tony Gray, Tom Farrar):
I also give you my hundredth poem on the site (do I get a prize?):
Do you feel the east wind
Blowing out the fires lit
When inhibitions flowed like wine
And clouds leaked the sky?
27 Mar 2009 Leave a Comment
and a picture of Rhea as it slip behind Saturn taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
And here’s the weekly poem:
Throw up arms in surrender
A lost soul crawls past
Fraying the edges of insanity
With memories of flash and thunder.
05 Mar 2009 Leave a Comment
No, I don’t mean this. I mean that I think the new addition to the space station should be named Serenity. Really a shuttle would be a better choice given the TV show, but this isn’t too bad.
Here it is (from NASA, credit: Alenia Spazio):
and here’s what the view might look like when it’s actually in space (again from NASA):
The point is that NASA is allowing us to vote on its name. The options are Earthrise, Legacy, Serenity, Venture, or you can suggest your own. Obviously, any Firefly fan like me will go for Serenity (DVDs of the TV series and the movie Serenity are on the space station). The voting is done on March 20, so go over and vote.
21 Oct 2008 Leave a Comment
India is now really joining in the race to the moon. They’re expected to launch a space shipto the moon tomorrow. If they succeed, they’ll join Japan and China with ships orbitting the moon. It could get interesting. There doesn’t seem to the latest information at India’s Space Research site, but there some pictures of the ship and I assume they’ll mention the launch tomorrow.
Update: The launch was successful and the ship is on its way to the moon.
17 Oct 2008 Leave a Comment
Messenger flew by Mercury a second time last Monday. Here’s a nice picture it took (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington):
25 Sep 2008 Leave a Comment
China has now sent up another manned space mission. This one is supposed to involve a space walk, moving China one step further in the space race–the space walk is supposed to happen on Saturday.
In other tech news, it seems that the Large Hadron Collider will be out of commision until next April, so any question about the formation of a black hole that will eat the Earth is delayed (since this is about as probably as an artichoke eating the sun, I wasn’t worried anyway).
And for no particular reason, here’s a picture of Saturn’s rings taken in July (credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute):
Update: A Chinese astronaut has now been out in space, an 18 minute bit of floating.
Further Update: And the taikonauts are safely back on Earth. Their next step:
Wang Zhaoyao, deputy director of manned space flight, said the program is looking to launch a new orbiting vehicle and set up a simple space lab by 2011. There are also hopes of sending unmanned and manned space vehicles to perform docking activities with the target vehicle.
And then put a person on the moon by 2020. Now Japan, India, and the EU have to step up if they want to keep up in this new space race.
18 Jul 2008 Leave a Comment
Ok, just my name but at least I’m only the 1,760,377th person to submit my name. Ok, that’s not very impressive either (I’m hoping for a FILO standard, so that I end up being near the top). Still I got this lovely certificate thingy:
You can do the same here (you have until July 25th).
26 May 2008 Leave a Comment
This first is a picture of Mar’s northern polar region, the cracks are believed to have occurred because of the freezing and thawing of surface water.
This second picture has a view of Phoenix’s leg after it has landed on Mars. The main mission of the Phoenix is to look for evidence of life
An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe argues that we should be hoping the Phoenix does not find any life. The idea is that there are many places where life may have started and yet we have had no contact with life from any other place. Why?
Perhaps the most compelling theory is that there is some kind of barrier – what the economist and polymath Robin Hanson called a “Great Filter” – that prevents the rise of intelligent, self-aware, technologically advanced, space-colonizing civilizations. This filter would be one or more highly improbable steps along the path that starts with the creation of a planet and ends with a race capable of colonizing the galaxy.
Somewhere between those two points, the Great Filter operates, and it must be powerful enough that even with all the billions of possible starting worlds on which life might evolve – all those rolls of the cosmic dice – one ends up with nothing: no aliens, no spacecraft, no signals, at least not in our neck of the woods.
If there is a Great Filter, how far the human race goes depends on when it occurs: if it occurs early then there would not be many places with complex life but there could be relatively many with very advance life; if it occurs late then there could be many places with complex life but relatively few that are advanced. If the filter occurs late then humans will probably fall prey to it and not advance much beyond where we are now, so we should be hoping that it occurs early and thus should be hoping we find no life on Mars (of course there could be both early and late filters). I’m not sure I buy it, it could be that advanced life doesn’t care to contact other life (or it might be really difficult or …). Still, it’s an interesting read.
Another theory that argues against meeting life comes out of a book I’m reading (Blind Sight by Peter Watts): it says that if life from somewhere else does come here then it will probably be agressive. It argues that the only reason a species continues to evolve past a certain point is if they have hostile intelligent competitors (imagine that people have Star Trek level technology without warp, how much impetus will there be to explore stars that take decades/centuries to get to?). Again I’m not sure I buy it, but, again, it’s an interesting read.
Despite these two theories, I really hope there is evidence of life found on Mars.
21 Mar 2008 Leave a Comment
How did I not hear about this before? Japan is designing paper airplanesthat will be able to survive being thrown from the international space station. Right now they have designed ones that can survive speeds up to mach 7 and 300 degrees Celsius. The space station is 400 km up, so they would travel a bit further than the ones I have made.
They hope a Japanese astronaut, who is going up in November, will throw about 100 of these into space. They will put the a message on the planes asking them to be sent back to Japan. I hope it happens.
25 Feb 2008 1 Comment
Here is a picture from Mars (with a story here, credit for picture: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University):
and here’s a picture of Venus (credit: ESA/ MPS/DLR/IDA–that’s the European Union):
15 Feb 2008 Leave a Comment
A CIA spy satellite is falling to Earth and the US has now decided to ‘shoot it down’ (in quotes since the satellite will fall anyway). Considering the the US has not shot down a satellite because it was falling, lots of people are talking about it, so I might as well get into the speculation game.
Here are possible reasons for shooting it down:
it could harm people (the official reason, which most people discount)
the US wants to test their ability to shoot things down in space
to show China how it’s done (they shot down a satellite a year or two ago)
they want to make sure the satellite is destroyed so CIA secrets aren’t found
they want to tweak the Russians who have been talking about a ban on weapons in space
I think it is a mix of these. I don’t even completely dismiss the harm rationale. Even if it’s very unlikely (no one has ever been harmed by a falling man-made object), think of the propaganda implications if it killed someone in Iran or Russia or…
What do you think?
20 Jan 2008 Leave a Comment
Neither the Japanese or Chinese lunar orbits have good sites for pictures of the moon, but here are a few bits:
from the Japanese Kaguya (both pictures are courtesy of Jaxa/NHK and taken in November 2007):
the Chinese site for it’s orbiter. There’s not much there yet, but maybe at some point they’ll put up some pictures or videos.
17 Jan 2008 Leave a Comment
The Messenger has more photos of Mercury up at its website. I like these better than the first round of pictures. Below is a picture of the previously unseen side of Mercury taken on January 14 when Messenger was 17,000 miles away:
And here’s a second picture from January 14 taken from 11,000 miles away of Mercury’s horizon:
The credit for both pictures is: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington