Finally watching ISS

Hi,
today I am finally going to write about my first experience watching ISS, the International Space Station. I have probably seen it before it is just that I did not realize that it is not an airplane.


ISS is a space station (biggest that humanity has) orbiting around 400 kilometers above the sea level. There is lot of interesting stuff about it but in this post, we are going to concern ourselves only with the very simple part, just seeing it.

Do not get too cocky. With naked eye, it will look like a bright star, around the magnitude of Venus at its best. It moves fast and even the best flights above your place will take maximum of about 6 minutes. From my experience, simple binoculars do not make much of a difference, though telescope could and I am yet to see how it will work out with good one, for example if I am able to track it.

Now it might not seem as much but remember, you are seeing the ISS, 150 billion $ project! The upside of it is that the station passes everyday above your place. It will always happen at sunset or sunrise, that is because the station must be sunlit but you have to be already in the shadow of Earth.

Most internet sites will recommend you the NASA webpage but it is horribly done and I will rather link to this one: http://iss.astroviewer.net/observation.php

In the case you are the type of person who uses smart phone, you can also download some app like ISS tracker.

Dragallur

Note: even though ISS will pass over 95% of the world population it has over every place pauses for many days. This is because the Earth is rotating under it and it takes some time before it comes to “phase” again.

Advertisements

Taking closer look on Sun

Hi,
today I will write about a unique mission that will go closer to the Sun than ever before (2018).


Something like 3.9 million miles will be the closest approach (should I rant about the imperial units or just convert them?). This means going through the Sun’s corona, that is the legendary region that is apparently not quite well explained, meaning, we do not know why is it hotter than the surface of the Sun, but I am no expert on that.

It is caller Parker Solar Probe, I am thinking that they named it after Matt Parker and the Parker square (anybody?). There are going to be top grade instruments on the board and these need to be carefully protected, aka. when you put 11.5 cm of carbon-composite “desk” around it, it will work.

This thing is going to be fast in its top speed, like 194 km/s, yeah that’s per second which is crazy fast. That would be less than 2 seconds to get from my home to Berlin, fun, I guess it would take some time to accelerate me to that speed (unless my life did not matter).

Another interesting thing that has an effect here and that I mentioned in other post, is that it is hard to hit the Sun since the Earth is traveling very quickly around and just because you get out of its atmosphere does not mean that you fall towards the center of its orbit. Parker Probe will use Venus to slow down to get there without such effort.

Dragallur

Europa Multiple-Flyby Mission

Hi,
today I am going to write about proposed mission to investigate Europa.


Europa Multiple-Flyby Mission is a plan consisting of orbiter and a lander directed towards Jupiter‘s moon.

The reason why to choose Europa is quite clear. There is probably liquid water under its surface and if one launches such a thing, it might get public’s attention.[1] (Which might be now more important than ever considering how Trump wants to cut down NASA’s budget especially on the most important thing that they do: Earth’s climate monitoring.)

First of all the orbiter, which would be launched in the next decade, would learn as much as it could about the surface of the moon, Jupiter’s magnetosphere (see later), weird water

Composite image of Europa superimposed on Hubble data

This is two images of course. The original does not have the Europa in middle but only black spot. You can see the plumes on roughly 7 o’clock.

plumes and so on. There are 9 instruments together planned.

Instruments on those orbiters are able to collect data faster than we can receive it. This is because there are more mission that need attention of our receivers. Those are not some small receivers but specialized ones and all missions have some time to send information. For example New Horizons, just from its flyby of Pluto kept sending data for some 6 months.

In case of Jupiter oriented mission this might be a problem because Jupiter has extremely strong magnetosphere which will probably damage the instruments in matter of few weeks. This way it is best to get close to Europa and then get away as soon as possible and send the data later. This can not be done for the lander so it really lasts in matter of days. (Yes, it is still a problem even if you cover your equipment under 150 kilograms of titanium as is planned!)

The lander is thing planned even further into future, around 20 years or so. Much can change and we will see what the priorities are at that point.

Dragallur

[1]People will probably get quite excited by mission promising founding signs of extraterrestrial life.

Juno is right at the party!

Hi,
wondering what to write about today I decided that best would be to catch up with the mission Juno which is going to explore Jupiter.

Juno Reaches Jupiter

This is doodle by Google which shows the excitement of the scientists as they watch the signal from Juno coming back after it started to orbit Jupiter.


So it has been basically 5 years since NASA launched Juno (2011 August). This satellite is the second one after Galileo that is going to orbit around Jupiter. Most of others were just on flyby to other places and Galileo kind of broke.

Artist’s impression of Juno.

Juno mission is going to last for about 1 and ½ of a year. This seems kind of short time when you consider that it took alone 5 years to get there. SciShow Space said that it is because NASA does not want to risk getting Europa spoiled with ANY organisms from Earth though I think that this is nonsense and that NASA just does not have enough money which is something I will get to in another post.

What will we get? Well hopefully we will learn more about formation of Jupiter and whole Solar System, this is basically the main purpose but priority is also the gas of Jupiter and its magnetic field. We wont get probably any pictures of the moons because they are not part of the mission and they would be very small. At one point the JunoCam instrument will have a great resolution of Jupiter, about 15 kilometers per pixel. This is something amazing since Jupiter has about 140,000 km in diameter.

Right now Juno is on what is called “capture orbit”. Those are two 53.5 days long orbits which will then lead to 14 day science orbits where the real data is going to be harvested.

Everything about the mission is quite planned.

Juno is also the furthest man-made satellite that is powered only on solar panels. At the distance where it is, there is only 4% of sunlight compared to Earth.

Next time I will cover what tools Juno carries.

Dragallur

Space NEWS #7.5

Hi,
7.5? Wut? Well today I will just continue with the Jason-3 satellite which was launched yesterday.


So yesterday in the evening Falcon 9, the launch vehicle of SpaceX carried Jason-3 to low earth orbit. This is somewhere between 160 and 2,000 kilometers, yes there is such a big difference.

For Jason-3 it is 1,336 km above Earth’s ocean and before it rotates once around Earth it takes him about 2 hours.

I was watching the launch on NASA TV at the time of the launching. While there was lot of fog so I could see only the top of Falcon 9, still when the flames started to burst everything went kind of red and white.

Falcon was able to fly faster than 2,000 km/h if I remember correctly. Jason-3 was successfully deployed and now it will take 6 months before it will be fully operable because all the instruments must be calibrated and then it will work with Jason-2 which orbits several kilometers above.

Image of Jason-3 Launching.As I mentioned in the last post, it is going to measure the height of oceans. Jason will be able to cover 95% of Earth’s oceans in 10 days, amazing.

After the deployment, SpaceX tried to land Falcon on ship named: Just Read The Instructions. Sadly they were not able to make it, everything was going well but then the collet was not working properly and Falcon fell on one side instantly exploding. What is important is that they can learn from mistakes, and that is really important.

Dragallur

Picture is from NASA page

 

Space NEWS #7

 

Hi,
today I am bringing space news before it is too late because today the launch vehicle Falcon 9 is going to send Jason-3 satellite on orbit.


 

Jason-3 is international satellite which is going to observe oceans for at least 3 years with goal of 5 years.

Such a monitoring is extremely important and Jason will specialize for the sea level rise, human impact on oceans, prediction of hurricanes and improvement of marine navigation.

Jason is going to be launched TODAY in the evening. Since all of you are from different parts of the world I can only say that it is going to be in 18:42:18 of Greenwich time. It is definitely going to be available on NASA TV.

Also what is important is that Falcon 9 is going to try to land on ship so it can be reused. This is extremely important because it can extremely lower the price of space flights.

To watch the last Falcon 9 of SpaceX landing, watch this, it is amazing.

Dragallur

Picture of Falcon 9:

Falcon 9 v1.1.jpg

Moons of our Solar System: Callisto

Hi,
here it comes, here it goes after a lot of other posts I have decided to write again about moons and this time I continue to really cold piece of giantic rock and 2nd biggest moon of Jupiter and 3rd largest in whole Solar System right after Titan. It is Callisto not The Spear of Vengeance.


Měsíc CallistoCallisto was found with other Galilean moons by Galileo Galilei and independently Marius. Marius gave her this name. Instead of Callisto, Jupiter IV was used. I am really glad that it changed.
Callisto was one of many lovers of Zeus or Jupiter for Roman`s.

As you can see on the picture below, Callisto is really just a little smaller than Mercury.
It is smaller just by few kilometers but it has just a third of Mercury`s weight. As you can see it depends a lot on the stuff from which the object is made.

Callisto orbits at really big distance. 1.88 million kilometers which is almost 1/75 of the distance between Sun and Earth. For moon it is a big number, more than 4 times between Moon and Earth.

It is actually very important that it is so far away because the rest of the Galilean moons are orbiting in resonance which means that they are creating heat in their interior because of friction of the liquids inside.

Callisto can be described as very cold and hard place. There is no volcanism or tectonic activity on its surface to smooth all the features. But there are also no mountains since they are caused by tectonic activity.
Only things you can find there are craters and there is lot of them. Actually the number can not increase a lot because they will almost always overlap so the ones that are old will erode and disappear.

Crater which you can see on the right is called Valhalla crater and this one is the largest. The middle is only 600 kilometers wide but with the rings from the rest of the collision you can say that Valhalla has 1800 kilometers. Another huge guy is Asgard with 1600 km.

The surface is very old and also very cold with temperatures oscillating between -130 and -190 degrees of Celsius.
Most of the surface is covered by water ice.

Under the surface it is assumed that there is thick salty ocean.

Callisto has really thin atmosphere which is made up of carbon dioxide which is the same for Mars. The atmosphere is actually so thin that it has to be powered from dry ice which is evaporating from surface, otherwise it would disappear completely.

There is mission planned to go for Galilean moons in 2020. It is called Europa Jupiter System Mission and it would be founded by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). More than Callisto, Europa is the moon of interest since there is much higher probability of live because there is this heat from friction.

Dragallur

1st and 3rd picture
2nd picture

Space NEWS #5 Bright spots on Ceres

Hi,
here it comes, here it goes. Lately again a lot of stuff about Ceres appeared. It is because Dawn which is the satellite that we send there is actually lowering its orbit and it is getting new information about Ceres`s bright spots.


So Ceres is a dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt. It seems that Phil Plait is not agreeing with me on the first one.
It’s descriptive, and way better than “dwarf planet”, which in my opinion doesn’t make much sense. I still don’t think the word “planet” can be rigorously defined, but as a fuzzy category with adjectival prefixes it has its uses. – Phil Plait
And he is saying that scientists call it protoplanet so I will probably go for it.
Ceres zachycený sondou Dawn 19. února 2015.
So you can see this protoplanet on the right picture. At middle of the picture you should wonder what are those bright spots there?
Well it could seem that it is just a lighter piece of rock and it is not very interesting when compared to other stuff but actually it is pretty cool!

Nature published study talking about the bright spots of Ceres. In different wavelengths Dawn took good photos of these spots and send them to NASA. Now it seems that it is salt. Nobody knew for sure for a long time. On this page NASA has quiz for guessing what are the bright spots. Right after you click some of the options you will see that not many people voted for salt deposit. It is not so cool as ice probably.
Actually it seems that ice is very bad option since it is too hot on the sun lighted side of Ceres to keep any water ice.

It is assumed that this salt rose from the inside of planet and was left because water evaporated.
Btw. once on YouTube I saw video saying that those spots are actually tops of alien towers.

Dragallur

Picture is from Czech Wikipedia Ceres page

 

Space NEWS #2

Hi,
Today I am bringing space news. Just a short ones. So in last post I mentioned gamma-ray bursts. I found out that NASA found one GRB
 graph shows Fermi Large Area Telescope data from August 2008 to July 2015 for gamma rays with energies above 100 million electrhappening over and over again. As you can see on the picture there is real repeating of many and many GRBs.
Those come from black hole, a supermassive black hole from active galaxy 5,000,000,000 light years away.
It has accretion disk but scientists are not sure yet why it is in such a periods so one of many hypothesis is that there is actually second black hole which as its orbits the first one makes changes to the disk which then make some bursts bigger than other.
Dragallur

Debris disk: Ring around star

Hi,
with this post I am answering to one comment posted about three weeks ago on Roche limit.

Could there be rings around sun?

Yes they are called Debris disks. Debris disk is created from nebula which is surrounding young star. This nebula is full of gas and dust. Either all this stuff is pushed away by radiation or planetesimals are created.

Planetesimals are huge rocks, (more than one kilometer across). They do not need Brownian motion anymore to grow because they have enough strong gravity to pull other rocks, and at some point they can be enough large to be planets.

When those planetesimals collide they left dust and rock behind them. This is what isHeic0821f.jpg called debris disk. It is not created by Roche limit as normal planetary ring is and I did not find anything about rings around star that are made by Roche but if I do I will definitely post it here.

This dust in debris disk is usually very small: 1-100 micrometers.
Our sun has this debris disk and you have probably heard about it, it is the Kuiper belt.

There is other example of debris disk and it is around very bright star called Fomalhaut. Ring Around a StarYou can see it on the right top. This star has debris disk which is moved by 1.4 billion miles (roughly 2.24 billion kilometers) to left. It is probably because of huge planet. The dark spot around star (pic. on the left and bot.) is just effect of blocking the light from Fomalhaut so we can see all the debris reflecting photons. This false-color composite image reveals the orbital motion of the planet Fomalhaut b.
Fomalhaut has at least one planet and this one is called Fomalhaut B. On wiki, I am pretty sure there is mistake in one sentence since they are saying that it is star.
You can easily find Fomalhaut on Celestia, I will write about that program probably next time.

Dragallur
PS: I lost.