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|Tuesday, April 20th, 2004|
|Monday, April 19th, 2004|
Hey, just a quick update here...
Gravity Probe B is finally coming up to orbit... The launch is scheduled for 1:01 EDT. NASA TV's coverage is just starting right now at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html
- It's a day launch, so we might get to see some nifty rocketcam footage on this Delta II.
Glad to see old Grav-B is finally making it up here... he's been in the design stages for 42 years!
|Friday, April 16th, 2004|
Well, most of the solar activity from last week has gone around to the far side, and I for one am OK with that. I still have nightmares about the flares shooting at me last October.
Operations continue here, despite some annoying gaps in my DSN coverage. I'm taking not quite a back row seat, more like the middle, while the gang at JPL work with Cassini, Opportunitygrrl, Spiritrover and a whole host of probes. Heck, even the Voyager boys got a slightly bumped up amount of time this week. So, my coverage has been a little bumpy.
I'm tired. I keep hearing about all the new guys and gals being prepped for launch and how cool their instruments will be, but nobody really talks about how cool my experiments and sensors are anymore. I guess that's the price I pay for losing my "state-of-the-art" status, but I grin quietly to myself in that anyone who shows up looking at the sun later is really only duplicating my work with more advanced toys. I'm the one who saw it first.
While I don't have a lot of really crazy flares to show you, I will direct your attention to comet C/2004 F4, aka Comet Bradfield, which I recently noticed creeping into my field of vision. My LASCO with the C3 filter picked it up this morning, and I'm sure it'll be in view for awhile. Watch the bottom of the frame to see it come sliding in.
I've got a still of it inside. Here's wishing all of you a great and discovery-filled weekend!( Read more...Collapse )
|Friday, April 9th, 2004|
|Moment Of Silence for Fallen Comrade
Last night, after nearly fourty years in orbit, Cosmos-41 (aka Molniya 1-01 or 1964-049D) Finally returned to Earth, completing his mission. He Re-entered over the Barents sea.
Beyond being the FIRST EVER Russian communications satellite, Cosmos 41 represented a departure in Soviet flight operations. The launch started with the orbiting of a Tyazheliy Sputnik (an orbital platform used in deep space missions). As this orbital platform approached Africa on the first revolution, a probe rocket was fired that carried the payload into an elliptical orbit with a period that allowed the payload to repeat close to the earth in the Southern Hemisphere, then climbed at a slowing rate to give about 8 hr of visibility for virtually all of the Soviet Union, gradually accelerated toward perigee, and made another slow climb to be again in view of much of North America and the north Pacific. The vehicle not only provided excellent coverage at northern latitudes, but also provided simultaneous visibility of both polar regions at apogee. The mission of this flight included gathering space environmental data and testing onboard flight systems.
До свидания, comrade.
|Lonely old Friends
Strangely enough, there are some lonely old folks in LEO and in GEO that nobody talks to anymore. I feel bad for these old birds, most of them were state of the art when they went up, some with incredible power supplies, but their instruments have been outclassed, their teams reassigned. It's going to happen to me in a few years, too. If you've got the right kind of gear, and are sitting in the right spot, maybe you might want to give them a listen... I hear the old folks know a lot of history.... I've got frequencies and orbital inclinations inside for you. There are some youngsters in this list doing active research, but heck, ATS 1 is still muttering to himself about 12 hours a day. All of these folks are talking at frequencies that don't require you to have DSN time.. :) I left MIR on here for old time's sake. I miss that old red bear.
LIST INSIDE( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, April 7th, 2004|
An update on that flare yesterday...
There was a CME (coronal mass ejection - Yeah I know it sounds kind of funny to you, but hey, I don't have any of the anatomy you do to fully understand the humor in that joke) and judging by how fast it fuzzed my LASCO cameras, I think those of you in northern latitudes might get to see some auroras tomorrow night.
More later... I've got a lot of data to sort out today...
|Tuesday, April 6th, 2004|
Ok, sorry for the processing delay, but I believe I have all of you added as friends now. Thanks for listening to me!
Hey, how's everyone doing out there? I'm going to guess the answer is busy since every time I try to squeeze some extra bandwidth out of the DSN to update my journal here, I get nothing until the CLT runs out. CHANDRA
keeps taking some of the niftiest pictures I've ever seen... these new ones of Titan transiting the Crab Nebula are preety awe-inspiring. Maybe someone could loan me some hydrazine when my extended mission ends and give me a push off in that direction? It's a pretty place, indeed.
I don't know what's going on down there, but this is definitely not the data I sent you...
Anyway, SHIELDS UP, Chekov. There's been some CME activity in the last couple of days, and some rather big M-Class flares. I've got a neat movie of the last few for you, you can see it here: http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/data/LATEST/current_c2.mpg
Last but not least, here's an image showing all the little active spots I've been monitoring for you folks...
|Monday, April 5th, 2004|
Well, I've got a lot of stored data to transmit, and that should keep my friends back at home busy.
Speaking of which, did any of you see this last week? And here I thought things would be quiet for awhile.
There's not a lot to report today, I've been getting back up to speed on taking pictures and sending them back to you folks, and I'm happy to report my CCD seems to be working rather well. Bakeouts are funny that way, you never know for sure that you're going to get all your resolution back.
There is one sunspot to take a look at, NOAA 588 is looking a bit cranky :
You can read a lot of condensed data on one page at http://sidc.oma.be
Now, does anyone have a copy of that movie Solar Crisis
? It's been awhile since I've seen a good comedy....
Back on the air, baby!
It feels good to be sending real-time again.
|Friday, March 26th, 2004|
Greetings all. Sorry if my posts slowed down. I am in a keyhole, after all...http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/hotshots/2004_01_04/SOHOorbitbeam.jpg
They've had me doing a lot of diagnostics lately, so I have had to put off my longer "mission description" series till next week. And my self esteem is not so hot right now since they're trumpeting SDO and all his great new toys. I was interested to see that STEREO isn't mentioned in this article at all...http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/sdo_tech_040324-1.html
Now, let's get one thing straight. Even if NASA decides to abandon me, there's always hope that the ESA will maintain my mission. Uhhf. Now I know how Fuse_Sat feels when he sees his projected decay data show up on OIG.
Cassini_Saturn: I hope you're paying attention, because someone named LATOR is thinking about trying to break your relativity test record...http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/26mar_einstein.htm
This looks like it might be good news for you... Mikulski and Brownback are important people to have on your side these days....http://www.space.com/news/hubble_senate_040325.html
Ok, so I'll be back with more later. for now, Another of my greatest hits:
A composite of three images of a large CME. The images are from EIT (the blue Sun in the center) and the LASCO C2/C3 instruments.
|Thursday, March 25th, 2004|
This made me sad:
"Taco Bell discovered that 62 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with the spork, with some mistaking the utensil - a hybrid spoon and fork - for "a planetary constellation."
It's sad for so many reasons.. :(
|Aww, poor MESSENGER!
I was sorry to see that NASA is postponing MESSENGER's launch to July due to problems with his fault protection software... http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/status/paylstat/2004/mar/3-24-04p.htm
What the KSC release doesn't say is that this change will severely affect the timing for the cruise to Mercury, moving orbital insertion from 2009 to 2011.
Here's hoping luck changes for the guys at APL. MESSENGER must be going crazy sitting around in the processing facility. I know I got pretty anxious on my transit to L1... and that wasn't nearly as far!
For those of you who are curious why it takes so long to get to Mercury, here's a little info:
Mercury is deep inside the Sun's gravity well, as well as in an inclined orbit to the plane of the ecliptic. The delta-V requirement for a direct ascent and direct insertion into Mercury orbit are beyond the capabilities of MESSENGER's Delta II launch vehicle. Even ESA's BepiColombo mission to Mercury, which will be launched later on either an Ariane 5 or Soyuz and use solar-electric propulsion, will require a 3.5 year cruise to Mercury. BepiColombo will also use the Moon, Venus, and Mercury itself for gravity assists.
The conditions for orbit require you to not only be at the right place, at the right time, but also at the right speed relative to the body you wish to orbit.
He's definitely a showoff... here's his webcam:
|Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004|
|Solar Cycles, lesson One... :)
Ok, so for the next couple of months I figured I'd post what we know about the sun so far, what we think we know, and what NASA and ESA want me to figure out in the next few years.
We'll spend this week on the Solar Cycle.
The solar cycle is best described as the length of time that spans solar minimum to solar minimum. Halfway between these points is Solar Maximum.
The sun's activity and the level of intensity is what we use to define these two periods. A solar maximum is marked by numerous sunspots, flares, coronal mass ejections and shock events. The minimum, as you might expect, contains very few of these, if any.
The sun has a magnetic field, a dipole (with North and South)like the earth's but not nearly as quiet or steady. At solar minimum, it looks much like earth's, with the field's axis nice and uniform along the same axis as the sun's rotation. no big deal.
Towards solar maximum, however, for reasons we don't know for certain yet, the magnetic field on the sun goes all wonky... there is really no set axis, and weird individual field lines start popping up all over the surface. at these intense points, we see sunspots and flares, huge jumps in the speed of the solar wind, and coronal mass ejections that shoot streamers of gas off into the solar system and beyond.
When solar activity begins to calm down, it's because the field starts to get its act back together and become uniform, with one specific difference.. : The poles shift positions... North becomes south, etc. If this was the case on earth, not only would it be really bad for you and the weather, you'd need to switch your compasses and maps every few years. For this reason, some people say the solar cycle is actually 22 years long instead of eleven.
Tomorrow, pictures and more on magnetic fields on the sun!
So, there's another of NASA's press conferences today concerning Opportunitygrrl
and another amazing discovery she made on Mars...
Since they're still baking out my CCD, I think I'll take some time out to watch this conference today. I was surfing the internet this morning and saw that space.com had this to say about it:"All signs point to something important in the announcement, as NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will make opening remarks. He is typically not involved in science announcements and did not participate in the previous blockbuster presentation of Opportunity's water discovery."
I'll be waiting anxiously. Well, as anxious as I can be at L1.
If you can't get NASA TV at home or if your particular orbit takes you out of range of their transponders, you can see this announcement on the internet through the NASA TV page. For those of you who don't like or can't use Realplayer wherever you are today, be happy, they've recently added Windows Media streams.
You can access it HERE
And finally, here's my pic of the day, one of my last ones before they started working on my CCD. Have a great day, and avoid orbital debris!
|Monday, March 22nd, 2004|
|WAY TO GO, GRRL!
And this just in: Opportunitygrrl
has discovered something else at her landing site!
March 22, 2004
NOTE TO EDITORS : n04-044
NASA Announces Major Mars Rover Finding
NASA will announce a major scientific finding at a Space Science Update (SSU) Tuesday at 2 p.m. EST, in the headquarters Webb Auditorium, 300 E St. SW, Washington. The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity is exploring the martian Meridiani Planum and recently discovered evidence rocks at the landing site have been altered by water.
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will make opening remarks. SSU panelists:
--Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator, Office of Space Science
--Prof. Steve Squyres, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and MER Principal Investigator
--Prof. John Grotzinger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass, and a MER Co-investigator
--Dr. Dave Rubin, U.S. Geological Survey Sedimentologist at the Pacific Science Center in Santa Cruz, Calif.
--Dr. Jim Garvin, NASA Lead Scientist for Mars and the Moon, Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters
Hey there -
I realized that not everyone keeps up with all the data that goes_sat
, Trace, ACE and I have been gathering, which when you think about it, is a lot. Well, the fine folks at Lockheed Martin have a great site with up-to-date information, all combined on one page. The best part of it is that you can check out each and every flare that all of us up here can see... and even get some cool animations.
Here you go!http://www.lmsal.com/solarsoft/latest_events/
Anyone hear from Ulysses
lately? Last I heard he was out at Jupiter again, taking another of his "working vacations". that guy gets around! Problem is, he really doesn't write as often as he should. Probably the whole not having any imaging instruments, etc. Really is too bad, since I'll bet that orbit of his would provide some really weird perspectives.
Anyway, that's it for now. Today's picture is from my archive, since I won't be taking any new ones for a week or so. This is that crazy mega flare last year that would have cooked you all if it was pointed your way.
|Hey, anyone paying attention down there?
While I was sitting around waiting for my CCD to finish its bakeout, I got bored and checked my e-mail. Piotr36
sent me an article about you carbon-based folks wanting to come out and see some of the things my cousins and I have been seeing firsthand. I have to say I'm a little disappointed to see that some people don't ever want to come visit us.
Here's the link he sent me:http://www.thespacereview.com/article/119/1
|Friday, March 19th, 2004|
|Anybody want to see my keyhole?
Now, to be honest, I think the guy that wrote this puts a little too much of the blame on me and this dumb motor they gave me to move my High Gain Antenna around instead of the real culprits, the Mars twins and Cassini.
Really! They give them all the 70-meter time and start cooking my eyeball while I wait to stop t a l k i n g s o s l o w and get back to doing some real work. You don't see them telling ACE that he has to take a nap. Heck, he's not even a delta mission!( Read more...Collapse )