An artist’s impression of Titan’s landscape. Image Credit: Kees Veenebos
‘Day after day, day after day,
we stuck nor breath nor motion
As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean
Water, water everywhere and
all the boards did shrink
Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.’
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, 1798
It’s hard to imagine English poet Samuel Coleridge’s reaction if he was told during the writing of his famous poem that one of Saturn’s moons, Titan, had huge bodies of liquid on its surface like lakes and seas. But even though Coleridge’s fictitious mariners in reality wouldn’t be able to sail those Titanian seas or drink their waters, those seas nevertheless appear to share a common characteristic with the earthly ones in Coleridge’s poem: They are dead-calm and waveless. And planetary scientists have been wondering why.
Continue reading As Idle As a Painted Sea: The Case of the Waters That Wouldn’t Stir
The Atlas-V rocket with NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft onboard minutes after arriving at the launch pad Saturday afternoon. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Mike Killian
The clocks are ticking and the launch team at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 41 in Florida is preparing to send NASA’s next Mars-bound spacecraft on an epic half-billion mile journey to reveal the secrets of the Red Planet’s climate history. The $620 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, or MAVEN, is the first of its kind devoted entirely to understanding the upper atmosphere of Mars, which will shed light on questions about where the water that once covered the planet went, and why it—along with the planet’s atmosphere—has disappeared.
Continue reading PHOTOS: NASA Ready to Send MAVEN on Half-Billion Mile Journey to Mars Monday
The Surveyor 3 landing craft, backdropped by the Apollo 12 lunar module Intrepid, as viewed by Pete Conrad and Al Bean at the Ocean of Storms in November 1969. Photo Credit: NASA
Within minutes of arriving on the Moon’s surface, early on 19 November 1969, Apollo 12 astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad began erecting an S-band communications antenna, but this was rendered redundant when crewmate Al Bean ruined the television camera, as recounted in yesterday’s history article. Bean’s major task was to remove the two pallets of Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) equipment from the rear of Intrepid’s descent stage. If the television camera had been working, he would have relocated it to provide the audience with a clear view of this activity. After connecting the two pallets to a horizontal bar, he would lug them to the site chosen for their deployment.
Continue reading Remembering Apollo 12: The Surveyor and the Lonely Man (Part 4)
Al Bean carries the panniers of the first Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) across the dusty terrain for installation. Photo Credit: NASA
More than four decades ago, in November 1969, the human race comprised an estimated three billion souls on Planet Earth … and three others. A quarter of a million miles away, Apollo 12 astronauts Charles “Pete” Conrad, Dick Gordon, and Al Bean were in the midst of preparing for humanity’s second piloted landing on the surface of the Moon. Coming only months after Neil Armstrong’s historic “one small step,” there were few who seriously believed that traveling to our closest celestial neighbor could ever be routine, and Apollo 12 demonstrated the very real dangers of space exploration … as well as the rewards it could reap.
Continue reading Remembering Apollo 12: The Hammer and the Protuberances (Part 3)
Mark Becnel, left, and his brother, Eric Becnel, with a mockup of the Chargersat-1 in the UAH Engineering Design and Prototyping Facility. The brothers plan to start a cube satellite production company after graduating with master’s degrees in aerospace engineering. Image Credit: Michael Mercier / UAH
Two students soon to earn master’s degrees in aerospace engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) see so much opportunity in small satellites that they have formed a company to develop the technologies.
Mark and Eric Becnel are aiming their company, Radiobro, at providing turnkey cube satellite services to researchers who have experiments they’d like to fly, but who don’t have the resources to build their own satellites to fly them.
Continue reading Students Plan to Launch Themselves Into Cubesat Business
The Moon. Image Credit: NASA
HUNTSVILLE, Ala (Nov. 14, 2013) — One of the things Dr. Richard Miller thinks is coolest about working as part of a team investigating the origin and mapping of water on the lunar poles is that he can look up at night, or when the Moon rises during the day, and see the object of his research.
Continue reading UAH Researcher Helping Solve Moon’s Water Puzzles
An image of galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56, also known as the Bullet Cluster. It is a composite image made from observations in visible light from the Hubble Telescope and the Magellan ground-based Telescopes (the main cluster image) and in x-ray wavelengths from the Chandra Space Observatory (pink areas). Additional studies of gravitational lensing from more distant, background objects have shown that most of the cluster’s mass is concentrated in the blue areas, which remains invisible. It is one of the best direct evidence for the existence of dark matter. Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/ M.Markevitch et al.;
Lensing Map: NASA/STScI; ESO WFI; Magellan/U.Arizona/ D.Clowe et al.
Optical: NASA/STScI; Magellan/U.Arizona/D.Clowe et al.;
Where are they?
— Enrico Fermi
When famous physicist Enrico Fermi posed the question that formed the basis of the famous Paradox that took his name, he didn’t have dark matter in mind. Yet, with the latest results from the Large Underground Xenon Detector coming in, Fermi’s question suddenly becomes more relevant to the search for the ever-elusive dark matter particles as well.
Continue reading O Dark Matter, Where Art Thou? Latest Search Finds None So Far
An Atlas V rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral. Photo Credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests can enjoy viewing the thrilling and historic launch of a massive United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvoultioN (MAVEN) orbiter on Monday, Nov. 18. The rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a launch window from 1:28 p.m. to 3:28 p.m. EST.
Continue reading Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Offers Best Public Viewing of Historic MAVEN Launch on Nov. 18
Although the first hurdle for the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has been overcome, the next 10 months are fraught with difficulty. Image Credit: ISRO
One week since its rousing 5 November liftoff atop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), India’s first mission to Mars seems to have recovered well from its first hiccup, and the apogee of its steadily-increasing orbit has now reached about 73,720 miles (118,642 km) from the Home Planet. With four of its six orbit-raising maneuvers now satisfactorily concluded, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)—also known as “Mangalyaan” (Hindi for “Mars Craft”)—is now less than three weeks away from its planned departure from Earth on 30 November/1 December. According to the trajectory design, MOM/Mangalyaan will traverse interplanetary space for 300 days and reach Mars in September 2014.
Continue reading India’s Mars Mission Back On Track as Spacecraft Apogee Exceeds 100,000 Km
Aleksandr Serebrov (center), flanked by Vasili Tsibliyev (left) and Jean-Pierre Haigneré, during Soyuz TM-17 training. It was Serebrov’s fourth and final space mission. Photo Credit: Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de
Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov—a veteran of four space missions to two different space stations and the 26th most experienced spacefarer of all time—has died at age 69. Citing sources within the cosmonauts’ training center at Star City, on the outskirts of Moscow, ITAR-TASS noted that Serebrov’s death earlier today (Tuesday, 12 November) was “sudden.” During his lengthy career within the Soviet and later Russian cosmonaut corps, he flew two short-duration missions to the Salyut 7 space station and two long-duration missions to the Mir space station. He accrued more than 372 days in space and entered the headlines in early 1990 when he tested the Soviet Union’s answer to NASA’s Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) … a “space motorbike” known as “Icarus.”
Continue reading Four-Time Russian Cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov Dies at Age 69