Thursday, December 30, 2010

Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy: Vista





This is a 4 meter survey telescope that can image in the IR. There are now several exceptionally powerful survey telescopes being constructed or in active use, including the exceptionally powerful PAN-STARRS telescopes with a 1.4 gigapixel detector in each. They, collecting TBs of data per day, will revolutionize our list of space objects. Hopefully a secondary target for the New Horizons mission will be found as a result.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VISTA_(telescope)

Monday, December 27, 2010

GSAT-5P rocket failure




"Here's a fiery portrait of India's second failed launch of 2010. The GSAT-5P, launching a new geosynchronous communications satellite, broke up in the first stage and exploded. How did this happen?

According to press accounts, the GSAT-5P rocket developed an error soon after launch and took on too high an angle during launch, causing the vehicle to break up. Back in April, an earlier launch by the state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plunged into the Bay of Benghal, due to engine failure.

The GSAT-5P satellite was supposed to replace the outdated INSAT 2E and ensure a continuity of television and telecom services in India."

http://io9.com/5718666/an-indian-rocket-blows-up-in-mid-air

Saturday, December 25, 2010

ISRO rocket fails during launch



"This is the dramatic moment when India's ambitious space programme suffered one of its biggest setback when an advanced communication satellite exploded within a minute after its launch. A stunned Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) did not give the reason for the blast in the sky but an officer told IANS that there was a fault in the second stage of the launch. 'The rocket's first stage seemed to have performed normally. The problem seems to have cropped up in the second stage as the rocket didn't get sufficient thrust,' he said. But another official insisted that even the first stage was a failure. The multi-million pound 310 kg GSAT-5P satellite, was to serve the needs of the telecommunication sector and the weather department. It was at 4.04 p.m. that ISRO launched the rocket, with the satellite, in clear sky from the Sriharikota space centre, about 80 km from Chennai."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Frog Otolith Experiment - Frogs in space



"The Orbiting Frog Otolith (OFO) was a NASA space program which resulted in the successful launch in 1970 of the Orbiting Frog Otolith spacecraft (OFO-A mission), sending two bullfrogs into orbit for the study of weightlessness. The name, derived through common use, was a functional description of the biological experiment carried by the satellite. Otolith referred to the frog's inner-ear balance mechanism.

The Orbiting Frog Otolith Program was a part of the research program of NASA's Office of Advanced Research and Technology (OART). One of the goals of the OART was to study vestibular organ function in space and on the Earth.

The OFO experiment was designed to allow researchers to collect neurophysiological data on the response of the otolith to prolonged periods of weightlessness. The otolith is a part of the inner ear that is associated with equilibrium control: acceleration with respect to gravity as its primary sensory input.

The Frog Otolith Experiment (FOE) was developed by Dr. Torquato Gualtierotti of the University of Milan, Italy, when he was assigned so the Ames Research Center as a resident Research Associate sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. The experiment was designed to study the adaptability of the otolith to sustained weightlessness, to provide information for manned space flight. Originally planned in 1966 to be included on an early Apollo mission, the experiment was deferred when that mission was canceled. In late 1967 authorization was given to orbit the FOE when a supporting spacecraft could be designed. The project, part of NASA's Human Factor Systems program, was officially designated "OFO" in 1968. After a series of delays, OFO was orbited 9 November 1970.

After the successful OFO-A mission in 1970, interest in the research continued. A project called Vestibular Function Research was initiated in 1975 to fly a vestibular experiment in an Earth-orbiting spacecraft. This flight project was eventually discontinued, but a number of ground studies were conducted. The research has given rise to several very useful offshoots, including the ground-based Vestibular Research Facility located at ARC."

Orbiting Frog Otolith

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rockets of the World by Peter Alway



If you like what you see, consider buying the book.

Titan cryovolcano flyover - Cassini



"This movie is based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft and flies over an area of Saturn's moon Titan known as Sotra Facula. Scientists believe Sotra is the best case for an ice volcano - or cryovolcano - region on Titan. The flyover shows two peaks more than 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) tall and multiple craters as deep as 1,500 meters (5,000 feet). It also shows finger-like flows. All of these are land features that indicate cryovolcanism. The 3-D topography comes from Cassini's radar instrument. Topography has been vertically exaggerated by a factor of 10. The false color in the initial frames show different compositions of surface material, as detected by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer. In this color scheme, dunes tend to look relatively brown-blue. Blue suggests the presence of some exposed ice. Scientists think the bright areas have an organic coating that hides the ice and is different and lighter than the dunes. The finger-like flows appear bright yellowish-white, like the mountain and caldera. The second set of colors shows elevation, with blue being lowest and yellow and white being the highest. Dunes here appear blue because they tend to occupy low areas. The finger-like flows are harder to see in the elevation data, indicating that they are thin, maybe less than about 100 meters (300 feet) thick.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The radar instrument was built by JPL and ASI, working with team members from the U.S. and several European countries. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer was built by JPL, with a major contribution by ASI. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer science team is based at the University of Arizona, Tucson."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Videos by 40390576

Some of the best rocketry and space videos on Youtube must be those hosted by 40390576. Sadly this youtuber does not allow embedding of videos, so here are some of my favorites in link form:

Saturn 1 LOX tank interior view
Saturn 1 LH tank interior view
SA-6 Staging outside view

I came across these videos while looking up some Little Joe footage. I am now reading the Springer Praxis book "Space Rescue."

45 minutes of shuttle engineering footage



"hotographic documentation of a Space Shuttle launch plays a critical role in the engineering analysis and evaluation process that takes place during each and every mission. Motion and Still images enable Shuttle engineers to visually identify off-nominal events and conditions requiring corrective action to ensure mission safety and success. This imagery also provides highly inspirational and educational insight to those outside the NASA family.

This compilation of film and video presents the best of the best ground-based Shuttle motion imagery from STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124 missions. Rendered in the highest definition possible, this production is a tribute to the dozens of men and women of the Shuttle imaging team and the 30yrs of achievement of the Space Shuttle Program.

The video was produced by Matt Melis at the Glenn Research Center."

Tongue of the Ocean from the ISS

Friday, December 10, 2010

Naval rail gun footage



"A theoretical dream for decades, the railgun is unlike any other weapon used in warfare. And it's quite real too, as the U.S. Navy has proven in a record-setting test today in Dahlgren, VA.

Rather than relying on a explosion to fire a projectile, the technology uses an electomagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound. The conductive projectile zips along a set of electrically charged parallel rails and out of the barrel at speeds up to Mach 7.

The result: a weapon that can hit a target 100 miles or more away within minutes.

"It's an over-used term, but it really changes several games," Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr., the chief of Naval Research, told FoxNews.com prior to the test.

For a generation raised on shoot-'em-up video games, the word "railgun" invokes sci-fi images of an impossibly destructive weapon annihilating monsters and aliens. But the railgun is nonetheless very real.
An electromagnetic railgun offers a velocity previously unattainable in a conventional weapon, speeds that are incredibly powerful on their own. In fact, since the projectile doesn't have any explosives itself, it relies upon that kinetic energy to do damage. And at 11 a.m. today, the Navy produced a 33-megajoule firing -- more than three times the previous record set by the Navy in 2008.

"It bursts radially, but it's hard to quantify," said Roger Ellis, electromagnetic railgun program manager with the Office of Naval Research. To convey a sense of just how much damage, Ellis told FoxNews.com that the big guns on the deck of a warship are measured by their muzzle energy in megajoules. A single megajoule is roughly equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph. Multiple that by 33 and you get a picture of what would happen when such a weapon hits a target.

Ellis says the Navy has invested about $211 million in the program since 2005, since the railgun provides many significant advantages over convention weapons. For one thing, a railgun offers 2 to 3 times the velocity of a conventional big gun, so that it can hit its target within 6 minutes. By contrast, a guided cruise missile travels at subsonic speeds, meaning that the intended target could be gone by the time it reaches its destination.

Furthermore, current U.S. Navy guns can only reach targets about 13 miles away. The railgun being tested today could reach an enemy 100 miles away. And with current GPS guidance systems it could do so with pinpoint accuracy. The Navy hopes to eventually extend the range beyond 200 miles.

"We're also eliminating explosives from the ship, which brings significant safety benefits and logistical benefits," Ellis said. In other words, there is less danger of an unintended explosion onboard, particularly should such a vessel come under attack.

Indeed, a railgun could be used to inflict just such harm on another vessel.
Admiral Carr, who calls the railgun a "disruptive technology," said that not only would a railgun-equipped ship have to carry few if any large explosive warheads, but it could use its enemies own warheads against them. He envisions being able to aim a railgun directly at a magazine on an enemy ship and "let his explosives be your explosives."

There's also a cost and logistical benefit associated with railguns. For example, a single Tomahawk cruise missile costs roughly $600,000. A non-explosive guided railgun projectile could cost much less. And a ship could carry many more, reducing the logistical problems of delivering more weapons to a ship in battle. For these reasons, Admiral Carr sees the railgun as even changing the strategic and tactical assumptions of warfare in the future.

The Navy still has a distance to go, however, before the railgun test becomes a working onboard weapon. Technically, Ellis says they've already overcome several hurdles. The guns themselves generate a terrific amount of heat -- enough to melt the rails inside the barrel -- and power -- enough to force the rails apart, destroying the gun and the barrel in the process.

The projectile is no cannon ball, either. At speeds well above the sound barrier, aerodynamics and special materials must be considered so that it isn't destroyed coming out of the barrel or by heat as it travels at such terrific speeds.

Then there's question of electrical requirements. Up until recently, those requirements simply weren't practical. However, the naval researchers believe they can solve that issue using newer Navy ships and capacitors to build up the charge necessary to blast a railgun projectile out at supersonic speeds. Ellis says they hope to be able to shoot 6 to 12 rounds per minute, "but we're not there yet."
So when will the railgun become a working weapon? Both Ellis and Carr expect fully functional railguns on the decks of U.S. Navy ships in the 2025 time frame."

Rail guns should be developed fully, but I would note that we can now accelerate projectiles to similar velocities using sabot discarding shells in large naval guns, particularly with longer barrels. So if range and kinetic energy is required, it would be possible to bridge the time gap with long guns of the type used in HARP. But obviously this would be expensive and difficult.


Here is an older video of test operations:



And please check out this post from a while back discussing the naval plans in further detail:

Naval rail guns.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Falcon 9



"CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A private company launched a spacecraft into orbit Wednesday, 12/08/2010 in a bold demonstration test for NASA that could lead to the first commercial space station supply run next year and eventual astronaut rides.

The Falcon 9 rocket, owned by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., blasted into a clear, chilly morning sky, carrying a capsule named Dragon. The capsule successfully reached its intended 185-mile-high orbit, drawing cheers among employees for the company known as SpaceX.

"It is on its way," said a launch commentator. "Great day here at SpaceX. Looks like we had a great flight."

The next milestone: Dragon's re-entry, three hours later.

It will be the first time a commercial business tries to recover a spacecraft re-entering from orbit. So far, only governments have accomplished this.

SpaceX intends for Dragon to circle the world twice, then parachute into the Pacific Ocean, 500 miles off the Mexican coast. The spacecraft carried thousands of patches for company employees; no official payload was required for this test.

NASA is hiring companies like SpaceX to haul supplies to the International Space Station following next year's shuttle retirement. Taxi trips for astronauts may follow.

The flight had been scheduled for Tuesday, but was delayed to repair cracks in the upper-stage rocket nozzle. Wednesday's countdown was held up briefly by a false reading that triggered an abort.

This was the first flight under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, as well as the first flight of an operational Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX's first flight of a Falcon 9 rocket, in June, carried a capsule mock-up that deliberately burned up on re-entry.

The rocket stands at 158 feet, about the height of the shuttle's external fuel tank.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration issued its first re-entry license to SpaceX, paving the way for Wednesday's flight.

"Getting this far, this fast, has been a remarkable achievement," said NASA's acting director of commercial spaceflight development, Phil McAlister. He stressed that this is a test flight and that spaceflight is "very, very difficult."

"The purpose of the test flight is to learn. So as long as we're learning and we have a clear path for demonstration flight two, we would consider that successful," McAlister told reporters earlier this week

The California-based SpaceX -- created by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk -- intends to begin station deliveries by the end of 2011. He said he could be launching station crews within three years of getting the go-ahead from NASA.

NASA already is relying on Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the space station. It's an expensive arrangement: $26 million per person this year, rising to $51 million next year, and to $56 million in 2013.

Ideally, NASA wants multiple companies to take over the job of cargo and crew transport. The effort has taken on increased significance, McAlister said, since the working lifetime of the space station was extended to at least 2020.

SpaceX currently has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 supply runs. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Virginia has a $1.9 billion contract for eight.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said her company has poured more than $600 million into the test flight effort so far and received $278 million from NASA. She took aim at critics, some of whom don't trust companies to provide the same level of crew safety as NASA.

"I bristle a little bit at the whole concept of 'cutting corners,' " she said this week. "Just because it's faster doesn't mean it's more risky."

NASA has just two shuttle missions remaining, in February and April. The space agency hopes to get funding for a third and final flight next summer, to restock the orbiting lab in case the commercial launch companies fall behind."

Here is a previous launch:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SETI from deep space - Dr. Claudio Maccone

Regular readers will remember a previous post about solar system gravitational telescopes.

Here is a relevant presentation by the author of a book and papers on the topic. Sadly the book, at more than $100, is a bit out of my price level. But the talk is pretty detailed. I will wait for used copies of the book to come online. Eventually, science books seem to wind up being sold on Amazon for next to nothing.