Sunday, July 31, 2011

Phobos Grunt close to launch!?

As you may remember from a previous post, this is not only a highly ambitious attempt at a sample return from Phobos, but also one of my favorite projects. There have been delays, however, and reasons to worry about the ability of Russia to make this mission happen. For example, their Mars record has been pretty poor. And this is among the most complex missions ever attempted by any nation, terminating in a very small capsule being recovered on Earth. The landing on Phobos will be a great first, and probably the greatest single achievement of the mission. Returning a regolith sample would be icing on the cake.

All images and information from the Planetary Society blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

When will we see another big American rocket?

"ATK engineers take a look at the company's final booster motor for the space shuttle program in Box Elder County, Utah. For more than 30 years, NASA's space shuttle program has been a cornerstone of Utah's economy. That era ended with Atlantis, which ends the shuttle program. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that it stops the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars that came to Utah from NASA for tests and construction of the solid-fuel rocket booster motors that launch the spacecraft into orbit. Gone, too, are thousands of jobs from Alliant Tech Systems, known as ATK, and other northern Utah companies that supported the industry. (Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune/AP)"

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ukraine Coal Mine Explosion Leaves 17 Dead

"Officials say methane gas is to blame for an early-morning coal mine explosion that killed 17 people in the Ukraine on Friday.

The incident occurred at around 2 a.m. local time, when over 250 people were working the night shift about 3,000 feet underground. Nine people are still missing.

The Ukrainian coal mining industry, which employs about 600,000 people, is notorious for poor maintenance and lack of sufficient safety regulations to protect workers. In 2007, a deadly blast at another nearby mine killed over 100 people. The NY Times reports that Ukraine’s mine elevators are made of wooden planks and that the ropes that haul miners down the shafts are often tattered.

The recent incident occurred close on the heels of a transportation elevator collapse last week, which killed two workers and injured eight others. According to the New York Times, Mykhailo Volynets, the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners, has said 70 percent of the equipment in Ukrainian mines is outdated and needs to be replaced."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) replaced with brown dwarf

"What if we replace comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) by brown dwarf with mass about 0.05 of Solar mass? This video demonstrate time interval from 2000 to 2020 years. As you can see, dramatic changes in the orbit of Saturn would have started 3 years ago. But at this time all planets are on it's nominal orbits. I think myth about "brown dwarf instead comet Elenin" is debunked."

Lots of low ratings for this video, I bet because it seems boring. But anyone who has done orbital simulations or orrery work knows how shocking these changes are. If this were to occur here, it would be an utter disaster, but also pretty damn cool. Almost worth it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hubble finds 4th moon around Pluto! (P4)

"Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite – temporarily designated P4 -- was uncovered in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the dwarf planet.

The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is 648 miles (1,043 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km).

"I find it remarkable that Hubble's cameras enabled us to see such a tiny object so clearly from a distance of more than 3 billion miles (5 billion km)," said Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who led this observing program with Hubble.

The finding is a result of ongoing work to support NASA's New Horizons mission, scheduled to fly through the Pluto system in 2015. The mission is designed to provide new insights about worlds at the edge of our solar system. Hubble's mapping of Pluto's surface and discovery of its satellites have been invaluable to planning for New Horizons' close encounter."


This is great news no matter how you slice it. But this is also a good time to remember that the next Hubble, the JWST, will probably be cancelled. That is, after more than half of the construction has already been done. Who knows how many objects (including planets around other stars) this telescope could have imaged?

Let's just stick our heads in the sand and wait for the asteroid

With republicans and tea baggers refusing to increase taxes, even if it only means asking that corporations pay more than a net zero tax rate, get ready for exceptionally deep cuts in social spending on silly things like science. Most silly of all these is NASA, which studies the Universe. It turns out, the Universe is almost totally empty space. BORING.

The public thinks that NASA is too expensive, at 20% of the federal budget. It turns out, NASA gets about .6%

Public perception of NASA spending.

Food under the microscope

Monday, July 18, 2011

Astronomy from the Edge of Space

"A team of rocket scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Space Astronomy Laboratory talk about innovative developments such as the Star Tracker 5000, which offers important applications for the national space program. The device accurately orients spacecraft by tracking star fields with a high level of precision. The researchers also explain how they gather information with an ultraviolet telescope launched by rocket, providing insight into the levels of invisible light in the universe."

Sounding rocketry supports astronomy. Yet again, if you have a problem, the solution is likely to be rocketry related.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Throwing metal things into an MRI

Not sure the story here, but they had an MRI hooked up to truss system and ratchet winch. Also note the amount of force on some of these objects... towards the end a metal chair wound up pulling at 2,000 lbs!

Friday, July 15, 2011

How is hpr wadding (aka dog barf) made?

"Commonly used by model and high power rocket fliers to protect the recovery system from the ejection charge. It's biodegradable and fire resistant. Most other recovery protecting materials are a litter problem."

Hot reporter a bit too close to rocket launch

"Canadian billionaire and circus entrepreneur Guy Laliberte has blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome with the 21st mission to the International Space Station.
RT's Gayane Chichakyan was there for the lift-off."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Parallel Staged - D-12-7 and 2x C6-0s

"PCR rocket, parallel staged. D12-7, 2 C6-0s, boostervision camera. Ground video, onboard video, onboard at 25% speed."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hubble is an incredible telescope

Four images of Neptune taken a few hours apart by the Hubble Space Telescope on June 25-26, 2011. Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

University of Brasilia's team is now in the N-prize

Here are some of the projects from this "hybrid team."


"The LILE Program is the first project of Hybid Team and the aim was the launch of two small sounding rockets ,began in 2005 , LILE 1 and LILE 2 the first hybrid rockets ever launched in Brazil."



"The year is 2005 and The Santos Dumont sounding rocket program begins, a program to develop large aluminum hybrid rockets capable of reaching altitudes as high as 8 km an possessing computer controlled telemetry and parachute recovery systems. The program was divided in to two stages the development of the SD-1 and the SD-2, the first one being a 500N rocket and the second one a 1500N rocket."

SD Project


"Parallel to the Santos Dumont rocket program a advanced test benches program was developed, this program was aimed in developing versatility rocket test benches capable of generating good experimental material for propulsion studies."

Modular Bench


We look forward to great things from this team!


Radiation exposure spectrum chart

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Need to Help Save the James Webb Space Telescope

"JWST was supposed to be finished by June 2014 and to cost about $5.1 billion. An independent review panel, however, last fall determined it would likely cost $6.5 billion and not be finished until September 2015. This is of course not a good thing, but it’s nothing new. In fact, there was a NASA project that was supposed to launch in 1983, but didn’t make it into space until 1990, and by the time it launched it had cost triple its original budget — about $11 billion in 2011 dollars. In the 21 years since its launch it has cost many billions more in servicing missions."

Save the JWST

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ejection seat tests

25% chance of career ending injury? 5% chance of death? These are very violent events.