NASA Television will provide live launch coverage of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft on Sunday, Oct. 30, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5 a.m. CDT, with launch scheduled for 5:11 a.m. (4:11 p.m. Baikonur local time).
The International Space Station (ISS) Progress 45 spacecraft will deliver almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the space station three days later.
This will be the first launch of a Progress vehicle and its Soyuz booster since the ISS Progress 44 vehicle was lost on Aug. 24 due to a third stage engine failure.
Comet Elenin is no more.
Latest indications are this relatively small comet has broken into even smaller, even less significant, chunks of dust and ice. This trail of piffling particles will remain on the same path as the original comet, completing its unexceptional swing through the inner solar system this fall.
“Elenin did as new comets passing close by the sun do about two percent of the time: It broke apart,” said Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Elenin’s remnants will also act as other broken-up comets act. They will trail along in a debris cloud that will follow a well-understood path out of the inner solar system. After that, we won’t see the scraps of comet Elenin around these parts for almost 12 millennia.”
Twelve millennia may be a long time to Earthlings, but for those frozen inhabitants of the outer solar system who make this commute, a dozen millennia give or take is a walk in the celestial park. Comet Elenin came as close as 45 million miles (72 million kilometers) to the sun, but it arrived from the outer solar system’s Oort Cloud, which is so far away its outer edge is about a third of the way to the nearest star other than our sun.
For those broken up over the breakup of what was formerly about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) of uninspiring dust and ice, remember what Yeomans said about comets coming close to the sun – they fall apart about two percent of the time.
On October 25, 2006 a Delta II rocket launched from Cape Canaveral carrying two nearly identical spacecraft. Each satellite was one half of a mission entitled Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) and they were destined to do something never done before – see the entire sun simultaneously.
The sun rotates, of course, so there’s no part of the sun we haven’t at some point observed from our vantage point on Earth. But watching this massive, highly active star from only a single line of sight has its limitations. For one, we never know what’s about to come over the horizon: a clear, relatively quiet surface or a cluster of active areas ready to send billions of tons of energy and radiation toward Earth? It’s also not easy to gauge the speed, size, or other characteristics of incoming solar activity when only viewing it head on.
“Over the last five years, each STEREO spacecraft has moved to a position in its orbit where it can capture side-view images of anything the sun sends our way, ” says Joe Gurman, STEREO’s project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “That’s helped us come up with many new answers to old questions about solar activity.”
NASA’s industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities that will ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station, reducing the amount of time America has to depend on Russia for launch services. NASA has outlined an ambitious program moving forward that relies on U.S. private industry to assume transportation of cargo and crew to the International Space Station, while the agency focuses on deep space exploration.
NASA has posted the third status report on its Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) program to the agency’s Commercial Space Transportation website. The report highlights the progress and accomplishments for the agency’s commercial spaceflight development efforts. The bi-monthly report is targeted toward non-technical stakeholders and the American public, to keep them informed of NASA’s achievements in regaining human spaceflight leadership through American-made access to space.
Interested in the latest discoveries of NASA’s Swift satellite? The Swift team has released a free iPhone application that gives you the details of all the latest gamma-ray-burst discoveries that the Swift observatory is making throughout the universe. The app also allows users to track, in real time, the location of Swift as it orbits the Earth, to see where Swift is pointed right now, and to view an informative gallery of beautiful images obtained by the Swift satellite.
“We developed the iPhone app to be fun and informative, but also to be useful for both amateur and professional astronomers,” said Jamie Kennea, science operations team leader for NASA’s Swift Mission and a researcher at Penn State University. Kennea and Patrizia Caraveo, the director of the Italian Institute of Space Astrophysics in Milano, conceived of this project and presented it in a talk during the “Time Domain Astrophysics” conference at Clemson University on Monday, 24 October 2011.
NASA will host a three-day Human Space Exploration Community Workshop in San Diego starting on Monday, Nov. 14. The agency will introduce the International Space Exploration Coordination Group’s Global Exploration Roadmap during the event.
The workshop will frame the Global Exploration Roadmap, with overviews of NASA’s plans for human spaceflight, including exploration missions to an asteroid and Mars. The goal is to review the work done developing international exploration scenarios while seeking community input on the long-term scenarios represented in the roadmap.
NASA is seeking industry and academia feedback to shape strategy, assist with investment priorities and refine international exploration scenarios for human exploration and operations through the 2020’s. The agency has outlined an ambitious program moving forward that relies on private industry to assume transportation of cargo and crew to the International Space Station, while NASA focuses on deep space exploration.