Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Planet Named Pluto

"NASA nearing Pluto, and the end of an era of exploration" by Dennis Overbye New York Times   July 07, 2015

NEW YORK — After a journey of 9½ years and 3 billion miles, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is expected next week to sweep past Pluto, once the outermost planet and the last of the known worlds in the Earth’s solar system to be explored.

New Horizons is on track again after hitting a ‘‘speed bump’’ over the weekend that temporarily halted data collection. A computer overload prompted the spacecraft to partly shut down on Saturday, days before the close fly-by of Pluto. Flight controllers managed to regain contact with the spacecraft in just over an hour and correct the problem.

About 2½ days of science observations were lost. That represents about 30 observations out of 500 planned over the next week. New Horizons is due to pass closest to Pluto on July 14.

After Pluto, New Horizons will attempt to pass one or more of the cosmic icebergs of the Kuiper belt, where leftovers from the dawn of the solar system have been preserved in a deep freeze extending 5 billion miles from the sun.

If all goes well, spacecraft such as Dawn, now orbiting the asteroid Ceres, and the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will keep picking away at the supporting cast of solar system characters.

But the inventory of major planets in the solar system is about to be completed.

The first reconnaissance of the solar system has yielded mysteries that will take more than a lifetime to resolve, especially given the slow pace of NASA’s explorations and the increasingly long time it takes to get a space mission approved.

NASA now has plans to send a spacecraft to Jupiter’s moon Europa, which has a salty ocean underneath its ice, and seeks to fly a probe through the geysers spurting from the Saturnian moon Enceladus someday to sniff for organic materials.

Another idea is to send a robotic boat to float around on the methane seas and lakes of Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon.


Related: Fly Me to the Moon 

Some people get mad if you think we are being taken for a ride on space.


"SpaceX stands ready to launch a much-needed load of supplies to the International Space Station this weekend on the heels of a failed supply run by Russia. Besides food and experiments, the Dragon cargo ship ordered up by NASA holds a new docking port, or parking place, for future commercial crew capsules."

It never made it:

"Cargo rocket bound for space station explodes; Failed launch is third loss in past eight months" by Kenneth Chang New York Times  June 29, 2015

NEW YORK — An unmanned cargo ship destined for the International Space Station disintegrated minutes after launching from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Sunday morning, NASA said, raising questions about how the agency and its partners will continue keeping the station supplied.

Yeah, I believe the planets are out there (telescopes, I've looked through them), but I don't know the alleged probes have reached them. Can't even get up to the space station.

It was third loss of a cargo ship headed to the space station in the past eight months.

Whose producing crap?

However, NASA officials said they had prepared for such a mishap and do not anticipate any major disruptions to the operations of the space station.

Is the entire US government in denial, lying, or pathologically delusional?

The countdown had proceeded without a hitch or worries about weather, and the 208-foot-tall rocket lifted off at 10:21 a.m. Eastern time. But 2 minutes and 19 seconds later, just as George Diller, the commentator of NASA’s television transmission, said, “Data coming back shows vehicle on course, on track,” a cloud of white smoke emerged from the rocket’s midsection, and then a rain of pieces started falling toward the Atlantic Ocean 20 miles below.

February 2003, prophecy fulfilled.

“We appear to have had a launch vehicle failure,” Diller said.

Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, reported on Twitter, at an afternoon news conference, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, confirmed.

Gwynne Shotwell of the space program?


This episode follows the failures of two other cargo rockets. In October, an Antares rocket, built by Orbital ATK, exploded on the launching pad in Virginia. In April, a Russian Progress rocket spun out of control, unable to reach the space station.

SeeRussia’s spinning cargo capsule for space station total loss

“There’s really no commonality across these three events other than the fact that it’s space, and it’s difficult to go fly,” said William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations. “We’re essentially operating systems at the edge of their ability to perform and operate.”


For the three astronauts on the space station — Scott J. Kelly of NASA and two Russians, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko — the failure does not put them in any immediate danger.

Space station managers try to keep six months of supplies on the space station to weather setbacks. Even after the three mishaps, the station still has four months’ supply of food and water, enough to last until late October even if no other cargo arrives.

“Overall, we’re in very good shape on orbit,” said Michael T. Suffredini, NASA’s space station manager.

Russian engineers believe they have solved the Progress problem, and the next launching is scheduled for Friday. “They’ve essentially replaced the third stage of the rocket with an older configuration that has flown with Progress before,” Gerstenmaier said.

The launching of three astronauts on July 23, to bring the station crew back up to six, also is not expected to be delayed. Gerstenmaier said a full crew was needed to avoid interrupting research on the station.

“There’s not enough crew members on orbit with enough hours in the day to actually do the research we’ve got there,” he said. “We’re in space to do something, and that’s to do research.”

Orbital is aiming to resume its cargo missions near the end of this year, although Gerstenmaier said that could be moved forward as early as October. A Japanese cargo spaceship is scheduled for August.


RelatedUS, Russian ready for year in space

"Andrew Feinberg has known he'd be part of the twin study for about a year. But in some ways, he's been waiting his whole life for it. As a young child, the Johns Hopkins Medical School researcher watched NASA's first manned space missions take off on television. Now his lab is participating in an unprecedented experiment on epigenetics, or the way our DNA expresses itself in different environments." 

If they can't get a ship up there....

Russian science is amazing. So why hasn’t it taken over the world?

Who says it hasn't?

"An unmanned Russian cargo ship has docked successfully at the International Space Station, where it was anxiously awaited by the US-Russian crew after the successive failures of two previous supply missions. NASA said the station is well-stocked, with enough supplies for the crew to last at least until October. However, successful operation of the Russian spacecraft is considered vital for the future of the station program, which has exclusively relied on Russian craft for ferrying crews after the grounding of the US shuttle fleet."

Also seeThree space station astronauts safely return to Earth

Guess who brought them back?

NDU: Elon Musk: “No clear theory” for reason behind SpaceX rocket explosion


I thought it might be a good idea to link further garbage from the Globe. 

In an ideal world, I would love to be immersed in this stuff; unfortunately, we have loads of problems here on Planet Earth that are making life miserable for all save the $cum at the top.

Hope that is not too rude for you (pfft. Political correctness run f***ing amok!)

Also see:

NASA spacecraft to reveal the icy glory of Pluto
MIT professor hopes Pluto flyby proves picture perfect
After 9 1/2-year mission, NASA gets close-up of Pluto
Images of Pluto stun scientists

Astronauts retreat from space junk

It's Gravity.