(via Boing Boing)
Cuz that’s how we roll.
NASA crashed a rocket and a satellite into the moon’s surface on Friday morning, a $79 million mission that could determine if there is water on the moon.
NASA televised live images of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, as it crashed into a crater near the moon’s south pole.
NASA officials said it appeared to be a “successful impact,” although they could not immediately spot anticipated plumes of moon dust kicked up by the two crashes.
Minutes before its impact, the satellite guided a rocket into the Cabeus crater in an effort to kick up enough dust to help the LCROSS find whether there is any water in the moon’s soil.
The Centaur upper-stage rocket impacted the moon shortly after 7:30 a.m. ET, and the satellite followed it four minutes later.
WELL, letâ€™s see now … That was a small step for Neil Armstrong, a giant leap for mankind and a real knee in the groin for NASA.
The American space program, the greatest, grandest, most Promethean â€” O.K. if I add â€œgodlikeâ€? â€” quest in the history of the world, died in infancy at 10:56 p.m. New York time on July 20, 1969, the moment the foot of Apollo 11â€™s Commander Armstrong touched the surface of the Moon.
It was no ordinary dead-and-be-done-with-it death. It was full-blown purgatory, purgatory being the holding pen for recently deceased but still restless souls awaiting judgment by a Higher Authority.
Like many another youngster at that time, or maybe retro-youngster in my case, I was fascinated by the astronauts after Apollo 11. I even dared to dream of writing a book about them someday. If anyone had told me in July 1969 that the sound of Neil Armstrongâ€™s small step plus mankindâ€™s big one was the shuffle of pallbearers at graveside, I would have averted my eyes and shaken my head in pity. Poor guyâ€™s bucketâ€™s got a hole in it.
Why, putting a man on the Moon was just the beginning, the prelude, the prologue! The Moon was nothing but a little satellite of Earth. The great adventure was going to be the exploration of the planets … Mars first, then Venus, then Pluto. Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus? NASA would figure out their slots in the schedule in due course. In any case, we Americans wouldnâ€™t stop until we had explored the entire solar system. And after that … the galaxies beyond.
On July 16, 1969 Paul Calle was with the Apollo XI astronauts as they had breakfast and prepared for their historic journey to the Moon. Calle was the only artist to document the activities of Astronauts, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins as they Suited Up for the Apollo XI Mission. His on-the-spot pen and ink sketches stand as an artistic impression of the final hours on Earth of three men as they journeyed into Space destined to make history for all mankind.
The moon has only been accessible for decades, rather than hundreds of years. However, in the short time available to humanity it is estimated that we have left over one hundred and seventy thousand kilos of debris on the surface of our once pristine satellite. Here are some of the more notable pieces of trash on the moon.
Saturn, like the Earth, is tilted with respect to its orbit around the Sun. Our tilt is about 24 degrees, and Saturnâ€™s is about 27. This means that twice every Saturn year (which are roughly 30 Earth years in length) we see Saturnâ€™s rings edge-on. They can get so thin they practically disappear! That happens in September of this year, and as you can see from the image above image, our viewing angle of the rings is currently very shallow.
The icy particles in the rings orbits over Saturnâ€™s equator, just as the moons do. That means that if weâ€™re seeing the rings nearly edge-on, the orbits of the moons are that way as well. This makes transits â€” moons moving across the face of the planet â€” more common. So on February 24 of this year, Hubble was able to snap a spectacular series of images of four of Saturnâ€™s moons projected on Saturnâ€™s visage. You can see how the moons moved in the image below, showing the time-sequence Hubble took of the event.
I’m pretty surprised that this is only the first time this has happened.
In an unprecedented space collision, a commercial Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite ran into each other Tuesday above northern Siberia, creating a cloud of wreckage, officials said today.
The international space station does not appear to be threatened by the debris, they said, but it’s not yet clear whether it poses a risk to any other military or civilian satellites.
“They collided at an altitude of 790 kilometers (491 miles) over northern Siberia Tuesday about noon Washington time,” said Nicholas Johnson, NASA’s chief scientist for orbital debris at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The U.S. space surveillance network detected a large number of debris from both objects.”
(via Danger Room)
Sen. Barack Obama condemned the current administration’s handling of NASA and called on Congress to take action before next Friday to protect the United States’ access to the International Space Station.
At issue is a waiver for a section of the Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Agreement that bans payments to Russia for Soyuz spacecraft to transport U.S. astronauts to the ISS after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010.
The current waiver is set to expire at the end of 2011. If Congress doesn’t renew the waiver before Friday, there would be a gap in Soyuz availability before Orion, the Shuttle’s replacement, is ready in 2015. Chris Shank, a key aide to NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, recently told the Orlando Sentinel that “if we do not get the exemption on this, we are going to have to abandon the station, and that if we do this it will hurt the U.S. space program not the Russians.â€
In Obama’s letter, sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Monday, he also urges Congress to fund one additional, already authorized, Shuttle flight and to demand NASA take no further actions that would preclude extending the Shuttle program beyond 2010. The alternative is to leave the $100-billion facility to the other countries involved and miss out on the benefits, he wrote.
From The Big Picture:
When NASA’s last scheduled Space Shuttle mission lands in June of 2010, the United States will not have the capability to get astronauts into space again until the scheduled launch of the new Orion spacecraft in 2015. Over those five years, the U.S. manned space program will be relying heavily on Russia and its Baikonur Cosmodrome facility in Kazakhstan. Baikonur is an entire Kazakh city, rented and administered by Russia. The Cosmodrome was founded in 1955, making it one of the oldest space launch facilites still in operation. Here are collected some photographs of manned and unmanned launches from Baikonur over the past several years.