Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: 2013

December 13, 2013

The Orion spacecraft cross the country for testing before its mission in September 2014

Credit: +NASA 

The spacecraft Orion is moving from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA to the Naval Base San Diego in California. There, the some test will be performed to simulate the recovery of the capsule during its first mission. its mission, called Exploration Flight Test – 1 (EFT-1), is scheduled for September 2014.

December 12, 2013

ISS without half of its vital cooling system

Dear followers,

yesterday, on Wednesday December 11th, the International Space Station lost half of its vital cooling system, due to a partial power down of some systems.
The safety of the members crew is under control, "at no time was the crew or the station itself in any danger" announced officially +NASA . All the astronauts slept on the orbiting laboratory as scheduled.

Credits: NASA

The trouble on the international space station occurred when one of two pumps used to circulate ammonia coolant outside of the space station shut itself down after the detection of unexpected low temperatures. The shutdown cut off half of the ability of the space system to regulate temperatures for both its internal and external systems. 
The engineer on the ground are working hard to troubleshoot the issue. If the showdown of the cooling system is due to a hardware problem, it may require that astronauts go outside ISS to replace or fix the pump module with a spare unit.

More news soon, so stay tuned.

December 10, 2013

NASA discovers an ancient lake on Mars

Dear followers,

after many months on Mars, the Curiosity rover reveals its major discovery which could change the space field research. Actually, the space rover has revealed the evidence of an ancient lake with water that could plausibly be described as drinkable. This validates the first analyses performed and published few months ago: the first scoop of soil analysed by the analytic suite in the belly of martian rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight.

Credits: +NASA 

This discovery might emphasize the probability of an ancient life on the red planet; “If we put microbes from Earth and put them in this lake on Mars, would they survive? Would they survive and thrive? And the answer is yes,” said John Grotzinger, a Caltech planetary geologist who is the chief scientist of the Curiosity rover mission. 
As described in the science paper, "A Habitable Fluvio-Lacustrine Environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars", the aqueous environment found on the red planet was characterized by neutral pH, low salinity, and variable redox states of both iron and sulfur species. C, H, O, S, N, and P were measured directly as key biogenic elements, and by inference P is assumed to have been available. These results highlight the biological viability of fluvial-lacustrine environments in the post-Noachian history of Mars.

We should have more details in the next days and months, so stay tuned

December 9, 2013

The Chinese spacecraft is in Lunar orbit

Dear followers,

few days ago, China sent its third spacecraft for a Lunar mission with the support of the European Space Agency for the communication with the spacecraft. 
Last Friday, so, less than five days after leaving Earth, the China's Chang'e 3 spacecraft reached lunar orbit to prepare for an historic landing on the Moon. The landing should take place in the moon's Bay of Rainbows, a dark lava plain on the upper-left quadrant of the moon's near side, around December 14th 2013.

Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

The spacecraft is now flying in orbit 100 km above the Moon. This week it plans to move down and lost its altitude. The spacecraft, Chang'e 3, will use its main engine to make a soft landing in the Moon ground. In order to guide its landing, the spacecraft will use some terrain recognition sensors. Around 1 meter above the moon, the lander will autonomously cut off its engine and drop to the lunar surface.

Stay tuned for the live landing in the next days.

December 6, 2013

Amazing successful liftoff Atlas5 rocket with NROL-39 And 12 CubeSats

Credits: Matthew travis

You could find below the badge of the Atlas5 with NROL-39 mission

ESA collaborates with China for its mission to the Moon

Dear followers,

as you know, few days ago, the China National Space Administration sent its first rover, called Yutu, to the Moon. For this mission, China is helped by the +European Space Agency, ESA . Actually, after the liftoff of the China’s Chang’e 3 spacecraft, the ESA's network of tracking stations is providing a crucial support during all the Lunar cruise of the spacecraft. This mission is the third Chinese mission to the moon after the Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter flights, launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

Credit: CCTV

After its liftoff from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the country's Sichuan province, the ESA’s station in Kourou, French Guiana, started receiving signals from the spacecraft and uploading commands on behalf of the Chinese control center. This tracking is operated during the voyage to the Earth's moon. Next, during the descent and after the landing some other ESA's space stations will follow the rover Yutu mission.

Credits: ESA

The landing of Yutu is planned to be in the Sea of Rainbows on December 14th 2013. This landing will be the first since Russia’s Luna-24 in 1976. This mission is the second step of the China's lunar exploration program. That program consists of three major steps: Orbit, land and finally return some Moon rock samples to Earth by 2020.

 Credits: China National Space Administration

Stay tunes for the next news during the phases of descend and landing on December 14th.

December 5, 2013

Curiosity Mars rover is back after a power glitch

Dear followers,

The NASA's space rover Curiosity which explores the Mars's land for 16 months has stopped the whole of the science operations and driving during six days. Actually, an electrical power system glitch had induced a system dysfunction on the space rover. Fortunately, the problem has now been resolved.
This dysfunction is the second trouble observed on the martian rover after an other one which has been observed and which has been assigned to radiation effects. For the moment the cause of this dysfunction has still not been found but the +NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers are working on it. “We made a list of potential causes, and then determined which we could cross off the list, one by one,” said rover electrical engineer Rob Zimmerman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California.

Credits: +NASA 

For the moment, Curiosity has already accomplished its primary science goal of discovering a habitable zone at her landing site. This kind of dysfunction could be critical for the Curiosity mission, but the martian rover is safe now.
In the next months, the Curiosity rover will be join by the Maven spacecraft sent by NASA two weeks ago.
Stay tuned for the next news about the red planet discoveries.

Source: NASA

December 3, 2013

A 'second light' mission for the Kepler space telescope

Dear followers,

Few months ago, in May, the research working on the search of exo-planets received a very bad news from the US space telescope Kepler.  Actually, the +Kepler Space Telescope  was down due to a malfunction of a mechanism which allows the telescope to focus on a given point in the sky towards.

However, now, Engineers from the Kepler mission and Ball Aerospace have developed a way of keeping the stability of the spacecraft. The solution is based on the pressure provide by the Sun on the surface of spacecraft. 
based on this solution the second life of Kepler will be start. The US space telescope which has increased the discovery of new planets since 2009 is the first telescope dedicated to the search for planets sisters of the Earth in other solar systems in our galaxy, the Milky Way. So far it has detected 2,740 potential exo-planets which 122 were confirmed to the day using telescopes and other equipment.

Credit: wikipedia

In last April, astronauts had announced the discovery by Kepler, two exoplanets with the greatest similarity to Earth ever recorded and where water could remain liquid and potentially allow life to exist.

November 29, 2013

The ISON comet was not fully destroyed by the Sun

Dear followers,

last night the ISON comet followed during last weeks, passed really close to the Sun and was mainly destroyed. Actually, the SOHO images (from 00:18 UTC on Novemer 29th), presented at the end of the video below, sure looks like something survived after its passage close to the SUN.

Credit: +NASA Goddard 

The remain of the comet continue its trajectory has predicted and modeled in 3D. We should have more details in the next hours, so stay tune.

November 27, 2013

ION comet trajectory modeled in 3D


ISON comet caught by SOHO satellite during a solar flare

Credit image : +NASA / SOHO

The ISON comet is on the right side of the picture

November 25, 2013

The dream of Dennis Tito: send its own Mars mission before the end of 2017

Dear followers,

in 2013, the red planet, Mars, was the focus of many news : The rover Curiosity, discovery of water in the ground of Mars the launch of the Maven mission ... But today, the martian dream of the billionaire Dennis Tito is pop-up on the news. 
He has revealed his scheme for send two astronauts (a man and a woman) to the red planet before the end of 2017 or in January 2018. His wishes to send some humans is due to the "rare alignments" of planets which should be exploited as the context of the project which requite a minimal rocket fuel. The mission, called "Inspiration Mars" would be a 501-day US mission to the planet but without landing on its surface.  

Two separate trips would be necessary for the Mars Mission. First, the billionaire proposes that the first launch would involve a NASA rocket delivering the vehicle into orbit that would actually go onto Mars. Next, a second space launch would carry the two astronauts which would later be united with the spacecraft, preliminary orbited.

For this mission, the Tito's organization would prefer use the Orbital Sciences Corporation's new Cygnus capsule which finished its first mission to the international space station in October. In an other hand, they decided to reject the NASA's new Orion capsule which seems propose the mission requirements.

We will propose you more details soon about this amazing project, so stay tune.

November 20, 2013

ISON Comet taken from Buenos Aires Argentina

Credits image: +Ariel Kachuka 

NASA Minotaur liftoff viewed by a Tarheel

As many of you know, there was a launch from NASA Wallops on the US East Coast and for many it was an unexpected chance to see a rocket go into orbit even if we were several hundred miles away.
I was following the countdown on +Ustream and went outside my home about 5 minutes before launch. As Ustream showed the final seconds I and a neighbour oriented ourselves and saw a bright red dot ascend into the perfectly clear fall sky very quickly. By the time the live feed said "LIFTOFF" she was already well up in the sky and almost out of visual range.

Credits image: +NASA / Brea Reeves

It was over in a matter of just a few seconds and had you not known where or when to look you would have missed the entire event. As it was, the launch has kept me smiling even until now. Although not as thrilling as when myself and 3.5 million others participated in Curiosity's landing on Mars, this was a true geek-out moment.
The Minotaur rocket was carrying a hush-hush, what are you looking at, USAF satellite but launch had been delayed by a faulty communications station in my home state of North Carolina and one errant sailboat captain who had wandered into the safety zone.

Article is written by Anthony Scott

November 18, 2013

Video of the successful liftoff Atlas 5 carrying MAVEN probe

Dear follower,

This morning, we see that the space rocket Atlas5 was ready on the pad since Saturday November 16th. This afternoon (morning is US), NASA sent with success its last space probe called MAVEN which be sent to Mars. The space probe will analyze and investigate the atmosphere of the red planet. Its travel to Mars will take around 10 months.

Enjoy this great liftoff

Credit: +NASA 

November 17, 2013

Maven ready to take-off tomorrow to Mars

Dear followers, 

after the success of Curisoty and its more than 1 year of work on the red planet, +NASA will launch in the following hours a new spacecraft to Mars called MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN). The space probe is ready to be carried by the rocket Atlas 5 which is on the launch pad since Saturday 16th. The new spacecraft arrived on August 3rd at the NASA agency at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. MAVEN was flown to Florida for launch processing from Buckley Air Force base near the +Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton, Colorado, where the spacecraft was built.

The travel of the spacecraft should be around 10 month. This mission will be the first one dedicated to studying Mars' upper atmosphere and the scientists of NASA and +NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory hope to find traces of the ancient environment of the red planet.

We will share more details of the space launch tomorrow, so stay tune 

Credits: +NASA  / Bill Ingalls

November 14, 2013

Mars panorama taken by Curiosity rover day 437 on the red planet

Update: Panorama was taken few day before Curiosity experienced an unexpected software reboot. This computer reset occurred about four-and-half hours after new flight software had been temporarily loaded into the rover's memory.
The images for panorama obtained by the rover's 34-millimeter Mast Camera. The mosaic, which stretches about 30,000 pixels width, includes 101 images taken on Sol 437 

Source: +NASA 

November 13, 2013

Successful landing of Soyuz with the expedition 37 crew

Dear followers,

Last week, the Soyuz took-off with success from Baikonur, Kazakhstan with three astronauts and the Olympic torch. This Monday, November 11th, the Soyuz spacecraft has performed its reentry in the atmosphere and it landed in Kazakhstand. The Russian spacecraft brought the member of the expedition 37 crew members, the Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, the European astronaut +Luca Parmitano and the American astronaut Karen Nyberg.

Credits: +SpacevidsTv1

November 7, 2013

Successful take-off of Soyuz from Baikonur [with video]

Dear followers,

yesterday, the Soyuz was ready on the pad for its launch. This morning the Russian spacecraft took-off with success from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Credits: REUTERS / Shamil Zhumatov

Actually, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos successfully launched the Soyuz spacecraft TMA-11M bound for the International Space Station. The crew comprises the Japanese Koichi Wakata, the American +Rick Mastracchio and the Russian Mikhail Tyurin. The trio are carrying a replica of the Olympic torch for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games that are set to take place in Sotchi, Russia.
"It's just an outstanding day and a spectacular launch" said William Gerstenmaier, the NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operation.

Enjoy, the video of the take-off (with French commentary) : the launch starts at 14:30 in the video

November 5, 2013

Successful launch of the Indian spacecraft to Mars

Dear followers,

after the mission sent by +European Space Agency, ESA, Mars Express, and after the mission sent by +NASA, curiosity, and the missions Mars2 and Mars3 sent by Russia, India is the fourth country to send a mission to the red planet. The India's Mars Orbiter Mission, the Mangalyaan probe is a spacecraft powered by solar arrays and packed with five instruments to study the surface and atmosphere of Mars. The 1350 kg of the spacecraft has been launched with success from a pad at the agency's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota this morning.

Credits: +TIME 

Those instruments include a color camera for photographic imaging, a spectrometer for surface composition and mineralogy analysis and a methane sensor.

We will provide you more details in the next hours, stay tune.

October 29, 2013

Amateur photograph of Earth's moon October 22nd 2013

Credits: +Kevin Franklin 

Details of the photograph: Waning gibbous phase 22nd October 2013, around 1240 UTC. 18.1 days old, 87.2% illuminated.
Mosaic of 5 .ser video files at 7fps in full resolution in Firecaptue with QHY 5L-II mono CCD.

October 23, 2013

Bright meteor over New Mexico on Saturday October 19th 2013

GOCE satellite will crash on Earth due its lack of fuel

Dear followers,

on October 18th, +European Space Agency, ESA reported a fuel trouble in the GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite. Actually, the pressure in the fuel system of the ion engine had dropped below 2.5 bar, which is the nominal operating pressure required to fire the engine. Last Monday, the end of mission was formally declared when the ion drive stopped working during at 03:16 UTC. The European satellite will reenter in our atmosphere and will be partially destructed before to crash on Earth.

The GOCE satellite, has been developed by an industrial consortium of 45 companies distributed over 13 European countries. One of the missions was focused on the mapping of Earth’s gravity field in unprecedented detail. In order to achieve its very challenging mission objectives, this 5 meters long satellite was orbiting at a very low altitude of just 260 km because the gravitational variations are stronger closer to Earth. GOCE satellite was launched on March 17th 2009 on a modified Russian intercontinental ballistic missile that had been decommissioned as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. 
The danger for the population due to the crack of the satellite is very low. Actually the risk to be hit by a debris of a spacecraft is 65 000 times lower than the risk to be struck by lightning.

Sources: ESA

October 21, 2013

Curiosity confirms the Martian origin of some meteors on Earth

Dear followers,

After the discovery of of water on Mars, few weeks ago, the Curiosity rover is still performing this work. Actually, while the NASA was out due to the shutdown during 2 weekend, the +NASA 's rover analysed the Martian atmosphere. These analyses confirm that some meteorites that have dropped to Earth really are from the Red Planet.
A key new measurement of the inert gas argon in Mars' atmosphere by the laboratory on-board the rover, provides the most definitive proof yet of the origin of Mars meteorites while at the same time giving a way to rule out Martian origin of other meteorites.

The Curiosity measurements do not directly measure the current rate of atmospheric escape, but NASA's next mission to Mars, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), is designed to do so. This mission is being prepared at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a launch around November 18th 2013.

Sources: NASA

October 18, 2013

A piece of the meteor fallen in Russia in February 2013

Dear followers,

few months ago (February 2013), a large meteor fell in Russia induced an amazing fireball in the sky. Yesterday, the Russian authorities find a piece for this meteor in a lake. Actually, the meteor had created a 6-meter-wide hole in this frozen lake.

Source: AFP

October 16, 2013

International Space Station 15/10/2013 from Worcestershire, UK

Credit: +Sarah Fisher 

ATV4 report mission for week 42

Dear followers,

on June 15th, the ATV Albert Einstein has arrived at the International Space Station, making a successful rendezvous and docking. After 4 months docked to the international space station, the last steps of the ATV-4 are planned before to undock (October 28th) and reentry (November 2nd) :
  • 17 October: Cargo transfer
  • 17 October: ATV Proximity Communications Equipment (PCE) installation on board ISS
  • 18 October: Cargo transfer
  • 19 October: PCE test between ISS and ESA ground stations

Sources: +European Space Agency, ESA 

October 15, 2013

Fireball from a meteor over Maryland and New Jersey, USA

Dear followers,

today, the +American Meteor Society indicates that they received 63 reports of a fireball over the state of Maryland and New Jersey during the night on October 14th 2013 around 8:25 pm

A preliminary trajectory plot shows the meteor entered over New Jersey and flew on a north east trajectory, ending somewhere in or near Lancaster County in Maryland.

NGC 33 sculptor galaxy taken from Agentina

October 9, 2013

First ever strike of a comet on Earth

Dear followers,

The first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire over Sahara desert in Egypt, has been discovered by a team of South African scientists from the University of Witwatersrand and international collaborators.

Credits: Terry Bakker

In 1997, in Egypt, close to the border with Libya, fragments of a natural silica-rich glass aged of around 28.5 million years, are found. The analyse of a stone and the comparison with specimen of the glass leads the scientists to discover the first ever comet striking Earth. 
Actually, the comet entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded, heating up the Sahara's sand beneath it to a temperature of about 2 000 degrees Celsius, and resulting in the formation of a huge amount of yellow silica glass which lies scattered over a 6 000 km² area
An amazing specimen of the glass, polished by ancient Egyptian jewelers can be see on this brooch of Tutankhamun with its striking yellow-brown scarab.

"+NASA and +European Space Agency, ESA spend billions of dollars collecting a few micrograms of comet material and bringing it back to Earth, and now we’ve got a radical new approach of studying this material, without spending billions of dollars collecting it,” says Professor Jan Kramers of the University of Johannesburg.

Sources: Wits

October 8, 2013

Water on Mars discovered by Curiosity

Dear followers,

few weeks after its first anniversary on the red planet, the NASA's rover Curiosity is still working.  The first scoop of soil analysed by the analytic suite in the belly of martian rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight. The scientists used the ChemCam, CheMin instruments, the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity Rover to perform the analysis.

About 2 percent of the soil on the surface of Mars is made up of water, which is great resource, and interesting scientifically. The sample also released significant carbon dioxide,oxygen and sulfur compounds when heated.
The result were published in Science as one article in a five-paper special section on the curiosity mission.

September 19, 2013

A private capsule launched with success to ISS

Dear followers,

yesterday was a busy day for the space launches in USA. Actually after the successful liftoff of the space rocket Atlas5, the private company, Orbital Sciences, became the second private challenger to successfully launch a cargo vessel to the International Space Station. The lift off could be watched from New York was depicted on the picture below.

Credit: Orbital Sciences / +Google Earth 

The next step for the Cygnus spacecraft is four days of tests while its in orbit. If successful, the mission will take a rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station on Sunday, September 22th , as the ATV4, from +European Space Agency, ESA did few weeks ago.

The liftoff of the space rocket Antares happened from the center of Wallops Flight, located on an island near the coast of Virginia. Cygnus is separated from the second stage of the launcher ten minutes after launch to reach the Earth orbit. 
For this first flight, Cygnus carries 589 kg of supplies including food and clothing. It will remain docked to the ISS thirty days. Upon his return, Cygnus will be destroyed in the atmosphere.