Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: 2013-05-12

May 17, 2013

Asteroid 1998 QE2 close to Earth on May 31th

Dead followers,

next Friday, on May 31th 2013, the asteroid 1998 QE2 will be close to Earth, closer than about 5.8 million kilometers, or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. The asteroid was discovered on August 19th 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico. 

The Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target for the Goldstone and Arecibo telescope in order to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features. The closest approach of the asteroid occurs on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern / 20:59 UTC).
"Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid's distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise." said Lance Benner , the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from +NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory  in Pasadena, Calif.

+NASA  places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. In fact, the U.S. has the most robust and productive survey and detection program for discovering near-Earth objects. Last year, the NEO budget was increased from $6 million to $20 million.

In 2016, +NASA  will launch a robotic probe, called the OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid (101955) Bennu. Aside from monitoring potential threats, the study of asteroids and comets enables a valuable opportunity to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the source of water on Earth, and even the origin of organic molecules that lead to the development of life. 

+NASA  recently announced developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid for human exploration. Using game-changing technologies advanced by the Administration, this mission would mark an unprecedented technological achievement that raises the bar of what humans can do in space. Capturing and redirecting an asteroid will integrate the best of NASA's science, technology and human exploration capabilities and draw on the innovation of America's brightest scientists and engineers. 

More information about asteroid radar research is at: 

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May 16, 2013

Kepler Space Telescope is down

Dear followers,

bad news for the search for exo-planets. The U.S. space telescope Kepler which has increased the discovery of new planets since 2009, is paralyzed by a technical problem. This dysfunction could spell the premature end of his four-year mission, +NASA said yesterday (May 15th 2013).
Kepler 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

+Kepler Space Telescope is blocked by the malfunction of a mechanism which allows the telescope to focus on a given point in the sky towards said John Grunsfeld, the head of the science division of the U.S. space agency. "The telescope was put into safe mode" to ensure that the solar panels facing the sun to recharge the batteries and continue to communicate with Earth, he said.
Engineers found last week that it did not move despite gyroscope controls from the ground. This problem had already occurred in July with another gyro Kepler has stopped working, said the head of NASA.
"Unfortunately Kepler is not a place where you can send astronauts" to fix it, he said, explaining that the engineers' carefully examined the data (...) to see if it is possible to resume the scientific activities of the telescope. " But "we are not yet ready to declare the end of Kepler," insisted John Grunsfeld, arguing that "in all respects the Kepler mission was a success."

In 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.

An Atlas 5 rocket successfully took-off from Cape Canaveral

Dear follower,

2 days ago, in Baikonur the Proton rocket had liftoff. Today, in Cape Canaveral, the Atlas 5 has successfully carried a replacement Global Positioning System satellite for the United States Air Force.
The Centaur upper stage completed its second burn and released the Global Positioning System 2F-4 satellite into the navigation network.

Credit: NASAgovVideo

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May 15, 2013

The crew of expedition 35 to ISS is back on Earth

Dear followers,

the Canadian astronaut +Chris Hadfield, commander of the just-completed Expedition 35 aboard the International Space Station, landed safely few hours ago in Kazakhstan along with the other crew members Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko after five months in orbit. 

Credit: Mikhail Metzel

On aboard the ISS, Commander +Chris Hadfield took hundreds of photographs. Moreover he conducted conferences with students on Earth thanks to Hangout on +Google+ , he took his stories to social media, catching the attention of the world. 
His videos answered questions about everyday existence in zero-gravity with a dose of science mixed with humor.

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May 14, 2013

Proton rocket is taking-off in few minutes

Dear followers,

after the last processes, Proton rocket is taking-off in few minutes from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

The Eutelsat 3D communications satellite are carrying on. The live streaming video of the take-off could be find here:

Stay tunes !

Beautiful annular solar eclipse on May 10th

Dear follower,

as we said you few days ago, a beautiful annular solar eclipse occurred on May 10th. This eclipse could be observed in Australia and Pacific area.
Many pictures of this event could be find on the web, but I would propose you some of the best of them. 

 Credit Geof Sims 

Moreover, a great video issued from russian satellite Elektro-L has been proposed

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