Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: 2013-10-20

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