Phobos-Grunt update 29th November

Color image of Phobos, imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008.

November 29
During the night from November 28 to November 29, the ground station in Perth had five opportunities to contact Phobos-Grunt from 18:21 to 03:47 GMT (22:21 - 07:47 Moscow Time) However all attempts to command Phobos-Grunt to fire its engines for reaching higher orbit were unsuccessful, Russian news agencies reported, as industry sources promised to continue their efforts to communicate with the spacecraft.


An Alien Code Close to Home: Seeking ET Beyond the Radio Silence

Summary: The search for intelligent alien life goes beyond SETI's search for intergalactic radio signals. Some scientists are looking for evidence of technological footprints and biological clues embedded in the DNA of life on Earth.

Allen Telescope Array. Image Credit: SETI.org

Any intelligent extraterrestrial life that exists probably won't announce itself by blowing up the White House, or win over the hearts of children as a lovable alien with a glowing finger. Many scientists simply hope to find evidence of them by scanning the skies for a radio signal from a distant star's alien civilization. But such efforts may also risk overlooking clues of past alien activity right here on Earth.

Seeking Alien Artifacts in the Solar System

Summary: Probes like Pioneer and Voyager are heading out into the galaxy carrying plaques about humankind. Why have we never found similar evidence of other civilizations? A new mathematical study suggests that we may not be looking hard enough.

credit: Astrobio

Two Pioneer probes left our solar system carrying plaques about humankind, and two Voyager probes will soon join them to gather information about places far out in our galaxy. We can and will send more autonomous probes into outer space, but why have we never found evidence of other civilizations doing the same? A pair of postdoctoral researchers at Penn State, approaching the problem mathematically, shows that we have not looked in enough places to ensure that no extraterrestrial artifacts exist in our solar system.

New update on Russian Mars Probe Phobos-Grunt

Click to enlarge

November 28

Although Phobos-Grunt did not respond to several latest radio requests for more telemetry, specialists at NPO Lavochkin prepared a new set of instructions for the probe to raise its orbit, the Interfax news agency reported. New commands would be sent to the spacecraft from Perth and Baikonur, apparently as one-way communications, in the hope that Phobos-Grunt would listen and execute the orbit-boosting maneuver. Odds of success of the latest effort were apparently very low, however, mission specialists decided to try this last-ditch effort in order to prolong the life of the spacecraft before its deorbiting.


Medvedev furious with failures in the Russian space program

The President of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev, is angry at the failures of its space program.

Medvedev cites Stalin to say will not resort to firing squads, as did the former Soviet leader in 30 years of the last century, but defends tough sanctions for those responsible for the failures of the space program and gave an example: fines to recover all the money spent .

Medvedev raised the prospect of criminal prosecution for space mishaps on Saturday following a series of failed launches that have embarrassed Russia.

The Russian space program has seen a dark period since losing its geolocation system last year. The latest blow was the problems  with Phobos Grunt probe that it intended to reach Mars.

The probe failure came less than three months after a cargo ship carrying food and fuel to the International Space Station burned up in the atmosphere shortly after launch.

"Recent failures are a strong blow to our competitiveness. It does not mean that something fatal has happened, it means that we need to carry out a detailed review and punish those guilty," Medvedev told reporters in televised comments.

"I am not suggesting putting them up against the wall like under Josef Vissarionovich (Stalin), but seriously punish either financially or, if the fault is obvious, it could be a disciplinary or even criminal punishment," he said.


Phobos-Grunt update

File:Cebit 2011-fobos-grunt together with upper stage.jpg
Russian Fobos-Grunt probe with the upper stage Fregat-SB.

November 25 developments

When the first opportunity of the day to downlink telemetry from Phobos-Grunt came to ESA's station in Perth, nothing was heard from the spacecraft. According to ESA, the slots for communication, timed to coincide when Phobos–Grunt was passing over in direct line-of-sight with the station, began at 20:12 GMT and ran until 04:04 GMT. Each lasted just 6–8 minutes, providing very limited windows for sending commands and receiving a response.

Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Off

NASA began a historic voyage to Mars with the Nov. 26 launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket occurred at 10:02 a.m. EST (7:02 a.m. PST).

"We are very excited about sending the world's most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "MSL will tell us critical things we need to know about Mars, and while it advances science, we'll be working on the capabilities for a human mission to the Red Planet and to other destinations where we've never been."

New Mars Rover Successfully Launches (splash)
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, including the new rover, Curiosity, lifted off on time on the first opportunity at 10:02 a.m. EST on Nov. 26.
 The mission will pioneer precision landing technology and a sky-crane touchdown to place Curiosity near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012. During a nearly two-year prime mission after landing, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.


Asteroid 433 Eros (1898 DQ) visit in 2012

On January 31, 2012, Eros will pass the Earth at 0.17867 with a visual magnitude of 8.1 , Eros was discovered in 1898, and the first asteroid to be orbited by a probe (Near Schomacker) in the year 2000 and on February 12, 2001, at the end of its mission, it landed on the asteroid's surface using its maneuvering jets.
When NEAR Shoemaker made its controlled descent to the surface of Eros on February 12, 2001. The  image shows the touchdown site (yellow circle) on the edge of the saddle-shaped feature Himeros. credit: NASA/The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

It is unique in being one of the few asteroids that actually crosses the orbit of Mars. The asteroid is named after Eros the God of love and the son of Mars and Venus in Greek and Roman mythology. The official name of the asteroid is 433 Eros Asteroid.

Eros asteroid has dimensions of 34.4 by 11.2 by 11.2 km and a mean diameter of 16.84 km. The mass of the asteroid is 6.69 X 10^15 kg.

Final Images from Near Shoemaker.

credit: NASA/The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory


Mars Rover Well-Equipped for Studies

The Mars Science Laboratory is taking a toolbox to Mars that any researcher would be proud of. A drill, metallic brush and even a laser are part of the gear set the Mars Science Laboratory called Curiosity is taking to the red planet in the most ambitious effort yet to discern exactly what is on the surface.

Image above: Technicians look over the MSL Curiosity during inspections at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Phot credit: NASA


Saturn Colossal Storm

New images and animated movies from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft chronicle the birth and evolution of the colossal storm that ravaged the northern face of Saturn for nearly a year.

This false-color mosaic from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the tail of Saturn's huge northern storm. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
These new full-color mosaics and animations show the storm from its emergence as a tiny spot in a single image almost one year ago, on Dec. 5, 2010, through its subsequent growth into a storm so large it completely encircled the planet by late January 2011.


NASA Probe Data Show Liquid Water Evidence on Europa

Europa's "Great Lake." Researchers predict many more such lakes are scattered throughout the moon's icy shell. Image credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/Univ. of Texas at Austin.
  Data from a NASA planetary mission have provided scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water, equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa's icy shell and the ocean beneath.
This information could bolster arguments that Europa's global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat for life elsewhere in our solar system. The findings are published in the scientific journal Nature.


Updated Radar Movie of Asteroid 2005 YU55

NASA Scientists working with the 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., have released a second, longer, and more refined, movie clip of asteroid 2005 YU55. The images were generated from data collected at Goldstone on Nov. 7, 2011.


The New NASA Giant Rocket . Upper Stage Engine Passes Test.

NASA conducted a successful 500-second test firing of the J-2X rocket engine on Wednesday, Nov. 9, marking another important step in development of an upper stage for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS).

Nasa is working to avoid Armageddon? Are we at risk?

NASA has been given a presidential directive to land astronauts on an asteroid by 2025. Is a human mission to an asteroid possible in this time-frame, and what benefits will such a mission provide for the future of space exploration?

This artist's concept shows NASA's giant rocket, the Space Launch System, soaring off a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket is NASA's new booster for deep space missions to an asteroid and ultimately Mars.

Why is so urgent  that endeavor that the development and training attaining that goal is as hard as the apollo programme on the 60s?


Phobos-Grunt failed to fire Its booster

The Zenit-2 launch vehicle carrying the Phobos-Grunt probe lifted off from the Baikonur space center at 00.16 a.m. Moscow time (20:16 GMT on Tuesday). The spacecraft was supposed to use its own booster to reach the designated flying trajectory, but failed to do so.

“It has been a tough night for us because we could not detect the spacecraft [after the separation],” Vladimir Popovkin said. “Now we know its coordinates and we found out that the [probe's] engine failed to start.”


NASA Captures New Images of Large Asteroid 2005YU55

NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif. has captured new radar images of Asteroid 2005 YU55 passing close to Earth.

This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was obtained on Nov. 7, 2011, at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 p.m. EST/1945 UTC), when the space rock was at 3.6 lunar distances, which is about 860,000 miles, or 1.38 million kilometers, from Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The asteroid safely will safely fly past our planet slightly closer than the moon's orbit on Nov. 8. The last time a space rock this large came as close to Earth was in 1976, although astronomers did not know about the flyby at the time. The next known approach of an asteroid this size will be in 2028.


Phobos-Grunt Readied for Launch

Russia’s first interplanetary mission in nearly two decades, has now been encapsulated inside the payload fairing and sealed to the payload adapter for mating to the upper stage of the Zenit booster rocket that will propel the probe to Mars orbit and carry out history’s first ever landing on the petite martian moon Phobos and eventually return pristine samples to Earth for high powered scientific analysis.

“Phobos-Grunt will launch on November 9, 2011 at 00:26 a.m. Moscow time,” said Alexey Kuznetsov, Head of the Roscosmos Press Office in an exclusive interview with Universe Today. Roscosmos is the Russian Federal Space Agency, equivalent to NASA and ESA.

more: here


Huge sunspot, Huge Flare

AR1339, is one of the biggest sunspots in many years. The active region rotated over the sun's eastern limb two days ago and now it is turning toward Eart

Sunspot 1339 poses a growing threat for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

The sunspot has already unleashed one X-flare on Nov. 3rd around 2027 UT. A movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the extreme ultraviolet flash: 

A cloud of plasma or "CME" raced away from the blast site at 1100 km/s. The CME is not heading for Earth. It is, however, heading for Mercury and Venus.


Asteroid 2005YU55

NASA scientists will be tracking asteroid 2005 YU55 with antennas of the agency's Deep Space Network at Goldstone, Calif., as the space rock safely flies past Earth slightly closer than the moon's orbit on Nov. 8. Scientists are treating the flyby of the 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity – allowing instruments on "spacecraft Earth" to scan it during the close pass.

A Star with Spiral Arms

For more than four hundred years, astronomers have used telescopes to study the great variety of stars in our galaxy. Millions of distant suns have been catalogued. There are dwarf stars, giant stars, dead stars, exploding stars, binary stars; by now, you might suppose that every kind of star in the Milky Way had been seen.
That's why a recent discovery is so surprising.  Researchers using the Subaru telescope in Hawaii have found a star with spiral arms.

A Star with Spiral Arms (spiral splash, 558px)
Two spiral arms emerge from the gas-rich disk around SAO 206462, a young star in the constellation Lupus. This image, acquired by the Subaru Telescope and its HiCIAO instrument, is the first to show spiral arms in a circumstellar disk. The disk itself is some 14 billion miles across, or about twice the size of Pluto's orbit in our own solar system. (Credit: NAOJ/Subaru)