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#1 2006-11-30 05:12:02

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Registered: 2006-09-25
Posts: 839

space articles

I thought this thread could be about space articles,we could comment on them and post some on here.Here's one to start you off.

MSNBC Home » Technology & Science » Space News

Mars orbiter spots rover’s landing site
New gallery includes key points on Opportunity’s itinerary
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image shows “Eagle crater," the small impact crater where Opportunity’s lander came to rest. The image is one of a gallery of photos released by NASA on Wednesday.
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Nasa / Jpl / University Of Arizona

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By Leonard David
Senior space writer

Updated: 9:12 p.m. ET Nov. 29, 2006
NASA has released new imagery taken by its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a sweeping gallery that includes the Endurance Crater which NASA’s Opportunity rover explored for ten months.

The zoom lens photo album comes courtesy of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Science Imaging Experiment, also known as HiRISE.

Imagery released on Wednesday shows the initial impact site for the Opportunity Mars rover with its parachute resting atop the Martian landscape, the spacecraft’s heat shield at a different spot, and the airbag-cushioned lander itself resting inside the floor of a small impact feature — later dubbed Eagle Crater.

Story continues below ↓
The HiRISE camera takes images of 3.5-mile-wide (6-kilometer) swaths as the orbiter flies at about 7,800 mph (12,552 kilometers per hour) between 155 and 196 miles (250 to 316 kilometers) above the planet. The camera resolves geologic features as small as 40 inches (101 centimeters) across.

Easy-to-find hardware
That sharpshooting skill will be put to good use in weeks to come, said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson.

Upcoming targets are “all the easy-to-find hardware on Mars,” McEwen noted in a press statement. That includes the Spirit rover — Opportunity’s sister ship investigating the Columbia Hills – as well as the Viking 1 and Viking 2 landers that touched down in 1976, and the Mars Pathfinder that landed in July 1997.

In October, HiRISE was able to spot the Opportunity rover shortly after the Mars machinery reached the large Victoria Crater — an exploration site that the robot is presently studying.

The new imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the first of what is being billed as “a nonstop flood of incredibly detailed Mars images” that are to be taken during the spacecraft's two-year primary science mission. The orbiter is expected to revolutionize our understanding of the Red Planet, as well as help discern safe sites for future robotic and human missions to Mars.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched in August 2005. After a lengthy period of aerobraking around the Red Planet — a technique used to slow the craft down and enter a desired orbit — the spacecraft began its science mapping mission earlier this month.

Last edited by rida (2006-11-30 08:49:04)

Dreams don't come true, you gotta make them come true.


#2 2006-11-30 08:44:40

Real Member
Registered: 2006-09-25
Posts: 839

Re: space articles

another space article

New Horizons roared into space in January of this year — the first mission to carry out an initial reconnaissance of Pluto-Charon and the Kuiper Belt at the edge of our solar system.

“The first objective at Jupiter is to hit the keyhole to get us to Pluto. If we don’t do that…nothing else matters,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons and executive director of the Space Science and Engineering Division here at Southwest Research Institute.

Hitting that little window in space is a priority, a predetermined but needed course correction for New Horizons. The adjustment will place the probe on a trajectory to attain a closest approach of Pluto some 8 years hence, on July 14, 2015.

Like a test drive of a new automobile, Stern said that New Horizons zooming by Jupiter is a full-up practice run. The flyby will show how the probe handles and help flesh out any unknown issues lurking within the spacecraft — from software and commands to the science instruments.

Stress test
One nagging engineering issue has already been flagged.

New Horizons is using two of its 16 thrusters more than expected, Stern said. “So we’re going to have to limit our appetite and learn to fly the spacecraft a little bit differently…or we’ll use them all up before we get to Pluto.”

“Pluto is a one-shot,” Stern told “I don’t fundamentally want things to go wrong…but I want them to go wrong at Jupiter and not at Pluto. At Pluto, my first and only objective is to learn about Pluto. If I learn anything at all about the spacecraft at Pluto…that would not be good.”

Slide show

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New Horizons will take on Jupiter operations for five months, from January to the end of June next year. But within that timeframe, there are 10 days of very intense science investigations now being scheduled.

“This is a stress test. Just like the doctor gets your heart racing on a treadmill…we are really putting that spacecraft through its paces,” Stern added.

New Horizons is the 8th spacecraft to arrive at the Jupiter system.

“We are going to do a lot of good science,” Stern explained. For one, the probe will fly down Jupiter’s magnetotail — never before done event.

Due to the Jupiter’s strong magnetic field, the planet’s magnetosphere fills a vast volume of space. As New Horizons departs the Jovian system, the path to Pluto happens to take the spacecraft down the “tail” of Jupiter’s magnetosphere that is pulled back behind the planet.

Goals at Europa
Jupiter science targets on the New Horizons to do list include looks at the planet’s little and great red spots, ring structure, as well as Io and Europa — two moons of Jupiter’s entourage of over 60 moons found so far.

“We have a few goals at Europa,” noted John Spencer, a staff scientist at SwRI’s Department of Space Studies and also the New Horizons deputy imaging node leader. “We’ll have a somewhat improved look at the infrared spectrum of the darker non-ice material on Europa’s surface,” he said.

That material seems to be some sort of water-bearing salt or perhaps sulfuric acid — and may hold clues to the composition of Europa’s subsurface ocean, Spencer pointed out.

Other goals at Europa are to understand its ultra-thin oxygen atmosphere better, Spencer added. That will be done by New Horizons obtaining spectra of the ultraviolet airglow emissions from that moon’s atmosphere. Also, the spacecraft will watch a star pass behind Europa and look for absorption of the starlight by Europa’s atmosphere. A similar tactic is being applied in observing Io’s more substantial atmosphere.

“We’ll also be mapping some very peculiar huge circular grooves on Europa which can only be seen when the Sun hits the surface at just the right angle,” Spencer said.

Staring at the rings
Spencer said that the New Horizons science team and associates are looking to do things that haven’t been done before at Jupiter…or inspecting things that are changing with time.

As example, infrared scans of ammonia clouds that appear and disappear in the wake of Jupiter’s great red spot are to be done. New Horizons totes a near-infrared instrument with much higher spectral resolution than equipment carried on the earlier Galileo mission at Jupiter, he said.

“So we’re focusing on something pretty cool that hasn’t been done before,” Spencer said.

In addition, New Horizons will spend a lot of time staring at the rings, looking for very small satellites that may be embedded in the rings that haven’t been discovered before, Spencer observed. “There’s some interesting structure in the rings that may be due to dust being shed off smaller bodies.”

Jupiter’s Io — a moon found by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft to be alive with volcanoes — is due for scrutiny by New Horizons too.

“We’ll spend a lot of time staring at the night side of Io…looking in the visible and near-infrared,” Spencer said. New Horizons data, he added, should help bracket the high temperatures for volcanoes on Io.

“Some observations from Galileo found them embarrassingly hot,” Spencer explained. “Are there really super-heated eruptions on Io…some exotic lava being erupted…or is it plain old basalt?”

But to help clear up the mystery, Io will have to cooperate and cough up the goods on New Horizons time, Spencer said.

There’s much to do in readying both spacecraft and the entire New Horizon team for the close encounter of the Jovian kind. New Horizons will whisk by Jupiter at closest approach on February 28, 2007, speeding through space at some 47,000 miles per hour (about 21 kilometers per second).

“Right now, we wish we had more time. It’s a little too fast,” Spencer concluded.

View Image: new.jpg

Last edited by rida (2006-11-30 08:47:56)

Dreams don't come true, you gotta make them come true.


#3 2006-11-30 08:59:23

Registered: 2005-12-04
Posts: 3,791

Re: space articles

Here is a good one you might like:

Mars Rover Beginning to Hate Mars

"In the real world, this would be a problem.  But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist.  So we'll go ahead and do that now..."


#4 2006-11-30 09:31:29

Real Member
Registered: 2006-09-25
Posts: 839

Re: space articles

It's exellent

Dreams don't come true, you gotta make them come true.


#5 2006-11-30 09:39:31

Real Member
Registered: 2006-02-24
Posts: 1,005

Re: space articles

Ricky wrote:

Here is a good one you might like:

Mars Rover Beginning to Hate Mars

haha, awesome article! big_smile

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#6 2006-12-01 20:10:13

Real Member
Registered: 2006-07-14
Posts: 6,400

Re: space articles

That is a brilliant article, Ricky.

Funny messages, too! big_smile


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