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Archive for the ‘ESA’ Category

12/05/2019 – Ephemeris – Artemis the new Moon program

December 5, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 5:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:05. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 2:01 tomorrow morning. | NASA has a new program to return to the Moon, perhaps to stay. The program is called Artemis, named after the Greek god Apollo’s twin sister. NASA is building a massive rocket called the Space Launch System, or SLS, and the Orion

, which I’m sure will guarantee European astronauts a ride. This is not going to be an Apollo type one rocket up and back. There will be a space station called the Lunar Gateway of International partners that will orbit the Moon. There the crew of the Orion Spacecraft will transfer to a Lunar Lander for the trip to and from the surface of the Moon. It’s a heavy push to accomplish by 2024.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Block 1b vrsion of the Space Launch System (SLS) which uses elongated Space Shuttle boosters and a core stage with 4 Space Shuttle main engines for the first stage. Credit NASA.

Orion MPC

Cone-shaped Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle with a European Service Module. Credit NASA.

Lunar Gateway

Lunar Gateway supplied by the same partners that built the International Space Station. It will orbit the Moon, Credit NASA.

Lunar Lander

Lunar Lander. This vehicle has not been designed yet. This is Blue Origin’s Ascent Module on top of a yet to be designed propulsion module. Credit Blue Origin.

11/04/2019 – Ephemeris – It’s a quarter Moon today. On the oceans the smallest difference between high and low tides.

November 4, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, November 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 5:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:25. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 12:10 tomorrow morning.

Today’s first quarter moon means that this tides caused by the Moon and Sun are pulling on the Earth at right angles which keeps the tides low. These are called neap tides. The Moon also raises higher tides than the Sun, even though the Sun is much more massive. But it’s much farther away. And that’s the reason. Tides are caused by the difference in gravitational pull from one side to the other of the Earth. The Moon, being much closer has a greater difference in gravitational force. Only when the Moon Sun and Earth are lined up do we have the highest tides which are called spring tides. Galaxies, held together by gravity, are easily distorted by the tidal force of other galaxies and pull off what are called tidal tails.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Spring and Neap Tides

Spring and Neap Tides explained. Credit http://www.millerslocal.co.za/the-inside-skinny-on-tides.html (South Africa).

Antennae Galaxies

This ground-based image was taken by Robert Gendler and shows the two merging Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038 and NGC 4039) and their impressive long tidal tails. Click on the image to enlarge.  Credit ESA.

09/12/2019 – Ephemeris – NASA and the Europeans plan to deflect an asteroid

September 12, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 7:59, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:19. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:30 tomorrow morning.

Meeting now in Rome is the AIDA International Conference. It has nothing to do with the opera, but a tortured acronym for Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment. NASA and the European Space Agency are going to target the satellite of a binary near Earth asteroid Didymos. NASA will supply DART, the impactor, The Italians, a cube sat to fly along and record the impact. Later the Europeans will launch a probe to assess the asteroid deflection. Didymos itself is a half mile in diameter (2560 ft, 780 m), its satellite, a bit more than 500 feet (525 ft, 160 m). The impact should make a marked change in the small body’s orbit of its parent. DART’s launch should come in the summer of 2021 with impact in 2022.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

DART Mission

Schematic of the DART mission shows the impact on the moonlet of asteroid (65803) Didymos. Post-impact observations from Earth-based optical telescopes and planetary radar would, in turn, measure the change in the moonlet’s orbit about the parent body. Credits and caption: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

More information: https://www.universetoday.com/143313/europe-and-us-are-going-to-try-and-deflect-an-asteroid/

https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense/dart

10/25/2018 – Ephemeris – Europe and Japan launch a joint mission to Mercury

October 25, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 25th. The Sun will rise at 8:11. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 6:41. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 7:44 this evening.

A joint mission to Mercury by the Europeans and the Japanese called BepiColumbo was launched late Friday night October 19th our time (EDT), 20th (UT). It will take 7 years to be able to drop into orbit of the innermost planet to make only the second spacecraft to do so. To drop into Mercury’s orbit from the Earth’s orbit the spacecraft will need to lose a whole lot of velocity. The trip there will entail one flyby of the Earth, two of Venus, and six of Mercury itself. Planetary flybys have been used since the 1970s to use a planet’s velocity to add to or subtract from a spacecraft’s velocity, depending on how it approaches the planet. If crossing in front of a planet some velocity is subtracted from the spacecraft, allowing it to drop closer to the Sun. If coming up from behind the spacecraft gets to add to its velocity relative to the Sun.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Orbits
Animation of BepiColombo’s trajectory from 20 October 2018 to 2 November 2025. Earth’s orbit Blue, Cyan Venus, Green Mercury, Purple BepiColumbo.
BepiColumbo
BepiColumbo spacecraft separates into two acitve satellites at Mercury. ESA’s MPO, Mercury Planetary Orbiter; and JAXA’s MMO, Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter. Credit DLR/ESA

10/02/2018 – Ephemeris – I will give a talk on Saturn at the Traverse Area District Library tomorrow night

October 2, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 2nd. The Sun will rise at 7:42. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 7:21. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:55 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow night October 3rd at 7 p.m. I’ll be giving a talk at the main branch of the Traverse Area District Library on Woodmere Avenue, about the amazing discoveries made about Saturn, its rings and moons by the Cassini spacecraft and its Titan lander Huygens, spanning 7 years to get there and 13 orbiting Saturn among its rings and moons. The spacecraft made a planned plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere a year ago. The illustrated talk is called Remembering Cassini. Besides the numerical data sent back were images, some of which were made into videos, such as the landing of the Huygens probe on Titan. After the talk, if it will be clear, Saturn will be visible in the telescopes of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, along with other wonders of the skies.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendu

Cassini and Huygens
Cassini and Huygens from Remembering Cassini

08/02/2018 – Ephemeris – Has liquid water been found on Mars?

August 2, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 2nd. The Sun rises at 6:30. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 9:07. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:09 tomorrow morning.

The European Space Agency has announced the possible discovery of liquid water beneath Mars’ southern polar cap. Perhaps it’s like the lakes found under Earth’s Antarctic ice sheet. The discovery was made by the Mars Express orbiter’s ground penetrating radar. Mars south polar cap is primarily made of water ice up to 3.7 kilometers thick, covered in winter by a meter, give or take, thickness of carbon dioxide ice, what we call dry ice. Mars elliptical orbit happens to make southern hemisphere summers short and hot, and winters long and especially cold. Liquid water could exist several kilometers below the martian surface. Mars’ internal heat flow is what NASA’s InSight lander, now en route to Mars is going to tell us.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

12/29/2016 – Ephemeris – Astronomical milestones of 2016

December 29, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 29th.  The Sun will rise at 8:19.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:10.  The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Looking back at 2016 the biggest astronomical news was the detection of gravitational waves coming from two separate collisions of black holes far beyond our Milky Way galaxy.  The two detectors in Washington state and in Louisiana recorded these events in September and December 2015, but the first announcement was made in February this year after the signals were cleaned up and studied.  The year saw the end of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission to the comet we’ve come to call 67P after orbiting it for over two years.  The Opportunity and Curiosity rovers continued their exploration of Mars along with a fleet of satellites.  On a sad note, we lost pioneering Mercury astronaut John Glenn at the age of 95.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Gravitational Waves Detected

The chirp heard ’round the world and indeed the universe. Credit: LIGO/Abbot et al. 2016. Hat tip: Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer.

Rosetta, Final orbit

Rosetta, Final orbit. Credit & copyright European Space Agency (ESA)