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12/30/2019 – Ephemeris – Some space advances this year

December 30, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, December 30th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:10, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:20. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 9:45 this evening.

Let’s look back at space activity this past year. SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket twice successfully for commercial payloads. It also performed the Demo 1 flight to send a uncrewed Dragon 2 to the International Space Station. That went off without a hitch. However when testing the same capsule a month later it was destroyed in a fueling mishap that postponed further flight tests until next month. The other Commercial Crew contractor Boeing was having problems with its Star Liner capsule. The latest being a mishap with their test flight to dock with the ISS. Supposedly a timing malfunction caused it to use too much fuel, so it ended in the wrong orbit. However it did land safely.

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

Addendum

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, carrying the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program 2 Mission, lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

The Demo 1 Dragon docking with the International Space Station. Credit NASA

Starliner Orbital Test Launch

Starliner Orbital Test Launch on an Atlas 5. Credit Boeing.

12/10/2019 – Ephemeris – The Moon’s natural resource more precious than gold

December 10, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 5:02 the earliest sunset, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:09. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:22 tomorrow morning.

The Moon is attracting the attention of NASA and the Chinese for crewed landings. The attraction is a natural resource the Moon has. It’s water, or rather ice. There are known water reserves in the Moon’s south polar craters, whose floors never see sunlight. That means they’re very cold. Cold traps they’re called. The Moon has a very little axial tilt so the crater floors are forever cold. They would collect water vapor from passing and colliding comets over the millennia. 10 years ago the second stage of the rocket that placed the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in lunar orbit was crashed into one of the south polar craters followed by a satellite to analyze the ejecta. Water vapor was kicked up by the impact in Cabeus crater.

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

Addendum

South pole ice

The south pole of the Moon where the presence of water ice is detected by the absorption of neutrons by the hydrogen atoms in the ice. Credit NASA/GSFC/SVS/Roscosmos.

You’ll notice that the craters on the the Moon’s south pole are named for Antarctic explorers.  Besides water other volatiles were found: methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, NASA Tags: ,

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.

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

09/05/2019 – Ephemeris – A contest to name the Mars 2020 Rover

September 5, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 2 minutes, setting at 8:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:10. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 12:09 tomorrow morning.

The Mars 2020 Rover is in final preparation to be launched late next year, and its time to give it a name. Prior rover names were Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the currently operating Curiosity rover. NASA is holding a contest open to U.S. K through 12 students in public, Private and Home School, to submit a name with a short essay of up to 150 words why that name should be chosen. Deadline is November 1st. Nine names will be chosen and then the whole world will vote to pick the winner. For contest details use your favorite Internet browser and type in “go (dot) nasa (dot) gov forward slash name2020”. NASA also has a way to have your name sent to Mars with the Rover.

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

Addendum

From Sarah Marcotte of the JPL Mars team. Please share this contest announcement with any interested K-12 student…
—————
Name NASA’s Next Mars Rover!
NASA’s Mars 2020 rover needs a name! Any K-12 student in U.S. public, private, and home schools has a chance to name the next Mars rover bound for the Red Planet in July 2020.
To enter the contest, students submit their rover name and a short essay (max 150 words) to explain the reasons why their chosen name is the best. The contest closes Nov. 1, 2019. For contest entry and details, visit the Name the Rover site. : https://www.futureengineers.org/nametherover
Interested adults, especially with STEM experience can sign up to be a judge on this page.
Not in the U.S.? In January 2020, people all over the world will have an opportunity to vote on the nine finalist names.
Help us spread the word by downloading and printing an eye-catching flyer for teachers or students!
Read more about the Mars 2020 mission.

visit: go.nasa.gov/name2020

Name NASA's next Rover

08/12/2019 – Ephemeris – Apollo 8’s giant leap to the Moon

August 12, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 8:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:42. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 4:38 tomorrow morning. | On the road to the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon 50 years ago was Apollo 8’s Christmas orbiting of the Moon in 1968. Apollo 7’s shakedown of the Command and service modules in October that year meant that they had a good spacecraft. However on September 28th that year a US spy satellite photographed a giant rocket of approximately the same size as the Saturn V on a launch pad at the Tyuratam Missile Test Center in the Soviet Union. Were they going to get to the Moon before us? Also Grumman was behind schedule with producing the Lunar Module for Apollo 8’s scheduled shakedown of that module in Earth orbit. NASA then decided to send Apollo 8 to the Moon instead and not miss a launch opportunity.

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

Addendum

KH-8 spy satellite photo of an N-1 rocket on the launch pad on September 28, 1968.

Apollo 8 crew from he left: Frank Borman, Bill Anders, and Jim Lovell.

The famous Earthrise photograph: ”We went to the Moon and Discovered the Earth.” Credit NASA/Apollo 8/Bill Anders.

 

07/16/2019 – Ephemeris – 50 years ago today the Apollo mission left for the Moon

July 16, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:13. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 9:30 this evening.

50 years ago today at 11:32 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time the most powerful rocket ever built roared into life. The Saturn V, a three stage rocket, 363 feet tall, which in turn launched two spacecraft, the Command and Service modules, and the Lunar Module, and three astronauts on their journey to destiny, Neil Armstrong, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, and Michael Collins. It was the start of the Apollo 11 mission. It happens that tonight the namesake of the rocket, the planet Saturn is to the right of the Moon. At launch the Moon was two days old, a thin crescent in the west that evening. Four days later they would be orbiting the Moon, and Armstrong and Aldrin would be descending to the Moon’s surface.

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

Addenda

Apollo 11

Crew of Apollo 11

Left to right Neil Armstrong, Mission Commander; Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot; and Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot. Credit: NASA.

Apollo 11 launch

The Saturn V for the Apollo 11 mission lifts of from Pad 39A. Credit: NASA.

The Moon and Saturn tonight

The Moon and Saturn tonight, 11 p.m. July 16, 2019. In reality the Moon will be so bright that Saturn will be almost overwhelmed. Created using Stellarium.

Here’s an excellent podcast series from the BBC:  13 Minutes to the Moon.

Partial Lunar Eclipse

The partial lunar eclipse today is not mentioned in the program because it is not visible locally.

Partial Lunar Eclipse of July 16, 2019. Click on image to enlarge. Credit NASA/GSFC/F. Espenak.