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Archive for the ‘NASA’ Category

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.

06/17/2019 – Ephemeris – President Kennedy wanted to get us to the Moon… But how?

June 17, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, June 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 9:56 this evening.

President Kennedy’s Challenge to land “a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth” came only 20 days after Alan Shepard’s sub-orbital flight and 45 days after Yuri Gagarin’s orbital flight. To the NASA designers the question was how! Three scenarios were studied. The Moon direct approach where the spacecraft would be sent intact to the Moon and back which would take a really gigantic rocket. The Earth rendezvous where the spacecraft would be assembled in Earth orbit and then sent to the Moon. And the lunar orbit rendezvous where only part of the craft would be sent down to the lunar surface, while the main craft stayed in orbit of the Moon. After a lot of study the third option was accepted. It was up to project Gemini to develop the skills necessary to rendezvous and dock two spacecraft in orbit.

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

Addendum

How will we get to the Moon

Three flight techniques to land on the Moon. John Houbolt, who came up with the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous went through a lot of grief before his method was accepted in 1962. Credit: NASA.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, History, NASA Tags:

06/13/2019 – Ephemeris – Project Mercury

June 13, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:29, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 4:23 tomorrow morning.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon we’ll look at the first human space mission program, Mercury. It was taken over from the Air Force by the newly organized NASA space agency in 1958. It’s mission to launch a man in orbit, having him survive for at least a day and return him to the Earth. Alan Shepard crewed the first Mercury launch on a suborbital hop on May 5th, 1961, 25 days after the Soviet Union launched Yuri Gagarin on a single orbit of the Earth. On the third Mercury Launch John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth in his Friendship 7 capsule. In all there were 6 flights in the Mercury program. Of the seven Mercury astronauts, only Deke Slayton never flew on Mercury for medical reasons buy flew in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

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

Addendum

The 7 Mercury Astronauts

The seven Mercury astronauts were (from left) Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper and Scott Carpenter. Credits: NASA

The Mercury Capsule

The Mercury Capsule diagram. Not shown is the Retropack on the back of the heat shield held on by straps.  The Retropack contained solid rockets to slow the capsule so it can descend from orbit. Credit: NASA.

05/16/2019 – Ephemeris – Looking back at the Ranger program: Getting really close up pictures of the Moon

May 16, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 9:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:12. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 5:51 tomorrow morning.

The reconnaissance missions that had to be accomplished before the United Stated could land on the Moon in 1969 started with the Ranger program. The idea was to send a spacecraft to crash on the Moon taking and transmitting television pictures all the way down. In addition to the camera some Ranger spacecraft had a lunar capsule with a seismometer with a retro rocket to slow that package down and survive the landing. That feature never worked. Nine Rangers were launched. Only the last three were successful in returning images. Each returned thousands of images each returning detail down to 20 inches. One surprise, the rays we see from craters like Copernicus are actually chains of craterlets caused by ejecta from the impact.

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

Addendum

Here’s a time lapse video of Ranger 9 hitting the crater Alphonsus. 17 minutes collapsed into 13 seconds:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpFifHgZyrg