A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘space travel

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • Centauri Dreams wonders if human space travel will stop at Mars.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that orange giant HD 155233 has a gas giant.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes skepticism in the European Union towards a new German-Russian pipeline, notes China’s weapon of hypersonic weapons, and looks at Chinese aircraft coming near Japan.
  • Far Outliers notes the debate as to whether the South Caucasus is European or Asian.
  • Geocurrents continues its exploration of Kiribati’s Line Islands.
  • Language Hat notes discussion of the Taiwanese aboriginal language of Seejiq.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money hosts a great discussion about Jessica Jones.
  • pollotenchegg notes the types of homes of different Ukrainians.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes the Paris attacks seem to have helped Donald Trump.
  • Torontoist reflects on the closure of Brunswick House.
  • Towleroad notes that an Israeli trans woman can be buried according to her own will, not that of her family.
  • Transit Toronto notes TTC workers’ toy drive.
  • Window on Eurasia reflects on the forced return of Ukrainian refugees from Russia, wonders if Russia’s anti-Turkish policies will have consequences for Turkic populations like that of Tatarstan, and reports on one Russia who wants to organize Eurasian security organizations after the model of the Warsaw Pact.

[OBSCURA] Orbital Sunrise

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Supernova Condensate found another one.

Earth’s atmosphere scatters out the blue from sunlight. The scattered light makes the atmosphere look blue, but the sunlight has all of its blue photons scattered out from it, giving it that distinctive sunset orange colour. It’s somehow even more apparent when seen from space like this. Billions of molecules scattering trillions of photons lighting up Earth’s atmosphere like a jewel in the night as you pass out from behind the planet’s shadow.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Photo

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[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Alpha Sources notes that Eurozone economic sentiment is holding up.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at SETI in the light of KIC 8462852.
  • D-Brief notes predictions that Cassini could determine if Enceladus’ ocean is active enough to support life.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a video presentation examining how habitable planets around Alpha Centauri could be imaged.
  • The Dragon’s Tales has the latest on the Russian war in Syria.
  • Geocurrents is impressed by this map of world religion, so finely and accurately detailed.
  • Language Log notes the oddities of the promotion of China’s next five-year plan.
  • The Map Room is impressed by Martin Vargic’s new book of maps.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw is touring Denmark and noticing the differences and similarities between that Nordic country and his native Australia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes workshopping for the location of the first manned Mars landing.
  • The Power and the Money notes that Cristina Kirchner might be setting up her successors to fail, so as to ensure her eventual re-election.
  • Towleroad notes that Italy forced the removal of registries of same-sex marriages contracted outside of the country.
  • Window on Eurasia talks to a Kaliningrad regionalist, notes Dagestanis are not being drafted in the proportions one would expect, and reports that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is out of control.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about her enjoyment of Québec’s Eastern Townships.
  • Centauri Dreams suggests that the oddities of KIC 8462852 might be explained by gravity darkening on its surface.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the ongoing debate as to when the Panama isthmus formed.
  • Language Hat notes the complex multilingualism of Elias Canetti.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money promotes Erik Loomis’ new book Empire of Timber: Labor Unions and the Pacific Northwest Forests, which reveals as complex the relationship between forestry workers and the natural environment.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes that work on lightsails continues.
  • Towleroad reports on a website that maps the world according to the permissibility of marijuana use.
  • Window on Eurasia quotes the fears of a Russian website that Belarus is leaving the Russian sphere.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly describes what it takes to be a professional writer.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper considering dust in atmospheres.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the study of a medieval Korean star catalogue.
  • Language Hat notes a program to translate Mexican writers who write in indigenous languages.
  • Steve Munro offers advice on what to do about Smarttrack.
  • Marginal Revolution refers readers to Gary Kasparov’s new book on politics, criticizing Putin and much else.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares the latest data from Dawn at Ceres.
  • Torontoist has a beautiful picture of the Prince Edward Viaduct.
  • Towleroad notes a referendum on same-sex marriage in Slovenia.

[LINK] “A Mission to a Metal World: The Psyche Mission”

Universe Today’s report of a proposed NASA mission to metallic asteroid Psyche interests me. Interesting object, interesting mission.

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA’s Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of NASA and other scientists and engineers recently selected five semifinalists for additional research and development, one or two of which will be launching by the 2020s.

With an eye to Venus, near-Earth objects and asteroids, these missions are looking beyond Mars to address other questions about the history and formation of our Solar System. Among them is the proposed Psyche mission, a robotic spacecraft that will explore the metallic asteroid of the same name – 16 Psyche – in the hopes of shedding some light on the mysteries of planet formation.

Discovered by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis on March 17th, 1852 – and named after a Greek mythological figure – Psyche is one the ten most-massive asteroids in the Asteroid Belt. It is also the most massive M-type asteroid, a special class pertaining to asteroids composed primarily of nickel and iron.

For some time, scientists have speculated that this metallic asteroid is in fact the survivor of a protoplanet. In this scenario, a violent collision with a planetesimal stripped off Psyche’s outer, rocky layers, leaving behind only the dense, metallic interior. This theory is supported by estimates of Psyche’s bulk density, spectra, and radar surface properties; all of which show it to be an object unlike any others in the Belt.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm

[LINK] “America’s First Satellite… Almost”

At his blog Drew Ex Machina, Andrew Lepage writes about how, if things had gone differently, the United States might well have launched a satellite into orbit before the Soviet Union. This would have required, among other things, a reorganization of space research programs and perhaps also a perception in the US military of advantages to space travel like satellite surveillance.

In September 1954 the joint Army-Navy Project Orbiter proposal to launch a single satellite was submitted to the Department of Defense (DoD) for consideration. At about this same time, there was a building effort in scientific circles to organize the International Geophysical Year – an international scientific cooperative effort to study the Earth and its interaction with the Sun that would run from July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958. With the US considering a commitment to launch a satellite during the IGY, the US Air Force (USAF) and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) submitted their own satellite proposals as well. With three choices before him, Assistant Secretary of Defense Donald A. Quarles deferred the decision to an Advisory Group on Special Capabilities.

On September 9, 1955 this group choose the NRL proposal which was eventually called Vanguard (see “Vintage Micro: The Original Standardized Microsatellite”). While Project Orbiter made the greatest use of off-the-shelf hardware and had the best chance to get a satellite into orbit first, the Eisenhower administration made it clear that they wanted to use as little military hardware as possible to launch America’s IGY satellite. This was to give the project as civilian a look as possible to ease establishment of the concept of overflight rights for Earth-orbiting satellites (making it easier for later military satellites, then secretly under study, to fly their missions). The Eisenhower Administration also wanted to minimize any potential interference between the satellite program and vital defense projects like the Army’s Redstone or the USAF proposed use of their Atlas ICBM then under development (see “The First Atlas Test Flights”). Another perceived weakness in the Project Orbiter proposal was that it would launch only a single satellite with no follow up. Of course this could have been easily remedied with additional resources to build hardware for more flights but it was felt that this could have had deleterious consequences for the Redstone development program.

With Project Orbiter officially shelved, development of von Braun’s proposed satellite launch vehicle was redirected in September of 1955 in an attempt to keep it alive in another guise. In addition to the Redstone, the ABMA, under the command of Major General Bruce Medaris, was developing the Jupiter IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile). With a range of 2,800 kilometers, Jupiter’s warhead would have to withstand much more extreme conditions upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere than the payloads of earlier, shorter range missiles. In-flight testing of this new warhead-laden entry vehicle was needed to verify its design but a purpose-built rocket for this task was not yet available. As a stop gap measure, a modified version of von Braun’s satellite launcher was proposed. While it was not powerful enough to loft the actual warhead, the rocket would be capable of accelerating a one-third scale RTV (Reentry Test Vehicle) with a mass of 140 kilograms to hypersonic velocities. The only major change required to von Braun’s satellite launcher was the removal of the fourth stage and the installation of an adapter for the RTV.

From the start, the development of this modified Redstone proceeded so that the satellite launch option would be preserved. This rocket was designated Jupiter C (“C” standing for “Composite”) to help disguise its heritage under the Jupiter program umbrella. This would not be the first Redstone to fly in support of Jupiter development, however. Starting in March 1956, modified Redstone missiles designated “Jupiter A” commenced flight testing key Jupiter IRBM components such as the guidance system in preparation of the first actual Jupiter test flights a year later. As development of the Jupiter C proceeded ostensibly to support the IRBM project, Medaris and von Braun continued to lobby civilian and military leaders in Washington to allow them to launch a satellite.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2015 at 11:12 pm


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