Saturday, December 22, 2018

Snowy snap celebrates 15 years in ord=bit for Mars Express

Snowy" snap celebrates 15 years in orbit for Mars Express

Korolev Crater is named after Soviet rocket pioneer Sergi Korolev
Korolev Crater is named after Soviet rocket pioneer Sergi Korolev
Christmas Day 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of ESA's Mars Express orbiter arriving at the Red Planet. To mark the occasion the space agency has released a suitably festive image of a crater that seems filled with fresh snow. In fact, the Korolev Crater is filled with perpetually frozen ice due to a remarkable meteorological phenomenon.

Launched on June 2, 2003 atop a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Mars Express arrived in orbit around Mars on December 25 when it began its science mission. The first planetary mission conducted by ESA, its job was to deliver the ill-fated British Beagle 2 lander and to make a high-resolution imaging and mineralogical survey of the surface, conduct subsurface radar probes, and study the Martian atmosphere.
One feature that stuck out during its photography work was Korolev Crater. Captured by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), it was photographed in five strips as the orbiter made successive passes and included perspective, context, and topographic views.
Korolev Crater is located in the northern lowlands of Mars to the immediate south of the Olympia Undae dune fields. It's 82 km (51 mi) wide and plunges 2 km (1.2 mi) at its deepest. But what makes it interesting is that this perfectly preserved meteor crater is perpetually filled with ice to a depth of up to 1.8 km (1.1 mi) and a volume of 2,200 cu km (530 cu mi).
This is because Korolev is a cold trap. That is, the winds blowing across the ice is cooled and then sinks into the crater, forming a freezing layer of air that both chills and insulates the ice. The result is a frozen filling that never thaws.
First discovered during the NASA Mariner missions and named in 1973, Korolev Crater is named after Sergei Korolev, the "Chief Designer" and father of soviet rocketry. Though unknown even to the Russian people due to official secrecy, he was responsible for a remarkable string of space firsts, including the first artificial satellite, the first living creature in orbit, the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first space walk, and many others.
Source: ESA

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

NASA's Voyager 2 Probe Enters Interstellar Space

NASA's Voyager 2 Probe Enters Interstellar Space: For the second time in history, a human-made object has reached the space between the stars.

We Have The Technology To Build A Moon Colony-Let's Do It!!

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We Have the Technology to Build a Colony on the Moon. Let’s Do It.
By Robert Zubrin & Homer Hickam, The Washington Post, 12.10.18
Robert Zubrin is president of the Mars Society and Pioneer Astronautics and the author of “The Case for Mars.” Homer Hickam is a former NASA engineer and the author of multiple books, including the memoir “Rocket Boys,” which was made into the film “October Sky.”
Late last year, President Trump directed NASA to “lead the return of humans to the moon.” For most folks, the meaning of this was pretty clear: Americans would soon walk on the moon again.
The space agency, however, had another idea. In February, NASA announced that it is planning to build the Gateway, a mini-space station that would orbit the moon — for no apparent reason.
The vague description of the space station on NASA’s website offers little clarity. There’s no certainty as to when it would be built, what it would be used for or why it is needed. Half a billion dollars are already dedicated to the Gateway this fiscal year without any obvious plan to do anything with the money except spend it. Beyond that, the budget isn’t known but is certain to be huge. NASA further revealed the obtuseness of the project by noting that it doesn’t know whether it would be permanently crewed or only occasionally visited or what exactly the astronauts would do when aboard.
As for landing people on the moon, NASA is vague about that, too. Apparently, if we wanted to build a lander sometime in the future, it would rendezvous with the Gateway for some reason and then attempt a landing.
This is all just plain weird. It’s like building a big, expensive aircraft carrier, positioning it off the European coast and requiring passengers going from New York to Paris to land there first and do something (although what isn’t known) until another airplane is built to pick them up to carry them to their destination. This, we suspect, is not the best way to get to France.
Rather than build this murky Gateway, which we frankly doubt the American people will understand or support, we believe the best expenditure of time and money is to simply make it a national goal to build a base on the lunar surface. Such a base would be similar to the U.S. South Pole Station and constructed for the same reasons: science, exploration, knowledge, national prestige, and economic and technological development for the benefit of the U.S. taxpayer.

To read the full op-ed, please click here.
The Mars Society
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Lakewood, CO 80215 U.S.A.


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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018

NASA's Mars InSight Flexes Its Arm

NASA's Mars InSight Flexes Its Arm: Now unstowed, the spacecraft's robotic arm will point a camera located on its elbow and take images of the surroundings.