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Author Topic: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration - The Universe is Timeless  (Read 74387 times)

rebs

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This year there will be multiple major encounters with extra-terrestrial bodies in our solar system.  So I'll keep track of this thread as everything develops and necro it for purposes of not starting new threads, and to share it all right here in Off Topic. 

Many here already keep pulse of all this in their daily interweb wanderings, so if you have thoughts and ideas or links or spacexxx of the Martian, Venusian, Titanese and Titanian (Know the difference!  ;) ), Phobosian, Jovian, Saturnian, Uranian, Neptunian or 'roid/Cometish varieties, please feel welcome to post it all here. 

(Note: Resize your photo as you must by typing width=XXX in the first [ img ]  Insert pixel width, not an X.  650 is as high as you ever want to go, 600 makes people using phones to navigate even happier.  This was what a Mod told me long ago and I do it.  O0  High-res pictures are always awesome, and no one has anything against them, otherwise!  So attach those if you have them, and save your friends with phones from some frustration.  Sorry to the vet posters reading this, I know you all know.  Back to space.)

This year started way early.  NASA's Dawn spacecraft left Vesta about two years back where it had orbited for a year and one month after rendezvous and fairly lengthy travel time.  It's now approaching Ceres at a whiz-banging 450 MPH.  Which made me double take, since numbers associated with all of the extrasolar planetary science and whatnot that I delve into deals in scant few to no number that small, and that's what I've been used to seeing a lot of lately, quite frankly.  However, Dawn will enter orbit at Ceres, the closes Dwarf Planet to Terra the Earth on 6th March and will return some excellent findings about this rather mysterious body that was once listed as a planet, about 200 years ago.

The Planetary Society has a good article on it right here: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/marc-rayman/20141229-dawn-journal-history-of-ceres.html

NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft rendezvous with Pluto in early July.  Huzzah!  How small does the sun look now? 

Instruments begin reading 15th January.  It's been nine years in the waiting, fingers crossed for no turbulence because service stations will not be out that way for a few more years yet. 

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-pluto-new-horizons-hibernation-nasa-20141205-story.html

Rosetta is still quite active.  And poor little Philea is not dead yet! 

Seems it's only resting in the shade until a closer approach to the sun may give the probe the solar energy it needs to function.  The Rosetta spacecraft itself will continue to escort it along on this journey.  On Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, mountains may yet melt away to a sizzling vapor.  Or simply a new angle will be brought to focus for the light to shine on down.  It could conceivably begin transmitting data at any time in the coming months.  So it's certainly on the radar and it is being listened for.

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-rosetta-half-mile-cliffs-20141223-story.html   

This is Vesta, which is just kind of a decent-sized rock compared to Ceres.


And here's an attached hi-res of Vesta's southern polar region.  Not for the little screens.
« Last Edit: 07 January 2016, 10:12:56 by rebs »

rebs

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #1 on: 17 January 2015, 20:45:15 »
New Horizons began executing its primary mission a couple days ago on the 15th, but only a few reports of note are forthcoming.  Likely to be expected.

In our first approach to a Kuiper Belt Object, scientists will be observing Pluto from this early stage to see if the trajectory is even going to be safe for the golden-foiled ship to pass.  Check out the various approach plans here:

http://www.universetoday.com/98026/new-horizons-may-need-to-bail-out-to-dodge-debris-rings-and-moons-in-the-pluto-system/

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #2 on: 02 March 2015, 21:29:58 »
Ceres!

Still not close enough for large hi-res images, or none of those have been released yet.  But we're close enough to puzzle over curious features, like the bright, almost shiny spots in that crater that have been being tracked for some time now.  No one is clear as to what they might be as of yet.  There are thoughts but an answer will be forthcoming as this stage of the mission unfolds.

More to come as NASA's Dawn Spacecraft rendezvous there in the heart of the Asteroid Belt.



And here was another of Vesta, to shed some more light on the topographical situation.    Check out how it is essentially flattened, if not a bit scalloped, at the poles.  The equatorial areas seem to tend towards bulging, yet bear obvious marks of the pounding it takes in the Asteroid Belt.


And an attached image.  Shedding light and casting shadow on that lunar-like topography.
« Last Edit: 02 March 2015, 21:33:54 by rebs »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #3 on: 03 March 2015, 16:35:08 »
I'm curious to know what those bright spots could be...  a huge pool of ice?  Who knows.

Awesome thread idea.

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #4 on: 03 March 2015, 19:00:40 »
One thing people have to remember is, that it's dim out there in the Belt. Solar panels are not a good option, and light levels are low enough to require long exposures and much computer enhancement to get "photo-like" pictures.

Given that one of the dots is smack-dab at the centre of a reasonably sharp & well-defined crater, I think it's easy to deduce that they're flat, shiny ice fields - much like the Lunar maria, which seeped up as molten rock through shattered impact basins. In this case, water ice heated by the impact has come up in the centre, and at a vent on the side. The interesting/cool implication is that the impact was recent enough for micrometeroid erosion not to have removed the shine.
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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #5 on: 03 March 2015, 21:05:49 »
So are you saying that if we erected a pressurized dome over that crater, it would still have that New Space Rock smell? :)
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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #6 on: 03 March 2015, 21:21:06 »
Smells like gunpowder, apparently ;)
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
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* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

rebs

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #7 on: 03 March 2015, 22:51:27 »
New Space Rock Smell

Could be the name for a cool album/song collection.

edit: so could Smells Like Gunpowder, since I'm at it.
« Last Edit: 03 March 2015, 22:53:51 by rebs »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #8 on: 03 March 2015, 22:59:49 »
I'm curious to know what those bright spots could be...  a huge pool of ice?  Who knows.

Awesome thread idea.

They looked like camera glare on first sight, but then you read that they are quite real and there in other pictures, and in that particular and memorable spot.  Strange things are afoot on the edge of the Outer Solar System, but we'll figure it out, I'm sure.  Ice fields sounds very reasonable by way of explanation. 

And thanks!
« Last Edit: 03 March 2015, 23:05:33 by rebs »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #9 on: 04 March 2015, 11:13:59 »
Exciting stuff!

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #10 on: 04 March 2015, 16:09:05 »
Looking forward to the Pluto and Ceres encounters.  I hope it will yield something aside from Ceres' super-laser not preparing to destroy the probe.... :D

I wonder if Dawn will be able find more in the asteroid belt once it's done in Ceres.

The old thoughts of dense asteroid belt is long since gone, but i'm curious if mining asteroids will be practical since they're bit less of them we though.

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #11 on: 04 March 2015, 16:42:17 »
The kicker for asteroid mining is the prospecting. Finding a commercially viable lode is not going to be trivial.

There are certain economic models which support asteroid mining better than others. Situations where slow, cheap delivery of semi-refined, or at least trimmed, raw materials on slow transfer orbits make sense, for example.
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rebs

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #12 on: 04 March 2015, 19:02:41 »
I know I posted this on an older thread, but 'tis pertinent to the discussion.


Semi-Major Axis being the radius of orbit measured from the Sun to the furthest point of the elliptical course. 

As can be seen, lots of asteroids above and below the orbital plane.  This far out, there is plenty of room for millions of objects to orbit and rarely come within any kind of visual distance from each other. 

But there are indeed plenty of asteroids.  One of the things is, we're finding that most* Asteroids seem to be composed of agragate material that has been pounded and reformed multiple times, or often appears that way.   That could make things easier or more complicated for mining, I would imagine the latter.   

At least escape velocity for transport is not of concern with most of these objects.  Fuel would mostly be expended here at the Terran end of such industry. 


*"Most" in this instance probably means "a lot".  Before, some asteroids were thought to be gravel.  Now, the word most is bandied about.  Surely, a lot, I figure.
« Last Edit: 04 March 2015, 20:48:11 by rebs »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #13 on: 06 March 2015, 21:10:35 »
The Dawn Spacecraft entered orbit around Ceres today at 7:30 AM Eastern time.  I still consider it to be my birthday present, even though it is a day late.  I grant everyone permission to view and circulate further images of my new dwarf planet.   ;D

Here is a good article from Scientific American. 
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2015/03/06/dawn-spacecraft-arrives-at-ceres-becomes-first-to-orbit-a-dwarf-planet/
« Last Edit: 06 March 2015, 21:16:56 by rebs »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #14 on: 06 March 2015, 21:33:49 »
I've been hungry for everything I could find about the Solar System ever since I read novels such as Farmer in the Sky so many decades ago.  O0
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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #15 on: 07 March 2015, 02:45:01 »
This year there will be multiple major encounters with extra-terrestrial bodies in our solar system.
There's also the one that most people ignore - the other Dawn. Akatsuki will make a second attempt at entering Venus' orbit in November. She originally tried that in Dec 2010, but missed and had to do a couple rounds around the sun for five years until she'll hit that sweet spot again.


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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #16 on: 07 March 2015, 10:25:34 »
There's also the one that most people ignore - the other Dawn. Akatsuki will make a second attempt at entering Venus' orbit in November. She originally tried that in Dec 2010, but missed and had to do a couple rounds around the sun for five years until she'll hit that sweet spot again.

I'll watch for it, too.  Feel free to post any news that I have neglected to post, kato.   O0   

I read about that one, and am glad you brought it up.  Many space agencies are now in on the game, contributing to the science and the future.  Valuable experience gained there for the Japanese program, and hopefully they can catch orbit this next opportunity. 
« Last Edit: 07 March 2015, 10:27:14 by rebs »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #17 on: 07 March 2015, 12:22:17 »
I've been hungry for everything I could find about the Solar System ever since I read novels such as Farmer in the Sky so many decades ago.  O0

For me, it was seeing images from Voyager flying by Saturn and all of those moons when I a kid.  It was possibly 60 Minutes, my dad and I watched it and he explained a lot along the way through.  And I was hooked.  Read everything I could get my hands on whenever I was at a library after that.  I was never at a loss for finding something to read quickly without the card catalog, when the other kids walked like zombies through the aisles and took whatever was closest to them when time was up.

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #18 on: 07 March 2015, 15:01:12 »
Feel free to post any news that I have neglected to post, kato.   O0   
There isn't really all that much happening this year  ;)

Will be interesting whether Rosetta gets its mission extension. Decision is in May i think. If they extend to end of 2016 then Rosetta will actively accompany 67P/C-G back all the way through the asteroid belt. Similarly, JAXA should decide on a 2016 flyby target for its miniature deep-space probe Procyon a bit before its Earth Gravity Assist in December - they have somewhere around 16 candidate targets with successful Earth swingby, and 2 further if it should fail.

Cassini will have some interesting Saturn moon flybys this year; one at Epimetheus that'll bring us pictures with a resolution comparable to that of Dawn at Vesta, two closer than that at Dione and a couple close ones at Enceladus - including one that'll skim over the surface at only 50 km distance in October. On the unlit side going through its shadow, sadly. But approach and departure with the setting and rising sun should be good photo opportunities.

Epimetheus at 224 m/pixel in 2007, this year's flyby should get us at least ten times that resolution:

Only thing being launched this year that'll go deep space will be LISA Pathfinder in July btw. Bound for SEL1.
« Last Edit: 07 March 2015, 15:03:54 by kato »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #19 on: 07 March 2015, 15:34:45 »
Something never before seen.



Ceres from behind. And for a similar, if older, shot:



In the truest sense, these are "where no one has gone before" moments.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #20 on: 07 March 2015, 15:53:18 »
I still have that Saturnian eclipse picture they put out a while back on my wallpaper rotation. The one where Earth is one of the fainter dots within the ring system.
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rebs

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #21 on: 08 March 2015, 15:50:53 »
Saturn is such a great focal point.  It's just a beautiful location, if a bit chilly and dim year round. 

Death Star super laser was already brought up, too.  So, heeeeere's Mimas.



That's no moon.


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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #22 on: 08 March 2015, 22:28:01 »
Majestic beauty a little closer to home.

For perspective, this mountain is almost the size of France.

I give you Olympus Mons.
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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #23 on: 08 March 2015, 23:27:35 »
Alas, a computer graphic, and one with enhanced vertical scale.

The real thing is so big, and the planet sufficiently small, that you simply could never see it like that - most of it's below your horizon. Strange, but true. The top of Olympus Mons is near enough to hard vacuum not to care about the difference ...
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* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #24 on: 09 March 2015, 04:38:40 »
Alas, a computer graphic, and one with enhanced vertical scale.

The real thing is so big, and the planet sufficiently small, that you simply could never see it like that - most of it's below your horizon. Strange, but true. The top of Olympus Mons is near enough to hard vacuum not to care about the difference ...
I think most of it would BE the horizon.

Wonder who'll be the first person to climb it.
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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #25 on: 09 March 2015, 12:24:03 »
Death Star super laser was already brought up, too.
Well, maybe NASA shouldn't have cancelled that laser they were gonna put on Dawn to fire it at Ceres.

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #26 on: 09 March 2015, 12:31:46 »
I thought it was a big tangerine nipple. All you people and your gun hang ups. :)

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #27 on: 10 March 2015, 00:36:41 »
Well, maybe NASA shouldn't have cancelled that laser they were gonna put on Dawn to fire it at Ceres.

Canceling lasers is never popular with this crowd.

I thought it was a big tangerine nipple. All you people and your gun hang ups. :)

Don't hang up loaded guns.  Unload them or put them somewhere where they are not likely to fall, but don't hang them up like that.


Ceres almost had one like that, a crater, not a laser or a nipple.  Check this out:

(And forgive the shoddy low-res, 'twas all I could find.  NASA is bogarting the good stuff!)

edit: Is this possibly indicative of at least partial crust resurfacing?  Looks like it.  And then the bright areas elsewhere could possibly be, dare I say it, tectonic-type activity based on water being spewed to the surface?  The type that would slowly resurface the crust over billions of years and even erase giant craters?  Hmmmm.   

deuce edit: Might as well attach another awesome impact sight.  Enhanced color Caloris Basin on Mercury, taken by the MESSENGER orbiter.

« Last Edit: 10 March 2015, 01:09:11 by rebs »

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #28 on: 10 March 2015, 17:18:06 »
Rosetta will attempt to hail Philae beginning on Thursday, for now for a week.

If Philae has received enough sunlight to heat its battery above -45°C and take in 5.5W on top of that it'll listen by switching on its receiver unit every 30 minutes. At 19W (or 17W, there've been conflicting releases) it'll be able to reply.

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Re: Deep Space and Interplanetary Exploration, 2015
« Reply #29 on: 10 March 2015, 17:30:12 »
deuce edit: Might as well attach another awesome impact sight.  Enhanced color Caloris Basin on Mercury, taken by the MESSENGER orbiter.

Look up the Chaotic Terrain at the antipodes of Caloris. Basically the ground got shook to pieces by seismic waves from the impact focussed by the planet's core, then hit by ejecta converging on it, and then impact-initiated volcanos blew.

Now THAT's how you bust something! Much larger, and Mercury would have shattered. It's possible many other similar impacts like this happened to the poor planet, causing most of its mantle material to have been blown away leaving the apparently disproportionally large iron core.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"