Congratulations to the Hayabusa2 mission team, who flew to an asteroid, dropped multiple rovers, an impactor and a separate camera satellite to observe the impactor. The Hayabusa2 then flew around, to the far side of the asteroid to avoid ejecta from the impactor. In a few weeks, Hayabusa2 will probably land, collect more samples and then fly back to Earth.
For more: Hayabusa 2 page at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and don’t miss the “major onboard instruments page, including an ion engine using 1/10th the power of a chemical propellant, and fixes to malfunctions that happened after 15,000 hours of operation; a better seal on the collection horn and more.
A Japanese spacecraft may have just blown a crater in a distant asteroid (Science Mag)
STARS-Me (or Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite – Mini elevator), built by engineers at Shizuoka University in Japan, is comprised of two 10-centimeter cubic satellites connected by a 10-meter-long tether. A small robot representing an elevator car, about 3 centimeters across and 6 centimeters tall, will move up and down the cable using a motor as the experiment floats in space.
Via Science News, “Japan has launched a miniature space elevator,” and “the STARS project.”
I had not seen this amazing picture of Harrison Schmitt near Shorty Crater.
Via Astronomy Picture of the Day. If you enjoy these, Full Moon is a gorgeous collection of meticulously scanned Apollo images. There are various editions; I encourage you to get the 11″x11″ one, not the 8×8.
This image isn’t Saturn’s Rings, but an image of Saturn from its pole to equator.
Sadly, many of the sites reporting on Cassini’s dive through Saturn’s rings — I’m going to say that again — Cassini’s first dive through Saturn’s rings — don’t explain the photos. I’ll admit it, I thought I was looking at the rings. Space.com has the explanations.
This video is really amazingly inspiring:
Not only does it show more satellites than I’ve ever seen in a single frame of video, but the rocket that took them up was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation, who managed to launch not only the largest satellite constellation ever, but had room for a few more birds in the launch. It’s an impressive achievement, and it (visually) crystalizes a shift in how we approach space. Also, congratulations to the team at Planet, the ability to image all of Earth’s landmass every day.
Launching a micro satellite into low Earth orbit is now accessible to hobbyists. Many readers of this blog could do it. That’s astounding. Stop and think about that for a moment. Our failure to have exciting follow-on missions after Apollo can obscure the fascinating things which are happening in space, as it gets cheap and almost boring to get to low Earth orbit. The Economist has a good summary. That’s not to say that there aren’t things happening further out. This is the year that contestants in the Google Lunar XPrize competition must launch. Two tourists have paid a deposit to fly around the moon.
But what’s happening close to the planet is where the economic changes will be most visible soon. That’s not to say it’s the only thing to watch, but the same engines will enable more complex and daring missions.
For more on what’s happening in India around space exploration and commercialization, this is a fascinating interview with Susmita Mohanty.
Video link: ISRO PSLV-C37 onboard camera view of 104 satellites deployment
Image credit: Bill Anders, Apollo 8, launched this day, Dec 21, 1968.
Today’s “the future is cool” entry is the cliffs of insanity:
Actually, I’m lying to you, they’re the Cliffs of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, as photographed by the Rosetta spacecraft. I just think its cool similar they look, and how the physical processes which created the Cliffs of Moher may also have been at work on a comet.
Which we sent a spacecraft to go photograph.
The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project needs help to recover data from the Lunar Orbiter spacecraft.
Frankly, it’s a bit of a disgrace that Congress funds, well, all sorts of things, over this element of our history, but that’s besides the point. Do I want to get angry, or do I want to see this data preserved? Yes to both.
That’s why I’ve given the project some money on Rockethub, and I urge you to do the same.
Neil Armstrong died August 25, aged 82.
It’s difficult to properly memorialize this man, because, to a degree almost unheard of in our media-saturated times, he avoided the limelight. A statement by his family notes:
As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.
EC has a certain fondness for privacy and for Apollo. If you do, too, please consider this suggestion made by Armstrong’s family:
For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.
Image source: NASA