Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mariner 2, spacecraft to Venus, launched 1962

Mariner 2, the world's first successfully interplanetary spacecraft, was launched August 27, 1962. It took 109 days to reach Venus, passing within 21,000 miles of the planet on December 14.  It sent back valuable information about the Venusian atmosphere and interplanetary space.

Mariner 2 was not equipped with a camera so no images of Venus are available but it did carry important scientific instrumentation:

  1. Microwave radiometer and infrared radiometer to measure temperatures of the Venusian atmosphere.
  2. Fluxgate magnetometer to measure planetary and interplanetary magnetic fields.
  3. Ionization chamber to measure high-energy cosmic radiation.
  4. Particle detector to measure lower radiation.
  5. Cosmic dust detector to measure the flux of cosmic dust particles in space.
  6. Solar Plasma Spectrometer to measure the spectrum of low-energy positively-charged particles (solar wind).

The last transmission from Mariner 2 was received January 3, 1963 and has since been in a heliocentric orbit.

The Alan Parsons Project releases "Eve" 1979

The Alan Parsons Project released their 4th studio album Eve August 27, 1979.  I remember hearing Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don't in high school but it didn't get much air time in western Oklahoma.  Bummer, because I really enjoyed it.  When they released Turn of a Friendly Card in 1980, Time got much more airplay.

Anywho, Don't Hold Back from Eve helped me through a very difficult time.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Soyuz 15 launched 1974, Soyuz 31 launched 1978

Bykovsky and Jahn

Lev Dyomin and Gennadi Sarafanov blasted off in Soyuz 15 August 26, 1974 on their way to the Salyut 3.   When they arrived at the space station, the electronic docking system malfunctioned and the crew had to return to Earth, because they didn't have enough fuel to continue docking attempts. The Soviet news agency TASS stated the cosmonauts were merely 'practicing docking techniques'.  They landed August 28.

On August 26, 1978, Valery Bykovsky and Sigmund Jahn (the first German cosmonaut) took off in Soyuz 31 to Salyut 6 space station with more success than Soyuz 15.  They swapped out the crew already on the station.  They returned November 2.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

OK Republican Hate-monger calls for "final solution" to Muslims - WTF?


OMG!  The hate never ends in Oklahoma!  Ardmore state representative Pat Ownbey has called for the "final solution" to Islam that sounds eerily like Hitler's "final solution" to the existence of Jews in Germany.

He promoted an article on Facebook which stated:

Since the 95% of Muslims who are described as either ‘moderate’ or ‘un-radicalized’ appear unwilling to play an active role in keeping their radicalized brethren in check, we have no long term alternative but to quarantine them… prohibiting them from residing anywhere within the civilized nations of the Earth.”


Congratulations, Jeff Williams! - Record for longest time in space for US astronaut

As of yesterday, U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams has spent a total of 520 days in space, the longest of any U.S. astronaut.  He has now surpassed Scott Kelly who held the previous record.  Williams' first journey was back in 2000 on the Space Shuttle Atlantis when he spent 10 days in space.

However, Peggy Whitson is scheduled to break his record next year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Vulcan, then Tatooine, and now Krypton has been found?

An artist's rendering of what the surface of Proxima b might resemble.

Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf in the constellation Centaurus, is the closest star to us (except for our sun).  It lies a little over four light-years from here and astronomers using the European Southern Observatory telescopes have announced evidence of a planet orbiting the red dwarf.  What is most exciting about this is the planet is in the 'sweet zone', the optimum distance from a star where liquid water (and therefore, life) can exist on the surface.

It is the closest exo-planet to Earth that could sustain life.  The Pale Red Dot team took its name from an image from Voyager 1, taken in 1990.  It took a picture of Earth and was called the Pale Blue Dot.  Since Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf see where this is going.

Okay, so it isn't Krypton.  Everybody knows that Krypton exploded years and years ago and even before that, it was about fifty light-years from Earth.  But it still exciting to find a planet so (relatively) close to us.  It presents the perfect stepping stone as the first planet to explore as we venture into deep space.

Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star - Pale Red Dot campaign reveals Earth-mass world in orbit around Proxima Centauri: Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System. A paper describing this milestone finding will be published in the journal Nature on 25 August 2016.

Luna 11, Soviet spacecraft, launched 1966

Luna 11, a Soviet spacecraft, was launched August 24, 1966 from an earth-orbiting platform to the moon.  It arrived and entered orbit around the moon 3 days later.  It was designed to take the first photographs of the lunar surface from orbit.  The onboard television camera did not return any useful images since a foreign object got logged in the nozzle of one of the attitude-control thrusters.  Therefore, Luna 11 could not maintain proper orientation to face the lunar surface.

The other instruments continued functioning as planned until the power supply was exhausted on October 1, 1966.