Kepler’s Dead, Long Live Kepler.

The Kepler spacecraft is no longer able to accurately point with enough accuracy to continue its exo-planet hunting mission.

FILE - This artist's rendering provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope. NASA is calling off all attempts to fix the crippled space telescope. But it's not quite ready to call it quits on the robotic planet hunter. Officials said Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 they're looking at what science might be salvaged by using the broken spacecraft as is. (AP Photo/NASA, File)

So last week NASA called off attempts to fix Kepler’s frozen gyroscopes.  So now, officials are looking at what science, if any, can be done by the broken spacecraft.

As I have stated before, this doen’t mean that the mission was a failure.  Kepler has been operating on extended time since it completed its primary mission ended last November.  Kepler has  confirmed 135 exo-planets and has identified more than 3,500 candidate planets.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of more exoplanets are expected from the data collected by Kepler.  It will take at least another three years to analyze the remaining data.

Considering what a small area of space that Kepler was observing, this was a remarkable mission.

“We literally expect … the most exciting discoveries are to come in the next few years as we search through all this data,” he said.

NASA expects to know by year’s end what can be salvaged for Kepler.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Giga-Pixels to explore Mars

My dreams of high-definition astrophotography have already been realized by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

The rover took over 900 images using the rover’s mastcam.  The Mastcam can take high-definition video at 10 frames per second.  There are actually two cameras on the mast.

The telephoto Mastcam, or “Mastcam 100” has a 100-millimeter focal-length, f/10 lens with a 5.1° square field of view that provides enough resolution to distinguish a basketball from a football at a distance of seven football fields, or to read “ONE CENT” on a penny on the ground beside the rover.

Its other camera is the “Mastcam 34” and has a 34 mm, f/8 lens with a 15° square field of view.

Both of the cameras take 1200 x 1200 pixel (1.4 Megapixel) images using a 1600 by 1200 CCD detector. But each pixel of the CCD detectors are different size. Both cameras can acquire high definition 720p video at 10 frames per second.

The images where then were painstakingly stitched together to produce the first billion plus pixel view of the surface of Mars.  The 1.3 Gigapixel 360 degree image is available for everyone to view with pan and zoom here. If that is too much for you to handle, a scaled down version is available for download here.

“It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras’ capabilities,” said Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details.”

The CCD camera that I currently use takes 8.3 Megapixel images, so I could possible stitch together something similar, but I don’t think I have the same zest for doing it like this all sky photo.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I Need A Nap.

Really! After a gruelling 255 day trip, with a very frightening landing I get put on the “garden” spot of Mars.  I mean really.  First, they shoot me through space, parachute and rocket me down, then lower me on a cable (and a wing and a prayer if you ask me) and abandon me to my own resources.

Can you imagine?  Then those bastards at JPL put me to work!  I am so tired, I just think I will nap for a few weeks.  The sun is low in the sky and I need to save my strength for the next round of commands (look at that rock, move over there, collect some samples, Jeesh!).

 

I swear if my laser had enough power…POW, straight to the Moon, JPL, straight to the Moon!  I think I will just sleep for about a month.  I’ll feel less stressed after a good long nap.  See you on the flip side, of Mars that is…

BTW, please don’t worry if you didn’t get the Honeymooners reference.  I happen to be a fan.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman

Cosmic Rays Kill Curiosity!

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover isn’t really dead.  At least not yet.

Since last Wednesday, Curiosity has not transmitted data back to Earth.  Also, a planned switch into its daily sleep mode did not occur as planned.

Engineers have determined that there is a problem with the rover’s “A-side” computer memory.  This past Thursday, operators switched operation to the backup “B-side” computer which placed Curiosity into a low-power “safe mode” state.

Safe modes are designed to protect spacecraft when a malfunction happens to prevent damage, destruction or mayhem from occurring.  So currently, everything on Curiosity is shut down except the minimal systems to keep it “alive” and able to respond to commands from Earth.

Engineers are gradually bringing systems on-line one at a time using the B-side computer.  Full operations could be restored by this weekend.  Once full system capabilities are restored, a triage of Then the process of understanding more about what happened to the A-side computer begins.

A front-running theory of the malfunction is that the computer memory was corrupted when it was struck by a cosmic ray. Cosmic rays are very high-energy particles, mainly originating outside the Solar System.

Back in the mid-90s, IBM estimated that cosmic rays would cause one error per month for every 256MB of RAM in a computer on Earth.  Unfortunately, Mars doesn’t have the benefit of our wonderfully protective atmosphere and magnetic field, leaving poor Curiosity exposed to the universally problem maker – cosmic ray.  Curiosity’s computers are “hardened” to withstand radiation, but  cosmic rays can sometimes still get through.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman

 

Yesterday’s Anniversary

This week I seem to be late on all my anniversary dates.  Yesterday was marked the death of George Ellery Hale.  As a local resident of Pasadena, I would be reticent to not mention something about this extraordinary man.

Hale founded a number of significant astronomical observatories, including the Yerkes Observatory, Mount Wilson Observatory, Palomar Observatory, and the Hale Solar Laboratory.

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ee/Image-Yerkes2small.jpg

At Mount Wilson, he hired and encouraged Harlow Shapley and Edwin Hubble to work on some of the most significant discoveries of the time. He was a prolific organizer who helped create a number of astronomical institutions, societies and journals. Hale also played a central role in developing the California Institute of Technology into a leading research university. After retiring as director at Mount Wilson, he built the Hale Solar Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as his office and workshop, pursuing his interest in the sun.

His vision and drive basically transformed the sleepy little farming town of Pasadena, into a hotspot of astronomical activity and science.  Palomar was his crowning glory.  Alas, he never got to see the telescope that bears his name in operation.  His impact on astronomy, physics and the sciences is still felt today with every graduate of CalTech and every mission at JPL.  Part genius, part madman, as most great intellects seem to be, he left a big trail for others to follow.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman

Pluto’s Anniversay

I would be remiss in my support of my favorite planet if I did not remember the anniversary of its discovery.

Clyde Tombaugh, newly arrived at the Lowell Observatory,  systematically reviewed images of the night sky in pairs of photographs taken two weeks apart using a blink comparator,  He rapidly shifted back and forth between views of each of the plates to create the illusion of movement of any objects that had changed position or appearance between photographs. On February 18, 1930, after nearly a year of searching, Tombaugh discovered, and later confirmed what had been theorized years earlier as Planet X. (Insert eerie 1950’s science fiction movie sound effects).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/ClydeTombaugh2.gif

Years later, I actually met Clyde at the Texas Star Party.  A very nice man indeed, and still as interested in astronomy as when he first started in his backyard with his home made reflector.

A few years ago, the Astronomical Union decided to demote Pluto from Planet status to minor planet.  However, if you can’t even agree on what the definition of a planet is, I don’t think you are able to classify Pluto as anything but a planet.

We now know that Pluto has five moons.

More information will be found out about Pluto and other Kiuper belt objects in 2015 when the New Horizons spacecraft passes by the Planet Pluto!

Currently, the best images we have of Pluto come from the Hubble space telescope.

Looks like a planet to me!  Ok, so you now know (as if you didn’t before) where I stand on the issue of planethood for Pluto.  I believe that if you have enough gravity to form a spheroid shape and orbit the Sun, you are a planet.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman