Name That Landing Site!

The ESA is asking the public to name the landing site on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko where the Philae robot probe will try to land on 12 November.

Any name (except individual’s names) can be entered. The rules call for a maximum 200-word justification to be submitted in support of a proposal. (I’m voting for Osiris).  Entries have to be received before Thursday GMT next week.

The judging panel will announce the winner on 3 November.  Full details can be found here.

– 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

Touchdown! Well Almost.

The ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft is about 100km (62 miles) from comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (thankfully reduced to Chury)

Chury was discovered by Klim Ivanovych Churyumov and Svetlana Ivanovna Gerasimenko on 11 September 1969 at the Alma-Ata Astrophysical Institute.  Like all comets, the finders names are used to tag the comet (I just wonder why I have never seen a Smith or Jones comet, or for that fact any popular last names).

In about six weeks from now, the spacecraft will be at its closest to the comet.

After scanning the surface, Rosetta will drop the “Philae” landing module that will hopefully ride the comet as it passes closest to the Sun and deliver never before gathered cometary data.

Hopefully, the landing site won’t be over a potential vent that blows the lander off the comet.

I am almost giddy with geek excitement.  Comets are so old they can tell us much about what went on in the early solar system.  BTW, when I discover my first comet or planet, which ever comes first, you have my permission to call it “Normie”.

– 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

Feel The Burn!

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has completed its longest burn to chase down comet 67P/C-G Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The almost eight hours of maneuvring slowed the spacecraft to the same speed as the comet.

 

It was intended to take out a big chunk (almost 300m/s) of the velocity Rosetta had (755m/s) with respect to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Orbits

Now the craft will take a rather odd path to get to its final destination so that it can land before the comet starts warming up and really starts ejecting material due to interactions with the Sun and other bodies in the solar system.

Once the craft is close enough the Philae lander will (hopefully) touch down on the surface of comet just like the illustration from the ESA above.

In a dramatic moment (insert DUN DUN DUHHHH! music here) the burn caused some concern because of a leak in the pressure and  propellant tank system.  The leak wouln’t have blown the spacecraft up, but it might have made the burn rate uneven resulting in the spacecraft missing the target.

This is good news for the Discovery Channel when they make their documentary about this, the will be able to add the expected drama to make science more enjoyable.  After all, it can’t always be shark week.

– 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

Cool Simulations For You.

I received an email from Michal Sadlon about my recent Rossetta blog post.  MIchal has a project where he and his team creator online space simulations.  They have recently recently launched an “Interactive 3D model of Rosetta mission,” which you can view here (http://www.solarsystemscope.com/rosetta/).

Rosetta_Simulation

The simulation visualizes the current position of the Rosetta spacecraft,  its trajectory and all important moments.  Also, it has a videotour of entire mission and interesting images published by the ESA.  There is all the information you want on this mission, all you have to do is start clicking around the page and explore the solar system from your desktop.

That isn’t the whole story either.  You should check out the other cool simulations that they have available on the main page.

android-mascot  apple_logo_rainbow_6_color

Also, they have apps for your Android(r) and Apple devices so you can take them with you everywhere.  I know that this will be an addition to my outreach efforts.  There is nothing more engaging than showing the public, in real-time, what is happening hundreds of thousands of miles away.

Michal and his team at www.inove.eu.com, are located in Slovakia.  You have to love the reach of the internet and these projects.

Well done Michal!

– 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

Wake Up!

The ESA’s Rosetta comet probe has woken up to make its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta’s mission will take 10 years to complete.

During its trip Rosetta passed by two asteroids, Lutetia and Steins.  The image above shows landslide that happened on Lutetia.

When Rosetta reaches the comet, it will deploy a 220-pound (100 kilogram) lander called Philae.

Once on the comet’s surface the pair of craft will accompany the comet on its journey through the inner solar system, observing at close range how the comet changes as the Sun’s heat transforms the cold surface to a boiling gaseous mass.

Rosetta is about 500 million miles (about 800 million km) from Earth near Jupiter’s orbit.  At that distance radio transmissions take 45 minutes to reach Earth and vice versa.  What is fascinating is that, due to gravity, the radio signals don’t travel in a straight line back and forth.

Once Rosetta’s on-board alarm clock went off it took seven hours to warm up its star trackers,  fire thrusters to slow its spin, turn on its transmitter and send a message back to Earth.  And with all the advances in science the drumming monkey clock was the best we could do (just kidding, atomic clocks were used, although the monkey clock would be fabulously hilarious).

There are a lot of firsts for Rosetta, but the images from the comet as it starts out-gassing should be spectacular.  I just hope Philae doesn’t land on one of the explosive vents that many comets have.  We will know later this year as the comet passes by the Sun.

– 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