Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

Ahhh a classic song for a classic satellite.

Almost as classic as those shorts!  Anyway, 36 years ago, on August 12, 1978, the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) spacecraft (originally known as International Sun/Earth Explorer 3[(ISEE-3)]) satellite, was launched.

It was part of the ISEE (International Sun-Earth Explorer) international cooperative program between NASA and ESRO/ESA to study the interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind.

There were three spacecraft, a mother/daughter pair (ISEE-1 and ISEE-2) and a Heliocentric orbit spacecraft (ISEE-3, later renamed ICE).

On a historical note, ISEE-3 was the first spacecraft to be placed in a halo orbit at one of Earth-Sun Lagrangian points (L1). It was later sent to visit Comet Giacobini-Zinner and Comet Halley, and became the first spacecraft to fly through a comet’s tail.  Unfortunately, ICE is not equipped with cameras, so no pretty pictures, but it did gather some great data.

Due to costs, NASA shut down the spacecraft On May 5, 1997, or did they.  It turns out that ICE has be fully functioning since the “shutdown” command was sent.

Now a group wants to retrieve the satellite, get it back into position and chase another comet.  NASA needs about $125,000 to bring ICE back to life and send it on another comet hunting mission.

So a crowdfunding campaign was started here and has gone passed the half way mark.  Most of the funds are from average people (a testament to how much people like space).  If they are successful, it would make me revisit my Let’ Buy A Space Station idea.   You should also check out the other projects on Rockethub.  You might find something that interests you.

Of course you know this post could have been titled ICE, ICE baby.

P.S. you knew this was coming so don’t blame me.

– 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

NASA Needs You To Play ‘Disk Detective’ And Search for New Planetary Nurseries.

NASA needs your help to discover embryonic planetary systems hidden among data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission through a new website, DiskDetective.org.

https://i0.wp.com/www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/dd_kuchner_garvin.jpg

Disk Detective is NASA’s largest crowdsourcing project.  Its goal is to produce publishable scientific results.  “Through Disk Detective, volunteers will help the astronomical community discover new planetary nurseries that will become future targets for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope,” said James Garvin (on the right), the chief scientist for NASA Goddard’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate.

https://i1.wp.com/www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/fomalhaut_acs.jpg

WISE surveyed the entire sky twice at infrared wavelengths.  WISE measured more than 745 million objects.

Astronomers have searched the data for planet-forming environments and narrowed the field to about a half-million candidate. There may be thousands of solar systems in the WISE data, but the only way to know for sure is to inspect each one by eye.

So citizen sciences arise. Put on your Deerstalker hat and lend a hand.

Disk Detective incorporates images from WISE and other sky surveys in brief animations the website calls flip books. Volunteers view a flip book and classify the object based on simple criteria, such as whether the image is round or includes multiple objects. By collecting this information, astronomers will be able to assess which sources should be explored in greater detail, for example, to search for planets outside our solar system.

– 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

Gaia Is Go!

Gaia, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) unmanned astrometry spacecraft has taken its first image.

As I told you before, Gaia’s mission is make a 3D space catalogue of approximately 1 billion astronomical objects.  It sounds like a lot, but that is only about 1% of the Milky Way!

File:Gaia observatory trajectory.svg

Gaia will monitor each of its target stars about 70 times over a period of five years from its L2 vantage point.

So what does a billion pixel image look like?

LMC

Pretty good for a warmup.  The final results should be spectacular.  Not the pictures (this isn’t that kind of mission), but the data collected giving us the accurate distances and relative motions of the tracked objects.  But some of the images may be spruced up a bit to make good copy.

And, if you remember my post from a few days ago, Gaia will be using parallax trigonometric techniques (like a parsec!) to measure the objects distance from us.  See! There is a madness to my method, or

– 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

Herschel Finds Water On Ceres.

Scientists using the Herschel space telescope have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on Ceres.

Ceres is the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt and is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.

Photo : CNRS

Scientists think that plumes of water vapor shoot up from Ceres when parts of its surface are warmed by the Sun.

 

In 2015 the Dawn spacecraft will be able to provide more information, hopefully confirming and expanding the data, when it arrives at Ceres next year.

– 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

Commercial Space Programs Expand.

It comes as no surprise that commercial space programs are expanding at an ever increasing pace.  Now the government and NASA are putting unused space program assets to use helping these enterprises along.

NASA will turn over one of its unused space-shuttle launch pads to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) so that they can set up a second site in Florida.

SpaceX current sends routine re-supply missions to the ISS using its Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX won out over protests from rival space company Blue Origin, founded by Amazon’s  Jeff Bezos.

The Government Accountability Office dismissed Blue Origin’s protest.  However, the GAO said NASA could consider renting the launch pad under exclusive or multi-use arrangements for the launch pad.

NASA spends around $100,000 a month to maintain the site, so this agreement will help both NASA and SpaceX.

SpaceX is already launching its Falcon rockets from a leased launch pad at Cape Canaveral and it has a launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX’s locations are a little different from other commercial space enterprises that are basing their operations out of the New Mexico spaceport.

– 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

Mother Earth Rising.

The European Space Agency launched the Gaia satellite last week.

Gaia is the personification of Earth in Greek mythology.

But this Gaia, is designed to map the Milky Way in 3D.  Which should look really good on my 3D TV when the movie comes out.

From it vantage point at the L2 Lagrange point, Gaia will measure the motions of the stars in the galaxy orbiting  around the super-massive black hole at the center .

Like the original Star Trek television series, Gaia’s five year mission is to measure light curves and position information over time for all the stars in the galaxy.  This highly accurate information over time will determine distances for each star that will be used to make a more accurate 3D model of the galaxy.

– 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