ISS Mission Extended.

NASA has received preliminary approval to keep the ISS operating until 2024.

International_Space_Station_after_undocking

The extension by the White House and Congress comes as a welcome relief to NASA who considers the space station a critical steppingstone to future space exploration.

The extension will cost NASA about $3 billion per year.  Given that the agencies budget is currently about $17 billion a year, the extension could force NASA to cut other efforts in the future.

Image credit K. Alverson of MemeBox.com

This, of course, will delay my planned take-over of the ISS and its conversion into a space hotel for guest that would travel back and forth on one of the commercial space ventures.  Oh well, the best laid plans need to bow to science.

– 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

New Year’s Resolution…Make A New Invention.

If you have dreamed about becoming an inventor, but thought it wasn’t possible to compete against the big boys, this is your chance.

NASA and other top research institutions are releasing some of their patented ideas for you to play with and come up with new inventions and ideas.

Marblar is a product development platform that lets users generate ideas for commercial uses of scientific discoveries that have lain dormant and unused from universities and research institutions world wide.

Samsung

Marblar is basically crowdsourced science.  By making these patents available to anyone, the site has already generated thousands of new products in its first year with only 30 patents.  Increasing the number of available patents to play with and by commercially partnering with companies like Samsung that give the inventor(s) a share in the royalties from what they develop is the next move in a winning combination.

Speaking from experience, opening patents up for other to commercialize isn’t done all that often, but the results are usually tremendous.

You can sign up here, to begin your road to becoming a rich and famous inventor!

– 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

Don’t Laz’ Me Dude!

Well in this case it isn’t such a bad thing.

NASA has developed a new communications technology, the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS).  The new tech could increase data bandwidth for future spacecraft by 10 to 100 times current bandwidth.

But there are some significant obstacles to overcome.  “It’s like aiming a laser pointer continuously for two minutes at a dot the diameter of a human hair from 30 feet away while you’re walking,” explained OPALS systems engineer Bogdan Oaida of JPL.  That will require some excellent aiming.  And as the distance grows greater, the aim has to be even more precise.

OPALS is scheduled to launch to the space station later this year aboard a SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply capsule.

Once mounted outside the International Space Station (ISS), a demonstration of the optical communication will be done by transferring a video from the ISS to a ground receiver at JPL’s Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) in Wrightwood, California.

– 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

Curiosity Turns 1!

It seems like yesterday the Curiosity was a bouncing….well free falling…baby spacecraft waiting to hatch, er…be dropped stork-like on to surface of Mars.

 

Although not as old as its bouncing, literally, cousins Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity has not been idle.

Curiosity, which is the size of a car, has traveled 764 yards (699 meters) in the past four weeks after finishing experiments at one location for the past six months.

Curiosity is heading to the base of Mount Sharp, to perform more experiments before heading up the mountain (about 3 mile or 5.5 km high).  It is expected to take the better part of a year to get to the final point of the scheduled mission.

However, if Curiosity is anything like its cousins, data collection will continue well beyond the original program (with sufficient budget of course).  I mean really, after traveling millions of miles, and basically being dropped off, this rover should last for a long time.

– 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’m Not Dead Yet!

Do you remember that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?  It goes like this:

The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.

Large Man with Dead Body: Here’s one.

The Dead Collector: That’ll be ninepence.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.

The Dead Collector: What?

Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There’s your ninepence.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.

The Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.

Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not.

The Dead Collector: He isn’t.

Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m getting better.

Large Man with Dead Body: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.

The Dead Collector: Well, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I don’t want to go on the cart.

Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, don’t be such a baby.

The Dead Collector: I can’t take him.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I feel fine.

Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, do me a favor.

The Dead Collector: I can’t.

Large Man with Dead Body: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.

The Dead Collector: I promised I’d be at the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today.

Large Man with Dead Body: Well, when’s your next round?

The Dead Collector: Thursday.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I think I’ll go for a walk.

Large Man with Dead Body: You’re not fooling anyone, you know. Isn’t there anything you could do?

A very funny scene from a very funny movie.  However, it seems kind of ironic that it almost parallels what is going on with the Kepler mission right at the moment.

Kepler team has some succes in reaction wheel recovery attempt

 

As I reported earlier, in May of this year, the Kepler space telescope lost two of its four reaction wheels need to point the craft accurately to find exoplanets.

Well, it seems that Kepler isn’t quite dead in the water yet. Kepler  mission manager Roger Hunter says that the team has made progress unsticking one of the reaction wheels and has success in testing not one, but both of  the two failed reaction wheels. (P.S. I am glad to see that someone at NASA has a sense of humor).

“Over the next two weeks, engineers will review the data from these tests and consider what steps to take next,” Hunter said. “Although both wheels have shown motion, the friction levels will be critical in future considerations. The details of the wheel friction are under analysis.”

Kepler has found over 2,700 planetary candidates, with 130 confirmed planets, from the size of Earth’s moon to larger than Jupiter. There are two years of data that has yet to be combed through to detect other exoplanets.  Not bad considering Kepler is only looking at a small patch (about 12 degrees in diameter) of the Milky Way.

Hopefully, Kepler won’t suffer the same fate in the remaining part of our scene where:

[the Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club]

Large Man with Dead Body: Ah, thank you very much.

The Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.

Large Man with Dead Body: Right.

– 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 can see clearly now.

On July 17, 2013, NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, spacecraft opened its spectrographic eyes to gaze at the heretofor unseen lowest layers of the sun’s atmosphere.

https://iris.lmsal.com/press/firstlight/iris_sji_image_color.png

IRIS is built to view the Sun’s interface region, a complex area between the photosphere and corona. Understanding the interface region is important because it forms the ultraviolet emission that impacts satellites in near-Earth orbit and the weather.  The region also drives solar wind.

IRIS’s instruments are a combination of an ultraviolet telescope and a spectrograph.

Light is split into its component parts.  Two of the components are used by IRIS to provide high-resolution images one wavelength of light at a time, the other is the whole spectrum that provides information about many wavelengths of light at once.

The data from IRIS is fed into supercomputers to help interpret the data.

I suppose this puts my 50mm Coronado and PST telescopes to shame, but I still enjoy the view.

Please remember not to look at the Sun without the proper protective eyewear (NOT sunglasses) or through any telescope not designed, or shielded, for solar viewing.

– 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

Can You See Yourself Waving?

This past Friday, the Cassini spacecraft captured a picture of Earth through Saturn’s rings.

https://www.dailygalaxy.com/.a/6a00d8341bf7f753ef0192ac23f9c6970d-pi

The image is only the third ever taken of Earth from the outer solar system (home to the gas giants and their moons).

It is also the first time that everyone knew the picture was going to be taken in advance.  As I reported earlier, that knowledge prompted a lot of interesting events to celebrate the occasion.

From 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away, the Earth is a small blue dot.  If you look closely, you can see the moon next to the Earth (naturally).

So did you see me waving?  Leave me a message and let me know how you celebrated this historic first.

– 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

Here’s Messier in your eye.

Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of nearby spiral galaxy Messier 61 (M61), AKA NGC 4303.

M61 is only 55 million light-years away from Earth, it is about the size of our Milky Way galaxy (depending on whom you ask), and is about a 100,000 light-years.

M61 is an active galaxy with six supernovae observed within the last 100 years or so.

Hubble took this image as M61 was face-on. The spiral arms are very detailed.  The outer arms, seen in blue, are stellar nurseries where stars are being formed.

Messier 61 is part of the Virgo (just like me!) Galaxy Cluster, a massive group of galaxies in the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin – not so much like me in many respects).

Galaxy clusters (groups of galaxies) are some of the biggest structures in the Universe. The Virgo Cluster has over 1300 (and up to 2000) galaxies.

The Virgo Cluster also forms the central region of a Local Supercluster.  As the name suggests, it is an even bigger grouping of galaxies.

– 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

LADEE do you need some help?

As Jerry Lewis was fond of saying LAAYYYDEEE.  Although in this case it means something else.

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is scheduled to launch from Wallops Island in September.

This will be the first mission launched from Wallops Island to go beyond low Earth orbit.  I wasn’t even aware that Wallops Island had this capability (Go Navy!).

LADEE will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.

LADEE is also the first spacecraft to use a new modular common spacecraft bus.

This will allow multi-use designs and assembly-line production, that could drastically reduce the cost of spacecraft development.  Much like the European Space Agencies Mars and Venus Express craft used many common items to cut costs and decrease the time it takes from production to launch.

– 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