Our home in space.
Neil Armstrong: Requiescat in Pace. He died after complications from heart surgery.
The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, died today at 82. He served as a naval fighter pilot in Korea, flying 78 combat missions. A test pilot after the war, his feats in that field were legendary, combining strong engineering ability, cold courage and preternatural flight skills. He was accepted into the astronaut program in 1962. On July 16, 1969, in the middle of the night in Central Illinois, he set foot on the moon. My father and I, like most of the country, were riveted to the television screen as we watched a turning point in the history of humanity. He intended to say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It came out: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Godspeed Mr. Armstrong on the journey you have just embarked upon.
The Daily Mail has a comprehensive article on this news here.
After a yearlong flight and “seven minutes of terror,” Curiosity stretches its legs.
The rover has landed.
At 1:31 a.m. ET Monday, the Curiosity rover‘s “seven minutes of terror” evaporated in a swirl of fine-grained soil as six aluminum wheels touched the red planet for the first time. NASA had nailed the riskiest Mars landing ever.
Now Curiosity’s two-year search for signs of life begins, with the kind of extended stretch and warm-up you might expect after a cramped, yearlong flight—as detailed here in an excerpt for the new National Geographic e-book Mars Landing 2012.
(Watch live Mars rover landing coverage via NASA TV streaming video.)
If [the rover’s essential systems] are working, then comes a gradual unfolding, deploying, and revving up of the ten science instruments and cameras that are Curiosity’s reason for being.
It’s a process that will take days, and in some cases weeks or months. But the [Curiosity] team will know soon whether the key power and communication systems have sustained any damage during the 352-million-mile [567-million-kilometer] journey or during the high-wire landing.
Communication is largely accomplished through relays to three satellites orbiting Mars or through the Deep Space Network, a system of giant interconnected antenna dishes in Madrid, Spain; Canberra, Australia; and the Mojave Desert.
Assuming that communications are established, the first order of business will be to verify the health of the small nuclear battery that will provide power for the rover. Curiosity carries ten pounds of plutonium-238 dioxide as a heat source, which is then used to produce the onboard electricity needed to move the rover, operate the instruments, and keep the frigid nighttime cold at bay.
(Explore an interactive time line of Mars exploration in National Geographic magazine.)
Curiosity Unpacks for a Two-Year Visit
If all is well, what follows will be a highly choreographed unpacking of the rover…
Find out more here.
In the Daily Mail:
They have previously dropped an iPad out of a plane as well as launching a bowling ball on one.
But G-Form have now gone one step further in order to prove just how tough their protective iPad cases are.
The firm has dropped an Apple tablet from the edge of space and, incredibly, it survived.
The whole thing here.
A large metallic space ball fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting authorities to contact Nasa and the European space agency.
In the Telegraph:
The hollow ball, which has a circumference of 43 inches, was found near a village in the north of Namibia some 480 miles from the capital Windhoek, according to police forensics director Paul Ludik.
Locals had heard several small explosions a few days beforehand, he said.
With a diameter of 14 inches, the ball has a rough surface and appears to consist of “two halves welded together”.
It was made of a “metal alloy known to man” and weighed 13 pounds, said Ludik.
It was found 59ft from its landing spot, a hole one foot deep and 12ft wide.
Several such balls have reportedly dropped in southern Africa, Australia and Latin America in the past twenty years.
The sphere was discovered mid-November, but authorities first did tests before announcing the find.
Police deputy inspector general Vilho Hifindaka concluded the sphere did not pose any danger.
“It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow, but we had to investigate all this first,” he said.
Yes, at the International Space Station:
An icon of the Mother of God was prominently displayed on a Russian spacecraft during a recent television broadcast from the International Space Station. The display of a religious image, during a broadcast that was seen around the world, illustrates the enormous change in Russia since the fall of the Communist regime.
The icon—an image of the beloved Mother of God of Kazan—was a gift to the Russian space program from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. The Orthodox leader had expressed the desire that the icon would be taken on the historic journey marking the 50th anniversary of man’s exploration in outer space.
The American space agency said decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11.23pm and 1.09am on Saturday morning (3.23am GMT to 5.09am GMT).
Tracking of the satellite, which broke up during its re-entry through the atmosphere, showed it was passing eastwards over Canada and areas of open ocean.
Nasa said it was still trying to determine the precise re-entry time and location. Unconfirmed reports on Twitter suggested some of the debris may have fallen near a town south of Calgary in western Canada…
Most of the satellite was expected to have burned up during re-entry but 26 fragments weighing up to half a tonne in total are expected to hit the Earth’s surface.
Officials said the risk to the public from the satellite was very remote…
Mark Matney, an orbital debris scientist at Nasa, said: “In the entire 50 plus year history of the space program, no person has ever been injured by a piece of re-entering space debris.
“Keep in mind we have bits of debris re-entering the atmosphere every single day.” The US Department of Defence and Nasa were tracking the debris. The US Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to pilots and flight crews of the potential hazard, and urged them to report any falling space debris and take note of its position and time…
The surviving chunks of the UARS satellite are likely to include titanium fuel tanks, beryllium housing and stainless steel batteries and wheel rims.
Nasa added: “Pieces of UARS landing on Earth will not be very hot. Heating stops 20 miles up, and it cools after that.” Any surviving wreckage belongs to Nasa, and it is against the law to keep or sell even the smallest piece.
There space said sharp edges could be dangerous and warned people not to pick up pieces if they find them, urging them to contact local law enforcement authorities instead.
Canadians: For goodness sake, just leave the stuff alone! Heaven forbid you may just cut yourselves, or worse, catch some sort of weird space alien sickness. Dialing 911 (you have 911 don’t you?) on your telephone is the fastest way you will get help when confronted with this dangerous, fallen space litter!