Aerospace

Jimmy Duncan - A Prescient Politician

John James "Jimmy" Duncan is a former Chairman of the United States House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation.
Sentinel-1A lifted off on a Soyuz launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guyana at 9:02 PM GMT today.

Sentinel-1A has been at the launch site since the end of February and has been through numerous tests to make sure that everything is in perfect condition to provide essential radar imagery for Europe’s Copernicus program, which focuses on providing data to improve the way the environment is managed.

Weather satellites have been providing operational data for years, of course, but the family of Sentinel missions is designed for environmental monitoring.

Until now, rings of material in a disc have been associated with giant planets like Saturn.

Chariklo, located two billion kilometers away, between Saturn and Uranus,  is the first miniature planet with two rings of ice and pebbles. Chariklo was located in the Kuiper Belt, a collection of thousands of dwarf planets and comets in orbit beyond Neptune on the edge of our solar system, but at some point it must have been thrown out of this belt and is now between Saturn and Uranus, where there is a collection of small objects, called Centaur.


The Interface Region Imaging Spectrometer (IRIS) mission studies the chromosphere, that layer of the sun's atmosphere that is key to regulating the flow of energy and material as they travel from the sun's surface out into space.

Along the way, the energy heats up the upper atmosphere, the corona, and sometimes powers solar events such as this flare. IRIS is equipped with a spectrograph that can separate out the light it sees into its individual wavelengths, which in turn correlates to material at different temperatures, velocities and densities.


ESA, the European Space Agency, is my favorite space organization.

Yeah, I said it. The guy whose favorite movie is "The Right Stuff" and who could write a whole book on the Mercury program prefers the ESA over NASA. The reason is because ESA cares about outreach in a way that NASA doesn't. ESA does not care if you are the BBC or Science 2.0, if you call someone, they call back. If it involves more than a press release claiming it has 'implications for life on other planets' you are going to be stuck in a maze of bureuacracy.
Sometimes you don't need fancy modern compounds - primitive cavemen had the answer.

Burnt bone charcoal, used in prehistoric cave paintings, will be applied to the ESA’s Solar Orbiter titanium heatshield to protect it from the Sun’s close-up glare. 

Solar Orbiter, due for launch in 2017, will carry instruments to perform high-resolution imaging of Sol from as close as 42,000,000 km – a little more than a quarter of the distance to Earth. Operating in direct view of the Sun, the mission must endure 13 times the intensity of terrestrial sunlight and temperatures rising as high as 520° C.
When President Obama took office in 2009, among his first priorities was to cancel the Constellation program, mostly because it had George Bush's name on it, though that was behind a veneer of 'too expensive' and would take too long. 
It looks more like a painting than a real-life event but this image from the Cassini orbiter shows the progress of a massive storm on Saturn. 

The head of the storm is towards the left of the image, where the most turbulent activity is shown in white, but towards the center you can also see the trace of a spinning vortex in the wake of the storm.

The image is centered at about 0º longitude and 35º N latitude and has had its colors enhanced to help reveal the complex processes in Saturn’s weather. The white corresponds to the highest cloud tops, but to the human eye the storm would appear more as a bright area against a yellow background.
Rosetta is currently chasing down Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will become the first space mission to rendezvous with a comet, the first to attempt a landing on a comet’s surface and the first to follow a comet as it swings around the Sun.

But for 31 months it has been radio silent. It is powered by solar energy and was placed into deep space slumber in June of 2011 as it cruised out to a distance of nearly 500 million miles from Sol, beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Now it is only about 400 million miles from the Sun and has enough solar energy to power back up.

To everyone's relief, it did. 
Can you believe it's already been 10 years?

Before there was a cute Rover on the Martian surface, delighting us with pithy commentary on Twitter, we had Mars Express paving the way. Ten years ago, on 14 January 2004, it took its very first images, in color and in 3-D.