Many people have probably just become aware of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield in the last week because of his musical video Space Oddity that went viral.
It might be hard to find anyone who has not watched that video. However, Hadfield has starred in many videos from the International Space Station – sometimes singing but more often introducing viewers to interesting facts about living in a zero gravity environment.
This video is a very short (90 seconds) mashup of some of these.
UPDATE: Woops! Sorry, I confused the time conversions. The correct NZ times are now present in bold.
It’s all go aboard the International Space Station at the moment. An external ammonia link was found today (see NASA: Space station power system radiator leaking). This is connected to power systems and steps are changes are being made to isolate its effects.
Meanwhile three of the cosmonauts/astronauts will be returning to earth early next week. Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, Tom Marshburn of NASA and Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will undock their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft from the station on Tuesday May 14 NZT (7:08 p.m. EDT May 13), heading for a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan southeast of Dzhezkazgan at 10:31 p.m. EDT (8:31 a.m. Kazakh time, May 14). They will have spent 146 days in space since their Dec. 19 launch from Kazakhstan.
Chris Hadfield, a Canadian, has been very actively photographing the earth – different countries and cities, and sending the photos out to social media via Twitter. He’s also done a lot of communication via video links to schoolchildren and other audiences. Hopefully the remaining cosmonauts/astronauts, and the new arrivals will make efforts continue such communication.
Activities connected with the departure of the Soyuz craft and its landing can be following live on NASA TV. Coverage will begin Sunday, May 12 EDT, with the change of command ceremony between Hadfield and Vinogradov. Coverage will continue May 13 and 14 EDT with Expedition 35 landing and post-landing activities.
NASA TV’s full coverage schedule is as follows (I have included both NZT and EDT):
Sunday, May 12, 3:40 p.m. EDT — Expedition 35/36 change of command ceremony
Monday, May 13, 3:30 p.m. EDT 11:30 p.m. NZT– Farewells and hatch closure (hatch closure scheduled at 3:50 p.m. EDT, 7:50 a.m. Tuesday 14 NZT)
This recent photo of Christchurch from Chris Hadfield now on board the International Space Station appealed to me. It seems to have quite wide coverage – but here it is for readers who have not yet come across it. (Click to enlarge).
Hadfield’s comment accompanying the Twitter of his photo said:
“Christchurch, NZ, taken just after Earth Hour ended. The perfect grid system of the downtown core is clearly visible.”
But talk about a cosmic coincidence. here we were looking in one direction to watch the flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 (see Should we be prepared?) when another one, previously undetected, scores a direct hit coming form another direction. Imagine if the Russian one had flown by while the larger asteroid 2012 DA14 hit directly. The damage would have been far greater.
Sort of underlines the need for humanity to develop better systems for early detection of near earth objects, and the ability to divert them where necessary.
Tomorrow morning the asteroid Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass by the earth. At its nearest approach Friday (Feb. 15, Morning of February 16 NZ time), the 150-foot-wide (45 meters) asteroid 2012 DA14 will be just 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) from Earth (within the orbits of geosynchronous communications, weather and navigation satellites) — the closest encounter with such a large space rock that researchers have ever known about in advance.
NASA TV will also run a live commentary of the flyby February 15 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) US time – 8 am NZ time.
Should we worry?
Nothing to worry about they tell us!
But here’s what worries me.
This asteroid was only discovered a short time ago (within the last year). The fact that it will pass so close indicates a reasonable chance we could actually be hit by an asteroid that size any time. One capable of destroying a major city.
There are larger asteroids out there. Some large enough to cause world-wide damage – even extinction of life.
Shouldn’t we be doing something about this possibility?
Yes, I know we are busy finding and mapping orbits of near earth objects. But what would we do if we actually found one that was on target for a direct hit? With notice of only a few month?
We should be working hard to develop the spacecraft and techniques capable of diverting such objects. And have them ready, able to do the diversion with very little notice.
I suspect we already have the technology and ideas to produce such craft.
Several years ago I was shocked at the reaction of some US space enthusiasts when the Russians announced they were putting effort into systems for diverting asteroids. They seemed to think the idea was fanciful.
Fortunately, since then the US has announced plans of their own to at least develop the ability to make manned visits to asteroids.
Surely space-faring nations should be working together to urgently develop the ability to divert near earth object? The future of our species may depend on it.
I have enjoyed watching live the launches and landing of the manned space vehicles going to, and coming from, the International Space Station.
The Shuttle launches were always dramatic. The gliding landings of the Shuttle and the parachute assisted landing of the Soyuz vehicles had their own suspense. But something I really missed was on-board video of the astronauts during Shuttle launches and landings.
In contrast we always got views of the three cosmonauts aboard the Soyuz craft during launching. But very rarely anything showing the far more complex flight deck of the Shuttles. I suspect this had something to do with secret technology.
Although recent US probes to Mars have been very successful there have certainly been a lot of failures in both US and Russian attempts in the past.
However, we all have our fingers crossed for the Curiosity probe which will attempt the landing of a rover on Mars in early August. But the landing itself will be very stressful. There are just so many problems to overcome – not the least the 15 minutes radio messages take to get from Mars to Earth – one way.
I don’t know what odds to bookies place on a successful landing – but after watching this video I don’t think it can be very high.
Still, a lot of people are hoping for success and no doubt we will be able to share the tension, excitement and (hopefully) joys of the NASA engineers involved in real-time on the internet and via Twitter.
“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
The immensity of the galaxy almost seems beyond human comprehension. But this image does start to bring it home to me. It shows the extent of penetration of human radio signals into our galaxy since we have had radio. It’s that small blue dot, 200 light years in diameter, you can see in the enlarged section.
And our galaxy is only an extremely small and irrelevant part of the universe.
Books are ideal Christmas presents. And as I am spending some time dealing with family business I thought reposting some of my past book reviews over the next few days could be useful am repeating some of my past book reviews.
This is ideal for anyone interested in exploration of the solar system. And topical with the latest US Mars probe, Curiosity, safely on its way to Mars.
This book describes Andrew Kessler’s experience when he left home and went to live on Mars. Well – almost. As he describes it:
“I spent three months in mission control with 130 top NASA scientists and engineers as they explored, photographed and dug up Mars. I was the first outsider ever granted unfettered access to the physicists, biologists, chemists, geologists and rocket scientists in the control room of a planetary mission to Mars. . . . For 90 days, I sat with the crew of the Phoenix mission working to explore the Martian arctic. Martian Summer is my non-fiction account of the strange life inside mission control and the people behind digging for dirt on Mars.”
This was possible because of an initiative by Peter Smith, Head of the Phoenix Mission. He organised to bring Kessler on to the team to provide some of the science outreach. Kessler had co-produced Mars: The Quest for Life, a Discovery Channel documentary about the mission. He was now “embedded” into the team at the University Of Arizona in Tucson for the 90 days of the early Phoenix programme “Martian Summer” is the result.
Phoenix Mars Lander
So the book is about the scientists and engineers in the team handling the Phoenix Mars Lander which landed on Mars May 25, 2008. It’s about the people actively involved in today’s exploration of Mars, and their work. Given the problems and cost of manned space exploration by interplanetary and planetary robots is currently the only game in town. The vehicles, and the teams running them, comprises modern interplanetary discovery.