Tag Archives: space

International cooperation in space serving humanity

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Photo credit: SENTINEL-1 LIFTS OFF

This morning I watched the launch of the Sentinel 1A satellite. The launch was perfect and the coverage on Spaceflight Now excellent with plenty of explanation along the way.

The satellite was launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from the European Space Agency (ESA) launch pad Kourou near the town of Sinnamary, French Guiana, on South America’s northern Atlantic coastline. Sentinel 1A was built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy. The satellite is now being managed from a mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

International cooperation important

Viewing this event I couldn’t help noticing the programme is a result of cooperation between several countries. First of all, countries in the European Commission and ESA, but also Russia which provided the launcher and whose companies were involved in the launch. That cooperation is obvious from the fact that English, French, German, Italian and Russian languages were being used.

I think there are two important points about this cooperation in our modern world:

  1. International cooperation is vital to the success of these scientifically important projects. They are just too big and complex to be handled by single nations.
  2. Scientific success is not an end in itself – is the basis for humanitarian success. international cooperation is vital for solving environmental, economic and security problems all countries face today.

So, alongside this good news of the Sentinel 1A success I am concerned about the bad news that NASA is to take part in the politically initiated sanctions against Russia. Yesterday, NASA released this statement:

Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation. NASA and Roscosmos will, however, continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station. NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space. This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration’s for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year. With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It’s that simple. The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America – and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same.

Any long-term operation of these sanctions, despite the exclusion of the International Space Station work, will inevitable have a negative effect on international scientific cooperation. And will inevitably retard humanity’s work on alleviating our environmental, economic and security problems.

Frankly I think these sanction are cynical measures resulting from inevitable geopolitical frictions and should only have a relatively short lifetime.

Let us hope so.

Copernicus and Sentinel 1A

Sentinel 1A is the first of 17 satellites to be launched over the next decade in the Copernicus programme – described as “the largest Earth-observation program in history.”

“When all of the Sentinel satellites have been launched, they will form a network tasked with gathering an unprecedented amount of data regarding the planet. . . Using a wide variety of instrumentation, the Copernicus program will be able to provide scientists, government agencies and other parties with the necessary data to precisely determine the exact current state of the planet. Moreover, the data will also be useful in creating simulations and predictions of future climate and weather trends.”

Have a look at this infographic for a summary of the Copernicus programme and the satellites involved.

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Click on image to enlarge

An overview of the Copernicus programme describes it this way:

“Copernicus provides a unified system through which vast amounts of data, acquired from space and from a multitude of in situ sensors, are fed into a range of thematic information services designed to benefit the environment, the way we live, humanitarian needs and support effective policy-making for a more sustainable future.

These services fall into six main categories: land management, the marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change.

In essence, Copernicus will help shape the future of our planet for the benefit of all. ESA is contributing by providing a proven framework for the development of operational systems on behalf of the user community, paving the way for investment in future generation systems. ESA is exploiting its 30 years of expertise in space programme development and management to contribute to the success of Copernicus.”

See also: European Earth observing craft prepared for launch.

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Most of us missed this one

Karl Battams reports (The Mercury Transit You Probably Missed) there was a transit of the sun by Mercury recently. Despite this being a rare event nothing was made of it – because it wasn’t visible from earth!

Here is a video of the transit taken by the NASA STEREO-A satellite At the moment this is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth.

Fascinating that we have enough presence in the solar system now to make such a record.

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Back to the moon!

Well, this is pretty historic!

China has successfully soft landed its probe on the moon and the rover is now on the surface.

The Planetary society’s Emily Lakdawalla has posted TV video of the unloading of the Rover – see Six wheels on soil for Yutu!

These are 3 animated gifs from Emily’s article

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For those wanting to follow the process in real-time this is the video from the TV coverage.

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Phobos eclipses the sun – as seen by Curiosity

I find this fascinating – a short video of an eclipse of the sun by the largest Martian moon, Phobos. Photographed by Curiosity a rover/laboratory landed on Mars just over a year ago.

Mars’ Moon Phobos Eclipses the Sun, as Seen by Curiosity

Celebrate your curiosity – one year on

This week we mark the first anniversary of the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, in the Gale Crater on Mars.

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Self-portrait – Curiosity on Mars

TV and video coverage of this landing had a huge international audience on the night. It was certainly one of the top scientific events of the year.

The video below gives a short review of Curiosity and its landing.

Curiosity Rover: One Year on Mars

Celebrations

Curiosity team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., will share remembrances about the dramatic landing night and the mission overall in an event that will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website from 10:45 a.m. to noon EDT on Tuesday, Aug. 6 (2:45 to 4 a.m. Wednesday Aug. 7  NZST).

Immediately following that program NASA TV will carry a live public event from NASA Headquarters in Washington. That event will feature NASA officials and crew members aboard the International Space Station as they observe the rover anniversary and discuss how its activities and other robotic projects are helping prepare for a human mission to Mars and an asteroid. Social media followers may submit questions on Twitter and Google+ in advance and during the event using the hashtag #askNASA.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

The events will also be carried on Ustream at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl

And here’s a few links with further information on Curiosity, its discoveries and celebration of the anniversary back here on earth.

Mars Science Laboratory: Celebrate Your Curiosity: Anniversary Week Activities
Mars science laboratory
Curiosity’s Views of Gale Crater

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Not your usual rocket launch

This isn’t your usual rocket lauch.

The viewpoint is unusual – it’s from above. The rocket doesn’t reach great heights but it lands perfectly

via Grasshopper 325m Test | Single Camera (Hexacopter).

Chris Hadfield’s 5-month Space Mission in 90 Seconds

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.

Houston, We Have A Viral Video – Chris Hadfield In Space

Thanks to Chris Hadfield’s 5-month Space Mission in 90 Seconds – Ontario Stargazing.

Video coverage of astronauts’ return to earth next Tuesday morning

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.

The Canadian Space Agency will mark the landing with a “Tweetup” at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Quebec. This will include live video coverage of the landing.

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Photo: Canadian Space Agency/Chris Hadfield

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)
  • 6:45 p.m Monday, EDT. 10:45 a.m. Tuesday 14 NZT. — Undocking (undocking scheduled at 7:08 p.m. [11.08 a.m Tuesday 14 NZT])
  • 9:15 p.m. Monday EDT. 1:15 p.m. Tuesday 14 NZT — Deorbit burn and landing (deorbit burn scheduled at 9:37 p.m. EDT [1.37 p.m Tuesday 14 NZT], landing scheduled at 10:31 p.m. EDT [2.31 p.m. Tuesday 14 NZT]).
  • There will also be later video coverage of post landing activities.

Christchurch from space

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).

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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.”

Our world from the International Space Station

Baikal

Photo by Chris Hadfield / NASA: Lake Baikal, Siberia. Immensely old and deep, it holds one-fifth of all the Earth’s fresh water. 26 Feb 2013, 7:31 PM (Click photo to enlarge)

Anyone following Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) on Twitter will have seen some of his gorgeous photos taken from the International Space Station (ISS). Somebody should collect them together so we can browse them.

Well, someone has done that with photos taken by Hadfield and other members of the ISS crew. Have a look at the web site Our World From The ISS or click the screen image below.

ISS-photos

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