December 11, 2017

04.06.11: MPCV=Orion Reborn?

MPCV in Martian orbit. (Artist’s concept/NASA).

NASA may just have new marching orders for the post-shuttle era. Recently, NASA and Lockheed Martin announced a re-designation of its Orion (That OTHER Orion, not the Dyson one that shoots nukes out the back!) capsule as the MPCV, or the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The project had been in the doldrums since the cancellation of the Constellation program, and fans of manned spaceflight had wondered what was next for NASA with only one space shuttle flight remaining. [Read more...]

28.05.11: Spiders in SPACE (…ACE).

A Terrestrial Golden Orb Spider. (Image Credit: NASA & Danielle Anthony).

The recent final mission of the space shuttle Endeavour brought some very special residents to the International Space Station. Delivered in the cargo manifest of STS-134 was the Commercial Generic Bio-processing Apparatus Science Insert -05 containing a pair of golden orb spiders. [Read more...]

21.05.11: Student Project catches STS-134 launch…from 100,000ft!

Endeavour on her way the orbit one last time…(Credit: Quest for Stars).

A unique sentinel was on hand to witness the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour this past Monday. Senatobia-1, an airborne observatory equipped with still and video cameras, lifted off the morning of the launch to snap the above picture from a unique vantage point. [Read more...]

May 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

April’s rising Pink Moon. (Photo by Author).

The month of May brings with it the beginnings of true summer-like weather for most of the northern hemisphere. We’ve survived a wacky weather spring, and the planets are just starting to peep out from behind the Sun in the dawn sky. What follows is projects in the works and goings-on that are up and coming this month from all things Astroguyz;   [Read more...]

19.04.11: AMS-02: A Preview.

AMS-02…Good to Go! (Credit: NASA.gov). 

A very special payload will be aboard the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, one that had a long hard road to launch. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is destined for installation early next month on the S3 Upper Inboard Payload Attach Site on the International Space Station. Once aboard the ISS, the AMS will begin doing real science almost immediately, utilizing a large permanent magnet and no less than five detectors to perform astrophysical experiments. [Read more...]

13.04.11: Here Be Shuttles!

The Orbiter that started it all; Enterprise during a drop test. (All photos courtesy of NASA).

The Space Shuttle program may be winding up, but you may soon have a chance to see one of these storied orbiters, in person. Yesterday, NASA officials announced the final resting places for the three remaining orbiters in the shuttle fleet; and the big winners are:

- Atlantis will go to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida;

- Endeavour will go to the Los Angeles California Science Center;

- Discovery will go to the National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly Virgina.

And that will leave the Space Shuttle orbiter Enterprise, which never flew into space, to be transferred from the Smithsonian to the New York City Sea, Air, & Space Museum.

  

Discovery in orbit…

A mock trainer, Shuttle Orbiter Pathfinder, currently resides at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Also, hundreds of other select pieces of shuttle hardware and memorabilia will be located to other institutions throughout the nation. The announcement coincided with the 30th anniversary of the launch of STS-1 and Space Shuttle Columbia back in 1981, and the 50thanniversary of manned spaceflight with Yuri Gargin’s first epochal launch aboard Vostok 1 in 1961. During that time, the fleet has experienced highs with the launch and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, the deployment of the Chandra and Compton observatories, and the completion of the International Space Station as well as lows with the tragic loss of the Columbia and Challenger spacecraft along with their gallant crews. As we near the end of the program, look for a personal retrospective on the Space Shuttle and these historic orbiters. (Remember, we launch a shuttle but land an orbiter!) it seems weird that we’ve been flying Space Shuttles for over half of our personal existence on this planet, and a generation has come of age knowing nothing but. Hopefully, a brave new launch vehicle will be well established and performing routine space flights by the next decadal anniversary in 2021!  

    

…Liftoff of Shuttle Atlantis!

April 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

The Best yet of our Quest… A “wing-transit!” (Photo by Author). 

Wow. April 2011 already… and what a year it’s already been in history, astronomy and science. This month sees a look at some celebrity astronomers, another shuttle retirement, and the return of the most photogenic planet to evening skies. Here is what’s on our astro-radar for the month of April 2011; [Read more...]

24.02.11: Hefty Anti-particle Found.

The menagerie of bizarre sub-atomic particles just got stranger, as scientists at Long Islands Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider recently unveiled the discovery of the heaviest anti-particle yet discovered. Dubbed the antihypertriton, this strange beast sits at 200 milli-electron volts (for comparison, an electron volt about 1.602 x 10-19 joules), beating out old fashioned anti-helium.

[Read more...]

February 2010: Life in the Astro-blogosphere.

(Late breaking news: looks like Astroguyz will be tweeting live from the Johnson Space Center in Houston Feb. 17th as part of the STS-130 NASA Tweetup! Now is a good time to follow us on Twitter, as we partake in all things STS, and give you the blow-by-blow live!)

Cheer up, ye benighted souls of terrestrial northern hemisphere winter; astronomical things are afoot! The month of February sees the return of the Shuttle Endeavour to low Earth orbit, as well as the long anticipated launch of NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory. So, without further adieu, here’s a sneak peak at what we’re watching here in the month of February from Astroguyz HQ;

February Skies: February sees the passing of the not so close opposition of Mars from late January, although the Red Planet will be placed favorably for viewers throughout the northern hemisphere in February. A recent posting here at Astroguyz will tell you how to accomplish a rare feat: how to spot the Martian Moons.  A more curious and exceptional event happens on the Feb 9th close passage of NEO asteroid 2009 UN3. The Full Snow moon occurs on February 28th at 11:38 AM EST. [Read more...]

25.10.09: In Search of a Mirror Universe.

There is one enduring mystery in cosmology that just won’t budge; namely, just what happened to all that pesky anti-matter that was presumably created during the Big Bang? Was it annihilated, only to leave the infinitesimally small faction of pedestrian “normal” baryonic matter that comprises the universe that we know and love, or are there still areas that antimatter predominates? Now, cosmologists are getting their wish in the form of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), due to launch aboard the last shuttle flight and bound for the International Space Station late next year. Once installed, AMS will search the entire sky with an unprecedented accuracy looking for ultra-high energy cosmic rays in the form of anti-helium nuclei. Antimatter looks and behaves just like normal matter…except when it meets up with its mirror cousin. If you meet your anti-matter twin on the road, don’t shake hands with him or her, our you’ll both vanish in a flash of pure energy conversion Ala E=mc^2! The AMS will also look for such exotica as dark matter, micro-quasars, and strangelets, a proposed new form of matter. And that’s just the stuff we know about! I smell a possible Nobel in the works…are you reading this, CERN? The AMS has been an on-again, off-again payload that Congress just green-lighted last year. The AMS promises to reveal a big old, bizarre universe out there. With a sensitivity 200 times anything that’s flown previous, AMS should conclusively prove or disprove the potential existence of any lurking antimatter galaxies out to a radius of 100 mega-parsecs. Like CERN, AMS will also generate terabytes of data to keep astrophysicists awake nights, and will be a fitting end to the shuttle fleets’ career!

 

 

March 2008: Upcoming Astronews and Notes.

Folks in the northern hemisphere, mark your calendars: spring in the form of the vernal equinox begins at 01:48am EST March 24th. That signals the end of what’s been a long, snowy season for North America, although I bet we’ll see at least one more snow storm here in northern Maine past this date!

[Read more...]