Thursday, June 30, 2011

STS-135 - The Final Space Shuttle Launch (Atlantis)

Live coverage of space shuttle Atlantis’ STS-135 mission to the International Space Station.

Orbiter: Atlantis
Mission: STS-135
Payload: Raffaello
Launch: July 8, 2011
Time: 11:26 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: July 20 @ approx. 7:06 a.m. EDT
Site: KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility

http://www.spaceflig … e/sts135/status.html

Friday, June 10, 2011

Voyager Probes Suggest Magnetic Bubbles at Solar System Edge

PASADENA, Calif. — Observations from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, humanity’s farthest deep space sentinels, suggest the edge of our solar system may not be smooth, but filled with a turbulent sea of magnetic bubbles.

While using a new computer model to analyze Voyager data, scientists found the sun’s distant magnetic field is made up of bubbles approximately 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) wide. The bubbles are created when magnetic field lines reorganize. The new model suggests the field lines are broken up into self-contained structures disconnected from the solar magnetic field. The findings are described in the June 9 edition of the Astrophysical Journal.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Opportunity Heads Toward ‘Spirit Point’

When NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity reaches the rim of a large crater it is approaching, its arrival will come with an inspiring reminder.

This crater, Endeavour, became the rover’s long-term destination nearly three years ago. Opportunity has driven about 11 miles (18 kilometers) since climbing out of Victoria crater in August 2008, with Endeavour crater beckoning to the southeast. The rover has about 2 miles (about 3 kilometers) to go before reaching the rim of Endeavour.

Rover team members last week selected “Spirit Point” as the informal name for the site on the rim where Opportunity will arrive at Endeavour crater. The choice commemorates Opportunity’s rover twin, Spirit, which has ended communication and finished its mission.

“Spirit achieved far more than we ever could have hoped when we designed her,” said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., principal investigator for the rovers. “This name will be a reminder that we need to keep pushing as hard as we can to make new discoveries with Opportunity. The exploration of Spirit Point is the next major goal for us to strive for.”

Endeavour offers the setting for plenty of productive work by Opportunity. The crater is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter — more than 20 times wider than Victoria crater, which Opportunity examined for two years. Orbital observations indicate that the ridges along its western rim expose rock outcrops older than any Opportunity has seen so far. Spirit Point is at the southern tip of one of those ridges, “Cape York,” on the western side of Endeavour.

Opportunity and Spirit completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions. Both have made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Endeavour Lands, Atlantis at Launch Pad

Wed, 01 Jun 2011 09:25:40 AM EDT

Space shuttle Endeavour completed its final flight by delivering the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station during the STS-134 mission.

“I think we all should be really impressed how big and magnificent that space station is,” said STS-134 Mission Specialist Mike Fincke at the crew press conference following landing. Describing their parting view of the space station where he served once as crew and once as commander, he said, “We were impressed; we were excited like five-year olds at a rollercoaster park.”

“What a great ending to this really wonderful mission,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations. In regard to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, Gerstenmaier said, “They’re getting great data from their instrument on board the space station. It couldn’t have gone any better for this mission.”

“We’ve had a lot going on here,” said Mike Moses, space shuttle launch integration manager, “Being able to send Atlantis out to the pad and then go out and land Endeavour was really a combination I never expected to have.”

Mike Leinbach, space shuttle launch director, added, “It’s been a great morning at the Kennedy Space Center.”

Endeavour landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after 248 orbits around Earth and a journey of 6,510,221 miles. The STS-134 mission was the 25th and final flight for Endeavour, which spent a total of 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times and traveled 122,883,151 miles.

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