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Space Updates [Oct. 9th, 2012|02:38 pm]

  • Falcon Engine Failure -- That launch the other day? Not quite perfect this time. They had an engine shut down. Pressure in one engine chamber dropped sharply right around MaxQ during the stage 1 burn. The computer detected it, cut it off, and the engine went out with a final surge that blew out some protective ablative panels. The flight computer then rerouted fuel to the remaining 8 engines and rebalanced the trajectory. This is one of the failure modes they designed for so that their vehicle is redundant and it appears to have largely worked. Though they were unable to fully boost a prototype satellite (their secondary payload below Dragon) to its intended orbit since mission rules prevented it.

  • Curiosity Scoops First Martian Soil -- Curiosity is engaging in more of its science objectives. The rover previously used it's laser and spectrometer to examine a nearby rock. It has now pulled up a soil sample. Though operations are temporarily on hold as they've spied a small reflective speck near the rover. They believe it's a shred of plastic from one of the protective covers of the rover and not significant.

  • Voyager 1 Has Left the System -- Scientists are about ready to conclude that Voyager 1 has officially left the solar system. (They're waiting to finish analysis on one more data set of magnetic readings. They have already seen some convincing evidence in particle detector data.) Crossing this threshold would mean that mankind has sent its first object into literal interstellar space, outside of our sun's sphere of influence.

  • New Horizons is 1000 Days Away from Pluto -- Okay, 1007. Just come back and reread this entry a week from now. :)

[User Picture]From: karpour
2012-10-09 11:26 pm (UTC)
I like your lj feed :)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2012-10-10 04:41 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'll try to keep it interesting. :)
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2012-10-10 12:57 am (UTC)
They believe it's a shred of plastic from one of the protective covers of the rover and not significant.

Well, at least until they make out the tiny "Another fine product of Beeblebrox Industries!" lettering.

"There is no well-established criteria"

Eeeg! No, dammit, either it's "are", or it's "criterion".

Feh. Bet he quotes entire replies in email and posts above them, too.

Just (over) 1000 days! It's going to be quite a visit. Think of how Jupiter and Saturn imagery were, before our first visits (albeit by proxy) there - some detail, but still, a bit rough. Now, we have these ultra-high resolution shots to pore through.

I notice NASA's continually referring to Pluto as a planet.. which I have no objection to. ^_^ It's an oddball, and comparatively tiny, but it does seem to count as a legitimate member of the solar system, and distinct from some random asteroid body.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2012-10-10 04:43 pm (UTC)
> No, dammit, either it's "are", or it's "criterion".

*quickly checks to confirm HE didn't make that error*

Yes, terribly sloppy writing! ;)

> I notice NASA's continually referring to Pluto as a planet

Shhh! No one's broken the news to New Horizons yet. Be careful what you say in the control room in case the microphones are on. Don't want her to get depressed about her mission objective!
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2012-10-10 04:47 pm (UTC)
Good question. Without actually researching or performing math, I'm going to say: never.

It's going incredibly slowly on a galactic scale. It will not be able to escape the gravitational pull of the galaxy as a whole. It will likely drift between stars in our neighborhood for the foreseeable future (until the galaxy evolves enough that our stars and arm spread/coalesce into something new) or eventually get captured by or fall into a star (actually relatively unlikely due to the sparseness of space).
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From: avon_deer
2012-10-10 08:04 am (UTC)
I am buzzed about Voyager 1.
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[User Picture]From: orv
2012-10-11 01:49 am (UTC)
What amazes me most about Voyager I is that anything on board is still working, after so long in a hostile environment. What an amazing engineering job.
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