[VIDEO] Jupiter’s Red Spot Is Red Hot

What Jupiter’s spot is not, is tranquil. New infrared images taken by Boston University scientists on a NASA telescope in Hawaii show that whereas Jupiter’s north and south poles are heated by strong magnetic fields, its large, stormy red spot generates its own heat by a different mechanism. Shock waves from turbulent winds in the spot and other storms help explain how the planet’s upper atmosphere stays warm so far from the sun. Read the rest of this entry »


China To Develop Next-Generation Modular Missiles with Artificial Intelligence 

Next-generation cruise missiles equipped with artificial intelligence and capable of being tailored for specific combat scenarios, are set to debut in China.

Ryan Pickerel reports: Future conflicts will demand cost-effective and versatile weaponry, such as modular cruise missiles outfitted with artificial intelligence, Wang Changqing told the China Daily, at the 2016 Hiwing Forum in Beijing.

“We plan to adopt a ‘plug and play’ approach in the development of new cruise missiles, which will enable our military commanders to tailor-make missiles in accordance with combat conditions and their specific requirements.”

Changqing is the director of the General Design Department of the Third Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

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“Moreover, our future cruise missiles will have a very high level of artificial intelligence and automation.”

— Wang Changqing

“We plan to adopt a ‘plug and play’ approach in the development of new cruise missiles, which will enable our military commanders to tailor-make missiles in accordance with combat conditions and their specific requirements,” explained Changqing. “Moreover, our future cruise missiles will have a very high level of artificial intelligence and automation.”. Changqing indicated that China is already a global leader in artificial intelligence.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

The new cruise missiles will “allow commanders to control them in a real-time manner, or to use a fire-and-forget mode, or to add more tasks to in-flight missiles,” Changqing said.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

A modular missile is well-suited for future combat. The “destructive capacity, flight mode, and range” of the missiles can be easily adjusted to counter threats on the ground and at sea, Wang Ya’nan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge Magazine, informed China Daily. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] A Quick History of Space Exploration 

Orbital Sciences will once again attempt to rendezvous with the International Space Station when it launches the Cynus spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket, shown here in a file photo of an earlier launch. Photo courtesy Orbital Sciences

Orbital Sciences will once again attempt to rendezvous with the International Space Station when it launches the Cynus spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket, shown here in a file photo of an earlier launch. Photo courtesy Orbital Sciences

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Artist's concept of the new SpaceX Dragon, which may one day fly from Brownsville, Texas (Image: SpaceX)

Artist’s concept of the new SpaceX Dragon, which may one day fly from Brownsville, Texas (Image: SpaceX)

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From the first rocket launch in 1926 to Gagarin, Armstrong, Hubble, Curiosity and beyond, take a fast ride through the 90 years of human space exploration. Read the rest of this entry »


Getting to Mars: What It’ll Take


[VIDEO] High-Speed SpaceX Footage from Launches of Falcon 9 Rockets  

New camera views of past launches and reentries.Missions in order of appearance: May JCSAT-14; July CRS-9 launch, stage separation, engine plume interaction, and re-entry burn; December 2015 ORBCOMM landing burn; July CRS-9 landing burn.

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[VIDEO] Vault: V-2 Rocket; Assembling and Launching, 1947 

Reel 1 shows a V-2 rocket assembled from German parts at White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico. The alcohol tank, oxygen tank, propulsion unit, and tail housing are placed in position.

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The rocket is carried to the firing area and raised to a vertical position. Reel 2, final checks are made and the rocket is fired. Its course is followed by radar. Parts are recovered after the rocket has crashed.


BREAKING: North Korea Unveils Mission to ‘Plant Flag on the Moon’

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PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korean space officials are hard at work on a five-year plan to put more advanced satellites into orbit by 2020, and don’t intend to stop there: They’re also aiming for the moon, and beyond.

“Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon.”

— Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration

In an interview with The Associated Press, a senior official at North Korea’s version of NASA said international sanctions won’t stop the country from launching more satellites by 2020, and that he hopes to see the North Korean flag on the moon within the next 10 years.

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“Even though the U.S. and its allies try to block our space development, our aerospace scientists will conquer space and definitely plant the flag of the DPRK on the moon,” said Hyon Kwang Il, director of the scientific research department of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration.

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

An unmanned, no-frills North Korean moon mission in the not-too-distant future isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. Outside experts say it’s ambitious, but conceivable. While the U.S. is the only country to have conducted manned lunar missions, other nations have sent unmanned spacecraft there and have in that sense planted their flags.

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“It would be a significant increase in technology, not one that is beyond them, but you have to debug each bit,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who maintains an exhaustive blog on international satellites and satellite launches, said in an email to the AP. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Marine Corps Aviation: Today’s Military Readiness Crisis, Tomorrow’s Capabilities

Years of flat budgets amid an increasing operational tempo has thrown Marine aviation into a readiness crisis, forcing pilots to scrounge museum aircraft for parts simply to keep their aircraft flightworthy. Nevertheless, Marine aviators must prepare for high-intensity warfare against increasingly sophisticated foreign adversaries.

A U.S. fighter jet flies over an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Associated Press

Can the Marine Corps triage aircraft readiness if sequestration continues? How will the Marines integrate next-generation technology as diverse as autonomous vehicles, the revolutionary F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, and a new heavy-lift helicopter into future operational concepts? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] One Year on Earth: Seen From 1 Million Miles

On July 20, 2015, NASA released to the world the first image of the sunlit side of Earth captured by the space agency’s EPIC camera on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite. The camera has now recorded a full year of life on Earth from its orbit at Lagrange point 1, approximately 1 million miles from Earth, where it is balanced between the gravity of our home planet and the sun.

EPIC takes a new picture every two hours, revealing how the planet would look to human eyes, capturing the ever-changing motion of clouds and weather systems and the fixed features of Earth such as deserts, forests and the distinct blues of different seas. EPIC will allow scientists to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth.

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA. Read the rest of this entry »


Moon Landing Documentary Airs Today

Apollo 11 Moon Documentary Launches on Decades Network Today

 A TV documentary set to premier today (July 20) will tell the incredible story of the first moon landing, which took place 47 years ago today.

The documentary, called “Go: The Great Race,” will air four times today on the Decades TV Network, as a special episode of the show “Through the Decades.” A trailer for the documentary leads off with footage from President John F. Kennedy delivering his famous 1961 speech that called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.

“He had no reason to believe that we could even come close to doing something like that,” says one of the documentary’s interviewees (supposedly someone who worked on the Apollo, referring to Kennedy’s challenge. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND Apollo 11: Walter Cronkite Anchors First Moonwalk, CBS, July 1969

CBS INFO: On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off on a mission to put man on the moon. That dream came true on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Forty-five years after Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made history, CBS News is celebrating their achievement.

Each day through July 20, CBSNews.com will post videos showcasing archival footage of the coverage of the monumental mission and interviews with the astronauts and others reflecting on their great accomplishment.

Above, watch CBS News legend Walter Cronkite anchor coverage of Apollo 11’s dramatic blastoff from Cape Kennedy in Florida and the dramatic days that followed, culminating in the moon landing.

Buzz Aldrin launches social media campaign to mark moon landing anniversary
Cronkite marveled at how throngs of people stopped in their tracks to watch the liftoff.

“It seemed that the whole world stopped as man set out on the adventure to escape from his own planet and to set foot on a distant one,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Explore the Apollo 11 Command Module in 3D

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Erin Blakemore reports Forty-seven years ago, mankind achieved what was once unthinkable when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. But getting him there involved more than strapping the astronaut to a rocket and pressing “go.” Armstrong and his colleagues headed to space in the most advanced spacecraft of their time: the Apollo 11 command module, Columbia. Now, you can explore the module without leaving your couch with the help of a newly-released 3D model that offers unprecedented access to one of history’s most important technological achievements—and the inside scoop on what it was really like to be an Apollo astronaut.

The model is the result of painstaking digitization efforts by the Smithsonian Institution, which houses Columbia at the National Air and Space Museum, and Autodesk, Inc. Given the complexity of the craft—and the fact that photographers weren’t allowed to actually touch it while capturing every nook and cranny—the 3D model is an impressive feat.

It’s available to anyone with an internet connection and offers glimpses unavailable to museum visitors, who are not allowed to explore the inside of the craft. The model can be viewed online, but also comes with publicly available data files for 3-D printing or viewing with virtual reality goggles.

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Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins lived in Columbia during their time in space on the Apollo 11 mission, which launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969. Four days later, Aldrin and Armstrong headed to the moon’s surface on the “Eagle” lunar module.

Columbia itself is filled with clues as to life as an early astronaut. While photographing the inside of the module, curators discovered markings made by the astronauts on their mission, including information relayed by mission control and a hand-drawn calendar that documents the journey. The men even scribbled notes to one another on the walls, including a warning about “smelly waste!” that presumably cautioned intrepid explorers to keep away from a certain panel on the cramped craft. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Sun ‘Spins’ As Spacecraft Rolls 360 Degrees

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was commanded to roll 360 degrees on one axis. The maneuver was performed in 7 hours and time-lapsed here. It’s done to take ‘precise measurements of the solar limb’ according to the SDO team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The sun appears to take a dizzying flip in a new video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft .

SDO did a full somersault on July 6 over the course of about 7 hours, taking pictures of the sun every 12 seconds all the while.

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These photos, which SDO team members combined into a video, are pretty wild.

The video seems “to show the sun spinning, as if stuck on a pinwheel,” NASA officials wrote in an image description Friday (July 15).


What’s On Board the Next SpaceX Cargo Launch?

Cargo and supplies are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Monday, July 18 at 12:45 a.m. EDT. The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft will liftoff from our Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Among the arriving cargo is the first of two international docking adapters, which will allow commercial spacecraft to dock to the station when transporting astronauts in the near future as part of our Commercial Crew Program.

This metallic ring, big enough for astronauts and cargo to fit through represents the first on-orbit element built to the docking measurements that are standardized for all the spacecraft builders across the world.

Its first users are expected to be the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragonspacecraft, which are both now in development.

What About the Science?!

Experiments launching to the station range from research into the effects of microgravity on the human body, to regulating temperature on spacecraft. Take a look at a few:

A Space-based DNA Sequencer

DNA testing aboard the space station typically requires collecting samples and sending them back to Earth to be analyzed. Our Biomolecule Sequencer Investigation will test a new device that will allow DNA sequencing in space for the first time! The samples in this first test will be DNA from a virus, a bacteria and a mouse.

How big is it? Picture your smartphone…then cut it in half. This miniature device has the potential to identify microbes, diagnose diseases and evaluate crew member health, and even help detect DNA-based life elsewhere in the solar system.

OsteoOmics

OsteoOmics is an experiment that will investigate the molecular mechanisms that dictate bone loss in microgravity. It does this by examining osteoblasts, which form bone; and osteoclasts, which dissolves bone. New ground-based studies are using magnetic levitation equipment to simulate gravity-related changes. This experiment hopes to validate whether this method accurately simulates the free-fall conditions of microgravity.  Read the rest of this entry »


Space History: The Brilliant, Funny Computer Code Behind the Apollo 11 Mission

From their key positions in this control center at Goddard, the Manned Space Flight Network operations director and staff controlled Apollo mission communications activities throughout a far-flung worldwide complex of stations. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

Paul Smith writes: NASA’s Apollo 11 mission—the mission that put human beings on the moon for the first time—was launched in 1969, the year after I was born. My early Christmas presents were giant kids’ books full of pictures of that giant Saturn V rocket launching into space, the command and lunar modules, and of guys in bulky space suits walking on the moon. The first intelligible answer I gave to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was, “Astronaut.”

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I did not end up becoming an astronaut.

Computers also captured my attention at an early age, and now I work as a developer for Slate. But my fascination with space endures—so needless to say, I was pretty excited when I heard that the source code for Apollo 11’s computer guidance systems was uploaded on July 8 to Github, a popular site used by programmers to share code and collaboratively build software. Anyone can now read the actual lines of programming code used to land men on the moon.

[Read the full story here, at slate.com]

The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.

“I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean ‘launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.’ And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?”

The code is pretty inscrutable to casual inspection: It’s not written in a programming language recognizable to modern coders. But Hamilton and her team wrote comments in their code (just like I do when I write code for Slate’s website) to help remind them what’s going on in a given spot in the program. Those parts are surprisingly readable. Here’s a block of code from a file called BURN_BABY_BURN–MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.s (really, that’s what it’s called):

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So, clearly, “don’t forget to clean out leftover DVTOTAL data when GROUP 4 RESTARTS and then BURN, BABY!” I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean “launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.” And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?

Altogether, with comments and some added copyright headers, the AGC code adds up to about 2 megabytes—a teeny tiny fraction of the amount of code packed into an Apple Watch. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA’s Juno Spacecraft is Now in Orbit Around Jupiter

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Loren Grush reports: NASA’s Juno spacecraft has successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, bringing it closer to the planet than any probe has come so far. The vehicle reached the gas giant’s north pole this evening, and NASA received confirmation that the vehicle had turned on its main engine at 11:18PM ET. The engine burned for 35 minutes, helping to slow the spacecraft down enough so that it was captured by Jupiter’s gravitational pull. NASA confirmed that the burn was successful at around 11:53PM ET and that Juno was in its intended 53-day orbit.

The orbit insertion was a bit of a nail biter for NASA, as the spacecraft had to travel through regions of powerful radiation and rings of debris surrounding Jupiter. As an added precaution, the probe’s instruments were turned off for the maneuver so that nothing would interfere with the engine burn. But everything seemed to work flawlessly, and NASA received confirmation of the burn’s success almost exactly as expected. The timing only differed by 1 second from pre-burn predictions.

That confirmation came 48 minutes after the event actually occurred, though. That’s because it currently takes 48 minutes to send a signal from Jupiter to Earth. Juno started its burn at around 10:30PM ET and finished at 11:05PM ET, but NASA didn’t confirm all of this until just before midnight. If something had gone wrong and stopped the burn too early, the space agency wouldn’t have been in a position to fix the problem. Read the rest of this entry »


NASA’s Juno Mission Is About to Perform Its Most Dangerous Maneuvers 

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Jennifer Ouellette reports: NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been spinning through space on its way to Jupiter for five years and 445 million miles, and now it’s less than 10 hours away from entering the gas giant’s orbit—the equivalent of a single rotation of Jupiter. If all goes well, scientists will finally be able to learn what lies beneath Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, examine its impressive magnetosphere, and possibly determine the composition of its core.

“If Juno gets hit even by a small piece of dust, it can do a great bit of damage,” he said. “We believe probability is incredibly low that Juno will hit dust or debris, but it’s not zero. Even a 10 micron particle could do some damage moving at the speed we’re moving.”

— Juno project manager Scott Bolton

But first, it’s going to have to execute a tricky 35-minute engine burn under the harshest conditions any NASA spacecraft has yet faced. And that has Juno mission scientists on edge today. They’ve modeled every scenario they can think of, and planned for every contingency. But as Juno project manager Scott Bolton said in this morning’s briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, “This is the highest risk phase.”

“We’ve done everything humanly possible to make this mission a success, but it’s still a cliffhanger,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC.

Artist’s concept of Juno sweeping through Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s concept of Juno sweeping through Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thus far, the mission has gone off without a hitch, but plenty could still go wrong. For instance, what if the main engine doesn’t fire on cue to start the burn, so far from the sun? “We’ve fired the main engine twice successfully and the third time should be a charm,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager. “But this is the first time we’ve ever fired the main engine at Jupiter. It’s make or break for us.”

Then there’s the intense radiation from Jupiter’s enormous magnetosphere. According to Heidi Becker, lead investigator for Juno’s radiation monitoring, this translates into millions of high energy electrons moving near the speed of light. “They will go right though the spacecraft,” she said. “It’s the equivalent of 100 million x-rays in less than a year for a human being if we had no protection.”

Juno’s polar orbit will avoid the worst of the radiation belts at the planet’s equator, but other high-intensity regions are unavoidable. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Chinese Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Intercept 

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, reports: A U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying Tuesday in international airspace over the East China Sea was intercepted in an “unsafe manner” by a Chinese J-10 fighter jet, several defense officials tell CNN.

The Chinese jet was never closer than 100 feet to the U.S. aircraft, but it flew with a “high rate of speed as it closed in” on the U.S. aircraft, one official said. Because of that high speed, and the fact it was flying at the same altitude as the U.S. plane, the intercept is defined as unsafe.

The officials did not know if the U.S. plane took any evasive action to avoid the Chinese aircraft or at what point the J-10 broke away. It is also not yet clear if the U.S. will diplomatically protest the incident.

Officials said the RC-135 was on a routine mission.

Chinese jet makes 'unsafe' intercept

Chinese jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept 01:24

The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
>News of the intercept comes as Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are in Beijing for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Lew is pressing China to lower barriers to foreign business and cut excess steel production, with limited success.

The intercept also occurred just days after Defense Secretary Ash Carter and top military officials returned from a regional security meeting in Singapore. Read the rest of this entry »


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