spaceexp
spaceexp:

sagansense:
On this Earth day of August 6, 2014, a wonderful feat will be achieved, recorded into our timeline of human history, and will set a precedent for subsequent robotic emissaries moving forward.
Amidst the strife and persecution, the tyranny, war, genocide; the economic woes throttling the health and welfare of our civilization bred from artificial barriers we’ve constructed - mental and physical - that mortgage our longevity as a species…amidst the turmoil constantly blinding us from our preciousness in space and time which we owe to the biological sophistication of our single-celled ancestors,
…we’ve come together, both NASA and ESA - a consortium of 20 member states - to now witness another demonstration of international collaboration. The dream, inception, construction, and launch - in 2004 - of a spacecraft (and accompanying lander) now beginning its rendezvous with a planetary body, a comet, dubbed 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, named after discoverers Klim Ivanovych Churyumov and Svetlana Ivanova Gerasimenko, who first observed it on photographic plates in 1969.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken by Rosetta’s NavCam and OSIRIS science camera during the spacecraft’s approach to the comet in July and August, 2014. The last image, at lower right, was taken on August 4. [source]
The spacecraft is just as intriguing as the comet, however. Rosetta is a joint operation: a probe and a lander.
The probe, Rosetta, is named after the Egyptian basalt slab - the Rosetta Stone - which were inscribed three distinct scripts of various origin: Egyptianhieroglyphs, Demotic, and Ancient Greek.
Learn more about the Rosetta Stone here.
The lander’s name - Philae - was provided its name due to the Nile Island ‘Philae’, to which one of two obelisks were discovered which were inscribed with Ancient Greek and Egyptian inscriptions as well.
The Philae obelisk with Kingston Lacy in the background. [source]
In combination with one another - the obelisk and the Rosetta Stone - these two discoveries led to a great understanding of the Egyptian writing system, enabling further knowledge of our ancient history.
Just as the Philae obelisk and the Rosetta Stone granted us further understanding of our development as a species regarding our cultural history, Rosetta (the spacecraft) and Philae (the lander) will provide us further insight into the formation and content of comets, and thus, the origins of our early solar system.
An artist’s visualization of Rosetta/Philae and comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko [source]
Today, Rosetta (courtesy of NASA/ESA) will be the first spacecraft to ever rendezvous with a comet, escort (orbit) it along the comet’s trajectory toward the Sun, and deploy Philae (courtesy of DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI) to its surface.

The details are robust, but Rosetta’s orbital insertion (entry into orbit) will begin with a succession of triangular arcs (about 100km long), taking about 3-4 days to complete each one, with short thruster burns at each apex in order to redirect it toward/into each arc path to stay near the comet. The reason for this is due to the comet’s current speed and trajectory as it heads on its current path toward the Sun. Upon each triangular arc, Rosetta will be lowered closer to the comet’s surface until 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko captures the spacecraft with its gravity. Read more on today’s events HERE.
ESA’s video “How To Orbit A Comet” provides a beautifully animated visual guide regarding the Rosetta mission timeline and series of events.
Philae’s mission is quite different. Rosetta will come within about 10km of the comet’s nucleus to deploy the lander in November 2014. It will take several hours to reach comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s surface due to the extremely low gravity. Landing gear will absorb the small amount of force when reaching the surface, and ice screws in the probe’s legs - accompanied with a harpoon system - will lock onto the comet’s surface for sustained stability. Simultaneously, a thruster on the top of the lander will force it down to counteract the impulse of the harpoon, which will result in a force exerted from the opposing direction. Once anchored to the comet, Philae will commence its main objectives, which comprise 10 science instruments, and can be read about in detail HERE.

Again, ESA provides a beautiful animation regarding this part of the mission (watch it here), showcasing 5 of the 10 instruments in action: CIVA, ROLIS, SD2, MUPUS and APXS.
Artist’s visualization of Philae’s rendezvous/landing on the comet’s surface. [source]
This magnificent series of robotic maneuvers happens today, and you can follow along beginning at 8:00 GMT [10:00 CEST] via the link below :)
Rosetta mission timeline/overview [source]
Keep up with Rosetta via @ESA, andjoin the livestream event at 8:00 GMT [10:00 CEST]!
Stay curious.

spaceexp:

sagansense:

On this Earth day of August 6, 2014, a wonderful feat will be achieved, recorded into our timeline of human history, and will set a precedent for subsequent robotic emissaries moving forward.

Amidst the strife and persecution, the tyranny, war, genocide; the economic woes throttling the health and welfare of our civilization bred from artificial barriers we’ve constructed - mental and physical - that mortgage our longevity as a species…amidst the turmoil constantly blinding us from our preciousness in space and time which we owe to the biological sophistication of our single-celled ancestors,

…we’ve come together, both NASA and ESA - a consortium of 20 member states - to now witness another demonstration of international collaboration. The dream, inception, construction, and launch - in 2004 - of a spacecraft (and accompanying lander) now beginning its rendezvous with a planetary body, a comet, dubbed 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, named after discoverers Klim Ivanovych Churyumov and Svetlana Ivanova Gerasimenko, who first observed it on photographic plates in 1969.

imageComet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken by Rosetta’s NavCam and OSIRIS science camera during the spacecraft’s approach to the comet in July and August, 2014. The last image, at lower right, was taken on August 4. [source]

The spacecraft is just as intriguing as the comet, however. Rosetta is a joint operation: a probe and a lander.

The probe, Rosetta, is named after the Egyptian basalt slab - the Rosetta Stone - which were inscribed three distinct scripts of various origin: Egyptianhieroglyphs, Demotic, and Ancient Greek.

imageLearn more about the Rosetta Stone here.

The lander’s name - Philae - was provided its name due to the Nile Island ‘Philae’, to which one of two obelisks were discovered which were inscribed with Ancient Greek and Egyptian inscriptions as well.

imageThe Philae obelisk with Kingston Lacy in the background. [source]

In combination with one another - the obelisk and the Rosetta Stone - these two discoveries led to a great understanding of the Egyptian writing system, enabling further knowledge of our ancient history.

Just as the Philae obelisk and the Rosetta Stone granted us further understanding of our development as a species regarding our cultural history, Rosetta (the spacecraft) and Philae (the lander) will provide us further insight into the formation and content of comets, and thus, the origins of our early solar system.

imageAn artist’s visualization of Rosetta/Philae and comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko [source]

Today, Rosetta (courtesy of NASA/ESA) will be the first spacecraft to ever rendezvous with a comet, escort (orbit) it along the comet’s trajectory toward the Sun, and deploy Philae (courtesy of DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI) to its surface.

image

The details are robust, but Rosetta’s orbital insertion (entry into orbit) will begin with a succession of triangular arcs (about 100km long), taking about 3-4 days to complete each one, with short thruster burns at each apex in order to redirect it toward/into each arc path to stay near the comet. The reason for this is due to the comet’s current speed and trajectory as it heads on its current path toward the Sun. Upon each triangular arc, Rosetta will be lowered closer to the comet’s surface until 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko captures the spacecraft with its gravity. Read more on today’s events HERE.

imageESA’s video “How To Orbit A Comet” provides a beautifully animated visual guide regarding the Rosetta mission timeline and series of events.

Philae’s mission is quite different. Rosetta will come within about 10km of the comet’s nucleus to deploy the lander in November 2014. It will take several hours to reach comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s surface due to the extremely low gravity. Landing gear will absorb the small amount of force when reaching the surface, and ice screws in the probe’s legs - accompanied with a harpoon system - will lock onto the comet’s surface for sustained stability. Simultaneously, a thruster on the top of the lander will force it down to counteract the impulse of the harpoon, which will result in a force exerted from the opposing direction. Once anchored to the comet, Philae will commence its main objectives, which comprise 10 science instruments, and can be read about in detail HERE.

image

Again, ESA provides a beautiful animation regarding this part of the mission (watch it here), showcasing 5 of the 10 instruments in action: CIVA, ROLIS, SD2, MUPUS and APXS.

imageArtist’s visualization of Philae’s rendezvous/landing on the comet’s surface. [source]

This magnificent series of robotic maneuvers happens today, and you can follow along beginning at 8:00 GMT [10:00 CEST] via the link below :)

imageRosetta mission timeline/overview [source]

Keep up with Rosetta via @ESA, andjoin the livestream event at 8:00 GMT [10:00 CEST]!

imageimageStay curious.

scienceyoucanlove

scienceyoucanlove:

Today I would like to put a spotlight on the amazing wildlife photographer Marina Cano! 

Below is a statement from her website

'I’m a  wildlife photographer, based in Cantabria, in the North of Spain. I’ve been taking pictures since I was a teenager. My work has been published around the world and have won international awards.

In 2009 I’ve published my book, Cabárceno, with the pictures I’ve took for three years in the largest park of wildlife in Europe, with the same name.

In December 2012 I published my second book: Drama & Intimacy, a carefully selection from the pictures I took in South Africa, Kenya, England and Cabarceno. I’ve also made exhibitions in Cape Town, London, Spain… Currently I’m shooting wildlife in Africa, and I’m amazed with the beauty I’ve found everywhere.’

you can follow her on facebook or twitter 

and see more of her gorgeous photography here  

the-actual-universe
the-actual-universe:

The World didn’t end two years ago, but it narrowly missed the costliest natural disaster in human history.
From Phil Plait’s excellent Bad Astronomy blog:


…The Sun has a very complicated magnetic field. Inside the Sun there are enormous packets of hot plasma (gas with its electrons stripped off) that rise from deep within. These blobs have their own internal magnetic field, and as they rise to the surface the huge loops of magnetic field lines (similar to what you see in bar magnet diagrams) pierce the surface. These loops carry a vast amount of energy with them, and normally carry that energy up the loop and back down into the Sun.
But if a bunch of these loops get tangled, they can interact and connect with each other, releasing their energy all at once. The resulting explosion dwarfs our planet’s entire nuclear arsenal and is what we call a solar flare. Sometimes, this can trigger an even larger release of energy in the Sun’s outer atmosphere (the corona). That’s a coronal mass ejection. The expanding bubble of subatomic particles and energy sweeps out into the solar system, and if it hits the Earth, it can connect with our own magnetic field, creating all kinds of havoc.




Damage done to a transformer during the 1989 solar storm. Click for more info.Photo from NASA



The fierce blast of subatomic particles can fry satellites and can induce large currents of electricity deep within the Earth. This can in turn create a surge of energy that can cause blackouts; just such an event in 1989 blew out transformers in the U.S. and caused a blackout in Quebec.


The largest such solar storm ever seen was also the first one ever seen: the 1859 Carrington Event. This storm was so powerful it blew out telegraphs across the U.S. and caused aurorae all over the planet.


Daniel Baker, a solar astronomer at the University of Colorado, estimates that the July 2012 storm was at least as powerful as the Carrington Event. Had it hit us, the results would have been catastrophic.


I want to be careful here. I always try to be very careful not to either overplay or understate the risks from astronomical events—some people panic over things that are very low risk, for example, and I certainly don’t want to exaggerate dangers. But in this case, there’s no other way to say this: If this 2012 CME had hit us, it would’ve been a global disaster.


Many satellites would have been fried, their electronics shorted out. That alone would mean we’d lose billions of dollars in space assets, not to mention the loss of international communications, weather prediction, and all the other critical systems that depend on satellites.


On the ground things wouldn’t have been so hot either. There would have been widespread power outages. Large transformers would’ve been destroyed by the enormous current flowing through them induced by the storm. These transformers can take months to build and deploy; imagine a large portion of the United States without electricity for several months—especially in the staggeringly hot months of July and August, when the load on the power grid is already very high.


So no kidding, an event like this would have been very, very bad. I’m glad it missed!


The Sun blasted out a series of high-energy flares over the course of a day in 2013, seen here in the far ultraviolet using the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Solar flares like these can sometimes trigger CMEs, like the one that blew out of the Sun in 2012.Photo by NASA / SDO



But mind you, that was entirely due to chance. It could easily have hit us. Looking over storms from the past 50 years, Baker estimates the odds of the Earth getting hit by a similar storm in the next 10 years as 12 percent. That’s a bit higher than makes me comfortable, to put it delicately.




There’s literally nothing we can do to prevent such storms from occurring on the Sun. However, there are ways we can mitigate the damage they can cause. Satellites can be made to resist the effects of such a storm, for one. Another is that the power grid in the US was designed and built in the days when the load was much lower than it is today; it could be upgraded to carry or dissipate the extra current generated by a big CME.
Of course, these techniques cost money. A lot of it, certainly billions. But estimates of the damage the 2012 event could have caused top $2 trillion. And that doesn’t include the resulting human suffering.



Addendum: for comparison, the costliest natural disaster on current record is the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and resultant Fukushima disaster, which so far has topped about $309 billion. And the global electronics and telecommunications network did not exist the last time something of this magnitude hit us in 1859. 

the-actual-universe:

The World didn’t end two years ago, but it narrowly missed the costliest natural disaster in human history.

From Phil Plait’s excellent Bad Astronomy blog:

…The Sun has a very complicated magnetic field. Inside the Sun there are enormous packets of hot plasma (gas with its electrons stripped off) that rise from deep within. These blobs have their own internal magnetic field, and as they rise to the surface the huge loops of magnetic field lines (similar to what you see in bar magnet diagrams) pierce the surface. These loops carry a vast amount of energy with them, and normally carry that energy up the loop and back down into the Sun.

But if a bunch of these loops get tangled, they can interact and connect with each other, releasing their energy all at once. The resulting explosion dwarfs our planet’s entire nuclear arsenal and is what we call a solar flare. Sometimes, this can trigger an even larger release of energy in the Sun’s outer atmosphere (the corona). That’s a coronal mass ejection. The expanding bubble of subatomic particles and energy sweeps out into the solar system, and if it hits the Earth, it can connect with our own magnetic field, creating all kinds of havoc.

transformerDamage done to a transformer during the 1989 solar storm. Click for more info.

Photo from NASA

The fierce blast of subatomic particles can fry satellites and can induce large currents of electricity deep within the Earth. This can in turn create a surge of energy that can cause blackouts; just such an event in 1989 blew out transformers in the U.S. and caused a blackout in Quebec.

The largest such solar storm ever seen was also the first one ever seen: the 1859 Carrington Event. This storm was so powerful it blew out telegraphs across the U.S. and caused aurorae all over the planet.

Daniel Baker, a solar astronomer at the University of Colorado, estimates that the July 2012 storm was at least as powerful as the Carrington Event. Had it hit us, the results would have been catastrophic.

I want to be careful here. I always try to be very careful not to either overplay or understate the risks from astronomical events—some people panic over things that are very low risk, for example, and I certainly don’t want to exaggerate dangers. But in this case, there’s no other way to say this: If this 2012 CME had hit us, it would’ve been a global disaster.

Many satellites would have been fried, their electronics shorted out. That alone would mean we’d lose billions of dollars in space assets, not to mention the loss of international communications, weather prediction, and all the other critical systems that depend on satellites.

On the ground things wouldn’t have been so hot either. There would have been widespread power outages. Large transformers would’ve been destroyed by the enormous current flowing through them induced by the storm. These transformers can take months to build and deploy; imagine a large portion of the United States without electricity for several months—especially in the staggeringly hot months of July and August, when the load on the power grid is already very high.

So no kidding, an event like this would have been very, very bad. I’m glad it missed!

flaresThe Sun blasted out a series of high-energy flares over the course of a day in 2013, seen here in the far ultraviolet using the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Solar flares like these can sometimes trigger CMEs, like the one that blew out of the Sun in 2012.

Photo by NASA / SDO

But mind you, that was entirely due to chance. It could easily have hit us. Looking over storms from the past 50 years, Baker estimates the odds of the Earth getting hit by a similar storm in the next 10 years as 12 percent. That’s a bit higher than makes me comfortable, to put it delicately.

There’s literally nothing we can do to prevent such storms from occurring on the Sun. However, there are ways we can mitigate the damage they can cause. Satellites can be made to resist the effects of such a storm, for one. Another is that the power grid in the US was designed and built in the days when the load was much lower than it is today; it could be upgraded to carry or dissipate the extra current generated by a big CME.

Of course, these techniques cost money. A lot of it, certainly billions. But estimates of the damage the 2012 event could have caused top $2 trillion. And that doesn’t include the resulting human suffering.

Addendum: for comparison, the costliest natural disaster on current record is the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and resultant Fukushima disaster, which so far has topped about $309 billion. And the global electronics and telecommunications network did not exist the last time something of this magnitude hit us in 1859. 

we-are-star-stuff

awkwardsituationist:

from “fantastic fungi, the forbidden fruit” by louis schwartzberg, a documentary about mycologist paul stamets. “the task that we face today is to understand the language in nature. my mission is to discover the language of the fungal networks that communicate with the ecosystem. i believe that nature is intelligent. the fact that we lack the language skills to communicate with nature does not impugn the concept that nature is intelligent; it speaks to the inadequacy of our skill set for communication,” paul says. “i believe nature is a force for good. good is not only a concept, it is a spirit. and hopefully this spirit of goodness will survive.”

excerpts from paul stamets TED talk, “six ways mushrooms can save the world”:

mycelium infuses all landscapes, it holds soils together. it’s extremely tenacious. it holds up to 30,000 times its mass. we have now discovered that there is a multi directional transfer of nutrients between plants, mitigated by the mycelium. in a single cubic inch of soil, there can be more than eight miles of these cells. the mycelium, in the right conditions, produces a mushroom that bursts through with such ferocity it can break asphalt.

we’re more closely related to fungi than we are to any other kingdom. we share in common the same pathogens. fungi don’t like to rot from bacteria, and so our best antibiotics come from fungi. i”ve been a scanning electron microscopist for many years, and when i’m staring at the mycelium, i realize that they are microfiltration membranes. we exhale carbon dioxide, so does mycelium. it inhales oxygen, just like we do. but these are essentially externalized stomachs and lungs. and i present to you a concept that these are extended neurological membranes.

most of you may not know that fungi were the first organisms to come to land. they came to land 1.3 billion years ago, and plants followed several hundred million years later. the mycelium produced oxalic acids, pockmarking rock and grabbing calcium and other minerals and forming calcium oxalates. this makes the rocks crumble, and is the first step in the generation of soil.

now, we’ve had several extinction events (and our currently in the sixth), and 65 million years ago we had an asteroid impact, and a huge amount of debris was jettisoned into the atmosphere. sunlight was cut off, and fungi inherited the earth. those organisms that paired with fungi were rewarded, because fungi do not need light. fungi use radiation as a source of energy, much like plants use light. so, the prospect of fungi existing on other planets elsewhere, i think, is a forgone conclusion.