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Monthly archive February, 2011

Insights from Hubble at the American Museum of Natural History

Insights from Hubble at the American Museum of Natural History

New York City area tweeps, ever wonder what astronomers study with the Hubble Space Telescope? In this program, Jackie Faherty will explore some of Hubble’s most exciting results through the 3D datasets available in the Hayden Planetarium’s Digital Universe, the world’s most complete atlas of the cosmos.

Insights from the Hubble Telescope with Jackie Faherty
Tuesday, February 22, 6:30 pm
Hayden Planetarium, Space Theater
$15 Adults, ($13.50 Members, students, senior citizens)

A mission patch for Meco

If you hadn’t heard already, our society mascot, Meco the birdonaut, will be making his first trip into space next month. He will be traveling (in the form of one of our Space Tweep Society patches) to the International Space Station with astronaut Ron Garan, @Astro_Ron, on Soyuz TMA-21.

A few months back, we asked members to draw their own mission patches for Meco. We only had a few submissions, but they were all great. You can see them here together in the collage above. They were designed by @zarquil’s son, Kelley (top left), @zarquil (top right), @zarquil’s daughter, Rebekkah (bottom right), @spasmunkey (bottom left), and @geekygirlau (center). You can download a large copy of the collage of designs here. Huge thanks to all of the artists for the great work!

One of the artists, @geekygirlau, has generously allowed us to use her design to promote this historic event. I am pleased to announce that her design has been added to our Lands’ End e-store and you can have it embroidered on shirts, jackets, bags and more (it is a little too large to fit on hats). Just select the item you would like, add it to your cart, and you will come to a screen with a drop-down menu to choose the logo you want. Select “Meco ISS Patch” and the location on the item that you want the logo.

Today only, there is a free logo promotion from Lands’ End. You can save over $11 on each item on the embroidery application fee by using the promotion code EMLOGO.

Note: If your shopping cart shows a higher amount for tax than expected, do not worry, the correct amount will be charged. They are working on fixing this issue.

NASA Stardust craft to make Valentine’s night pass by comet

NASA Stardust craft to make Valentine's night pass by comet

(Cape Canaveral, FL) — A NASA spacecraft will make a Valentine’s night pass by a fast moving comet in the hopes of learning more about the icy rock.

The Stardust-NExT (New Exploration of Tempel) spacecraft is on a course to fly very close to the comet Tempel 1 on Monday at about 11:37 pm EST.

“Stardust-NExT is a mission to reuse the Stardust spacecraft to further the exploration of comet Tempel 1,” principle investigator Joe Veverka explained.

“Temple 1 was the target of Deep Impact. Deep Impact discovered that this is a most interesting comet,” Veverka added. “We want to see more of the surface and we also want to see what changes have occurred since Deep Impact went there five years ago.”

In a deep space ballet 209 million miles or 2.25 AU from earth, Stardust will both scientifically scan and photograph Tempel 1.

The two space objects are expected to fly to within 124 miles apart.

The mission’s project manager, Tim Larson, explained, “We want to extend the mapping and observation of (Tempel’s) nucleus to see new areas of the nucleus we hadn’t seen before, so it will help complete the mapping of the nucleus of this comet. And, then if possible, we would like to be able to image a crater that was left behind” from the Deep Impact.

Comets are mostly icy chunks of rock material which are locked in an elliptical orbit around the Sun. As the comet nears the Sun, a white fuzzy atmosphere envelopes around the icy rock and forms a tail region due to solar radiation.

There are about 4,000 known comets, and Tempel 1 orbits past the Sun once every 5 1/2-years, and out to a region between Mars and Jupiter.

As Stardust races near the comet at 24,300 miles per hour, the craft’s science and navigation instruments will be activated.

The Comet and Interstellar Dust Analyzer instrument will be turned on at about 8:30 pm, and run until about 2:30 am Tuesday morning. This analyzer will study the masses of ions from the dust particles which surround the comet.

The Dust Flux Monitor will be turned on at about 11:16 pm, and will study the make up and size of dust originating from Tempel 1′s coma.

The nearly five mile long and three mile wide comet rotates once every forty-one hours.

The Stardust mission has had a very storied career since it’s February 1999 launch aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral.

In 2002, the craft flew by the Annefrank asteroid making observations and taking thousands of images. Over a year later, the craft flew by it’s main target, comet Wild 2.

A section of Stardust known as the sample material capsule collected dust and particles from Wild 2.

In January 2006, the sample material capsule returned to earth, landing in Utah.

The mission was then extended in late 2006 at a cost of $29 million to keep the spacecraft alive through September of this year.

Hail, Columbia: A Kickstarter Project

Hail, Columbia: A Kickstarter Project

I recently launched a kickstarter project and I could really use your support.

Hail Columbia: Behind the Scenes with the Space Shuttle

I am writing a book about the Space Shuttle Columbia from the perspective of the people who worked with her on a day-to-day basis.

My intention is to interview people who work/ed in the OPF, VAB, on the launch Pads, in MCC and a few astronauts as well.

As a teaser, I have to tell you about a preliminary interview I conducted a few weeks ago with one of the Closeout Crewmembers (the folks in the White Room who strap the astronauts into the orbiter). This gentlemen told me a story that he had never told anyone in his 35 years at Kennedy Space Center. The story brought tears to my eyes.

His story is definitely going to be in the book.

Liz