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LADEE, first flight to the moon from Wallops Flight Facility

Of course everyone reading this knows about the #NASASocial event for the launch of the LADEE mission to Lunar orbit happening this week on Thursday (9/5) and Friday (9/6).  Follow NASASocial/lists/ladee-launch-social plus @NASA_Wallops, @NASALADEE, @NASAAmes, @NASAGoddard, and also @LRO_NASA for updates.

A nice piece of Wallops history was raised by @TeresaR_WV: “Explorer 9 was the first spacecraft placed in orbit by an all-solid rocket and the first spacecraft successfully launched into orbit from Wallops Island.” (1961, NSSDC).

The LADEE social will be covering a huge range of subjects, including the following.

The LADEE mission will be collecting data on the Lunar Exosphere, specifically tightening the boundaries on gas and dust types and quantities found at altitudes under 50 km so that future work can develop an understanding of the surface boundary exospheric processes that occur on inert rocky bodies like the Moon and Mercury. And the LADEE mission will be flight qualifying the LLCD free space optical communications link. Data collection in the Lunar Exosphere will employ three instruments.

The Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS) determines captured (Lunar Exosphere) gas particle types (element) using a kind of electromagnetic filter called an RF Quadrupole or Quadrupole mass analyzer, or Mass Spectrometer. Instruments very similar to this one have flown on many deep space missions including CASSINI. In determining gas types with fairly high frequency (many per second), gas quantity and distribution can be determined over time.

The Ultraviolet – Visible Spectrometer (UVS) will determine observed (Lunar Exosphere) gas types by the characteristic electromagnetic emission spectra of gas particles impacted by solar radiation. It is also capable of a few additional modes (that I haven’t groked yet) that provide information about gas and dust processes in the exosphere.

The Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX) captures larger “dust” particles to determine composition and distribution over time, not entirely unlike the NMS. Also not entirely unlike the NMS, it employs an electromagnetic process to do so.

The NMS and LDEX are forward facing, while the UVS is rearward facing, in LADEE’s direction of flight. That is, LADEE flies sideways relative to its Lunar Capture rocket engine which it points out of the way otherwise.

The NASA TV broadcast schedule includes events on Thursday and Friday.

September 5, Thursday

10 -11:30 a.m. – NASA Social for LADEE Mission Live from the Wallops Flight Facility – HQ/WFF (Education Channel)

3 p.m. – LADEE Prelaunch Mission Briefing – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

4 p.m. – LADEE Mission Science and Technology Demonstration Briefing – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

September 6, Friday

6-10 a.m. –Live Interviews on the LADEE Mission – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

4-6 p.m. – Live Interviews on LADEE Mission – HQ/WFF (All Channels)

9:30 p.m. – Live Launch Coverage and Commentary on LADEE Mission – HQ/GSFC/WFF (Public and Media Channels)

9:30 p.m. – Simulcast of NASA EDGE Live Webcast of LADEE Mission and Launch – LARC/HQ/WFF (Education Channel)

September 7, Saturday

2 a.m. – LADEE Post Launch News Conference –HQ/WFF (All Channels)

The LADEE Mission Pages have info for viewing the launch from the US East Coast, and most importantly how to get involved in citizen science!

Hey Space Tweeps! Please tag yourself in this Google-map by @reubenmetcalfe

Hey everyone – thought this would be a useful tool to help connect international Space-peeps on a local level:

Click here to view the map – feel free to tag where you live/work, and any other space-related organizations you think are important

Hope you’re all having an awesome day!


View Space tweeps – Tag your location! in a larger map

Spacetweeps in the Arctic: Join #AuroraTweetup

One of the greatest benefits of being part of the #spacetweeps community are the great events that are organized. These events are the best way to turn a space passion into a true space ambassadorship and many new friends. When joining my first #NASATweetup in 2011 the other attendees told me it would change my life, which I politely laughed away. But wow, were they right! So after #NASATweetup followed ESA/DLR #SpaceTweetup, #CNESTweetup, #AndreTweetup, #SpaceKoelsch 1-3 and a few #SpaceUps. It is great to be in the heart of the best virtual and real life community in the world! (more…)

#OV101toNYC Tweetup

Sign up now

New York area residents: We are about to get the coolest new neighbor to ever arrive in this area. I am, of course, talking about the prototype orbiter Enterprise, the vehicle that started the wonderful long-running Shuttle Transportation System program by proving you could actually glide back to the surface of the Earth in what’s lovingly dubbed a “flying brick”.

Last week I was lucky enough to be at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to see Discovery (my favorite orbiter) arrive and Enterprise move out of the home where she has delighted visitors for many years. They are things of beauty beyond words, both of them, and I’m still marveling that one will be easily accessible right in the heart of the Hudson side of Manhattan.

In Virginia, NASA hosted a #NASASocial for that event but the incredible part was how many Space Tweeps showed up for what was dubbed the “Rogue Tweetup”. Approximately 200 tweeps (from what I can gather) joined in the celebrations and had a wonderful time meeting each other or seeing friends from previous tweetups, launches, and other gatherings.

The best part of the week, in my opinion, was not the day of the transfer of Discovery to the Smithsonian, but the day she flew over both her new home and the city of DC. Images of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with her precious cargo over the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and other landmarks are stunning and oh, so poignant.

So, think about it: What’s the one backdrop even cooler than those landmarks? The New York City skyline!

As of now, the most accurate plans I’ve heard include flying up the Hudson River past our local landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and her future home on the Intrepid. With this in mind, tweetup ideas have been flying around and it’s time to make them official. As one tweep said, “You can either be in Manhattan and get New Jersey as the backdrop or you can be in New Jersey and get the skyline.” That made it obvious that the ideal location would be Pier A in Hoboken, easily reachable by PATH train from the city, is a major NJ Transit hub, and lacking in city tolls for anyone driving in from the suburbs and beyond (with big parking garages near the site).

The flight has been postponed several times already and is now planned for Friday, April 27th. The timing isn’t exact but I’ve been hearing it should be around 10 am – 1 pm, but Discovery was a half-hour early in DC, so I would plan to arrive between 9 and 9:30 to set up cameras and such. I will keep updating this page if things change again and with more plans as they are formed, so keep an eye on this or follow me or the hashtag #OV101toNYC on Twitter.

Let’s show this bird that New York is thrilled to have her! Sign up here so we can have a ballpark headcount and join the Facebook group if you want to discuss any further ideas. I’d like to do something to celebrate every stage of her arrival, so I will keep the group active until she is installed in her permanent home this fall, at least.

  • What: OV-101 Enterprise NYC Flyover Tweetup
  • When: Friday, April 27th at 9:30 AM
  • Where: Pier A Park in Hoboken, NJ
  • Sign up now

SXSW Panel: How to Win Friends and Influence Space Exploration

Yesterday at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival the Space Tweep Society was represented on one of the panels: How to Win Friends and Influence Space Exploration. Though I wasn’t able to be there, I could tell by the numerous positive tweets filling my stream that the panel was very well received.

Great job @harbingeralpha, @mrdoornbos, @absolutspacegrl, @chris_radcliff, and @Astro_Ron!

Here are a just a few of the tweets I found about and in response to the panel:

MarsTweetup: experience a Mars analog simulation in a cave

MarsTweetup: experience a Mars analog simulation in a cave

Since Nasa started organizing tweetups for space events I always had in mind to do a similiar thing in Austria. But I wasn’t sure if such an event could attrack tweeps to come to Austria. Then last year the first #spacetweetup was annoucend. A tweetup on European soil organized by DLR (German Aerospace Center) and ESA (European Space Agency), what unique opportunity for me. Of course I had to apply and luckily got in. This day was amazing (more articles on #spacetweetup) and after that day it was clear I want to organize a tweetup in Austria too and I was sure, my new friends will help me.

But what event could be attractive enough, so that people from Europe would like to travel too?
How about a Mars analog simulation, where a Mars spacesuit simulator is tested? How about a test site, which is situated at ca. 1,300 sealevel in a cave, in a region which is a world heritage site?

Sounds great 🙂

And as I’m a volunteer at the Austrian Space Forum (@oewf), which is building the Mars analog spacesuit simulator Aouda.X, I conviced the OEWF board, that we have to do a tweetup during our Dachstein Mars Simulation and the idea of the #MarsTweetup was born.

Dachstein Giant Ice Cave

Inside the Giant Ice cave

Some context on the Dachstein Mars Simulation:
Between 27Apr – 01May2012, a five day Mars simulation, coordinated by the Austrian Space Forum, will take place at the Dachstein caves (Mammoth & Giant Ice cave) in Austria. The Dachstein region is located in southern Upper Austria near Hallstatt in Austria (47°28′32.5″N 13°36′23.2″E). The geology of the Dachstein massif is dominated by the so-called Dachstein-Kalk (“Dachstein limestone”), dating from Triassic times. In common with other karstic areas, the Dachstein is permeated by a rich cave system, including some of the largest caves in Austria. The Dachstein is also famous for its fossils, including megalodonts.

But why in the world, should we go into a cave for a Mars simulation?

Since serveral years we know that caves exist on Mars and that these caves are probably one of the hotspots for astrobiology on that planet. Caves are a natural shelter against the harsh environment on the surface of Mars and it’s only logical if humans once make a step on Mars, they probably will look into caves too. Therefore is necessary to investigate in operational issues related to (sub)surface operations in a Mars analog environment.

20 Twitter followers have the chance to be part of this unique Mars simulation. This kind of test has never been done before.  Not only the Aouda.X spacesuit simulator will be tested, also international partners will participate at the simulation. The Polish MarsSociety, will test their MAGMA2 rover, who won the University Rover Challenge in 2011, a team of the WISDOM rader (a rader experiment on ESA’s ExoMars rover) will also conduct experiments as well as the Part-Time Scientist (a Google Lunar X-Prize team who are building a lunar rover) and the Jet Propulsion Lab (remote science experiment).

Registration for #MarsTweetup is open until 8th March, 12:00 p.m. CET.

#MarsTweetup will be held on Saturday, 28th April 2011 (ca. 09:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m)

Read also: Official annoucement for #MarsTweetup

In Memory of Colin Greenhalgh, April 29, 1957 – January 24, 2012

Canis Majoris, the “Big Dog” with open cluster galaxy M41 at its heart and the brilliant star, Sirius, pointing the way, is the appropriate constellation to watch for as we contemplate the loss of our friend and fellow Space Tweep, Colin Greenhalgh; known to us all as @OriginalColin on Twitter.

Colin lost his battle with a difficult illness on January 24, 2012 in Durham, UK. As the realization of his untimely passing spread through the Twitter community, it’s become wonderfully obvious that he was truly loved by so many and especially by his fellow Space Tweeps. Second only to his devotion to and love of dogs, especially rescued dogs, Colin returned the favor, and loved us back!

Growing up in England ensured that Colin was exposed to astronomy and related subjects at a very early age. Amateur astronomy and a working knowledge of the stars and constellations remains to this day an enviable element in British education, and that exposure nurtured an early love of all things “Space” in the young Colin. As many US tweeps have learned in their interaction with so many UK tweeps, this love of “looking up” instilled in youth, lasts a lifetime.

Before the end of the Space Shuttle Program, Colin, like the rest of us, participated enthusiastically in the excitement and electricity of following the launches and landings of the Space Shuttle in real time, with the Space Tweep Community (on at least two or more continents) through Twitter, and frequently through @SpaceFlightNow. But his love of space, fascination with space flight and knowledge of astronomy were not all that made Colin a likely member of the Space Tweeps. Colin was an all-round science geek! From Star Trek to Star Wars to “Apollo 13” to anything associated with NASA, or its counterpart the ESA; from the SDO and its warnings of oncoming CME’s and their spectacular aurora; to a deep love for and profound respect for those lucky enough to leave this planet and return to it he loved it all. That was Colin’s way.

It took the modern miracle of Twitter, and the community of tweeps who coalesced around the US Space Program and NASA, together with the tireless leadership of Jen Scheer (@flyingjenny) to bring forth the “Space Tweep Society.” It took about 5 minutes for Colin to sign up!

A charming story, shared by Colin’s beloved younger sister Ros, explains how an early adventure sealed the deal: Ros writes “ . . . I take enormous comfort knowing how much he loved the ‘company’ of his tweet friends and I was delighted when he went to London to meet some of them as this was a ‘big’ journey for him as he had very little money and rarely traveled. He couldn’t stop talking about it when he returned home. His love of Space started when he became friends with an American boy called Randy at the age of 14 (when he was visiting his Aunt in Seaham where we lived). Randy’s family invited him to Michigan for a holiday which included a trip to Florida and subsequent visit to the Space Centre. From that point on he was forever ‘hooked’ :)” I think we can see that joy on Colin’s face in this photo!

One of Colin’s biggest thrills occurred this past year, when he traveled to London and met with @Craftlass, @SpaceKate, @leslieberg @herrea and @flyingjenny at The Lyric Pub. He’d traveled 270 miles south by train and, but for his lack of wings, could have flown back to Durham on his own!

His experience was memorialized by Jen’s presentation of treasured NASA patches and, of course, Space Tweep Society patches of which he was so proud! His tweet accompanying this picture was “You can’t just buy these. You have to be given them!” And he was.

Colin’s interests were so much deeper and broader than can be given proper due here. He was, first and foremost completely in love with “his” dogs! For reasons which no one can fail to understand, Colin was the trusted walker and care provider for dogs belonging to others, whether they were simply unable to spare the time, or away from Durham for days or weeks. There was almost nothing in his life that pleased him so much as to be out walking with them through the beautiful area of fields and streams not far from his home.

As you can see from the images above and the sunset following, even though he underplayed it, Colin had a talent and an eye for photography; a gift from his late father of whom he was very proud. His dad was a professional photographer and, in the days before the digital camera came along, film needed development. When he was old enough, Colin helped his dad in the darkroom and once mentioned that the experience drew him to the study of chemistry. That education eventually took him to Durham University, where he was a long time technician in the Chemistry Department.

Colin’s heart, his intelligence, his talent for snarky British humor, his progressive passions, his sheer charm – even his cranky “arse” moodiness made him so dear to so many of us. 54 years and change was not enough!

Next time you’re out and it’s clear, look up and find Canis Majoris. Colin is likely up there somewhere with his Big Dog.

Your grateful friend,
Maren (@OregonMJW)

SpaceTweetup: The Movie

Check out this great movie assembled by @giniexxcee of ESA’s first #Spacetweetup!

ESA Shenanigans: the astronaut class with the most Twitter users

The ESA astronaut class of 2009. Photo: ESA.

The ESA astronaut class of 2009. Photo: ESA.

In May 2009 ESA, the European Space Agency, announced a new class of six astronauts, who later named their group the Shenanigans. They are Samantha Cristoforetti, Alexander Gerst, Andreas Mogensen, Luca Parmitano, Timothy Peake, and Thomas Pesquet. Although two of them, Luca Parmitano and Alexander Gerst, are scheduled to fly to the International Space Station in 2013 and 2014 respectively, none of them has flown into space yet. But they already made history, at least the history of social media.

The Shenanigans are the astronaut class with the most Twitter users. No ESA, NASA or other space agency astronaut group has ever had so many Twitter users. Five out of the six astronauts of the ESA class of 2009 have Twitter accounts, and engage the public telling about their training and experiences. In a few years, they will tell their adventures in space. The first to start tweeting was Luca Parmitano, soon followed by Samantha Cristoforetti. Then came three more of their colleagues. You can find them on Twitter here:

The only Shenanigans astronaut still resisting Twitter is Timothy Peake. But he will be assimilated,

Space 2.0

CopenhagenSuborbitalsTriggered by the Space 2.0 LinkedIn group I wrote this blog post, investigating what 2.0 means in space exploration. It is interesting to see the 2.0-hype spread over all aspects of society these days. It is being used for anything slightly futuristic, regardless whether it is really something new. And with the widespread of the term 2.0, newer developments are now slated 3.0 or even higher. So what is ‘Space 2.0’ really?


SoyuzTweetup Baikonur – Launch Day!

SoyuzTweetup Baikonur – Launch Day!

More launch pads, SoyuzTweetup and a Launch!

Launch dayBaikonur, 21 December 2011 – Finally. Today is the day we have been living up to for a long time. The launch of Soyuz TMA-03M, with ‘the’ Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuipers on board. It is still dark outside when I wake up around 8 o’clock. Today our program consists of two major visits. First we will go to the furthest launch location at the cosmodrome: the Proton launch facility. Then we have some time in the city before going to launch pad 1 for the launch in the early evening.