Space ~ Images


~spm gypsy~
great thread!

i post the 'nasa photo of the day' on several boards.
sure is some beautiful stuff to be found in 'the wonderfully mysterious world of space.'
China readies space station for launch

China is pushing forward on readying its first space station module for launch. Meanwhile, that country's first astronaut is openly discussing the prospect of China's future engagement with the International Space Station.

The 8.5-ton Tiangong-1 module, the first in a series of connecting rooms that will be launched into orbit, has been transported to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China's Gansu Province and is undergoing a final checkout before its liftoff on a Long March II-F carrier booster later this year.

Chinese news outlets report that Tiangong-1 is built to serve as a rendezvous and docking platform for China's future spacecraft. Once in Earth orbit, it would be followed by blastoff of an unpiloted Shenzhou-8 spacecraft in the latter half of this year, to carry out the nation's first space docking.

That one-two punch for China's space station undertaking would see the launching of the Tiangong-1 target spacecraft and the Shenzhou-8 spaceship in the third and fourth quarters of 2011, respectively, according to several Chinese news outlets.

Now on site, Tiangong-1 is loaded with payloads and is undergoing final tests before its launch.

During the recent Paris Air Show, a delegation from the China Manned Space Engineering Office accepted 300 flags from the International Astronautical Federation. These flags are to be taken to the Tiangong-1 target spacecraft. They are slated to be brought back to Earth by a Chinese astronaut when he completes China's first piloted rendezvous and docking linkup next year.

In December 2010, the same 300 IAF flags were sent to the International Space Station via the Russian TMA-20 piloted spacecraft. They were delivered back to Earth by the space shuttle Endeavour in June 2011.

The quest by China to move into space station development began in early September 2008, following the first spacewalk by a Chinese astronaut -- Zhai Zhigang -- during the three-person

In a July 8 press report, China's first astronaut,Yang Liwei, was vocal regarding his country's interest in International Space Station cooperation. Yang, who is also deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office in Beijing, made his comments to a domestic audience in an online interactive broadcast.

The growth of China's space program has been publicly praised by NASA officials.

"China being in space I think is a great thing. The more nations that get into space, the better cooperation we'll have with each," astronaut Rex Walheim, who flew on the final space shuttle mission last week, said during an in-flight interview with Reuters. "Space is one of the biggest international brotherhoods we have."

However, in his comments, Yang indicated that technical hurdles remain in pursuing such collaboration. Specifically, he emphasized that China's space station standards and the ISS docking standards do not agree.

The unification of standards is the first problem to solve in the effort to carry out future space station cooperation, Yang said, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

"This is the first time I am aware of that any high-profile official associated with the Chinese space program has made such a strong statement to the Chinese public on ISS participation," Gregory Kulacki, a senior analyst and China Project Manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Global Security Program in Cambridge, Mass., told "And, as far as I know, it is the first time I have heard a Chinese official confirm that the docking hardware they will be using in the upcoming mission is not compatible with the ISS."

The comet (designated SOHO-2143) was discovered on Sept. 29th by a group of four independent SOHO comet hunters (M. Kusiak, S. Liwo, B. Zhou and Z. Xu), who reported it within 9-secs of each other! According to Karl Battams: "It's *very* rare for a comet to enter the fov as bright as this one.



How about another joke Murray?
Astronomy depresses me because we can't even get to Mars without it being an expensive ad logistical nightmare! :(
NASA's first new spacesuit in 20 years is its own airlock

By David Szondy
18:42 July 25, 2012


The Z-1 space suit has a rear entry hatch that can latch to a spaceship or rover, eliminating the need for an airlock
The current U.S. space suit used by NASA is a dinosaur. Designed in 1992, it was only ever intended to be used by crews aboard the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). That may have been good enough in the days of 14 kps modems, but with eyes turning increasingly toward missions to the Moon, Mars and the asteroids, space explorers need something better. That’s why NASA is designing its first new suit in twenty years. Developed by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES), the Z-1 prototype space suit currently undergoing vacuum testing at the Johnson Space Center is a wearable laboratory of new technology. And it’s a hatchback.
Space suits in popular culture are very simple things. If film and television are anything to go by, then space suits are as easy to use as coveralls and can be donned in a matter of seconds. Zip it up, put the helmet on and off you go. Nothing could be further from the truth. True, we’ve all seen astronauts walking out to the launch pad wearing what look like space suits, but those are actually emergency pressure suits used to protect the crew inside the craft for a short time in the event of the ship leaking air.
Real space suits of the sort used to work outside the ISS or for walking on the Moon are a very different affair. They’re more like miniature spaceships with arms and legs. These are highly complex systems that require extensive training to use and, far from getting one on in seconds, it takes more like an hour. If you regard emergency pressure suits as being the equivalent of a scuba outfit, then a space suit is a mixed-gas deep diving rig.
The suit needs to do everything that a spaceship does. It needs to protect the wearer from heat, cold and micrometeorites. It needs to supply oxygen and remove carbon dioxide and contaminants from the air. It also needs to be lightweight, compact and reasonably flexible - which isn’t easy when you recall that a spacesuit is essentially a balloon.

The Z-1 space suit has new joint bearing for greater mobility
The “Z-1 Prototype Spacesuit and Portable Life Support System (PLSS) 2.0,” to give it its proper name, is what is called a “rear-entry space suit” made up of a combination of several hard elements mounted on a suit of fabric that’s flexible when uninflated. To get in, the astronaut uses a “suitport.” This is a combined hatch and life support pack on the back of the suit’s torso. The neat thing about the Z-1 is that the hatch allows it to latch onto a spaceship, rover or habitat.
Once docked, the suit’s hatch can open inside the craft and the astronaut can get in and out of the suit without using an airlock. This means that the wearer can get in and out much faster, less air is wasted than with an airlock and the astronaut doesn’t have to do so much “Prebreathing.” That is, inhaling pure oxygen to avoid getting the bends in the lower pressure of the suit. The Z-1 makes this less necessary because it operates at the same pressure as a spaceship. It has to or the hatch wouldn’t open because of the pressure difference.
In addition to the hatch, the Z-1 also boasts improved bearings in the waist, hips, upper legs and ankles for greater freedom of movement, and new urethane-coated nylon and polyester layers to maintain pressure and control the suit from billowing.

The Z-1 space suit includes an improved life support backpack
The backpack also shows what two decades of new technology can bring. It’s more robust and less vulnerable to contamination than the current model and has more capabilities. For example, the current backpack uses a sublimator to cool the suit, but that only works in a hard vacuum. NASA wanted one that would work on Mars, so the Z-1 uses a water membrane evaporation cooler that cools using the same principle as sweating and it’s tough enough to survive freezing.
Another improvement are the scrubbers to remove carbon dioxide. The current ones use lithium hydroxide/metal oxide carbon dioxide scrubbers, which need to be baked between missions to drive off the carbon dioxide. The new ones regenerate automatically by dumping the carbon dioxide every few minutes.
Lessons learned from Z-1 will be used to develop Z-2, the next-generation prototype. NASA hopes to have a new vacuum-compatible suit by 2015.
Sources: Popular Mechanics and NASA (PDF file)


I always feel a little scared in a way when I realise that there is so much above my head...and beneath me...arrgh...:rage:
Curiosity sends images of Mars back to Earth

First color image from Curiosity showing the north wall and rim of Gale Crater (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
After a successful landing on Sunday, the NASA rover Curiosity has begun sending back images of the planet including the first color pictures and 3D stereographs. In addition to images from the surface of the red planet, the lander has also sent back images captured by onboard cameras during the craft’s dramatic descent through the Martian atmosphere and landing. Meanwhile, an orbiter from an earlier NASA mission sent back images of Curiosity’s descent.
Curiosity landed on Mars with enough cameras to make a paparazzo jealous. Its mast alone carries seven cameras including the Remote Micro Imager and two color cameras called Mastcams.

In addition, there are four black-and-white Navigation Cameras. Even the robot arm has a camera, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) – which sounds like something Sherlock Holmes would use. If notable for nothing else, the first color image from Curiosity was taken by the MAHLI on the afternoon of the first Martian “sol” or day after landing (see the main photo, at the top of the page).
It may seem a bit disappointing and it is very blurry, but that's because the MAHLI still has its dust cover in place. This is a removable, transparent plastic shield intended to protect the lenses during landing. The first three weeks of the mission will be spent checking Curiosity’s systems and during that time the cover will be jettisoned, which will make for much better images.
The images taken during the descent of Curiosity and immediately after landing came from the nine cameras hard-mounted on the rover. These include eight black-and-white Hazard Avoidance Cameras and the color Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). As the name implies, the MARDI’s job was to snap pictures from Curiosity of the Martian surface on the way down.

One of the first taken by the MARDI camera is this one of Curiosity’s heat shield dropping away (above), which happened two and a half minutes before touchdown. All of the landing images are of low resolution, to allow for quick transmission back to Earth.

One way in which the Curiosity mission is different from previous landing attempts is that it had a bit of help from earlier spacecraft. To keep Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California from being completely in the dark during the descent, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was drafted into service. It acted as a data relay to send back telemetry from Curiosity to assure Mission Control that the spacecraft was still alive. One incredibly lucky benefit of this was that Orbiter’s high resolution camera caught a shot of Curiosity’s parachute, seen in the small box on the left side, as it flew over the Martian sand dunes.

This second shot shows the open supersonic parachute and rover in enough detail that you can make out the pattern on the chute.

However, JPL scientists later noticed that Orbiter had another stroke of luck. They saw that in the bottom of the image was Curiosity’s heat shield still tumbling to the ground. According to NASA, they knew it was still in flight because if it had hit the ground, it would have kicked up an impressive dust cloud.

Once the heat shield was gone, the descent camera kept taking hundreds of images, such as this one when Curiosity was dangling from its rocket-powered sky crane about 70 feet (20 m) above the ground. The sky crane was designed to remain high enough that its engines wouldn’t kick up instrument-damaging dust, but some backwash did reach the surface, as seen in these swirls of powdery dust.

Right before the moment of touchdown, Curiosity’s six wheels extended to act as landing gear. Taken a few meters above the ground, this image is blurry with dust, but you can still see the shadow of Curiosity’s left front wheel.

Back in 1976, the US Viking 1 lander took four minutes to send its first image back to Earth. Curiosity did it within 30 seconds, with this shot taken by one of the Hazard-Avoidance cameras. This image is particularly clear because the camera, as designed, has opened its dust cover.

This annotated version shows what is in the shot. Besides Curiosity’s wheel there is the spring that opened the camera’s dust cover and one of the fins that cool the radioisotope thermal generator that provides Curiosity with heat and power.

Another of the first shots sent back after landing is this image, again taken by a Hazard-Avoidance camera, showing Curiosity’s own shadow.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been busy taking more images of its own, such as this one taken 24 hours after landing that reveals the fate of the various pieces of the original spacecraft. The parachute and back shell of the aeroshell that housed Curiosity have landed close together while the heat shield is some ways away.
Meanwhile, the sky crane carried out its final mission. In order to avoid dropping straight down on Curiosity when its engines cut, the sky crane was programmed to fly off in a straight line and crash a safe distance away. For the benefit of any future museum expeditions, we know where it landed.

Along with the first color images, the latest views of Mars are in 3D with this stereoscopic image sent back by Curiosity. The robot explorer is still undergoing system checks, but if these first images are any indications of the future, the next couple of years will make Mars a very interesting place as Curiosity begins its mission to seek out areas where life might have or does exist on the red planet.
A time lapse video of Curiosity's landing can be seen below.
Source: NASA

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