Transcript January

Space News
looking back over
December 2015
January 2016
What is the Casimir Effect ??
This photograph shows the strange experiment used to test the Casimir effect.
This tiny ~0.1mm ball provides evidence that the universe will expand forever,
as it moves towards a smooth plate in response to energy fluctuations in the
vacuum of empty space – confirming Dark Energy and Gravitational Repulsion!!!
A Dying Red Star – but how?
Here is Betelgeuse, a
red giant that is
‘dying’ – that is
casting off its outer
layers – as seen in
this picture.
However, the most
recent measure of its
temperature using the
SOFIA aircraft-based
telescope indicates
that it is nowhere hot
enough – so should
not have the energy
to throw off the gas
clouds we see here.
Baffling ? ? ? ?
“We are such Stuff that Stars are made of…”
… or rather we are made of star-stuff. This version of the periodic table indicates
the origin of the elements, beginning with the basic H and He of the Big Bang.
How good to know that wedding ring gold was blasted out of a super-nova.
Definitely worth the price then. Less expensive elements are of course pretty
essential for the functioning of all known life.
A New Kuiper Belt Object Detected
This shows a new distant
object in the Kuiper Belt.
Detected by ‘New
Horizons’ long range
camera (LORRI) as it
heads towards a fly-by of
object 2014 MU69 in
January 2017, this new
object has been named
‘1994 JR1’.
This 150km wide object is
5.3 billion km from the
Sun, making it the closest
ever picture taken of a
Kuiper Belt object.
Choice of Ices
This close-up of Pluto shows 2 sorts of terrain, both very cold.
On the left, water ice, H20
On the right, nitrogen Ice, N2 - maybe mixed with other solids eg. CO.
This indicates that both molecules may have been ‘flowing’ over the
surface, although the physics of this environment is very extreme and
extremely hard to duplicate on Earth. The presence of ‘water volcanoes’
has been postulated on other parts of this strange body, which is expected
to have sub-surface ‘heat’, causing convection.
Lovely “Tails” from Comet Catalina
These 2 ‘tails’ are
rarely seen as well
as this on a comet,
but Catalina (2013
US10) is looking
particularly good at
the moment.
Currently travelling
through Ursa Major,
so visible all night.
Moving towards topcentre, the comet
leaves its dust tail
below it, while the ion
tail ahead shows the
direction of the solar
Who saw a Geminid in mid-December ?
Some sites are rather better than the UK for meteor spotting . . .
On the left – Chile
On the right – China
Both are of course time-delay composites from December 14th.
Early Morning Alignment . . .
The 5 nearest planets are now tidily in alignment and can be observed just
before dawn – as shown in last Wednesday’s picture from Ibiza, Spain.
[Tomorrow morning the Moon will be just to the right of Saturn. Pluto will also be
present but invisible between Mercury and Venus.]
JUNO proceeds towards Jupiter and breaks record
The NASA mision to Jupiter ‘JUNO’ has become our most distant solar
powered device, having reached 793million km from the Sun. Juno is
due to arrive at Jupiter on July 4th (USA Independence Day). Even at that
distance the massive solar arrays will be generating 500 watts.
Ceres – or Epsom ???
This close-up of Occator Crater on Ceres, taken by the ever-descending DAWN
spacecraft, clearly shows one of the bright spot that have fascinated us for many
months. Latest thoughts are that it is a deposit of MgSO4.6H2O or “Epsom salts”
brought up from below by impacts. Indigestion anybody???
Opportunity reaches 12 Years on Mars!
Opportunity continues to explore ‘Marathon Valley’ on the rim of
‘Endeavour’ crater. It reached its 12-year ‘birthday on 25th January.
Total distance covered in this time is 42.65km, more than a marathon.
Daytime Moon and Morning Star
On the 7th of
December this
set of 9 shots
was taken
from Phoenix,
Arizona, USA
at about 9.30
using a
telephoto lens.
Time here
moves left to
Moon moves
right to left.
Morning ‘Star’
Venus is now
part of a lineup of 5 planets
Earthrise Again – and again . . .
Apollo (which one?) took
the first and most famous
photo of earthrise over
the Moon.
Now we have the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter
doing this on a regular
basis – when it is not
looking straight down
surveying the surface.
Q: If you were on the
Moon’s surface, could
you see an ‘Earthrise’ –
and if so how?
LISA arrives at L1 and dumps its Engine
After a 6-week trip, the LISA spacecraft reached the L1 point on 22nd Jan,
from where it will test technologies to detect gravitational waves as
predicted by General Relativity. Here it discards its propulsion module.
Low Solstice Sun – plus Wave Diffraction
A series of 5 shots at Lulworth Cove, Dorset shows the low Dec 22nd Sun, plus
the wavelets of the diffraction pattern caused by the narrow sea opening.
Remember your school or college optics experiments?
Up and Down again - Safely
Re-use is the buzz-word today.
Reusable space hardware has to
be the future of launches if only to
save money.
Several teams are hoping for
success in this field:Blue Origin’s New Shepard space
vehicle successfully flew to space,
reaching its planned test altitude of
100.5 kilometres before executing
a historic landing back at the
launch site in West Texas in Nov.
Spacex’s Falcon 9 launched 11
satellites and landed safely on Dec
Virgin Galactic has yet to recover
from its fatal crash of November
First British Spacewalk Selfie . . . 15th January ‘16
Major Tim Peake was on schedule, so paused to take this selfie in space.
Unfortunately his co-worker had a water leak which meant an early recall inside.
Send anything interesting during
February to:
[email protected]
“Waiting for news…!!”