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Topic: Space
Comet Hartley 2 up close

Comet Hartley 2 up close

This morning’s close up view of Comet Hartley 2 by NASA’s Deep Impact/Epoxi spacecraft reveals a complex and highly active object. The smooth ‘neck’ of the comet nucleus is about 400 metres in diameter and the long axis appears to be around 2200 metres or roughly as calculated earlier. NASA will release more images in […]

An obscure comet hurtles toward its hour of fame

An obscure comet hurtles toward its hour of fame

It was either early March 12 or March 13 in 1986 that I met comet hunter Malcolm Hartley in the common room at the Schmidt Telescope on Siding Spring mountain in NSW. At that moment Hartley was part of a team studying the 4th predicted return to the inner solar system of Halley’s Comet, unaware […]

A fireball sings to earth

A fireball sings to earth

On Saturday morning over Santa Fe a space rock, maybe tens of centimes across, hit the atmosphere at tens of kilometres per second, where its kinetic energy was released in a dazzling blast of light, and low frequency infrasonic sound waves. You can see and hear this on a video made by an amateur astronomer, […]

Plain words about asteroid hype

Plain words about asteroid hype

It is a shame that high ranking officials involved in the European Rosetta space probe have given trash talk quotes about the fly by of giant asteroid Lutetia yesterday. The mission, which will meet comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, and plans to orbit it and also place a lander on its surface, is performing exactly […]

How going to the toilet in space is different

How going to the toilet in space is different

It seems that Sir Edmund Hillary and space travellers had one thing in common, in that the most frequently asked question at public appearances is….how did you go the toilet up there? Hillary’s answer was ‘with difficulty’. In fact high altitude dumping is like using a public toilet in Russia in winter, with oxygen deprivation […]

A full earth as seen from the moon

A full earth as seen from the moon

For reasons explained in detail here, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter recently recorded a high resolution mosaic image of the earth as seen from the moon. While it is only in monochrome, the full image found at the link is sufficiently detailed to show late northern spring melt breaks in the Arctic sea ice near Siberia, […]

This is where Hayabusa has been, asteroid Itokawa

This is where Hayabusa has been, asteroid Itokawa

Somewhere in the rocky desert of the Woomera Prohibited Area, the capsule from Japan’s asteroid probe Hayabusa awaits the recovery teams. It may contain traces of material from the surface of Itokawa, an asteroid that may because of its orbit, collide with earth in the future. Hayabusa re-entered the atmosphere as a spectacular fireball in […]

Falcon 9/Dragon makes spectacular pass over Australia

Falcon 9/Dragon makes spectacular pass over Australia

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XdbkpqtE0Y[/youtube] The first pass of the SpaceX Falcon9/Dragon satellite over the east coast of Australia before dawn today gave rise to widespread UFO sightings. This YouTube video was made on a beach at the Gold Coast. The rocket was leaking fuel and rotating, creating a halo effect similar in some respects to this spectacular ‘pinwheel’ […]

Dragon is lifted to orbit by the first Falcon 9 launch

Dragon is lifted to orbit by the first Falcon 9 launch

Dragon, a privately funded reusable orbiter, has achieved orbit on the apparently flawless first flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It is only four years since PayPal co-founder, Elon Musk, put $US 100 million of his money into SpaceX, the company which wants to take over American manned and unmanned supply and crew flights […]

Waverider scramjet makes Mach 5 debut

Waverider scramjet makes Mach 5 debut

Boeing’s X-51A Waverider has traced an arc of fire above the Pacific Ocean off southern California overnight in a hypersonic debut notable more for its duration than speed. The first flight of the scramjet research vehicle, launched from a modified B-52 bomber, lasted 200 seconds and reached Mach 5, by far the longest flight at […]