This week at 12:49 AM Mumbai time on December 1st, the India Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully sent its Mars Orbiter spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit and on its long trek toward Mars. India hopes to become the fourth planet in history to send out a probe that will successfully orbit the Red Planet. NASA first accomplished the task on November 14, 1971, when the Mariner 9 probe successfully entered into orbit over Mars. This success was followed by the Mars 3, the Soviet spacecraft that not only reached Mars, but also successfully landed on its surface. The next agency to successfully send a probe to Mars was the European Space Agency (ESA), which sent the Mars Express to land on Mars in 2004. It continues imaging and mapping the surface of the planet even today. Will the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) earn India a place in the record books as the next successful nation to reach and begin studying the Red Planet? Given the success Indian scientists have had up to this point, things are looking very good for India – the mission should serve as a great inspiration to young Indian students who hope to contribute to India’s growing space program some day.
Browsing Space Exploration
There are plenty of times when I want to relax, where I will just launch Pandora and open up one of my favorite music stations. Other times, I might go for a walk in the forest behind my house. However, there is yet another way that I like to just kick back and chill out, and that’s watching NASA videos. I know it seems like an unorthodox way to relax, but until you’ve put on earphones and just engulfed yourself into a video of a comet flying through space, or the simulated creation of a star, well you just haven’t lived. Needless to say, we really like space videos here at Top Secret Writers. In fact, it was only recently that Dennis covered some of the more sane UFO videos that you can find out there on the net. And of course we always cover NASA’s greatest accomplishments, like its recent experiments with laser communications from the moon. There is always something interesting to be found from NASA, and if you like NASA stuff too, then it goes without saying that you’re going to love the following 8 coolest NASA videos that I’ve recently stumbled upon.
Earlier this year the legendary former astronaut Buzz Aldrin announced at the Humans to Mars summit in Washington D.C that space exploration is more important than planetary defense. Aldrin’s decisive comments caused quite a stir in the media, namely because he criticized NASA’s plans to bring an asteroid into lunar orbit. Astronomy, astrology, asteroids and space travel have been hot topics in 2013 and none more so than the news that Comet ISON is coming. A sungrazing comet is an extraterrestrial object that passes extremely closely to the sun, sometimes within a few thousand kilometers of the sun’s surface. Comet ISON is a sungrazing comet which was discovered in September 2012 by Russian astronomers, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. The discovery took place in the International Scientific Optical Netwrok not far from Kislovodsk in Russia by using a 0.4 meter telescope. Back in January 2013, Comet ISON was just a dim speck in the constellation Gemini. Astrologists predicted that Comet ISON could either develop into the “greatest astronomical spectacle in living memory” or into a “dim and disappointed smudge” Much of the amateur and professional astronomer excitement surrounding Comet ISON – officially known as Comet C/2012 S1 – stems from the fact its orbit is near parabolic. This suggests that Comet ISON may be a dynamically new comet coming freshly from the Oort Cloud. The Oort Cloud consists of a vast number of icy objects that are predicted to circle the Solar System far beyond the orbit of Neptune. It has been estimated that the cloud extends out to a distance of approximately 4.6 trillion miles from the sun and marks the edge of our solar system. Naturally the perceived arrival of something so far away is exciting astronomers worldwide because they can provide insight about the conditions at the [...]
Scientists declared that the February 15, 2013 meteoroid that fire-balled into Russia was a wake-up call. In fact, the Chelyabinsk Meteorite is being touted as the new “gold standard” for asteroid impact modeling. The impact of the meteorite that sent a shockwave around the world twice had a far-reaching impact by inspiring “what if” scenario discussions. Top Secret Writers reported in October 2013 about the international conference to discuss and create a global earth defense against future asteroids. On the heels of these discussions is the first Chelyabinsk Meteorite impact study published November 7, 2013 by a team of researchers. Olga Popova of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens of NASA Ames Research Center and the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute led a team of 57 other researchers from nine countries. Fragments of recovered meteorites were gathered and studied. The path and impact area were examined extensively. A unique aspect of the fireball was the number of eyewitnesses to the event. Their observations of the event that left over 1,200 Russians injured have aided the researchers as have the various photos and video footage taken of the event.
On September 25th, we announced that NASA would be launching the LLCD mission to conduct a communication test from the moon to Earth using lasers. On October 10th, we announced the fact that the LADEE spacecraft had just entered orbit around the Moon, and was beginning its series of experiments. Finally, on October 18th, NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) successfully transmitted data from the Moon to the Earth at 622 Megabits-per-second (Mbps). The ability to download data at rates that are 6 times faster than radio-frequency (RF) transmisions is a significant advancement in space communications, and could dramatically reduce data transmissions for other missions like those being conducted on Mars. LADEE was a spacecraft created at NASA’s Ames Research Center and sent to the moon to investigate the unusual atmosphere there. Much is known about the surface of the moon, but there are still mysteries that remain about its atmosphere. However, as part of that mission, scientists also loaded up the LLCD to conduct the Moon-to-Earth laser communications tests that would forever transform the future of space communications. The successful tests on October 18th confirm the legitimacy of using lasers to communicate data over long-distances in space.
Have you heard of Mission Mars One? It’s a private business venture launched by Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur hoping to send a group of carefully selected humans to establish the first permanent colony on Mars by 2023. Is it a farce? Is it an impossible dream? Has Bas completely lost his mind? Check out the Infographic below that details everything you could ever want to know about Mission Mars One. Share this post with friends and family – and share your opinion about this suicide mission in the comments section at the bottom of this post. Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Graphs.net.
It’s like a scene right out of the movies. Members of the United Nations met with astronauts and cosmonauts at a conference in New York to not only discuss the possibility of a future asteroid strike on earth, but to actually start implementing earth’s first-ever contingency plans for defending against it. Earlier this year, I wrote an article titled “When Will an Asteroid Finally Strike Earth?” While I usually adopt the same scientific-minded, skeptical viewpoint of NASA analysts – who almost always downplay the odds of a potential asteroid strike – in this particular case I believe the agnostic approach of NASA scientists could have a very negative effect on the future safety of the planet. We’ve often covered near-miss asteroids through the years, and what many of those events imply is that a future collision isn’t anywhere near as rare or far-fetched as many at NASA would like you to believe. In fact, the shocking Russian Meteor explosion over Russia in early 2013 hinted that such smaller asteroids could be colliding with earth in remote locations that go undetected far more frequently than people realize. In August, Dennis finally put together all of the facts from those past events, along with the findings provided by the Meteor study conducted by Madrid astronomers Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos – to conclude that a devastating meteor impact could be a reality in the not-so-distant future. The six astronauts and cosmonauts, and U.N. representatives held discussions at the American Museum of Natural History to brainstorm realistic ideas to defend earth from the devastating impact of dangerous asteroids.
Do you know when to look up to see the International Space Station? Space station tracking apps are all the craze – but if you go right to the source, NASA now offers its own email and phone alerts to let you know exactly when the International Space Station (ISS) is directly overhead and visible to you. Space station tracking is actually pretty easy, considering that the ISS is the brightest object in the sky whenever it’s in orbit right above you, on a clear night. However, most people have no idea that The Station – with its human inhabitants and hurtling through space at thousands of miles an hour – is visible in the sky above them. NASA offers a service where you can choose from an email alert or a text alert (or both), and never miss another ISS sighting again. So get your telescopes ready, and check out how you can set up your alerts and learn more about the International Space Station.
Even though it is not constantly making headlines in the mainstream media, it seems that the Mars Rover, Curiosity, is steadily making discoveries while on its exploration mission across the red planet. Its most recent find is that there is a surprising amount of water on Mars. The water is not in the form of oceans or lakes, but actually locked in the soil itself. Even though it is not in the form of a liquid, the presence of water on Mars has some strong implications for future astronauts. What does it mean now that Curiosity has found water on Mars?
As we mentioned last week here at Top Secret Writers, NASA is currently running a project to probe the moon’s atmosphere. The pilotless craft that is carrying out the mission is the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). On Sunday, October 6th, the spacecraft finally completed its month-long journey from Earth to the moon, and settled into a comfortable orbit with the moon. The journey to the moon involved the spacecraft actually establishing its own orbit above the Earth like a satellite, increasing its distance from the Earth with each pass, until finally meeting up with the moon on its final orbit and then firing its engines to move close enough to the moon – allowing gravity to pull it the rest of the way in. (1) As the spacecraft takes its place above the moon, the mission enters into its next stage, which involves the exciting checkout phase, and then a long period where its focus will be studying the atmosphere and the mystery of the moon’s glowing dust.