Video: X-37B spaceplane touches down.

The unmanned vehicle returned to Vandenberg Air Force base in California on October 17.

image

NASA spacecraft healthy after comet encounter.

Photos: The shuttle Endeavour.

I was lucky enough to get to see this in LA recently, where it’s on display at the California Science Center. The cargo bay doors were open while they installed a new payload inside.

Read more space stories at 8 Bit Future.

NASA preparing for comet encounter this weekend
Comet Siding Spring will be making its closest pass to Mars this Sunday, bringing with it a wealth of information about the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Siding Spring - named after the Australian observatory which first identified it - comes from the Oort Cloud, material left over from the formation of the solar system. It’s thought that the comet has come straight from the Oort cloud, making it the first time it has passed this close to the sun, giving scientists a unique opportunity to observe it and gather data as it passes only 87,000 miles (139,500km) from the surface of Mars. That’s less than half the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and close enough for NASA to decide to ‘hide’ satellites currently orbiting Mars to avoid the trail of debris. Their orbits have been altered just enough to ensure they will all be passing behind Mars at the time the worst of the comet dust is passing, while allowing them to still observe as much of the comet encounter as possible.
NASA has been hard at work repurposing a wide range of spacecraft for this comet encounter, with Mars satellites like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) - which normally faces down towards Mars - being turned skywards to capture the event. Instruments on Martian soil are also being used to gather data, with cameras on the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers being adjusted to observe the comet.
Images of the comet will be posted in the days and weeks to come, at mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring.
Read more space stories at 8 Bit Future.

NASA preparing for comet encounter this weekend

Comet Siding Spring will be making its closest pass to Mars this Sunday, bringing with it a wealth of information about the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Siding Spring - named after the Australian observatory which first identified it - comes from the Oort Cloud, material left over from the formation of the solar system. It’s thought that the comet has come straight from the Oort cloud, making it the first time it has passed this close to the sun, giving scientists a unique opportunity to observe it and gather data as it passes only 87,000 miles (139,500km) from the surface of Mars. That’s less than half the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and close enough for NASA to decide to ‘hide’ satellites currently orbiting Mars to avoid the trail of debris. Their orbits have been altered just enough to ensure they will all be passing behind Mars at the time the worst of the comet dust is passing, while allowing them to still observe as much of the comet encounter as possible.

NASA has been hard at work repurposing a wide range of spacecraft for this comet encounter, with Mars satellites like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) - which normally faces down towards Mars - being turned skywards to capture the event. Instruments on Martian soil are also being used to gather data, with cameras on the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers being adjusted to observe the comet.

Images of the comet will be posted in the days and weeks to come, at mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring.

Read more space stories at 8 Bit Future.

Found these in an arcade on the Santa Monica pier. Nice!

Saturn’s moon may hide an ocean.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has returned data showing that Mimas may contain either a liquid water ocean, or a frozen core shaped like a football. Because the moon formed over four billion years ago, the expectation was that its core would have relaxed into a more or less spherical shape by now. So if Mimas’ core is oblong in shape, it likely represents a record of the moon’s formation, frozen in time.

If Mimas possesses an ocean, it would join an exclusive club of “ocean worlds” that includes several moons of Jupiter and two other Saturn moons, Enceladus and Titan. A global ocean would be surprising, said Tajeddine, as the surface of Mimas does not display signs of geologic activity.

Saturn’s moon may hide an ocean.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has returned data showing that Mimas may contain either a liquid water ocean, or a frozen core shaped like a football. Because the moon formed over four billion years ago, the expectation was that its core would have relaxed into a more or less spherical shape by now. So if Mimas’ core is oblong in shape, it likely represents a record of the moon’s formation, frozen in time.

If Mimas possesses an ocean, it would join an exclusive club of “ocean worlds” that includes several moons of Jupiter and two other Saturn moons, Enceladus and Titan. A global ocean would be surprising, said Tajeddine, as the surface of Mimas does not display signs of geologic activity.

I’m in mission control at NASA/JPL as part of a #NASASocial ! There’s a live stream coming up at 2pm, check it out at www.upstream.tv/nasajpl2
Edit: Predictive text fail! It’s http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

I’m in mission control at NASA/JPL as part of a #NASASocial ! There’s a live stream coming up at 2pm, check it out at www.upstream.tv/nasajpl2

Edit: Predictive text fail! It’s http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

Ready for a big day at the #NASASocial woo hoo!

Ready for a big day at the #NASASocial woo hoo!

Saw this parked up in Palo Alto today.

Anyone know what’s up with this? Pretty interesting anyway…