Could This be the Start of a New Space Shuttle? – All is not lost for the space shuttle idea. Richard Branson is thinking big again and along with orbital sciences Corp, Sierra Nevada Corp and some others they may build a reusable taxi to space just like the space shuttle. NASA will find $200 million to help with the development. –Weirdwrap
Bright White Storm Raging on Saturn – About a week ago, a bright white storm emerged on Saturn’s northern hemisphere, and amateur astronomer/planet astrophotographer extraordinaire Anthony Wesley from Australia has captured a few images of it. “This is the brightest Saturn storm in decades,” Anthony said on his website, Ice In Space. “If you get a chance to see it visually then take it, as it may be one of the rare “Great White Spot” (GWS) outbreaks on Saturn.” –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today
Cassini Spots Potential Ice Volcano on Saturn Moon - New data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal topography on Saturn's moon Titan that makes the best case yet for an ice volcano on Titan and reveals the most Earth-like candidate in the outer solar system.
Discovery on the pad
ISS through clouds
Geminid in Death Valley
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Soyuz lift-off with ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli together with Dmitri Kondratyev and Catherine Coleman for a challenging 6-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS) as members of Expeditions 26/27. They were launched in the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 15 December at 19:09 GMT. Paolo’s MagISStra mission will be Europe’s third long-duration mission on the ISS. Between December 2010 and June 2011 he will be part of the ISS crew as a flight engineer. - Credit: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2010
Update 2: FURTHER DELAY. Shuttle Discovery won’t fly before November 30 at 09:05 UTC. Update 1: The teams are now working a 72 hour scrub turnaround procedure instead of the 48 they originally started to call. The earliest opportunity for Discovery to launch will be on Monday, Nov 8.
Nov 5, 2010 – The launch of Space Shuttle Discovery has been officially scrubbed at 12:11 UTC due to a leak of Liquid Hydrogen at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate (GUCP) detected during the tanking process. Leaks at the GUCP delayed launches for STS-119 and STS-127.
The Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate where a leak of liquid hydrogen has been detected during tanking - Credit: NASA TV
The teams are working a 48 hours turnaround 72 hours turnaround with launch targeted at 18:15:46 UTC on Sunday, as 24 hours is not enough to drain the External Tank (ET) to examine and resolved the issue. The current launch window closes on Sunday, November 7, 2010. The shuttle cannot launch between Nov. 8 and Nov. 23 because of a so-called beta angle cutout. Such cutouts are defined by the angle between the sun and the plane of the space station’s orbit. When it the beta angle is too high or too low, temperature constraints for the docked shuttle-station stack can exceed safety guidelines. Nevertheless, the Mission Management Team (MMT) is also looking into the possibility to launch on Monday, Nov 8 with a reworked flight plan.
Official STS-133 Countdown Underway – The official countdown clock began ticking backward at 18:00 UTC Sunday. Launch is targeted for Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 20:52 UTC. NASA Test Director Steve Payne said this morning that the work to repair the leaks is complete, the system is repressurized and work is on schedule for Discovery’s launch. –NASA
Mitigating Asteroid Threats Will Take Global Action – During the past 24 hours, the Earth has been hit by about a million small meteoroids – most of which burned up in the atmosphere as shooting stars. This happens every day. And occasionally – once every 10,000 years or so — a really big asteroid (1 km in diameter or larger) comes along and smacks Earth with an extinction-level impact. That idea might cause some of us to lose some sleep. But in between are other asteroid hits that occur every 200-300 years where a medium-sized chunk of space rock intersects with Earth’s orbit, producing a Tunguska-like event, or worse. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today
Astronomers using data from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, have made an impressive composite of the nebula Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula. The painting-like image shows vast clouds of gas and dust illuminated by the intense radiation from young stars. - ESO/R. Chini
Another X-ray Nova Detected by ISS, Swift – A new X-ray emitting object in the Milky Way has been recently announced by the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) team and the Swift satellite astronomers. MAXI, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency supported instrument, monitors the entire sky in the X-ray portion of the spectrum from its perch on the International Space Station module “Kibo”. On October 12th, MAXI noticed nothing out of the ordinary in a portion of the sky in the constellation Centaurus. -Nicholos Wethington / Universe Today
After a day-long flight readiness review at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, senior NASA and contractor managers voted unanimously to set November 1, 2010 as the official launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery
The Moon a few nights ago
Richat structure in Mauritania
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Milky Way all around the horizon line and Gegenschein from Atacama desert in Chile - Credit: Stéphane Guisard
Did a Comet Make Jupiter’s Rings Wave? – When you’re talking about a gas giant planet with rings, it’s often Saturn in the limelight. After all, you can see that planet’s bright disk of icy particles from Earth with just a modest telescope. But in 1979 the Voyager 1 spacecraft saw that Jupiter has rings too, albeit a much fainter system primarily made up of dust. –National Geographic Blogs
M31’s Odd Rotation Curve – Recent observations of the Andromeda Galaxy‘s (M31) rotation curve has shown that there may yet be more to learn. In the outermost edges of the galaxy, the rotation rate has been shown to increase. -Jon Voisey / Universe Today
Daylight Venus transit of the ISS – Venus is the brightest celestial body in the night sky after the Moon. It could get as bright as an magnitude of -4.6. When Theo Ramakers and Frank Garner photographed its beauty on the afternoon of Sep.25, Venus was right behind the path of ISS. -Xiao Sun / Astronomy Cameras Blog
Birth of the Space Age – History changed on Oct. 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, the world’s first artificial satellite. About the size of a beach ball and weighing about 184 pounds, it took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological and scientific developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race. –NASA
STS-133 completes hyper loading – Discovery may star in Transformers movie – With the departmental Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs) ongoing – leading up to the SSP (Space Shuttle Program) FRR set for next week – Discovery continues to enjoy a smooth pad flow, as the milestone of hyper loading (S0024) was completed on Saturday. The veteran orbiter is also enjoying a weekend at the movies, as filming of Transformers 3 picks up at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). –NASA Spaceflight