Posts Tagged ‘NASA’

Tweeting at 27,724 kms per hour

At Big On Good, we are always excited about new ways of communicating with engaged collaborators. Today, the excitement is reaching a new high – at exactly 3 pm EST or 8pm GMT/BST, we will be tweeting up live with the Crew of STS-125 on The International Space Station!

The event would be live on: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-live

Some of the questions we have come across are:

Q: Huh, what is the ISS? 

The International Space Station (ISS) is an internationally developed research facility currently being assembled in Low Earth Orbit. On-orbit construction of the station began in 1998 and is scheduled to be complete by 2011, with operations continuing until at least 2015. Several space agencies have been involved in the ISS (you can read the full list on wikipedia too). The space station can be seen from Earth with the naked eye, orbiting at an altitude of approximately 350 kilometres (220 mi) above the surface of the Earth, travelling at an average speed of 27,724 kilometres (17,227 mi) per hour, completing 15.7 orbits per day

Q: Really? When and where can I see the ISS?

If you are reading this post from UK – then you will be able to see the ISS tonight from 21:48:17 till 21:53:04 in the west of the sky. It appears as a slow moving bright spot in the sky (if it is not overcast!). You can see other visible passes in this week optimised for London by Clicking Here. If you are elsewhere and would like to know when you would be able to see passes, satellite flares, etc, you can always check the Heavens Above Website. If you do, please leave us a note/comment here or tweet at @beethakore.

Q: What is STS 125?

STS 125 is short for the Space Transportation Shuttle and it is the 125th flight of the US Space Shuttle program. STS 125 is onboard Atlantis, one of the 3 operating US Space Shuttles – Endeavour and Discovery being the other two.

During STS 125, 7 astronauts repaired and upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope, conducting five spacewalks during their mission to extend the life of the orbiting observatory. They successfully installed two new instruments and repaired two others, bringing them back to life, replaced gyroscopes and batteries, and added new thermal insulation panels to protect the orbiting observatory. The result is six working, complementary science instruments with capabilities beyond what was available and an extended operational lifespan until at least 2014. 

Q: Who is onboard the ISS?

352717main_exp20_ceremony_med_thum

A record number of 13 people are onboard the space station at the moment.

Members of Expedition 19: Gennady I. Padalka, Michael R. Barratt, Koichi Wakata who came up to the Station with Expedition 19.

Members of Expedition 20: Expedition 20 will mark the start of six-person crew operations aboard the International Space Station. All five of the international partner agencies – NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) – will be represented on orbit for the first time. This includes flight Engineers Roman Romanenko, Frank De Winne and Robert Thirsk who docked their Soyuz TMA-15 to the International Space Station. This one gets a special treatment, because Big On Good will also be present at the launch of Mission Specialist Nicole P Stott at the targetted date of 18th August 2009 on STS-128!!

STS-127 Crew: Mark L. Polansky, Douglas G. Hurley, Christopher J. Cassidy, Thomas H. Marshburn, David A. Wolf and Julie Payette are onboard STS 127.

More soon…

Advertisements

Space Debris: How do we safeguard our future?

Iridium-Cosmos Debris cloud as it would be on July 10
Iridium-Cosmos Debris cloud as it would be on July 10

Satellite Collision simulation

 

The first accidental hypervelocity collision of two intact spacecrafts occurred on 10 February 2009 when Iridium 33, a US Operational communication satellite and Cosmos 2251, a Russian decommissioned communications satellite collided at 1656 GMT as they passed over northern Siberia at an altitude of 790 km leaving two distinct debris clouds in much of the Low Earth Orbit which are now dispersing and pose danger of future collisions.

The present incidence has generated a lot of concern in the space community (We were at the United Nations Committee for Peaceful Uses of Outer Space recently) especially as the Iridium constellation is in a region of high spatial density and the Iridium constellation has 70 satellites in the operational altitude regime – at even the current situation, there are approximately 3,300 additional catalogued objects that whiz through the Iridium constellation’s altitude each day.

The effects of such debris clouds after collision would pose a significant risk to the access to space both in the short-term and long-term. Although tracking results from the Iridium Cosmos incident show that the debris created is short lived (and would re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere within the next 5-10 years depending on solar activity), incidents such as this could potentially lead to an “ablation cascade” where future collisions would create further and more energetic space debris objects that may be extremely dangerous for human space flights. The figure above depicts the predicted evolution of the Iridium and Cosmos debris planes by July 10 (six months after the collision)! 

Photo Credit with thanks: NASA, Orbital Debris Program Office