Posts tagged mars
Last Friday, some members of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) entry, descent and landing (EDL) team were at JSC to talk about their experience. Like most of NASA’s robotic probes and rovers, MSL was really a JPL project so most of the team was in California. But my friend Gavin was also an integral member of the EDL team over the many years MSL was being planned, since the entry guidance was based on Apollo’s entry guidance, and the expertise for that was here at JSC! So he was on the panel too for the discussion. Go Gavin!
I’ve been a bad blogger lately. Now that I have a kid, does that automatically make me a mommy blogger? Maybe I should get “Mom Blogging for Dummies,” which I spotted at Barnes and Noble last weekend. Yep, I guess there really is a book for everything!
This is what Emma looks like after her last feeding of the night. These days, she’s on a pretty solid schedule and eats 6 times per day. She wakes up at 7 am and eats every 3 hours between then and 7 pm. We put her in her crib around 8 pm, often still awake, and she is amazingly good at falling asleep on her own. We change her diaper and give her a final “dream feed” at 10:30-11 pm, but she barely wakes up for that — and even if the diaper change wakes her, she falls back asleep by the time she finishes her bottle. Then she sleeps till morning! It is pretty awesome, and I am SO very thankful she is a good sleeper so far.
We’ve gotten in the habit of skyping with my parents on Sunday evenings. The computer screen really holds Emma’s attention and apparently my mom is hilarious — last week in the middle of talking, Emma let out her first real belly laugh. It was adorable, and Jose and I spent all week trying to make her laugh like that again with no success. Last night? As soon as she saw Grandmama on the computer screen, she let loose with a huge belly laugh!
Yesterday Emma was rocking a floral top with striped leggings — so fashion forward of her! Baby clothing sizes are the weirdest. That floral “shirt” she’s wearing is actually a newborn-sized dress. It’s too short to be worn as a dress anymore but otherwise it totally still fits her, even as a 90th percentile 3.5-month-old. She seems to be in a weird spot right now, as many of her 3-month clothes are getting tight but a lot of 6-month items are still too big.
And other stuff:
Jose was sick yesterday and stayed home from work today still feeling a little ill. I went to work feeling totally fine, but between 2:00 and 5:00 I got achier and achier. I crashed for 1.5 hours on the couch after I got home (thankfully Jose is feeling better and could entertain Emma) and still feel icky. So far Emma seems fine and I really REALLY hope things stay that way, especially because we are planning to drive to Corpus on Wednesday night for Thanksgiving. Thinking healthy thoughts…
It’s been a couple months since I posted a round-up of good spacey stuff, so I’m definitely overdue! Here are some things worth watching:
We’re only a couple weeks away from Mars Science Laboratory’s arrival and landing on Mars! This video does an awesome job of explaining what’s involved in getting to the surface, which is pretty accurately described as “7 minutes of terror.” (This video has a totally different feel and tone than any other NASA-produced video I’ve ever seen — so much so that The New York Times even took notice and wrote an article about it. I really hope the powers-that-be keep this up, as it’s gotten quite a bit of positive attention.)
I seriously cannot get enough of Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’m sure you’ve all seen this one before, but it’s hard to post a space video roundup without something from NdT.
NASA Cribs! This was put together by some of the coops and it’s amusing, especially if you’ve ever watched MTV Cribs. Mike Fincke does a pretty hilarious job of imitating the way rich rappers show off their homes.
SpaceX put together another cool video of highlights from their demo flight in May.
And finally, although it has nothing to do with space, but I defy you to watch the latest “Where the Hell is Matt?” video that made the rounds recently (he even danced with the League City Fire Department!) and not end up with a big smile on your face feeling like there might just be something good about the human race after all.
Here’s a roundup of some cool space things I’ve spotted online in the past couple months!
Don Pettit, who’s been living and working onboard the ISS since late December, is blogging for Air & Space Magazine. His entries have been pretty great so far, and quite candid. Make sure you read his “Forced Smile” entry if you want a real, raw look at some of the, ahem, NOT-so-fun things involved in spaceflight. His account of what a Soyuz launch is like is also good.
Two Canadian teenagers sent a Lego-naut to 85,000 feet using a weather balloon! Critics would argue that 85,000 feet is not technically space, but that’s just semantics. I love Lego-naut!
Did you hear about the big solar storm that came our way last week? It made for some spectacular auroras, as you can see above in real time. Seems like most aurora videos are time-lapse, so I had no idea the aurora moved and flickered that much in real time! Amazing. I so want to see the this with my own eyes someday. It turns out that solar activity has another benefit too — it makes our atmosphere expand a bit, which helps clear out some of the space junk floating around up there.
This is a neat mini-documentary on the AstroVan that carried astronauts to the launch pad from 1984 until the end of the space shuttle program. 0 to 35 in a minute and a half!
I mentioned recently that NASA has stepped up its game when it comes to releasing cool photos and videos, but so have the Russians. This is a neat little video from Roscosmos from a couple years ago that they just reposted, showing a Soyuz spacecraft and rocket being rolled out to the launch pad and lifting off. They have several variants of the Soyuz rocket that all look basically the same, but you can tell this is a Soyuz spacecraft because it has the launch escape system installed on top. (Well, and it says “Soyuz TMA” on the side too, which is the name of the manned spacecraft, but you’d have to be able to read Cyrillic to recognize that.)
This cool poster from Universe Today is celebrating the Opportunity rover’s 8 years on Mars. 8 years! And still going! At the moment, Opportunity is parked on the rim of a crater ready to face another rough Martian winter. Its twin, Spirit, operated for 6+ years before sending its last transmission in March 2010. And to think they were only intended for a 90 DAY mission. 90 days versus 8 years. Pretty impressive.
I’ve come across so many spectacular space videos and photos lately that I can’t help but keep sharing them!
(from NASA: 2Explore on Flickr)
This is one more image from the Soyuz 27S landing last Monday night. Earlier, I posted the video of the entry taken from the ISS, but astronaut Dan Burbank posted this pretty incredible still photo yesterday to his Twitter account. You can see the entering Soyuz vehicle as a bright streak in the center of the image, just below the end of the Progress vehicle still docked to ISS. The Black Sea is at the bottom of the image and sunrise is starting to peek over the horizon at the top. Wow.
This video from astronaut Ron Garan, who came home on Soyuz 26S in September, made the Internet rounds last week but I didn’t sit down to watch until last night. You can read more about how he did the time lapses on his Fragile Oasis site, but first I recommend you just sit back and watch the whole thing. The time lapse footage they are getting is just gorgeous, especially the nighttime passes (I love the city lights and the lightning flashes from thunderstorms) and the auroras.
On Saturday morning, the Mars Science Laboratory — a spacecraft carrying a rover the size of a Mini Cooper — launched from Florida. It should arrive at Mars next August. Planetary missions are always exciting. Some part of my brain feels like the stakes are higher since the destination is so far away, although that makes no logical sense, since there aren’t people onboard. This video shows the separation of the spacecraft from the upper stage rocket that provided the thrust to get out of Earth orbit. Super cool! That’s the final step of what I’ll call the launch and departure sequence. (I don’t know if there is an official name for it.)
As if live video of the spacecraft separation wasn’t enough, astronomers in Australia spotted MSL later that day as it began its journey to Mars. It looked almost like a comet — really strange! The plume is assumed to be particles from the burn that took the spacecraft out of Earth orbit and on its interplanetary trajectory.
When MSL gets to Mars next August, it will land using a new system called the Skycrane. It sounds, and LOOKS, pretty crazy — but there were several factors that drove the engineering team to design the system. The Scientific American blog has a really good overview of Mars entry, descent and landing (EDL) systems and how the Skycrane came to be, if you’re interested.