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UPDATE on Satellite re-entry September 23, 2011

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Fri, 23 Sep 2011 06:30:46 PM CDT

As of 7 p.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 90 miles by 95 miles (145 km by 150 km). Re-entry is expected between 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, and 3 a.m., Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time (3 a.m. to 7 a.m. GMT). During that time period, the satellite will be passing over Canada, Africa and Australia, as well as vast areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The risk to public safety is very remote.

Happy Equinox! September 23, 2011

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Here in Charleston the forecast is cloudy with a small chance of late falling  satellite debris.

What a fragment might look like as it enters the Earths atmosphere. APOD: Credit & Copyright: Howard Edin (Oklahoma City Astronomy Club)

In case you haven’t heard, the NASA UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere late evening GMT on September 23 or early morning on September 24. It is about the size of a city bus, so some of the denser parts made of Beryllium and Titanium are expected to survive.

Computer simulations estimate about two dozen fragments weighing from 10 to several hundred pounds are expected to hit the Earth.  Now they won’t hit at orbital speeds of 17,000 mph, but some fragments might be traveling up to 200 mph when they hit the ground.

Right now, the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies lists the projected re-entry time as 03:16 on Sept. 24, plus or minus 5 hours.  September 24, 2011 at 03:16 UTC ± 5 hours; or September  23, at 10:16 PM ± 5 hours Central Daylight Time

Astronomy Club Meeting Tonight: ROCKETS!!!! April 6, 2011

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We will be having our regular Astronomy Club meeting this Wednesday April 6th at 8pm in room 2153 of the Physical Science Building.  Hannah Tanquary  will be giving a talk entitled “So you want to go to space: A step-by-step guide for those wishing to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”  (It’s basically about rockets.)  Also, since there are only two meetings left, we will be nominating officers for next year and deciding what movie we want to watch for movie night at the last meeting.  Hope to see you there!

NASA Launches Solar Dynamics Observatory February 11, 2010

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NASA has launched the most advanced solar observatory ever built.

Credit: NASA

An unmanned rocket lifted off Thursday with the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The  mission goal is to shed light on Earth’s star. Scientists want to better understand the violent solar activity that influences life on Earth. This space weather can disrupt communications, knock out power and disable satellites.

The Atlas V rocket carrying the Solar Dynamics Observatory lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 10:23 a.m. ET Thursday. NASA had delayed the launch three times Wednesday because of windy conditions.

SDO: The Solar Dynamics Observatory is the first mission to be launched for NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) Program, a program designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. SDO is designed to help us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.

SDO’s goal is to understand, in order to predict, the solar variations that influence life and technological systems (like satellites and power grids)on Earth. Measurements hope to determine:

  • how the Sun’s magnetic field is generated and structured
  • how this stored magnetic energy is converted and released into the heliosphere and geospace in the form of solar wind, energetic particles, and variations in the solar irradiance.

Planck & Herschel Space Observatories launched today May 14, 2009

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TAriane V on the launch pad with two satilites

Ariane V on the launch pad with two satilites

Two for the price of one! An Ariane V rocket launched both the Herschel and the Planck orbiting observatories today for the European Space Agency.

The Herschel mission will  cover the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband.  Its telescope, at 3.5 meters width, will have the largest mirror ever deployed in space. The light will be focused onto three instruments with detectors kept at temperatures below 2 K. The instruments will be cooled with liquid helium, boiling away in a near vacuum at a temperature of approximately 1.4 K. The 2,000 litres of helium on board the satellite will limit its operational lifetime. The satellite is expected to be operational for at least 3 years.

Herschel space observatory

Herschel space observatory

The Planck space observatory is designed to observe the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) over the entire sky, using high sensitivity and angular resolution. Planck was built in the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center and created as the third Medium-Sized Mission (M3) of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Planck satellite

Planck satellite

Two Satellites Collide 500 miles above Siberia February 12, 2009

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Just when we thought it was safe to come out, after Asteroid 2009 bd81 was taken off the risk page, comes this! A Iridium communications satellite collides in orbit with a old Russian satellite. For the full article, go to our friends at Universe Today .


iridium satellite system, Credit: Spaceflightnow.com

A commercial Iridium communications satellite collided with a Russian satellite or satellite fragment, on Tuesday, creating a cloud of wreckage in low-Earth orbit, according to CBS News. A source quoted in the article said U.S. Space Command is tracking about 280 pieces of debris, most of it from a non-operational Russian satellite. It appears the International Space Station is not currently threatened by the debris, but it’s not yet clear whether the debris poses a risk to any other satellites in similar orbits. Iridium operates a constellation of approximately 66 satellites, along with orbital spares, to support satellite telephone operations around the world.