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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Curiosity takes a selfie

APOD:

This selfie was compiled from many smaller images — which is why the mechanical arm holding the camera is not visible.

In case you’re not impressed, notice this comment on Reddit by djellison who is Engineering Camera Payload Uplink Lead on Curiosity and Opportunity.

This spacecraft – Opportunity – in a REALLY GOOD day – gets a total downlink to Earth of around 80 Megabits.

That’s 10 Megabytes.

For everything.

Read the rest of his comment.

Cassini dies tomorrow

Lee Billings for Scientific American:

All good things must come to an end.

For NASA’s Cassini orbiter—its fuel dwindling after 13 years exploring Saturn, along with the planet’s sprawling rings and dozens of icy moons—the end will come Friday at 7:55 A.M. Eastern time. That’s when mission planners project radio communications will be lost with the two-ton, bus-size spacecraft as it plunges into the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere at more than 122,000 kilometers per hour.

What a legacy.

Voyager’s 40th Anniversary

East coasters keep your lunchtime open on Tuesday as NASA is celebrating Voyager’s 40th Anniversary. Check out this description from APOD:

Launched in 1977 on a tour of the outer planets of the Solar System, Voyager 1 and 2 have become the longest operating and most distant spacecraft from Earth. Nearly 16 light-hours from the Sun, Voyager 2 has reached the edge of the heliosphere, the realm defined by the influence of the solar wind and the Sun’s magnetic field. Now humanity’s first ambassador to the Milky Way, Voyager 1 is over 19 light-hours away, beyond the heliosphere in interstellar space. Celebrate the Voyagers’ 40 year journey toward the stars with NASA on September 5.

Interstellar space. So cool.

I look at this achievement a number of ways. I laud the fact that this spacecraft was built over 40 years ago (as was its software) and it is out there still humming along. I’m awed at the distance it has traveled and how far out it currently is. However, I also think that 19-light hours is less “time” than it took me yesterday to get back from the Pacific coast in Mexico via bus, airplanes, and car.

In the future 19-light hours may very well seem like next door. I really hope so.

You know where I’ll be on Tuesday during lunch. Chewing on a sandwich and watching NASA TV.

TRAPPIST-1

The following two sentences encapsulate an incredible feat in the advancement of human discovery:

TRAPPIST-1 is a planetary system, located 12 parsecs away from the Solar system (39 light years), near the ecliptic, within the constellation of Aquarius. Around a star which is 12 times less massive than the Sun and only slightly larger than Jupiter, there are at least seven planets in orbit.

This system has its own domain name; trappist.one — see also, the New York Times, and the paper in Nature.

We live in amazing times.