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Old 4th Jul 2005, 10:28   #1
Wavid
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Default Space and all that stuff

Might be interesting to have a topic for talking about the various things going on in, er, space at the moment. Notty mentions these things now and again when they hit the news, and of course Amner is a keen astronomer these days too.

This caught my interest when I heard about it on the radio the other day:

Quote:
Nasa probe strikes Comet Tempel 1

US space agency (Nasa) scientists are celebrating after seeing a probe crash into the heart of a comet.
The washing machine-sized "impactor" collided with Comet Tempel 1 at a relative speed of 37,000km/h, throwing up a huge plume of icy debris.

The probe's mothership, the Deep Impact spacecraft, watched the event from a safe distance, sending images to Earth.

Dr Don Yeomans, a Nasa mission scientist, was ecstatic: "We hit it just exactly where we wanted to.

"The impact was bigger than I expected, and bigger than most of us expected. We've got all the data we could possibly ask for."

Comets - giant "dirty snowballs", as some have called them - are believed to contain materials that have remained largely unchanged since the formation of the Solar System 4.6 billion years ago.

Scientists hope that by getting "under the skin" of Comet Tempel 1, they can gain new information on the Solar System's original composition and perhaps even how life emerged in our corner of the Universe.

Agency staff working on the $333m mission cheered, clapped and hugged when the first pictures of the impact came through to the control room at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

Dr Charles Elachi, director of JPL, added. "From the beginning, I said this was one of the most daring missions and now we have success," he said.

"We are in the business of opening new frontiers in the exploration of space. When we analyse the data, we will have a whole new insight into the Universe."

The collision occurred at just after 0550 GMT at a distance of about 133 million km from Earth.

The 372kg probe was released from the Deep Impact spacecraft on Sunday, and essentially waited to be runover by the comet as the mothership stood back at some 500km with its cameras rolling.

In the moments before impact, the probe itself relayed pictures of the looming 14km-wide mass of ice, dust and rock. Large circular craters could be seen on the comet's surface.

It will take a few days for all the data from Deep Impact's observations to download, and scientists will then spend several months interpreting it.

Researchers were uncertain as to the size of scar their impactor would leave on the comet. It could be anywhere from the size of a large house to a football stadium and between two and 14 stories deep.

Their studies will have the benefit of pictures taken by a range of different telescopes around Earth.

Some of the biggest and most expensive instruments were deployed, including the Hubble space observatory in its orbit above the planet, and the world's largest optical telescope facility, the VLT in Chile.

UK planetary scientist Dr Monica Grady, from London's Natural History Museum, watched a feed of the Deep Impact images sent down to Earth.

"It's absolutely fantastic to see this," she said. "Before we knew so little about the comet nucleus; we had little idea of what the surface looked like.

"We now have these high-resolution images and can compare this crater against natural ones. We're going to get so much out of this."

And Professor Iwan Williams, from Queen Mary, University of London, who is working on Europe's Rosetta mission to a comet, was also taken aback by the scale of the event.

"It was like mosquito hitting a 747. What we've found is that the mosquito didn't splat on the surface, it's actually gone through the windscreen."

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Old 4th Jul 2005, 10:35   #2
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Some images here:

http://www.scotsons-shack.com/dimages.htm

Probably be better high-res ones in due course.
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Old 4th Jul 2005, 11:20   #3
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yep- and I'll add them to my site :)
thanks for the plug :wink:
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Old 4th Jul 2005, 11:23   #4
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Welcome to our odd little cultural corner of the universe, mickal555. You actually bothered to track back from the link?
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Old 4th Jul 2005, 14:27   #5
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yeah... :D

Dunno why...
It only had 1 click but seemed like a nice BB so I joined :P
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Old 4th Jul 2005, 14:40   #6
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We are. But watch out for that amner, he's vicious. :wink:
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Old 4th Jul 2005, 14:58   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickal555
seemed like a nice BB so I joined :P
None nicer.
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Old 29th Jul 2005, 10:53   #8
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Looks like yet more misfortune has beset the latest shuttle launch - it's likely that debris has hit a wing after all, which is exactly what happened to Columbia in 2003.

Those astronauts must be shitting themselves.
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Old 29th Jul 2005, 11:24   #9
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Quote:
Although officials said the shuttle Atlantis could be launched as part of a rescue operation and was being held "on readiness", they stressed they were "nowhere near doing that".
Good idea, send another one up.
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Old 25th Apr 2008, 11:04   #10
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Default Re: Space and all that stuff

According to today's Times, 'A series of spectacular images of galaxies crashing into each other has been made public to celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's coming of age. Hubble was launched on April 24th 1990, and to mark the 18th anniversary space scientists have picked out 59 pictures of the cosmic collisions.' Here's the article in full:

From The Times

April 25, 2008
Quote:
Lewis Smith, Science reporter

A series of spectacular images of galaxies crashing into each other has been made public to celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope’s coming of age. Hubble was launched on April 24, 1990, and to mark the 18th anniversary space scientists have picked out 59 pictures of the cosmic collisions.

Exotic patterns of stars and dust clouds swirling and twisting their way across the sky are formed as the galaxies merge or pass through each other millions of light years from Earth. The scale of the collisions are so huge that they can take more than a billion years to be completed.

Hundreds of billions of stars are found in each of the galaxies but because they are spread out over such a large area it is rare for stars to crash directly into each other. However, the gravitational forces exerted as the galaxies close in on each other and merge cause tremendous changes in their structures, twisting them into strange and beautiful shapes.

Galactic pile-ups are thought to be one of the driving forces of star formation and stellar explosions. Among the biggest effects is the formation of long streams of dust and gas, known as tidal tails, which lead from and round the galaxies. Clouds of gas and dust pulled into the core of the galaxies can lead to bursts of star formation.
Quote:
As the clouds become thicker they heat up and radiate so spectacularly that they can emit several thousand billion times more light than the Sun.
Although galaxies are many thousands of light years across, there is comparatively little matter in them. “If you were to take all the matter in the Milky Way and bundle it up into a ball with the density of our Sun, and put it where the Sun is, it would only reach Pluto’s orbit,” said Lars Christensen, of the European Space Agency.


The 59 images, the largest single release from the Nasa and European Space Agency Hubble project, give an idea of the changes likely to be wrought on the Milky Way in two billion years when it collides with a giant neighbouring galaxy.


It will then be subsumed within the Andromeda galaxy and the twowill become a single elliptical body that has already been named Milkomeda.


The greatest view in space
— The Hubble Space Telescope orbits Earth at 5 miles a second and sends back enough images to fill 18 DVDs every week
— 1,000 proposals to use Hubble are received every year; only 200 are selected. The telescope is controlled by hundreds of engineers at its ground station in Maryland, US
— Hubble is expected to last until at least 2013. It will be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope, sited a million miles farther from Earth
NASA, ESA, www.hubblesite.org
Checking out the Hubble website, I must say, its collection of images are absolutely mind-blowing. Here's an example (not of galaxies colliding, but the Cat's Eye Nebula, a dying star)



or howzabout this one, the achingly beautiful and mysterious, Majestic Sombrero Galaxy (M104):




If you want something to remind you how ridiculously small and insignificant we really are in the scheme of things (something I find enormously helpful in dispensing with all the minor irritations and woes of life) then check out the Hubble site - it's a humbling and very healthy revelation!
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