Phoenix Spacecraft about to land on Mars
Something in the sky...I really feel good, even though I'm not involved in this in any way. It's just that, an object, a small part of the whole humanity (or maybe just NASA), is about to land on a planet, millions of miles away. I wonder, what's the feeling, when you land on an another planet? I guess we should ask Neil Armstrong about that, as the robots that are sent to Mars can not exactly feel. But now, on to the more technical part.
The phoenix spacecraft was launched on August 4, 2007 and is scheduled to land... today! May 25, 2008. It will approach Mars at about 12,750 miles per hour, and will have to land perfectly on three legs with the help of parachutes and pulsing retrorockets, similar to the ones hover jets use. Oh, and all this will have to happen in under 7 minutes. 11 spacecrafts have been launched to Mars since the 1976 Viking, but only 5 have landed successfully. Hopefully, Phoenix will be the sixth. I don't know the history of each spacecraft, but 5 out of 11 concerns me a bit. What if the debris from failed projects will destroy some kind of primitive life form that may make Mars its home. On the other hand, the inactive probes or their parts may remind aliens, that there was intelligent life in this system, providing we nuke ourselves first. But, none of that is likely to happen.
The Phoenix is going to land in the far north of Mars. Scientists believe that the frozen northern lands are the only place where water could be found. That's what the 2.35 meter-long robotic hand (with a camera attached to it) is for -- it'll dig through Mars' surface and check the layers, which may tell us more about the history of Mars. And, of course, it'll check for any carbon-containing chemicals, that are said to be the essence of life.
Now here's something that's really interesting. Apparently, scientists created a so-called "Phoenix DVD". It contains a collection of discoveries and other literature about Mars. Also, 250.000 names have been collected and placed in the DVD, for the future visitors of Mars. It is made from a material called silica glass, and will last hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, until it's discovered by someone. Be that future Mars colonizers of aliens.
Even though this isn't such a huge step forward, as many spacecrafts have already reached and researched Mars' surface and atmosphere, I'd still like to throw in the quote "One small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind"
Well, thank your for your attention, hope you enjoyed it. Know, that as much as I try, I can not give you really good articles, so, I encourage you to read the Wikipedia article about Phoenix and the history of Mars landings.Phoenix landing, artist's conceptArticle On Wikipedia
The full progress of a Supernova seen
We were in the right place, at the right time... said a space observer, Alicia Soderberg. Apparently, she and her co-worker Edo Berger noticed a strong blast of x-rays somewhere in space. Well, not "somewhere", they were observing an another object at the galaxy, identified as NGC 2770, prior to noticing the explosion. The team promptly alerted 8 other telescopes to turn their attention towards the peculiar x-ray blast. The event was a one-of-a-kind experience -- a supernova, just starting. Scientists were able to observe the entire progress of the dying star. Actually, it is said that the supernova was born. It sounds a bit strange to me, because supernovae are the explosions of massive stars, that run out of nuclear fuel and collapse, leaving either a black hole or a brown dwarf behind them. So the birth of a supernova is the death of a star. The beggining of an end. But after the end, something is still left from the star. So the end is not the end, but the beggining... I won't go deeper into that.
The first supernova, witnessed from the very beggining. Luckily, a theory that a powerfull x-ray blast is the sign of a beginning supernova, has been made over 4 decades ago. Thanks to that, the scientists were able to effectively react and properly document the supernova. Hopefully, the accumulated material will provide insight on the properties of massive stars. In addition, now scientists will know how strong approximately does the x-ray blast have to be, and maybe they'll spot even more supernovae. One discovery always leads to an another one...
Competition in the space program
Well, it seems that India has jumped into the bandwagon of space exploration. After all, India is a big country with a whole lot of inhabitants, and resources, so there's no surprise here. The Moon Impact Probe (MIP), landed on the moon last friday (November 15th, 2008) on the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the prime minister of India when the space program was initiated.
The MIP was launched from an Indian satellite, called Chandrayaan-1.Chandrayaan-1 left Earth on October 22nd. 2008. And a few days ago, it's load, the MIP, reached the Moon's surface. In addition, Chandrayaan-1 has a few more tools on board, like the Terrain Mapping Camera and Radiation Dose Monitor, which will be released towards the moon in a while. So, with India becoming a space nation, more international cooperation can occur, hopefully bringing us further in to sapce.