Boarding Pass: Orion’s Flight Test

BoardingPass

via NASA.gov

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Watch the Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionid meteor shower will peak early Sunday morning across the United States, as the earth crosses through a cloud of debris thrown off Haley’s comet during its 75-year-long orbit around the sun.

The best time to look is before sunrise on Sunday, Oct. 21. That’s when Earth encounters the most dense part of Halley’s debris stream. Observing is easy: Wake up a few hours before dawn, go outside and look up. No telescope is required to see Orionids shooting across the sky.

If you live in a light-filled city, or if cloudy weather ruins your chance to see the show, NASA is providing a streaming video feed of the shower (from 11 p.m. on Saturday night to 3 a.m. Sunday morning) via a camera mounted at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Orionids appear every year around this time when Earth orbits through an area of space littered with debris from the ancient comet. Normally, the shower produces 20 or so meteors per hour. The past few years, however, have been much better than usual.

This is How You Park a Space Shuttle

Los Angeles Times reports:

The space shuttle Endeavour made its final journey last weekend, traveling 12-miles from Los Angeles International Airport, through Inglewood, to the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

The retired orbiter was carried through city streets atop a special transporter. Throngs of people lined the route as it shimmied around trees, utility poles and other obstacles.

It had arrived in Los Angeles on a Boeing 747 on Sept. 20 and kept in LAX’s United Airlines hangar as it was prepared for the crosstown trip.

“Mission 26″ as it was dubbed because of the spacecraft’s 25 flight missions for NASA started just before midnight Thursday and finished Sunday afternoon, more than 16 hours late.

Its final journey was slowed by unexpected maintenance issues and last-minute maneuvers to avoid obstacles like trees and utility poles. The 85-ton orbiter survived the trip with nary a scratch.

Venus in Transit

A transit of Venus occurs when Venus passes directly between the sun and earth. This alignment is rare, coming in pairs that are eight years apart but separated by over a century.

The most recent transit of Venus was a thrilling sight in 2004. After the June 2012 transit of Venus (the last one in your lifetime), the next such alignment occurs in 2117.

The nearly 7-hour transit begins at 3:09 pm Pacific Daylight Time (22:09 UT) on June 5th. The timing favors observers in the mid-Pacific where the sun is high overhead during the crossing.  In the USA, the transit will be at its best around sunset.

CleanSpace One: Space Junk Removal Satellite

Swiss scientists  plan to launch a “janitor satellite” specifically designed to get rid of space junk.

The $11 million satellite called CleanSpace One —- the prototype for a family of such satellites —- is being built by the Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, or EPFL.

Within three to five years is the predicted launch of CleanSpace One and its first tasks will be to grab two Swiss satellites that were launched in 2009 and 2010, EPFL said.

The U.S. space agency NASA says over 500,000 pieces of spent rocket stages, broken satellites and other debris are orbiting Earth. The debris travels at speeds approaching 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour), fast enough to destroy or inflict expensive and time-draining damage on a satellite or spacecraft. Collisions, in turn, generate more fragments floating in space.

Exactly how much debris is out there, they can only guesstimate. However, before some satellite that is out of date and out of its original orbit collides with something or somebody, it is way past due governments started looking at a way to clean up their junk.