Saturday, November 30, 2013

Falcon 9 Launch Delayed

The Thursday commercial launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 was delayed when a computer detected a problem with engine pressure.

SpaceX will likely try to launch again in a few days.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hot Time For ISON

Comet ISON passed within about 700,000 miles of the surface of the Sun yesterday, and seems to have broken up under the extreme heat and gravitational stress.

It is possible that a fragment may have held course.  Astronomers are watching.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Inspiration Mars

Dennis Tito is discovering that sending two people around Mars with a five year lead is tougher than he'd thought.  Inspiration Mars was supposed to be a wholly private enterprise, but now Tito is saying the project probably can't be done without NASA participation.

So far, NASA is holding back.  One wonders, frankly, whether Mr. Tito wasn't pursuing a strategy not to fly this mission without NASA carrying most of the water all along.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Short On Curiosity

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity suffered an electrical short recently that led engineers to temporarily shut down the science part of the mission.

Luckily, the short turned out to be a relatively minor issue, and science operations have resumed.

Monday, November 25, 2013


The Great Red Spot of Jupiter is a huge storm, or vortex, that has endured for centuries, baffling scientists trying to explain its longevity.  A new computer simulation study suggests part of the answer is the vertical flow of energy within a vortex.

Physicists have tended to focus on horizontal energy flows in vortices, but the systems may be renewed by pulling new energy in vertically.  The theory could also help explain vortices in Earth's oceans and even star formation.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sun Grazing ISON

Comet ISON is whipping around the Sun this weekend, entering the tenuous solar atmosphere and-- hopefully--just missing the surface.  Astronomers are unsure whether ISON will survive the heat and gravitational forces of such a close approach.

We will know shortly.