It had never occurred to me to think about geostationary satellites in Mars orbit before reading a new paper by Juan Silva and Pilar Romero. The paper shows that it takes a lot more work to maintain a stationary orbit at an arbitrary longitude at Mars than it does at Earth.
With the Landsat Data Continuity Mission scheduled to launch on Monday, there's been a lot of Tweeting about Landsat, and through one such Tweet I learned about a resource that I hadn't known existed before: the LandsatLook Viewer. This is a graphical interface to more than a decade worth of Landsat data, a tremendous resource for anyone interested in Earth's changing surface, natural or manmade.
This is a very large (19000 pixels square) mosaic of the fjords and glaciers of southern Greenland. I had been interested for a long time in experimenting with the processing of Earth satellite imagery just to get a comparison to the other planets.
Today hurricane Sandy is a major threat to life and property across the west coast of the northern Atlantic ocean. I just want to give thanks in advance to all the people who have devoted their careers to making sure that Americans have sufficient warning of devastating, unstoppable weather events like this one.
Well, that was awesome. The NPP Earth observation satellite launched successfully an hour or so ago, and I was with a chilled but thrilled crowd of a few hundred people to watch it at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
I'm (hopefully) headed to the launch of a Delta II (the last currently scheduled Delta II!) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, as one of only 20 people selected to participate out of more than 600 who registered.
It should give you a feeling of déjà vu: a defunct satellite's orbit is decaying, and because that orbit is circular it's going to be impossible to predict where and when along its ground track it's going to happen.
Unless you've been living under a rock you've probably heard that a very large Earth-orbiting satellite is going to be reentering Earth's atmosphere soon, and there's a small but nonzero chance of debris coming down where somebody might actually find it.
I wrote the following blog entry about an image from Japan's Daichi Earth-observing orbiter last week as one to keep in my back pocket for a day when I was too busy to write, not anticipating that there'd soon be a more pressing reason to write about Daichi. On April 21, after just over five years of orbital operations, Daichi unexpectedly fell silent, and is probably lost forever.
Another painful loss to NASA's mission to study Earth from space: Today a Taurus XL rocket failed to lift the Glory satellite into Earth orbit when its clam-shell nosecone refused to open, forcing the rocket and its payload into the southern Pacific Ocean.
A good start to my day today: The New York Times' Lens Blog featured the "Martian Moment in Time" photo that Opportunity took last week in a really nice writeup. I'm so grateful, and still a little surprised, that the folks on the Mars Exploration Rover mission took this idea and ran with it!