I'm preparing a talk for the Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show here in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon at 1:45. I have spent the morning putting together a slide that I have long wanted to have for presentations.
Every day's image release from the Dawn spacecraft shows something on Vesta that is weird and cool and difficult to explain. The images come out with very little information describing what is going on to make those weird landscapes.
The summer heat is starting to cool off and the swarms of mosquitoes are nearly survivable without heavy artillery. For some backyard astronomers, fall offers cool nights and comfortable weather to enjoy the stars by.
Jeff Moore's presentation was cool because of the discussion it stimulated. He considered what exogenic processes might be operating on Pluto's surface. What's an exogenic process? It's something that modifies the shape of the surface from the outside, and doesn't require the body to be geologically active inside.
Here's a lovely picture from the Canberra DSN this morning, showing two of the workhorse 34-meter antennas communicating with the nearby GRAIL spacecraft. In the distance, the huge DSS-43 talks to the solar observatory STEREO-B.
GRAIL is trying for launch today at 8:29 PDT / 12:29 UT or 9:08 PDT / 6:08 UT., and here I am at 5:00 am my time ready to watch. As before, I'm watching the feed through Spaceflight Now's GRAIL mission status center.
Here's a few pretty pictures that were recently dusted off by Ted Stryk. Pioneer 10 and 11 passed by Jupiter on December 4, 1973, and December 3, 1974, respectively. Here are three pictures from those two encounters, in versions newly processed by Ted from scanned photographic prints found during a research trip to NASA's Ames Research Center.
The twin spacecraft of the GRAIL lunar gravity mission are set to launch side-by-side on a Delta II rocket on Thursday, September 8. Here's all the places where you can find information about the upcoming launch.
Concern about the supply chain for the ISS has been growing steeply over the last months. The final flight of Atlantis turned the ominous shadow of a future without the shuttle into a glum reality. And only a few weeks later, we have witnessed, with some degree of a shock, the first failure of a Progress mission in many years.
Dawn has completed the first phase of its exploration of Vesta with tremendous success, and the peripatetic adventurer is now in powered flight again, on its way to a new location from which to scrutinize its subject.