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Ep. 25, Page 44
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Comic 1862 - Ep. 25, Page 44

16th Apr 2015, 1:00 AM in Episode 25 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)

Author Notes:

smbhax 16th Apr 2015, 1:00 AM edit delete
Two fresh space news items:

- SpaceX very nearly recovers rocket after launch (BBC) describes the commercial space agency's latest attempt to land (and thus recover for re-use) one of their rocket stages: after boosting its "Dragon" capsule of supplies for the ISS into orbit (among them: a microgravity Italian espresso maker), the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage attempted a landing on SpaceX's ocean landing platform; coming down in slightly wobbly fashion, the unmanned rocket did manage to touch down on the relatively small platform, but it was off-balance and quickly toppled over and exploded, as you can see in the video.

This was considered something of a success though, as it was better than their attempt in January, where the rocket in that incident, tilted to diagonal, slammed sideways into the platform before exploding, as dramatically captured by a camera on the platform itself in this video.

- NASA's New Horizons Nears Historic Encounter with Pluto showcases the "preliminary reconstruction" of the New Horizons probe's first color photo of the dwarf planet—and its largest moon, Charon:

image by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (source)

Taken at a distance of 71 million miles / 115 million kilometers away from Pluto—by comparison, the Earth is about 150 million km away from the Sun—the photo is nearly as good as what Hubble has been able to gather from Earth orbit—and the photos should continue to improve in detail as the probe approaches Pluto; after nine years and three billion miles of cruising through space toward mankind's furthest-ever primary space exploration target, it is expected to make its closest approach to Pluto and the dwarf planet's five (known) moons in mid-July of this year.

Back in January, NASA compiled a sequence of very low-detail photos taken by the probe from 200 million km out into an animation showing Charon orbiting the dwarf planet; if they look kind of close together, that's because they are: Charon orbits 18,000 km / 11,000 miles above Pluto (versus the Earth-Moon distance of about 384,000 km / 239,000 miles).

In February, they put together a little animation that included orbiting views of Pluto's next two smaller moons, Hydra and Nix, as bright/blobby points of light, and added "each moon is probably between 25-95 miles (approximately 40- 150 kilometers) in diameter, but scientists won’t know their sizes more precisely until New Horizons obtains close-up pictures of both of them in July. Pluto’s two other small moons, Styx and Kerberos, are still smaller and too faint to be seen by New Horizons at its current range to Pluto."


moizmad 16th Apr 2015, 11:55 AM edit delete reply
9 years to Pluto? At that rate it would only take about 200,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri, oh boy, I can't wait!
smbhax 17th Apr 2015, 12:49 AM edit delete reply
Me neither!