NASA, via Facebook:
At 8 pm EDT today, MAVEN will be at a distance of 205,304,736 km (127,570,449 miles) from Earth with an Earth-centered velocity of 27.95 km/s (17.37 mi/s or 62,532 mph) and a Sun-centered velocity of 22.29 km/s (13.58 mi/s or 48,892 mph). We are now just 17 days from Mars orbit insertion on September 21st.
The spacecraft is currently at a distance of 4,705,429 km (2,923,818 mi) from Mars, and 215,446,454 km (133,872,220 mi) from the Sun. One-way light time to the #MAVEN spacecraft from Earth is 11 minutes and 24 seconds.
All navigation solutions continue to produce trajectory arrival predictions that ensure a successful transition to MAVEN’s required science orbit.
This is the sort of thing that we ought to be getting excited about. The MAVEN mission is awesome.
Given that year-end lists are something of a useless cliché, we figure it works just as well to do a junkpile and clear out a bunch of links waiting for some more useful deployment than sitting in a badly-punned directory (URLenmeyer) on the desktop. Thus, in no particular order:
• Why certain Chinese cat fossils are so fascinating.
• Synaptogenesis is a word you will start hearing more often in the near future.
• Sure, it’s a bit old, but A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding and Monitoring Lakes and Streams, from the Washington Department of Ecology, is still relevant.
• There really is a holy grail for dystopic, embittered, supervillainous math geeks.
• Suffice to say, the link file for this one was actually a bad casserole joke. No, really.
• Celebrate the saola, a Vietnamese ox confirmed to still exist after fifteen years out of sight.
• The tortoise and the Lego, that’s all you need to know.
• Dinosaurs are human, too. Er, I mean … ah … right. Something about a clumsy dinosaur.
• Ultraviolet … Imaging … Spectrograph; maybe not a band name, but certainly worthy of being an album cover. Vinyl. Twelve inch.
• Spiders. Might as well get used to ’em.
• Have you met Juno?
• Ice, water, steam … how about plasma? And no, plasma water is not a sports drink … yet.
• Here there be monsters.
• Uranus Trojan Lagrange is not a band name. It’s something even cooler.
• Then again, Martian eclipse would be a good band name, too.
• xkcd on ice.
• Various processes more complicated than explanations are worth keep bringing to mind an old episode of Radiolab, about laughter.
To the one, it’s always worth a try ….
Wanted: A man and a woman in their early to mid-50s, preferably married. Must enjoy adventure, spending long periods of time together, and sharing space—as in 501 days in a 1166-cubic-foot (33-cubic-meter) capsule and habitat. Interest in the planet Mars also a prerequisite.
Warning to applicants: You will be exposed to unprecedented risks and your long-term health could be compromised. But if the effort goes ahead and succeeds as planned, you will become the first humans in history to journey into deep space and see Mars up close.
Multimillionaire Dennis Tito, the world’s first space tourist, announced today in Washington, D.C., that his newly formed nonprofit organization has taken up the challenge of sending the first humans to Mars.
“We’ve not sent humans beyond the moon in 40 years,” Tito said at a press conference. “… And I think it’s time to put an end to that lapse.”
What’s that? A trip to Mars? With people? Marc Kaufman explains, for National Geographic News, the latest buzz in the human cosmos:
The Inspiration Mars Foundation aims to launch the mission in January 2018, when Mars and Earth are at an especially close point in their 15-year cycle. The plan is to send a man and a woman in a capsule around Mars for a flyby mission similar to the one that surveyed the moon before the Apollo landings ….
…. The Mars project is extremely ambitious, but it is at least plausible because it is simple—at least in terms of rocket science.
According to a paper Tito will present this weekend at an aerospace conference in Montana, if the launch is on target, then the spaceship will need only one rocket burn to change course. With the right trajectory, it will fly to Mars, will pass within a few hundred miles of the surface, and then will be pulled around the planet and given a gravity-assisted fling back toward Earth.
Under the current flight trajectory, the capsule would spend about ten hours within 65,000 miles of Mars.
NASA is, obviously, not the only space agency in the world. Nor are they the only agency doing really cool work at Mars. The European Space Agency is currently operating the Mars Express, in orbit around the Red Planet, and the produce of that mission is absolutely astounding.
The latest update from the Mars Express team focuses on Amenthes Planum:
ESA’s Mars Express took a high-resolution stereo image on 13 January of the southeast corner of the Amenthes Planum region on Mars, near to Palos crater and the mouth of a well-known sinuous valley, Tinto Vallis.
At the bottom-centre of the full-colour image … is a nearby shorter and wider valley, which is fed by a number of tributaries before it joins the mouth of Tinto Vallis as both empty into Palos crater, just off the bottom of the image.
The 190 km-long Tinto Vallis is seen in the context image and is named after the famous Rio Tinto river in the Andalucía region of Spain. It is believed to have formed around 3.7 billion years ago, during the early history of Mars.
The network of shorter valleys shown in the first perspective image is thought to have formed through volcanic activity melting subsurface ice and liberating water to the martian surface via seeps and springs.