I’ve been travelling a lot this past few months hence the radio silence. But one radio event that has come into view albeit on a more cosmic scale is the latest news that Juno NASA’s Jupiter mission probe is entering its last phase of an extremely long journey. So I’d thought I’d dedicate this next post to a subject that is close to the title of my blog and draw on the analogy this brings.
We can only wonder at the immense feat this has accomplished.
Over half a solar system away, NASA’s $Billion Juno space probe is getting ready to fire its breaking rockets in a final push to enter Jupiter’s orbit on a day that has become popular for spaceflight landmarks — the 4th of July. Juno’s five-year, nearly 2 billion mile journey is expected to come to an end just like other missions that have shared special events on America’s Independence Day, like the touchdown of the Mars Pathfinder in 1997 and a comet collision as part of the Deep Impact mission in 2013.…………………The Juno mission is designed to peer beneath Jupiter’s thick clouds and to see what’s inside. That, in turn, may yield clues to how our entire solar system came to be. “It formed first, so its formation, its gravity, will have affected the other planets as they formed,” Juno Project Scientist Gary Levin told USA TODAY. This is not NASA’s first visit to Jupiter. Besides several flyby missions, the Galileo spacecraft studied Jupiter and its moons from 1995 until 2003. But Galileo avoided getting too close to Jupiter’s intense, electronics-frying radiation. Juno’s mission is focused entirely on Jupiter itself — no moons – and takes a much more dangerous approach. The mission’s vicinity will allow Juno to measure Jupiter’s gravity, magnetic field, and microwaves, which scientists can use to determine its composition.………………….One of the most intriguing questions is whether Jupiter is entirely gas or has a solid core deep in its center.“Right now our best theorists think that deep inside Jupiter … is this dense core somewhere between three and twenty times the mass of earth.We have no direct evidence at all,” says Levin. Juno’s gravity readings should help confirm or refute that theory. Juno’s measurements should also allow scientists to estimate the amount of water on Jupiter and shed new light on how the planet was formed. “The water all by itself will tell us a lot about those theories of formation because if it formed from clumps of ice you’re going get a different amount of water than if it formed from the same cloud of dust that formed the sun,” Levin says.Although Juno is the second craft to orbit Jupiter, its design is quite different from the earlier one. For one, to address the dangers of dipping inside the radiation belts, the engineers built a titanium vault to shield the spacecraft’s electronics. …………………..Juno’s flight plan will take it though a complex pattern of elliptical orbits that dive beneath the belts, but quickly reemerge, limiting the exposure to once every two weeks.Another mission first is Juno’s massive solar panels. Jupiter’s distance from the sun—nearly five times that of earth—means Juno only receives a small fraction of the solar energy available to Earth satellites. Engineers were forced to build huge panels to capture enough energy to deliver what is still a modest amount of power. Power being the operative word as the craft has to slow down from travelling 168,000 mph to close to Mach 2.………………….Imagine experiencing the breaking G force on that ..at our earths gravity level. Beyond comprehension!!!! As stateside people get ready to celebrate with their pyrotechnics maybe the best fireworks this 4th of July will be in Jupiters orbit, 365 million miles away. But all you space buffs out there will have to be patient. As all the images and footage from Junos’ cameras will take some time to reach us here on planet Earth. For one I’ll be looking forward to seeing Jupiters Aurora’s in all their glory. I wonder how they compare to the lightshow so evident in our own Northern Hemisphere.
To all you reaching for the stars and fulfilling your life’s potential.
Many years ago in between jobs I launched one of the first Satellite Radio stations ” Rock Shop Radio” from an Astra Satellite sub audio band completely free of charge. You could say it was a bit of a favour from my old days at Murdochs Sky TV
Now you maybe thinking ..how on earth can Steve have rented time FOC on a major satellite network …well more on this in a later post!…. 😉
Admittedly space is an expensive business……
But ……If you’ve ever dreamed of developing your own Satellite and launching it into space then you maybe just a one step closer to realising your dream. Shaun Whitehead’s very smart company ThumbSat project has a one-stop shop solution to putting your experiment in space. It’s essentially a balloon-like design fitted-out with an array of electronic componentry such as a microcontroller, transmitter, GPS unit and camera. For a cost of around $20,000 or so, a ThumbSat can literally “Thumb A Lift” on space rockets that have already been scheduled for launch, retrieve data and transmit it down to a number of global receiver stations for about two/three months, and then burn up on re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.
ThumbSat essentially is bringing space exploration and making it affordable & available to everyone — from bedroom scientists to school & college students to even NASA. The whole process is scaled down & streamlined so that you don’t experience the usual red tape & hurdles that characterises the usual process.
As their website proclaims Tiny Satellite = Tiny Cost = Huge Results.
It appears like a special effects design out of a Star Wars epic.
But engineers have drawn up plans to build an elevator that would lift astronauts and their craft 12 miles into the Stratosphere.
The idea is that they would take off at higher altitudes there-by burning about 30% less fuel than at ground level cutting costs significantly for manned space flight.
The firm Thoth Technology Inc ( http://thothx.com/ ) has been granted US & UK patents for its “space elevator” which would travel at 7mph up a freestanding tower.
It’s an important breakthrough because…
In the patent the firm explains that blasting off from the ground requires vast amounts of kinetic energy because the propulsion systems are weighed down with fuel and must counter atmospheric drag.
When using their new design at higher altitudes less “expulsion mass” exists working against gravity and lower ascent speeds can be achieved with less fuel in the stratosphere as drag is vitually elimated .
Conventional rockets take off vertically – shedding various modules as they get higher before turning horizontal to enter space. The elevator would eliminate this stage altogether with take offs from a launch pad flying off horizontally. Space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and reflight.
Mind blowing and exciting stuff which will herald a new era of space transportation.
These are the topics I want to discuss in our mastermind group. Please opt in and strike up a conversation. Any Space Junkies out there that want to explore some new ideas?