India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is closing in on the Red Planet and the Mars Orbit Insertion engine firing when it arrives on September 24, 2014 after its 10 month interplanetary journey. Credit ISRO

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is closing in on the Red Planet and the Mars Orbit Insertion engine firing when it arrives on September 24, 2014 after its 10 month interplanetary journey. Credit ISRO
See cool trajectory animation below

Two days out from her history making date with destiny, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) successfully completed a crucial test firing of the spacecraft’s main liquid engine to confirm its operational readiness for the critical Mars Orbital Insertion (MOI) engine firing on Wednesday morning Sept. 24 IST (Tuesday evening Sept. 23 EDT).

Engineers at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) which designed and developed MOM successfully fired the probes 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) earlier today, Sept. 22, 2014, for a duration of 3.968 seconds at 1430 hrs IST (Indian Standard Time), according to today’s announcement from ISRO. [click to continue…]

Beautiful Astrophoto: Jupiter at Dawn

by Nancy Atkinson on September 22, 2014

Jupiter at Dawn from the Savannah Skies Observatory in Australia, taken on September 20, 2014. Credit and copyright: Joseph Brimacombe.

Jupiter at Dawn from the Savannah Skies Observatory in Australia, taken on September 20, 2014. Credit and copyright: Joseph Brimacombe.

Prolific astrophotographer Joseph Brimacombe from Australia shot this beauty from his Savannah Skies Observatory near Cairns. He notes on Flickr that “Jupiter has been enhanced for effect,” but what a lovely effect! Plus what a great view of the landscape in Queensland.
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Rosetta's Philae lander is Like a modern-day Swiss Army Knife, now prepared for a November 11th dispatch to a comet's surface.

Rosetta’s Philae lander includes a carefully selected set of instruments and is being prepared for a November 11th dispatch to analyze a comet’s surface. (Credit: ESA, Composite – T.Reyes)

When traveling to far off lands, one packs carefully. What you carry must be comprehensive but not so much that it is a burden. And once you arrive, you must be prepared to do something extraordinary to make the long journey worthwhile.

The previous Universe Today article “How do you land on a Comet?” described Philae’s landing technique on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But what will the lander do once it arrives and gets settled in its new surroundings? As Henry David Thoreau said, “It is not worthwhile to go around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.” So it is with the Rosetta lander Philae. With the stage set – a landing site chosen and landing date of November 11th, the Philae lander is equipped with a carefully thought-out set of scientific instruments. Comprehensive and compact, Philae is a like a Swiss Army knife of tools to undertake the first on-site (in-situ) examination of a comet.

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NASA Explains: The Difference Between CMEs and Solar Flares

by Nancy Atkinson on September 22, 2014

This is a question we are often asked: what is the difference between a coronal mass ejection (CME) and a solar flare? We discussed it in a recent astrophoto post, but today NASA put out a video with amazing graphics that explains it — and visualizes it — extremely well.

“CMEs and solar flares are both explosions that occur on the Sun,” the folks at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center’s Scientific Visualization Studio explain. “Sometimes they occur together, but they are not the same thing.”
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Astronomy Cast Ep. 353: Seasons on Saturn

by Susie Murph on September 22, 2014

Visit the Astronomy Cast Page to subscribe to the audio podcast!

We record Astronomy Cast as a live Google+ Hangout on Air every Monday at 12:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm Eastern. You can watch here on Universe Today or from the Astronomy Cast Google+ page.