Highest Capacity North American Internet Satellite to Launch on Atlas V Dec. 18 – Watch Live

A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the EchoStar 19 high speed internet satellite is poised for blastoff from  Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 18, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the EchoStar 19 high speed internet satellite is poised for blastoff from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 18, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – The highest capacity satellite delivering high speed internet to homes and businesses in North America is scheduled for an early afternoon blastoff on a mighty ULA Atlas V on Sunday, Dec. 18, from the Florida Space Coast.

The lunchtime liftoff should thrill spectators since the venerable United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster carrying EchoStar 19 to orbit is equipped with a trio of solid rocket boosters making for a highly visible plume trailing behind all the way to geosynchronous orbit – weather permitting of course.

“EchoStar XIX will be the world’s highest capacity broadband satellite in orbit, dramatically increasing capacity for HughesNet® high-speed satellite Internet service to homes and businesses in North America,” according to ULA.

Also known as Jupiter 2, it will deliver more speed, more data and more advanced features to consumers and small businesses from coast to coast, says EchoStar.

EchoStar 19  satellite being processed
EchoStar 19 satellite being processed

The ULA Atlas V was rolled out to the launch pad this morning ahead of tomorrows launch of the EchoStar XIX mission for Hughes from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016.

The launch window opens at 1:27 p.m. EST.

The launch window extends for two hours from 1:27 to 3:37 p.m. EST.

You can watch the Atlas launch live via a ULA webcast. The live launch broadcast will begin about 20 minutes before the planned liftoff at 1:07 p.m. EST here:

www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

Artwork for ULA Atlas V launch of EchoStar 19 high speed Internet satellite on Dec. 18, 2016 from  Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Credit: ULA
Artwork for ULA Atlas V launch of EchoStar 19 high speed Internet satellite on Dec. 18, 2016 from Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: ULA

Because of the added solids, the soar to space should be spectacular for locals and tourists gathering from around the world to view the launch now slated for just a day away.

And since the liftoff is taking place on a weekend at lunchtime, that makes it perfectly convenient for a family outing in the sunshine state amidst this Christmas holiday season – which is currently sunny!!

The weather forecast for Sunday, Dec. 18, calls for a 70 percent chance of acceptable weather conditions at launch time.

The primary concerns are for thick clouds and cumlulus clouds.

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the EchoStar 19 high speed internet satellite is poised for blastoff from  Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 18, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the EchoStar 19 high speed internet satellite is poised for blastoff from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 18, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

EchoStar 19 will be delivered to a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster.

It will be stationed at 97.1 degrees West longitude.

EchoStar 19 was built by Space Systems Loral (SSL) and is based on the powerful SSL 1300 platform as a multi-spot beam Ka-band satellite.

It is upgraded from the prior series version.

“Building from their experience on the highly successful EchoStar XVII broadband satellite, SSL and Hughes collaboratively engineered the specific design details of this payload for optimum performance.”

The 194-foot-tall commercial Atlas V booster will launch in the 431 rocket configuration with three solid rocket motors attached to augment the first stage thrust of approximately 2 million pounds.

Up close look at the payload fairing housing EchoStar 19 internet sat atop ULA Atlas V rocket set for launch from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl.  Credit: Lane Hermann
Up close look at the payload fairing housing EchoStar 19 internet sat atop ULA Atlas V rocket set for launch from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl. Credit: Lane Hermann

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

………….

Learn more about ULA Atlas V EchoStar 19 comsat launch, GOES-R launch, Heroes and Legends at KSCVC, OSIRIS-REx, InSight Mars lander, ULA, SpaceX and Orbital ATK missions, Juno at Jupiter, SpaceX AMOS-6 & CRS-9 rocket launch, ISS, ULA Atlas and Delta rockets, Orbital ATK Cygnus, Boeing, Space Taxis, Mars rovers, Orion, SLS, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events:

Dec. 16-18: “ULA Atlas V EchoStar 19 comsat launch,GOES-R weather satellite launch, OSIRIS-Rex, SpaceX and Orbital ATK missions to the ISS, Juno at Jupiter, ULA Delta 4 Heavy spy satellite, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings

Artwork for ULA Atlas V launch of EchoStar 19 high speed Internet satellite on Dec. 18, 2016 from  Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Credit: ULA
Artwork for ULA Atlas V launch of EchoStar 19 high speed Internet satellite on Dec. 18, 2016 from Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: ULA

What Could Explain the Mysterious Ring in Antarctica?

Ever since its discovery was announced earlier this year, the 3 km-wide ring structure discovered on the of Antarctica has been a source of significant interest and speculation. Initially, the discovery was seen as little more than a happy accident that occurred during a survey of East Antarctica by a WEGAS (West-East Gondwana Amalgamation and its Separation) team from the Alfred Wegener Institute.

However, after the team was interviewed by the Brussels-based International Polar Foundation, news of the find and its possible implication spread like wildfire. Initial theories for the possible origin of the ring indicated that it could be the result of the impact of a large meteor. However, since the news broke, team leader Olaf Eisen has offered an alternative explanation: that the ring structure is in fact the result of other ice-shelf processes.

As Eisen indicated in a new entry on the AWI Ice Blog: “Doug MacAyeal, glaciologist from the University of Chicago, put forward the suggestion that the ring structure could be an ice doline.” Ice dolines are round sinkholes that are caused by a pool of melt water formed within the shelf ice. They are formed by the caving in of ice sheets or glaciers, much in the same way that sinkholes form over caves.

“If the melt water drains suddenly,” he wrote, “like it often does, the surface of the glacier is destabilised and does collapse, forming a round crater. Ice depressions like this have been observed in Greenland and on ice shelves of the Antarctic Peninsula since the 1930s.”

A discovery photo of the ringed formation, 2km (1.24 miles) that AWI researchers are proposing is a meteorite impact site. (Credit:Tobias Binder, AWI)
Aerial photo of the ringed formation that the AWI researchers found on the Antarctic ice shelf. Credit: Tobias Binder, AWI

However, in glaciers, these cavities form much more rapidly, as the meltwater created by temperature variations causes englacial lakes or water pockets to from which then drains through the ice sheet. Such dolines have been observed for decades, particularly in Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula where the ice melts during the summertime.

Initial analysis of satellite images appear to confirm this, as they indicate that the feature could have been present before the supposed impact took place around 25 years ago. In addition, relying on data from Google Maps and Google Earth, the WEGAS (West-East Gondwana Amalgamation and its Separation) team observed that the 3 km ring is accompanied by other, smaller rings.

Such formations are inconsistent with meteorite impacts, which generally leave a single crater with a raised center. And as a general rule, these craters also measure between ten to twenty times the size of the meteorite itself – in this case, that would mean a meteorite 200 meters in diameter. This would mean that, had the ring structure been caused by a meteorite, it would have been the largest Antarctic meteor impact on record.

It is therefore understandable why the announcement of this ring structure triggered such speculation and interest. Meteorite impacts, especially record-breaking ones are nothing if not a hot news item. Too bad this does not appear to be the case.

Location of the ring formation on the ice shelf off the Antarctic continent. The site is on the King Baudouin Ice Shelf. (Map Credits: Google Maps, NOAA)
Location of the ring formation on the King Baudouin Ice Shelf off the Antarctic continent. Credit: Google Maps, NOAA

However, the possibility that the ring structure is the result of an ice doline raises a new host of interesting questions. For one, it would indicate that dolines are much more common in East Antarctica than previously thought. Ice dolines were first noticed in the regions of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, where rapid warming is known to take place.

East Antarctica, by contrast, has long been understood to be the coldest, windiest and driest landmass on the planet. Knowing that such a place could produce rapid warming that would lead to the creation of a significant englacial lake would certainly force scientists to rethink what they know about this continent.

“To form an ice doline this size, it would need a considerable reservoir of melt water,” Eisen said. “Therefore we would need to ask, where did all this melt water come from? Which melting processes have caused such an amount of water and how does the melting fit into the climate pattern of East Antarctica?”

In the coming months, Eisen and the AWI scientists plant to analyze the data from the Polar 6 (Eisen’s mission) measurements thoroughly, in the hopes of getting all the facts straight. Also, Jan Lenaerts – a Belgian glaciologist with AWI – is planning an land-based expedition to the site; which unfortunately due to the short Antarctic summer season and the preparation time needed won’t be taking place until the end of 2015.

AWI's Polar 6 aircraft takes off from the runway at the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station. © International Polar Foundation / Jos Van Hemelrijck
AWI’s Polar 6 aircraft takes off from the runway at the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station.
Credit: International Polar Foundation / Jos Van Hemelrijck

But what is especially interesting, according to Eisen, is the rapid pace at which the debate surrounding the ring structure occurred. Within days of their announcement, the WEGAS team was astounded by the nature of the debate taking place in the media and on the internet (particularly Facebook), bringing together glaciologists from all around the world.

As Eisen put it in his blog entry, “For the WEGAS team, however, our experience of the last few days has shown that modern scientific discussion is not confined to the ivory towers of learned meetings, technical papers, and lecture halls, but that the public and social media play a tremendous role. For us, cut off from the modern world amongst the eternal ice, this new science seems to have happened at an almost breathtaking pace.”

This activity brought the discussion about the nature of the ring structure forward by several weeks, he claims, focusing attention on the true causes of the surprise discovery itself and comparing and contrasting possible theories.

Further Reading: Helmholtz Gemeinschaft, AWI

Elon Musk Wants to Bring the Internet to Mars

Truly a man for all seasons, Elon Musk’s next big thing is to build an internet for when people start arriving on Mars.

“It will be important for Mars to have a global communications network as well,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek. “I think this needs to be done, and I don’t see anyone else doing it.”

Musk has said previously that he’s hopeful the first people on Mars can arrive in 10-12 years, and he’s going to bring them there with his rockets.

But his plan should also help bring higher speed internet to more places on Earth.

Musk’s idea is to place hundreds of satellites in orbit about 1,200 km (750 miles) above Earth, according to the article. Some satellites could be placed in lower orbit to help improve internet speeds and accessibility across Earth.

It would be an incremental process, and proceeds from the Earth internet could will help pay for the $10 billion investment in the colony and internet on Mars, Musk said.

“People should not expect this to be active sooner than five years,” he said. “But we see it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX to be able to fund a city on Mars. … Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date.”

Because light travels much faster in the vacuum of space, internet connections will be improved over existing fiber optic cables. “The long-term potential is to be the primary means of long-distance Internet traffic and to serve people in sparsely populated areas,” said Musk, quoted by Businessweek.


Read the full article here.

Musk should get together with President Barack Obama, who wants to get higher speed internet across the US:

Internet Search Yields No Evidence of Time Travelers

You can find anything on the internet, right? A new study reveals, however, that you can’t find evidence of time travelers on the internet. Credible time travelers, that is.

The study was conducted by astrophysicist Robert Nemiroff who is part of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) team, along with some of his students from Michigan Technological University.

They did three separate types of searches, and developed a search strategy based on what they call “prescient knowledge.” They looked for discussions on social media and various websites where there might be evidence of a mention of something or someone before people should have known about it. If they were able to find evidence of that, it could indicate that whoever wrote it had traveled from the future.

They selected search terms relating to two recent phenomena, Pope Francis and Comet ISON, and began looking for references to them before they were known to exist.

First, they looked for specific terms on Twitter, then secondly looked for “prescient” inquiries submitted to a search engine, and the third search involved a request for a direct Internet communication, either by email or tweet, pre-dating to the time of the inquiry.

The team used a variety of search engines, such as Google and Bing, and combed through Facebook and Twitter.

Their results? “No time travelers were discovered,” says the abstract of their paper.

“In our limited search we turned up nothing,” Nemiroff said in a press release. “I didn’t really think we would. But I’m still not aware of anyone undertaking a search like this. The Internet is essentially a vast database, and I thought that if time travelers were here, their existence would have already come out in some other way, maybe by posting winning lottery numbers before they were selected.”

So far, no lottery winners have confessed to using time travel to make their winnings.

In the case of Comet ISON, there were no mentions before it was discovered in September 2012. They discovered only one blog post referencing a Pope Francis before Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected head of the Catholic Church on March 16, but it seemed more accidental than prescient.

In the third part of their search, the researchers created a post in September 2013 asking readers to email or tweet one of two messages on or before August 2013: “#ICanChangeThePast2” or “#ICannotChangeThePast2.”

No replies have been given … yet.

And just in case you’re wondering credible time travelers do not include the two “chrononauts” who said they time traveled with a young Barack Obama.

Nemiroff and physics graduate student Teresa Wilson will present their findings today, Monday, Jan. 6, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, DC.