Atlas V Streaks to Orbit on 100th Successful Mission for ULA with Mexico’s Morelos-3

100th United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket streaks to orbit with Atlas V booster carrying the Morelos-3 mission for Mexico from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 6:28 a.m. EDT, Oct. 2, 2015 as seen from Melbourne Beach pier, Florida.  Credit: Julian Leek
100th United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket streaks to orbit with Atlas V booster carrying the Morelos-3 mission for Mexico from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 6:28 a.m. EDT, Oct. 2, 2015 as seen from Melbourne Beach pier, Florida. Credit: Julian Leek
See launch photo and video gallery below

United Launch Alliance (ULA) celebrated an incredible milestone today, Oct. 2, with the successful launch of the firms 100th mission on an Atlas V rocket carrying Mexico’s next generation Morelos-3 satellite to provide advanced telecommunications for education and health programs for rural communities and secure communications for Mexican national security needs.

The spectacular predawn liftoff finally took place at 6:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida – after nearly being derailed by a Continue reading “Atlas V Streaks to Orbit on 100th Successful Mission for ULA with Mexico’s Morelos-3”

If the Sun Were the Size of a Person, How Big Would an Asteroid Be?

I love anything that attempts to provide a sense of scale about the Solar System (see here and here for even more examples) and this one brings us down past the Sun, planets, and moons all the way to asteroid size — specifically asteroid 101955 Bennu, the target of the upcoming OSIRIS-REx mission.

Created by the OSIRIS-REx “321Science!” team, consisting of communicators, film and graphic arts students, teens, scientists, and engineers, the video shows some relative scales of our planet compared to the Sun, and also the actual size of asteroid Bennu in relation to some familiar human-made structures that we’re familiar with. (My personal take-away from this: Bennu — one of those “half grains of sand” — is a rather small target!)

A NASA New Frontiers mission, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) will launch in Sept. 2016 on a two-year journey to the asteroid 101955 Bennu. Upon arrival OSIRIS-REx will map Bennu’s surface and also measure the Yarkovsky effect, by which asteroids’ trajectories can change over time due to the small force exerted by radiant heat.

Read more: Astronomers Measure Sunlight’s Shove

OSIRIS-REx will also attempt to collect and send back a 60-gram sample of the asteroid’s surface material. Learn more about the OSIRIS-REx mission here and here.

Mountains Soar Above the Appalachians in this Dramatic NASA Photo

Except these are mountains made of water, not rock! Taken from an altitude of 65,000 feet, the image above shows enormous storm cells swirling high over the mountains of western North Carolina on May 23, 2014. It was captured from one of NASA’s high-altitide ER-2 aircraft during a field research flight as part of the Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx) campaign.

The photo was NASA’s Image of the Day for June 19, 2014.

Visualization of the GPM Core Observatory satellite (NASA/Britt Griswold)
Visualization of the GPM Core Observatory satellite (NASA/Britt Griswold)

For six weeks the IPHEx campaign team from NASA, NOAA, and Duke University set up ground stations and flew ER-2 missions over the southeastern U.S., collecting data on weather and rainfall that will be used to supplement and calibrate data gathered by the GPM Core Observatory launched in February.

By the time its role in IPHEx was completed on June 16, the Lockheed ER-2 aircraft had flown more than 95 hours during 18 flights over North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. Its high-altitude capabilities allow researchers to safely fly above storm systems, taking measurements like a satellite would.

Learn more about the ER-2 flights here, and read more about the IPHEx campaign on Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering site here.

Source: NASA

NASA's ER-2 at the Armstrong Flight Research Center's Building 703 in Palmdale, CA (NASA / Tom Tschida)
NASA’s ER-2 at the Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Building 703 in Palmdale, CA (NASA/Tom Tschida)