There is an argument to be made about playing sports in space. Differences in gravity, atmospheres, and even “weather” can make for some interesting variation of well known sports. And if there’s one sport that’s been around for as long as humanity, it’s racing. Viewers that tune in for the entertainment could provide a great source of funding revenue that could help support other, more scientifically rigorous programs. Now a company called Lunar Outpost has announced plans to hold the first ever extraterrestrial robotic race – on the moon.Continue reading “A Company is Hoping to Race Rovers on the Moon”
Chang’e-3/Yutu Timelapse Color Panorama
This newly expanded timelapse composite view shows China’s Yutu moon rover at two positions passing by crater and heading south and away from the Chang’e-3 landing site forever about a week after the Dec. 14, 2013 touchdown at Mare Imbrium. This cropped view was taken from the 360-degree timelapse panorama. See complete 360 degree landing site timelapse panorama herein and APOD Feb. 3, 2014. . Chang’e-3 landers extreme ultraviolet (EUV) camera is at right, antenna at left. Credit: CNSA/Chinanews/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo – kenkremer.com.
See our complete Yutu timelapse pano at NASA APOD Feb. 3, 2014: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140203.htm
The world famous and hugely popular ‘Yutu’ rover entered its 3rd Lunar night time hibernation period this weekend as planned, but serious technical troubles persist that are hampering science operations Chinese space managers confirmed.
“China’s lunar rover Yutu entered its third planned dormancy on Saturday, with the mechanical control issues that might cripple the vehicle still unresolved,” reports Xinhua, China’s official government news agency, in a mission status update newly released today (Feb. 23).
Yutu went to sleep on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 22, local Beijing time, according to China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), responsible for the mission.
The companion Chang’e-3 lunar lander entered hibernation soon thereafter early today, Sunday, Feb 23.
The abnormality occurred due to the “complicated lunar surface,” according to SASTIND.
Chinese space officials have not divulged the exact nature of the problems. And they have not released any details of the efforts to resolve the issues that “might cripple the vehicle.”
Since both Chinese Moon probes are solar powered, they must power down and enter a dormant mode during every two week long lunar night period when there is no sunlight to generate energy from their solar arrays. And no communications with Earth are possible.
The rover, nicknamed ‘Jade Rabbit’ remained stationary during the just concluded two week long lunar day time period, said SASTIND. It was unable to move due to the mechanical glitches.
“Yutu only carried out fixed point observations during its third lunar day.”
But it did complete some limited scientific observations. And fortunately the ground penetrating radar, panoramic and infrared imaging equipment are functioning normally.
The six wheel robot’s future was placed in jeopardy after it suffered the “mechanical anomaly” in late January 2014 and then awoke later than the scheduled time on Feb. 10, at the start of its 3rd Lunar Day.
To the teams enormous relief, a signal was finally detected.
“Yutu has come back to life!” said Pei Zhaoyu, the spokesperson for China’s lunar probe program, according to a Feb. 12 news report by the state owned Xinhua news agency.
“Experts are still working to verify the causes of its mechanical control abnormality.”
Since then, Chinese space engineers sought to troubleshoot the technical problems and were in a race against time to find a solution before the start of Lunar Night 3 this weekend.
“Experts had feared that it might never function again, but Yutu “woke up” on Feb. 12, two days behind schedule,” reported Xinhua.
Each lunar day and night lasts for alternating periods of 14 Earth days.
During each long night, the Moon’s temperatures plunge dramatically to below minus 180 Celsius, or minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both solar powered probes must enter hibernation mode during each lunar night to conserve energy and protect their science instruments and control mechanisms, computers and electronics.
“Scientists are still trying to find a fix for the abnormalities,” said CCTV, China’s official state television network.
So Yutu is now sleeping with the problems unresolved and no one knows what the future holds.
Hopefully Jade Rabbit awakes again in about two weeks time to see the start of Lunar Day 4.
The Chang’e-3 mothership lander and piggybacked Yutu surface rover soft landed on the Moon on Dec. 14, 2013 at Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) – marking China’s first successful spacecraft landings on an extraterrestrial body in history.
‘Jade Rabbit’ had departed the landing site forever, and was journeying southwards as the anomoly occurred – about six weeks into its planned 3 month long moon roving expedition to investigate the moon’s surface composition and natural resources.
The 140 kg Yutu robot is located some 100 m south of the lander.
The 1200 kg stationary lander is expected to return science data about the Moon and conduct telescopic observations of the Earth and celestial objects for at least one year.
Chang’e-3 and Yutu landed on a thick deposit of volcanic material.
China is only the 3rd country in the world to successfully soft land a spacecraft on Earth’s nearest neighbor after the United States and the Soviet Union.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Chang’e-3, Orion, Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, commercial space, LADEE, Mars and more planetary and human spaceflight news.
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If you think about it, spacecraft are kind of ethereal in that once they are launched into space, we don’t ever see them again. Australian artist Peter Hennessey has created life-size wooden sculptures of several different spacecraft, giving people the chance to see and touch these objects that are immediately recognizable but which we will never actually experience. Hennessey says he wanted to “reverse the virtualization of physical things” by creating life-size reproductions of the spacecraft such as the Voyager space probe, Apollo Lunar Rover, the Hubble Space Telescope, and more. From Hennessey’s website: “By ‘re-enacting’ space traveling, scientific and military objects in plywood, galvanized steel and canvas, the artist creates ‘stand-ins’ that allow the viewer to contemplate their physical, symbolic and historical resonances as well as the political processes that they represent.”
I just think they are really cool, and I’d love to see them – Hubble has to be huge! See below.
“My Hubble (the universe turned in on itself) is now on display in Sydney Australia as part of “Biennale of sydney 2010.” This life size ‘re-enactment’ of the Hubble Space Telescope was constructed “with the aim of giving the viewer a physical experience of the object.” It is constructed from lasercut plywood and steel and simultaneously enacts the scale and detail
of the original. This is an interactive sculpture: visitors are encouraged to play with, modify and create their own mini universes on the ground, which are then reflected by the telescope into the heavens.
According to the Design Bloom website, when creating his work Hennessey looked at 7 different images of the Hubble, and rather than using 3D software to model individual parts as one might expect, he used adobe illustrator. Building the telescope took about 3 months – in which 6 weeks were dedicated to laser cutting individual parts and building them into sections and the rest of the time was dedicated to assembling it.
With ‘My Moon Landing’ Hennessey’s wanted to explore the “physicality, presences and symbolic power of the inaccessible objects that derive from the space race.”
Hennessey has even built a wooden replica of mission control.
Hat tip to Rachel Hobson!