Aww. Poor little Pluto.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is expected to radio home any minute now. We're watching on NASA TV. The moment will end a nearly 22-hour radio blackout as the probe focused on a series of close-up observations of Pluto and its moons.
From SpaceFlight Now:
Engineers expect to lock on to a carrier signal, then start receiving housekeeping data on the status of the New Horizons spacecraft. No science data will come down during Tuesday night’s pass.
“The reason why you’re not seeing more things immediately is because the spacecraft is spending all its time making the observations of the Pluto system,” says Hal Weaver, New Horizons’ project sciences from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “That’s what we wanted to do. Of course, you want to optimize the scientific return from the mission.
A signal from New Horizons will be a celebratory moment for the hundreds of engineers and scientists working on the mission. The cessation of communications was part of the plan going into the flyby because New Horizons carries a fixed antenna, meaning mission managers have to choose between contacting Earth and conducting scientific work at Pluto.
"I propose a Moon village on the far side of the Moon," says Johann-Dietrich Woerner who has been in the role of Director General of the European Space Agency (Esa) for just a week.
On July 14, 2015, New Horizons will take the first close-up pictures of Pluto, exactly 50 years to the day after Mariner 4 flew by Mars and took the first close-up pictures ever of another planet.
Will you live long enough to watch the setting suns?
Read the rest
"This is a truly exotic star system. In principle there's no reason why it couldn't have planets in orbit around each of the pairs of stars. Any inhabitants would have a sky that would put the makers of Star Wars to shame," Dr Lohr said. "There could sometimes be no fewer than five Suns of different brightnesses lighting up the landscape."
The brave little robot's covered 42.2km on its suicide mission to the Red Planet; this footage spans Jan 2004 to Apr 2015. (Thanks, Robbo!)
Above, a map of the "Square and Stationary Earth" (1893) by a Professor Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Read the rest
In 1966, only five years after the first human went to space, aviation lawyer William A. Hyman published the Magna Carta of Space, a serious text proposing a new kind of Space Law. From the British Library:
As outer space exploration was unprecedented, it was unclear what issues lawyers might face when legislating for the ‘final frontier’ and what, if any, jurisdiction they had for imposing an intergalactic law code. Furthermore, as so little was known about space, it was largely up to the legislators’ imagination as to what might be legislated for, forcing them to consider unique questions in the history of jurisprudence.
* Do aliens have legal rights? * Who owns the stars, planets and moons? * Where does Space begin and a nation’s airspace end? * What is the role of private industry in Space? *Who will allocate radio frequencies and set standard time?...
Hyman’s book explicitly attempted to restrict the misuse of Space by belligerent nations, with articles 7 and 19 making provisions to ban ‘nuclear experiments in Outer Space’ and the prosecution of ‘War, in, by, or through space … forever’. As Hyman stated in his introduction, it was his expressed wish to create a Magna Carta of Space that was so ‘powerful’ it would ‘compel the proper use of space --- for peace’.
Magna Carta of Space (Amazon)