Space X is making final preparations for its second cargo flight to the International Space Station, currently scheduled for the end of next week. The flight is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on March 1, and is expected to carry about 1,500 pounds of cargo as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Scientists have modeled the internal workings of lightning-filled “rocket dust storms” on Mars that rise at speeds 100 times faster than ordinary storms and inject dust high into the Martian atmosphere.
The Red Planet is a very dry and dusty place, with global storms that sometimes obscure the entire surface. Satellites orbiting Mars have seen persistent dust layers reaching very high altitudes, as much as 30 to 50 km above the ground, though scientists are at a loss to explain exactly how the dust got there.
Using a high-resolution model, researchers have shown that a thick blob-like dust pocket inside a storm may become heated by the sun, causing the surrounding atmosphere to warm quickly. Because hot air rises, these areas will shoot skyward super fast, much like a rocket launching into space, hence “rocket dust storms.”
“The vertical transport was so strong we want to come up with a kind of spectacular name, to give an idea of the very powerful rise,” said planetary scientist Aymeric Spiga from the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in Paris, France, who is lead author on a paper describing the phenomena in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets on Jan. 14.
[via Wired Science]
WIRED SCIENCE’S SPACE PHOTO OF THE DAY, 2013-STYLE!
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope provides us this week with a spectacular image of the bright star-forming ring that surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097. In this image, the larger-scale structure of the galaxy is barely visible: its comparatively dim spiral arms, which surround its heart in a loose embrace, reach out beyond the edges of this frame.
The Common Fleet: how astronauts could have reached Mars, Mercury and Jupiter by 1990(!)
NASA recently unveiled a prototype spacesuit, the Z-1, to be used by astronauts on deep-space missions. Everyone with eyeballs immediately noticed the similarity between the agency’s idea and the character of Buzz Lightyear from Pixar’s Toy Story movies.
Spacesuits have a long and varied history, both at NASA and in science fiction. While sometimes the design from one is meant to evoke a style from the other, this latest spacesuit appears to be the most blatant. Here, we take a look at several spacesuits from NASA’s pioneering manned programs and contrast them with those from sci-fi films of the same era.