Re: Uhura to orbit
Unfortunately Nichelle Nichols is not well nowadays.
293 posts • joined 11 Sep 2008
Just for the record, it's looking like Beagle 2 actually made it to the surface intact, according to images made by one of the orbiting spacecraft recently. What seems to have occurred is that the craft failed to deploy properly and was not able to bring it's communications antenna online.
The telescope was designed to be serviceable and eventually retrievable by the Space Shuttle. That limited the altitude at which it was deployed to allow the shuttle to get to it.
One of the last things that was done on the final shuttle servicing mission was to attach a docking collar to the telescope base which would allow a future visiting space craft to attach itself to the scope. What this craft would be doing was not explained in too much detail, except to state that a rocket engine on the craft could change the telescope's orbit or de-orbit it in a controlled manner (important as much of the mirror would make it through re-entry and it's very massive). It's not a great stretch to conceive of a "service module" that could take over the navigation and pointing functions of the telescope and be attached to it when we see the gyros and momentum wheels on the telescope starting to fail again. This would also maintain the orbit. When the module is used up then it could be replaced with a second unit.
It's stories like these that give me hope for us as a species. Coming up with incredible missions of discovery and keeping them going and fixing things on the other side of the Solar System as problems happen in the most inhospitable environments possible, absolutely inspiring!
I remember seeing Dr Garry Hunt on the Sky at Night and Horizons and I always felt proud that we had a Brit on the project.
Thanks Dr Hunt for what you did, you kept a late teen/young twenty something fascinated for years and thanks El Reg for bring this interview to us, much appreciated.
Thanks for this article. I live just to the west of this in Derby. A thing that you might be interested to know is that Derby also has a good industrial museum as well as Nottingham. Situated in the old Silk Mill building, considered to be the first factory in the world! Well worth a visit.
A simple bit of astronomy and travel can show you the Earth has a curved surface. Spot the pole star in your sky, note where it is in relation to the northern horizon. Travel a fair distance south and make the same observation again and see if it changes. If you are in the northern hemisphere then the the pole star will get closer to the northern horizon and on the equator the pole star will be on the horizon and will disappear over the horizon as you travel further south. This can only happen if the surface of the planet is curved.
And before you ask, yes I have carried out this test when I went on holiday from the UK to Crete a few years ago ago and got a definite change in position of the star patterns. If you accurately measure the angles involved you would be able to calculate using some simple trig the actual diameter of the Earth.
Ah the natural gas conversion. That was help start me down the electronics path. The fitters doing the conversions had lots of cable and battery holders they were scrapping off, every lad (and it was lads) in the street ended up with boxes of kit which we used to cobble up all sorts of circuits. The shocker circuits using some of the old transformers were fun...
A comment on the problem of matching velocities in orbit and living space on a Soyuz.
It's true that there are trajectories that allow a Soyuz to rendezvous with the ISS quickly ( a few hours) but these depend on the relative positions of the station and the launch site at launch. Sometimes these paths are not available and so there has to be a period of "catching up" in orbit, the Soyuz makes orbital changes that will allow it to gain on the station and then match orbit for docking. Things could be done faster but the Soyuz doesn't carry sufficient propellant to allow this and still have enough for a deorbit burn at the end of the mission.
Regarding the living space of the Soyuz, yes it is tight but it does have an orbital module attached, effectively a spare room. This more than doubles the living space of the Soyuz spacecraft compared to just the re-entry module on it's own and can be closed off from the re-entry module so giving a degree of privacy if needed. I believe the toilet facilities are in the orbital module. This module is usually full of cargo on the way up and is packed with rubbish for the return flight, as the module is jettisoned before re-entry and burns up in the atmosphere.
Hope this helps.
Hold on, this is not an assertion but one of two different theories that have been offered to explain the observed data from New Horizons.
Your observations about the conditions on Pluto may indeed be correct, but there is evidence of the movement of the Sputnik Planitia within recent geological timescales. That and the visual absence of cratering on the surface of the Planitia, which is accepted as evidence of the activity of some sort of process that has recently (geologically speaking again) reshaped the area, leaving a smooth surface.
Some sort of activity is happening out there, that is apparent, and that implies a source of energy to drive it. This is just an attempt to explain that, not proof.
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