Getting back up to speed

Perhaps you haven’t noticed but new Astronotes posts have been a little short on the ground of late.I’d love to be able to say that this was because I was offworld on the International Space Station, but sadly the real reason was I’ve been ill (indeed I did spend some time in a hospital bed, so perhaps I can pretend I was in some small way participating in one of those experiments when volunteers lie in bed to simulate the effects of microgravity). Well, things are getting back to normal, so what have we been missing?

Image of ISS star trails

A wonderful long exposure photograph taken by astronaut Don Pettit aboard the International Space Station.While there are many photos like these taken from the perspective of the Earth’s surface, Pettit’s images are unique in that they incorporate the passing blur of entire illuminated cities, aurora, and the sporadic flashes of lightning from thunderstorms.(Image credit:Don Pettit/NASA)

 

 

19 May: A spectacular annular eclipse!

22 May:Russia and Japan announcing they are looking at the possibility of one day perhaps sending humans to the Moon when it is convenient. Perhaps

Image of SpaceX_Dragon_spacecraft_grappled_by_Canadarm2

With clouds and land forming a backdrop, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm at the International Space Station.(Image credit:NASA)

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22-31 May:The rare spectacle of a NewSpace company delivering on its promises when Space X’s Dragon spacecraft made it to the ISS.

4 June:The US intelligence community giving NASA two surplus giant spysats for conversion to Hubble-style space telescopes.

4 June:a Dutch media company planning to colonise Mars starting in 2023. File under “I’ll believe it when it happens”.

6 June:The rare spectacle of a transit of Venus. I missed it so I’ll catch the next one in 2117.

18 June: a Chinese space docking. Well done taikonauts!

21 June:The discovery of the strangest exoplanetary system yet.

28 June:Titan joins the “Moon with a subsurface water ocean club”

Image of Pluto_moon_P5_discovery_with_moons'_orbits

This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto.The newly discovered small moon, designated P5, is the innermost of the moons found by Hubble over the past seven years.The diagram shows that P5 is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.Though Charon (discovered in 1978) is an even closer moon to Pluto, some astronomers consider the Pluto-Charon pair a "double planet" because of Charon's is 12 percent of Pluto's mass (by comparison our Moon is .01 percent Earth's mass).(Image credit:NASA, ESA, and L. Frattare (STScI))

 

11 July:A new moon (the fifth so far) for Pluto.

(Article by Colin Johnston)