Protoplanet Visit by Probe Dawn

NASA's Dawn probe—launched on September 27, 2007—is the first space mission to Vesta. It will orbit the asteroid for one year, from July 2011 until July 2012.[44] This will coincide with the southern summer of Vesta, so the large crater at the south pole will be in sunlight; since a season on Vesta lasts eleven months, much of the northern hemisphere will become visible to Dawn's cameras by the time it leaves orbit.[45] Dawn will then proceed to its other target, Ceres, and will possibly continue to explore the asteroid belt on an extended mission using any remaining fuel. The spacecraft is the first that can enter and leave orbit around more than one body as a result of its weight-efficient ion-driven engines.[46] Once Dawn arrives at Vesta, scientists will be able to calculate Vesta's precise mass based on gravitational interactions. This will allow scientists to refine the mass estimates of the asteroids that are in turn perturbed by Vesta.[46]

Vesta, formal designation 4 Vesta, is an asteroid that is thought to be a remnant protoplanet with a differentiated interior[10][11] and a mean diameter of about 530 km.[1] Comprising an estimated 9% of the mass of the entire asteroid belt,[12] it is the second-most-massive object in the belt after the dwarf planet Ceres. It was discovered by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on March 29, 1807,[1] and named after the Roman virgin goddess of home and hearth, Vesta.

Watch a video of a simulation of the visit here:

posted by dmal @ 8th Apr 2011, 6:06 AM

heavy rockets

According to the white papers I have read, the material for the space elevators will be launched using heavy apollo style rockets.
The space shuttle is of course, now retired.
NASA is outsourcing the development of the space elevator technologies.
Who will build and launch the rockets?

SpaceX has plans to fill the gap left by the retired space shuttle program, by using "humungus" rockets.

It is possible that NASA might start contracting SpaceX for the launching of the space elevator construction materials, namely spools of carbon-nanotube fiber ribbon.

Checkout this article about SpaceX's plans to launch heavy rockets to supply the space stations.  Good picture in the article



posted by dmal @ 6th Apr 2011, 12:11 PM

Gravity is Potato-shaped


Well, there has been some interesting findings based on data collected by Europe's GOCE satellite.

Apparently gravity is not uniform on the earth.  I think we knew this, based on "mystery spot" anomolies where water flows uphill, and cabins fall UP hillsides, etc. Usually these phenomenon are based near large mineral deposits.

So, now we have scientific proof!  The incredibly cool-looking GOCE satellite shows that earths gravity field is very lumpy indeed. Like a potato.

But the best thing in the article, is the picture of the GOCE.  I used the GOCE design for my own design of the space elevator spool deployment module. 

I figured that the spool deployment module would need to accelerate continually as it deploys the ribbon for the spac elevator. So, because the GOCE is cruising fast at low altitude, and constantly correcting trajectory. I borrowed the design.  You can see it in the avatar for my comic.  The actual spool deployment modules will probably need solid rocket boosters, though. Instead of the slick ion-propulsion that GOCE uses.

The large size comic page will be released later this month, along with the other earlier (pre-Wacom) comic pages.

But you can read the article here:

And, you can see my spool deployment design full-size here, in case the picture below does not load.








posted by dmal @ 31st Mar 2011, 11:58 PM