Juno’s New Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft began its long journey to Jupiter in 2011.  Waking up in 2016 it underwent a successful orbit injection on July 4th. Now after nearly a year of waiting, the public finally gets to see the first fruits of the mission. It has certainly been worth the wait.   A new Jupiter, seen from a distance of 52,000 Km, has a vivid and chaotic southern pole in the above image.  Swirling storms thousands of kilometres across whirl around one another in a sea of gaseous ammonia clouds.  Will the system remain chaotic? Or will it change a year from...

Juno July

As Canadians start up Canada day celebrations and Americans get ready for their independence day, the world of space exploration holds its breath and hopes for a good result.  On July 4th, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter after a five year long journey.  NASA continued its recent theme of producing movie-trailer-like videos to promote the mission. Although I love the imagery and the design of the trailer, it feels cheesy to me.  Maybe it’s because I find movie trailers cheesy in general, and this is trying to appeal to the general public.  Though regardless of how I feel,...

Newest Moon Rocks Analyzed in 40 Years

Some days at work, when I am in the Space hall at the Ontario Science Center, I take a close look at the golf-ball-sized Moon rock we have on display.  I think about how this rock was brought back on an Apollo mission over 40 years ago, how it had been an untouched part of the Moon for Billions of years before this, and how it has taught us so much about how the Moon, and subsequently the Earth, formed.  But now it’s time for a new generation of Moon rocks to be analyzed, and China is in the nation...

Volcanoes on the ‘Home World of Women’

Woman got the worse deal when author John Gray wrote a book titled ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.’  The point he was clearly making was about the communication issues between the sexes, but men definitely got the better deal in home worlds.  For one, Mars is kind of cold, has polar ice caps, is covered in rust and dust, has been pretty dead inside for millions of years, and is bombarded with radiation from the Sun (you can draw your own parallels to men yourself).  But Venus, with its 400 degree Celsius temperature, sulphuric acid rain, incredibly...

MOM Knows Best When Taking Pictures of Mars

Not one person’s mom, but specifically an entire nation’s.  India’s Mars Orbiter Mission is lovingly known as MOM and has been sending back science data that has put India on the Space Exploration Map, if there ever was one.  The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched the ambitious but cost-effective MOM Orbiter on November 5th, 2013.  With a bill of only 73 Million dollars, its the most cost-effective Mars mission ever, yet its sending back lovely images and science data that is worth every penny, at least to a biased spaceflight enthusiast such as myself.  Whatever you feel about the...

Rosetta Measures Nitrogen Around Comet 67P

As the Rosetta spacecraft remains in orbit around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet is slowly drifting toward its closest approach to the Sun, known as perihelion.  As the comet moves closer to the Sun, intense sunlight liberates gases and dust in streams of material that form clearly visible streaks.  The orbiter is able to sample some of the material liberated from the comet, and for the first time it has seen the tell-tale signature of Molecular Nitrogen. Nitrogen is abundant on Earth as a gas, constituting the majority of our atmosphere.  It is also present in the atmospheres of Pluto and Neptune’s...