So, what now (bear with me)?

Since the failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on June 28th, we’re all wondering what the next step is for this groundbreaking space travel company.

First off, it’s no secret that this is pretty disastrous. There’s a *LOT* of complicated politics at play with SpaceX, their competition, Congress and the President. The long story short is that a future of space exploration where the cost to get to space is accessible for people in the middle class depends almost entirely on SpaceX’s success (I’m talking in the near term –> our lifetimes).

So what’s going on behind the scenes right now?

SpaceX engineers and scientists are sifting through computer code, known as telemetry.

Telemetry is essentially just the wireless data sent by spacecraft that allow us to monitor things like location and status of the technical systems.

This data is coming back in the language of computers: binary.

The data the SpaceX engineers are sifting through must look like this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000 00100000 01110010 01101111 01100011 01101011 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101111 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01110011 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100111 01101111 00100000 01100110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01101101 01110011 01100101 01101100 01110110 01100101 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100011 01101000 01100001 01101110 01100111 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101100 01100100 

Looks like a mess huh? It is. It’s the only language these systems speak though. The SpaceX engineers are decoding these last signals from the spacecraft using a program called a hex editor.

Basically, that huge mess you see above is being turned into something more readable to humans. Often binary gets separated every couple of digits so that it would turn this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000

into this:


This is far more easy to read that having to sift through hundreds of millions of 0′s and 1′s. Embedded in each 0 and 1 though is crucial information, each representing a component within the spacecraft’s system.

There’s good news…

The silver lining in this event is that it’s been discovered that the explosion happened around 139 seconds into the flight.

They were still receiving telemetry from the Dragon capsule after the explosion.

The Dragon spacecraft survived the explosion.

Look at the gif above. You might notice the shadow of something flying away from the explosion after as the clock says 2:22 (the clock’s in the upper-right). This shadow is likely from the Dragon spacecraft.

If there had been astronauts aboard, they would’ve been safe. That’s right. The silver lining is that SpaceX’s engineering is so profoundly efficient that even amidst a launch explosion and a failure to eject from the rocket, the spacecraft (and therefore the astronauts) would be safe.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

anonymous asked:

Quick question! When do we get new photos of pluto? Ive been checking nasa news but ive got nothing except for those paintings of pluto

Taken just a few days ago, you’re looking at the first color image of Pluto and its moon Charon… aren’t they beautiful?

The type of orbital dance they’re engaged in is known as a ‘double planet’. That’s when the two bodies orbit around a common center of mass that isn’t actually inside of the larger of the two.

In this image the crosshair is centered on the point around which both Pluto and Charon orbit.

July 14th New Horizons will fly by Pluto and basically revolutionize astronomy and planetary science of the outer solar system. Almost everything that will be taught about Pluto we will learn from what happens July 14th.

You can expect some startlingly beautiful images then! 😊

(Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Triton, the largest moon of Neptune. Triton has a retrograde orbit (meaning that it orbits in the opposite direction of its parent planet), meaning that it was likely captured by Neptune from the Kuiper Belt. Triton’s orbit around Neptune is slowly shrinking, and it is believed that within the next 3.6 billion years, Triton will either be destroyed by the planet’s immense gravity, or else will turn into a Saturn-like ring system around Neptune.

Thought of the Day

First powered flight by the Wright Brothers was in 1903.  The first time man walked on the moon was 1969.  Just think, we went from wood and fabric, very short and rickety flight to harnessing the power of a rocket, speeding outside the orbit of the earth, and landing on the moon.  Then having to get back from the moon back to the earth.  All in approximately 63 years.  

It’s been close 43 years and counting since the Apollo 17 mission.  I don’t know, but I found that to be an interesting thought.  Interesting…yes.  Depressing…yes. 


today & today & today: earth, photographed by terra & aqua, 29th june 2015.

do the clouds look different now you’ve seen them from above?

07:30 utc: southern indian ocean.
11:00 utc: arctic ocean northeast of novaya zemlya.
19:00 utc: tierra del fuego.
19:10 utc: south pacific off chile.

image credit: nasa/modis.

An Unusual Mountain on Asteroid Ceres

(via APOD; Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS/DLR/IDA )

What created this large mountain on asteroid Ceres? No one is yet sure. As if in anticipation of today being Asteroid Day on Earth, the robotic spacecraft Dawn in orbit around Ceres took the best yet image of an unusually tall mountain on the Asteroid Belt’s largest asteroid. Visible at the top of the featured image, the exceptional mountain rises about five kilometers up from an area that otherwise appears pretty level. The image was taken about two weeks ago from about 4,400 kilometers away. Although origin hypotheses for the mountain include volcanism, impacts, and plate tectonics, clear evidence backing any of these is currently lacking. Also visible across Ceres’ surface are some enigmatic light areas: bright spots whose origin and composition that also remain an active topic of investigation. Even though Dawn is expected to continue to orbit Ceres, officially dubbed a dwarf planet, for millions of years, the hydrazine fuel used to point Dawn’s communications antenna toward Earth is expected to run out sometime next year.