An irreparable software glitch has put an end to Geotail, a JAXA-NASA joint mission. The satellite observed Earth’s magnetosphere for more than 30 years within an extremely elliptical orbit, but the mission has officially been terminated, according to JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS).
Geotail launched on July 24, 1992, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida as a joint mission of NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The satellite had been sailing through the magnetic envelope that surrounds Earth—the protective layer known as the magnetosphere.
But on June 28, Geotail’s last remaining data recorder malfunctioned, leaving the probe with no means to collect its science data. Geotail was originally equipped with two data recorders, but one data recorder stopped working in 2012 after collecting 20 years worth of data. The remaining recorder outlasted its deceased companion by 10 years before malfunctioning itself.
JAXA’s mission engineers discovered the data recorder anomaly and the two space agencies had been trying to decide the fate of Geotail ever since. On November 28, it was decided that the mission could not continue; the probe’s operations are now officially over, including its radio wave transmissions. The full results of the mission will be summarized by the end of March 2023, according to ISAS.
Geotail had far outlived its original mission timeline of four years, observing the elongated tail of Earth’s magnetosphere and sending back valuable data on auroras and the type of material being emitted by the Sun, among other scientific observations pertaining to Earth’s atmosphere.
Earth’s magnetosphere is a giant magnetic field that surrounds our planet, protecting us from solar wind, radiation from the Sun, and cosmic rays from deep space. The magnetosphere is shaped by Earth’s north and south poles, as well as a steady stream of particles emitted by the Sun.
The satellite was placed into an extremely elliptical orbit around Earth, observing the far region of the magnetotail at first. Over time, however, the spacecraft’s lower orbit allowed it to get closer and study the substorms that took place near Earth, in addition to passing just inside the magnetosphere’s boundary plane on the dayside, according to NASA.
The time has come for us to bid farewell to Geotail, but the small satellite certainly fed scientists with enough information to warrant its legacy for years to come.
More: Another Artemis 1 Satellite Is Experiencing Problems
Chimeric bird-snake creatures.
Tamales sold from roadside carts.
When artificial intelligence DALL-E was asked to portray the Mission, these are some of the motifs that were conjured from its digital depths.
Tech company OpenAI, which created DALL-E, is based in the Mission, at Folsom and 18th streets. Last weekend, it opened up access to its AI to the general public, allowing anyone and everyone to try out the model. Businesses that use the service extensively are charged, but nosy journalists or members of the public can poke around for free.
It works like this: Users enter a text prompt; for example, “The Day of the Dead procession in San Francisco’s Mission District, in the style of Vincent Van Gogh,” and after a few seconds of computation, DALL-E spits out an image to match your description. In this case:
DALL-E creates its pictures using a process a bit like a super-powerful visual autocorrect. Working backward from a random assortment of pixels, it tries to build up a picture that is likely to match your text prompt. It can understand how text and images are related, because it has ingested a vast number of image and caption pairs from across the internet. Apparently, the math behind its operation is laid out here, although to my non-engineer brain it may as well be witchcraft.
The technology is not without its ethical quandaries. Because it is based on publicly available data, the images it produces can replicate biases seen in the wider world (for example, its pictures may represent men more often than women). AI art has also been criticized for displacing human artists, as when AI-generated art won first prize at the Colorado State Fair.
Nonetheless, its interpretations of the Mission, its home turf, are striking. Without further ado, here is a glimpse of our neighborhood through the eyes of an artificial intelligence.
The LightSail 2 spacecraft will ride on sunshine no more.
The Planetary Society's crowdfunded solar sailing craft re-entered Earth's atmosphere on Thursday morning (Nov.17) after nearly 3.5 years in orbit — more than three times longer than its designed mission life.
The LightSail 2 team has received no communications from the spacecraft since that date, leading them to conclude that the shoebox-sized craft had finally given up the ghost after completing 18,000 orbits and traveling about 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) around our planet.
"LightSail 2 is gone after more than three glorious years in the sky, blazing a trail of lift with light, and proving that we could defy gravity by tacking a sail in space," science communicator Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, said in a statement (opens in new tab). "The mission was funded by tens of thousands of Planetary Society members, who want to advance space technology."
Related: LightSail 2 captures stunning photos of Earth from space
LightSail 2 was the first small spacecraft to demonstrate controlled solar sailing, harnessing photons from the sun to adjust its orbit. (LightSail 2 wasn't the first craft of any type to solar sail in space, however; Japan's Ikaros probe did so in 2010.)
While light lacks mass, its individual particles — photons — carry momentum that can be transferred to a reflective surface to deliver it a tiny amount of push.
LightSail 2 has shown that solar sailing is an effective and viable propulsion method for small spacecraft, including tiny satellites known as cubesats, team members said.
LightSail Program Manager and Chief Scientist Bruce Betts wrote in a Planetary Society statement (opens in new tab) that deorbiting was always going to be LightSail 2's fate, though the fiery end to the mission took longer to manifest than predicted.
LightSail 2 launched in June 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, tasked with a one-year mission to demonstrated controlled solar sailing in orbit. It began its operations at an altitude of about 450 miles (720 kilometers) above Earth — slightly higher than the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS).
At this altitude, Earth's atmosphere is still dense enough to exert a slight drag on a spacecraft, and it is this effect that eventually sealed the fate of LightSail 2.
Because of the large surface area of the craft's solar sail, which measured 244 square feet (32 square meters) — about the size of a boxing ring — it experienced a larger drag effect than other spacecraft of its mass.
"Imagine throwing a rock compared to throwing a piece of paper. Atmospheric drag will stop the paper much faster than the rock. In our case, LightSail 2 is the paper," Betts wrote. "A spacecraft like the ISS is huge but also massive, more like the rock. But even the ISS has to be boosted higher every few weeks using rockets to compensate for drag."
During its third year of operations, in which it demonstrated its most efficient solar sailing, LightSail 2 experienced increased atmospheric drag due to a boost in solar activity. This activity from the sun heated the atmosphere, making the area LightSail 2 passed through denser.
"That marked the beginning of the end," Betts wrote. "As solar activity increased even more, solar sailing was unable to compete with the increased drag due to atmospheric density increase."
Over the last several weeks, LightSail 2 had been dropping deeper and deeper into Earth's atmosphere, experiencing more and more drag, which, in turn, dramatically increased the rate of its drop.
"The spacecraft was caught in an ever-increasing snowball effect: as the spacecraft got lower, the density increased, which caused the spacecraft to get lower even more quickly," Betts wrote.
While LightSail 2's mission may be over, there is still scientific work to be conducted. The team behind the mission is continuing to analyze data collected by the craft, which remained operational until its final moments.
This data will also be shared with future space missions that also make use of solar sails, such as NASA's NEA Scout, which launched on the agency's Artemis 1 mission on Nov. 16 and will hitch a ride on sunlight to travel to the moon and then on to a near-Earth asteroid.
"Despite the sadness at seeing it go, all those who worked on this project and the 50,000 individual donors who completely funded the LightSail program should reflect on this as a moment of pride," Betts wrote.
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NASA showed views of Earth and space from the Orion spacecraft during the Artemis 1 mission--the test flight of the Artemis program to explore… read more
NASA showed views of Earth and space from the Orion spacecraft during the Artemis 1 mission--the test flight of the Artemis program to explore the Moon and beyond. Sandra Jones, a NASA public affairs officer, provided commentary about the mission, including the science behind Orion and the spacesuits that are being tested on mannequins during the flight. The program is NASA’s first attempt to put astronauts on the Moon since 1972. close
For quick viewing, C-SPAN provides Points of Interest markers for some events.
Click the play button and tap the screen to see the at the bottom of the player. Tap the to see a complete list of all Points of Interest - click on any moment in the list and the video will play.
For quick viewing, C-SPAN provides Points of Interest markers for some events.
Click the play button and move your cursor over the video to see the . Click on the marker to see the description and watch.
You can also click the in the lower left of the video player to see a complete list of all Points of Interest from this program - click on any moment in the list and the video will play.
After considerable delays, humans are one step closer to returning to the Moon. On Wednesday morning just before 2 AM, NASA finally launched Artemis 1, an unmanned mission that will send a rocket around the Moon, from its Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Though unmanned, the spacecraft carried a module that is designed to carry humans. The rocket on which the module traveled is known as Orion, and is NASA's flagship rocket for future Moon missions.
Originally slated for lift-off on August 29, four different delays pushed the mission back to November 16th. The repeated delays were a result of extreme caution on behalf of NASA, given the mission's expense: NASA estimates it will spend $95 billion on the Artemis project up till 2025, with each launch, including this one, costing about $4.1 billion. The delays were partially due to the pure hydrogen fuel tanks, which proved to be finicky.
Thankfully, the Artemis 1 launch went off without a hitch. Now, the spacecraft will undergo a full test of its capabilities and instruments over the course of the next three weeks before it returns to Earth.
"What an incredible sight to see NASA's Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft launch together for the first time. This uncrewed flight test will push Orion to the limits in the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration on the Moon and, ultimately, Mars," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
This mission is intended to inaugurate a new era of exploration of the Moon, which has not been visited by humans since 1972. If and when a manned mission returns, it will mark a new era for humanity. For these reasons, the Artemis missions are considered a big deal, hence why so many people were closely following its postponements.
Though there aren't any astronauts onboard, there's still a lot we'll be able to study about Earth's closest neighbor. So what will we hope to learn?
What are Artemis and Orion and where are they going?
Artemis is the name of the mission, after the Greek lunar deity, who was the "goddess of the hunt." Orion is the name of the semi-reusable spacecraft, named for the constellation which depicts another mythical Greek hunter.
According to NASA, Orion will loop once around the Earth, flinging it approximately 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, where it will zip around it on November 21. There, it will drop off a few toaster-sized satellites called CubeSats (more on them in a bit) and return to Earth over the course of 25.5 days, splashing back down to earth on December 11.
While this mission may seem similar to Apollo, the execution is quite different, and it marks a lot of firsts — including the first use of the blandly named Space Launch System, which is the most powerful rocket in the world and NASA's largest since the Saturn V rockets of the Apollo mission era. The Apollo missions were also much shorter, typically around 8 days in space.
What took so long to get the rocket off the ground?
Two technical issues — a problem with one of the engines on August 29th and a hydrogen leak on September 3 — made launching Artemis 1 too dangerous. But weather was a major issue, too. First, Tropical Storm Ian scrapped a September 24 launch while Hurricane Nicole delayed the launch on November 14.
But these delays are only the most recent. In truth, the Orion program has been suffering setbacks, including from tornadoes and design flaws, since 2010, when President Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act, kickstarting the program.
As history has shown, little errors can have big consequences, so it's probably a good thing NASA waited until the right moment. Rushed engineering of unmanned Vanguard rockets designed during the beginning of the Space Race led to dismal consequences: from 1957 to 1959, only 3 of 11 Vanguard rockets successfully reached orbit.
Now, the Artemis missions will lay the foundation for other off-world exploration, including potential Mars expeditions.
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"It's taken a lot to get here, but Orion is now on its way to the Moon," Jim Free, NASA deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said in the same statement. "This successful launch means NASA and our partners are on a path to explore farther in space than ever before for the benefit of humanity."
What's onboard the Orion?
Orion carries with it 10 CubeSats, each with its own special mission, that will be left behind as the main spacecraft heads back to Earth. CubeSats are lightweight, blocky satellites that have revolutionized interstellar communication because you can stuff a lot of them on a single rocket. In fact, Orion has already dropped a few that have since begun tweeting.
Some of them are more exciting than others. OMOTENASHI, for example, will crash itself into the Moon's surface using a laser-ignited rocket. Japan's JAXA, their equivalent to NASA, designed the smallest lunar lander in history to deploy an airbag, allowing OMOTENASHI (a Japanese word which means "hospitality") to land safely. It will then measure radiation levels which are "essential to support radiation risk assessments for astronauts and establish a benchmark for space radiation models for human space activities on the Moon," a JAXA report explains.
BioSentinel is another peculiar experiment, containing a bioengineered strain of budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) typically used in baking and brewing beer. The fungus are embedded into microfluidic cards that can measure their growth and "help calibrate the biological effects of radiation in deep space," NASA says. Space agencies will need to design ways of dealing with the vast level of radiation in space, which will be a huge issue for any humans that visit the moon. Speaking of which…
What's next for Moon missions?
Artemis 1 is just the beginning. Artemis 2, due to launch in May 2024, will carry humans — but they will not land, merely orbit the moon, much like they Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 missions. If all goes well with Artemis 1 and 2, the Artemis 3 mission could launch as early as 2025. It is intended to put people on the moon for the first time since 1972, the Apollo 17 mission.
The Artemis 3 mission won't merely be the first time in a while since someone has put bootprints on Moon dust. NASA states they intend to "land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon," with this mission.
Athletes will use Garmin's flagship Forerunner 955 GPS running smartwatch to track performance metrics, receive training guidance and monitor health and wellness stats around the clock
OLATHE, Kan., Dec. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Garmin (NYSE: GRMN) today announced an agreement to become the official running watch sponsor of Under Armour's Mission Run professional running teams: Dark Sky Distance, Baltimore Distance and Baltimore 800m.
"Under Armour's Mission Run teams are full of talented athletes and we are excited to welcome them to the Garmin family," said Susan Lyman, Garmin vice president of global consumer marketing. "Whether training or racing, our state-of-the-art running smartwatches are trusted by runners of all levels and are packed with features that will help prepare these elite athletes and coaches for competition."
Under Armour's Mission Run professional running teams are comprised of 34 professional, world-class athletes and coaches, including head coach Stephen Haas, New York City Marathon winner Sharon Lokedi, US Road 5K champion Weini Kelati and indoor 4x800m world record holder Charlene Lipsey.
"We are excited to use Garmin's industry-leading technologies to advance our training further," said Stephen Hass, Under Armour Mission Run Dark Sky Distance head coach. "By utilizing more precise data science and analytics, we're learning how to optimize volume, conditioning, and recovery to ensure our athletes perform at the highest levels possible."
Under Armour's Mission Run athletes and coaches will use Garmin's latest running smartwatch, the Forerunner® 955, to train for competition. The lightweight GPS smartwatch features up to 15 days of battery life in smartwatch mode. It tracks advanced performance metrics, real-time stamina during a workout and more while also providing a daily morning report, training readiness score, heart rate variability (HRV) status and advanced wellness features. The teams will also use the Garmin Clipboard™ Coaching app – a free, all-in-one solution where coaches can review and compare their team's stats, track performance trends and more from a compatible smart device.
Engineered on the inside for life on the outside, Garmin products have revolutionized life for runners, cyclists, swimmers and athletes of all levels and abilities. Committed to developing technology that helps people stay active and elevate performance, Garmin believes every day is an opportunity to innovate and a chance to beat yesterday. For more information, visit Garmin's virtual Newsroom, email our press team, connect with @garminrunning on social media, or follow our adventures at garmin.com/blog.
About Garmin International, Inc. Garmin International, Inc. is a subsidiary of Garmin Ltd. (NYSE: GRMN). Garmin Ltd. is incorporated in Switzerland, and its principal subsidiaries are located in the United States, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Garmin and Forerunner are registered trademarks and Garmin Clipboard is a trademark of Garmin Ltd. or its subsidiaries.
All other brands, product names, company names, trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners. All rights reserved.
Notice on Forward-Looking Statements:
This release includes forward-looking statements regarding Garmin Ltd. and its business. Such statements are based on management's current expectations. The forward-looking events and circumstances discussed in this release may not occur and actual results could differ materially as a result of known and unknown risk factors and uncertainties affecting Garmin, including, but not limited to, the risk factors listed in the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 25, 2021, filed by Garmin with the Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission file number 0001-411180). A copy of such Form 10-K is available at http://www.garmin.com/aboutGarmin/invRelations/finReports.html. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made and Garmin undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
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SOURCE Garmin Ltd.
NASA's Orion spacecraft hit the halfway point of its historic moon mission in fine form.
Monday (Nov. 28) marked flight day 13 of the nearly 26-day-long Artemis 1 mission, which sent an uncrewed Orion toward the moon atop a Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket.
The Nov. 16 launch was nearly flawless, and Orion has continued to hit its marks in deep space, NASA officials said.
"The spacecraft is operating just tremendously well so far, and we're really happy with its performance overall across all the subsystem areas," Howard Hu, NASA's Orion program manager, said in a press briefing on Monday afternoon.
In photos: Amazing views of NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket debut
Indeed, the Artemis 1 team is considering giving themselves and Orion more to do: They may add seven more test objectives to the mission that would help further characterize the capsule's thermal environment and propulsion system, NASA officials said on Monday.
That's not to imply that the mission has gone perfectly. Early in the flight, Orion's navigating star trackers returned anomalous readings, which the team eventually traced to temporary "dazzling" by the capsule's propulsion system. And the team lost contact with Orion for 47 minutes on Nov. 23 due to a configuration issue with NASA's Deep Space Network of radio dishes.
Artemis 1 team members are still working their way through a few other possible issues, but NASA officials said there's no cause for concern.
"None of the anomalies or 'funnies' that are out there are of consequence," Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said during Monday's briefing.
Orion took a long and looping trip to the moon, finally arriving in a distant retrograde orbit on Friday (Nov. 25). On Monday, the spacecraft reached the maximum distance from Earth that it will attain in the mission — 268,563 miles (432,210 kilometers).
No spacecraft designed to carry humans has ever gotten so far from home. The previous record, 248,655 miles (400,171 km) was set in 1970 by NASA's Apollo 13 mission, which was supposed to land on the moon but had to loop around the body after suffering a serious problem in flight.
Orion will stay in lunar orbit until Thursday (Dec. 1), when it will fire its main engine to start the journey home. If all goes according to plan, the capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 11, bringing the Artemis 1 mission to a close.
Though it's still two weeks away, NASA and the U.S. Navy are already gearing up for Orion recovery operations.
"The team will deploy Tuesday [Nov. 29] for training at sea before return to shore to make final preparations ahead of splashdown," NASA officials wrote in an update (opens in new tab) on Monday night.
If all goes well with Artemis 1, NASA plans to launch astronauts around the moon on Artemis 2 in 2024. A year or so later, the Artemis 3 mission will land astronauts near the lunar south pole.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).
Mission Local data maven Will Jarrett and arts writer Andrew Gilbert have each been honored with top prizes by the Society of Professional Journalists Northern California Chapter.
Gilbert drew raves for his coverage of the music scene in the Mission. He previewed a show at the Brava by the venerable Los Angeles ensemble Quetzal, reported on the 100 new works marking the Community Music Center’s 100th year, and profiled ascendant Mission icon La Doña:
But, much like the Giants can’t make it to the playoffs without a deep bench, the far-reaching success of La Doña (aka Cecilia Peña-Govea, or Ceci to her longtime friends) flows not only from her own fecund creativity. Long before Peña-Govea adopted her imposing moniker, which translates loosely as “boss lady,” she had cultivated an extended team of collaborators whose work plays an essential role in her music, videos, album art, merchandise and personal style.
Jarrett won in the category of data visualization, where his work has given added depth to Mission Local’s reporting.
His winning entries included graphics and deep-dive reporting on scooter crashes, campaign finance and, in one of Mission Local’s most popular and innovative features, the interactive “Web of Corruption.”
Each of his entries, wrote editor Lydia Chávez in the nominating letter, “asks readers to engage with ongoing stories, often pushing them to consider the story from a different angle.”
The Web of Corruption, she wrote, “is a superb example of how to help readers untangle an ongoing scandal, and would stand on its own as a single entry. Joe Eskenazi’s writing on city corruption over the last couple of years has spread to so many people in and out of city government that it has become difficult for readers to keep track of all the pieces.”
Jarrett’s interactive remedied that, and is updated as the scandals continue.
“I’m damn proud of both Andy and Will today,” said Mission Local managing editor Joe Eskenazi. “This demonstrates Mission Local’s excellence as both a traditional community news source while breaking into new dimensions of what a community news source can be. And, by all means, go play with the Web of Corruption. Drag around the players. See who follows who. We laugh so as not to cry.”
For a full list of winners, see here.