The news is out: In a web article on 25 Maywe announced that the VMC camera is being adopted as a professional science instrument.
Mars seen in May in three different views. Full details via http: This spring, ESA began working with the Planetary Sciences Group of the University of the Basque Country, Spain, for an initial two years to develop software and conduct studies of images, effectively promoting the humble camera to the level of professional science instrument.
The good news is that the transition to a science instrument won't interfere with the ongoing delivery of VMC images for immediate public viewing and for continued use in outreach, education and citizen science.
You remain more than welcome highly encouraged, in fact! I have thoroughly enjoyed being in touch with, and working with, a lot of enthusiastic folks — some within ESA, many external — all of whom have been motivated by the love of science, interest in Mars, support for education and working with an active community.
While I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and sharing the many VMC Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars that people on several continents sent it over the years, the most enjoyable activity for me was definitely the VMC Imaging Campaign aimed at schools, astronomy clubs, science centres and other youth groups.
The level of participation was fabulous 25 groups from the US and Europe and the resulting work was really well done. It was a genuine pleasure to work with the MEX flight control team here to host a series of Google Hangouts, issue the challenge, receive the imaging requests and then actually conduct the dedicated observations.
This might have been the first-ever allocation of multiple orbits of an interplanetary craft to schools and young folks! And it was also a pleasure to see that some groups chose to submit artistic work based on the resulting images, in addition to those who sent in more traditional science projects.
It was also a pleasure working with pro- semi-pro- and amateur but v. Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars of the most active supporters of VMC since the beginning has been Emily Lakdawalla — herself a planetary scientist — who blogs over at the Planetary Society. She promoted and shared VMC images, and designed and hosted online tutorial s to help those interested in working with the images learn some of the techniques, and she inspired many others to get involved.
The VMC demonstrates the power of a simple camera for exciting the public about the adventure of space exploration. Its images are not large but they are the only ones arriving from any Mars spacecraft that show us Mars as a round planet in all its changing phases and seasons — a view out the porthole of an interplanetary ship.
I'd like to see simple, small, wide-angle cameras on all spacecraft to provide context to tell the story of robotic space exploration. It's appropriate, however, to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to VMC since its recommissioning in People have contributed time, software, knowledge, support to outreach activities, organisational efforts and enthusiasm — and so much more — helping make the VMC outreach effort a real success!
Last but by no means least, I'd like to thank everyone who has ever downloaded, tinkered with, mashed up, colour-processed, artistically rendered, analysed, processed, shared or in any other way had total fun messing with VMC images.
You guys are an inspiring community and it has been your enthusiasm that has made the VMC project a success. If you're looking for a nice, historical overview of VMC activities with many updates from the folks who did a lot of the work, there's no better place than the VMC thread over at UnmannedSpaceFlight.
As Emily pointed out in a separate email, a couple of our VMC community members have since gone on to great things: Ten observations slots in the next four weeks, starting today!
Mars Express left Earth for Mars on a six-month journey in Junewhen the positions of the two planets made for the shortest possible route, a condition that occurs once every twenty-six months.
This was due to Mars Express experiencing one of its regular 'eclipse seasons'. Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars our orbit precesses around Mars, there are
Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars during the year during which, for part of the orbit, Mars is between the spacecraft and the Sun.
These eclipses can last for up to 40 minutes per orbit with the result that, during this part of the orbit, no power is generated by the solar arrays. This means that your spacecraft is running on battery power only.
This most-recent eclipse season also coincided with aphelion, the point at which we are at our greatest distance from the Sun. This is more pronounced for spacecraft orbiting Mars than for those orbiting Earth, as Mars' orbit is more elliptical than Earth's. Being further from the Sun also means the total solar energy reaching the spacecraft is lower -- meaning the total output power of the solar arrays is reduced.
The energy from the Sun doesn't only generate electrical power; as it strikes the body of the spacecraft, it also heats it up. We have strict temperature requirements for our internal systems and payloads to keep them operating normally; this thermal control is managed by a number "Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars" electrical heaters and radiators placed around the the spacecraft.
As the overall heat being provided from the Sun is reduced in an eclipse, then the electrical heaters have to work harder and thus draw more power to maintain the required temperature. The end result of all this is that we have a situation where we have long periods using only the batteries combined with higher power usage by the heaters but less overall power being generated by the solar arrays to recharge the system. This poses some difficult planning challenges as we have to take steps to reduce overall power consumption and carefully manage the spacecraft subsystems to ensure that we can fully recharge the batteries by the end of each orbit.
In this last season, this has meant doing things like reducing the amount of time the transmitter is on as this consumes a lot of power and this has had a knock-on effect on science operations as it means that the overall data volume we can transmit back to Earth is reduced.
The other thing we do is try to lower the workload on the thermal control system and reduce the power needed by the heaters. This is done by a special spacecraft pointing we call 'Warm-up'.
Here, whenever the spacecraft is not pointing the instruments at Mars or the antenna at Earth these are fixed to different faces of your spacecraft — Ed. Whilst VMC itself consumes very little power, it is these 'Warm-up' pointings that prevent us from using the camera.
The parts of the orbit in which we would normally conduct VMC observations are Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars up with Warm-up instead. The good news is that Mars Express is now coming to the end of the current season, the eclipses are down to just a few minutes and their length is dropping rapidly — meaning Warmups are no longer needed. This has enabled us to re-activate VMC.
The first observation takes place on 29 February and we have managed to plan a total of 10 observation slots over the next Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars weeks.
Whilst the camera as been off for while, there has been plenty of exciting work going on behind the scenes in the last few months and we hope to be able to bring you more details on this shortly. Follow the Mars Express blog. In order to give priority to the 25 schools, youth clubs and organisation taking part in the VMC Schools Campaign, we have temporarily turned the auto-posting function OFF.
This means that the VMC images acquired yesterday, today and tomorrow morning will not appear here in the blog or in the Flickr channel at this time. We will release these as usual in the future, once the participants have had an opportunity to start working with their images. Information for schools, astronomy clubs, science centres and any other eligible group wishing to take part. Mars is approaching solar conjunction where it will be on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth; this will affect communication with the spacecraft for a period of about five weeks and so science observations have to be stopped.
During this particular Solar conjunction, the Mars Express team will be stopping science four days earlier than usual for operational reasons. Part of this time is to be used to run tests on spacecraft subsystems, but we have an exciting plan with what to do with the remainder! Read full details in the Mars Express blog. To view a copy of this license, please visit creativecommons. We've known Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars some time that there's methane in the atmosphere see " Mars Express confirms methane in the Martian atmosphere "but this is the first confirmation of organic carbon in a rock on Mars.
Our own much more modest! We are delighted to announce that, in addition to the full image sets in Flickrthe entire VMC RAW-format image archive is now available for download. The archive contains the unprocessed versions of every image the VMC camera on Mars Express has ever taken since launch back in These include the Beagle separation images, the Earth observation from and the images used to create the full orbit videos! The only processing performed by the mission team at ESOC is to extract the image data from the packets received from the spacecraft and assemble these into the individual raw-format image files as each image is split across several packets.
As a result, anyone who wants to have a go at processing these files is working with genuine raw spacecraft data. Note that for Flickr, we currently run the downloaded images through a standard set of tools to adjust contrast sharpness and colour levels — exactly the same processing is done for every image VMC acquires.
While this produces some good pictures, it is clear that tailoring processing to a specific image can bring out even more details and an even better end result. We invite you to give it a try! Some of the best images we have seen have been those processed by members of the public.
This photo was taken by MEX This automated process is also now connected to the esamarswebcam Twitter account, so when new images are uploaded, anyone who follows this account will be notified straight away! We Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars you might enjoy a whole-disk image of your new planetary home.
As you have seen from our recent blog posts and Flickr updatesVMC has been busy capturing some spectacular views of Mars. since our successful test of the VMC camera's long exposure mode which brought us our first direct images of Phobosthere's one observation we've been keen to attempt:. Our chance observation of Jupiter in April served double duty as a dry run to evaluate if VMC stood a chance of detecting the famous pale blue dot.
With the success of the Jupiter pictures, we felt there was a good possibility that, whilst Earth would likely be faint, it would just be visible. However, imaging Earth from a Mars-orbiting spacecraft using a camera with no specialised optics is not as simple as it sounds. So we thought we'd provide a brief overview of the kind of things that go into taking a picture like this.
Earth and Mars are both orbiting the Sun at different rates, so the angle between them regularly gets larger then smaller. So, you might conclude that we should take the image when this angle as big as possible. This is not only prohibited in the interests the safety of our instruments but would also mean imaging something as faint as the Earth would be impossible as the light from the Sun would blind the camera.
So what we needed was some middle ground, a period where the angle is large enough such that a sufficient amount of Earth is illuminated, but not so large that the Sun is too close to the camera's field of view. We then tried to find an observation opportunity as close to this date as possible. To keep the Sun as far from the camera's field of view as possible, it was decided we would not aim to have the Earth in the centre of the image, but instead offset it by 10 degrees.
The solid angle of the illuminated fraction of the Earth was at its maximum on 21 June this year. Date via JPL Horizons. On Mars Express, our instrument platform is fixed to the spacecraft, so to point our instruments at a particular spot we have to turn and point the entire spacecraft. To determine where we point the spacecraft, first the instrument teams have to tell our Science Planning team based at ESACin Spain, where they want their instruments to point and when.
Our mission planning system takes in all of the pointing requests that our science planners have sent, analyses them to check for critical factors like power consumption, illumination of the solar arrays and data generation as well as other constraints and requirements. If all checks are OK, one of the outputs is a list containing an entire month's set of spacecraft pointings. To fit in with this process, we generated a single new VMC 'Earth' pointing by using a software tool we developed ourselves.
This new pointing was then added to the monthly list sent by the science
Livebildextra och blogg danse 17 mars and processed and checked by the mission planning system.
This set of spacecraft pointings is then sent off to the flight dynamics team here at ESOC. They are able to determine the spacecraft's exact position at any point in time. Combining this information and knowledge of the spacecraft layout and the position of each instrument, they are able to calculate the orientation the spacecraft must have for it to point a specific instrument toward its desired target. These calculations are performed for an entire month of observations, while checking that the pointings do not violate any safety constraints.
Implementing, maintaining, enforcing and providing strict constraints protects delicate optics and sensors against the perils of excessive heating and over-illumination by the Sun. As with all spacecraft pointings, our custom Earth pointing had to pass these strict tests for us to be permitted to attempt the observation. Born John Anthony Frusciante on 5th March, in Queens, NY, he is.
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You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. The show sold out ahead of time and was pretty packed right for the first band. I have nothing but good things to say about this show. Anyway, to the pic on this post, Kimya Dawson headlined the show and was just a delight.
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This is more pronounced for spacecraft orbiting Mars than for those orbiting Earth, as Mars' orbit is more elliptical than Earth's. We invite you to give it a try! This means that the VMC images acquired yesterday, today and tomorrow morning will not appear here in the blog or in the Flickr channel at this time.
Once this is all on board the spacecraft, we then have to wait until the images are taken and then down-linked, where we can then run them through our processing tools. We can now take our exquisite photography a step further by offering our visitors live photo feeds. City Hall Hallituskatu 7, Rovaniemi:
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