30 July 2012

In the spirit of the Olympic games IN SPACE

The 2012 Olympic games in London is underway. All around the world people are enjoying the numerous sports and athletes competing in it. We sure love sports! Sports have been part of all the civilisation on Earth. Every country in our days have there own "national sport" and the phenomena continues.

So what about sports in Space? What about the sport legacy in space faring civilisations? As we venture into Space, we will surely take our favorite sports with us and play them the old fashion or adapt it to zero gravity environment.

Here is a clip of Astronauts playing baseball  and football (soccer) on the International Space Station.

Once hotel companies start to build and operate orbital accommodation, they're going to be endlessly improving it, and competing to build more and more exotic facilities. One of the areas in which they'll compete will be in building zero-G sports centers. Basically, the bigger these are the more interesting the opportunities they'll provide.

28 July 2012

In the spirit of the Olympic games!

Canadian astronaut Ken Money (1993)
Photo: Canadian Space Agency
In the spirit of the Olympic games, I was watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games of London 2012, when I started to wander if there has ever been a Olympian who is/was also a "Astronaut" (Cosmonaut, Taikonaut)? Then I found Major Kenneth Money.

One of the Canadians who wore both military and Olympic uniforms also went on to wear an astronaut’s uniform. Kenneth Money was born in Toronto and joined the Canadian military in 1953. He set records in the high jump as a student at the University of Toronto and represented Canada in the event at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, finishing in fifth place.

Money went on to become a jet pilot, earn advanced degrees in physiology and publish widely in scientific journals. He contributed new knowledge to the study of motion sickness and the biological effects of space flight. In the 1980s, Major Money was selected to be part of the Canadian astronaut program, working as one of the team members on the 1992 Spacelab mission that saw Roberta Bondar (Canada’s first female astronaut) go into space. Money was a backup astronaut for the mission, contributed to experiments with the International Microgravity Laboratory, and was a Spacelab operations radio communicator. In 1994, Money was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross for his many contributions to science and technology.

So in the spirit of the games, I wish everybody good Olympic games for the next 19 days!

Don't forget that the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) is going for the gold on August 6. Lets cheer it up and see what happens.

Clear skies!


24 July 2012

Links Through Space 25 000 VIEWS and counting, Thanks for your support!

Links Through Space has reached 25 000 views.
Astronomy is growing all around the world and the people are interested.
Thank you for your support and be assured we will keep on taking pictures of the night sky and report astronomy related news.

For the future Our Astronomy Club here in Kustavi, Finland remains open for new projects and activities concerning Astronomy that is beneficial for all. Public Observations, Starclubs, DVD's and much more...

Astronomy Club Toutatis is having a Annual Astrophoto exposition at the headquarters of the club in the beautiful island of Kustavi, Finland.
From 01.08.2012 to 01.09.2012 The exposition is open and we are showing Astrophotography, Videos, Timelapses and Introduction to telescopes and much more.
Welcome to all. Free Exposition. Cafeteria on site. This will be a blast... off!!!!

You can have more information HERE on Our Astronomy Club INFOS

Thank you again for your support!
Clear skies!

17 July 2012

Gaming for real science! Want to participate?

As NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity prepares to land on Mars, public audiences worldwide can take their own readiness steps to share in the adventure. Landing is scheduled for about 10:31 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6), at mission control inside NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA.

Martian fans can help NASA test-drive a new 3-D interactive experience that will allow the public to follow along with Curiosity's discoveries on Mars. Using Unity, a game development tool, NASA is pushing new limits by rendering high-resolution terrain maps of Gale Crater, Curiosity's landing site, collected from Mars orbiters. A 3-D "virtual rover" version of Curiosity will follow the path of the real rover as it makes discoveries. 

"Technology is making it possible for the public to participate in exploration as they never have before," said Michelle Viotti, Mars public engagement manager at JPL. "Because Mars exploration is fundamentally a shared human endeavor, we want everyone around the globe to have the most immersive experience possible."

For a cool, immersive view of Mars Rover Curiosity and other spacecraft, space enthusiasts can also use their Apple iPhones to access a new augmented-reality experience that "projects" 3-D images of robotic explorers for first-hand, up-close inspection. For those wanting a live, community experience, museums and civic groups worldwide are hosting Curiosity landing events, often with big-screen experiences and public talks.

"Multiple partnerships united around science literacy can really make a difference in reaching and inspiring more people around the world," Viotti said. "NASA welcomes innovative collaborations that inspire lifelong learning and access to discovery and innovation."
Information on all of these activities is available at: . You can follow the Curiosity mission on Facebook and on Twitter at and .

Photo caption: MSL Mars Curiosity credit: NASA

16 July 2012

Jupiter occultation by the Moon!

The Moon occults Jupiter Credit: Gadi Eidelheit
In the early morning of July 15 Stargazers had the chance to witness a planet occultation by our Moon.
An occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.

This time it was Jupiter that was occulted by the Moon. Here you can see on the picture Jupiter going to pass "behind" the Moon. Gadi Eidelheit took his telescopes outside and took pictures/videos of the event.
You can visit his site and read his article on the subject. Visit Gadi's blog HERE.

For my part, I missed the show because I was so tired and my telescope was not with me. The only thing I did was look through my window and look at Jupiter and the Moon. I didn't even bother to take a picture with my phone or nothing. The next morning feeling fresh and awake, I was feeling a little sad that I didn't go out and have a look.

Thanks to Gadi and many others Stargazers who went outside and recorded this event, I had the chance to see it and enjoy (second hand) the event! Thank you Gadi for the Pictures and videos.

Wikipedia: Occultation
Link to Next Lunar Occultation: HERE

Clear skies!

12 July 2012

New Techniques for Finding New Worlds

Looking directly at stars is a bad way to find planets orbiting faraway suns but using a new technique, scientists can now sift the starlight to find new exoplanets millions of times dimmer than their parent stars.

“We are blinded by this starlight,” says Ben R. Oppenheimer, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Astrophysics and principal investigator for Project 1640. “Once we can actually see these exoplanets, we can determine the colors they emit, the chemical compositions of their atmospheres, and even the physical characteristics of their surfaces. Ultimately, direct measurements, when conducted from space, can be used to better understand the origin of Earth and to look for signs of life in other worlds.”

Read more: Article by John Williams on Universe Today

08 July 2012

From One Star to Another!

Stars within 50 Light Years from the Sun (click to Enlarge)

As the Stars are being scrutinized in greater details for neighbouring planetary systems, the question arise <<Where are all these Stars and can I look at them through my telescope?>>

Of course you will not see the companion planets around the Star, but you can still see the light of the Star shinning strait through the telescope into your eyes and imagine the planet surrounding the Star.

On the picture you can see Stars within 50 Light Years from our Sun.

Here is a example of a Star within 50 Lys, 55 Cancri in the constellation Cancer. This Star system has already 5 confirmed planets in it. Wikipedia HERE

You can see the full list of Stars and its properties HERE.

As you look through your telescope tonight at these Stars, think that maybe someone or something is looking back at you. A little bit of action in your observation session tonight!
Good luck and clear skies!

04 July 2012

Russian scientists propose mission to "tag" dangerous Asteroid

Russian scientists propose mission to "tag" dangerous asteroid. Russia's Flagship Planetary Mission is uncertain. US-Russia Asteroid-deflection Mission talks.
Here is an intriguing article on Russia's Planetary Missions. Anatoly Zak from Russian Space Web writes an eye opener in Russian Space programs.

Like a potential criminal tagged with a GPS bracelet, the Earth-threatening space rock could be fitted with a tracking device, helping to watch its orbital movement with unquestionable precision, Russian scientists said.

Source: RussianSpaceWeb 
Photo: Basic scenario of the Russian mission to Apophis. Credit: IKI

02 July 2012

Exoplanets: Small Rocky worlds may abound

See bottom text for Source/Caption
Great News for Exoplanet Research!

The number of found exoplanet is growing and you can see here on this photograph 60 or more Star systems with there neighboring planets casting a shadow on the surface of there respective Suns.

Not all stars are created equal. Although all of them are born mostly with hydrogen, the trace amounts of other elements present can vary by at least a factor of ten, depending on the particular conditions of the star's birth cloud. 

Since planets condense out of the material in disks around young stars, astronomers wonder whether stars with relatively large amounts of these other elements will make rocky planets more easily.

Spectral observations of the star's light can reveal its original elemental composition, while the dramatic new methods for detecting exoplanets can identify, at least approximately, which stars host rocky planets (like the Earth) and which ones host primarily gaseous planets (like Jupiter). Recent observations have concluded that heavy-element-rich stars are much more likely to harbor gas giant planets like Jupiter, but the relationship for the smaller, Earth-sized planets has been unknown.

In the latest issue of the journal, Nature, CfA astronomers Dave Latham, Guillermo Torres, Gilbert Esquerdo, John Geary, Bob Stefanik, and Samuel Quinn, and their colleagues report on their spectroscopic studies of 152 stars hosting exoplanets, a subset of the 1235 candidate stars identified by the Kepler satellite as host stars.

The scientists find that planets with radii less than four Earth radii form around host stars with a wide range of elemental abundances (but on average, they look like the Sun), whereas large planets like Jupiter preferentially form around stars that have a higher abundances of elements than does the Sun. The wide variety of conditions in stars that host Earth-like planets prompts the team to conclude that terrestrial planets may be widespread in the disk of the Galaxy, with no special requirement of enhanced element abundances needed for their formation.

Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Photo: This artist's illustration shows the 63 hot Jupiter systems (planetary systems with Jupiter-size planet candidates) in three-day orbits, with simulated stellar colors, and disks and transiting planet silhouettes shown at the same relative scale. Credit: Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics/J Steffen.

01 July 2012

Canadian Tech goes to Mars! Happy Canada Day!

A close-up of APXS's sensor
Happy Canada Day for all the Canadians in the world... and beyond!

As the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, or Curiosity) is getting closer to its landing on Mars on August 6, the Canadian Space Agency is also eager to see the project unravel.
This laboratory on wheels will act as a motorized field geologist and geochemist, probing and analysing the Martian surface using, among other things, its Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The spectrometer, specially adapted and tuned for the mission, will analyse samples to help ascertain the potential habitability of Mars.

What is the APXS instrument?
Roughly the size and shape of a Rubik’s cube, APXS's sensor will be able to gather data day and night. It will take two to three hours to analyze a sample to determine what elements it is made of, including trace elements. A quick-look analysis can be completed in about ten minutes. APXS, which sits on the end of the rover's robotic arm, will move in close to a sample and bombard it with alpha particles (charged Helium nuclei) and X-rays to study the properties of the energy emitted from the sample in response. The APXS instrument on Curiosity is an updated version of the spectrometers that were successfully used on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and Mars Pathfinder missions.

The added capabilities and the big instruments in the rover's belly, Curiosity needs more energy to operate. It receives its energy from a thermoelectric generator that uses the decay heat from radioactive isotopes to generate about three times the amount of energy that a MER rover achieved under ideal conditions with its solar panels. This also means that Curiosity will be able to operate much better during the Martian winter, when the capabilities of the MER rovers were curtailed due to the low-standing sun.

The CSA is an international partner on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Dr. Ralf Gellert of the University of Guelph is the Principal Investigator for APXS. He provided the scientific design based on the MER instrument (developed at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, in Mainz, Germany) and leads the APXS science team, which includes: the University of New Brunswick , University of Western Ontario , JPL, University of California, San Diego, Cornell University and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. MDA is the prime contractor for APXS.

Source: Mars Rocks: Canada's Contribution to Curiosity, the Next Mission to Mars, Canadian Space Agency
Photo: A close-up of APXS's sensor head as it undergoes vibration tests at MDA in Brampton, Ontario. The sensor head is the part of the instrument that will be placed into contact with Martian samples for analysis. (Credit: MDA)