The vaunted Kepler Spacecraft, responsible for the discovery of hundreds of exoplanets, has experienced the failure of it’s final reaction wheel. The spacecraft has four reaction wheels and needs at least three to function properly. The reaction wheels are used to point the spacecraft without using thrusters. This is so that the fuel can be conserved as the reaction wheels use only electricity where as the thrusters use the finite fuel on board. Reaction wheel number 2 had failed a few years ago, leaving the minimum number of three available. Recently reaction wheel number 4 had shown signs of failure. There were current spikes indicating a problem with the wheel bearings. Controllers took some proactive measures, trying to redistribute some of the lubricant in the hopes of prolonging the life of this wheel. Unfortunately on May 14th the spacecraft had placed itself in thruster-Controlled Safe Mode, the second time this month. While recovering the spacecraft reaction wheel 4 remained at full torque while the spin rate dropped to zero. A clear indication that there has [...]
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(Source NASA) – A record-setting blast of gamma rays from a dying star in a distant galaxy has wowed astronomers around the world. The eruption, which is classified as a gamma-ray burst, or GRB, and designated GRB 130427A, produced the highest-energy light ever detected from such an event. Just after 3:47 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 27, Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) triggered on an eruption of high-energy light in the constellation Leo. The burst occurred as NASA’s Swift satellite was slewing between targets, which delayed its Burst Alert Telescope’s detection by less than a minute. Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) recorded one gamma ray with an energy of at least 94 billion electron volts (GeV), or some 35 billion times the energy of visible light, and about three times greater than the LAT’s previous record. The GeV emission from the burst lasted for hours, and it remained detectable by the LAT for the better part of a day, setting a new record for the longest gamma-ray emission from a GRB. The burst subsequently was [...]
With even the most basic telescope, or even good binoculars you will get a great view of Saturn as the Sun, Earth and Saturn all line up and Saturn is in oposition.A magnification of 25x is all you will need! The full disk of panet Saturn will be illuminated as well as it’s rings. The rings are tilted at an excellent angle for viewing. Peak viewing will be the evening of April 24th. You can find Saturn by going to one of our favorite sites Heavens-above.com. Get out there and do some star gazing!!