Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mission of veteran solar observer Ulysses coming to an end

In a few months a unique spacecraft which was launched in 1990 and has been observing the Sun from high latitudes will freeze to death, ESA and NASA are telling us: a glitch is preventing power from being rerouted to keep Ulysses' hydrazine fuel from dropping below its 2°C freezing point. Once the fuel freezes, there will be no way to control the spacecraft. The mission team will try to keep the spacecraft running for the next few weeks, but then its mission - extended numerous times - will come to an end.

In other news the first (potentially) interstellar particle track in Stardust's collector has been extracted on Feb. 13 - to find these elusive tracks in the first place, countless volunteers have been visually checking microscope images. Get ready for the opposition of Saturn on the 24th. And during the lunar eclipse (here it is in an all in one picture and as a nice sequence) a minor impact flash was recorded.

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