Mars Spacecraft Positioned for Oort Cloud Comet ‘Siding Spring’ Flyby

Mars Nov 2014

Mars with its 2 functioning rovers (Opportunity, Curiosity) and 5 orbiters (Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Orbiter Mission, MAVEN) will experience comet ‘Siding Spring C/2013 A1′ flying by with closest approach October 19 at 18:27 UT. It is expected to pass at ~55 km/sec within 139,500 km of the surface (about 1/3 of the distance between the Moon and Earth). All 7 spacecraft will observe and analyze the comet, as will Hubble, Kepler, Swift, Spitzer, SOHO, Chandra, Hawai’i-based Infrared Telescope Facility, and others. Siding Spring originates from the Oort Cloud, estimated to span from beyond the orbit of Pluto to about 1/4 of the distance to Proxima Centauri, the closest Star. The exact size, shape and composition of the comet’s nucleus is unknown and no Oort Cloud comet has been observed up close before. All 5 orbiters have been positioned behind the planet for protection from potential dust particle impacts. There is also a chance Siding Spring may break apart due to Mars’ gravitational pull. For ~2.5 days as it approaches and flies by, the spacecraft will image the comet and collect data to characterize materials and distributions, meteor trails, interactions with the atmosphere, and effects on air temperature and clouds. (Image Credit: NASA, JPL, Caltech)

MONDAY

Oct 20 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 41 preparing for Russia EVA set for Oct 22, conducting in-flight events Oct 23, filling Progress 56 with waste for undocking Oct 27.

Oct 20 — Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Moon Orbit: Imaging Chang’e-3 landing site, observing Moon for radiation; 20th data set release upcoming; recent data suggests Moon volcanic activity gradually slowed.

Oct 20 — Cassini OTM-394, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #394 today.

Oct 20 — New Horizons, Pluto Trajectory: Traveling at 52,777 kph, now 265 days from Pluto / Charon closest approach; set to wake from hibernation Dec 7; three KBOs ~1.5B km from Pluto have been identified for potential exploration.

Oct 20 — Innovative Solutions In Space, Delft, The Netherlands: NewSpace company being contracted to launch 5 CubeSats for Korea Aerospace Research Institute in 2015 aboard its US partner Spaceflight Inc. Sherpa vehicle.

Oct 20 — Alba Orbital Ltd. (PocketQube Shop), Glasgow, United Kingdom: Offering commercial off-the-shelf components for 5-cm cubed, 150-gram spacecraft including new DHV Technology PocketQube Solar Panel.

Oct 20 — zero2infinity S.L., Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain: Designing Bloostar nanosat launch system to ascend from seaship using balloon, then 3-stage rocket will put satellite into orbit; next high-altitude balloon launch campaign set for November in Cordoba, Spain.

Oct 20 — Up Aerospace, Launch SpaceLoft XL / Conestoga 1 (Earth Rise 6), Las Cruces NM: Up Aerospace to launch 6th Earth Rise mission (13th memorial spaceflight) for Celestis Inc; launch window 08:00 – 10:30 MDT.

OCT-DEC = All times for terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for international terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for space events, and…

= All times for international space / astro events in Hawaii Standard Time unless noted. Add 10 hours to obtain UT (‘Universal Time;’ Greenwich, England).


Weekly Planet Watch – Evening Planets: Mars (SW), Saturn (SW); Morning Planets: Mercury (ESE), Jupiter (ENE).

China Chang’e Moon Program Advancing with Major Step Toward 2017 Sample Return

Calendar Feature - CE5-T1

Chang’e-5 Sample Return Test Orbiter (CE5-T1), the fourth flight to the Moon of the ambitious and successful China Lunar Exploration Program, will launch on a Long March 3C/E rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China on October 23. The spacecraft consists of the return vehicle, strikingly similar in appearance to the Shenzhou crew capsule, and a Service Module based on the CE2 orbiter design. This stack will be boosted into a parking orbit at about 200km altitude before re-ignition of the cryogenic upper stage for a 3-minute trans-lunar insertion burn. CE5-T1 will enter lunar orbit about 100 hours later. Various tests will be carried out before the craft fires engines to return toward Earth at 11.2km/s. The high speed Skip Re-entry demonstration is a complex procedure designed to reduce heat load and involves the capsule conducting an initial reentry to slow, then steering up to lift out of the atmosphere for a ballistic exospheric segment, followed by a gliding entry that slows the craft down enough to open parachutes and land accurately near Huofutan in Inner Mongolia. The full CE5 mission is set for 2017 and is intended to return up to 2kg of lunar material, including core samples collected via drilling mechanisms, to Earth. It is also widely seen as the final step before China attempts to meld its Human Space Flight program with the Lunar Exploration Program to initiate Human Moon missions. (Image Credit: CNSA, CAST, CASC, NASA, Harbin Institute of Technology, Xinhua)

Oct 20-22 — International Association for Advancement of Space Safety, Friedrichshafen, Germany: 7th International Association for Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) Conference: Space Safety Is No Accident.

Oct 20-23 — United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Mexican Space Agency, Baja California, Mexico: United Nations/Mexico Symposium on Basic Space Technology.

Oct 20-24 — Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan: 5th International Fermi Symposium.

Oct 20 – Dec 12 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Space Frontier Foundation, Online: Commercial Space Executive Leadership Training Course; with instructors Dan Rasky and Bruce Pittman.

Oct 20 — Asteroid 2014 SM143: Near-Earth flyby (0.029 AU).

Continued from…

Oct 19-22 — Geological Society of America, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada: 2014 Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting.

TUESDAY

Oct 21 — RSA, Launch Proton / Express AM6, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Proton rocket with Breeze M upper stage to launch Express AM6 satellite for Russian Satellite Communications Co.

Oct 21 — The National Academies, Madison WI: Meeting: Development of a Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan for the U.S. Antarctic Program at the National Science Foundation.

Oct 21 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson AZ: LPL Colloquium: Early Solar System Material: Formation, Evolution and Exploration; presented by Dr. Jemma Davidson of Carnegie Institution for Science.

Oct 21 — Asteroid 2010 VQ: Near-Earth flyby (0.027 AU).

Oct 21 — Asteroid 2340 Hathor: Near-Earth flyby (0.048 AU).

WEDNESDAY

Oct 22 — ISS, Russia EVA 40, LEO: Commander Max Suraev & Alexander Samokutyaev to jettison obsolete gear, photograph Russia side of ISS, starting 13:00 UT, live coverage available.

Oct 22 — British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: Lecture: A Tail of Two Comets… and a Dog in the Night; presented by Nick Howes.

Oct 22-24 — Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel MD: Annual Meeting of the LEAG.

Oct 22-24 — MIT, Cambridge MA: MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Centennial Symposium; featuring Buzz Aldrin, Karol Bobko, Michael Collins, Vance Brand, Philip Chapman, Walter Cunningham, Charlie Duke, Rusty Schweickart & James Lovell.

Oct 22-26 — American Society for Gravitational and Space Research, Pasadena CA: 30th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research.

Oct 22 — Moon: 0.69° SSW of Mercury, 12:00; 2.5° NNE of Spica, 23:00.

Oct 22 — Asteroid 2014 RQ17: Near-Earth flyby (0.031 AU).

THURSDAY

Oct 23 — CNSA, Launch Long March 3C/E / Chang’e 5 Test (Chang’e 5-T1) & OHB 4M, Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China: Long March 3C/E rocket to launch Test Module, technology demonstrator for reentry capabilities; to return Oct 31 – Nov 1.

Oct 23 — Satnews, Mansat Ltd, Jones Day, Washington DC: 3rd Annual Space & Satellite Regulatory Colloquium.

Oct 23 — Benjamin Ahr Harrison, Kickstarter, et al, Online: Last Day: Kickstarter Campaign: Shoot the Moon: A documentary feature film; raising funds to document LiftPort Group’s progress toward creating a Space elevator.

Oct 23-24 — IEEE Communications Society Satellite and Space Communications Technical Committee, Busan, South Korea: Joint Conference on Satellite Communications (JC-SAT 2014).

Oct 23-24 — Application Center GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO), ESA, et al, Berlin, Germany: Satellite Masters Conference.

Oct 23 — Partial Eclipse of Sun: Visible in East Asia, N America, over Pacific & Atlantic; partial eclipse begins 09:38, greatest eclipse at 11:45, partial eclipse ends 13:53.

Oct 23 — Moon: 0.12° SE of Venus, 11:00; New Moon 11:55.

Oct 23 — Asteroid 2014 SC324: Near-Earth flyby (0.003 AU).

FRIDAY

Oct 24 — MESSENGER OCM-11, Mercury Orbit: Spacecraft to perform Orbital Correction Maneuver #11 today.

Oct 24 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Titan flyby scheduled at 1,013-km altitude.

Oct 24 — Stanford on the Moon (SOM), Stanford CA: SOM 2014 Homecoming Reunion Conference: SOM in the 21st Century, Sustaining and Realizing the Vision: the Next 50 – 75 Years; at Stanford University, Room 200-034, 15:00-17:00 PDT.

Oct 24 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, John-David Bartoe; US$49.95 adult.

Oct 24-25 — American Society for Gravitational Space Research, NASA, Pasadena CA: Annual Meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research; NASA combustionLAB and fluidsLAB Workshops; at Westin Hotel.

Oct 24 — Venus: At superior conjunction with Sun, 21:00, 1.717 AU from Earth.

SATURDAY

Oct 25 — Muslim New Year 1435 AH, Worldwide: Islamic New Year 1 Muharram (1st day) to begin at sunset; if young New Moon is not visible the beginning of the month and year may be delayed.

Oct 25-26 — National Solar Observatory, Cloudcroft NM: Solar Eclipse Conference 2014; at the Lodge Resort & Spa.

Oct 25 — Moon: 1.4° NE of Saturn, 06:00.

Oct 25 — Mercury: At perihelion (distance 46,001,345 km from Sun), 11:00.

SUNDAY

Oct 26 — The Space Show, Tiburon CA / Online: Dr. David Livingston talks with Michael Listner about NASA drone air traffic control system being developed for UAVs.

Oct 26 — Standard Time (Europe): Change clocks back 1 hour, from Summer Time to Standard Time.

Oct 26 — Moon: 8.6° N of Antares, 12:00.

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