The GeekDad Space Report for May 24, 2010

Geek Culture

Earth from the Space Shuttle Atlantis (Image: NASA)Earth from the Space Shuttle Atlantis (Image: NASA)

Earth from the Space Shuttle Atlantis (Image: NASA)

Welcome to the GeekDad Space Report for the week of May 24, 2010! We had a busy launch schedule last week with four launches on the schedule but only two of those made it off the pad. The launch of a probe destined to study the atmosphere of Venus and a communications satellite we both successfully launched while the Falcon 9 launch and the launch of a new GPS satellite were both delayed. Both of these launches have been scheduled for the upcoming week and there are no additional launches on the schedule. The Space Shuttle Atlantis, which has been docked with the International Space Station (ISS) has separated from the orbiting platform and is scheduled to return to Earth on Wednesday with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility.

Launches (Sources: Spaceflight Now World Launch Schedule, Wallops Flight Facility Daily Range Schedule)

Tuesday, May 25
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Medium+ Configuration
Launch Pad: SLC-37B (Map View)
Payload: GPS Block 2F Satellite 1
Launch Window: 03:13-03:31 GMT (23:13-23:31 EDT on May 24)
Notes: Launch of the first satellite in the new block 2F series of GPS satellites. Launch delayed from last week.

Friday, May 24
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Pad: SLC-40 (Map View)
Payload: Dragon
Launch Window: 15:00-19:00 GMT (11:00-15:00 EDT)
Notes: Maiden launch of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle carrying a qualification unit of the Dragon re-supply vehicle. Launch delayed from last week.

Interesting Hubble Observations

In many ways, all of the Hubble observations are interesting, but here is a list of some of the standouts in the coming week. A more complete list can be found at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) This Week On HST Website.

Optical and Ultraviolet Photometry of Isolated Neutron Stars

Instrument(s): ACS

Infrared Survey of Star Formation Across Cosmic Time

Instrument(s): WFC3

The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems

Instrument(s): FGS

An interesting note for this week. The instrument used in the last observation listed is one of the Hubble Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS). Normally used to help Hubble lock onto a target field of view for other instrument’s observations, the sensors are also very powerful interferometers and the same precision used to lock Hubble on to targets with an amazing accuracy can also take very precise measurements of other stellar objects.

This is a small list of the overall observations. You may also see some of these observations popping up in other weeks as many observation programs consist of several observations over time.

Have a great week everyone!

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