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Monday, December 3, 2012

Space News and the Imaginarium

50 Years Ago: Mariner II in Trouble

Art of the Mariner II probe to Venus.

Was the Mariner mission to Venus a cursed mission? Some people were wondering that during the end of November in 1962. The Mariner mission to Venus was intended to succeed in receiving signals from a probe near Venus, make sensor readings of the planet as the probe passed by, and detect any magnetic fields around the planet. Mariner 1 was destroyed when a malfunctioning Atlas rocket veered off course in July 1962, forcing the range officer to push the self-destruct button. Mariner w, an exact copy of the first, launched on August 27, 1962. On September 4, engineers were surprised when the craft lost its lock on the Sun briefly while the craft was making a mid-course correction. Thankfully, lock was re-acquired and Mariner proceeded on its way, On its journey, the craft measured the solar wind, detected interplanetary dust, and detected high-energy particles coming from Solar Flares.
Twice during the voyage, the craft suddenly turned off scientific instruments and activated emergency gyroscopes. Navigational lock was lost briefly, then reacquired and instruments turned back on. Scientists speculated that perhaps the craft had been hit by micrometeorites.
Coming into November, one of the solar panels providing energy to the craft began to flirt with breakdown. Finally on November 15, the panel shut down completely. Fortunately the craft was close enough to the Sun now to receive more energy, so instruments were not impacted and the craft continued on its journey, expecting to arrive in December. Still, some scientists had to be wondering, What Next?

Future Aerospace: LAPCAT concept

A Mach 5 Jet design. Credit: Reaction Engines

A British company is moving towards the future of high speed air transport. The LAPCAT concept envisions a new engine design, SCIMITAR, to propel an aircraft up to mach 5 in order to reach the other side of the world in 2 to 4 hours. Reaction Engines designed the engines to use their heat exchange technology to super-cool the engines as they heat from the tremendous thrust. What intrigues me is the possibility of using this design as an atmospheric boost for a low-orbit rocket plane which could then return to Earth on its own.
For more information including engine cutaway and video, check out Parabolic Arc's article at
Enjoy the future!

Mark Daymont
Space Center Educator

Words of Wisdom from the Imaginarium

Life in the Imaginarium

I have this persistent feeling this could be a vision of my retired future

Be honest, this gentleman would be one of the main topics of your day's conversations if you saw him riding this bike down State Street - wouldn't it?

The Read Your Book Case.
Creativity: A

Tis a mystery....

The perfect pacifier.
Imagination: A

The home of a Hogwart's student.

An old Nintendo game system converted into a lunch box.
Creativity: A

The perfect new reward for volunteering at the Space Center.
Let's do away with the candy bars.  What do you say?

A different way of looking at life.
Be Positive.

A unique way to illuminate the stairway.
Imagination: A

Think about it.

You just have to love those Hufflepuff wizards and witches.

A Suess Knife :)

The perfect bench for a few minutes unwind.

Creativity: A

At least the store is honest.

A sure sign of a disturbance in the Force.

I'm a proud citizen


C.Wallentine said...

Ooh... Slytherin all the way.

Anonymous said...

And now, the pledge of procrasti-nation:

I'll make one later

Anonymous said...

CMSECisawesome22 said...

On the save the space center site it says you are trying to reopen the Phoenix Magellan and Galileo. How much time until they possibly reopen? And I am an observing volunteer and just need the Galileo and Magellan to complete. Do you think I could observe those ships when they reopen?

Name: CLASSIFIED said...

I love the Shanghai Noon quote!