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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The green line marks the path traveled by the New Horizons spacecraft as of 10:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time, on February 27, 2007.  It is 502 million miles from Earth.
ABOVE: The green line marks the path traveled by the New Horizons spacecraft as of
10:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time, on February 27, 2007. It is 502 million miles from
Earth. Click
here to view the official webpage showing where New Horizons is in
space. (AU stands for Astronomical Units, in case you're wondering.)


The green line marks the path traveled by the New Horizons spacecraft near Jupiter as of 10:30 PM, PST, on February 27, 2007.  It is 1.4 million miles from the gas giant.
ABOVE: The green line marks the path traveled by the New Horizons spacecraft near
Jupiter as of 10:30 PM, PST, on February 27, 2007. It is 1.4 million miles from the gas
giant.


NEW HORIZONS Update... At 9:43 PM (Pacific Standard Time) tonight, the NASA spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter...allowing it to gain an extra speed of 9,000 miles per hour (or 4 kilometers per second) in the process, and thus setting the probe up for a July 14, 2015 encounter with Pluto. Without the Jupiter flyby, it would've taken New Horizons three more years to reach the dwarf planet. The spacecraft, which has been gaining speed because of Jupiter’s gravity well since February 14, has been observing the giant planet since January 8, and will continue to do so till June. By then, the spacecraft will have made around 700 separate observations of the giant planet (click here to see the photos taken of Jupiter so far). Interestingly, New Horizons will actually collect more data at Jupiter than it will at Pluto, its primary target. But that’s because the folks involved with the mission want to put the spacecraft through its paces now to ensure everything works properly...so that there will be no unexpected events once Horizons finally arrives at Pluto in 2015.

In this screenshot from an animated video, New Horizons fires a thruster to get into position to observe Jupiter.

Past and Future Orbit Crossing Dates (Projected)
Earth’s Moon: January 19, 2006 (8 hours, 35 minutes after launch)
Mars: April 7, 2006
Saturn: June 8, 2008
Uranus: March 18, 2011
Neptune: August 24, 2014
Pluto: July 14, 2015


ABOVE: This "movie" was taken by New Horizons' LORRI camera on January 9,
2007. The spacecraft was about 50 million miles from Jupiter when it was taken.


Later this year, right after all the data from Jupiter has been transmitted back to Earth, New Horizons will finally be placed into "hibernation" mode...which will allow the spacecraft to conserve energy over the next 8 years of its voyage by shutting down all but the most important electrical systems onboard. Around August, Horizons will be re-awakened for its first annual check-up. Every year till mid 2014 (New Horizons will officially begin Pluto final encounter operations on April 12, 2015), the spacecraft will be taken out of hibernation for about 50 days so that mission controllers here on Earth can check on its systems to ensure everything is working fine. Once everything is verified, New Horizons will be put back to sleep as it coasts through billions of miles of deep space...en route to the (former) 9th planet in the solar system.

NEW HORIZONS Blog Entries Archive:

September 26, 2005
December 19, 2005
January 7, 2006
January 17, 2006
January 19, 2006
April 12, 2006
June 15, 2006
February 27, 2007

UPDATE: On February 25, the image below was taken by the Philae lander that's currently attached to the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft. Launched on March 2, 2004, Rosetta passed by Mars for a gravitational assist as it heads for comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will arrive in May of 2014. Philae will be dropped onto the comet's nucleus to study it during the 1½ year-long mission.

On February 25, this image was taken by the Philae lander that's currently attached to the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft. Launched on March 2, 2004, Rosetta passed by Mars for a gravitational assist as it heads for comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will arrive in May of 2014. Philae will be dropped onto the comet's nucleus to study it during the 1½ year-long mission.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

'The Departed.'

The 79th ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS... Congratulations to Martin Scorsese for finally winning the Big One (or Ones) by taking Best Director and Best Picture for The Departed. Great film, great film. I'm thinking about going to Best Buy tomorrow to replace my DVD copy of the Oscar-winner...since it freezes and becomes pixelated during the end credits. Not that I plan to watch the end credits again when I view the movie a second time. But I sure wouldn't mind having a clean copy of the film, eh? So where was I? Oh yea... American Idol was once again rendered irrelevant with Jennifer Hudson winning Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls, Eddie Murphy lost out to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine in the Best Supporting Actor category (because of Norbit?), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest took home the Best Visual Effects Oscar (though that movie blew). Can't wait to see who gets nominated for Visual FX next year (since it's really the only other category I care about besides Best Picture...and Best Original Score if John Williams or Hans Zimmer is in the running. I dig their music)... Spider-Man 3 should be a shoe-in...and perhaps Transformers and 300 will get nominated as well. Or how 'bout Ghost Rider, which was once again No. 1 in the box office this weekend? Probably not likely with that one. We'll see.

'300.'

UPDATE: Just checked online, and The Departed won for Best Editing?? If there was one flaw the film had, it was with that particular production aspect. Click here for more details.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Poor kid.  Poor, poor kid.  Haha... Sucker.

RANDOM PICS... So out of the blue I decided to look up "bird crap" on Google, and these two photos showed up in the results. In the image above, either someone did a great job Photoshopping that pigeon and what-used-to-be-its-lunch onto that boy's head...or that kid will pretty much develop an inevitable disdain for birds when he grows up. Hopefully it's the latter, haha. In the pic below, I'd hate to be the dude/dudette who owns that car...or the douche who gets to clean this auto at a public car wash. Disgusting...but funny.

...

Yea, this oughta lure more readers to my page.

Poor car.  Poor, poor car.  Haha... Piece of crap.  No pun intended.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

'Ghost Rider'.

"I feel a lot better now that I know I’m the Devil’s bounty hunter." Though much of the dialogue was laughable (the Nicholas Cage line quoted above is laughable, but in a good way), the villains were weak, and the actress (Raquel Alessi) who played the younger version of Eva Mendes’ character is a lot prettier than Eva Mendes herself (though she’s still bangin’), by God Ghost Rider himself kicked ass (along with that cowboy Rider with the awesome horse)...and the movie itself was still enjoyable. It was a lot more entertaining than Mark Steven Johnson’s (a film school alumnus who, like me, went to Cal State Long Beach. Go 49ers!) last comic book flick, Daredevil. Though if there’s one thing Ghost Rider lacked that Daredevil had, it was a cool hit song by Evanescence. Oh well. Darn the critics... I give this flick thumbs up.

Chris Cooper as former FBI agent/convicted spy Robert Hanssen in 'Breach'.

I also watched the film Breach this weekend. Good movie...but um, the FBI did remember to retrieve the package that Robert Hanssen (played by Chris Cooper) left underneath that bridge after he was apprehended, right? Or was that part fictional? Of course the FBI picked up that package. If there’s one thing a U.S. government agency is best known for, it is its utmost competence. Just ask FEMA. ‘Nuff said.

UPDATE: Six years ago today, the real Robert Hanssen was apprehended in Foxstone Park in Virginia. Irony? Or did Universal intentionally release this film near the anniversary of his arrest?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT for you to fly your name to Mars onboard Phoenix, and one day left to send your name and a message to the Moon on Japan's SELENE spacecraft. Click on the banner at the top of this page to submit a name for Phoenix, and go HERE to submit a name and a brief message to the Moon as part of the "Wish Upon The Moon" campaign sponsored by The Planetary Society (based in Pasadena, California) and The Planetary Society of Japan. February 6 will be the final day to have your name included in a specially-made, silica-glass DVD to be placed on Phoenix.

UPDATE #1 (February 6): The deadline to submit your name on Phoenix has been extended to February 12...at 12:00 noon, Pacific Standard Time.

UPDATE #2 (February 12): The Phoenix opportunity is now closed as of 5 PM, Pacifc time today, but you still have till February 28 to fly your name aboard SELENE.

UPDATE #3: For some odd reason, apostrophes aren't allowed in the Phoenix and SELENE database, so if you have O'Neal, O'Neill, O'Connor, O'Keefe or any other name with an apostrophe in it, you would instead have to type O Neal, ONeal or O-Neal for your submission to go through. I know, I know... That doesn't make sense. Fortunately, I myself don't have to worry about that problem (last names don't get any simpler than 'Par'). Heheh.

LEFT: NASA's Phoenix spacecraft undergoes testing at the Lockheed Martin facility in Colorado.  RIGHT: Computer rendition of the Phoenix spacecraft on the Martian surface.

NASA's Phoenix spacecraft is scheduled for launch on August 3rd, and will arrive at the Red Planet in May of 2008. Japan’s SELENE probe will launch around July and arrive at the Moon about five days later. Become a member of The Planetary Society if you want to take part in more of these opportunities...since the Society was responsible for sending literally millions of names into space onboard other NASA missions like Cassini (616,420 names), Deep Impact (625,000 names), New Horizons (430,000 names), Stardust (two microchips are carried onboard... One bearing 136,000 names and the other 1 MILLION names) and the Mars Rovers (4 MILLION names on each rover). No, the Society didn’t pay me to type this post. I could use the cash, though.

Artist rendition of Japan's SELENE spacecraft.

Below are my participation certificates for Phoenix, SELENE and the Dawn mission...which will launch this June and head for asteroids Vesta and Ceres. The "Send Your Name" campaign for Dawn lasted from March to November 4th of last year. Dawn will carry a microchip bearing the names of 360,000 people. That is all.

Space participation certificates for the Phoenix, SELENE and Dawn missions.
Click image above to view the Phoenix certificate.