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Saturday, November 30, 2013

MOM Is Headed to Mars!

Twelve days after NASA's MAVEN spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and immediately embarked on a 10-month journey to the Red Planet, India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) probe finally left Earth's orbit today (despite launching to space almost two weeks before MAVEN did...on November 5) and is also headed for the cold, crimson-colored world as well. In case you're wondering why it took so long for MOM to enter an interplanetary trajectory, it's because India didn't have the luxury of having their Mars-bound craft lift off on a powerful Atlas V rocket like MAVEN did (just so I won't completely sound like an arrogant American, the Atlas V depends on Russian-built RD-180 engines to soar off the pad)...and instead have to rely on several engine burns throughout this month to boost MOM's orbit to the point where it would finally be freed from Earth's gravity. Despite the fact that MAVEN had a considerable head start on MOM, both will reach Mars next September; MOM entering Martian orbit on September 14 and MAVEN following suit eight days later. Either way, the Russians must be pouting over other nations knowing how to get Martian spacecraft out of Earth's orbit and not them (which is ironic if you want me to mention the RD-180 again). I kid.

EDIT (December 3): Based on a tweet from MAVEN's Twitter feed, MOM will arrive at Mars two days (on September 24) after MAVEN does. My bad.

An artist's concept of India's Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft.
Indian Space Research Organisation / Astro0

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving (Fellow Yanks)!

Just thought I'd mark this holiday by pointing out that you and yours have a great time feasting on stuffed turkey and shrimp cocktails today...and have fun either watching the Detroit Lions lose to the Green Bay Packers or the Oakland Raiders duke it out with the Dallas Cowboys later this afternoon. On another note, it was announced earlier this month that the 1 World Trade Center will officially be called the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere—courtesy of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Yet another reason to give thanks...and to be proud to be an American. Wait what?

EDIT (2:06 PM, PST): The Packers fell to the Lions, 40-10, about an hour ago. Leave it to me to jinx Detroit into winning its first Thanksgiving Day game since 2003. Of course, Detroit now has former USC running back/Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush on its team. Go Trojans.

The 1 World Trade Center as of November 27, 2013.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kepler To Get A New Lease on Life?

This infographic shows how solar pressure can be used to balance NASA's Kepler spacecraft in orbit, keeping the telescope stable enough to continue searching for transiting exoplanets around other stars.
NASA Ames / W Stenzel

A Sunny Outlook for NASA Kepler's Second Light (Press Release - November 25)

You may have thought that NASA's Kepler spacecraft was finished. Well, think again. A repurposed Kepler space telescope may soon start searching the sky again.

A new mission concept, dubbed K2, would continue Kepler's search for other worlds, and introduce new opportunities to observe star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and supernovae.

In May, the Kepler spacecraft lost the second of four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft, ending new data collection for the original mission. The spacecraft required three functioning wheels to maintain the precision pointing necessary to detect the signal of small Earth-sized exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, orbiting stars like our sun in what's known as the habitable zone -- the range of distances from a star where the surface temperature of a planet might be suitable for liquid water.

With the failure of a second reaction wheel, the spacecraft can no longer precisely point at the mission's original field of view. The culprit is none other than our own sun.

The very body that provides Kepler with its energy needs also pushes the spacecraft around by the pressure exerted when the photons of sunlight strike the spacecraft. Without a third wheel to help counteract the solar pressure, the spacecraft's ultra-precise pointing capability cannot be controlled in all directions.

However, Kepler mission and Ball Aerospace engineers have developed an innovative way of recovering pointing stability by maneuvering the spacecraft so that the solar pressure is evenly distributed across the surfaces of the spacecraft.

To achieve this level of stability, the orientation of the spacecraft must be nearly parallel to its orbital path around the sun, which is slightly offset from the ecliptic, the orbital plane of Earth. The ecliptic plane defines the band of sky in which lie the constellations of the zodiac.

This technique of using the sun as the 'third wheel' to control pointing is currently being tested on the spacecraft and early results are already coming in. During a pointing performance test in late October, a full frame image of the space telescope's full field of view was captured showing part of the constellation Sagittarius.

Photons of light from a distant star field were collected over a 30-minute period and produced an image quality within five percent of the primary mission image quality, which used four reaction wheels to control pointing stability. Additional testing is underway to demonstrate the ability to maintain this level of pointing control for days and weeks.

To capture the telltale signature of a distant planet as it crosses the face of its host star and temporarily blocks the amount of starlight collected by Kepler, the spacecraft must maintain pointing stability over these longer periods.

"This 'second light' image provides a successful first step in a process that may yet result in new observations and continued discoveries from the Kepler space telescope," said Charlie Sobeck, Kepler deputy project manager at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.

The K2 mission concept has been presented to NASA Headquarters. A decision to proceed to the 2014 Senior Review – a biannual assessment of operating missions – and propose for budget to fly K2 is expected by the end of 2013.

Kepler's original mission, which is still in progress to fully process the wealth of data collected, is to determine what percentage of stars like the sun harbor small planets the approximate size and surface temperature of Earth. For four years, the space telescope simultaneously and continuously monitored the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, recording a measurement every 30 minutes.

More than a year of the data collected by Kepler remains to be fully reviewed and analyzed.

Source: NASA.Gov

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This image by NASA's Kepler telescope shows the spacecraft's full field of view taken in a new demonstration mode in late October of 2013.
NASA Ames

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kobe Bryant To Be A Laker for Two More Years...

With his current contract expiring at the end of this season, Kobe Bryant just signed an extension with the Los Angeles Lakers that will last two additional years and be worth a total of $48.5 million. It's nice to know that KB24 is essentially retiring as a Laker; here's hoping that he won't be sidelined by another injury after he's soon set to return to the NBA court upon recovering from that Achilles tear he suffered earlier this year. No need for another Derrick Rose situation... Look up the Chicago Bulls point guard on Google to know what I'm talking about.

Kobe Bryant hoists up the NBA championship trophy after he leads the Lakers to its 15th title, on June 14, 2009.
Getty Images

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Vanish: The Roller Coaster

The Vanish roller coaster is about to enter a large pool of water at Yokohama Cosmo World in Japan.

Photos of the Day: Just thought I'd share these two images showing a roller coaster that goes underneath a large water pool at Yokohama Cosmo World in Japan. Despite the fact the ride has no loops despite its nearly 5-minute length, and the cars are underground for only about 2 seconds (this assessment is based on videos I watched online... Google 'em), these are cool pics of Vanish—and looks like something that Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm should emulate here in SoCal...but with loops and cars moving along the track at a much greater speed. I miss Magic Mountain; haven't been there in more than 13 years. Hope you're having a good day, everyone!

The Vanish roller coaster is about to enter a large pool of water at Yokohama Cosmo World in Japan.
Yokohama Cosmo World

Friday, November 22, 2013

The USS Zumwalt: America's New Stealth Destroyer

The USS Zumwalt sails through the waters off the coast of Maine in November of 2013.
U.S. Navy / General Dynamics Bath Iron Works

Just thought I'd share these photos of the U.S. Navy's newest warship, the USS Zumwalt (named after the late Admiral Elmo Zumwalt), which is scheduled to enter service sometime in 2015. Although only three vessels will be constructed due to budget and technical issues (the Zumwalt, Michael Monsoor and Lyndon B. Johnson), the Zumwalt and her sister ships introduce a new class of destroyers whose radar signature will be comparable to that of a mere fishing boat, and may introduce such high-tech weaponry as the Advanced Gun System...also known as a railgun (which is what took down Devastator in 2009's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen if you want to bring up random movie references). Although the Navy will continue to rely on its Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (featured in the 2012 film Battleship and this year's Captain Phillips) for the foreseeable future, the Zumwalt's capabilities should hopefully be called upon if American forces see more combat years from now. Unless, of course, the Zumwalt becomes the naval version of the F-22 Raptor (which has yet to fire a missile at an enemy aircraft or drop a bomb on a foreign bunker). That would be unfortunate.

The USS Zumwalt undergoes construction at the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine.
Michael C. Nutter - U.S. Navy / General Dynamics Bath Iron Works

The USS Zumwalt floats off a submerged dry dock in the Kennebec River in Maine, on October 28, 2013.
Associated Press

The USS Zumwalt is floated out of dry dock at the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine, on October 28, 2013.
U.S. Navy / General Dynamics Bath Iron Works

Monday, November 18, 2013

MAVEN Is Headed to Mars!

The MAVEN spacecraft is launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on November 18, 2013.
NASA

At 10:28 AM, Pacific Standard Time today, an Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars-bound MAVEN orbiter was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After a near-flawless flight where the only issue was weather conditions that could've caused the Atlas V to trigger lightning as it flew through a cloud layer right after lift-off (violating a so-called Field Mill Rule that NASA and the U.S. Air Force have in their 'launch commit criteria' list), MAVEN separated from the Atlas almost an hour after departing from its Florida pad...and is now on a 10-month interplanetary journey that will culminate with the orbiter arriving at the Red Planet on September 22, 2014.

Attached to one of MAVEN's twin solar arrays is a DVD bearing the names of 100,000 people, as well as artwork and Japanese haiku that were submitted online earlier this year.
NASA

Although MAVEN does not have any cameras with which to photograph Mars during its mission, it has a suite of instruments that will hopefully determine what caused the Red Planet to lose much of its atmosphere over the past millions of years or so. Just as integral to this flight is the fact that MAVEN carries a telecommunication system that will allow it to relay data from the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers (as well as future landers) on the Martian surface. It was actually this crucial capability that MAVEN possessed which allowed it to proceed with launch preparations during the U.S. government shutdown last month.

My participation certificate for the MAVEN mission.

Just like the now-silent Phoenix Mars lander, aboard MAVEN is a DVD bearing the names of scores of Earthlings (including mine) who wanted to hitch along for yet another ride to the Red Planet. In fact, the DVD contains 100,000 monikers as well as artwork and space-related Japanese haiku that were submitted through the Internet earlier this year. Even though MAVEN's orbit will gradually decay and the probe will burn up in Mars' atmosphere after its mission has long come to an end, I'm glad that NASA provided another public relations opportunity with this project. Since no images will come from MAVEN, the space agency has to find some other way (excluding the promising science) to capture people's imagination with this latest Martian endeavor...before we get to see black and white photos that will be taken by the InSight lander (set to launch to the Red Planet in 2016) and gorgeous high-resolution pictures taken by Curiosity's twin rover—set to take off in 2020. Carry on.

The MAVEN spacecraft undergoes testing at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Littleton, Colorado earlier this year.
NASA / Lockheed Martin

Sunday, November 17, 2013

T-Minus 15 Hours and Counting...

Here's hoping that 24 hours from now, the MAVEN spacecraft will be bathed in raw sunlight [as opposed to the xenon lights that are illuminating the Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station tonight (shown below)] as it heads to Mars following what will hopefully be a flawless launch come tomorrow morning (in terms of Pacific Time). I said it before and I'll say it again: Godspeed, MAVEN!

The Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars-bound MAVEN orbiter is illuminated by xenon lights at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on November 17, 2013.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Saturday, November 16, 2013

MAVEN Is At The Pad!

Earlier today, the Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars-bound MAVEN orbiter was rolled out to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Official forecast for the area predicts a 60% chance of good weather allowing the Atlas to depart from its pad at Space Launch Complex 41 this Monday; here's hoping this prediction remains true or improves by the time of lift-off at 10:28 AM, Pacific Standard Time on November 18. Godspeed, MAVEN!

The Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars-bound MAVEN orbiter sits at its Space Launch Complex 41 pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on November 16, 2013.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Friday, November 15, 2013

New York Shows Solidarity for the Philippines

Just thought I'd share this great photo of the Empire State Building as it was recently lit up in the colors of the Philippine flag to show New York's support for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. I would think that the 1 World Trade Center (towering in the background) would be the one that displays a red, blue, yellow and white lighting scheme in solidarity—seeing as how this skyscraper symbolizes Manhattan's own ability to rise up from the tragedy that struck it more than 12 years ago—but it's all good. Let's just keep having the aid flow into the embattled island nation to help it recover from last week's disaster.

The Empire State Building is lit up in the colors of the Philippine flag in New York City, on November 15, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Instagram

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another Amazing Photo by Cassini...

A natural-color image of Saturn that was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / SSI

NASA Cassini Spacecraft Provides New View of Saturn and Earth (Press Release - November 12)

• Natural-color portrait that is first to show Saturn, its moons and rings, plus Earth, Venus and Mars

• Sweeps nearly 405,000 miles across Saturn and its inner rings

NASA has released a natural-color image of Saturn from space, the first in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars, all are visible.

The new panoramic mosaic of the majestic Saturn system taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which shows the view as it would be seen by human eyes, was unveiled at the Newseum in Washington on Tuesday.

Cassini's imaging team processed 141 wide-angle images to create the panorama. The image sweeps 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across Saturn and its inner ring system, including all of Saturn's rings out to the E ring, which is Saturn's second outermost ring. For perspective, the distance between Earth and our moon would fit comfortably inside the span of the E ring.

"In this one magnificent view, Cassini has delivered to us a universe of marvels," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini's imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. "And it did so on a day people all over the world, in unison, smiled in celebration at the sheer joy of being alive on a pale blue dot." The mosaic is part of Cassini's "Wave at Saturn" campaign, where on July 19, people for the first time had advance notice a spacecraft was taking their picture from planetary distances. NASA invited the public to celebrate by finding Saturn in their part of the sky, waving at the ringed planet and sharing pictures over the Internet.

An annotated version of the Saturn system mosaic labels points of interest. Earth is a bright blue dot to the lower right of Saturn. Venus is a bright dot to Saturn's upper left. Mars also appears, as a faint red dot, above and to the left of Venus. Seven Saturnian moons are visible, including Enceladus on the left side of the image. Zooming into the image reveals the moon and the icy plume emanating from its south pole, supplying fine, powder-sized icy particles that make up the E ring.

The E ring shines like a halo around Saturn and the inner rings. Because it is so tenuous, it is best seen with light shining from behind it, when the tiny particles are outlined with light because of the phenomenon of diffraction. Scientists who focus on Saturn's rings look for patterns in optical bonanzas like these. They use computers to increase dramatically the contrast of the images and change the color balance, for example, to see evidence for material tracing out the full orbits of the tiny moons Anthe and Methone for the first time.

"This mosaic provides a remarkable amount of high-quality data on Saturn's diffuse rings, revealing all sorts of intriguing structures we are currently trying to understand," said Matt Hedman, a Cassini participating scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow. "The E ring in particular shows patterns that likely reflect disturbances from such diverse sources as sunlight and Enceladus' gravity."

Cassini does not attempt many images of Earth because the sun is so close to our planet that an unobstructed view would damage the spacecraft's sensitive detectors. Cassini team members looked for an opportunity when the sun would slip behind Saturn from Cassini's point of view. A good opportunity came on July 19, when Cassini was able to capture a picture of Earth and its moon, and this multi-image, backlit panorama of the Saturn system.

"With a long, intricate dance around the Saturn system, Cassini aims to study the Saturn system from as many angles as possible," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Beyond showing us the beauty of the Ringed Planet, data like these also improve our understanding of the history of the faint rings around Saturn and the way disks around planets form -- clues to how our own solar system formed around the sun."

Launched in 1997, Cassini has explored the Saturn system for more than nine years. NASA plans to continue the mission through 2017, with the anticipation of many more images of Saturn, its rings and moons, as well as other scientific data.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

To view the image, visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA17172.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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An annotated version of the Saturn image that was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013...with Venus, Earth, its Moon and Mars pinpointed in the photo.
NASA / JPL - Caltech

Monday, November 11, 2013

One Week Till Launch...

The payload fairing containing NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is mated to its Atlas V launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on November 8, 2013.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Barring any unforeseen technical problems or weather issues, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft should be on its way to Mars at this very moment seven days from now. Still deciding on whether or not I should take a day off from work to watch this launch on NASA TV! Hmm.

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft undergoes testing at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Littleton, Colorado earlier this year.
NASA / Lockheed Martin

Friday, November 08, 2013

MAVEN Boards Its Launch Vehicle...

The payload fairing containing NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is about to be mated to its Atlas V launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on November 8, 2013.
NASA

With launch only 10 days away, expect me to post more and more entries about the impending flight of NASA's next Mars-bound orbiter. Yes— I know, I know... You're totally looking forward to nonstop coverage of this deep space mission over the next week or so. And so am I. Here are photos of MAVEN before and after it was placed within the payload fairing of the Atlas V rocket that will send this probe to the Red Planet. Did I mention that MAVEN's launch is only 10 days away? Word.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the MAVEN spacecraft is about to be encapsulated within its Atlas V payload fairing...on November 2, 2013.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the MAVEN spacecraft is about to be encapsulated within its Atlas V payload fairing...on November 2, 2013.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the MAVEN spacecraft is about to be encapsulated within its Atlas V payload fairing...on November 2, 2013.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the MAVEN spacecraft is about to be encapsulated within its Atlas V payload fairing...on November 2, 2013.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

On November 6, 2013, the MAVEN spacecraft is ready to be mated to its Atlas V launch vehicle after being encapsulated within the rocket's payload fairing.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Kepler Update...

An artist's concept of Kepler-16b orbiting its two parent stars.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / T. Pyle

NASA Kepler Results Usher in a New Era of Astronomy (Press Release - November 4)

Scientists from around the world are gathered this week at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., for the second Kepler Science Conference, where they will discuss the latest findings resulting from the analysis of Kepler Space Telescope data.

Included in these findings is the discovery of 833 new candidate planets, which will be announced today by the Kepler team. Ten of these candidates are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, which is defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for liquid water.

At this conference two years ago, the Kepler team announced its first confirmed habitable zone planet, Kepler-22b. Since then, four more habitable zone candidates have been confirmed, including two in a single system.

New Kepler data analysis and research also show that most stars in our galaxy have at least one planet. This suggests that the majority of stars in the night sky may be home to planetary systems, perhaps some like our solar system.

"The impact of the Kepler mission results on exoplanet research and stellar astrophysics is illustrated by the attendance of nearly 400 scientists from 30 different countries at the Kepler Science Conference," said William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at Ames. "We gather to celebrate and expand our collective success at the opening of a new era of astronomy."

From the first three years of Kepler data, more than 3,500 potential worlds have emerged. Since the last update in January, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler increased by 29 percent and now totals 3,538. Analysis led by Jason Rowe, research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., determined that the largest increase of 78 percent was found in the category of Earth-sized planets, based on observations conducted from May 2009 to March 2012. Rowe's findings support the observed trend that smaller planets are more common.

An independent statistical analysis of nearly all four years of Kepler data suggests that one in five stars like the sun is home to a planet up to twice the size of Earth, orbiting in a temperate environment. A research team led by Erik Petigura, doctoral candidate at University of California, Berkeley, used publicly accessible data from Kepler to derive this result.

Kepler data also fueled another field of astronomy dubbed asteroseismology -- the study of the interior of stars. Scientists examine sound waves generated by the boiling motion beneath the surface of the star. They probe the interior structure of a star just as geologists use seismic waves generated by earthquakes to probe the interior structure of Earth.

"Stars are the building blocks of the galaxy, driving its evolution and providing safe harbors for planets. To study the stars, one truly explores the galaxy and our place within it," said William Chaplin, professor for astrophysics at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. "Kepler has revolutionized asteroseismology by giving us observations of unprecedented quality, duration and continuity for thousands of stars. These are data we could only have dreamt of a few years ago."

Kepler's mission is to determine what percentage of stars like the sun harbor small planets the approximate size and temperature of Earth. For four years, the space telescope simultaneously and continuously monitored the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, recording a measurement every 30 minutes. More than a year of the collected data remains to be fully reviewed and analyzed.

Ames is responsible for the Kepler mission concept, ground system development, mission operations, and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

Source: NASA.Gov

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A computer-generated image of the Kepler telescope in space.
NASA

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo...

Posing with Alyssa Milano at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.

So yesterday, I drove down to the Los Angeles Convention Center to attend the third annual comic book convention...hosted by none other than Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee himself. Along with Lee, additional celebrities who showed up to Comikaze were Alyssa Milano, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Bruce Campbell, Lou Ferrigno and a few other of their fellow actors. Of course, the only one I met and got an autograph by was Ms. Milano (or Mrs. Bugliari)—but then again, she was the reason why I went to the expo in the first place. Well her, and seeing the costumes and props used in the Iron Man trilogy. Click on this link to view additional pics of this cool film exhibit.

LINK: Click here for more images from Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo

Chillin' at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.

Stan Lee addresses the crowd at his Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.

Getting an autograph by Alyssa Milano at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.

'Weird Al' Yankovic signs autographs at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.

Chillin' at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.

Two fans dressed up as Spartans from the Xbox video game HALO strike a pose at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.

An IRON MAN maquette on display at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in downtown Los Angeles, on November 2, 2013.