What's happening in space (that's interesting)

Oops. Putin must be throwing chairs.

Russia has struggled to develop new space hardware, especially electronics that reliably work in the harsh conditions of outer space.

”You cannot really fly in space, or, at least, fly in space for a long time, without better electronics,” said Anatoly Zak, who publishes RussianSpaceWeb.com, which tracks Russia’s space activities. “The Soviet electronics were always backwards. They were always behind the West in this area of science and technology.”

He added: “The entire Russian space program is actually affected by this issue.”

And to think… they used to go to Venus.

Why do they have a 90 year old guy working on their lunar program?

Because they lack the skills coming though in younger generations, or anyone worth their weight has shipped off to other coountries for more lucrative employment opportunities, would be my guess,

I’d argue lack of institutional knowledge. I’ve seen the same thing in the corporate world when a company doesn’t dabble in an area for a decade or two and then tries to get back into it. With a 10-20 year gap, past successes are no predictor of future success because the actual people involved are now all noobs who need to learn all the lessons the hard way again.

India’s second attempt to land on the moon succeeded this morning! And on a shoe-string budget as these things go.

India’s Vikram lander is now operating on the near side of the Moon at about 69 degrees south latitude, closer to the lunar south pole than any prior mission. All of NASA’s Apollo missions, which had astronauts, explored locations closer to the Moon’s equator, as have China’s robotic landing vehicles. But the Vikram lander didn’t land far enough south to explore permanently shadowed craters where vast deposits of water ice may be present.

Sometime in the next few hours, Chandrayaan 3’s Vikram lander will extend a ramp to deploy a small rover named Pragyan. The solar-powered mobile robot will “carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface,” India’s space agency said. The lander is designed to function for about 12 days, the remaining amount of daylight at the landing site. Once the sun sets, the spacecraft will be robbed of its power source and temperatures will fall to fatal levels for the lander’s electronics.

Vikram’s science instruments include a thermophysical experiment to measure the thermal conductivity and temperature at the landing site, a seismic sensor, and a Langmuir probe to measure plasma density. NASA also supplied a passive laser retroreflector array on the Vikram lander for future lunar ranging measurements.

Official photos here:

Descent photos:

Landing site photo:

So the moon is black and white, like in that Calvin and Hobbes strip where his dad tells him that before the invention of colored photography, the world was just black and white, right?

(edit: maybe this belongs in the random thought thread, but that is currently going on a tuna sandwich derail)

I thought this was a pretty interesting video. DW (German public, state-owned broadcasting network) interviews a number of experts from European Space Agency, the UK Space Agency, and some NGOs. I was particularly surprised at how much they emphasized that the new race to the moon is driven by economic potential (which they admit is completely unproven)

Heh, good point. It’s all crushed regolith or something, so it’s pretty much space dust, collected by gravity, and scoured by pure UV light for billions of years, so not much color is going to survive that.

Pretty awesome APOD:

Thanks, I’ve been clicking through past photos and wish I’d seen this earlier. Actually I probably have but forgotten about it. Do you subscribe to updates one way or another?

Not any more, actually, this was flagged by FT Alphaville for some reason. But I used to, maybe via an RSS feed? Not sure what happened tbh.

The Osiris Rex sample container just landed on Earth a few minutes ago. We just got a pound of pristine asteroid material that has been floating in space for billions of years.

WaPo article gift link:


And the host spacecraft, after making its deposit, is staying in space, zooming off to rendezvous with another asteroid? What a trouper.

So what are we looking at here? The Thing or Andromeda Strain? /s

More like a pocket full of chips from a trip to the gravel pit. The surface of Bennu has been pummeled by rocks and fried by radiation for billions of years. The surface of it is apparently composed of flakes of rock, mixed in with boulders.