Feeds

EPOXI set to give comet some stick

NASA spacecraft gaining on Hartley 2

SANS - Survey on application security programs

NASA's EPOXI spacecraft is gaining fast on comet Hartley 2, ahead of a scheduled close approach tomorrow at around 14:00 GMT.

At the appointed hour, EPOXI will pass within 700 kilometers (435 miles) of the comet's nucleus, while its two imagers and single infrared instrument capture intimate data.

EPOXI image of Hartley 2. Pic: NASAEPOXI is currently closing on Hartley 2 (see pic*) at a rate of 12.3 kilometers (7.6 miles) per second. NASA enthusiastically explains: "When the EPOXI mission spacecraft is 18 hours and 798 thousand kilometers (496 thousand miles) away, it will lock its instruments on the comet and begin its encounter phase data collection.

"As the distances between man-made machine and mysterious space dirtball closes, the frequency of image-taking will increase, reaching a crescendo in the minutes surrounding approach. All data collected during encounter phase will be loaded into spacecraft memory for later playback."

During the last 50 minutes before hurtling past the mysterious space dirtball, EPOXI will be flying itself on AutoNav Mode. This involves its Medium-Resolution Imager sniffing out "the brightest light source in the sky (excluding the sun)", which it then takes to be the comet's nucleus and the AutoNav "adjusts the spacecraft's attitude accordingly to keep its imagers centered".

Tim Larson, EPOXI project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, elaborated in a glorious mishmash of metric and imperial units: "We're using AutoNav Mode because our mission control is 23 million miles away from the spacecraft at time of encounter. Any command we would send to the spacecraft would take 75 seconds to get there. Not the kind of thing you want to do when you're talking about hurtling past a 2.2 kilometer-wide object [1.36 miles] at 27,500 miles per hour [about 44,256 kilometers per hour]."

NASA has more on the nail-biting comet pursuit here, and a Hartley 2 mission summary here (pdf). ®

Bootnote

* NASA explains EPOXI "took this image of comet Hartley 2 on 2 November, 2010 from a distance of 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles)".

It elaborates: "The white blob and the halo around it are the comet's outer cloud of gas and dust, called a coma. At this distance, the spacecraft is capturing images with a resolution of about 23 kilometers/pixel (14 miles/pixel)".

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.