Ceres Up Close

NASA Dawn is giving us some great footage of Ceres.   Still lot of fun questions with the bright spots in that crater.   Maybe Tom Bodett left the light on for us.



Tomorrow Dawn will insert into orbit around Ceres.   Besides whatever it finds there, and found when it was at Vega, the cool part for me is the ion drive.   Dawn will become the first probe to orbit two planetoids.   Previously if you inserted into orbit you stayed there.   The ion drive, as I understand it, made it possible to orbit more than one body.

Russia to Deorbit ISS in 2020

The latest news is that Russia plans to deorbit the ISS in 2020 when it is at end of life.   Naturally this is causing a ballyhoo.    The truth is to keep the ISS in orbit requires a lot of ongoing cargo lift as well as fuel to keep raising its orbit.   The orbit is so low it degrades quickly.

NASA abandoned the object and since the Russians are the only ones who can get people there and back it now belongs to them.   Their budgets are their own pervue.

Naturally the public statements are never the reality.   Russia is obviously putting the screws on the US to see how valuable an asset of ours they now have and what its really worth to us.   IE.  How much are we willing to pay them not to deorbit it.

Its equally likely this was a backroom deal between NASA and ROSCOSMOS in order to strike panic in the US that our beloved ISS will vanish and put political pressure on Washington to get NASA a manned space program asap so the ISS does not land in the ocean.   In turn NASA awards various grants to ROSCOSMOS to perform various and sundry projects thus creating the proverbial win win.

Time will tell…. For now I am not worried.