Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shuttle Endeavour Returns Home

Shuttle Endeavour and her crew landed safely at Kennedy Space Center at 8:39 EDT. STS 123's main missions were to deliver and install the first stage of the Japanese Kibo Laboratory as well as Dextre a special kind of mechanical maintenance robot that will be able to do basic repairs outside of the station without having to send an astronaut on a spacewalk, which is always potentially dangerous. The only slight problem the crew encountered was a ding the size of a small ball bearing on one of Endeavours windows that posed no threat to the Shuttle or her crew.

The Auroras from space

Dextre in action

Some interesting facts: STS 123 was the 122nd. Space Shuttle flight, the 25th. to the International Space Station, it was the 21st. flight for the Endeavour and the 2nd of 6th planned for this year. STS 124 Shuttle Discovery is the next flight to the station, it's main mission to deliver and install the main stage of the Kibo (hope) laboratory, launch date TBA.

UPDATE: NASA has just reversed the decision to cut the rovers funds, nobody knows for sure why the sudden reversal, could be the tremendous public outcry against the cuts, whatever the reason NASA has instructed the rover people to carry on as usual, like the cutback letter had never been issued.

Rover Opportunity pointed it's cameras overhead to image these cool cirrus like clouds, wispy clouds formed mostly of ice crystals. Mars surface ice warmed by Sunlight can briefly turn to vapour in Mars atmosphere and form into ice crystals. Due to budgetary cutbacks the Rover program has just been handed a 4 million dollar cutback which means one rover, probably Spirit will be shut down for the rest of the year. The rover people have also been told to expect another 8 million dollar cutback for 2009.

Venus, Mercury Conjunction March 24th, 2008

A conjunction I mentioned here between Mercury and Venus occurred a couple days ago, nearly didn't get the pic. due to some stubborn clouds hanging around, they finally moved and I got some images, bonus, got an image of a cool misty Moon on the opposite side of the horizon getting ready to set.

Venus, Mercury Conjunction March 24th., 2008

I'll leave you now with my misty Moon as an animated gif.


Roger said...

Bob awesome stuff as always!! Hey do you want your background image to stay fixed, while your posts scrolls over it (that awesome moon), I can help you and it is a quick fix it is a neat effect. Let me know.

Will said...

That is the most amazing photo of the Auroras from space! You are good, Bob, but I bet you did not take that photo.

My latest post asks a question of you. If you know if the lights out thing will be visible from space, leave a comment. It would be neat if it was and if there was a web site to go to to see it!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Roger, I would love to know how to do that, it would be great, thanks.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Will, should be quite easily noticeable from space, with 1,000s of companies and millions of people participating, should be noticeable to individuals on the ground as well. I will be out under the stars to see what difference it makes.

Anna said...

Bob you you know I like that Dexter robot, lol, he looks so cool in space. Glad that they are using him, I can see the danger. However, the design of this robot is amazing, I am sure there was lot of work to come up with this design, and especially to make it work in space.

The aurora's in space look so cool. Sometimes it would be nice to be there and experience it.

Thanks for sharing cool stuff with us Bob, and your anim gif as always is great.

Anna :)

Lynda Lehmann said...

I love the photo of the northern lights from space. Can you see them from where you live?

Your GIFS are hypnotizing me! :)

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob, awesome post and photos!!! YAY for the shuttle's return and the awesome space pics. I never thought of the Auroras being visible from space!!! Green beautiful.

Your misty moon rocks!!!

You are giving me food for thought everytime I visit and I am gaining new perspectives on what's above us. It's ASTOUNDING and I can see why you enjoy stargazing so much. Jeff and I definitely have to buy a telescope!!!

Hugs, JJ

Rose said...

Glad to hear their safely home.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks Anna, Dextre is very cool, 209 million cool, lots of research and developement went in to this guy.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Lynda, the auroras from space are cool, we can see them from here, love them, got some pics, hope to get more

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, glad you are liking the info here, ever need help choosing a telescope you know where to find me.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Rose, me too!

Anonymous said...

I know it wasn't the most important image in your post, but I love that moon gif. I'm a sucker for the moon.

shirley said...

That aurora from space is just way too cool! Amazing!

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Novel shot of the aurora's, and good to see the shuttle!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Hope, I like the Moon one the best as well, probably cause I took it, lol \m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Shirley, The aurora from space is very cool, love to be a space tourist if and when they ever get going and get some shots like that.


Bob Johnson said...

Hi Julie, thanks for dropping by.


Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

bob - just out of interest, did they ever track what happened to the Mars Beagle?

Peter said...

Hi! The Auroras image is out of this world and so is the cloud formation. I'm reading the "Golden Compass" where they mention the auroras constantly. I think you would like it.

Going on the auroras image I wonder if the hurricane has caused it to wisp around like that.

I was here the other day before leaving for work. I was going to mention the expendable things in our lives. Thank God! they saw sense - regards Peter

Swubird said...


Great news update article, and great images. That Aurora from space shot was really something, but did you notice that huge storm brewing right underneath it? Speaking of images, is that BW image the one Opportunity took when it looked up?

I'm very excited that NASA didn't cut the funds. That would have been a disaster.

Your misty moon water reflection is great.

Thanks for the exciting news.

Have a nice day.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Julie, cool you know about the poor little Beagle 2,never did find out what happened to it, might have even bounced of the Martian atmosphere into space, just goes to show you how hard it is to land something on Mars. On May 25th the Mars Phoenix Lander will be attempting to land usings rockets instead of inflatable airbags, this will be the most interesting lander to date as far as I'm concerned because of it being the furthest north of any lander, will be able to find ice, hopefully, and having its own lab, lets hope it lands okay.

Bob Johnson said...

lol Peter about the auroras, hey I saw the golden compass, loved it. The formation of the auroras in the pic is it's normal formation, follows the magnetic lines of the Earth. \m/

Anonymous said...

Another beautiful GIF Bob. Love that Misty moon shot. And the images used in this very informative post are great. Really gives the article punch. Hey, what about Dexter eh? Go Canada go LOL. I wonder if there will be a movie where we'll hear:
Dave Bowman: Hello, DEXTER do you read me, Dexter?
DEXTER: Affirmative, Dave, I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, DEXTER.
DEXTER: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
DEXTER: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Bob ... great article. Well done. Sorry I'm late but with my upcoming wedding things have been quite hectic. I'll be seeing you around though. I've been working on a site for the MW Society. Get that badge up! Take care!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, very cool shot of the auroras and storm, didn't really know if it was a storm, wasn't mentioned in its caption at the NASA site, I thought it looked like one as well. Yes it is what it's cameras caught when opportunity pointed them to the sky, very cool.

Bob Johnson said...

lol, eh, love the little dextre skit, thanks for dropping by, I can imagine how busy you guys must be, hope everything is going good, great news about the new MW site, about the badge, didn't know if I was officially selected, but I am honoured, and I will put it up asap, again thanks for considering me to be a part of the MW. \m/

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob;

That sure is a giant eye the shuttle flies around with….red ringed from partying?

Didn’t they have some kind of connector cable issue with Dexter?

Very cool images, the Auroras are a beauty…

Nice to hear the rovers will continue; they certainly are popular….its also nice I don’t have to pay for it with my tax dollars…. :) However I would trade the Canadian Senate for one of the rovers…

What a rich blue sky! Nice conjunction….

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, livingsword you crack me up as usual, I think Dextre had a temp cable that was picking up interference from other electronic equipment in the station, but they solved the problem with the permanent install. \m/

lol the Senate for a rover, I'm so into doing that,lol, the rovers are small and cute, the Senate is big and not cute,lol. \m/

Roger said...

Bob here is what u insert in your html code first look for this section
in your edit template

body {
background-attachment: scroll;

all you have to do then is change background-attachment to fixed instead of scroll so it looks like

background-attachment: fixed;

preview and save, oh and backup your template first.

Bob Johnson said...

Cool thanks Roger \m/ \m/

Poetikat said...

This is what I love about blogging. I would probably never in a million years ended up on this site, if not for the Society of Midnight Wanderers!
This is a spectacular looking blog, Bob, but not only that, it is extremely well-written so as to be captivating even to the less-informed such as myself.
I came to you through your comment on my poem, but I will link to you on both of my blogs and I will be making regular "touch-downs" on this surface, "baby".
In 1969 I was give a book called "We Came In Peace" about the moon landings. I still have it, and you have reawakened the urge to peruse it again.
Thanks, Bob.


Bob Johnson said...

That's great that this blog has made you think of space stuff again. I probably never would have ended up on your site as well if it wasn't for the Midnight Wanderers, afterall there is something like 60 million webblogs out there, your post really hit a chord with me, and I love your style.

Anna said...

Oh yeah Bob, I forgot to use my favorite icone \m/ lol. Anna :)

Livingsword said...

Hey Bob;

You comment about the Senate and the rovers:

“lol the Senate for a rover, I'm so into doing that,lol, the rovers are small and cute, the Senate is big and not cute,lol. \m/”

You are soooo on target…would you throw in the Ottawa Senators hockey team? LOL