Get excited, feel scientifically challenged or just curious and let others work it out. Whichever is of course totally fine but feel invigorated, feel we can do anything and will! Feel the overwhelming desire to take part in the new space revolution!
We start out in a celebration mood – the kind of mood you’re in when you go see fireworks. How about a comet instead? The comet known as 2014 Q2, or Q2 for short or more euphoniously, Lovejoy and Lovejoy will be at its closest to Earth and also brightest aroundJan. 7. No tail has been reported as yet, but long-coexposure photographs indicated a narrow appendage extending outward from the comet and a definite greenish hue within the coma due to the presence of cyanogen, a toxic gas, as well as diatomic carbon. Both of these substances glow green when hit by sunlight. This is called "resonant fluorescence."
The moon becomes full on Jan. 4, and will light up the sky through the entire night. But fear not, on Jan. 7 the moon will rise about an hour later, giving you an extra dark sky with which to view the comet. Each consecutive night the moonrise will come about an hour later, meaning as the comet climbs higher in the sky it also allows better early-evening viewing!
NOW TO THE MISSION LAUNCHES;
You have heard all about the rush to space and you’re pumped, but do you know what to expect this year? It promises to be both technologically and visually spectacular!
To start us off in January – BEFORE the comet appears is what is a drama filled first – SpaceX is testing their reusable rocket performance by having the Falcon 9 rocket land on a floating platform. Elon Musk has been quoted as saying it had a less than 50% chance of succeeding, but then consider that Elon Musk doesn’t fail. He is meticulous when it comes to launches and is the main reason that 2015 will be an exciting one for space travel…Also scheduled with SpaceX are three more missions to the ISS. (For launch dates SpaceX site:http://www.spacex.com/missionsor NASA site:http://www.nasa.gov/missions/schedule/#.VKLVOl4C6Y )
Satellite ‘DSCOVR’ launches to space is scheduled to launch on January 29 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (See? SpaceX is everywhere!) This satellite is designed to monitor solar wind from about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. (900,000 miles is you are in the United States.)
February 11th the ESA launches its space plane prototype for a test flight. The ESA’s reusable “Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is designed to flying into space and return to Earth – safely. While currently the ESA is launching cargo to the ISS, the robotic spacecraft then burn up (on purpose) on the return flight; the plan is to allow experiments and other materials to return from the ISS. (yes – SpaceX’s Dragon capsule already offers this.)
On March 6th NASA’s Dawn spacecraft arrives at the dwarf planet Ceres. (It is in the asteroid belt between the orbit of Mars & Jupiter) Already having orbited Vesta, now Dawn is due to start circling Ceres. There is a lot to learn from Ceres and some scientists are of the mind that it may be habitable!
Also in March is the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission. One of my favorite concepts as it is investigating portals or wormholes that form between the Sun and Earth and have no regard for the Earths layer of protection! I for one will be watching this launch and waiting to see what NASA finds out.
Launching to the ISS on March 27th for a one year stay are NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. This mission marks two firsts – the first time an American has ever spent a (continuous) year in space and the first time this has ever been tried onboard the ISS. Normal stays are about 6 monthes.
In May of 2015 the X-37B – launches on its fourth top secret mission. Granted its missions are classified, but you have to admit it is cool!
New Horizons spacecraft makes its flyby of Pluto on July 14th.Whether you feel strongly that Pluto IS a planet or you agree with the dwarf planet status you have to be looking forward to uncovering the mysteries that it holds! Pluto has five ‘known’ moons Charon, Hydra, Nix, S/2011 & S/2012 – New Horizons should let us know! (and perhaps come up with a better name for the last two names!)
Remember Rosetta? It hasn’t been that long! A look ahead to August of 2015 and the comet it is chasing/accompanying will be on its closet approach to the Sun. Hopefully, and I believe that it will, the Philae Lander will wake up and help to send back some of that unprecedented data – of the changes the comet experiences as the Sun grows close.
The Cygnus cargo transfer to the ISS resume in late 2015. The private company Orbital Sciences has purchased some United Launch rockets after the Antares (a Russian rocket) exploded during liftoff. There is a possibility that with upgrades the Russian rockets may fly again, but no time soon!
The ESA also has LISA Pathfinder launching in 2015. Searching for gravitational waves – something that to date no evidence has been found of, this new technology intends to demystify these giant cosmic crashes!
AND there’s more but that should hint at the wonders 2015 brings!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Let’s make 2015 THE year!!!