Riding the Vomit Comet

Posted 10 July 2013 by Michael Khan

Here is an interview with a young colleague and friend of mine, Andrea Campa from Italy. Andrea had a ride on a Zero-G airplane. All of these are subsumed under the telling moniker "vomit comet", and if you can't guess why, Andrea will tell you. ... Read more

Fairytales from Ecuador

Posted 29 May 2013 by Michael Khan

On April 25, 2013, Ecuador's Space Agency EXA's first satellite NEE-01 Pegaso was launched into a 750 km, sun-sychronous orbit as a co-passenger on a Chinese Long March 2D rocket. Since May 23, EXA ceased receiving telemetry and has lost command access, so communications with the satellite have stopped and they don't know what's wrong. ... Read more

The Mars Encounter of Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)

Posted 4 March 2013 by Michael Khan

You'll have heard that on October 19, 2014 Martians will be treated to a rare spectacle. A recently discovered comet named C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass the red planet at a very close distance (at most some hundreds of thousands of kilometers; though the latest orbit determination leads to a distance of around 70,000 km). The comet might also hit Mars, and if it does, it will create quite a bang. The diameter of the comet's nucleus can be up to 50... Read more

Dennis Tito’s 500-Day Mission to Mars – the Orbital Mechanics

Posted 28 February 2013 by Michael Khan

You'll all have heard of Dennis Tito's idea about sending a manned mission to Mars that would take 500 days (well, 501, actually). Launched in January 2018, a small manned spacecraft would fly to Mars, skim past the red planet and use its gravity to send it on an Earth return trajectory. ... Read more

Why the Chelyabinsk Bolide is Unrelated to Asteroid 2012 DA14

Posted 15 February 2013 by Michael Khan

Tonight at 19:25 UTC the 50 meter asteroid 2012 DA14 will scrape past the Earth at less than 28,000 km distance. This morning, a smaller object entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, where it exploded at an altitude of some tens of km. The shock wave of its sonic boom and explosion caused damage and injuries, and it is likely that some debris also reached the surface. The fact that both events occur on the same day has led to speculation that they... Read more

Was ESA Negligent in Continuing to Operate Envisat?

Posted 9 October 2012 by Michael Khan

A recent paper presented at the 63. International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Naples levels grave allegations against the European Space Agency (ESA). The paper claims that ESA acted with negligence, or even gross negligence, when continuing to operate its large Earth observation satellite Envisat beyond the year 2010. Envisat turned defunct in April 2012. The paper further alleges that this negligence could expose ESA to liability claims in case Envisat should cause any damage to other satellites. ... Read more

Blue Moon

Posted 31 August 2012 by Michael Khan

Well, almost. The Moon was full today, August 31, but the sky is cloudy, so I'm using a photograph I took yesterday night. ... Read more

Reporting Live from the 2012 Campus Party in Berlin

Posted 22 August 2012 by Michael Khan

This year's Campus Party, the world's largest electronic entertainment event is taking place in the terminal of the now-defunct Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. Ten thousand mostly young visitors from all over the world directly interact with numerous presenters, some famous and illustrious, like the writer Paolo Coelho, some distinctly less so, such as Yours Truly. ... Read more