Mars Express zeros in on erosion features

MEX orbit impression,1

Mars Express left Earth for Mars on a six-month journey in June 2003, when the positions of the two planets made for the shortest possible route, a condition that occurs once every twenty-six months. The intrepid spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan onboard a Russian Soyuz/Fregat launcher. It completed the interplanetary cruise, achieving a velocity of 10 800 km/h relative to Earth, in December 2003. Since entering its operational, near-polar orbit, Mars Express has operated perfectly, delivering some of the most spectacular and scientifically valuable results ever received from the Red Planet.

Credits: ESA – Illustration by Medialab

Mars Express has uncovered geological evidence suggesting that some depositional process, revealed by erosion, has been at work on large scales in the equatorial regions of the planet. If so, this would provide another jigsaw piece to be fitted into the emerging picture of Mars’ past climate.

The evidence comes from the mineralogical composition of the Aram Chaos region, a crater 280 km in diameter lying almost directly on the martian equator. Data from Mars Express’ OMEGA instrument, the Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer, has revealed that this region shows a significant amount of sulphates and ferric oxides. On Earth, ferric oxide is more commonly known as rust.

GOCE completes early orbit phase

goce attitude in Fine Pointing Mode L

GOCE realtime graphic showing orientation in Fine Pointing Mode as of 18:01 CET, 19 March 2009.

This screenshot was taken from the Flight Dynamics system and shows GOCE oriented in orbit after achieving Fine Pointing Mode. The two green arrows pointing to the left are aligned, indicating that the spacecraft is properly oriented along the direction of flight, thus minimising drag.

Credits: ESA

ESA’s GOCE satellite was formally declared ready for work at 01:00 CET on 20 March. During the critical Launch and Early Orbit Phase beginning with separation from its booster on 17 March, GOCE was checked out to confirm that all of its control systems are operating normally.

Burry Port lifeboat searches for canoeist


Date: 19/03/2009

Author: Burry Port Lifeboat Station

Reference: Burry Port 001 2009

At 8:30 pm on Wednesday 18th March 2009 the volunteers from the RNLI’s lifeboat station launched to search for an overdue canoeist.

Some crew members were at the last meeting of the Burry Port Lifeboat Ladies Guild which was being held at The George in Burry Port and left the meeting to attend the call.

Porthdinllaen RNLI lifeboat helps search for missing sailor


Date: 19/03/2009

Author: Porthdinllaen RNLI lifeboat helps search for missing sailor

Reference: PorthdinllaenLPO001
porthdinllaen rnli lifeboat

The Porthdinllaen all-weather RNLI lifeboat was launched just after 6pm on Tuesday (17 March) following concerns for a lone sailor. Holyhead Coastguard requested the launch of the RNLI lifeboat Hetty Rampton after the sailor failed to make contact since setting out from Porthdinllaen Harbour and heading towards Caernarfon.

Rescue helicopter 122 from RAF Valley was also scrambled to assist with the search, and luckily the sailor was located entering Holyhead Harbour.

Port Talbot RNLI volunteers assist in dog walker rescue


Date: 16/03/2009

Author: Danielle Rush

Reference: 026West
David Jones and Mel Cooper from Port Talbot RNLI

Port Talbot’s inshore RNLI lifeboat was launched yesterday morning (15 March) after a man and his small terrier were swept off the North Pier whilst out walking. The alarm was raised at 9.10am after a large wave broke and carried them away.

The lifeboat launched immediately and proceeded to the position off the North Pier. A local surfer who was about to go into the water ran down the pier, jumped in and was able to get the man to hang onto his board. He was able to escort him towards the pier where he was able to climb ashore.

Kilkeel RNLI lifeboat goes to aid of trawler


Date: 18/03/2009

Author: Alan McVeigh, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer

Reference: Kilkeel 001 2009
Crystal Star berthing in Kilkeel Harbour with Kilkeel Lifeboat alongside

KILKEEL RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew today combined with an Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter and a salvage tug to save a trawler from sinking.

Kilkeel’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat Frank William Walton was launched at 10.16am after Belfast Coastguard received a Mayday call from the Kilkeel-based Crystal Star.

New Solar Array Wings to be Deployed Today

STS119e006589 small

The S6 truss (lower left) rests at the end of Canadarm2, the International Space Station’s robotic arm. Photo credit: NASA

When the S6 truss solar arrays are unfurled today, they will extend 240 feet, tip to tip. Overnight, Mission control deployed the arrays a short distance and confirmed they are operating properly. The first array will be extended at 10:48 a.m. EDT.

The new arrays add enough power-generating capacity to double the electricity available for space station science operations, from 15 to 30 kilowatts. Altogether, the station’s arrays will generate as much as 120 kilowatts of usable electricity, enough to power about 42 2800-square-foot homes.

Educators’ Weekend at Mystic Seaport to Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy


Mystic, Conn. ~ Educators and their families – up to four people total – will be admitted free into Mystic Seaport Saturday and Sunday, April 4 – 5.

Teachers, administrators and support staff are welcome. Free admission will be granted upon presentation of a school or union ID card or a copy of school letterhead.

The seventh annual event is part of the Museum’s continuous efforts to help teachers reach their classroom goals, as well as provide an opportunity for educators to strengthen the partnership between schools and museums.