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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Juno

A couple of years ago we launched a probe to Jupiter. News to me, so we'll recap. We start with Bill "if you're like me, and I know I am" Nye.

Via The Los Angeles Times
Bill is a funny guy. I enjoy him. Jupiter is roughly 500 million miles from the sun, or five times as far as the Earth. So we could be as close as 400 million or as far as 600 million miles, depending on if we are on the same or opposite sides of the sun, not that that really matters, well, except for radio transmission time. You aren't going to drive there. You will be taking an orbital path measured in billions of miles.


When Juno flew by on October 9th, all the Ham Radio Operators in the world keyed up their transmitters and sent a brief Morse Code message. Okay, so maybe not quite all, but a few. How they managed to synchronize their transmissions is one of the unexplained mysteries of life. In any case, Juno was listening, and once the recorded signal was transmitted back to Earth and processed by audio gnomes deep in the bowels of JPL, we can hear the Morse.

Via The Los Angeles Times

When Juno started its approach to the Earth for the gravity assist, it started taking pictures of the Earth and the Moon. The Moon isn't very big. Might be a good idea to clean the dust off your monitor.At first I thought the apparent motion of the moon was because this was a time lapse movie taking place over a period of weeks and what we were seeing was the Moon moving around the Earth. Now that I've thought about it, I realize it's due to motion of Juno relative to Earth. The closest Juno came to Earth was 350 miles, which in space terms is like spitting distance from the ISS. Shoot, it might even have been in actual spitting distance. I mean you can spit pretty far in outer space, or you could if your faceplate wasn't in the way. This was enough to give it a boost of 8,800 MPH which is roughly 2.5 miles per second, which is significant. There is a claim that these are the first pictures of the Earth and the Moon from outside the Moon's orbit.

James Oberg got me started on this with a link to a story in Astronomy Magazine about whispers from space:
Researchers call these murmurs “meteor sounds” or “electrophonic noise.” Unlike the shock wave, which can take seconds or even minutes to reach witnesses, these meteor-created audible phenomena occur simultaneously with the fireball’s passage. People commonly describe them as hissing or whooshing sounds, and they have been reported for centuries.

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