Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

Lunar Probe

As mentioned in a previous post, the Indian lunar satellite Chandrayaan-1 was launched on the 22nd of October and is now on its way to orbit the moon. One of the aspects i find most interesting about this satellite is that it carries a so-called moon impact probe. It is essentially what it sounds like, a mini-satellite (it’s only 375 mm x 375 mm x 470 mm and 35kg) that will separate from Chandrayaan-1 on Friday and then quickly de-orbit and bury itself in the lunar surface. The descent itself will only take about 25 minutes, but the probe will gather a lot of interesting data on its way down. It has a lot of different instrumentation on board, like a mass spectrometer, an altimeter etc, and the purpose of these are to analyse dust in the lunar atmosphere, and to gather data that will help test equipment that will later, hopefully, provide a soft landing for an eventual manned mission. All this is of course important and all, but what I find really exiting is the on-board CCD camera the probe carries. It will basically film the whole descent, and I really look forward to viewing that tape. Can’t wait! 

Read more about the mission and the probe in this NewScientist article.

Oh, and another cool thing is that the probe, when impacting the moon, will kick up a huge amount of dust that Chandrayaan will gather and analyse while orbiting. Yet another advantage of the low mass of the moon I guess…


A picture of Chandrayaan-1 from ISRO


November 12, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Voyage Into Space

I stumbled upon this news item in Phil Plait’s blog, and it is extremely cool. The European Southern Observatory, or ESO, just released the deepest ultraviolet image of the Universe yet. It was taken by the Very Large Telescope (yes, that is it’s name, and it’s really a set of four telescopes working together, namely the Antu telescope, the Kueyen telescope, the Melipal telescope, and the Yepun telescope), and contains more than 27 million pixels.


This is a compressed version of the image, so for full resolution go here. When I first saw this picture i thought all the bright dots were stars, but no, they are in fact galaxies. Some of them are as far as 10 billion light years away, which means they are really, really young. I recommend you take a look at Phil Plait’s post about this picture. Being an astronomer he knows what he’s talking about, something I really don’t most of the time.

November 8, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment