Author Archives: Jonathan McDowell

FUSE space observatory

Life and Death of FUSE

One of NASA's spacecraft has been making great observations of the galaxy for the past 8 years. But there's one small problem: it can't point at its targets anymore.

Stardust Comes Home

The Stardust probe landed successfully on Sunday, January 15th in the highest velocity spacecraft reentry ever. Its safe landing marked the end of the probe's 7-year trek around the solar system. The Sample Return Capsule started feeling the Earth's atmosphere as it descended toward 100 km (62 miles); in four minutes it was quickly slowed…

Genesis Science Begins

On November 16th the Genesis spacecraft reached its destination — Earth's L1 Lagrangian point, 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) away — and has begun to collect material from the solar wind. From its new home, Genesis will cast a "net" of ultrapure silicon and sapphire wafers in the hopes to capture and return to Earth…

MAP Hits Its Mark

Three months ago NASA launched its newest astrophysics satellite, the Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP), from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After circling Earth three times and getting a gravity boost from the Moon, the craft is finally positioned to begin its observations. MAP will have the advantage of observing from near the L2 Lagrangian point, a location…

FUSE in Safe Mode

Just as it began its third year of observations, NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) went into safe mode on December 10th when the second of four orientation-holding reaction wheels malfunctioned. The first of the wheels went out of action on November 25th. The FUSE mission team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Johns…