NASA’s Phoenix lander detected snow falling from clouds 2 miles high. While none reached the ground, it confirms water still precipitates from the sky in at least one form.
Folks continue to modify their Toyota Priuses to get even more performance from battery technologies. At $7500 a pop, it’s not for everyone, but the engineering hurdles to make a car run exclusively off electricity if the driver wants has been jumped over time and time again. My next car will be a hybrid at a minimum. If I can convert it to be a plug-in, all the better.
A critical component of the Hubble has failed. The Control Unit/Science Data Formatter is no longer working, meaning data can’t be sent to the ground. A backup version is on-board, but scientists need to see if it can be brought online. Another backup is located at the Hubble operations center. Engineers will see if it can be made flight ready and if the system can be replaced in-flight. Astronauts scheduled for the original Hubble repair mission will likely have to do some additional training also. All this means the Hubble repair mission is likely to be delayed until January or February of next year. The next International Space Station construction mission would then be moved up to mid-November.
SpaceX has successfully become the first private entity to put a liquid-fueled booster in Earth orbit. It took four tries, but Falcon1 achieved the mark Sunday. More Falcon1 launches are scheduled, with one next year to launch a Malaysian satellite. SpaceX is also planning a mid-2009 launch of Falcon9, which could help deliver supplies to the International Space Station while NASA is without a vehicle between shuttle retirement and Orion coming online.
Has the next solar cycle begun? After a brief time of no sunspots, one has developed on the sun’s surface. If more sunspots develop in the relative near future, Solar Cycle 24 will have begun.