of the week
08:20:11 - 10:22:11
08:20:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: A 1959 artist's conception of a piloted nuclear-powered spacecraft capable of exploring the solar system.
08:27:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: The iconic photograph of Earth rising above the lunar surface taken by the Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft on August 23, 1966. The photo was transmitted to Earth and received at the NASA tracking station at Robledo De Chavela near Madrid, Spain. The spacecraft was on its 16th orbit and just about to pass behind the moon. Originally grainy, NASA reproduced the image in 2008 at a much higher resolution than was possible when it was originally taken with the intent to help the next generation of explorers as NASA prepares for a possible future return of humankind to the moon.
09:03:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: Gemini 4 astronauts Edward H. White II and James A. McDivitt, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Wasp on June 7, 1965 just after their splashdown recovery, as they listen to President Johnson praising them on the success of the Gemini 4 mission. White had made history four days earlier, floating out of the hatch of the two-man capsule into the void of space to become the first American to undertake a "spacewalk" (more formally known as Extravehicular Activity) lasting 23 minutes. Nineteen months later, on January 27, 1967, White was killed -- along with astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee -- when a fire broke out in the command capsule during a pre-launch test of Apollo 1 at Cape Kennedy. McDivitt would go on to command Apollo 9 in March, 1969, representing the first manned flight of all Apollo lunar hardware in Earth orbit as well as the first manned flight of the lunar module. White was buried with full military honors at West Point Cemetery while Grissom and Chaffee are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
09:10:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: An artist's view of a Pioneer spacecraft heading into interstellar space. Launched on March 2, 1972, Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to traverse the asteroid belt before reaching Jupiter in November, 1973. Pioneer 11 was launched on April 6, 1973 and was the first probe to encounter Saturn. Both Pioneer 10 and 11 were on trajectories to take them out of our solar system. Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 carry a gold-anodized aluminum plaque in the event that either spacecraft is ever found by intelligent life-forms from other planetary systems. The plaques feature the nude figures of a human male and female along with several symbols that are designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft. Pioneer 11 sent its last signal to Earth in November 1995. NASA maintained contact with Pioneer 10 until January 2003.
09:17:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: From 1963, a test being run at the Lewis Research Center (now known as John H. Glenn Research Center) on a 1/10 scale model Centaur in the supersonic wind tunnel. The test is to determine how far to expel venting fuel from the rocket body to prevent explosion at the base of the vehicle. This vent is used as a safety valve for the fumes created when loading the fuel tanks during launch preparation. The fuel being used is liquid hydrogen, initially kept at a very low temperature. As it heats, it turns to gas and increases pressure in the tank and so has to be vented overboard while the rocket sits on the pad.
09:24:11 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: Above: An artist's impression of the descent and landing sequence followed by ESA's Huygens probe as it landed on Saturn's moon Titan. Below: Artist's interpretation of the area surrounding the Huygens landing site based on images and data returned on 14 January 2005. Named after the Dutch 17th century astronomer Christiaan Huygen, it was launched on October 15, 1997 as part of the billion-mile trip of the Cassini–Huygens mission after more than 20 years of planning. Titan's moon was chosen for Huygens' landing because its atmosphere may resemble that of early Earth (though its temperature at -300 degrees Farenheit affects such similarity). The Huygen's probe is the first-ever landing in the outer solar system, it's landing site more than 740 million miles from Earth, where it broadcast for a total of 90 minutes, transmitting 350 pictures back to Earth. The Cassini spacecraft continues to orbit Saturn performing a variety of research missions before its anticipated impact on Saturn in 2017. Photos: ESA.
10:01:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: Soviet cosmonaut Aleksy Leonov on his historic first "space walk" on March 18, 1965. Over the course of the 12 minutes in space, Leonov's spacesuit inflated to the point that he could not re-enter the airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, and was barely able to get back inside the capsule. Leonov was scheduled to be the first cosmonaut to circle the moon, as well as the first cosmonaut to land on the moon, but both missions were canceled.
10:08:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: A chart of UFO shapes and sightings from 1969, part of the public release of declassified files by the United Kingdom's National Archives. No accompanying information was provided, but the chart is most likely a reproduction from a UFO-themed publication.
10:15:11 -- PICTURES OF THE WEEK: Drawings made by Betty (above) and Barney (left) Hill, as published in Look Magazine on October 4, 1966, excerpting the book The Interrupted Journey by John G. Fuller, as found in the files of Project Blue Book, the Air Force's official investigation into the UFO phenomenon.
The Hills were the first and probably most famous of the "abductee" reports, including the report of "missing time". The incident allegedly occurred on the night/morning of September 19/20, 1961.
Intriguingly, Project Blue Book mentions a radar "sighting" in connection with the Hills in their assessment, as related in the "Project Card" for the incident:
"BRIEF SUMMARY OF SIGHTING Continuous band of light cigar shaped at all times despite changes of direction. Wings seemed to appear in main body. Described as V shaped with red lights on tips; later wings appeared to extedn [sic] further. Appeared about 45°. Varied direction abruptly and disappeared to N.
COMMENTS Both radar and visual sighting are probably due to conditions resulting fm [sic]strong inversion which prevailed in area on morning of sighting. Actual source of light viewed is not known but it has all characteristics of an advertising search light. Radar probably was looking at some ground target due to strong inversion. No evidence objts [sic] were due to other than natural causes."
The date the "Project Card" was prepared is unknown. But in late September, 1963, a letter sent by the Air Force in answer to an inquiry about the Hills gave a different assessment, this time being the planet Jupiter:
"Specific answers pertaining to the case of Sep 19-20, 1961 are as follows:
a. The Barney Hill sighting was investigated by officials from Pease AFB. The case is carried as insufficient data in the Air Force Files. No direction (azimuth) was reported and there are inconsistencies in the report. The sighting occurred about midnight and the object was observed for at least one hour. No specific details on maneuverability were given. The planet Jupiter was in the South West, at about 20 degrees elevation and would have set at the approximate time that the object disappeared. Without positional data the case could not be evaluated as Jupiter. There was a strong inversion in the area. The actual light source is not known. As no lateral or vertical movement was noted, the object was in all probability Jupiter. No evidence was presented to indicate that the object was due to other than natural causes."
10:22:11 -- PICTURE OF THE WEEK: The first page of a magazine article from Project Blue Book files. Published in American Weekly on April 19, 1953, it told the story of Sonny DesVergers, a scoutmaster who claimed to have been attacked with a burning beam from a flying saucer in Florida, August 19, 1952. DesVergers had left members of his scout troop in the car while he went to investigate a bright light in a palmetto grove. He came back seemingly badly shaken, saying he had encountered a dome-topped saucer with a creature inside. From the article...
"I saw it when an opening suddenly appeared in the dome," he said. "It was like a hatch that flew open. And at the same time that I saw it, a ball of fire drifted toward me from the opening. It's hard to describe . . . it was a kind of misty fire that gave off sparks. It seemed to float toward me and envelop me and a stench filled my nostrils and throat. I threw my arms up over my face. Then I staggered and fell and everything went black."
Police officers who came to the scene told Blue Book investigators that DesVergers' forearm hair was singed, and that DesVergers seemed genuinely distraught and badly frightened.
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