Saturday, September 7, 2013

LADEE Buzz or Why NASA is Awesome

Hell Interwebz Gang!

I'm coming down from a geek high. You see, at 11:27:30(ish) pm, this happened: 

Only the video doesn't do it justice. You need professional equipment to get the scale on space stuff at night. I should note that this isn't my video and it was taken from Ocean City, MD (about 40 minutes from my house).

It was like a giant, slow moving firework.

It's the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. It was launch from Wallops Island, VA here on the Eastern Shore. And it's a probe stuck on a modified ICBM from the Air Force. There were 5 stages to propell it into the right position to be dragged into the lunar orbit, where it will float around for a while collecting data, then nosedive into the moon. We saw two stages of the launch before it was no longer visible.

By 'we' I mean a good portion of my neighborhood. I've watched space stuff a lot this year, but it's the first time I wasn't alone. For a moment it didn't look like it was gaining altitude. We all backed up. (like that would help if it crashed-- and considering a bomb fell off a jet last week and landed in the parking lot of bar north of us, you can never be to sure). When we saw the thing disappear, everyone clapped and cheered. We clapped because it didn't crash and the excitement that we (an in the USA) sent something to the moon again, finally.

Then we realized we could smell rocket exhaust briefly. That was cool, too, because it reminded us that it's our little peninsula that did something spectacular. Not much happens here, but when it does, it's normally big news. I'm not sure when NASA came here, but I'm glad they did. This is actually one of many launches, but the first night time, perfect weather one. More please!

Next on the fascinating space agenda is Comet ISON in November. If all goes well for the comet, it could visible to the naked eye during the freaking day. How cool is that?

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