Photo of the week

Photo of the week

The Whirlpool Galaxy is a classic spiral galaxy. At only 30 million light years distant and fully 60 thousand light years across, M51, also known as NGC 5194, is one of the brightest and most picturesque galaxies on the sky. This image is a digital combination of a ground-based image from the 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory and a space-based image from the Hubble Space Telescope highlighting sharp features normally too red to be seen.

Image Credit: NASA/Hubble


Future mission to Jupiter passes a milestone

Jupiter’s icy moons are the focus of Europe’s next large science mission. The Jupiter Icy moons Explorer – JUICE – mission will be launched in 2022 from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5, arriving at Jupiter in 2030 to spend at least three years making detailed observations of Jupiter’s moons. Recently ESA selected the instruments for the mission.



Sikorsky S-76D

Aviation Week & Space Technology looks at Sikorsky‘s newest version of its S-76 commercial helicopter.

Apollo moon rocks challenge theory of lunar creation

More than forty years after the last Apollo mission departed the Moon, their discoveries are still generating new scientific knowledge.

F/A-18F Super Hornet flight operations from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

An outstanding video, in HD.

Book review – F-15E Strike Eagle Units in Combat 1990-2005

F-15E Strike Eagle Units in Combat 1990-2005 (Combat Aircraft 59)
Steve Davies
Osprey Publishing

What it’s about:

The F-15E at war.

What I liked about the book:

  • Color profile illustrations of aircraft.
  • Plenty of technical detail and first-hand reports of missions.

What could have been done better:


Everything that we have come to like about this Osprey series.


4 stars out of a possible 5.

Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope video is online

Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope

Photo of the week

Photo of the week

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket with the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft onboard is seen as it launches on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Image Credit: United Launch Alliance

Book Review – McDonnell Naval Jet Fighters: Selected Proposals and Mock-up Reports, 1945-1957

McDonnell Naval Jet Fighters: Selected Proposals and Mock-up Reports, 1945-1957
Jared A. Zichek
American Aerospace Archive

What it’s about:

Proposals and other archival material from the early Cold War work of one of the primary fighter manufactuers.

What I liked about the book:

  • Learning about aircraft designs that never were built.
  • Excellent reproduction of line drawings and photographs from archives.
  • Color renderings of these aircraft that were never built.
  • Ideal use of print-on-demand and e-book services to publish a book that covers an obscure topic that will only be of interest to a few.

What could have been done better:

  • Can’t think of anything.


A well-executed book that fills gaps in our knowledge.


5 stars out of a possible 5.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 to make a close pass by Earth today

The asteroid 2012 DA14 will make a close pass by Earth today. Had it impacted the Earth, it would have caused nuclear warhead-class damage. The B612 Foundation is a private organization that is greatly concerned about this threat, and is attempting to build, launch, and operate a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun that is designed to find and track threatening asteroids before they find us.

Some thoughts:

  1. One of the primary purposes of the United States government is to “provide for the common defense”. Defending against asteroids clearly falls within the scope of this activity. Why isn’t the Federal government taking on this responsibility.
  2. An MIT student project in 1967 did design work on an asteroid intercept mission. The MIT concept used Apollo-Saturn hardware. There is no reason why a similar concept would be infeasible today, albeit using modern launch vehicles.