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All blog entries

Good vibrations, bad vibrations – engineering an AFM for space

An atomic force microscope (AFM) is a very sensitive instrument, often mounted in the lab on a special table which dampens vibrations. Now think of a rocket launch – about as far from “vibration free” as you can get! So … Continue reading
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Scanning the deep space hibernation target

Throughout the 957 hibernation period of Rosetta, MIDAS has been in its “exposure” mode, with a clean target positioned at the funnel and the shutter open – see the diagram below to get an idea of the gemoetry. Although the … Continue reading
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Software upgrade at 655 million kilometres

Please note: this article first appeared on the ESA Rosetta Blog here Software upgrades are something we are all too familiar with – almost every day small fixes, or patches, are ready to download to our computers, phones and tablets. … Continue reading
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Waking MIDAS

Please note: this article appeared first, in abridged form, on the ESA Rosetta Blog here After nearly 1000 days in hibernation, Rosetta was successfully woken up and recommissioned; the spacecraft is healthy and ready to get down to science at … Continue reading
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Introducing MIDAS: Rosetta’s Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System

Please note: this article first appeared on the ESA Rosetta blog here.   The MIDAS instrument was the first of its type to ever be launched into space. An Atomic Force Microscope like MIDAS is designed to measure the smallest … Continue reading
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#WakeUpRosetta – there’s still time!

In my last blog post (“Coming out of the cold”) I talked a bit about how the Rosetta spacecraft, still slumbering in deep space hibernation, will wake up. It’s a relatively well-known spacecraft, having been launched in 2004. Although we haven’t … Continue reading
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“Wake up, Rosetta!” – coming out of the cold

It’s been a cold couple of years for Rosetta – launched in 2004, the ESA satellite has been racing around the Solar System in every increasing circles, gaining energy and speed from gravity assist flybys of the Earth (3 times!) … Continue reading
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Searching for tiny cosmic magnets

Although the MIDAS instrument primarily measures the shape of collected cometary dust particles, it also has a rather interesting mode which allows it to detect and map highly magnetic minerals and materials. This is done by magnetic force microscopy (MFM), … Continue reading
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GPS tracking and statistics

I’ve always had “a bit of a thing” for GPS devices, and have owned a dozen or more for different purposes – CF card receivers that plugged into Windows Mobile devices, a Garmin standalone device for hiking, a TomTom when … Continue reading
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Where is Rosetta now?

The Rosetta spacecraft is currently in hibernation, but is heading back towards the inner Solar System – getting warmer and happier! Despite having large solar panels to collect the Sun’s light and turn it into electrical energy, at it’s farthest … Continue reading
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Evernote on ubuntu

Evernote is one of the few apps that I regularly pay real money for – as productivity apps go, you really can’t beat it! For those who don’t know it, Evernote is a note taking application that syncs to the … Continue reading
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Comets and asteroids – spot the difference

The images that comets and asteroids bring to mind are quite different – we typically think of comets as being bright objects with long tails, and asteroids as being dead lumps of rock. But in fact at closer inspection the … Continue reading
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