Does Pluto Have Rings ?

Listening to the Planetary Radio podcast about the New Horizons mission from NASA to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt and heard the principle investigator, Alan Stern say that they were hoping to find that Pluto had a ring system!

This is likely because its three moons (Charon and the two unnamed ones discovered earlier this year) have such low gravity that there’s a good chance that meteorite impacts would throw up dust that would escape the moons could end up in orbit around Pluto.

Hayabusa Thruster Update

It looks like JAXA has got the thruster problem under control for the moment, although that’s partly because of the fact that they’ve put the spacecraft into safe mode.

RogueEngineer gives a translation of part of the press conference saying:

When we switched to the main system from the backup system and started the thruster operation, the same problem occured. Due to the attitude change, the probe automatically switched to the safe mode. After that, we controlled the valve to stop the leakage.

Because of the leakage incident, we are not able to see the detail of sampling yet. However, the sequence of the onboarded computer is confirmed to have executed normally. We expect the touchdown attitude was good, but we’ll have to wait for the completion of data downloading for definite answer.

Mr 5thstar translates another part of the press conference about the impact of this problem on getting Hayabusa back safely.

Fuji Sankei Business Eye: What are the impacts to the returning home?

Kawaguchi: We realize it is very critical. It depends on how we examine the situation.

Good luck everyone!

Talking to a mobile from Linux

Fab – just figured out how to talk to my Motorola V525 from Linux.

The standard KDE bluetooth tools sort of work, but the v525 is notorious for not quite doing bluetooth correctly, and so whilst I could pair with the phone and do some rudimentary browsing of the services the phone offered I couldn’t get access to the address book or SMS messages.

So I went digging around and found KMobileTools which, after a bit of faffing about, worked!

The faffing about that was necessary was:

  • Rebuilding the source deb package for Ubuntu Breezy with KDE 3.5 RC1 (their package is built against Debian Sid)
  • sudo mknod /dev/rfcomm0 c 216 0
  • sudo ln -s /dev/rfcomm0 /dev/mobile
  • Find the MAC address of the phone by doing hcitool scan
  • Bind the phone to the device with sudo rfcomm bind 0 [mac-address]
  • Run kmobiletools

As people have pointed out, this would be so much easier with a wizard such as the one provided by K3B to configure CD/DVD burners, but given the software is at it’s pretty amazing!

So far I can access my phone directory, dial/answer/hang-up voice calls and send/receive/save text SMS’s (interestingly a PXT looks like a pathname on a server somewhere). There’s no access to files, but the developer is looking interestedly at the Motorola 4 Linux project which is aiming for remote filesystem access to Motorola phones.

Hayabusa Touches Down on Asteroid

The Planetary Society’s Emily, the BBC and most of the rest of the known universe is reporting that Hayabusa successfully landed on the asteroid Itokawa using the target marker (containing 880,000 names) that was dropped during the previous unsuccessful attempt on the 20th November. The spacecraft fired the projectile into the asteroid and is believed to have collected material, but that will only be confirmed when it returns to earth in the Australian outback in 2007.

JAXA has a couple of really interesting pictures (in Japanese) up here and here. JAXA also have an explanation in English of what happened on the 20th when they thought they hadn’t touched down – turned out they had, but not quite as expected.

Anyway, congratulations to the JAXA Hayabusa team!