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Welcome to PlanetJon

PlanetJon was originally established in 1999 and provided free multiplayer gaming servers and other video game related services. Now though, after those games faded away and spare time became limited, the website is devoted to my interest in all things space related - the planets, solar activity, the exploration of planet Mars, the solar system and beyond - and provides a collection of news and information from around the web.

Somewhere out there, in another galaxy, far, far, away, is a planet called Jon.

  • SpaceX ‘Return to Flight’ Set For Dec. 16 with Next Gen Iridium Satellites – 3 Months After Pad Explosion

    3 Dec 2016 | 11:58 pm

    SpaceX ‘Return to Flight’ Set For Dec.  16 with Next Gen Iridium Satellites – 3 Months After Pad Explosion Only three months after the catastrophic launch pad explosion of their commercial Falcon 9 rocket in Florida, SpaceX has set Dec. 16 as the date for the boosters ‘Return to Flight’ launch from California with the first batch of Iridium’s next-generation communications satellites. Iridium Communications announced on Thursday that the first launch of a slew of its next-generation global satellite constellation, dubbed Iridium NEXT, will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on December 16, 2016 at 12:36 p.m. PST from SpaceX’s west coast launch pad on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. However the launch is dependent on achieving FAA approval for the Falcon 9 launch. All SpaceX Falcon 9 launches immediately ground to a halt following the colossal eruption of a fireball from the Falcon 9 at the launch pad that suddenly destroyed the rocket and completely consumed its $200 million Israeli Amos-6 commercial payload on Sept. 1 during a routine fueling and planned static fire engine test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The explosive anomaly resulted from a “large breach” in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank and subsequent ignition of the highly flammable oxygen propellant. “This launch is contingent upon the FAA’s approval of SpaceX’s return to flight following the anomaly that occurred on September 1, 2016 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida,” Iridium said in a statement. SpaceX quickly started an investigation to determine the cause of the anomaly that destroyed the rocket and its payload[…]


  • Russian Progress Cargo Ship Launch Failure Deals Setback to ISS

    2 Dec 2016 | 9:17 pm

    Russian Progress Cargo Ship Launch Failure Deals Setback to ISS KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – An unmanned Russian Progress resupply ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) was lost shortly after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday when its Soyuz booster suffered a catastrophic anomaly in the third stage, and the craft and its contents were totally destroyed. The Russian launch failure deals somewhat of a setback to the ever ongoing efforts by all the space station partners to keep the orbiting outpost well stocked with critical supplies of food and provisions for the multinational six person crew and science experiments to carry out the research activities for which the station was assembled. The three stage Soyuz-U rocket failed in flight around six and a half minutes after what had been an otherwise flawless nighttime liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 9:51 a.m. EST (8:51 p.m. Baikonur time), Thursday, Dec. 1. Telemetry from the Progress 65 vehicle, also known as Progress MS-04, stopped after 382 seconds of flight while soaring about 190 km over the southern Russian Republic of Tyva. “The Russian space agency Roscosmos has confirmed a Progress cargo resupply spacecraft bound for the International Space Station and her six person crew has lost shortly after launch,” said NASA. “According to preliminary information, the contingency took place at an altitude of about 190 km over remote and unpopulated mountainous area of the Republic of Tyva,” said Roscosmos in a statement. The Progress vehicle burned up during the resulting and unplanned fiery plummet through the Earth’s[…]


  • How Far is the Asteroid Belt from the Sun?

    2 Dec 2016 | 5:53 pm

    How Far is the Asteroid Belt from the Sun? In the 18th century, observations made of all the known planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) led astronomers to discern a pattern in their orbits. Eventually, this led to the Titius–Bode law, which predicted the amount of space between the planets. In accordance with this law, there appeared to be a discernible gap between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and investigation into it led to a major discovery. Eventually, astronomers realized that this region was pervaded by countless smaller bodies which they named “asteroids”. This in turn led to the term “Asteroid Belt”, which has since entered into common usage. Like all the planets in our Solar System, it orbits our Sun, and has played an important role in the evolution and history of our Solar System. Structure and Composition: The Asteroid Belt consists of several large bodies, along with millions of smaller size. The larger bodies, such as Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea, account for half of the belt’s total mass, with almost one-third accounted for by Ceres alone. Beyond that, over 200 asteroids that are larger than 100 km in diameter, and 0.7–1.7 million asteroids with a diameter of 1 km or more. It total, the Asteroid Belt’s mass is estimated to be 2.8×1021 to 3.2×1021 kilograms – which is equivalent to about 4% of the Moon’s mass. While most asteroids are composed of rock, a small portion of them contain metls such as iron and nickel. The remaining asteroids are made up of a mix of these,[…]


  • Carnival of Space #486

    2 Dec 2016 | 3:30 pm

    Carnival of Space #486 This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Leedjia Svec at the Stylish STEM blog. Click here to read Carnival of Space #486. And if you’re interested in looking back, here’s an archive to all the past Carnivals of Space. If you’ve got a space-related blog, you should really join the carnival. Just email an entry to, and the next host will link to it. It will help get awareness out there about your writing, help you meet others in the space community – and community is what blogging is all about. And if you really want to help out, sign up to be a host. Send an email to the above address. The post Carnival of Space #486 appeared first on Universe Today.


  • Japanese Company Plans Artificial Meteor Shower

    30 Nov 2016 | 6:27 am

    Japanese Company Plans Artificial Meteor Shower A company named Sky Canvas plans to launch a colorful artificial meteor shower barrage via micro-satellite. In the ‘strange but true department’ and a plan that would make any super-villain envious, a Japanese start-up plans to shoot meteoroids at the Earth to create the first orchestrated artificial meteor shower. The effort is benign in a bid to study the behavior of meteors and reentry characteristics, while also putting on a good show. The idea is brainchild of Lena Okajima, who started the ALE Company which is funding the project. “I’m very excited about this project, not only because it will turn my childhood dream into a reality, but also because it can contribute to fundamental scientific research in a new form without relying on public funds and donations,” Okajima said on her biography on the ALE website. First, a clarification: despite what several news sites have reported, Sky Canvas/ALE have not made a formal bid to incorporate the proposal as part of the 2020 Olympics in Japan, though they’re certainly open to the idea. An artificial meteor shower during the opening ceremonies for the 2020 Olympics in Japan would definitely be a unique first! Early testing and a first satellite launch with an as-yet unannounced carrier may occur in the later half of 2017, with another launch per year, each year following. Long a dream of astronomer Lena Okajima, an artificial meteor shower may soon grace a sky near you. Visibility Prospects The meteoric payload will be carried into low Earth[…]