Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mount Marilyn

Found at NASA

More info and photos on Apollo 8's mission here at Apollo 8 Lunar Orbital Photography .

Apollo 8 40 years ago

From National Space Science Data Center here:
This spacecraft was the first of the Apollo series to successfully orbit the moon, and the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth's gravity and reach the Moon. The mission achieved operational experience and tested the Apollo command module systems, including communications, tracking, and life-support, in cis-lunar space and lunar orbit, and allowed evaluation of crew performance on a lunar orbiting mission. The crew photographed the lunar surface, both farside and nearside, obtaining information on topography and landmarks as well as other scientific information necessary for future Apollo landings. Additionally, six live television transmission sessions were done by the crew during the mission, including the famous Christmas Eve broadcast in which the astronauts read from the book of Genesis. All systems operated within allowable parameters and all objectives of the mission were achieved. The flight carried a three man crew: Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders.


From Apollo 8 at NASA

Mission Apollo 8 page here.

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts; Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders did a live television broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8. Lovell said, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.

William Anders:

"For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you".

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."

Jim Lovell:

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Frank Borman:

"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."

Borman then added, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wildfires from space

Check out the California wildfires from space here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why I must leave the Orange County Space Society

My husband and I have been members for almost ten years. I have always been a proud supporter of the National Space Society. The local chapters give a grass roots appeal to the Advocacy of Space programs. And OCSS has been one terrific Local chapter and very active, winning many top awards at NSS annual meetings.

Our president Michelle Evans has made an issue of the Prop 8 in our November newsletter. She has called the Yes on 8 issue a bigoted proposition. I disagree. The issue does not attack Gays and Lesbians. The issue does not impose any religious beliefs on anyone. What the issue does is provide parents the rights to teach our kids about Traditional Marriage. Marriage is part of our society. And studies show that children raised by a Mom and a Dad do the best.

My problem with Michelle is this Prop 8 issue is not a "space related" issue. She clams that it is a diversity issue. We are a diverse society, but how is our civilization to move ahead if we can't raise a generation of space faring people? We need the traditional family unit to procreate and further the Human race. Civil unions are legal in California. Even Elton John said the No on Prop. 8 people got it wrong. You don't need "Marriage" to legally live with a partner of the same sex.

My firm commitment to the space faring race will continue, its just I'll change my chapter affiliation. There is much diversity in this universe and I'll go find it with another local chapter. (Like with Oasis, the Los Angeles chapter).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sarah Palin on AGW

Govenor Palin with ABC Charlie Gibson here:
GIBSON: But it's a critical point as to whether or not this is man-made. He says it is. You have said in the past it's not.

PALIN: The debate on that even, really has evolved into, OK, here's where we are now: scientists do show us that there are changes in climate. Things are getting warmer. Now what do we do about it. And John McCain and I are gonna be working on what we do about it.

GIBSON: Yes, but isn't it critical as to whether or not it's man-made, because what you do about it depends on whether its man-made.

PALIN: That is why I'm attributing some of man's activities to potentially causing some of the changes in the climate right now.

GIBSON: But I, color me a cynic, but I hear a little bit of change in your policy there. When you say, yes, now you're beginning to say it is man-made. It sounds to me like you're adapting your position to Sen. McCain's.

PALIN: I think you are a cynic because show me where I have ever said that there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any affect, or no affect, on climate change.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rosetta Camera balks

From FoxNews here:
Rosetta caught up with the Steins asteroid, also known as Asteroid 2867, Friday evening in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The probe came within 500 miles of the asteroid — which turned out to be slightly larger than scientists expected.

Officials at the European Space Agency were not sure exactly what caused the camera to balk.

"The software switched off automatically," Gerhard Schwehm, the ESA mission manager and head of solar systems science operations told The Associated Press. "The camera has some software limits and we'll analyze why this happened later."

Another wide angle camera was able to take pictures and send them to the space center, Schwehm said.

Sen. Nelson to meet with Griffin about Shuttle Extension

From Florida Today here:
The reluctance of Congress to do business with the increasingly aggressive Russian government could force NASA to continue shuttle flights past 2010, which might reduce or delay job losses at Kennedy Space Center.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, will meet Tuesday with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to discuss the feasibility of continuing shuttle flights beyond the scheduled end of the program in 2010.

The Bush administration had proposed a five-year gap, during which the United States would rely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for access to the $100 billion International Space Station.

However, the Russian invasion of neighboring Georgia soured many lawmakers on paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the former Cold War adversary.

"We finally got a dose of reality," Nelson said. "We're going to suffer for it because we may not have access to our own space station."

Lawmakers aren't likely to extend an exemption of the Iran, North Korea, Syria Non-Proliferation Act -- known as INKSNA -- which would allow NASA to buy flights on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The exemption must be passed by early 2009 to allow time to build a Soyuz spacecraft by 2011.

"I think we can get it out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but I'm not sure we can pass it," said Nelson, who plans, nevertheless, to push for the exemption.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

McCain supports Extending Shuttle

From Florida Today here:
In a letter dated Monday, McCain and two colleagues raised concerns about an impending five-year period when the United States will have to pay Russia to taxi American astronauts to and from the $100 billion International Space Station.

They urged Bush to "direct NASA to take no action for at least one year that would preclude the extended use of the space shuttle beyond 2010."

"We believe that it is imperative, as NASA continues the transition from the space shuttle to successor vehicles, that the means for producing additional flight hardware and obtaining additional flight engineering and support services, not be completely and irretrievably lost through the destruction or deterioration, at least until a clear path to alternative launch capabilities is in hand," the letter says.

It was signed by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. Both serve states that have large NASA facilities: Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

The letter was delivered to the White House one week after community and business leaders on Florida's Space Coast met privately with McCain to brief him on challenges faced by NASA and the nation's space program.

Good move on McCain's part. With the current crisis in Georgia, we can't depend on the Russians for transport to the ISS. We have so much invested we can't let the Russians bilk the USA to the point where we can't get to the ISS.

Virus on ISS computers

From Telegraph here:
The virus, known as W32.Gammima.AG, was carried into orbit on laptops brought up by astronauts in July.

The International Space Station orbits about 215 miles above Earth
The International Space Station orbits about 215 miles above Earth

The space station's core operations have not been affected – Nasa described the infection as nothing more than a "nuisance" - but an investigation has been launched into how security systems were breached.

W32.Gammima.AG is a worm virus that was first detected in August 2007. It copies itself onto computers in order to steal log-on information - including usernames and passwords - for online games. The virus then attempts to send the information back to a central computer.

At least two laptops on the ISS have been infected, suggesting that once on board the virus may have been transferred on a memory device that was plugged into both computers.

This is believed to be the first reported case of a space station computer getting a virus, but a Nasa spokesman said there had been previous instances.

"It's not a frequent occurrence, but this isn't the first time," Kelly Humphries told the Wired website.

Computers on the ISS are not directly connected to the internet, although they have access to a satellite data link which allows then to send and receive emails, information and videos.

The infected laptops are used by the astronauts to compose email and store information on nutritional experiments, and are not part of the space station's "command and control" network, Nasa said.

Nasa is working with its international partners on the space station, including Russians, to find out how the virus got on board, it said.

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain at Brevard College

From Flame Trench here:
McCain said it is unacceptable for the U.S. to have to rely on the Russians, especially given the current conflict with Georgia and the resulting strain on U.S.-Russian relations. He got no argument from the people in the room, but several of the company and other local leaders said extending the space shuttle was the way to prevent that.

Mike McCulley, a former astronaut and former top executive with space shuttle prime contractor United Space Alliance, gave the most direct appeal for continuing shuttle operations so that the U.S. can get astronauts to the space station.

"We are going to look up one night and see this $100 billion thing going by with no Americans on it," McCulley said, his voice rising as he spoke. McCain nodded along and asked a couple questions about McCulley's position, but mostly just listened.

"That just makes me shudder," McCulley continued. "It made me shudder in January of 2004 (when President Bush announced the new space exploration vision). The only way that you cannot have a gap is to continue to fly our existing system and that is the shuttle."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Warp Drive a possibility

From Telegraph here:
Now Dr Gerald Cleaver, associate professor of physics at Baylor, and Richard Obousy have come up with a new twist on an existing idea to produce a warp drive that they believe can travel faster than the speed of light, without breaking the laws of physics.

In their scheme, in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, a starship could "warp" space so that it shrinks ahead of the vessel and expands behind it.

By pushing the departure point many light years backwards while simultaneously bringing distant stars and other destinations closer, the warp drive effectively transports the starship from place to place at faster-than-light speeds.

All this extraordinary feat requires, says the new study, is for scientists to harness a mysterious and poorly understood cosmic antigravity force, called dark energy.

Dark energy is thought responsible for speeding up the expansion rate of our universe as time moves on, just like it did after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded much faster than the speed of light for a very brief time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Most Famous UFO Ever, The Jupiter Two


In the Shadow of the Moon - NEW TRAILER!

Things You Can't a Stormtrooper | Ep 1

Walt Cunningham in Launch Magazine

A commentary on the Gap and the current dependency on the Russian space program here.
We cannot afford to lose our lead among space-faring nations. Narrowing the gap between the shuttle and Orion would reduce the problem of holding on to a skilled workforce and help the United States maintain its lead in space exploration, along with the related science and technology that drives economic growth. U.S. dominance in space hasn’t been lost yet, but it is definitely eroding.
What we really need is a fix for the five-year hiatus, not a band-aid. That means both extending the life of the shuttle and moving the launch date for Orion forward. NASA needs a $2 billion appropriation to extend the life of the shuttle for 18 to 24 months, and an additional $2 billion to move the first flight of Orion closer by 18 to 24 months.

Four billion dollars is a drop in the bucket for a $3 trillion federal budget and a $13 trillion economy. The money would enable us to maintain world leadership in a range of technologies essential for our future well-being and allow us to continue to sit at the top of the technical pyramid. As the richest country on the face of the Earth do we really want to be dependent on Russia to launch our astronauts into space? I think not!

Again, I think that McCain is the candidate of choice if the space program is going to survive the gap.

Space Policy debate between campaigns

I knew that Lori Garver would be Obama's space policy expert since she was John F Kerry's expert in 2004. John McCain's expert is Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham. HT to Terrestial Mussings here. The great debate was yesterday at the Mars Society Convention in Denver.
Noted that Lori is more up to speed on space advocacy than Walt. But I have this gut feeling Lori just wants an administration position.(I wonder why she picks the Democrats instead of the Republicans?) Lori is a wantabe space tourist while Walt has been there on Official Business!
I know I'm biased in that I support John McCain for president. But I wanted to see this debate happen between both campaigns and my hats off to the Mars Society for hosting it. We can see what both sides present and then take it to the ballot box in November. But since I'm a space fan and love the space program, I think its great that McCain got the real deal in Walt Cunningham.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The experts talk about the rotten Russian plan

From Flame Trench here:
"I don't want us to concentrate on retiring the shuttle because we're really transitioning to the next vehicle," said Parsons.

During the five-year "gap" between shuttle and Constellation, the U.S. will depend on the Russian Soyuz capsule for transport to the $100 billion International Space Station. The Soyuz, however, has developed a technical glitch that could slow its flights. Plus, the Russian attack on the nation of Georgia could hamper agreements that allow NASA to contract with Russia for transport to the station.

"It was a horrible plan to be dependent on the Russians," said Feeney.

He touted a new willingness in Congress to allocate more money for NASA, which has been opposed by the Bush administration.

Let's hope this keeps the Shuttle running a little bit longer.

Georgian crisis will effect ISS

From Flame Trench here:

When I first heard about Russia invading our friend Georgia sent thoughts of our space program halting to me. The shuttle should be kept running during the 5 year gap. Space X still has problems with its Falcon rocket. We can't depend on the Russians to supply us the transport to the ISS when they are aggressive to our democratic ally.
If Russia fails to hold back military action in the former Soviet republic, it could hurt U.S. chances of accessing the International Space Station once NASA retires the space shuttles in 2010, the Orlando Democrat said Tuesday.

The Russian Soyuz vehicle will be the only option available for NASA to send crew and cargo to the space station until the shuttle’s replacement becomes available for manned missions in 2015.

Nelson fears deteriorating U.S.-Russia politics may result in “Russia denying us rides or charging exorbitant amounts for them.”

NASA’s agreement to purchase rides on the Soyuz came about from a waiver Congress granted the agency from the Iran-Syria Non-Proliferation Act. The law prohibits the United States from buying space-related goods and services from Russia while that nation exports nuclear technology to Iran.

NASA's waiver from the ban expires in 2011. Nelson fears that recent developments between Russia and Georgia may make it hard for lawmakers to extend the exemption.

More links on this at NASA watch here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

More on Mitchell's Alien Comments

From Florida Today a blog here.
From Best Syndication here; Astronaut Claims US Government Covered Up UFOs

A blurb from Jerry Pournelle here:
In any event, I came upstairs to get something (flashlight and magnifying glass to examine the dog's foot, actually) just as Hoagland was coming on Noory's show, and he seemed a bit skeptical; which is intriguing. But I had to get back downstairs and missed it. I presume the show is on the web somewhere and I'll try to make time to listen: it should be in the first quarter hour of the show's beginning; and I would be interested in Hoagland's take. When he's not overcome by his beliefs, Dick Hoagland can be informative (and he's almost always interesting).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dr. Ed Mitchell's website

With the UFO hoopla, here is the link to Dr. Mitchell's web site. I listened to Coast2Coast last night and Richard C Hoagland was on as I predicted chiming in on the evil NASA!
On the lighter side, I really like Dr. Mitchell. He is a believes in God and World Peace.
World peace is an idea simple in principle but difficult to achieve in practice because, as individual members of our species, we have not found peace within ourselves. Societies cannot be peaceful societies until the members of the society look peacefully toward each other. But, it is impossible to look peacefully toward each other under constant threat for one’s survival.

The quest for peace must be carried out on many fronts, the most important of which is for each of us to contribute our portion toward an environment in which humans can labor and enjoy the fruits of their labor without fear that aggressive neighbors and oppressive governments will confiscate their gain. Commensurate with this freedom from fear is the responsibility to respect the ecological systems of the Earth, which gives us sustenance.

We must be able to seek communion with our God without fear that individual beliefs will be ridiculed or oppressed by others. Finally, the tide of world events, over which individuals seemingly have no control, cannot pose an irredeemable threat to the safety and security of individuals.

While it is true that the world has become so complex and so technologically oriented that individuals no longer believe that they count nor that they can do anything to effect world events, it is precisely the opposite. For only when individuals take total responsibility for their own lives, find within themselves communion with the Creative Force and live in peace with their neighbors and environment, only then will forces be set in motion that will eventually bring about world peace.

No power can create peace when humans have fear, anger and hate in their hearts, however insignificant those individual humans may think they are.

Edgar Mitchell


Thursday, July 24, 2008

NASA Alien cover up

I must be listening to Coast2Coast too much lately! I thought Richard C Hoaglan was just hogwash! But now Former NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr. Edgar Mitchell — a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission — claims aliens exist!

...that sources at the space agency who had had contact with aliens described the beings as 'little people who look strange to us.'

He said supposedly real-life ET's were similar to the traditional image of a small frame, large eyes and head.

Chillingly, he claimed our technology is "not nearly as sophisticated" as theirs and "had they been hostile", he warned "we would be been gone by now".

I'm just besides myself on this one. I do believe that life elsewhere does exist in the universe. But I don't think we've had any contact with alien life yet on Earth.

Anyway, I do respect the former Astronaut. I remember Apollo 14 mission with Alan B. Shepard. It was a great mission and both Alan and Ed held the longest Moonwalk so far.

Dr Mitchell, along with with Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard, holds the record for the longest ever moon walk, at nine hours and 17 minutes following their 1971 mission.

HT Fox News here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carbon Dioxide Map( the Vulcan Project)

Bret over at Acuweather Global Warming blog has the Vulcan Project map of Carbon Dioxide emissions over the USA. It is interesting the heavy population areas show more emissions than lesser populated areas. And Bret notes the summer months as the highest emissions while the winter/spring months are the lowest. Read more here at NASA's earth observatory here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hello Dolly!

Great coverage at a new blog at Pajama's Media Weather Nerd here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

'Apollo 11: Remastered' - An Orbiter Film

As You Remember It: The Lift-Off of APOLLO 11

Apollo 11 Moon Landing

We Choose To Go To The Moon

About the Mission of Apollo 11

About The Apollo 11 Mission here.
It took 6 hours to prepare to exit the Lunar Module. At 10:56 p.m. EDT on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon, marking the occasion with these words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Unfortunately, a minor break in communications caused the entire world to hear and remember the statement as "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The Apollo lunar surface camera, mounted on one of the LM legs, broadcast this event to the world.

Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface about nineteen minutes later, calling it "Magnificent desolation". As he left the LM, Aldrin said, "Now I want to back up and partially close the hatch - making sure not to lock it on my way out." "A particularly good thought." laughed Armstrong.

Asked later on why they bothered closing the hatch, Armstrong said it was to avoid having someone ask "Were you born in a barn?"

A catalog of Mission videos here.

Where were you 39 years ago

HT from Transterrestial Musings here. Where were you July 20, 1969.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Brightest star

A contender for the title of brightest star in our Milky Way galaxy has been unearthed in the dusty metropolis of the galaxy's center.

Nicknamed the "Peony nebula star," the bright stellar bulb was revealed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and other ground-based telescopes. It blazes with the light of an estimated 3.2 million suns.

The reigning "brightest star" champion is Eta Carina, with a whopping solar wattage of 4.7 million suns. But according to astronomers, it's hard to pin down an exact brightness, or luminosity, for these scorching stars, so they could potentially shine with a similar amount of light.

From NASA here.

View from outer space

Here's a view of Earth-Moon from Deep Impact.
NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has created a video of the moon transiting (passing in front of) Earth as seen from the spacecraft's point of view 31 million miles away. Scientists are using the video to develop techniques to study alien worlds.

"Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the Universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us," said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A’Hearn, principal investigator for the Deep Impact extended mission, called EPOXI.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The final Shuttle flights


Feb. 12 -- Discovery (STS-119 / 15A) will kick off a five-flight 2009
with its 36th mission to deliver the final pair of U.S. solar arrays
to be installed on the starboard end of the station's truss. The
truss serves as the backbone support for external equipment and spare
components, including the Mobile Base System. Lee Archambault will
command the 14-day flight that will include four planned spacewalks.
Joining him will be pilot Tony Antonelli and mission specialists John
Phillips, Steve Swanson, Joseph Acaba, Richard Arnold and Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will
replace Sandy Magnus on the station as a flight engineer. STS-119
marks the 28th shuttle flight to the station.

May 15 -- Endeavour (STS-127 / 2JA) sets sail on its 23rd mission with
the Japanese Kibo Laboratory's Exposed Facility and Experiment
Logistics Module Exposed Section, the final permanent components of
the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's contribution to the station
program. During the 15-day mission, Endeavour's crew will perform
five spacewalks and deliver six new batteries for the P6 truss, a
spare drive unit for the Mobile Transporter and a spare boom assembly
for the Ku-band antenna. Mark Polansky will be Endeavour's commander
with Doug Hurley as pilot. Mission specialists will be Christopher
Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Dave Wolf, Tim Kopra and Canadian Space
Agency astronaut Julie Payette. Kopra will become a station flight
engineer replacing Koichi Wakata, who will return home with the
STS-127 crew. It will be the 29th shuttle flight to the station.

July 30 -- Atlantis (STS-128 / 17A) launches on its 31st flight, an
11-day mission carrying science and storage racks to the station. In
the payload bay will be a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module holding
science and storage racks. Three spacewalks are planned to remove and
replace a materials processing experiment outside the European Space
Agency's Columbus module and return an empty ammonia tank assembly.
The mission includes the rotation of astronaut Nicole Stott for Tim
Kopra, who will return to Earth with the shuttle crew. The remaining
crew members have yet to be named. STS-128 marks the 30th shuttle
flight dedicated to station assembly and outfitting.

Oct. 15 -- Discovery's (STS-129 / ULF-3) 37th mission will focus on
staging spare components outside the station. The 15-day flight
includes at least three spacewalks. The payload bay will carry two
large External Logistics Carriers holding two spare gyroscopes, two
nitrogen tank assemblies, two pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly,
a spare latching end effector for the station's robotic arm, a spare
trailing umbilical system for the Mobile Transporter and a
high-pressure gas tank. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk
will return home aboard Discovery with its crew, which has yet to be
named. STS-129 marks the 31st shuttle mission devoted to station

Dec. 10 -- Endeavour (STS-130 / 20A) will close 2009 with its 24th
mission to deliver the final connecting node, Node 3, and the Cupola,
a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and
another in the center that provides a 360-degree view around the
station. At least three spacewalks are planned during the 11-day
mission. The 32nd station assembly mission by a shuttle does not yet
have a crew named.


Feb. 11 -- Atlantis (STS-131 / 19A) begins its 32nd mission as the
first flight in 2010, carrying a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
filled with science racks that will be transferred to laboratories of
the station. The 11-day mission will include at least three
spacewalks to attach a spare ammonia tank assembly outside the
station and return a European experiment that has been outside the
Columbus module. It will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station.
The crew has yet to be named.

April 8 -- Discovery's (STS-132 / ULF-4) 38th mission will carry an
integrated cargo carrier to deliver maintenance and assembly
hardware, including spare parts for space station systems. In
addition, the second in a series of new pressurized components for
Russia, a Mini Research Module, will be permanently attached to the
bottom port of the Zarya module. The Russian module also will carry
U.S. pressurized cargo. The first Russian Mini Research Module to go
to the station is scheduled to launch on a Russian rocket in the
summer of 2009.

Additionally, at least three spacewalks are planned to stage spare
components outside the station, including six spare batteries, a boom
assembly for the Ku-band antenna and spares for the Canadian Dextre
robotic arm extension. A radiator, airlock and European robotic arm
for the Russian Multi-purpose Laboratory Module also are payloads on
the flight. The laboratory module is scheduled for launch on a
Russian rocket in 2011. The mission marks the 34th mission to the
station. The STS-132 crew has yet to be named.

May 31 -- Endeavour's (STS-133 / ULF-5) 25th mission will carry
critical spare components that will be placed on the outside of the
station. Those will include two S-band communications antennas, a
high-pressure gas tank, additional spare parts for Dextre and
micrometeoroid debris shields. At least three spacewalks are planned
to be carried out by the crew, which has yet to be named. The 15-day
mission will be the 35th to the station.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

James Hansen and his 20th year of AGW

James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

To quote Chicken Little, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"
From the Guardian here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Discovery is home!

I almost caught ET, and he was about yeh big!

Phoenix soil sample

This is the first sample taken for analysis here.
This image taken by the Optical Microscope on NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander shows soil sprinkled from the lander's Robot Arm scoop onto a silicone substrate. The substrate was then rotated in front of the microscope. This is the first sample collected and delivered for instrumental analysis onboard a planetary lander since NASA's Viking Mars missions of the 1970s. It is also the highest resolution image yet seen of Martian soil.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

DSC : When We Left Earth : Ordinary Supermen

GLAST Launch

Phoenix gets to "Shake it's Booty!"

NASA's Phoenix Mars lander was not the only one doing the shaking.

An image from the Phoenix lander shows two trenches it has dug in the Martian soil.

Scientists operating the spacecraft broke into song and dance Wednesday after learning that their latest effort to shake lumps of Martian soil into a tiny testing oven worked.

Mission scientist William Boynton, who leads the oven experiment, recalled how he danced to the disco tune "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" after announcing the good news to his team.

"The dirt finally did start to flow, and we actually got a full oven," said Boynton, of the University of Arizona in Tucson. "So that problem is now behind us."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Mars and McCain

He said he "would be willing to spend more taxpayers' dollars" to continue the program but argued that NASA must do a better job of inspiring the American public, as when it sent a man to the moon in 1969.

McCain said one of his favorite books as a child had been Ray Bradbury's 1950 novel "The Martian Chronicles," about humans colonizing the Red Planet.

"I am intrigued by a man on Mars and I think that it would excite the imagination of the American people if we can say, 'Hey, here's what it looks like," he said.

"We know that now, and here's what may be there and let's all join in that project. I think Americans would be very willing to do that."

Inspire us and lead us unto the heavens.

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's a space week for sure!

The Carnival of Space Geeks is here.

Over at Flame Trench will be live coverage of the Discovery Mission on Saturday here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Viking I and Phoenix Part 2

foot pad of Phoenix
Phoenix Lander
Viking I lander
first Picture from Viking I

Viking vs. Phoenix part I

Since my father's company was a small contractor to manufacture the prisms in the Viking I & II landers I've been interested in the differences of the two missions (30 years apart). From the Phoenix's Mission FAQ Page here:
What advantages does the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer (TEGA) have over the Viking mission's Gas Chromatograph in detecting organics?
The Phoenix mission has two advantages over the Viking mission with respect to organics. The first is that Phoenix is slowly heating the sample to 1000 C, whereas Viking heated very quickly to 500 C. There are many organics thought to be possibly stable on Mars that vaporize in the 700 C to 800 C range. These types of organics are often call kerogens. The other is the location where Phoenix is landing. The Viking mission showed that water can neutralize the effect of the strong oxidant that is hypothesized to be responsible for destroying organics. It is thought that the ice in the polar regions might also protect the sample. In terms of the ultimate sensitivity, the instruments are comparable. It is the nature of the sample the generates the gas that goes to the mass spectrometer that provides the advantage to Phoenix.

Phoenix Landing Via MRO

hiRise picture from MRO
From the Phoenix website here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mars is Ours again!

The previous ``soft landing'' on a planet was three decades ago, with NASA's Viking probes. Recent crafts sent to Mars, such as NASA's wheeled rovers, weighed less and relied on air bags to cushion the final impact.

Now on the surface, the Phoenix must work quickly. Martian winter begins in three months. The sun will drop below the horizon, and a thick ice of water and carbon dioxide will coat the lander's solar panels, ending its life.

The golf cart-size probe will use an 8-foot robotic arm, as well as a drill, to penetrate several feet of soil at the landing spot, near Mars's northern polar ice cap.

The flexible arm will scoop dirt and ice into ovens about the size of a matchbox. They will heat samples to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius).

The probe will then test the burned soil for organic chemicals and minerals crucial to life. Much of the information can be analyzed on the spot and radioed back to Earth.

NASA's Viking probes also examined Martian soil in the 1970s, when the primary concern was locating safe landing spots. Dirt samples at those sites lacked much water.

From Bloomberg News here.

It will be interesting to compare the samples from Viking to Phoenix's. Will they find microbes? Will they find the water? It will be an interesting three months.

To find the latest pictures here in the NASA/Phoenix site.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Landing Day!

From BBC here:

The final seven minutes of the probe's ten-month journey is regarded as the riskiest part of the mission.

After it enters the top of the Martian atmosphere at nearly 5.7km/s (13,000 mph), the probe must perform a series of manoeuvres to come safely to rest.

It will release a parachute, use pulsed thrusters to slow to a fast walking speed, then come to a halt on three legs.

If all goes to plan, the Phoenix lander will reach the surface of Mars at 0053 BST (1953 EDT) on 26 May.

Nasa controllers will know in about 15 minutes whether the attempt has been successful.

I like the name Phoenix because of the previous landings that have been attempted and failed (Mars Polar lander, Beagle 2, etc.). This mission will raise from the flames and be a successful one. (It has a 50-50!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Space Policy for the 2008 canidates

From John McCain's website:
"Let us now embark upon this great journey into the stars to find whatever may await us."

-John McCain

John McCain is a strong supporter of NASA and the space program. He is proud to have sponsored legislation authorizing funding consistent with the President's vision for the space program, which includes a return of astronauts to the Moon in preparation for a manned mission to Mars. He believes support for a continued US presence in space is of major importance to America's future innovation and security. He has also been a staunch advocate for ensuring that NASA funding is accompanied by proper management and oversight to ensure that the taxpayers receive the maximum return on their investment. John McCain believes curiosity and a drive to explore have always been quintessential American traits. This has been most evident in the space program, for which he will continue his strong support.

For Obama on Flame Trench blog here:
After months of varying policy statements on the issue of space exploration, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama gave what sounded like a more firm commitment to NASA's plans to build the Orion spacecraft to replace the space shuttle.

In a town-hall style meeting and rally in Kissimmee last night, the Democrats' likely nominee fielded questions from a crowd that included some folks from Brevard County with an interest in the space program.

Here's a little of what he said:

"I want us to understand what it is we want to accomplish, so we can continue to build this program. Other countries are in position to leapfrog us if we don't continue to make this investment."

However, Obama wants to delay Orion for five years to fund Education.

And lastly from Hillary's campaign here from The Space Review:
“increase support for basic and applied research by increasing the research budgets at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the Department of Defense.” Notice the absence of NASA.

Meanwhile, she did say that she would “make the financial investments in research and development necessary to shore up and expand our competitive edge.” That implies that she would, at the very least, restore NASA’s aeronautics budget to its pre-2004 level. That means finding an extra half billion dollars. Without making any commitment to an overall increase in the agency’s budget, it’s hard to see how this could be done without cutting into the budgets for science and exploration.

Basically Hillary's will be a better one than her husbands. But no support for returning to the Moon.
And what she will do to NASA for Climate Change here from her campaign site:
Develop a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda. A National Academy of Sciences report found that “[a]t a time of unprecedented need, the nation’s Earth observation satellite programs, once the envy of the world, are in disarray.” (NAS final report of the Decadal Survey Panel, [January 2007].) Incredibly, the number of operating sensors and instruments on NASA satellites that observe the Earth is likely to drop by 35 percent by 2010 and 50 percent by 2015. Among other things, NASA’s Earth Sciences program is vital to our country’s – and the world’s – long-term efforts to confront climate change. Hillary will fully fund NASA’s Earth Sciences program and initiate a Space-based Climate Change Initiative to help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming and to prepare for extreme climate events.

From The Space Review article on Climate Change:
In her speech she promised that if elected she will “launch a new, comprehensive space-based study of climate change.” Bravo! The problem is, who will design the parameters of this study? Who will choose which data sets to acquire and how to correlate them with previous studies? If the answer is Al Gore, James Hansen, and other partisans of the anthropomorphic global warming theory, then the study will be regarded by skeptics as hopelessly compromised. If the same kind of study was designed by Fred Singer and Bjorn Lomborg, Clinton would be among the first to raise questions about its validity.

My bet is no exploration or posts on the Moon or Mars and most of the budget within Earth Orbit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Phoenix Landing events for Sunday, May 25

If all goes as plans, here are the scheduled events on Sunday for Phoenix:
- Trajectory correction maneuver opportunity (TCM6X), 8:46 a.m.
-- News briefing, noon
-- Begin non-commentary live television feed from JPL control room, 3 p.m.
-- Begin commentated live television feed from JPL control room, 3:30 p.m.
-- Propulsion system pressurization, 4:16 p.m.
-- Begin "bent-pipe" relay relay (continuous transmission of Phoenix data as it is received) through NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft to Goldstone, Calif., Deep Space Network station, 4:38 p.m.
-- Green Bank, W. Va., radio telescope listening for direct UHF from Phoenix, 4:38 p.m.
-- Cruise stage separates, 4:39 p.m.
-- Spacecraft turns to attitude for atmospheric entry, 4:40 p.m.
-- Spacecraft enters atmosphere, 4:46:33 p.m.
-- Likely blackout period as hot plasma surrounds spacecraft, 4:47 through 4:49 p.m.
-- Parachute deploys, 4:50:15 p.m., plus or minus about 13 seconds.
-- Heat shield jettisoned, 4:50:30 p.m., plus or minus about 13 seconds.
-- Legs deploy, 4:50:40 p.m., plus or minus about 13 seconds. -
- Radar activated, 4:51:30 p.m.
-- Lander separates from backshell, 4:53:09 p.m., plus or minus about 46 seconds.
-- Transmission gap during switch to helix antenna 4:53:08 to 4:53:14 p.m.
-- Descent thrusters throttle up, 4:53:12 p.m.
-- Constant-velocity phase starts, 4:53:34 p.m., plus or minus about 46 seconds.
-- Touchdown, 4:53:52 p.m., plus or minus about 46 seconds.

-- Lander radio off 4:54:52 p.m., plus or minus about 46 seconds.
-- Begin opening solar arrays (during radio silence) 5:13 p.m.
-- Begin NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter playback of Phoenix transmissions recorded during entry, descent and landing, 5:28 p.m. However, data for analysis will not be ready until several hours later.
-- Begin Europe's Mars Express spacecraft playback of Phoenix transmissions recorded during entry, descent and landing, 5:30 p.m. However, data for analysis will not be ready until several hours later.
-- Post-landing poll of subsystem teams about spacecraft status, 5:30 p.m.
-- Mars Odyssey "bent-pipe" relay of transmission from Phoenix, with engineering data and possibly including first images, 6:43 to 7:02 p.m. Data could take up to about 30 additional minutes in pipeline before being accessible. If all goes well, live television feed from control room may show first images as they are received. The first images to be taken after landing will be of solar arrays, to check deployment status.
-- News briefing, 9 p.m.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

2001: A Space Odessy 40th

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of 2001. NASA had a special ceremony here.
2001: A Space Odyssey shows an imagined version of our future in space, some of which has come to pass:

* One of the most notable visions is the large, low Earth orbiting, revolving space station in the film. Although the shape is different, today's space station is permanently crewed and international.
* Flat-screen computer monitors that were unheard of in 1968 are now commonly used on the space station.
* The film imagines glass cockpits in spacecraft, which are now present on the flight deck of the space shuttle.
* The film also envisions in-flight entertainment in space. Today there are DVDs, iPods and computers with e-mail access.
* Another famous scene from the movie depicts an astronaut jogging in space. Aboard the International Space Station, exercise in space is routine. In April 2007, 210 miles above Earth, astronaut Sunita Williams ran the Boston Marathon while in orbit.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Welcome Home Peggy!

From Florida Today here:
ISS Commander Peggy Winston is home from 377 days in space and has set the record for most days in Space for an American. The Russian's record was set by Sergei Krikalev for a total of 803 days.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Argos Buoy's record no "Global Warming"

from IBD Editorials here:
The new buoys, known as Argos, drift along the oceans at a depth of about 6,000 feet constantly monitoring the temperature, salinity and speed of ocean currents. Every 10 days or so a bladder inflates, bringing to the surface readings taken at various depths. Once on the surface, they transmit their readings to satellites that retransmit them to land-based computers. The Argos buoys have disappointed the global warm-mongers in that they have failed to detect any signs of imminent climate change. As Dr. Josh Willis, who works for NASA in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, noted in an interview with National Public Radio, “there has been a very slight cooling” over the buoys’ five years of observation, but that drop was “not anything really significant.” Certainly not enough to shut down the Gulf Stream.

Climate-change promoters also are perplexed by the observations of NASA’s eight weather satellites. In contrast to some 7,000 land-based stations, they take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily over the surface of the Earth. In 30 years of operation, the satellites have recorded a warming trend of just 0.14C - well within the range of normal variations. If the Argos buoys and satellites had confirmed the greenie computer models and Gore hype instead of natural temperature variations, it would have been big news. The silence speaks volumes.

The Earth is Flat!

"You're talking about Dick Cheney. I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view, they’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat,” says Gore. "That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off," he tells Stahl.
From Leslie Stahl's interview of ALGORE on 60 Minutes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Endeveavor leaves ISS heading for home

I've been busy lately, but STS-123 has these accomplishments: (From Flame Trench)

++Most spacewalks -- five -- during a station assembly mission.

The Endeavour astronauts tied a record jointly held by astronauts on four Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions.

++Longest shuttle stay at the station: 11 days, 20 hours and 36 minutes.

The astronauts delivered the first segment of the Japanese Kibo science research facility, and they assembled a two-armed Canadian robot poised to do maintenance work outside the station.

They knocked off other seemingly mundane-yet-critical construction chores during a mission that raised the bar for future assembly crews.

Said senior NASA manager LeRoy Cain: "It's just been remarkable."

Endeavour and its crew are scheduled to land 33 minutes before sunset Wednesday: 7:04 p.m. EDT.

On the west coast the landing will be at 4:04 PM Wednesday afternoon. Perfect for the kids to watch after school!

Polar bear Climate model

"A climate model is not a crystal ball," he says. "It's impossible to make a perfect representation of climate. There are choices you make in model development that lead to a range of model behaviors. Often it is not possible to say that one [model] is better than another."

From Environmental Protection here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RIP Arthur C. Clarke

I am sad to see him gone. He is one of the last of the Golden Age. I read lots and lots of Clarke during my teen years. My favorite movie was 2001: Space Odyssey and favorite book was Rendezvous with Rama.
HT to LGF here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Jules Verne

A European space freighter as big as a double-decker bus is set to blast off from a South American spaceport Saturday night, heading toward a docking test with the International Space Station.

Weighing 20 tons, the unmanned spacecraft is almost four stories tall and is equipped with an automated docking system never tested in orbit.

Independent investigators raised concerns last year about trying to dock it at the station without a test flight to a target spacecraft first.

Two orbital dress rehearsals are planned before it attempts to dock at the station, and project officials insist the hookup can be performed without endangering the $100 billion outpost or its crew.

"We're absolutely confident with the safety aspects of this spacecraft," NASA station program manager Mike Suffredini said.

The Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, is a key component of the European Space Agency's $7.4 billion contribution to the station project.

Launch of the first ATV, which is named after pioneering 19th-century science fiction writer Jules Verne, is the culmination of a $1.9 billion project that dates back to 1995.

HT Florida Today
Launch tonight is targeted for 11:03 p.m. EST, and we will have live coverage of the countdown. We will have live video of the launch, via NASA TV, and a second feed from the European Space Agency. Our coverage will pick up with fueling, around 7 p.m. EST. The live video webcast begins just after 10 p.m.
HT Flame Trench here.

Friday, February 29, 2008

OC Drought over

From Science Dude:
Federal climatologists today declared an end to Orange County’s long and damaging drought, reclassifying the region as abnormally dry, the lowest level of concern in a comparatively dry year.

Orange County thus becomes the last area of coastal Southern California to be removed from any of the drought categories that climatologists list on the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is updated weekly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Columbia display

Here at the Flame Trench is the Columbia display that will go on tour.

"The fact that NASA is using, for the very first time, recovered Columbia pieces -- that obviously has real impact when people see it," KSC spokesman Allard Beutel said. "People have had an emotional response."

A cockpit switch panel is displayed behind the glass.

The Columbia crew would have used it to control the fuel drain and purge system on the shuttle's lefthand orbital maneuvering engine, which propelled the spaceship onto its final trajectory.

The Crew Module Side Hatch Pyro-Initiator T-Handle also is displayed. It would have been used to jettison the orbiter's side hatch had the astronauts been able to bail out of the shuttle.

Here is the Florida Today article about the display.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Snow cover biggest since 1966

From National Post here:
AGW fanatics will hate this story. Snow cover is highest since 1966.
Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January "was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average."

China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.

Ice melting is also non-existent.
And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back.

Gilles Langis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, says the Arctic winter has been so severe the ice has not only recovered, it is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year.

I know that one winter isn't telling us much about the future seasons and AGW. It just proves to me predictions are just that and precipitation is not 100% accurate.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Pentagon is tracking the space debris

From My Way News here:
"We have a fireball, and given that there's no fuel (on the tip of the missile), that would indicate that that's a hydrazine fire," he said.

The video showed the three-stage SM-3 missile launching from the USS Lake Erie at 10:26 p.m. EST Wednesday northwest of Hawaii, and of the missile's small "kill vehicle" - a non-explosive device at the tip - maneuvering into the path of the satellite and colliding spectacularly.

Cartwright said the satellite and the kill vehicle collided at a combined speed of 22,000 mph about 130 miles above Earth's surface, and that the collision was confirmed at a space operations center at 10:50 p.m. EST.

The satellite was described as the size of a school bus and weighing about 5,000 pounds.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Debris from destroyed satellite sighted

From Bob Christy here.
by Rob Ratkowski
From here:
"I'm still having a hard time believing I actually caught the debris, but two others with us also saw a bright dot move fast from what was to be the intercept position," Hawaii-based skywatcher Rob Ratkowski told

He observed a meteor shower of sorts when, apparently, bits of debris from the broken-up satellite burned up as they fell through Earth's atmosphere. Ratkowski, a professional photographer and astronomy enthusiast, took photos of what he saw from Maui, near where the U.S. Navy ship fired the missile that intercepted the satellite.

It's a hit!

A missile launched from a Navy ship successfully struck a dying U.S. spy satellite passing 130 miles over the Pacific on Wednesday, a defense official said. Full details were not immediately available.

It happened just after 10:30 p.m. EST.

Two officials said the missile was launched successfully. One official, who is close to the process, said it hit the target. He said details on the results were not immediately known.

The goal in this first-of-its-kind mission for the Navy was not just to hit the satellite but to obliterate a tank aboard the spacecraft carrying 1,000 pounds of a toxic fuel called hydrazine.

U.S. officials have said the fuel would pose a potential health hazard to humans if it landed in a populated area. Although the odds of that were small even if the Pentagon had chosen not to try to shoot down the satellite, it was determined that it was worth trying to eliminate even that small chance.

Officials said it might take a day or longer to know for sure if the toxic fuel was blown up.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Satellite will be destroyed on re-entry

From Reuters
The Greyhound bus-sized intelligence satellite failed shortly after launch in 2006. Intended to conduct both electronic eavesdropping and photographic intelligence-gathering, the satellite contains a large tank of unused toxic fuel called hydrazine. The fuel would pose a health risk if the tank survived re-entry and landed in a populated area. The satellite has been gradually moving closer to the atmosphere and could come down some time in the next several weeks.

Since the satellite cannot be maneuvered to fall into the ocean, the plan calls for firing a modified Navy SM-3 anti-missile interceptor from an Aegis battle management system equipped warship in the northern Pacific, as the satellite nears the atmosphere.

It will be the first time a missile defense interceptor will be used against a satellite, something that has not been attempted since the 1980s, when the Pentagon tested an anti-satellite missile from a jet fighter.

From WaPo here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Atlantis Launch

Iran's into the mix

Iran plans to launch two more rockets into space
Feb 11 06:46 AM US/Eastern

Iran is to launch two more rockets into space in the next few months, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Monday, after a firing of a rocket earlier this month sparked international concern.

"Two other rockets will be launched so that we can then send a satellite into space," Ahmadinejad said at a rally in Tehran broadcast live on state television.

"We home that Iran's first home-produced satellite will be launched in the summer," he added, reiterating a prediction made by other Iranian officials who said the satellite would be launched in May.

On February 4, Iran fired a rocket into space to mark the opening of its first space centre, triggering swift condemnation from the United States amid continued tensions over the Iranian nuclear drive.

Ahmadinejad hailed the launch of the rocket, named Kavoshgar-1, as a success and for the first time gave some technical details about its launch.