Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy 50th!

My birth happened two weeks after Explorer I was launched. I have been an advocate for space exploration and loved space since my earliest memories.
Fifty years ago today, missile pioneers here thrust the United States into a space race with the Soviet Union, launching America's first "man-made moon."

Ike Rigell and Terry Greenfield peered through tinted green bulletproof glass in a blockhouse at Launch Complex 26 as an Army rocket lit up night skies over the Atlantic coast.

Kelly Fiorentino stood in a Quonset hut on an island in the Bahamas, ready to transmit a second-stage ignition signal — a precisely-timed switch-flip critical to propelling the Explorer 1 satellite into orbit.

And on that frigid Friday night in Huntsville, Ala., Norm Perry and dozens of Army Ballistic Missile Agency workers shivered beneath loudspeakers in a downtown square.

A telltale beep-beep finally blared out about an hour and 45 minutes after launch, signaling mission success. The crowd erupted in cheers.

"We had no idea it was in orbit until it had completely gone around Earth," said Perry, 74, of Titusville. "As soon as it came across, the whole square heard (the beep). We heard it, and we went wild."

With good reason, too.

Four months earlier, on Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, a 184-pound sphere the size of a medicine ball.

Then less than a month later, on Nov. 3, the Soviets sent up a half-ton orbiter with a living, breathing creature, a dog named Laika.

The American public panicked. The back-to-back Sputniks created hysteria. Fearful people realized Soviet rockets were powerful enough to rain nuclear bombs on U.S. soil. Anytime. Anywhere.

The Spider

From SpaceWeather.COM

Researchers once thought Mercury to be much like Earth's moon, but MESSENGER has found many differences. For instance, unlike the moon, Mercury has huge cliffs with structures snaking hundreds of miles across the planet's face. The spacecraft also revealed impact craters that appear very different from lunar craters. One particularly curious crater has been dubbed "The Spider."

This formation never has been seen on Mercury before and nothing like it has been observed on the moon. It lies in the middle of a huge impact crater called the Caloris basin and consists of more than 100 narrow, flat-floored troughs radiating from a complex central region.

"The Spider has a crater near its center, but whether that crater is related to the original formation or came later is not clear at this time," said James Head, science team co-investigator at Brown University, Providence, R.I.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mercury Rising

Messenger probe has sent its latest here from Flame Trench here:

In yet another NASA first, the robotic Messenger probe beamed back pictures this week of parts of the planet Mercury that never have been seen by spacecraft before.

Soon after sweeping within 124 miles of the planet's surface on Monday, Messenger snapped this photo of half of a hemisphere that was missed by the only other spacecraft to visit Mercury -- Mariner 10, which made three flybys in 1974 and 1975.

Reality Deniers

From Roy Spencer, Climate Scientist over at NRO:
I am astounded by the naiveté of those folks who seem to think there is some magic, non-polluting energy source out there that “Big Oil” has been hiding from us until all of the petroleum runs out. As these reality deniers continue to drive cars and fly in airplanes, they deny the fact that mankind’s dependence on oil is not out of choice, but necessity.

It makes me cringe when I see bloggers and pundits say things like, “What’s the downside of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions? Even if we’re wrong about man-made global warming, we’ll end up with better energy technologies and cleaner air. And if we’re right, we’ll save the planet!”

The only problem is, no matter how serious you think global warming will be, our current renewable-energy technologies and conservation will make virtually no difference to future global temperatures.

Like we are up s*** creek anyway!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Skeptics are frowned upon

From BBC news last Novemeber 13, 2007here:
As I said above - and this may come as a surprise - scientists are mere mortals.

The tendency to succumb to group-think and the herd-instinct (now formally called the "informational cascade") is perhaps as tempting among scientists as any group because we, by definition, must be the "ones who know" (from the Latin sciere, to know).

You dare not be thought of as "one who does not know"; hence we may succumb to the pressure to be perceived as "one who knows".

This leads, in my opinion, to an overstatement of confidence in the published findings and to a ready acceptance of the views of anointed authorities.

Scepticism, a hallmark of science, is frowned upon. (I suspect the IPCC bureaucracy cringes whenever I'm identified as an IPCC Lead Author.)

The signature statement of the 2007 IPCC report may be paraphrased as this: "We are 90% confident that most of the warming in the past 50 years is due to humans."

We are not told here that this assertion is based on computer model output, not direct observation. The simple fact is we don't have thermometers marked with "this much is human-caused" and "this much is natural".

So, I would have written this conclusion as "Our climate models are incapable of reproducing the last 50 years of surface temperatures without a push from how we think greenhouse gases influence the climate. Other processes may also account for much of this change."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The asteroid will miss Mars

From here:
New observations of the Mars-bound Asteroid 2007 WD5 have allowed astronomers to refine their predictions for the space rock's position during its red planet rendezvous on Jan. 30, according an update by NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) program office.

"As a result, the impact probability has dropped dramatically, to approximately 0.01 percent or 1-in-10,000 odds, effectively ruling out the possible collision with Mars," researchers said in the Jan. 9 report.

The new odds were released one day after astronomers with NASA's NEO office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., lowered 2007 WD5's chances of striking Mars from 3.6 percent to 2.5 percent, or about a 1-in-40 chance, on Tuesday. After analyzing results from a new round of observations between Jan. 5 and Jan. 8, scientists now estimate the asteroid will make its closest pass by Mars at a maximum distance of about 16,155 miles (26,000 km).

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Solar Cycle 24 begins

From here:
Many forecasters believe Solar Cycle 24 will be big and intense. Peaking in 2011 or 2012, the cycle to come could have significant impacts on telecommunications, air traffic, power grids and GPS systems. (And don't forget the Northern Lights!) In this age of satellites and cell phones, the next solar cycle could make itself felt as never before.

The furious storms won't start right away, however. Solar cycles usually take a few years to build to a frenzy and Cycle 24 will be no exception. "We still have some quiet times ahead," says Hathaway.

From here:
Solar physicists have been waiting for the appearance of a reversed-polarity sunspot to signal the start of the next solar cycle. The wait is over. On Jan. 4th, a magnetically reversed sunspot emerged at solar latitude 30 N, shown in this photo taken by Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland.

And here's a link to SOLARCYCLE24.COM for all Solar and Auruoa needs! This cycle looks like the peak will be around 2011 to 2012. Funny thing did the Mayan's have any foreknowledge when they ended their calender in 2012? Heh!

Well here is the news release from the Space and Science Research Center here.

Today, the Space and Science Research Center, (SSRC) in Orlando, Florida announces that it has confirmed the recent web announcement of NASA solar physicists that there are substantial changes occurring in the sun’s surface. The SSRC has further researched these changes and has concluded they will bring about the next climate change to one of a long lasting cold era.

Today, Director of the SSRC, John Casey has reaffirmed earlier research he led that independently discovered the sun’s changes are the result of a family of cycles that bring about climate shifts from cold climate to warm and back again.

“We today confirm the recent announcement by NASA that there are historic and important changes taking place on the sun’s surface. This will have only one outcome - a new climate change is coming that will bring an extended period of deep cold to the planet. This is not however a unique event for the planet although it is critically important news to this and the next generations. It is but the normal sequence of alternating climate changes that has been going on for thousands of years.

That about debunks Global Warming huh? Global Warming and Cooling occur in cycles and have "been going on for thousands of years." And the Solar Cycles are part of Climate Change.

UPDATE: I have been informed that SSRC's John Casey could be a fake. After going though the Climate Change blogs the consensus is this is an ad-hoc web site here. I stand corrected. However I still do not agree that global warming is caused by C02 or human made. I don't think the label "denier" is correct either for those who do not agree that the theory of AGW is happening. I still think Solar Cycles do play a part in Global cooling and warming.

Friday, January 04, 2008

One in 28 chance to hit Mars

Now Asteroid 2007WD5 has a one in twenty eight chance to hit Mars. Wow! From here.
Observations of the asteroid between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2 allowed astronomers to slightly lower the space rock's odds of striking Mars to about 3.6 percent (down from 3.9), giving the object a 1 in 28 chance of hitting the planet, according to Tuesday report from NASA's Near Earth-Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

More observations may further reduce the asteroid's impact chances to nil, NEO officials said. The space rock's refined course stems from observations by astronomers at New Mexico Tech's Magdalena Ridge Observatory.

But if WD5 does smack into Mars, some astronomers have a fair idea of what havoc it may spawn. The likely strike zone would be near the equator, but to the north of the current position of NASA's Opportunity rover at Victoria Crater, NASA officials have said.

Mark Boslough, a collision dynamics expert at New Mexico's Sandia National Laboratory, said the atmosphere at Mars' surface is similar to that of Earth at an altitude of 12 miles (20 km). Some space rocks that target Earth explode under the pressure created as they stream into our atmosphere. But they tend not to explode until much below the 12-mile mark.

Opportunity will be a in a great place to view the impact on January 30th. More updates as the NEO team updates its observations.