Space & Science:

Implications of China’s Space Program

So China is possibly within 24 hours of sending a rover to the moon. Maybe a bit longer, but imminent. Now if you read this article, and there are many analysts who agree, China is likely to have humans on the moon in 10 years, and possibly a base/mining operations in 15 years.  You can check out the BBC News article below for details

The Moon could be a “beautiful” source of minerals and energy, a top Chinese scientist has told the BBC…

Now reflect on this: Yesterday, millions of American went out into the world to go shopping on Black Friday. Probably 92.7% of all goods purchased were manufactured in China. That’s right folks, we are the ones funding efforts like this.

It just seems to be our culture to pay someone else to do things for us…why not pay the Chinese to do our space program for us? I mean after all they stock up Walmart, and they get a space program…seems fair? 😐 Most things, cost way less in the long run if you do them yourself. The power gain for getting a foothold in space is a price we are going to regret in the future, if we give it up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wish no ill will toward the Chinese space program, I think what they have accomplished in the past 20 years is staggering.  Much of the technology was likely “imported,” to get them started, but so was ours back in the WWII days.  I think it’s impressive the premium and priority their culture is placing on a space program.

However, I’m fairly disappointed in the directions the American space program has taken over the past 30 – 40 years.  I believe we are starting to get on a decent path forward again, assuming our economics and declining culture will support it. But this new path will only work if our economics and culture place a premium on it. These next adventures into space could easily be the beginnings of the United States’ next epic journey which defines our future and ushers in a new golden age. However, that won’t be the case if we aren’t the ones willing to step forward. But don’t fret, we can easily watch the Chinese do it on our behalf (on TV’s they made for us).

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“This is Our Planet” video by Tomislav Safundžić

Now the truth is, as an amateur astronomer, I spend a lot of time looking up in the sky just to catch a glimpse of some faint point of light. A faint point of light that could be bursting with some form of energy transfer or with life. Maybe that faint light is already gone, and I’m mesmerizing at some distant historical event, that I can barely tell one way or the other. Then videos like this one come along, and show me that my home is just some faint point of light on the landscape of this blueish planet. And I long to go here…to see this with my own eyes, and look down.

This is Our Planet from Tomislav Safundžić on Vimeo.

Image courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/Videos/CrewEarthObservationsVideos/
Music: The XX – Intro
Enjoy

Today a friend of mine asked me why if we have so many problems here on Earth, why should we spend the money looking away from the Earth. My answer was simple, we need to both. They are NOT mutually exclusive events. Human beings will likely always have similar problems as we have today, it’s part of what makes us get out of bed in the morning. However, someday, this delicate blue planet may be destroyed, it may become uninhabitable, we might chew through most of its natural resources, or it might just get too darned crowded. My answer to this person was, my goal, along with many other people, is to see that humanity needs to struggle with problems on both this planet, and maybe another. Then those of us here on Earth can watch a video similar to this one for another planet far, far away!

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Space Flight and the Nature of Things…

A few weeks ago I was giving a presentation on the future of US space flight.  It was a pretty good presentation, if I do say so myself, and I had lots of fun making it and presenting it.  It was a small crowd of about 30 – 40 folks, which is strange for a clear night at Kopernik Observatory, and somewhere during the presentation, one of those rare moments of inspiration arose, and I just had to share it here on the blog.

Faster Than Light Travel (credit: NASA)

At the very end of the presentation, I presented a slide covering various technology and efforts which I  hadn’t gone over in the presentation.  I was only summarizing and providing a list of things to research for those interested.  After all, we have to keep the presentations down to 45 minutes to allow folks to observe the heavens.  However, I hit a moment where it was really just myself in the room despite all the others, and was able to block everyone else out. I absolutely long for moments like that, when everything became clarity, and time seemed to stop outside that moment.   For a brief time, I had found a Zen like state to exist in, and it couldn’t have been interrupted by a better question…

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Crazy Little Moon Moth…

image

Just walking by my back deck today, saw this crazy little guy. I have seen moon moths that are weird glowing green, dark green and even white before, but never have I seen a brown one. He is pretty cool!

Then he up and flew away shortly after. Neat to look at while he was there!

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The STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis #NASATweetup – Day L-1

One full week has passed since my return from the Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-132, launch tweetup at Kennedy Space Center.  I think everyone knows what a tweetup is at this point and time, and those who don’t soon will.  Now NASA is not new to the tweetup business, and they have been doing this for just over a year and a half now.  But when they throw a bash, they really know how to do it, and a lot can be learned from their efforts.

So I will do my best to keep my buzz on the activities at hand, and to post some relevant info about the event and its impacts on me.  Not that I have ever taken a simple blog entry and turned it into a novel.

The night before the tweetup, I could barely sleep.  I was about to go and sit in the very spot that the press has been going to cover NASA launches for nearly half a century.  The very spot where the history of human spaceflight had been recorded as our space program had evolved from unmanned orbiters, sending manned missions to the moon, and the era of the space shuttles and the International Space Station.  I would watch the third to last shuttle flight launch from that very historic spot.

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Endless Supply of Oil? Well maybe not!

Here is an email I sent out to a group of friends related to the following article:

Is there an endless supply of oil? – by Russ Vaughn

Now I am not schooled enough either way, but had a little fun, and possibly poked a few holes in the idea…

This was my response to the email thread going on about this among my friends:

Hmmmm…i feel a bit puzzled after reading the article. I had always been taught the deep crust theories. However, the truth probably lies somewhere between the two. The argument for running out, I had thought, was always based on what we can cheaply get at? I guess i had never considered that the deep crust activities could be flowing up to the top re-plenishing at the rate of what we are consuming. Of course the author/theory stops short of making that claim.
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Getting “WISE”er by the day….

On December 9th, NASA will launch the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) aboard a Delta II rocket. WISE brings with it the most sensitive Infrared detection capability that has ever been used. Infrared detection will allow us to see objects which have very low amounts of visible light, and the WISE craft will survey the entire sky in IR over a six month time, which is something that has never been done before.

The craft houses a 16″ telescope with four IR cameras on board to survey the sky in four different IR wavelengths.

It is believed that WISE will uncover hundreds of thousands of asteroids (hundreds of them being Near Earth Objects), possibly hundreds of thousands of brown dwarf stars, some of the most luminous ancient galaxies, and with a little luck stars which have planetary discs around them.

Also, who knows what unexpected things will appear as we view the universe in a whole new way!

Follow the WISE mission at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/main/index.html

One of the more intriguing aspects of this mission, is that the craft must be kept super cooled so as to minimize its own IR emissions. If left at normal temperatures, it would be like shining a flashlight into the barrel of a telescope. Therefore, the craft is cooled by frozen hydrogen, which slowly evaporates away over a period of about 10 months.

This mission is going to be “cool”, and i for one am very excited about this NASA Science mission!

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Re-Invigorating Our Space Faring Ways – Part 1 – One Mind at a Time!

I woke up this morning, turned on my MacBook Pro (which I love!) as part of my start of day ritual. I walked outside to get the newspaper, and looked over at my family’s cars. Went into the garage, sat down in my foldout chair, lit up a cigarette, and started to drink my morning coffee out of my spectacular Starbuck’s coffee mug. A familiar theme started to resound in my head. The only things in this morning ritual (including my bathrobe and clothes) that were made in America that I noticed were my newspaper, my cigarette, and my coffee. Everything else was made somewhere else. Of course both the newspaper and cigarette are sunset industries for their own marketplace reasons. The coffee itself will be a thriving business for sometime to come, but the mugs in which it is consumed are not. Therein lies the rub.

We all experience this in each of our daily lives. And I think we all reflect upon it from time to time. It is hard not to. I think we all do this because deep inside, each and every one of us knows what a bad thing our dependency on the rest of the World is. Or at least it feels that way. This morning though, it dawned on me just how bad this condition is becoming for us.

Photo Credits: NASA

STS-128 Discovery Liftoff (Photo Credits: NASA)


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