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The Space Log
Space for Everyone - January 2005

January 31, 2005

12:35 pm: Space ed briefs ... From the resources page at Space Science Education Outreach, posted by the Space Science Data Operations Office, I found this excellent education site Student Observation Network (S.O.N.). The S.O.N. site offers a great set of resources and tools for getting students directly involved in scientific studies of our space environment.

For example, the Sunspotters section discusses solar observation and, in particular, monitoring sunspots. This pdf gives instructions on making a sunspot viewer.

Similarly, the Magnetosphere section describes geomagnetic storms and how they can affect the magnetic field at the earth's surface. Instructions are provided on building a magnetometer to monitor fluctuations in the Earth's field.

The Radio Waves and Aurora sections provide similar resources. In addition, in each case the students are shown how to obtain data from satellite and ground based observatories....

... The NASA Sun-Earth Media Viewer: Live Solar Images provides a convenient tool for examining the latest images of the Sun. (Checkout also the HobbySpace Space Weather Viewer.)...

... Lots of lunar info can be found at The Moon - NSSDC.

12:35 pm: Space options ... In his review of the book ''Collapse'' by Jared Diamond
'Collapse': How the World Ends - NY Times - Jan.30.05, Gregg Easterbrook argues that the author's pessimism towards the survival of civilization is influenced to a certain degree by political correctness. For example, PC prevents Prof. Diamond from seriously considering space resources when claming that the standard of living for everyone on Earth cannot be lifted to that of the middle class in developed countries.

I would talk about a much shorter time frame and would substitute "solar system" for "Milky Way" but the following passage eloquently describes a perfectly plausible alternative to Diamond's doom and gloom:

"He thinks backward 13,000 years, forward only a decade or two. What might human society be like 13,000 years from now? Above us in the Milky Way are essentially infinite resources and living space. If the phase of fossil-driven technology leads to discoveries that allow Homo sapiens to move into the galaxy, then resources, population pressure and other issues that worry Diamond will be forgotten. Most of the earth may even be returned to primordial stillness, and the whole thing would have happened in the blink of an eye by nature's standards."

Note that another gloomy book from a high power intellectual is Our Final Hour by Martin Rees. Prof. Rees considers and even advocates space development as a way to save at least some remnants of civilization in case some manmade global disaster kills everyone on earth.

12:35 pm: The Space Review this week includes Capitalize the Moon by Sam Dinkin, who argues that the Moon offers "opportunities for capitalization" and that the first letter in Moon and Lunar should be capitalized. (I've been inconsistent about that).

In addition:

12:35 pm: This week's AMSAT news: ISS Status report * Keplerian Data Update * AO-51 February Schedule * Kid's Day on AO-51 * Educator's Forum

January 29, 2005

1:35 pm: News briefs... The National Space Society now has a news site in collaboration with space.com called ad Astra Online. Two articles of interest there include:

... Elaine Walker, musician and space activist, is profiled in The Electronic Pro-Space Pop Music of ZIA - adAstra/Space.com - Jan.27.05 ...

... John K. Strickland of the NSS urges NASA to consider alternatives to dumping the Hubble such as using the Orbital Recovery space tug to move it to the ISS: Hubble Trouble: Saving Telescope May Require Non-Governmental Solutions - Space.com - Jan.28.05 ...

... For information on space solar power, see the Space Solar Power Workshop. They are in the process of updating their info, including an extensive review of space transportation systems. I've also added a subsection on Moon based solar power....

... The Moon is also a great place to build astronomical observatories: A Pristine View of the Universe... from the Moon - Universe Today - Jan.28.05...

... The Team America Rocketry progam continues again this year with its campaign to inspire young people to participate in hands-on rocket engineering: Team America Rocketry Contest Interest Surges - AIA - Jan.28.05 ...

... Those mini-skirts worn by the crew women on Star Trek came from a long tradition of sexy space garb as shown by Babes in Space - Sci-fi book covers ....

... It would sure be a major development if NASA no longer had to compete directly with funding for military veterans: More on House appropriations reorg - Space Politics - Jan.28.05. * House appropriations subcommittee shakeup? - Space Politics - Jan.27.05 ....

... Here's an interesting recollection of the Challenger disaster by someone who was directly involved in dealing with aftermath at KSC: Challenger - A Flight Surgeon Remembers - Dr. Sanity - Jan.26.05

January 27, 2005

10:35 am: Dangerous extrapolations... At this time of the year, NASA must face the anniversaries of its three terrible disasters: NASA revisits tale of three tragedies: Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia remembered by Alan Boyle - MSNBC - Jan.26.05 ...

... James Oberg argues that each accident occurred when operational practices were extended far beyond where tests and studies had shown they were valid and safe: Deadly space lessons go unheeded: MSNBC by James Oberg - MSNBC - Jan.26.05.

10:35 am: News briefs ... Young people can participate in a Science fiction writing competition: From Earth to Planet X - ESA - Jan.25.05 . Participants must come from "EURISY Members’ countries, ESA Member States and UNESCO European/North America Member States." Rules are available in the document: Science Fiction Writing Competition - URISY (pdf), which is posted at EURISY...

... Note that this is a separate contest from The Clarke-Bradbury Science Fiction International Competition , which has a deadline of Feb. 25th....

... Check out the pictures from the Smart-1 spacecraft now orbiting the Moon: Lunar probe's amazing new images - BBC - Jan.26.05 ...

... New types of spacesuits will be needed to make for practical existence on the Moon and Mars: High-Tech Spacesuits Eyed for "Extreme Exploration" - Space.com - Jan.26.05 ...

... Doesn't sound like a satellite radio merger is going to happen: Sirius denies merger negotiations with XM - spacetoday.net - Jan.26.05 ...

... Photos and artwork describing the system of satellites that monitor our world: Images: Satellite eyes crowd the skies - CNET News.com - Jan.26.05

January 26, 2005

1:35 am: News briefs... Check out this magnificent picture taken by Cassini of Saturn, its rings and three of its moons: Simple Grandeur - NASA Watch - Jan.25.05. See also the Cassini Photo Essay (click on link in lower right side of the linked page), which gives a very nice presentation of other marvelous images ...

... The competition continues among those who hunt comets in the SOHO images: Contest to Pick Timing of SOHO's 1,000th Comet - Space.com - Jan.25.05 ...

... Bruce Cranford has updated his excellent reference site: International Spacecraft, Satellite and Launch Vehicle Names Glossary ...

... The X-43 inspires a musical composition: called Waverider: Art, engineering join for Space Week celebration - The Tullahoma News - Jan.25.05.

January 25, 2005

3:30 pm: HobbySpace sponsor plug... I've been meaning to point out one of the new HS sponsors - The View from Zero by Thomas Hunter. I've expressed my enthusiasm for this book a few times before because it proves my thesis, as discussed in this essay, that sci-fi about real space can produce just as much fun and excitement as all those faster-than-the-speed-of-light galactic fantasies.

Hunter places the story in a scenario in which huge O'Neill type space habitats are distributed throughout the solar system by the end of this century (See Spraag's World.) Alan Spraag is an insurance investigator and an ex-spy with a penchant for getting himself into and out of tough situations.

"Spraag takes on a last mission to earn money to return to Earth, he finds himself racing to save both himself, and the human race from a psychopath, and a deadly secret buried beneath the highest levels of government. A secret that will drag him to "The View From Zero"."

While some minor elements of the story go far beyond the technology we are likely to have by 2097, the author creates a setting that is believable and fascinating. The prose is excellent and the I look forward to further installments in the series.

I hope the book is a sign that soon many writers and filmmakers will see the wonderfully rich and amazing possibilities of a solar system full of new worlds and cultures....

... I also want to thank the Space Review for advertising here. It has become the top journal for articles and essays about developments in the alternative space community.

3:30 pm: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - Joe Lennox, author of “Visions For Space.” Joe Lennox has been captivated by space flight since he was a little boy. Born in the Bronx, New York, he has spent a lifetime studying about space. His private museum of space artifacts has been called one of the largest and most complete in the Country. His dream of being a NASA flight controller ended because of serious eye problems but he feel he has achieved his goal of being part of the space program through the teaching he doe. He hopes that some day, one of his space class students will be the first human to walk on Mars.".

Sunday, January 30, 2005, 12:00- 1:30 pm (Pacific Time) - "features Steven Wolfe who is returning to the program to lead an introspective discussion about the nature of humanities yearning to explore and ultimately move out into the cosmos. This may develop into an extended and interactive program so check this website newsletter later in the week for updates. This program is part of The Space Show’s continuing exploration and theme regarding our spiritual connection to space. Mr. Wolfe is a noted author and former legislative aide for space policy to the late Congressman George E. Brown, Jr., Democrat from California. Mr. Wolfe drafted the Space Settlement Act of 1998 (contained in P.L. 100-685) and he served as Executive Director of the Congressional Space Caucus as well as on the Board of Directors for The National Space Society. Mr. Wolfe's writings appear in The New York Times and elsewhere."

January 24, 2005

1:55 pm: News briefs... Michael Paolucci of SaveTheHubble.org is pleading for contributions to fund a media campaign "to publicize Hubble's fate and to force the Bush administration to acknowledge that if the Space Shuttle is safe enough for many missions over the next decade to construct the Space Station, it is safe enough for one mission to service Hubble." ...

... Jeff Foust examines options for what people would do once they reach Mars: Strategies for Martian exploration - The Space Review - Jan.24.05 ...

... David at Music2Titan asked me to remind my readers that they can obtain a free MP3 file for Lalala, one of the four songs on the Huygens spacecraft that landed on Titan ...

... More about Magnetic shielding for spacecraft - The Space Review - Jan.24.05 ...

... The legacy of Columbia lives on in many ways including some solid scientific findings made during the flight:

1:55 pm Gliding back... An alternative to parachutes for model rocket return systems is discussed in Rocket Gliders - Rocket Jones - Jan.23.05. Rob Edmonds company Edmonds Aerospace offers combo rocket/glider models that look like great fun. Note that he offers bulk deals for students and youth groups.

1:55 pm: This week's AMSAT news: Microsat launch 15th anniversary * AMSAT-UK Colloquium Dates for 2005 * Project OSCAR Symposium * ARISS Status - 17 Jan 2005

January 23, 2005

2:45 pm: Space tracking data ... After 9/11 the US became stingy about releasing many kinds of technical information, including the tracking data for orbiting spacecraft. Such data is needed, for example, to communicate with satellites via amateur radio and to observe spacecraft directly.

There are independent sources of such data for many spacecraft but the government data is generally more complete and up-to-date, so it's convenient to have it available.

The Space-Track site is now apparently the official site for public access to space object tracking data. It requires a free registration.

2:15 pm: News briefs... Here's an article on an innovative space artist: Artist's imagination rules the galaxy - San Diego Union-Tribune - June.23.05. Some online samples of his work: Victor Raphael: Envisioning Space - Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art * Victor Raphael - El Camino College ...

... The Mars Society of Canada has made a special plea to the Canadian government for more support for space exploration...

... While still many, many orders of magnitude away from providing enough anti-protons for direct antimatter propulsion, this work - The Most Antimatter - Physical Review Focus - Jan.14.05 - could be a step towards supplying enough for schemes that use antimatter to catalyze fission or fusion propulsion.

January 22, 2005

2:15 pm: Space audiences... The author of this article - Bring back the monkey suit. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make space entertaining - SF Chronicle - Jan.19.05 - doesn't find the Titan pictures particularly exciting. He suggests that like many others he has been spoiled by Star Trek and similar sci-fi adventures that make real space exploration seem dull by comparison.

I agree that this partly explains the problem, especially when combined with a general lack of knowledge about space, technology, and science by the general public. Most people have only a vague notion about the workings of the solar system and its constituents and most never heard of Titan before the recent publicity. Without any understanding of the context, it's not surprising that the Huygens pictures don't provide a sense of amazement and awe to everyone.

With HobbySpace I prefer not to focus on trying to entertain people who really have no interest in space. I'm far more keen on those "space geeks" who grabbed the Titan photos and did their own image processing. As I argued in The million man and woman march to space -The Space Review - March 25, 2003, space exploration and development will ultimately be sustained not by mass public interest but by enthusiasts who range from technical types doing things like space image enhancements to anyone who is excited enough about space to buy a ticket on a space tourist rocket.

The commercial companies that are starting to serve this community of space enthusiasts will drive down the cost of access to space. This in turn will eventually help NASA to become far more cost-effective. The agency will accomplish much more within a relatively smaller budget and it won't be quite so dependent on the whims of a fickle and easily distracted public....

... Speaking of Star Trek, the current show is threatened with cancellation. Enterprise obtains a weekly audience of about 3 million people and needs 4 or 5 million to make a profit for its network. This contrasts sharply with the original series in the 1960s, which needed an audience at least 10 to 15 times that size. It lived in a time when there were only 3 major TV networks and niche programming had no place on the dial.

Today, there are several dozen channels on cable and satellite systems. These minor networks are devoted to specialized audiences that are small relative to those watching the big networks. Nevertheless, most of these channels are profitable.

I see space development following a similar niche approach in which low cost launchers serve a space tourism market that is not huge but is big enough to make the companies profitable. These profits in turn will fund development of new generations of more capable vehicles.

1:55 am: News briefs ... Maybe it's a trend. Here's another space memorabilia appraisal event: Event spotlights value of space-related bric-a-brac - Wichita Eagle - Jan.21.05. I mentioned the other day one being held in Florida. ...

... Is this really the end or just a gambit in a negotiation with Congress: Report: NASA to cancel robotic Hubble servicing mission - spacetoday.net - Jan.21.05 ...

... What an extraordinary place Huygens has revealed: Titan forecast calls for rain, Huygens data shows - Spaceflight Now - Jan.21.05

January 21, 2005

12:15 pm: Student nanosat winner chosen... The Air Force Research Laboratory has selected the Univeristy of Texas FASTRAC project from the thirteen entries in its University Nanosatellite-3 Competition.

The FASTRAC is "actually a pair of satellites designed to demonstrate new technologies that enable spacecraft to work together in groups. It is believed that once these new technologies are mature, clusters of smaller satellites will outperform the larger and more expensive individual satellites that are used for many tasks today."

12:15 pm: News briefs ... The big internet database Archive.org stores a selection of free videos and movies including this documentary Flight of Apollo 11 (The Eagle Has Landed) - Archive.org. (Link via A. Bushnell) ...

... Speaking of space films, if you buy the book The Stanley Kubrick Archives from the first printing, then you will also get a twelve-frame film strip from a 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey owned by Stanley Kubrick...

... The weather up there has gotten a bit rough lately: Rare Spate of Solar Storms Bombards Spacecraft - Space.com - Jan.20.05 * Bad Space Weather Continues - Spacecraft Affected - NASA Watch - Jan.21.05...

... Space cadet test: Would you like to live in a home that looks like a Futuro house and to fly your skycar to the local spaceport to ride on a third or fourth generation SS1 derived spaceship to an orbital hotel?

January 20, 2005

2:00 am: Amateurs see Titan better, sooner... The amateur Titan image analyzers get the attention of Nature:Amateurs beat space agencies to Titan pictures - Online community processed raw images at record speed. - news @ nature.com - Jan.19.05. Not bad. I know plenty of professional scientists who would like to get noticed by Nature.

Note that some of the programs used for depicting the Titan terrain are listed in the Tools for Space Simulations section.

2:00 am: News briefs ... It will be interesting to see if the next NASA administrator takes advice like this - AAS backs shuttle Hubble repair mission - spacetoday.net - Jan.19.05 - and reverses the decision not to send a Shuttle mission to the Hubble...

... More tsunami satellite images: New NASA Imagery Sheds Additional Perspectives On Tsunami - JPL - Jan.19.05 ...

... These Texas high school rocketeers continue to make impressive progress: Rocket Kids Looking Higher: For Brett Williams' Principles of Technology II students at Fredericksburg High School, the sky's apparently not the limit. - Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post/Fredericksburg, TX ...

... A first try at making solar cells solely from materials that would be available on the Moon were successful: Lunar colony to run on moon dust - EurekAlert/New Scientist - Jan.19.05. The efficiency is low but this can be improved. (Note that Dr. David Criswell, a long time advocate of solar power beamed to earth from the Moon was a recent guest on the Space Show.) ...

... The Space Walk Of Fame in Florida is holding a space memorabilia appraisal event next week: Museum offers space memorabilia appraisal opportunity - Florida Today - Jan.18.05...

... A documentary on Gus Grissom is in the works: Film director researching Gus Grissom documentary - Florida Today - Jan.18.05

2:00 am: SciTech brief... The start of cyborg evolution? 'Living' robots powered by muscle - BBC - Jan.17.05

January 19, 2005

1:40 am: News briefs ... More about the Sights and Sounds of Titan - Science@NASA - Jan.16.05 ...

... Huygens almost became one of those space fiascos like the spherical aberration in the optics of the Hubble Telescope, the metric/English units mixup in the trajectory calculations for the Mars Climate Orbiter, and the backward engineering drawings that led the crash of the Genesis spacecraft last year: How Huygens avoided disaster by James Oberg - The Space Review - Jan.17.05 ...

... Alan Boyle looks at speculations on future human expeditions to Titan: When will we tour Titan? - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.17.05...

... A review of space history DVDs from Spacecraft Films : 'Man Must Explore' [about Spacecraft Films] - Tech Central Station - Jan.17.05 (via Rand Simberg) ...

... If you are looking for meteorites, Antarctica and Mars are good hunting grounds: Meteorites Can Be Found Just Sitting On The Ground - On Earth and Mars - NASA Watch - Jan.19.05 * Metal chunk on Mars confirmed as meteorite - New Scientist - Jan.18.05.

January 18, 2005

2:10 am: Orbiter 2005 Edition... Over the weekend I got the following press release from Rob Conley of the group working on the Orbiter Space Flight Simulator project:

*New release: ORBITER 2005 Edition*

Virtual cockpits: Orbiter now supports 3-D virtual spacecraft cockpits. This takes Orbiter to a new level of immersion and enhances situational awareness by providing a rotating camera viewpoint. Instrument displays are fully functional, and buttons and switches can be operated with the mouse. The Orbiter distribution provides a reference cockpit implementation for the Delta-glider, but addon spacecraft can be upgraded using the virtual cockpit programming interface.

New visual effects: New atmospheric haze rendering make planets appear much more realistic from orbit. Looking towards the horizon in low Earth orbit shows the increasing effect of haze blurring of surface features. Spacecraft, buildings and even smoke trails now cast a shadow on the ground, providing more attractive visuals and a useful altitude cue.

More accurate astrodynamics: A lot of effort has gone into improving Orbiter's physical engine. Planetary ephemeris codes have been extensively redesigned. The sun is no longer fixed in the centre of the solar system, but rotates around the barycentre. Earth's moon uses a more accurate perturbation solution. Jupiter's four largest moons are now also controlled by a semi-analytic perturbation code, improving long-term stability. Perturbations of the gravitational field due to nonspherical planet shapes are now supported.

New delta-glider: One of Orbiter's favourite spacecraft has been completely redesigned. Apart from a new exterior mesh and virtual cockpit contributed by Roger Long, it has also undergone a functional upgrade, including a version with air-breathing scramjet engines.

Better orbital flight model: Orbiter now uses a new method of orbit stabilisation during time compression. It calculates the osculating orbital elements of the primary gravity source, and dynamically propagates only the perturbations of this 2-body model. This provides better stability of trajectories - invaluable for interplanetary trips.

New help system: A context-sensitive HTML-based help system provides information about a particular spacecraft, instrument or simulation scenario. This greatly enhances the ability to design tutorials and in-game reference material.

Markers and labels: A variety of configurable surface markers and celestial labels can now be displayed in Orbiter's "Planetarium" mode. They can be used to identify places of interest, landmarks, historical landing sites, guidance stars or other celestial objects.

A more detailed list of new features can be found in the Change Log
<http://www.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/%7Emartins/orbit/change.html> .

Next is that the Meadville Space Center team and myself released Project Mercury 5.0

This release features accurate panels, simulation of the capsule's systems, historically accurate scenarios, checklists, full range of sound, failure modes, and capsule recovery.

Along with Project Mercury 5.0, Earth 1962 050116 has been released. It works with the latest version of Orbiter.


while there is still work to be done, it is the most complete simulation of the mercury capsule you can download for your pc.

See also:
http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/images/mercury_capsule.jpg http://www.ibiblio.org/mscorbit/source_images/MercuryPanelGraphic.jpg http://projectmercury5.moonport.org/screenshots.html

2:10 am: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - David interviews James Nugyen, President of Odyssey Space Lines. Nugyen is "a space entrepreneur with over 16 years of business experience."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005, 5:00- 6:30 pm (Pacific Time) - This will be "the 300th Space Show and will feature the return of Dr. Patrick Collins, live from Tokyo, Japan. This show can be heard at http://www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.
Dr. Collins is an exceptionally well known and respected authority on space economics, space tourism, reusable launch vehicles, and space solar power. To mark this 300th Space Show broadcast, Dr. Collins joins us again to discuss space tourism, space economics, space solar power and much more. Dr. Collins was the initial guest on The Space Show and also the 100th guest on The Space Show. He is a professor of economics at Azabu University in Japan, and a Collaborating Researcher with the Institute for Space & Astronautical Science, as well as adviser to a number of companies...". [See Patrick Collins' web site: Space Future, which provides an enormous range of space tourism related resources.]

Sunday January 23, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm Pacific Time - "Dr. Shan de Silva, the Department Chair and Professor of Terrestrial Volcanism, Volcanism in the Solar System,. Remote Sensing and GIS, GPS, Terrestrial Impact Craters, K-T Mass Extinction, and Astronomy in the Space Studies department at the University of North Dakota. Dr. de Silva took up his duties as Chair of UND Space Studies in Fall 2001. Prior to this he had spent 11 years at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, teaching geology and astronomy..."

2:10 am: This week's AMSAT news: AMSAT Volunteer's Effort Top $364K * KG4 Satellite Activity * First WAC Certificate Awarded For ISS Op * AO-51 14 Jan 2005 Schedule Update * ARISS Status - 10 Jan 2005 * AMSAT Volunteer Reporting Expands for 2005

January 17, 2005

2:15 am: Huygens sea... It has been a great few days for space science and exploration. After raveling for seven long years to reach the Saturn system, the European Huygens probe not only managed to successfully return data and images as it sank through the atmosphere of Titan but it even landed safely and took a snapshot.

The images during the descent give tantalizing indications of a shoreline to a body of liquid of some sort: Huygens images show hints of flowing liquid - spacetoday.net - Jan.16.05.

Amateur scientists are not waiting for the results of the image and data studies by the mission scientists. They are having some fun with their own analysis. See the amazing pictures at anthony.liekens.net >> Huygens and T2 - Terrain Texture Generation (link via N. Rogers.) Pictures are also posted at NASA Watch.

2:15 am: Titan sounds... During the descent, microphones on the spacecraft recorded the noise of another world: Listen to the Sounds of Titan from Huygens - Planetary Society - Jan.15.05 * ESA - Cassini-Huygens - Sounds of an alien world.

2:15 am: More space music... I've mentioned the Music2Titan project several times. Here is another article about the project: Music composed for Cassini mission - ithacajournal.com - Jan.15.05. (I'm a bit surprised they are charging for all but one of the songs) ...

... More about Laurie Anderson's space music: Lifting off from NASA experience: Laurie Anderson's latest journey is to 'The End of the Moon' - Boston Globe - Jan.16.05

2:15 am: Get involved.. Keep the pressure on Congress - participate in a space advocacy day on Capitol Hill: ProSpace Online : 2005 March Storm . (Via spacepolitics.com.)

2:15 am Nanosats by the dozen... Two spacecraft with "space mirrors" will be launched by a Russian rocket this spring: First Russian Private Satellites With Space Mirrors To Be Launched In Spring 2005 - RIA Novosti - Jan.13.05. But what is of especial interest to me is that it will also carry containers that "hold fourteen Cub[e]Sat micro-satellites." That's a lot.

2:15 am: SciTech brief... Make Magazine is a new magazine devoted to technical do-it-yourself and hobby activities. It will be

"loaded with exciting projects that help you make the most of your technology at home and away from home. This is a magazine that celebrates your right to tweak, hack, and bend any technology to your own will."

See the Make Submission Guidelines if you have an idea for an article that might be of interest (or if you want to give a favorable review to a particular science/technical hobbies website - hint, hint...) ...

... Check out EdGCM , a climate simulation for students:

EdGCM, software that allows teachers and students to run a 4-D climate model on desktop computers. The GCM at the core of EdGCM was developed at NASA and is currently in use by researchers to study climates of the past, present and future. To operate the GCM in the classroom EdGCM has a user-friendly interface that simplifies management of simulations. Experiments are automatically archived in a searchable database and easy-to-use utilities for mapping, plotting, and data analysis are integrated with the software. Finally, the software allows teachers to produce their own instructional materials (text, charts, images) and allows teachers and students to easily export research reports to the web.

... Imaginova has become the umbrella organization that includes space.com and other space/science related companies: Imaginova Corp. Announces Acquisition of Orion Telescopes and Binoculars - Imaginova - Jan.13.05

January 14, 2005

1:20 pm: Huygens probe lands on Titan... Congratulations to the ESA team on the successful encounter with Titan. Apparently, they will get data not only for the flight through the atmosphere, which was the top priority, but from the surface as well. First pictures should be released by this evening

See spacetoday.net for tons of links about the story plus this summary item. There are also regular updates at Cassini | Mission Status Center - Spaceflight Now.

12:55 am: More Huygens Titan encounter... Brent Rasmussen is blogging the encounter with frequent updates. Mission info available at the ESA Cassini-Huygens page and the NASA page. Web cast at NASA TV.

Thank goodness we no longer have to depend on just the big TV networks for coverage of space events: Competing news stories are crowding coverage off the broadcast networks. But CNN, NASA and the Science Channel keep viewers' eyes on the star - OrlandoSentinel Jan.13.05.

January 13, 2005

Huygens Titan encounter... The Huygen's probe will enter the atmosphere of the Saturn moon Titan tonight at around 5am EST. Here is the Timeline (Spaceflight Now). NASA TV will webcast the mission. Also, you can see it at space.com: Arrival at Titan: Huygens Probe to Take the Plunge - Live Webcast - Jan.13.05

News briefs ... NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft was launched yesterday and headed for a rendezvous with Comet Tempel 1. It will release an "impactor" to smack into the comet so that researchers can study the resulting debris to determine the composition of the comet.

Along for the ride is a compact disk with the names of 625,000 people who participated in the Deep Impact: Send Your Name to a Comet! program. ...

... While no one has yet spotted a planet that is small enough to be hospitable to life, it is seems that planets are very common and that more and more will be seen as the resolution gets finer and finer: Astronomers Confident: Planet Beyond Solar System Has Been Photographed - Space.com - Jan.11.05 ...

... Here's another idea for active radiation shielding (as opposed to bulk matter): Lunar Shields: Radiation Protection for Moon-Based Astronauts - Space.com - Jan.12.05 ...

... Some University of Michigan students will have the opportunity to do hands-on microgravity science: Zero-Gravity Zone: Two teams prepare experiments for weightless environment - The Michigan Daily - Jan.11-05

SciTech briefs ... The physics group I use to work with in Sweden briefly collaborated with a group at Los Alamos that included Mark Tilden, the brains behind Robosapien, a fun robot that has been winning all sorts of media attention and awards. The last time I heard about him he was still building little insectoids that would crawl towards a light source. Looks like he's advanced a bit beyond that ...

... I got an announcement of this contest the other day but can't find any details about it on the web site: WaterCarOne Water Car Contest Water-Fuelled Car Sustainable Mobility. It's obviously about hydrogen powered cars but it doesn't say if they must carry their own electrolysis systems or what.

January 11, 2005

Smallsat news briefs ... The AMSAT web site got an excellent reworking recently and includes informative features like this Table showing the status of the currently active OSCAR satellites ...

... The next major, high orbit satellite project is the Eagle. AMSAT needs to raise $600K for this project - about a factor of 10 more than what is needed by the usual low orbit nanosats like the Echo that was launched last year ...

... Headlines for the latest AMSAT news: ISS News * UCISAT-1 News * Straight Key Nite * Tulsa, OK ISS Activity * AMSAT 51 Award.

News briefs ... Spaceship earth got banged around: How the Earthquake affected Earth: The Dec. 26th Indonesian megathrust earthquake quickened Earth's rotation and changed our planet's shape. - Science@NASA - Jan.10.05 * How much did the earth move?- Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.10.05 ...

... New high resolution observatories are starting to see stuff that Dr. Who would really appreciate: Beyond Einstein: Spacetime wave orbits black hole - Spaceflight Now - Jan.10.05....

... I hope this report lessens the regulatory threat to a fuel used in hobby rocketry: Report Assesses Health Implications of Perchlorate Exposure - National Academy of Sciences/SpaceRef - Jan.10.05

The SpaceShow this week:

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2005 - David interviews Jeff Krukin, Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation.

Sunday January 16, 2005, 12:00-1:30 PM Pacific Time - features Shubber Ali, Executive Director of AstroVision of Sydney, Australia.

SciTech briefs ... People sure love to find new ways to fly and Don Shaw's PPG Scooter certainly uses one of the more unusual techniques. You can try it yourself by buying his Ultralight Scooter Aircraft powered paraglider on ebay. (Item via HS reader B Brunner.) ...

... This could be a significant advance for photovoltaic solar power: New plastic can better convert solar energy - CTV.ca - Jan.9.05 * Nanotechnologists' new plastic can see in the dark: Infrared-sensitive material five times more efficient converter of solar energy - University of Toronto - Jan.10.05.

January 10, 2005

Space advocacy briefs... The National Space Society's annual conference - ISDC 2005 - will be held in Washington D.C. May 19-22. They have now put out a Call for Papers ...

... A long time space advocate and NSS leader passes away: Glen P. Wilson Dies; Senate Aide, NASA Official - Washington Post - Jan.10.05 (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)

More News briefs ... Daniel Fischer believes we should see space probe pictures live as they arrive from space rather than hours or days later after processing: Live from another world - The Space Review - Jan.10.05 ...

... Sam Dinkin offers some dramatic schemes for energy production: Fire and brim stone - The Space Review - Jan.10.05...

... Taylor Dinerman discusses the advantages of remote medicine and learning in the aftermath of the tsunami: Telemedicine and distance learning after the tsunami - The Space Review - Jan.10.05 ...

... More about the recent Planetary Society Titan art contest: Young artist envisions a tumultuous encounter with Saturn's moon Titan - ESA - Jan.10.05.

News briefs ... A longer version of the Wall Street Journal article mentioned previously about why really big catastrophes like an asteroid strike should be taken more seriously is available here: The Tsunami and the Economics of Catastrophic Risk - The Becker-Posner Blog - Jan.5.05 ...

... Students in Indiana are building a nanosat prototype to compete for Air Force funding to launch a working version: Taylor students compete to launch satellite into space: Project members hope to win funding to build completed version of satellite - Marion (Indiana) Chronicle Tribune - Jan.9.05...

... Saturn V rockets in Huntsville and Houston are finally going to be restored and protected: Retro Rocket: The Saturn V Took America to the Moon. Now It's Taking Us to the Museum - Washington Post - Jan.10.05

January 8, 2005

The SpaceShow this week:

Sunday January 9, 2005, 12:00-1:30 PM Pacific Time - " features Marc Schlather, President of Pro Space. ProSpace, a grassroots space policy organization, was founded ten years ago to focus attention on Capitol Hill toward needed changes in American space policy, and to facilitate the opening of space to new ventures and to more Americans. Mr. Schlather also serves as executive director of the Space Roundtable at the United States Senate..."

Last Tuesday's show with Peter Kokh, the President of the Moon Society., is now available in the archive.

January 7, 2005

News briefs ... Alan Boyle offers in - Before-and-after views revisited - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.6.05 - more tsunami satellite imagery info (and a much appreciated link to HS) such as this page: Asian Tsunami Imagery - Global Security : ...

... New Scientist says that some valuable satellite radar measurements of the tsunami will be released soon by NASA: Radar satellites capture tsunami wave height - New Scientist - Jan.6.05. See the Ocean Surface Topography from Space site for info on how ocean surfaces are measured from space.

News briefs ... Check out the cool Titan artwork: Winner of Titan Art Contest Announced: Planetary Society Art Contest Winner Wins Trip to Huygens Mission Control in Germany - Planetary Society - Jan.6.05....

... Boys Life Magazine and Michaels Arts & Crafts Store is sponsoring Estes rocketry events for Boy Scouts in April.

January 6, 2005

Satellite imaging at home... A HobbySpace reader tells me that NASA provides for free a program just as good as the Google Keyhole program that I mentioned previously. The NASA World Wind package

allows any user to zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth, leveraging high resolution LandSat imagery and SRTM elevation data to experience Earth in visually rich 3D, just as if they were really there.

Particular focus was put into the ease of usability so people of all ages can enjoy World Wind. All one needs to control World Wind is a two button mouse. Additional guides and features can be accessed though a simplified menu. Navigation is automated with single clicks of a mouse as well as the ability to type in any location and automatically zoom into it.

World Wind was designed to run on recent PC hardware with 3D acceleration.

You can download it here. (Broadband needed cause it's big - 250MB!). World Wind runs on a PC and "requires DirectX 9b and the .NET Runtime environment to be installed. These have been included in the World Wind installer."

Note that when I discussed Keyhole and suggested they offer "a tool on line", I meant a tool in the browser environment, e.g. a Java applet. You need to be on line, i.e. connected to the Internet, when running Keyhole so that it can download imagery.

World Wind allows one to download image databases and actually work off line....

... More about the tsunami satellite imaging: Satellite imagery helping tsunami relief effort - New Scientist - Jan.5.05

News briefs ... The IEEE recommends a manned mission to save the Hubble: IEEE-USA Urges 'Safe Servicing' of Hubble Space Telescope for Humankind - SpaceRef/ IEEE - Jan.3.05. But it looks like NASA is sticking with robots so far: MDA gets Hubble repair contract - spacetoday.net - Jan.6.05...

... Laurie Anderson continues to get press about her space inspired production: A star lines up with the moon [About Laurie Anderson] - The Globe and Mail - Jan.5.05 ...

... Sally Ride continues here campaign to attract girls to technical fields of study: Festival for girls mixes science, fun: Ride aims to put kids on path to technical careers - Florida Today - Jan.4.05..

January 5, 2005

Tsunami space images... Here is a list of sites that show satellite photos of the havoc caused by the tsunami in southern Asia:

Meteor implications... In this article - The Probability of Catastrophe . . . by Richard A. Posner - WSJ.com - Jan.4.05 (requires a subscription) - Mr. Posner notes that infrequent but hugely catastrophic events like this tsunami can dwarf the cumulative death and destruction of more common events like hurricanes and earthquakes. Yet the natural human tendency is to ignore the possibility of these huge disasters because they seem so unlikely to happen on our short time scales.

Posner says this is a potentially fatal mistake for humanity. He points out the following:

The asteroid that exploded above Siberia in 1908 with the force of a hydrogen bomb might have killed millions of people had it exploded above a major city. Yet that asteroid was only about 200 feet in diameter, and a much larger one (among the thousands of dangerously large asteroids in orbits that intersect the earth's orbit) could strike the earth and cause the total extinction of the human race through a combination of shock waves, fire, tsunamis, and blockage of sunlight, wherever it struck.

We have the capacity not only to watch for such deadly asteroids and comets heading our way but to create a space space infrastructure that can move their trajectories safely past earth if we obtain an early enough warning. Just as there is justifiable anger at the lack of a tsunami warning system in place in southern Asia, there will be similar anger, assuming there are any survivors, if we are struck by such a cosmic calamity. It could be avoided if we simply make the effort.

New briefs... Google is now selling an aerial/space imaging program called Keyhole that lets you zero in on a particular location on earth. I hope they eventually offer such a tool on line ...

... The Mars rovers amazingly continue to rove a year later: Mars Exploration Rovers' adventures continue - Spaceflight Now - Jan.3.05 * Spirit marks one year on Mars - spacetoday.net - Jan.4.05 ...

... Alan Boyle finds a Mars scientist who sees humans as just as important as robots when it comes to exploring the Red Planet: Are astronauts obsolete? - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.3.05 ...

... Yet another reason to regret that I sold my satellite radio stock way too early: Sat Radio Recording Moves Ahead - Wired - Jan.4.05....

... Alan Boyle's readers vote on what were the high points in space in 2004 and what may be the space highs in 2005: High-frontier highlights - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Jan.4.05

The Eclipse model ... The first of the so-called Very Light Jet (VLJ) category vehicles to reach the market looks to be the Eclipse 500. If the schedule holds, it will attain FAA certification in the spring of 2006 and the vehicle will sell for around $1M, which is about a third of the cost of the currently available lowest priced business jets.

The hope is that it and other VLJs will lead not only to more businesses and rich individuals flying their own jets but also to air taxis that fly passengers between small airports at prices not much more than those of airline tickets. This would take advantage of the excess capacity at the many small airports in the US and also allow people to avoid the terrific congestion at the big hub airports.

After overcoming a serious problem with their engines (they had to switch suppliers at a late date when the original choice for an engine was found to have insufficient power), they appear to be back on track. Last week they began test flights with a vehicle using the production engines: Eclipse Aviation Completes Two Successful Flights of First Eclipse 500 Certification Flight Test Aircraft - Eclipse Aviation - Dec.31.04. You can follow their progress at Eclipse Flight Tests.

This project is relevant to the space industry in a couple of ways. There has been great skepticism in the aviation community that the Eclipse would ever fly at all, much less come close to the target price. If successful, the Eclipse will prove that aerospace technology is not stuck forever at a plateau reached decades ago but that in fact dramatically lower costs can still be achieved with innovative approaches. This is also what entrepreneurial rocket companies have been arguing is possible for spaceflight to a very skeptical space industry audience.

Also, while some new technology is needed (the Eclipse relies on friction wielding for assembling the air frame) the low unit price comes from high volume and from management that gives highest priority to keeping the price down. The new space transport companies probably won't achieve high unit volume (though that was the goal of the Rocket Company), they do seek high flight rates as the means to achieve low costs. These rates will be achieved via the only big volume space market on the horizon - flying people to space.

January 3, 2005

Site status... HobbySpace presented over 1,430,000 pageviews during 2004. That adds up to over 3,500,000 since the site opened in January 1999. RLV News was by far the most popular page.

I hope I can continue to build on this traffic. The mainstream space sites still focus primarily on NASA so I will try to inform visitors on activities in alt.space, as it's called. This is the private sector world that involves small, innovative companies, volunteer organizations, and highly motivated individuals. Alt.space is where the most intense and genuine enthusiasm for space lies and where I expect to see many exciting things happen this year.

This web site, which definitely has a "hobby" look to it, needs a big overhaul but I don't have time to do it all at once. Instead I will try a gradual rollout of a new format. This will allow me to experiment a bit and some sections may look quite different than others. I also need to do a site wide "dead-link cleaning", which I've postponed for a long time.

Thanks for visiting HobbySpace and I hope you will visit regularly in the coming year.

New briefs... A space advocate reflects on two big political events in 2004: A tale of two victories by James Muncy - The Space Review - Jan.3.05...

... A NASA scientist believes the agency has made strong progress towards initiating the VSE: New NASA vision: Moon, Mars and a crew vehicle - Financial Express - Jan.3.05. He downplays private efforts to reach the Moon but Sam Dinkin says it's possible the Moon could develop into a Wild West style frontier scenario: Cowboys, miners, farmers, and hoteliers -The Space Review - Jan.3.05 ...

... Here are some other reviews of space highlights in 2004: 2004: NASA's year in review - NASA/Spaceflight Now - Jan.2.05 * ESA Portal - Focus On - Review 2004 ...

... Here's an interview with David Hardy, the well known space artist: The David Hardy Interview - SF Crowsnest - Jan.1.05 ...

.... Leonard David discusses possible features of a stealth spy satellite: Anatomy of a Spy Satellite - Space.com - Jan.3.05 ...

... The Meadville Space Center offers many space history such as Historical Documentation for Mercury, Gemini, Manned Spaceflight PDF Documents, and Virtual AGC - Apollo Guidance Computer Emulation ...

... The new European GPS project highlights differences between Britain and the rest of Europe: Britain and Galileo by Taylor Dinerman - The Space Review - Jan.3.05 ...

... Asteroid threat rating systems are reviewed by Tom Hill: Revising the Torino Scale - The Space Review - Jan.3.05

SciTech brief... The next Burt Rutan record-breaking project will soon lift off: Scaled Composites' GlobalFlyer Readied for Record Flight - Aviation Week - Jan.2.05.

January 1, 2005

Alt.space timeline... I've assembled a timeline that lists some of the most significant developments in the alternative space development movement during 2004.

New briefs... Here's a gallery of tsunami satellite images at DigitalGlobe...

.... Robert Zimmerman says a dealer at Amazon (scan down the list of "used & new" copies for sale) is selling new, autographed copies of his book Leaving Earth. The dealer is Univelt, run by Bob Jacobs, who is also the dealer who handles books published by the American Astronautical Society.... .... Robert Zimmerman says a dealer at Amazon (scan down the list of "used & new" copies for sale) is selling new, autographed copies of his book Leaving Earth. The dealer is Univelt, run by Bob Jacobs, who is also the dealer who handles books published by the American Astronautical Society....

... The latest update to the report on the search and recovery of the CSXT boosterthat sent an amateur rocket to space last May: Mystery Solved: Stratofox Recovers CSXT Booster....

... Space robots did well during 2004: Analysis: The triumph of the robots - UPI/Washington Times - Dec.31.04. That's good. They help lead the way to the important goal - human exploration and settlement of space....

... Looks like the fall in business for the major launch providers has bottomed out: ILS Expecting Moderate Growth In Launches As HDTV Spreads - Aviation Week - Dec.29.04.

Continue to December 2004 articles in archive

HobbySpace News Articles Index 1999-2004


See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links
Special Topics
Other Space Weblogs

The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
NewSpace Watch at NSG




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