Al Globus posts “an original song about space settlement — Let’s Go! ”
Video by Ralo Mayer
Al Globus posts “an original song about space settlement — Let’s Go! ”
Video by Ralo Mayer
Take a colorful tour of the 1964 New York World’s Fair in this photo collection : The Space Age Never Looked Brighter Than It Did in the Mid-1960s – io9.
A few more details dribble out regarding the problems tht China’s Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover is having on the Moon: China Exclusive: Control circuit malfunction troubles China’s Yutu – Xinhua
China’s Yutu (Jade Rabbit) moon rover suffered a control circuit malfunction in its driving unit, which troubled its dormancy in extremely low temperature, a scientist said on Saturday.
The control circuit problem prevented Yutu from entering the second dormancy as planned, Ye Peijian, chief scientist of the Chang’e-3 program, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
“Normal dormancy needs Yutu to fold its mast and solar panels,” said Ye. “The driving unit malfunction prevented Yutu to do those actions.”
The rover is currently in another 2 week long night and will experience extremely low temperatures. The rover has radioisotope heater units (RHUs) to keep its internal systems warm. However, if the rover is not configured properly before a night period starts, e.g. closing panels to keep heat from escaping and putting solar panels in the right orientation, it may have problems powering back up when daylight returns.
[ Update: A discussion of the rover's problems: You Too, Yutu? - Daily Planet/Air & Space Magazine.]
Meanwhile, China’s space agency is proceeding with preparations for the Chang’e 4 lunar lander/rover mission in 2015 and the Chang’e 5 sample return mission in 2017: Preparation for Chang’e-5 launch on schedule – Xinhua.
The latest episode of NASA’s Space to Ground report on the latest ISS activities starts with brief videos of cubesats ejected from the ISS (see previous posting):
Below is a great picture posted by NASA of a recent ejection of nanosats from the International Space Station into orbit. The company NanoRacks developed the deployer and installed it on the ISS with their own funds and made a deal with the Japanese space agency to have their astronauts do the deployments from their habitat module with the use of the station’s robotic arm.
There were 33 nanosats delivered in January to the station for NanoRacks by the Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo module. The 33 nanosats included 28 earth observation satellites owned by the startup company Planet Labs. One of the other five is a NanoSatisfi Ardusat and the rest are university research satellites. The deployments started in early February and they finished sending all 33 satellites into orbit yesterday.
NanoRacks is getting so many orders, they are working to increase launch capacity from the ISS: Demand for CubeSat Deployments Nearing Space Station Limit – Via Satellite.
There are many innovative low-cost commercial space activities like these that are in operation or moving quickly towards implementation. Follow the latest developments in this NewSpace era with a subscription to NewSpace Watch, where I am the Managing Editor.
Two sets of CubeSats were deployed late Wednesday, Feb. 26 and early Thursday, Feb. 27, leaving just two more launches to go of the 33 CubeSats that were delivered to the station in January by Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo ship. The latest CubeSats were sent on their way at 8:50 p.m. EST Wednesday and 2:40 a.m. Thursday. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites and have small, standardized sizes to reduce costs. Two final batches of CubeSats are set for deployment at 11:20 p.m. Thursday and 2:30 a.m. Friday, but more are scheduled to be delivered to the station on the second Orbital commercial resupply mission in May.
A selection of space policy/politics related posts:
Update 2: Rick Boozer tells me he will be a guest on tomorrow’s Spacevidcast show to discuss his recent op-ed at Space.com: Spacevidcast Live 7.06 on Livestream - Saturday Mar 1, 2014 4:00pm – 5:30pm EST
A short film made by 8 year olds Gabrielle Nafie and Miles Pilchik about the SciTech Kids program was shown in the Student Film Festival at The White House. The film included a segment about the Pongsat experiments their class sent to the “edge of space” with the help of JP Aerospace:
In this show, Amanda Bush talks about the following topics:
01:24 – 03:02 The ISS releases a Flock of Doves
03:03 – 04:06 Low cost Satellites multiplying
04:07 – 05:16 Google planning a Space Invasion?
05:17 – 07:08 Blue Origin powering up in West Texas
07:09 – 08:41 A lame lunar Rabbit and lots happening on Mars
Other Virtual SpaceTV 3D shows are available on the HobbySpace Youtube Channel.
These videos are intended as educational programs and as demonstrations of an experimental technique for generating animated presentations. The show was generated autonomously by software according to a text script. The project is described in the Virtual Producer whitepaper (Release 1.1, Oct.2013, pdf). For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The latest presentation to the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) study group is now posted in the FISO Working Group Presentations Archive. Both slides (pdf) and audio (mp3) are available for the talk, Affording Mars – a Workshop, a Plan, a Future Course for Human Spaceflight, Michael Raftery (Boeing) & Joseph Cassady (Aerojet) – Feb.19.14
Their Mars mission architectures used the exorbitantly expensive SLS/Orion systems and did not employ any innovative low-cost approach like Mars Direct. Other than employing the ISS in preparations more extensively, their program design doesn’t seem much different than previous Mars plans at NASA. Yet they claim to have shown that human Mars exploration can be affordable. That is, they are claiming that doing the same thing yet again and expecting a different result was not insane this time.
Here’s an announcement from PlanetPR:
European Rover Challenge 2014
Europe approaching Mars
The European Rover Challenge 2014, an international Mars rover contest, will be held in Poland in September. It will be accompanied by a Convention attended by world class space researchers, as well as a Science Picnic. The trio of events is hosted together thanks to the hospitality of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship.
The hosting of ERC 2014 in Poland was first announced in autumn, at the European Mars Society Convention in Paris. The Challenge will be held at the Regional Science-Technology Centre in Podzamcze (near Chęciny), from September 5th to 7th. Detailed information can be found on the Challenge website: www.roverchallenge.eu.
“Simultaneously with the Challenge, we’ll host an European Mars Conference on the topic ‘Humans in Space’, intended for experts who share the vision of a manned flight to Mars, as well as for other professionals (e.g. members of the space industry, the medical industry, academics from other fields), and entrepreneurs. Everyone will also have a chance to see many different experiments and scientific demonstrations in the tents of the nearby Science Picnic. There’ll be something for audiences of all ages and tastes.” – says Mateusz Józefowicz, Chairman of Mars Society Polska, the ERC organizers.
The main event, the Challenge involving analogues of Mars rovers, is a competition for teams of students and recent graduates of higher education institutions, who, with the help of their faculty, try to first design and build and then, in September, field the best rover. The core of the Challenge are four practical tasks: a science task involving obtaining and analyzing samples, a “blind” navigation task, in which the team will have to guide the rover to a certain destination using just GPS coordinates and no camera input, and two engineering tasks that will require using and repairing equipment. During all of the tasks, the teams will have to control their rovers without seeing them directly.
“The ERC is a European variation of the prestigious University Rover Challenge, organized in the USA by The Mars Society – a contest that has seen a number of successful Polish teams.” – explains Adam Jarubas, the Marshall of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. “We are very happy that this year the students can compete in Poland, at our Regional Science-Technology Centre. The project fits right into our Regional Innovation Strategy.” – he adds.
The European Rover Challenge 2014 is organized by Mars Society Polska, in cooperation with Planet PR, the Marshal Office of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, the Regional Science-Technology Centre in Podzamcze near Chęciny, ABM Space Education, and the Austrian Space Forum.
Teachers in Space Announces Opening for Flight Experiment
Summer Workshop Applications
The Space Frontier Foundation’s Teachers in Space (TIS) project today announced that teacher’s applications are now being accepted for its Flight Experiment summer workshop.
Teachers in Space is a project to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by engaging teachers with authentic astronaut training and real space science experiences combined with information and resources they bring into classrooms across America.
The workshop is offered for high school teachers of math, science and technology.
The Flight Experiment workshop offers hands-on, repeatable experience with suborbital and orbital experiment design and launch processes. Participants will build, launch, track, retrieve, and analyze captured data from weather balloon experiments which can be recreated within a typical classroom budget. Teachers will learn about commercial spaceflight, suborbital and glider and balloon flight, meteorology, basic glider controls, basic instrumentation, control surfaces, and simple pre-made instruments that will be flying with teachers in gliders and on weather balloons. They will also learn about pressure change, accelerometers, and dosimeters. The experience will culminate with teachers practicing what was learned during the week as they launch their own weather balloons.
Leading the workshop are award winning master teachers James Kuhl, Earth Science Teacher from Syracuse, NY, Rachael Manzer, STEM Coach from Hartford, CT, Luther Richardson, Physics Instructor, Columbus High School (Columbus, GA) & Systems Engineer for AstroSystems, LLC, and Joe Latrell Project Coordinator from Teachers in Space, PA.
The workshop will be held in Columbus GA, on July 21-25, 2014.
If you are a teacher of science, technology, engineering, or math at the high school level we encourage you to apply. Space is limited; only 30 seats are available. The deadline for workshop applications is April 1, 2014. The workshop is free of charge to qualified applicants.
U.S. High School STEM (Science Technology Engineering or Math) teachers may apply at: http://tis.spacefrontier.org
The House Science committee will have a hearing at 10:00 am ET on Thursday morning to discuss an Inspiration Mars type of Venus/Mars flyby mission but with NASA astronauts using SLS/Orion.
[ Update: Notes on the hearing are being posted at
It will be interesting to see where the Congresspersons think they can get the money for this and how, after endless attacks on the safety of commercial crew systems that will fly on well-tested rockets, they will defend the safety of such a mission on the rocket’s second flight and first crew launch.
[ Update 2: Stephen C. Smith has kindly posted a video of the hearing:
More space policy/politics related links:
Space policy related webcasts:
What is AMSAT? pic.twitter.com/EWYB2sVBYC
Despite the suspension of observations with the Kepler planet-finder telescope, lots of planets continue to be found in the massive amount of data that was collected while it was working.
NASA’s Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.
Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.
“The Kepler team continues to amaze and excite us with their planet hunting results,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “That these new planets and solar systems look somewhat like our own, portends a great future when we have the James Webb Space Telescope in space to characterize the new worlds.”
Since the discovery of the first planets outside our solar system roughly two decades ago, verification has been a laborious planet-by-planet process. Now, scientists have a statistical technique that can be applied to many planets at once when they are found in systems that harbor more than one planet around the same star.
The histogram shows the number of planets by size for all known exoplanets.
The blue bars on the histogram represents all the exoplanets known, by size,
before the Kepler Planet Bonanza announcement on Feb. 26, 2014. The gold
bars on the histogram represent Kepler’s newly-verified planets.
Image Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel
To verify this bounty of planets, a research team co-led by Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., analyzed stars with more than one potential planet, all of which were detected in the first two years of Kepler’s observations — May 2009 to March 2011.
The research team used a technique called verification by multiplicity, which relies in part on the logic of probability. Kepler observes 150,000 stars, and has found a few thousand of those to have planet candidates. If the candidates were randomly distributed among Kepler’s stars, only a handful would have more than one planet candidate. However, Kepler observed hundreds of stars that have multiple planet candidates. Through a careful study of this sample, these 715 new planets were verified.
This method can be likened to the behavior we know of lions and lionesses. In our imaginary savannah, the lions are the Kepler stars and the lionesses are the planet candidates. The lionesses would sometimes be observed grouped together whereas lions tend to roam on their own. If you see two lions it could be a lion and a lioness or it could be two lions. But if more than two large felines are gathered, then it is very likely to be a lion and his pride. Thus, through multiplicity the lioness can be reliably identified in much the same way multiple planet candidates can be found around the same star.
“Four years ago, Kepler began a string of announcements of first hundreds, then thousands, of planet candidates –but they were only candidate worlds,” said Lissauer. “We’ve now developed a process to verify multiple planet candidates in bulk to deliver planets wholesale, and have used it to unveil a veritable bonanza of new worlds.”
These multiple-planet systems are fertile grounds for studying individual planets and the configuration of planetary neighborhoods. This provides clues to planet formation.
Four of these new planets are less than 2.5 times the size of Earth and orbit in their sun’s habitable zone, defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for life-giving liquid water.
One of these new habitable zone planets, called Kepler-296f, orbits a star half the size and 5 percent as bright as our sun. Kepler-296f is twice the size of Earth, but scientists do not know whether the planet is a gaseous world, with a thick hydrogen-helium envelope, or it is a water world surrounded by a deep ocean.
“From this study we learn planets in these multi-systems are small and their orbits are flat and circular — resembling pancakes — not your classical view of an atom,” said Jason Rowe, research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., and co-leader of the research. “The more we explore the more we find familiar traces of ourselves amongst the stars that remind us of home.”
The histogram shows the number of planet discoveries by year for roughly the
past two decades of the exoplanet search. The blue bar shows previous planet
discoveries, the red bar shows previous Kepler planet discoveries, the gold
bar displays the 715 new planets verified by multiplicity.
Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI/J Rowe
This latest discovery brings the confirmed count of planets outside our solar system to nearly 1,700. As we continue to reach toward the stars, each discovery brings us one step closer to a more accurate understanding of our place in the galaxy.
Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to find potentially habitable Earth-size planets. Discoveries include more than 3,600 planet candidates, of which 961 have been verified as bona-fide worlds.
The findings papers will be published March 10 in The Astrophysical Journal and are available for download at: http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/digital-press-kit-kepler-planet-bonanza
Ames is responsible for the Kepler mission concept, ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.
For more information about the Kepler space telescope, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
The fairly sizable asteroid 2006 DP14, classified as a PHA or Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, passed by earth last week: Comets & Neo: Close Approach of Asteroid 2006 DP14 – Remanzacco Observatory
Here is a NASA JPL video showing the radar view of the object: Radar Images of near-Earth Asteroid 2006 DP14 - NASA
Radar data of asteroid 2006 DP14 were obtained on Feb. 11, 2014, using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. While this asteroid would appear as no more than a point of light to optical telescopes, using radar we’re able to discern the physical characteristics of the asteroid and we’re able to measure its exact distance from Earth. In order to point the enormous 70-meter dish antenna in the precise direction of the asteroid, numerous amateur astronomers assisted in the days leading up to Feb. 11 by supplying observational data to help pinpoint the location. The asteroid is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) long, 660 feet (200 meters) wide.
Related feature - http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/asteroid/aste…
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR
Lots of science fiction of all types now available online for free at Starlog Magazine : Free Texts : Download & Streaming : Internet Archive.
Former NASA manager and long time proponent of space based solar power, John C. Mankins has published a new book on the topic: The Case for Space Solar Power (available in both hardback and kindle versions).
The National Space Society, not suprisingly, likes it: New Book: The Case for Space Solar Power – NSS Blog
A strong case for harnessing space solar power is presented in this ground-breaking new book. Author John C. Mankins, one of the foremost experts in the field, presents his latest research in The Case for Space Solar Power.
The Case for Space Solar Power recounts the history of the space solar power concept and summarizes the many different ways in which it might be accomplished.
Specifically, the book describes in detail a highly promising concept — SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite by means of Arbitrarily Large Phased Array) — and presents a business case comprising applications in space and markets on Earth. It is possible to begin now with technologies that are already at hand , while developing the more advanced technologies that will be needed to deliver power economically to markets on Earth.
The Case for Space Solar Power lays out a path forward that is both achievable and affordable. Within a dozen years, the first multi-megawatt solar pilot plant could be in operation.
The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) has examined another ambitious space technology and found it to be feasible and promising: Space Elevators: An Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and the Way Forward. See also
Uwingu is a private company set up by a group of leading astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program managers, writers and educators (all of whom currently work at Uwingu as volunteers) to raise money for space research. They aim to provide innovative public involvement products that bring a sense of participation and fun to space activities.
Following last year’s successful test with the naming of exoplanets, today Uwingu announces the Mars Crater Naming campaign in which you can offer a name for one of the 500,000 craters found so far on the Red Planet, most all of which have no names. Uwingu has created a dynamic, on line map that will continually update with the latest names. The goal is to raise $10M for space science projects from the fees for posting a name.
See Uwingu’s Mars Crater Naming FAQ regarding the usual questions about the “official” status of such names. No group can claim that only one name and only their selected name can apply to each and every feature in the solar system. Everyone has a right to suggest a name for a feature on Mars and future Mars residents can decide for themselves whether they will use that name or the name they choose themselves or a technical name assigned to it by a particular subset of astronomers.
Here is the official announcement from Uwingu:
Feb. 26, 2014 - BOULDER, Colo. – For years, space mission rover teams have taken it upon themselves to name landmarks on Mars.
Beginning today, the public can get involved in Mars exploration much the same way. Through Uwingu’s newly redesigned web site at www.uwingu.com, now anyone can help to create the Uwingu’s new Mars map, with names for all the approximately 500,000 unnamed, scientifically catalogued craters on Mars.
In almost 50 years of Mars exploration by spacecraft, only about 15,000 features have been named on Mars by scientists and others around the world. Yet over 500,000 Martian craters catalogued from NASA and European space mission imagery remain unnamed. Uwingu is setting a goal of naming all these unnamed Martian craters and completing its new Mars map before 2015—the 50th anniversary year of humankind’s first missions to Mars.
The completed project aims to generate over $10M in funds for space research and education—larger than any other private space grant program in history.
Uwingu’s Mars map grandfathers in all the already named craters on Mars, but opens the remainder up for naming by people around the globe. Unnamed craters in the Mars database range from under a kilometer across to over 350 kilometers (over 200 miles) across. Craters can be named for almost anything or anyone, including friends, family, co-workers, heroes, pets, places on Earth or in space, sports teams, musical artists.
Says Uwingu’s advisor and Mars scientist Dr. Teresa Segura, “This project is truly groundbreaking for public participation in the exploration of Mars. Only imagination limits your choices, Aad I love that it supports funding for space research and education!”
Prices for naming craters vary, depending on the size of the crater, and begin at $5 dollars.
Uwingu makes a shareable Web link and a naming certificate available to each crater namer for each newly named crater.
“Every crater named on this public Mars map contributes to the Uwingu fund for space research and education”, added Uwingu founder and planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern, “So name a crater on Mars—and make an impact of your own!”
Uwingu (which means “sky” in Swahili, and is pronounced “oo-wing-oo”)
High school teacher Richard Zmuda turned the Apollo 11 landing dialogue into a stage play for students: Apollo 11 Play Aims To Showcase Landing To Teenagers And Inspire Space Love – Universe Today.
From the manuscript description: Apollo 11 – Original Adaptation for the Stage
This riveting stage adaptation of the historic Apollo 11 mission is written in the classic style of Tennessee Williams. The dialogue reflects virtually the exact words of the astronauts and Mission Control CapComs themselves. It brings to life – in breathtaking detail – the drama that captivated the world as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their unforgettable first steps on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. “Apollo 11 – Original Adaptation for the Stage” is a MUST READ for anyone interested in the history of space exploration and the technology behind its remarkable achievements. Furthermore, as a play it was specifically crafted to be produced at the collegiate and secondary school levels, thus enabling a new generation to finally share in the experience which changed mankind forever.
Here’s a nicely made short film by Nick Gillin and Isaac Cooper titled, Occupy Mars:
Update: I like this one as well: