A reader points me to this fun video showing variations of the answer to the important question: What if the Moon was a Disco Ball?
A reader points me to this fun video showing variations of the answer to the important question: What if the Moon was a Disco Ball?
The USA Science and Engineering Festival “America’s Largest STEM Education Event” will take place in Washington D.C. April 26-27, 2014.
The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a national grassroots effort to advance STEM education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Our exhibitors, performers, speakers, partners, sponsors and advisors are a who-is-who of science and engineering in the United States: from major academic centers and leading research institutes and government agencies to cutting-edge high tech companies, museums and community organizations.
Here’s one of several videos about the event:
Time to sign up for the National Space Society‘s their annual space extravaganza - ISDC 2014: A Space Renaissance — May 14-18, 2014 — Los Angeles, California -
An announcement from Uwingu:
Uwingu Launches Its First Call for Grant Applications
Resulting Grants Will Fund Planetary Science Graduate Student Travel
to Report Research Results at Scientific Meetings During
This Time of Budget Cuts
Space startup Uwingu announced today that it is soliciting applications from planetary science graduate students to support their travel to report research results at scientific meetings in 2014 and early 2015. Applications are due by 30 April 2014 at 11:59 PM PST.
Uwingu expects to make 10-15 awards of travel grants from this solicitation by early June. Any graduate student completing their PhD in 2014 who is studying planetary science and/or exoplanets are eligible. Recipients must use the funds to present their research at a research conference occurring by 30 April 2015. Selections will be made based on material provided by applicants in the form at: http://tinyurl.com/Uwingu-TravelAwards.
Uwingu is a for profit, public engagement space company based in Boulder, CO, led by senior planetary scientists and astronomers (see http://www.uwingu.com/about-us/who-we-are/). Uwingu’s mission is to connect the public to space exploration in new ways and to create a grant fund to support a wide range of space efforts by individual space researchers, educators, and organizations.
Uwingu’s Mars Map Crater Naming Project at www.uwingu.com, which is funding these student grants, allows anyone with a connection to the Internet to help name approximately 590,000 unnamed, scientifically cataloged craters on Mars. The project aims to ultimately raise up to $10M for Uwingu’s grant fund.
Uwingu’s Mars map grandfathers in all the already named craters on Mars, opening the remainder up for naming by people around the globe. Prices for naming craters depend on the size of the crater, and begin at $5 dollars. Uwingu makes a shareable Internet link and a naming certificate available to each crater namer for each newly named crater. This public engagement project will culminate with the flight of Uwingufs Mars Map to Mars in 2018 aboard the Mars One 2018 robotic lander, currently in definition phase at aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin
Dr. Alan Stern, Uwingu’s CEO added, “We are excited to begin making grants to students and to supporting their research, and look forward to selecting the best applications we receive for funding. We expect to make more and more grant solicitations as revenues from our Mars Map Crater Naming Project continue to grow.”
Today’s selection of space policy/politics related links:
I recently came across this interesting 1985 article describing a discussion of Shuttle launch costs during a Congressional hearing: L5 News: Shuttle Pricing and Space Development.
Commercial launch was in its infancy at the time and the new industry had to deal with the fact that NASA wanted the Space Shuttle to provide launch services for commercial satellites. The commercial guys did not have the clout to stop this government competition (after the Challenger disaster, commercial satellite launch was taken away from NASA) but they pushed for NASA to at least charge enough to cover the cost of a Shuttle mission.
In 1985 and in 2014, NASA implements a favored government agency technique when asked for the cost of its services: obfuscation. The most basic, straight-forward estimate of the cost of a launch is simply the annual cost of the launch program divided by the number of launches annually, plus some increment from an estimate of the amortization of the development costs. NASA always rejects this basic accounting method and insists that launch cost requires very complicated calculations by teams of accountants and analysts who must determine what internal services, materials, etc are included. What eventually emerges from the agency is their famously fantastical marginal cost numbers that ignore program and development costs and instead only include estimates of materials, fuels, services, etc consumed during a launch.
As Rick Boozer notes in today’s Space Review article, NASA is giving an absurd $500M marginal cost number for a SLS launch. The SLS program will cost tens of billions in development and require an annual cost in the $3B +range. NASA will be lucky to average one SLS flight per year. So even if development costs are ignored, an SLS flight will cost $3B+.
Congressional hearings on NASA are always dominated by Congresspersons representing states and districts with NASA centers. Thus, today as in 1985, actual launch costs are ignored and NASA’s marginal cost fantasies are still treated seriously. Unfortunately, they are seldom called on this by the press or the space policy establishment.
The total money spent on the Space Shuttle program was $209 B (in 2010 dollars) and thus the average cost of the 134 flights was $1.6B. NASA, of course, still claims a Shuttle flight cost below $500M.
(It’s not just NASA that obfuscates to its advantage. The GAO recently gave up trying to determine what an EELV launch costs the US Air Force. )
Here’s a video of a recent panel discussion event at the Marshall Institute in Washington D.C. with the theme : Moon’s Challenges and Opportunities for Human Space Exploration -
On Tuesday March 25, 2014, the Marshall Institute and the Space Enterprise Council brought together a panel of experts to discuss the pressing scientific, technological and economic issues involved in human settlement on the Moon.
The panel speakers are:
* Dr. Paul D. Spudis, Planetary Geology and Remote Sensing, Lunar and Planetary Institute.
* Mike Gold, Director of D.C. Operations & Business Growth, Bigelow Aerospace, LLC
* Dr. Haym Benaroya, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Rutgers University
1. Monday, April 7, 2014, 2-3:30 PM PDT(5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back RANDA & ROD MILLIRON of Interorbital Systems to discuss their recent successful test launch.
2. Tuesday, April 8, 2014:, 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome back ROBERT (BOB) ZIMMERMAN for space news updates and more.
4. Sunday, April 13, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). OPEN LINES. First time callers welcome. All STEM and space topics welcome.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
A selection of science related links of intrest that I’ve come across recently:
The Moon’s structure and composition are not as well understood as one might think : The Moon’s Mantle Muddle: Maybe we’ve been looking for the wrong minerals, or maybe our models are wrong – Daily Planet/Air & Space Magazine
How many people do you need in your exoplanet colonization caravan to insure a healthy diversity of genes? How Many People Does It Take to Colonize Another Star System? – Popular Mechanics
A nuclear detection sensor system detects more asteroids hitting the earth than thought: Blast Sensors Detect More Asteroid Strikes Than Expected – NBC News.com
Theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose is skeptical that the recent measurements of variations in the cosmic radiation background necessarily validate the Inflation Model as the explanation of the early universe: Sir Roger Penrose: Cosmic Inflation Is ‘Fantasy’ – Science Friday
The latest live Spacevidcast show is now in the archives: The battle between Roscosmos and NASA – Spacevidcast -
From the caption:
Spacevidcast is changing names! We are becoming TMRO. Details in this episode.
Our new sub-reddit is now available here:http://www.reddit.com/r/tmro
Help keep Spacevidcast going! We are a crowd funded show supported by our community of TMRO! If you like this episode, consider contributing $1.00 for additional episodes! Details athttp://www.patreon.com/spacevidcast – And for those of you who helped us get to our 2nd Patreon goal, THANK YOU! A detailed list of the equipment we’re looking at is right here:http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/contr…
Want to check out the universe with a 20 Gigapixel image? Head over here: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/glimps… and browse away!
In this episode we talk about NASA and how it is cutting communications with Roscosmos… Except for ISS.
A selection of space policy/politics related links:
A Progress cargo module is scheduled to fly to the ISS on Wednesday. I heard a rumor that it will only carry cargo for the Japanese and Russian modules. Probably not true, but it will be interesting to see how and when Russia will retaliate for the Administration’s cutting of NASA ties with the Russia except for ISS related matters.
* Dwight Steven-Boniecki, Friday, 4-4-14 | Thespaceshow’s Blog - A discussion with Steven-Boniecki about his new book, Live TV From The Moon, which focuses on the transmission of television in NASA missions since the Apollo program.
ANS 096 Weekly AMSAT Bulletin – April 5, 2014:
* Memorial Service for Anthony “Tony” J. Monteiro, AA2TX (SK) Scheduled
* W1AW/4 VA Young Operator Award
* Dayton Hotel Reservations
* Jerry Buxton, N0JY selected as AMSAT’s VP-Engineering
* Steve Coy, K8UD joins the AMSAT-NA Board of Directors
* ARTSAT Project INVADER satellite Receives an OSCAR Number
* AMSAT Awards
Other smallsat news:
The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) imaged a big solar flare this week : Science of the sun: NASA releases solar flare footage – BBC (includes video).
And here are a couple more videos of solar activity from the SDO Youtube gallery:
Powerful magnetic forces above an active region on the Sun twisted and pulled at a blob of plasma until it lost its connections and blew out into space (Mar. 26, 2014). The resultant swirling presented its own kind of graceful, almost ballet-like bends and sweeps. To offer some kind of size perspective that blob, before it broke away, was easily larger than several Earths. The event was observed in extreme ultraviolet light over about 5.5 hours beginning at 7:00 UT. The still image was taken at 10:45 UT. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA
The Sun unleashed a M-9.3 flare, just short of an X class (the largest) from an active region right at the Sun’s edge (Mar. 12-13, 2014). The bright flash is the tell tale sign of a flare. The brightness of the flare causes very bright saturation and blooming above and below the flare region on the CCD detector and caused extended diffraction patterns to spread out across the SDO imager. The video clip shows a smaller flare preceded this one as well. The video covers about 15 hours. The still shows the peak of the flare at 22:38UT on Mar. 12. Images were taken in extreme ultraviolet light, showing ionized iron at 10 million degrees. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA.
Check out real and near real-time solar images and data on the HobbySpace Sun & Space Weather page.
NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft is gradually lowering its orbital altitude over the moon. LADEE will continue to make important science observations before its planned impact into the lunar surface later this month.
When will it impact the lunar surface? NASA wants to hear your best guess!
LADEE mission managers expect the spacecraft will impact the moon’s surface on or before April 21. On April 11, ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will command LADEE to perform its final orbital maintenance maneuver prior to a total lunar eclipse on April 15, when Earth’s shadow passes over the moon. This eclipse, which will last approximately four hours, exposes the spacecraft to conditions just on the edge of what it was designed to survive.
This final maneuver will ensure that LADEE’s trajectory will impact the far side of the moon, which is not in view of Earth and away from any previous lunar mission landings. There are no plans to target a particular impact location on the lunar surface, and the exact date and time depends on several factors.
“The moon’s gravity field is so lumpy, and the terrain is so highly variable with crater ridges and valleys that frequent maneuvers are required or the LADEE spacecraft will impact the moon’s surface,” said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at Ames. “Even if we perform all maneuvers perfectly, there’s still a chance LADEE could impact the moon sometime before April 21, which is when we expect LADEE’s orbit to naturally decay after using all the fuel onboard.”
Anyone is eligible to enter the “Take the Plunge: LADEE Impact Challenge.” Winners will be announced after impact and will be e-mailed a commemorative, personalized certificate from the LADEE program. The submissions deadline is 3 p.m. PDT Friday, April 11.
For more information about the challenge and to enter, visit: http://socialforms.nasa.gov/ladee
“We want to thank all those that watched LADEE launch and have followed the mission these past months,” said Jim Green, NASA’s Director for Planetary Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Our Moon holds a special place in so many cultures, and because of LADEE, we’ll know more than ever before about our nearest neighbor.”
LADEE’s mission marked several firsts. It was the first demonstration of Optical Laser Communications from space (sent data six times faster than radio), and the first deep space spacecraft designed and built “in house” at NASA’s Ames Research Center. It was also the first payload to launch on a U.S. Air Force Minotaur V rocket integrated by Orbital Sciences Corp., Va., and was the first deep space mission to launch from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., when millions watched the night launch on Sept. 6, 2013.
The vending-machine size spacecraft has been orbiting the moon since Oct. 6. On Nov. 10, LADEE began gathering science data, and on Nov. 20, the spacecraft entered its science orbit around the moon’s equator. LADEE has been in extended mission operations following a highly successful 100-day prime science phase.
LADEE’s three science payload instruments have been working to unravel the mysteries of the lunar atmosphere and dust environment acquiring to date more than 700,000 measurements. In its previous orbit, LADEE’s closest approach to the moon’s surface was between 20 and 50 km, and its farthest point was between 75 and 150 km – a unique position that allows the spacecraft to frequently pass from lunar day to lunar night, approximately every two hours. This vantage provides data about the full scope of changes and processes occurring within the moon’s tenuous atmosphere.
Scientists hope to address a long-standing question: Was lunar dust, electrically charged by sunlight, responsible for the pre-sunrise glow detected during several Apollo missions above the lunar horizon? LADEE also is gathering detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere.
A thorough understanding of these characteristics of our nearest celestial neighbor will help researchers understand other bodies in the solar system, such as large asteroids, Mercury, and the moons of outer planets.
Here’s an interesting historical space policy item about how the ISS ended up as a compromised facility that was far from ideal for doing science or as an operationsl base for deep space missions: Historical Note: The Space Operations Center – citizensinspace.org
And here’s the latest selection of space policy/politics related links:
The latest presentation to the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) study group is now posted in the FISO Working Group Presentations Archive. Both slides (ppt) and audio (mp3) are available for the talk, Critical Risks for Extending Human Spaceflight by Mark Shelhamer, NASA JSC – FISO Lectures – April 2, 2014
Sample of his slides:
In Mojave recently, Masten Space flew their XA.01-B “Xombie” vehicle with an Astrobotic Technology hazard avoidance guidance sensor : Astrobotic Technology Announces Successful Landing System Test – Astrobotic
NASA’s Asteroid Initiative to redirected a small asteroid into the Earth-Moon system has not quite gotten off the ground yet, at least in terms of broad political support. However, with the Kerbal Space Program you can now go retrieve an asteroid on your own: ‘Kerbal Space Program’ Launches NASA ‘Asteroid Redirect Mission’ Update – IBT
A reader points me to this unusual story of a near-miss in the sky: Skydiver nearly struck by meteorite – NRK/Viten
[ Update Apr.8: Phil Plait now think it was just a rock bound up inside the parachute of the other skydiver : Skydiving meteorite: It was a rock. - Bad Astronomy/Slate.com. ]
Update Apr.22.14: Analysis with software designed to study ballistic debris indicates that it was in fact just a rock falling out of the chute: Forensic Ballistics: How Apollo 12 Helped Solve the Skydiver Meteorite Mystery - The Planetary Society