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Friday, August 29, 2014

I'm Starting To Miss That Old Bird

The Shuttle was a deadly jalopy, but I find myself waxing nostalgiac:

"If Discovery could talk, it would surely express happiness at seeing so many people coming to visit and saying how awesome it looks," said Valerie Neal, Discovery's curator at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and the author of the recently released book, "Discovery:Champion of the Space Shuttle Fleet."

Discovery launched on the first of its 39 missions, STS-41D, on August 30, 1984. The flight logged the first week of the orbiter's ultimate total of 365 days in space (spread out over 27 years). Discovery retired with the shuttle fleet in 2011 and became part of the Smithsonian's collection a year later at the Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia.

Dare the impossible...

ntodd

August 29, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

It Ain't No Saturn V, But...

Yay, a new rocket!

NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous review of the Space Launch System (SLS) -- the heavy-lift, exploration class rocket under development to take humans beyond Earth orbit and to Mars -- and approved the program's progression from formulation to development, something no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the space shuttle.

"We are on a journey of scientific and human exploration that leads to Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "And we’re firmly committed to building the launch vehicle and other supporting systems that will take us on that journey."

For its first flight test, SLS will be configured for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit. In its most powerful configuration, SLS will provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons), which will enable missions even farther into our solar system, including such destinations as an asteroid and Mars.

This decision comes after a thorough review known as Key Decision Point C (KDP-C), which provides a development cost baseline for the 70-metric ton version of the SLS of $7.021 billion from February 2014 through the first launch and a launch readiness schedule based on an initial SLS flight no later than November 2018.

Let's get our asses to Mars, bitches.

ntodd

August 28, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Illegal Aliens

Yes, ETs do exist.  Let's just hope they don't deport Vger.

ntodd

August 27, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

KFC On Mars

Sometimes we see what we want to see on other worlds.  Sometimes it's actually there, though maybe after some mistakes.  But I'm sure there's no thigh bone--of a chicken or little green man--on Mars.

ntodd

August 23, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Aliens

Quick, interesting look at when humans started speculating about life on other worlds.  Well before Huygens and Kepler, it appears.

ntodd

August 20, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

If You Believe There's Nothing Up His Sleeve, Then Nothing Is Cool

Is there a man on the moon?  No, of course not.

ntodd

August 14, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Speaking Of Human Spaceflight

Testing continues on the Orion vehicle, which will have wicked cool Star Trek helm controls.

ntodd

July 31, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Driving In Dirt Dirt


Takes a while to get your lunar rover out of the garage.

ntodd

PS--This really needs an old-timey silent film piano score.

PPS--I still hate when people disable embeds.

July 31, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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When The Moon Hits Your Spacecraft


Or just before it does, you get the first lunar pictures by a US spacecraft.

ntodd

July 31, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hadley Rille, My Kind Of Place


Okay, Houston. The Falcon is on the plain at Hadley.

ntodd

July 30, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday Driving On Mars

Apparently its tires haven't gotten slashed:

"Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance. But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance."

A drive of 157 feet (48 meters) on July 27 put Opportunity's total odometry at 25.01 miles (40.25 kilometers).This month's driving brought the rover southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover had driven more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) before arriving at Endeavour Crater in 2011, where it has examined outcrops on the crater’s rim containing clay and sulfate-bearing minerals. The sites are yielding evidence of ancient environments with less acidic water than those examined at Opportunity’s landing site.

If the rover can continue to operate the distance of a marathon -- 26.2 miles (about 42.2 kilometers) -- it will approach the next major investigation site mission scientists have dubbed "Marathon Valley." Observations from spacecraft orbiting Mars suggest several clay minerals are exposed close together at this valley site, surrounded by steep slopes where the relationships among different layers may be evident.

The Russian Lunokhod 2 rover, a successor to the first Lunokhod mission in 1970, landed on Earth's moon on Jan. 15, 1973, where it drove about 24.2 miles (39 kilometers) in less than five months, according to calculations recently made using images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) cameras that reveal Lunokhod 2's tracks.

I was gonna say Opportunity isn't even old enough to drive, but it's 18 Martian years old, so it's all cool.

ntodd

July 28, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Winter Is Here Again, Oh, Lord

It appears that Curiosity's all-seasons are getting dinged up a bit.  Martian municipal government really ought to raise property taxes to fix the roads.

ntodd

July 26, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Collision Avoidance

Sometimes it's crowded in space:

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19.

The comet’s nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers), shedding material hurtling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, relative to Mars and Mars-orbiting spacecraft. At that velocity, even the smallest particle -- estimated to be about one-fiftieth of an inch (half a millimeter) across -- could cause significant damage to a spacecraft.
...
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) made one orbit-adjustment maneuver on July 2 as part of the process of repositioning the spacecraft for the Oct. 19 event. An additional maneuver is planned for Aug. 27. The team operating NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter is planning a similar maneuver on Aug. 5 to put that spacecraft on track to be in the right place at the right time, as well.

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is on its way to the Red Planet and will enter orbit on Sept. 21. The MAVEN team is planning to conduct a precautionary maneuver on Oct. 9, prior to the start of the mission's main science phase in early November.

In the days before and after the comet's flyby, NASA will study the comet by taking advantage of how close it comes to Mars. Researchers plan to use several instruments on the Mars orbiters to study the nucleus, the coma surrounding the nucleus, and the tail of Siding Spring, as well as the possible effects on the Martian atmosphere. This particular comet has never before entered the inner solar system, so it will provide a fresh source of clues to our solar system's earliest days.

MAVEN will study gases coming off the comet's nucleus into its coma as it is warmed by the sun. MAVEN also will look for effects the comet flyby may have on the planet’s upper atmosphere and observe the comet as it travels through the solar wind.

Odyssey will study thermal and spectral properties of the comet's coma and tail. MRO will monitor Mars’ atmosphere for possible temperature increases and cloud formation, as well as changes in electron density at high altitudes. The MRO team also plans to study gases in the comet’s coma. Along with other MRO observations, the team anticipates this event will yield detailed views of the comet’s nucleus and potentially reveal its rotation rate and surface features.

Hope they remembered which system of measurement to use this time...

ntodd

July 26, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Pareidolia

Viking saw a face, I can't forget the time or place:

Oh, turns out it isn't a face.

ntodd

July 25, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Psalm 8:3


"This has been far more than three men on a mission to the Moon; more, still, than the efforts of a government and industry team; more, even, than the efforts of one nation..."

ntodd 

July 23, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Obama's So Alien

The Prez met with Mike and Buzz and Carol Armstrong yesterday, but this older vignette stuck out for me:

After his last meeting with the crew — marking the 40th anniversary, in 2009, when Armstrong was still alive — Obama said he remembered following the Apollo missions, sitting on his grandfather's shoulders to watch the capsules coming into port in Hawaii.

How quintessentially American to watch our conquering star voyagers' spacecrafts coming into port!  But not even that counts for somebody like Rep Steve King (R-IA).

ntodd

July 23, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Coming Home

A converstation with Capcom Charlie Duke on July 22:

05 12 17 21 CC
...Mrs. Robert Goddard said today that her husband would have been so happy. "He wouldn't have shouted or anything. He would just have glowed." She added, "That was his dream, sending a rocket to the Moon." People around the world had many reasons to be happy about the Apollo 11 mission. The Italian police reported that Sunday night was the most crime free night of the year. And in London, a boy who had the faith to bet $5 with a bookie that a man would reach the Moon before 1970 collected $24.000. That's pretty good odds. 
...
05 14 37 53 CC
Apollo 11, Houston. You are GO for TEI. Over. 

05 14 37 59 CMP
Apollo 11. Thank you. 

05 14 49 25 CC
Hello, Apollo 11. Houston. You've got about 8 minutes till LOS. Your AOS with the burn, 135 34 05, no burn 135 44. Over. 

05 14 49 43 CMP
Okay. Thank you. 

05 14 49 46 CC
Yes, sir. 

05 14 56 35 CC
Apollo 11, Houston. One minute to LOS. Go sic 'em. 

05 14 56 41 CMP
Thank you, sir. We'll do it. 

05 15 19 -- BEGIN LUNAR REV 31 

05 15 35 14 CC
Hello Apollo 11. Houston. How did it go? Over. 

05 15 35 22 CMP
Time to open up the LRL doors, Charlie. 

05 15 35 25 CC
Roger. We got you coming home. It's well stocked. 

That first beer call on terra firma must've been nice, even if it was with Nixon.

ntodd

July 22, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Gotta Learn To Crawl Before You Can Run To The Moon


We had to figure out how to even stay up there before Gemini, let alone Apollo.  Ole Gus, he did alright.

ntodd

July 21, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Speaking Of Going Biblical On The Moon

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

 - Psalm 8:3-4

From The Inside Story of America's Apollo Moon Landings:

"Eagle, Houston," he spoke into his microphone. His words raced across space at 186,300 miles per second to the two men. "If you read, you're GO for powered descent."

Armstrong and Aldrin were not alone in space. A third member of the Apollo 11 crew, Michael Collins, was 50 miles above them, in lunar orbit in their command ship, Columbia. He had heard clearly the vital message from the control center.

"Eagle, this is Columbia. They just gave you a GO for powered descent," Collins said.

The two men glanced at each other. "Roger," Armstrong acknowledged. They were now headed for a waterless sea known as Tranquility.

Inside Houston's Mission Control Center, a small army of tense flight controllers sat with eyes riveted to their data consoles. "Hey, gang." Heads turned. Gene Kranz, flight director, smiled. "We're really going to land on the moon today."
...
When the instruments told them that they were 192 miles from their projected landing site, Armstrong and Aldrin would unleash decelerating thrust and begin slowing their speed for the touchdown.

This was it. PDI. Powered Descent Initiate.

On earth, radio listeners and television viewers held their breath. People prayed. Fingernails dug into palms.

Gently the ship descended through the black sky. The Eagle's electronic brain monitored the deceleration, measured the loss of velocity, judged height and confirmed the angle of descent. The invisible hand of the computer then began to add power.

Throttle up. Full power!

Flame gushed beneath them. The Eagle rocked from side to side and pitched violently. The computer fired control thrusters to hold the craft steady.

Gravity pulled at Eagle with a vengeance as it decelerated. Inside their capsule, Armstrong and Aldrin, who had been weightless, were once again in a gravity field. Their arms sagged. Legs settled within their suits.

Armstrong smiled, immersed in the reality of their incredible adventure. He saw Aldrin grinning like a kid.

They were going to land on the moon!

SPOILER: after sailing the breezes of heaven, they make it as Dog intended.  And weren't deported by Christian Loonies.

ntodd

July 20, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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John 15:5

I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way. Over. 

 - LMP from Tranquility Base, 105:25:38 MET


Buzz wrote in his 2009 book, Magnificent Desolation:

Landing on the moon is not quite the same thing as arriving at Grandmother's for Thanksgiving. You don't hop out of the lunar module the moment the engine stops and yell, "We're here! We're here!" Getting out of the LM takes a lot of preparation, so we had built in several extra hours to our flight plan. We also figured it was wise to allow more time rather than less for our initial activities after landing, just in case anything had gone wrong during the flight.

According to our schedule, we were supposed to eat a meal, rest awhile, and then sleep for seven hours after arriving on the moon. After all, we had already worked a long, full day and we wanted to be fresh for our extra-vehicular activity (EVA). Mission Control had notified the media that they could take a break and catch their breath since there wouldn't be much happening for several hours as we rested. But it was hard to rest with all that adrenaline pumping through our systems.

Nevertheless, in an effort to remain calm and collected, I decided that this would be an excellent time for a ceremony I had planned as an expression of gratitude and hope. Weeks before, as the Apollo mission drew near, I had originally asked Dean Woodruff, pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church, where my family and I attended services when I was home in Houston, to help me come up with something I could do on the moon, some appropriate symbolic act regarding the universality of seeking. I had thought in terms of doing something overtly patriotic, but everything we came up with sounded trite and jingoistic. I settled on a well-known expression of spirituality: celebrating the first Christian Communion on the moon, much as Christopher Columbus and other explorers had done when they first landed in their "new world."

I wanted to do something positive for the world, so the spiritual aspect appealed greatly to me, but NASA was still smarting from a lawsuit filed by atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair after the Apollo 8 astronauts read from the biblical creation account in Genesis. O'Hair contended this was a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state. Although O'Hair's views did not represent mainstream America at that time, her lawsuit was a nuisance and a distraction that NASA preferred to live without.

I met with Deke Slayton, one of the original "Mercury Seven" astronauts who ran our flight-crew operations, to inform him of my plans and that I intended to tell the world what I was doing. Deke said, "No, that's not a good idea, Buzz. Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general." I understood that Deke didn't want any more trouble.

So, during those first hours on the moon, before the planned eating and rest periods, I reached into my personal preference kit and pulled out the communion elements along with a three-by-five card on which I had written the words of Jesus: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me." I poured a thimbleful of wine from a sealed plastic container into a small chalice, and waited for the wine to settle down as it swirled in the one-sixth Earth gravity of the moon. My comments to the world were inclusive: "I would like to request a few moments of silence ... and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way." I silently read the Bible passage as I partook of the wafer and the wine, and offered a private prayer for the task at hand and the opportunity I had been given.

Neil watched respectfully, but made no comment to me at the time.

Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind — be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience that by giving thanks to God. It was my hope that people would keep the whole event in their minds and see, beyond minor details and technical achievements, a deeper meaning — a challenge, and the human need to explore whatever is above us, below us, or out there.

As I've said before, I never had a problem with Genesis on Apollo 8 and think it would be completely appropriate for Buzz to have been more public, too.  Now if Nixon had done something like that, it would've been a different story.

ntodd

July 20, 2014 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack