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Monday, May 18, 2015

We Is Goin' Up Among 'Em, Charlie Brown!


Suit up, Snoopy!

ntodd

May 18, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Super Star Destroyer Destroyed


Al Shepard's flight could've ended like this.

ntodd

May 5, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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"You're on your way, Jose!"


A popgun shot, but well done, and a great way to enjoy Cinco de Mayo (racism of the epoch aside).

ntodd

May 5, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Kepler Wouldn't Understand Either

Via RMJ, I see that there's a conflict between native Hawaiians and astronomers who want to build a telescope on Mauna Kea, considered sacred ground by the latter.  

I love science.  I love space.  I love looking at space.  I find looking through a scope to be a religious experience.

I wouldn't build one on somebody's religiously-significant land, especially when it had been stolen by our nation.  Hell, man, we've got goddamned scopes in space.  Why the fuck do we need to mess up other people's shit?

The confused astronomers are absolutely soaking in privilege as invisible as cosmic rays we bathe in our whole lives...

ntodd

May 3, 2015 in And Fuck..., Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Moon Base Alpha?


I always dig ISS photos like this.

ntodd

April 27, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Thanks For 25 Years Of Discovery

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display in the 25th anniversary NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to commemorate a quarter century of exploring the solar system and beyond since its launch on April 24, 1990.

“Hubble has completely transformed our view of the universe, revealing the true beauty and richness of the cosmos” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This vista of starry fireworks and glowing gas is a fitting image for our celebration of 25 years of amazing Hubble science.”

The sparkling centerpiece of Hubble’s anniversary fireworks is a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2, named for Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund who discovered the grouping in the 1960s. The cluster resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Carina.

Just go see the thing in all its glory.  Spectacular.

ntodd

April 24, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Of Lunar Landings


Still hoaxing after all these missions.

ntodd

April 20, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Of Rocket Journeys

Speaking of Goddard's failures, this is some beautiful negative information:

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 came so close to a first-ever landing of a reusable rocket on a floating platform. The footage shows the rocket making a near-perfect descent until moments before contact with the barge. 

After the failed landing attempt, Elon Musk tweeted: “Looks like Falcon landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over post-landing.”

The Falcon 9 was SpaceX's third attempt to land a rocket on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean. The purpose of a stage landing is to save costs. “If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred,” said Musk. “A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before.”

Not a bad disaster.  And I noted to myself on launch day that NASA focused solely on Dragon's success.  The routine stuff worked, the ambitious stuff provided a learning opportunity.

ntodd

April 20, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Failure Is An Option

Heroes are made in the hour of defeat. Success is, therefore, well described as a series of glorious defeats.

 - MK Gandhi, Young India (January 15, 1925)

The day after Apollo 13 safely splashed down, Richard Nixon awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the folks at the MSC in Houston:

I have a very special honor, first as President of the United States to speak for all of the American people in expressing appreciation to the men and women on the ground who made it possible for the men to return to earth. We express our appreciation to you.

But I also am authorized to do something that even in this office I cannot usually do, and that is to speak not just for Americans but to speak for people all over the world.

There has poured into the White House in these past 24 hours, an unprecedented number of wires and letters and cables. There has poured in the kind of messages that have told me over and over again that it is vitally important to convey to the wives, to the astronauts, and to the men and women on the ground NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] the fact that not just Americans but people all over the world, not just people in the free world but people in the Communist world, people of all religions, of all faiths, of all political beliefs, that they also were on that trip with these men.

I could read many, many wires today that express those sentiments. I have one that I think perhaps summarizes them as well as any. I read it to you:

"To the President of the United States:

"For the safe return of three astronauts, we express profound gratitude to God, to men of science and to all those who contributed to make this possible."

It brings to mind Robert Goddard's view (when lives were not at stake) that failure was not an entirely bad thing (reportedly in his diaries):

On Jan. 13, 1920, a New York Times editorial stated that Dr. Robert H. Goddard, "seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools" because he thought that rocket thrust would be effective beyond the earth's atmosphere. These doubting Thomases could not have imagined that Goddard's determination and optimism would make it possible to get through failures with phrases like, "valuable negative information"...

During his few years in the Southwest, the physicist attempted 48 launches of liquid-propelled rockets, of which 31 lifted off...

Can't find the specific editorial mentioned, but I did see this in the Times' archive:

BELIEVES ROCKET CAN REACH MOON; Smithsonian Institution Tells of Prof. Goddard's Invention to Explore Upper Air. MULTIPLE-CHARGE SYSTEM Instruments Could Go Up 200 Miles, and Bigger Rocket Might Land on Satellite.

Crazy!  Alas, Goddard died in 1945, so he didn't live to see Buzz Aldrin righteously punch a hoaxer in the face.

ntodd

April 18, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

T Minus 20 To The Penultimate Mission


Because why not have raw video of James Burke covering the Apollo 16 launch?

ntodd

April 16, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Speaking Of Rebel Movies

Yeah, man:

What makes Alien such a classic? Is it the iconic monsters? The story? The way it was shot? Sure, it's all of those. But there's also another reason it became a classic in the '70s — and it's not one of the reasons we still think of today...

Not only was Tom Skeritt the obvious "hero" in the movie, but Sigourney Weaver's Ripley was a character type that was edgy in 1979 (and arguably to this date, though more widely accepted in SF movies than in other genres and in the real world): she was the kind of woman a certain generation might call "mouthy" or a "ball-breaker". She's a stickler for rules; she's disliked, disrespected and disobeyed by her crewmates; she doesn't scream or cower (nothing against Veronica Cartwright's Lambert; just that there's a reason there's a horror film archetype called the "scream queen"). To be fair, even if Ripley had been cast with a male, the anal-retentive guy is supposed to get it in the last reel of a horror film, having proven he's not really such a huge asshole after all.

Ripley, a brash and (by the standards of the era) unwomanly woman prevails. Without compromising. And the brave, bearded manly-man? Turns out to be a likeable but incompetent dweeb who gets his halfway through the film. Younger audiences just don't get how groundbreaking that was when Alien came out. The movie defied convention, broke not just the rules but social mores that were still popular, and created archetypes that people take for granted these days.

And that's why it's a classic. People seem to think it's the brilliant art design or something. No. It's because it's a rebel movie.

She was no Anne Francis, that's for sure...

ntodd

April 16, 2015 in Mars, Bitches!, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Looking At The Comet Bennet


We've had a Main B Bus Undervolt...

ntodd

April 13, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Beam Me Up, Scotty, There's No Intelligent Life Down Here

ET still never writes, never calls:

Since 2007, telescopes have picked up nearly a dozen so-called “fast radio bursts,” pulses that last for mere milliseconds, but erupt with as much energy as the sun releases in a month. Where could they be coming from? To find out, a group of researchers took advantage of a simple principle: That higher frequency radio waves encounter less interference as they traverse space, and are detected by our telescopes earlier than lower frequency waves. The time delay, or “dispersion measure”, between higher and lower frequency radio waves from the same pulse event can be used to determine the distance those waves traveled.

Here’s where things got weird. When researchers calculated the dispersion distance for each of eleven fast radio bursts, they found that each distance is an integer multiple of a single number: 187.5. When plotted on a graph, as the researchers show us in Figure 1 of their paper, the points form a striking pattern.
...
But no matter how you slice it, eleven data points is a small sample set to draw any meaningful conclusions from. A handful of deviant observations could cause the entire pattern to unravel. 

And that’s exactly what seems to be happening. As Nadia Drake reports for National Geographic, newer observations, not included in the latest scientific report or other popular media articles, don’t fit...

If there’s one thing that is clear in this whole business, it’s that we’ve still got plenty to learn about the patterns woven into the universe around us.

Kepler ran into similar disappointing results when using Brahe's data and trying to prove his Platonic Solids hypothesis regarding planetary orbits.  He eventually learned something new about Creation.  

Failure often leads to understanding.  We didn't find aliens (yet), but there's a new mystery about our universe to unravel!

ntodd

April 4, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, April 03, 2015

Psalm 8:3

This is sufficiently neat:

A massive young star may prove to be the missing link between two stages of star formation.

While most stars have winds that pile the gas around them into columns streaming from their poles, some stars expel spherical winds of expanding material. A real-time study over almost two decades reveals for the first time a star in the process of changing from spherical winds of charged particles to streaming columns of them, linking the two structures together.

Describing how scientists understood stars with spherical expanding winds, Carlos Carrasco-González, of the Centre of Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics in Mexico, said, "We were speculating that these stars were in a younger stage, and that they would develop collimated winds in the future. But this has been proposed by theoretical works, and we had not actually obtained proof of this."

Carrasco-González served as lead author on a study that examined the massive young star W75N(B)-VLA2 over 18 years, and a second study that examined the star in 2014.

"With this work, we have obtained a link between the two stages, the spherical and the collimated one," Carrasco-González said.

This day and age we're living in...

ntodd

April 3, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Iron And Ice

This just popped up on io9 for some reason:

In 1178, a group of monks at Canterbury saw the moon suddenly explode into sparks, "writhe," and "take on a blackish appearance." What the hell did they see?
...
[S]om experts believe that they saw the impact that led to formation of the Giordano Bruno crater on the moon. Others disagree, believing that such an impact would have kicked up debris that would lead to a week-long pelting of the Earth. Such a thing would have caught the attention of more than a few monks.

The most credible theory is the monks just saw a particularly spectacular meteor hit the atmosphere. From their point of view, and their point of view alone, it would have looked like part of the moon exploded. No one else would have seen it as anything more than a bright shooting star.

Yeah, people who read my blog know they didn't see a lunar impact.  We know what it looks like.

ntodd

PS--Sam's been advising his friends that if a meteor strikes near us and "we are in a building, we'll probably be okay, but our windows will blow out.  Unless it's big and we die like the dinosaurs."  Perhaps I tell him too much.

March 31, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, March 27, 2015

A Year At The Beach

Bon Voyage!

Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m. EDT Friday (1:42 a.m., March 28 in Baikonur).

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend about a year living and working aboard the space station to help scientists better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space.

“Scott Kelly’s mission is critical to advancing the administration’s plan to send humans on a journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We’ll gain new, detailed insights on the ways long-duration spaceflight affects the human body.”

Launching with Kelly and Kornienko was cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who will spend a standard six-month rotation on the station. The trio is scheduled to dock with the station at 9:36 p.m., about six hours after launch. NASA Television coverage of docking will begin at 8:45 p.m. Hatches are scheduled to open at about 11:15 p.m., with coverage starting at 10:45 p.m.

A year could take you to Mars and back--really into deeper waters of outer space instead of shallows by the beach.  I become impatient.

ntodd

March 27, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Sandwiches

Two items of interest at Space.com:

  • Life: The more scientists learn about Mars, the more intriguing the Red Planet becomes as a potential haven for primitive life in the ancient past ... and perhaps even the present.

    A study released today (March 23) reports that ancient Mars harbored a form of nitrogen that could potentially have been used by microbes, if any existed, to build key molecules such as amino acids. An unrelated study suggests that atmospheric carbon monoxide has been a feasible energy source for microbes throughout the Red Planet's history. Both papers were published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

  • Liberty: Just about two hours into the flight of Gemini 3, NASA's first two-man space mission 50 years ago Monday (March 23), pilot John Young reached into his spacesuit's pocket and pulled out a surprise.

    "Where did that come from?" Gus Grissom, the mission's commander, asked his crewmate.

    "I brought it with me," Young replied, somewhat matter of factly. "Let's see how it tastes. Smells, doesn't it?" 

There were no more sandwiches in spaceships after that.  Even astronauts live under tyranny.

Perhaps the first colonists on Mars will get to have picnics on the red sands, with Martian ants picking up their crumbs.  Of course, the robot colonists already there don't eat corned beef.

ntodd

March 23, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Unsinkable


Grissom and Young make history.

And about that name:

Initially, Gus wanted to name his spacecraft Wapasha after a Native American tribe that had lived in Grissom's home state of Indiana. "Then some smart joker pointed out that surer than shooting, our spacecraft would be dubbed the Wabash Cannon Ball. Well, my Dad was working for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and I wasn't too sure just how he'd take to the Wabash Cannon Ball. How would he explain that one to his pals on the B & O?"

 Wapasha got scratched off the list of prospective names and Grissom began a new search. The Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown provided him with a source of inspiration. With the loss of Liberty Bell still on his mind, Gus decided to poke fun at the whole incident. Molly Brown had been strong, reliable and most importantly, unsinkable. It was a perfect name for Liberty Bell's successor. However, some of Grissom's bosses insisted that he choose a more respectable name. Gus replied, "How about the Titanic?"

 It was clear that Grissom was not going to back down on this one. Given a choice ofMolly Brown or Titanic, disgruntled officials backed off. Without further ado, Gemini-Titan 3 became known as Molly Brown.

Anyway, Ole Gus didn't screw the pooch this time.

ntodd

March 23, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's A Wonderful Wonderful Life


Why'd you have to say goodbye?

ntodd

PS--Gwen's live performance reminds me of Sally Rand and The Right Stuff.  Just in time for Gussie's/Gemini's 50th anniversary tomorrow.

March 22, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Kubrick Faked Apollo

I'm ridiculously excited about seeing this:

Indie action comedy Moonwalkers picked up a distributor after its world premiere at SXSW over the weekend. We're excited, given its cast (Ron Perlman, Rupert Grint) and premise, which puts a hilarious-sounding spin on the long-held conspiracy theory that Apollo 11 failed to land on the moon.

It's directed by first-time feature helmer Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, and written by Dean Craig (who penned both the British original and American remake versions of comedy Death at a Funeral).

Wish Emma Watson could've been in it, too, but we can't have everything...

ntodd

March 16, 2015 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack