with RBSP spacecraft[/caption] The two satellites, each weighing just less than 1,500 pounds, comprise the first dual-spacecraft mission specifically created to investigate this hazardous regions of near-Earth space, known as the radiation belts. These two belts, named for their discoverer, James Van Allen, encircle the planet and are filled with highly charged particles. The belts are affected by solar storms and coronal mass ejections and sometimes swell dramatically. When this occurs, they can pose dangers to communications, GPS satellites and human spaceflight.
His movie star good looks should have propelled him into the spotlight. But this hero believed anyone on the Apollo team could have been the first on the moon and so shunned his well deserved personal glory, chalking it up to the luck of the draw.
Looking like a character out of 2001 A Space Odyssey we see Neil Armstrong suited up for glory. His attitude was that he wanted to do great things for the US because that is what Americans do, and they do it simply because they can. And because they can do it then morally they should do it.
Somebody had to be the first to walk on the moon he said. It just so happened that his number came up. It was for this reason and his natural humility that he refused to profit personally from his feat, although he got plenty of offers. This is an act of selflessness unheard of and possibly unthinkable in this day and age. No Armstrong astronaut action toys for him. No story books, coffee mugs, posters and designer clothes with his brand name on them as is the normal path of persons who crowd the limelight today.
We have two memorable famous quotes from Mr. Armstrong that almost everyone in America and the world are familiar with. “The Eagle has landed and “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
The fact that the Eagle landed seems so matter of fact today. Inevitable. Of course the Eagle landed we say. It was all thought out in a clinical scientific fashion like a routine appendectomy. But on that day for several critical minutes, the Eagles success was anything but inevitable. The landing area that was expected to be smooth and Eagle friendly, turned out to be strewn with boulders and there was no visible safe landing area anywhere around.
Then with less than a minutes worth of fuel remaining before the eagle would be forced to crash, the communication with the Eagle which had been spotty as it got closer to the moon’s surface, went suddenly dead. It was Neil Armstrong, piloting and keeping his cool, that spied an area big enough and close enough for a landing possibility. It had to be there and it had to be at that moment and with only seconds of fuel left, controlling the craft by hand he made the landing that saved the mission and his life and fulfilled a dream.
For years no one knew of how dire and how close to catastrophe that first attempt to land on the moon had been. It was only after the a few years and the Apollo program was finished that the stories came out and I learned how close we were to failure. I wonder if I had been the one in that strange place on that day of reckoning if I would have been able to stay cool and perform as perfectly as Neil Armstrong? I wonder if I had done so would I have been as humble as he?
When it was time to launch the Eagle from the moon and reunite with the Apollo space craft, there was vast uncertainty at NASA as to whether or not the Eagle engines would fire. Even though it had been test fired on earth over 250 times without a problem, because this was the moon and not earth, because of the lack of oxygen on the moon, there would be only one attempt possible, to fire the engine successfully. There would be no second try. If the engine did not fire the first time there would be no second chance and the astronauts would die there and never return to earth.
A speech had already been prepared for President Nixon in case the feared failure of the Eagle to launch became true. Fortunately that too went off without a hitch and the courage of all three astronauts was rewarded with overwhelming success.
I believe Neil Armstrong would want to be remembered at his passing as one of the ones who did it because they could, So in his memory, let all of us in the US and the world who aspire to the highest calling of their nature and hold their ability to accomplish all they can dear, give all props and kudos to the men and women of Apollo and NASA whose quality of humanity made a man on the moon a reality.
We are so proud of you Neil Armstrong and all the Apollo team on who’s achievements we ride into the future.
San Diego’s Air & Space Museum honored the late astronaut Neil Armstrong, who often visited the museum for book-signings and gala events.
On Saturday, the Balboa Park museum displayed a painted portrait of Armstrong at the center of the main hallway, along with space capsules and models of the spacecraft Armstrong flew and landed on the moon.
Patrons were invited to share memories of the space pioneer who famously took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when he became the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Gordon Permann, of the Air & Space Museum, called the astronaut a “very down-to-earth guy.”
See the original post here: Neil Armstrong remembered at Air & Space Museum in San Diego
NASA’s Curiosity rover has made its first measurements of the radiation environment at Mars’ surface, gathering information that could help prepare future astronauts for stays on the Red Planet.
Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector instrument, or RAD, collected data for about 3 1/2 hours on Wednesday (Aug. 8), researchers said. Curiosity touched down inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater late Sunday night.
The mission team hasn’t had time to fully analyze RAD’s measurements yet, so they remain in relatively raw form, scientists said.
The Mars Curiosity rover started her slow roll across the Martian surface today, inching about 20 feet away from her landing site, which scientists have now named after the late Ray Bradbury.
The journey provided NASA with the first shots of Curiosity’s wheel tracks on the surface of Mars and established the health of Curiosity’s mobility system.
“We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead,” said Matt Heverly, the mission’s lead rover driver.
View post: Curiosity Rover Takes First Drive on Mars
By Mike Wall | SPACE.com – Thu, Aug 23, 2012
NASA unveiled plans this week for a brand-new mission to Mars in 2016, even as its newest rover was just settling in on the Red Planet. But space agency officials say it’s not a case of Red Planet favoritism.
On Monday (Aug. 20), NASA announced that its next low-budget exploration effort will launch a lander called InSight to Mars in 2016 to investigate the Red Planet’s interior. InSight’s selection comes barely two weeks after the agency’s $2.5 billion Curiosity rover touched down inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater.
Here is the original post: Does NASA Have Mars Fever?
By David Wagner | The Atlantic Wire – Thu, Aug 23, 2012
By Natalie Wolchover | LiveScience.com – Fri, Aug 24, 2012
According to the fringe sector of the Internet, Mars is practically teeming with aliens.
Since NASA’s Curiosity rover touched down on the Red Planet two weeks ago and powered up its cameras, it has already managed to photograph several alleged UFOs and other “anomalies” in the surrounding landscape.
From classic flying saucers to an absurdly out-of-place fossilized human finger, here’s a rundown of what UFO believers claim to have found in Curiosity photos so far. [Gallery of Mars 'UFO' Photos]
See the rest here: Mars Photos by Curiosity Rover Teeming with ‘UFOs’
A spectacular new video shows the Mars rover Curiosity’s harrowing Red Planet landing in sharp detail, while another captures the drama and excitement surrounding the historic Aug. 5 event.
Follow this link: Amazing NASA Videos Capture Drama of Mars Rover Landing
Mars rover Curiosity has a destination for its first road trip, but NASA officials said it could take a slight detour.
The destination is called Glenelg, about 1,300 feet east-southeast of the landing site. Glenelg sits at a point where three different types of terrain meet, and it could be the first site where the rover uses its drill.
Controllers aren’t sure how long the drive may take, as they may stop to check out interesting things along the way, said deputy project scientist Joy Crisp. For example, the team plans to make a pit stop on the way if it finds soil fine enough to practice using its scooping tool.
Officials hope the trip will begin in the next few days.
Go here to read the rest: Mars rover Curiosity could take pit stop during first drive
By Sam Laird | Mashable – Fri, Aug 24, 2012
[More from Mashable: Did Curiosity Spot UFOs From Mars?]
But here’s something you may not know — Curiosity, like an excited teenager visiting a new part of town, is tagging the Martian landscape with the initials of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in morse code everywhere it goes.
Travel through time and space on Mars in this cool mosaic, which includes at least one shot from every robotic mission to successfully land on the Red Planet’s surface (click on the image to enlarge).
Stitched together from many different locations and eras in spaceflight, the picture gives a nice overview of our Mars explorations and provides some notable highlights from each mission. The six different probes — some of them simply landers and others mobile rovers — represent only a handful of Mars missions that made it to the Red Planet, and are dwarfed by failed missions, which constitute the majority of attempts to reach Mars.
.Follow this link: Panorama Shows Every Mars Landing in One Beautiful Shot
It weighs 1 tone on earth. It is traveling at 8000 miles an hour and is a bit over 400.000 miles at 6pm PDT from the red planet. That is a bit under 2 times the distance to the moon from earth.
It will look a lot like this if it lands safely when it gets to mars. Now if the landing does not go well then it is hard to say. We do not have an artist’s conception for that one.
Curiosity is a the space laboratory component being transported on a 2.5 billion dollar Martian exploratory mission, landing at and exploring the geologically diverse Gale Crater. You can see 2 rings in this picture. NASA was going to try for the outer ring landing but recently updated to landing in the inner ring. The landing will occur at 10:31 p.m. PT Sunday (1:31 a.m. ET Monday).
The area where NASA’s Curiosity rover will land on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT) has a geological diversity that scientists are eager to investigate, as seen in this false-color map based on data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter. The image was obtained by Odyssey’s Thermal Emission Imaging System. It merges topographical data with thermal inertia data that record the ability of the surface to hold onto heat.
The 1-ton Curiosity rover, which is the centerpiece of the $2.5-billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, is the size of a Mini Cooper. Its arm is longer than most people are tall, clocking in at 7 feet (2.1 meters).
A bulky toolkit at the end of the arm will allow Curiosity to study and manipulate Martian rocks and soil like no previous rover. One of the tools is a drill that can go 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) deep, enabling the rover to access the interior of Red Planet rocks.
So the rover will begin the job of drilling, sifting, sampling analysing, photographing and sending back the info to Nasa on Earth untill Curiosity finally wears out.
Developed by the San Diego company Malin Space Science Systems, Mastcam is composed of two separate cameras that sit side by side, not unlike a pair of eyes, just below the ChemCam instrument on Curiosity’s “head.” Mastcam will allow color images to be captured directly. [Curiosity Rover: 11 Amazing Facts]
“It will take color in the same way as a consumer digital camera,” said Michael Ravine, advanced projects manager at Malin. “It’s as ‘true’ as your phone camera.”
Other features that are shown int the picture are very interesting as well.
Curiosity’s main goal is to determine if its landing site, the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater, can or ever could host microbial life. The arm hosts tools both old and new to aid in this quest.
The venerable Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) — which was used on the previous Mars rovers Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity — will return on Curiosity with even better sensitivity, more schedule flexibility and better control.
Contributed by the Canadian Space Agency, the instrument bombards samples with alpha particles and X-rays and measures the energy of the X-rays that bounce back.
APXS will help scientists determine what minerals each sample is made of. Typical rocks on Mars include the elements of oxygen, silicon, aluminium, iron and calcium.
The huge NASA rover slated to land on Mars Sunday night (Aug. 5) is expected to give scientists and laypeople alike some amazing views of the Red Planet.
See original here: Mars Rover Curiosity Will See Red Planet As Never Before
CHECK OUT THESE OTHER STORIES ON THE MARS MISSION FROM OUR YAHOO RSS FEED, FOR ALL THE FACTS
PASADENA, California (Reuters) – NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter was about a week away from wrapping up an 11-month journey to the Red Planet in 1999 when engineers noticed a problem – the spacecraft, designed to study Mars’ environment, was not where it was supposed to be.
The gap grew alarmingly over the next few days. On September 23, Climate Orbiter began the brake to enter Mars’ orbit as planned, but disappeared behind the planet 49 seconds early, severing radio contact with Earth. It was never heard from again.
Launching probes to Mars is not for the faint of heart. Out of the 40 spacecraft dispatched to the Red Planet, only 14 lived to fulfill their missions.
Read the original post: History littered with failed Mars probes
Mars is set to get its latest visitor Sunday night when NASA’s new robotic rover, named Curiosity, attempts to land there. Mars has been a prime target for space exploration for decades, in part…
See the original post here: 5 things you may not know about the planet Mars
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Fascinated by NASA’s latest Mars mission and planning to tune in?
Well, good luck understanding the space agency’s everyday lingo, which resembles a sort of Martian alphabet soup.
In the highly specialized world of spacecraft engineering, there are many moving parts and pieces — not to mention processes. Names and descriptions are often reduced to acronyms and abbreviations, which are faster to string together in a sentence but can end up sounding downright alien.
So if you want to know if MSL will nail the EDL and what it can do on different sols, you have to learn the language.
About anti wrinkle skin cream.
NASA’s next Mars rover, which is cruising toward an Aug. 5 landing, is a whole new breed of Red Planet explorer. You can tell just by looking at its huge and powerful robotic arm.
When NASA’s newest rover arrives on Mars Sunday night (Aug. 5), it will be carrying a host of state-of-the-art instruments, including the head-mounted, rock-zapping laser called ChemCam.
Continued here: Why NASA’s Big Mars Rover Has a Laser to Zap Rocks
DENVER — It’s time to get serious about science in space, and the International Space Station is the perfect place to start, NASA officials said on June 26.
Keeping humans in space
The human component to space exploration was at the forefront in NASA officials’ messages. Human experimenters can be part of experiments, making observations in a way that an automated system never could, said NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati. And human perseverance can also yield surprising results.
For example, now-retired astronaut Shannon Lucid was once conducting a fluid physics experiment on the Russian research satellite Mir, Gerstenmaier said. Her job was to shake a container of liquid in an attempt to form a bubble in a certain spot. Based on computer models, researchers were certain that the experiment was physically impossible — but Lucid didn’t know that. With communications temporarily interrupted between Mir and Earth, she kept at the experiment for over an hour. Finally, she got the bubble to form.
“It blew away their theory,” Gerstenmaier said. “They believed their computer analysis. She didn’t know that and really pushed that boundary.”
Some instruments on the space station pull double duty. For example, Gerstenmaier said, a particle physics detector called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is designed to detect dark matter and antimatter.
But it also detects cosmic rays, providing data that researchers can use to understand how exposure to these rays could affect astronauts during long-term space travel.
“I think of this as really a gateway to our future, to a universe of opportunity,” Abdalati said of the ISS. “It’s an opportunity to look outward, an opportunity to look inwards and an opportunity to look homeward.”
Related on SPACE.com:
Read the original post: Space station science is at a crossroads, NASA says | MNN – Mother …
Highlights from the 220th AAAS meeting held June 10-14 in Anchorage, Alaska.
By Nadia Drake, Web edition : Monday, June 18th, 2012
20 hours of fame
Seen in gamma rays, the sun is usually dark. But on March 7, it blazed for 20 hours after a massive solar flare dumped high-energy particles and light into space. “The sky looked completely different,” Stanford University’s Nicola Omodei said on June 11. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope captured the sun’s brief moment in the … sun, and recorded “the highest-energy light ever detected during a solar flare,” Omodei said. Scientists studying the gamma-ray–producing particles determined that instead of only being flung outward by the initial flare-producing shock, the particles were probably also accelerated by reconnecting solar magnetic fields after the event.
Sometimes, a little eye turned toward the sky can see big things. In this case, the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope — essentially the equivalent of a digital camera — discovered two enormous stellar companions orbiting faraway stars. One of these bodies is a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a star bright enough to allow scientists to study the planet’s atmosphere. The other, a big brown dwarf, is “something that has never been seen before,” said Ohio State University graduate student Thomas Beatty on June 13. Like NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, KELT looks for dips in light caused by bodies passing between a star and Earth. KELT-1b, the brown dwarf with a mass equivalent to 30 Jupiters, is one of these star-dimming objects. It circles its star in just 29 hours, receiving 6,000 times the amount of sunlight that Earth gets. “It sort of resets the bar for weird,” Beatty said.
Read much more: American Astronomical Society Annual Meeting – Science News
This week on Science Saturday, get the latest update on Voyager and her journey into interstellar space; witness video captured of a near-miss asteroid; diagnose your ailments by checking the color of your poo; and see ‘planetrise’ from exoplanet Kepler-36c. All this, and more, plus our gadget of the week: The USS Enterprise turn table!
Voyager 1 at the Final Frontier
As we reported last week, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is approaching interstellar space (we’d like to clarify that it’s not clear that Voyager has in fact left the Solar System yet, but it’s certainly very close). This week, NASA released a video giving more specifics about the sharp increase in interstellar radiation that Voyager is experiencing, which indicates that it’s closing in on the border between our Solar System and what lies beyond. When it finally crosses over, this will be a momentous occasion for all of mankind, as it will be the first manmade object to ever leave out Solar System. Will it one day return a la V’ger?
Astronomers Capture Video of Near-Miss Asteroid
The sixth-closest asteroid flyby to Earth occurred on May 29th when asteroid 2012 KT-42 came within three Earth radii of our home planet. Researchers using NASA’s infrared telescope facility in Hawaii managed to track the asteroid with a video camera as it flew past Earth at about 17 kilometers per second. The bright white object in the video is the asteroid, with the background stars whizzing past as the camera tracks with the asteroid’s movement.
More at Nature.com.
Colored Poo May Help Diagnose Patients
Scientists have created a disease-detecting probiotic (yogurt) drink that can color your feces to match your illness. Your poop could tell doctors if you have a range of disease from stomach ulcers to cancer. So far, researchers say that the genetically engineered dung-changing yogurt can only reliably track the progress of E. Coli, but they hope that one day it will be able to diagnose more serious ailments.
The yogurt-like drink can interact with bacteria in the stomach to give you technicolor BM
Alien Planets So Close Together They Experience ‘Planetrise’
Astronomers have just discovered two odd exoplanets around the same star whose orbits are so close together that a person living on one of those planets would see the other rise and set like the sun or moon. Kepler-36b and Kepler-36c, which are 1,200 lightyears from Earth, give credence to the so often depicted scene in science fiction of planets seen hovering on the horizon of an alien world.
More at Huffington Post.
What the view from Kepler-36c might look like in a parallel universe where Seattle has two Space Needles and is located on Kepler-36b. Image credit: NASA.
Gadget of the Week: USS Enterprise Turn Table
Any geeky DJ should be dying to get their hands on the USS Enterprise turn table to lay down some mad beats. B-b-b-b-beam me up, Scotty! It’s just a concept design at the moment, but this Star Trek 2009 Enterprise turn table could be the perfect gift for that audiophile trekkie who has everything!
The Enterprise turn table
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.
View original post here: Science Saturday: V’Ger’s Journey + Near-Miss Asteroid + Colored …
June 25th is the anniversary of an ‘oops’ moment in space history. On June 25, 1997, cosmonauts aboard the Russian space station Mirwere testing a new manual docking procedure with a cargo drone vehicle. Just before the docking was completed, they lost control of the drone and it crashed into the side of a science module, taking several solar panels with it. The damaged capsule was quickly sealed but only after losing nearly half the power output of the station. Several vital systems had to be shut down and all research stopped. The crew could return to Earth aboard a docked Soyuz capsule if the situation got too dire, but never had to leave. A resupply ship brought them repair materials and more oxygen to get the station functioning again. The repairs were not started until nearly two months after the accident with a new crew. A common joke as to the cause of the accident referred to “Objects in Mir are closer than they appear”.
Mir was originally certified to last five years, though the Russians re-certified the station over time. This accident occurred 11 years after Mir was assembled. The station remained operational until March 23, 2001 when it was burned up in the atmosphere.
Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.
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A few stories that POPPED our Quantum eyes this week:
Darwin Tunes . org: A group of scientists from the UK are turning a lot of machines loose on some random machine generated tonal loops. It is a little like American Idol for machines. The machines randomly generate these rhythmic tonal patterns and you the public, get to vote on what loop you like the best. Each winning loop gets another generation and is combined with other winning loops to begin the process of melodic and harmonic composition. It is kind of like Bach meets African thumb harp meets pac-man. If you would like to be a part of the creative process of this science experiment just go to http://darwintunes.org/
Hear the democratic loops for yourself and see if you think there is a natural pattern of evolutionary events that is the basis of music revealed in these loop compositions. My review of the music: It is what you get when everything is run through a committee. there is a real blandness of execution that makes it not to bad but not to great. Only time will tell what this process will ultimately achieve. Right now I could see some of the finished loops being used as fodder for dance tracks at the nightclub. but by itself it still wouldn’t really round out my collection of dance favorites. But I plan to participate in the new voting for percussion sounds they are generating now, because maybe my little vote will give it some spark, it otherwise would be without. It is pure vanity I know but try to forgive.
CHINA DOLL IN SPACE:
The legacy of the Clinton administration’s gift of superior missile guidance, kept paying dividends this week as our honorable global partners, (who love us very much) the Chinese, launched a rocket into orbit for their first ever docking mission. It also had the first ever Chinese female crew member. Now it is said that they are where we were in the 70′s technologically speaking. There is one difference however. They are in space and we are on the ground. Perhaps they will return the Clinton administration favor for the guidance technology we gave them and give our current government leaders some spaceballs.
Where does real outer space begin?:
It seems to be all in the quality of the gamma rays. That part of the electromagnetic spectrum way above violet light and above X-rays, that is generated by explosions in our universe billions of earth years old and light years away. The voyager 1 and 2 space machines launched in the 70′s are out there where they are getting more gammas from the universe and less and less from our own solar system.
Stay safe little machines we will monitor your data as long as we can.
OPINION. This shouldn’t happen to a bug:
Researchers in the Netherlands decided that they would try to make a virus from the bird flu virus that could infect humans. So they did. It only took them five mutations from the current strain of flu to make the transition. If anyone had wanted to take that flu and release it on the general public it would have reigned havoc on the masses. Fortunately for us there was never any danger we are told and no ethical violations occurred and the virus they say, was destroyed. Whew! Although they proved that it could be done in 5 mutations they still did not prove the probability that it would occur naturally. But now that they know they can make it they can get more money to figure out the antidote.
That’s all for now
It’s not everyday that the phrase, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, can be applied to the space industry. But last week news broke that NASA will receive an unforeseen boost from the hardships of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office in the form of two powerful telescopes designed for satellite imagery.
While the initial purpose of the telescopes is still under wraps, the technical specifications of the hardware have astronomers drooling.
According to MSNBC, the mirror apertures of the telescopes have a diameter of eight meters, which match the specifications of the famed Hubble Space Telescope. The shorter focal length of the telescopes give them a wider field of view than the Hubble, a feature that left many at NASA, including Dr. Grunsfeld, the NASA administrator put in charge of the telescopes, thinking about their potential applications.
Read the rest here: NASA’s ‘Spy’ Satellites to Snoop Outer Space | UrtheCast
VIENNA, June 6 (UPI) — China favors peaceful use of outer space and will strive for inclusive development of it with other nations, a senior Chinese diplomat says.
The inclusive development of outer space is based on three aspects, said Cheng Jingye, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations. They are tolerance for space environment, tolerance for all countries and tolerance for all mankind, he said.
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/06/06/China-sees-inclusive-outer-space-efforts/UPI-53671339023158/#ixzz1yItxZk4J
Read this article: China sees ‘inclusive’ outer space efforts
SpaceX announces the first ever commercial mission to replenish the supplies of the International Space Station on April 30 2012,
So Quantum POP presents a Space Commercialization Update.
The historic first ever commercial mission in space from SpaceX, will if successful, begin a new chapter of human evolution. SpaceX has labeled this a test mission and it will represent a first in many areas of contemporary space technology applications for a non governmental vehicle. Last year SpaceX sent the Dragon which is the name of the payload vehicle into orbit around the earth aboard a Falcon Rocket which they designed and built, and became the first private business to do so. Now the same rocket and payload combination will begin to earn its investment money. The un-manned supply mission is one of 12 planned on a contract with NASA worth $1.6 billion dollars. If the 12 missions go well then the contract allows for more missions that may total up to $3.1 billion. The first flight will be an unmanned flight for freight only, but the Dragon can be reconfigured for up to seven passengers with cargo space to spare.
For cargo launches the inside of the spacecraft is outfitted with a modular cargo rack system designed to accommodate pressurized cargo in standard sizes and form factors. For crewed launches, the interior is outfitted with crew couches, controls with manual override capability and upgraded life-support.
SpaceX is a very NASA design oriented system and as such is up and ready to go before any other commercial space carriers are off the ground. With former NASA personnel in management positions in the company they are familiar with the current state of the art and have skillfully managed to update and modify it for civilian commercial use.
The Dragon payload module is sent aloft by a Falcon Rocket.. This rocket comes in 3 sizes. Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and the Falcon Heavy which can lift payload almost twice as large as the Space shuttle into low earth orbit. It is at present the most powerful rocket in existence.
Enter Virgin Galactic.The Virgin Galactic which is a much different concept than the NASA style design of SpaceX. The space ship is to be sent aloft into orbit on a large carrier plane and when a high enough altitude is reached, the rocket aboard the Space Ship 1 or 2 ignites and sends the craft into orbit.
Virgin plans to begin commercial operations in this decade and has already raised billions at $200.000 a ticket for passenger flights. The first flights of this kind scheduled will be sub-orbital and then after a while full orbital and then multiple orbits. I wonder if they will charge by the orbit. Virgin Galactic is also planning satellite and other cargo payload missions as well.Virgin is building spaceports in different countries with one under construction in New Mexico. They also envision space hotels as well.m could the first space wheel be a hotel after all?
A near earth object is an object that has the possibility of hitting earth. They are in a categoriy of objects in our solay system called minor planets.
There are 596595 minor planets known to exist according to the Minor Planet Center. http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/ a Smithsonian Project Funded by a grant from NASA. It is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 100,00 still undiscovered asteroids. They are in our solar system for the most part, blissfully circling the sun as are we and minding their own business.
But many are very close to us and are smaller even than the minor planets that we have in our sights so far. Even conservative estimates would suggest that for every asteroid on a dangerous Earth-Approaching orbit there are hundreds more which have yet to be discovered.
There are also some which because of their size do not get tracked or seen right away, that arrive here on earth. Two or more tons of rocky material rain down upon the Earth daily. So what should be our threshold for concern in these matters?
At this writing I have broken it down to three categories of danger. I hope to refine this list over time.They are 1. Potential Extinction, 2. Major weather changes and massive destruction, 3. Destroying your house. Let’s take these one by one according to size.
1. Potential Extinction; 1100 NEO’s are estimated to exist, larger than1km.These would be considered, ending life as we know it sized asteroids. Out of that number, it is estimated that one might hit the earth every 500,000 years. Remember the dinosaurs? Even though it is not likely soon, it is worth keeping an eye on. Don’t forget that there still may be thousands more of these we do not know about. NASA’s current goal is to discover at least 90% of all NEOs whose diameters are larger than 1 kilometer by 2020.
2. Climate changes and devastation; So what about smaller objects? An object 50 meters in diameter is deemed significant enough to worry about according to the NASA Study to Determine the Feasibility of Extending the Search for Near-Earth Objects to Smaller Limiting Diameters, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Report of the Near-Earth Object Science Definition Team, August 22, 2003. Prepared at the Request of National Aeronautics and Space Administration Office of Space Science Solar System.
Wow! How bout that HUH? In this study they say, ”We find that damage from smaller land impacts below the threshold for global climatic effects is peaked at sizes on the scale of the Tunguska air blast event of 1908 (50-100 m diameter). According to the Planetary Society web page article http://planetary.org/about/press/releases/2008/0626_Target_Earth_How_Prepared_Are_We.html
It exploded over Siberia – this object from space – and leveled 2,000 square kilometers of forest, flattening pine trees like matchsticks.
Another asteroid about that size left a crater a mile wide and 200 meters deep in Arizona about 50,000 years ago. Now I don’t live in the Siberian wilderness or the expansive desert of Arizona, I live in Los Angeles and I worry more about things like houses, stores, city blocks and such.
3. Asteroids that can take out your house; Another NASA web site. http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/sl9/back2.html tells us that anything 10 meters or less will mostly burn up according to the density of the matter involved. What a relief right. However when these objects burn up they explode and can drop fragments that are heavy enough take out your garage or worse. These fragments can weigh a ton or more, so 10 meters and larger seems like a good size object to track.
There are currently about 8700 NEO’s being tracked. This site goes on to state that most of these objects are in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Today the JPL website lists,1293 known and tracked potentially hazardous NEO’s, listed on their Near Object Project page. They range from several meters long and wide on up. You can see the orbits of each of these at http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/orbits/
Congress mandated in 2005 that NASA discover 90 percent of NEOs whose diameter is 140 meters or greater by 2020, and asked the National Research Council in 2008 to form a committee to determine the optimum approach to doing so. In an interim report released last year, the committee concluded that it was impossible for NASA to meet that goal, since Congress has not appropriated new funds for the survey nor has the administration asked for them.
What’s a mother to do? Telescopes anyone?
Being a regular guy as I am, it seems reasonable to me to assert that since we have the technology available, ie telescopes and video capable of recording events in the night sky, far out into space, and of course the computers to analyze the data, that I am not being too outrageous in expecting that if a trackable two ton chunk of the solar system, that explodes off of a 10 meters diameter or larger NEO, is going to fall within a mile or so of me during the day or night, I ought to be able to know about it. Am I wrong?
There ought to be an app for this right? Call it, NEApp for near earth asteroid position predictor or something. So let’s get on this professional and amateur astronomers. There has got to be a buck in this. Sponsors perhaps. Finding all this suff could be fun
In the coming articles we will discuss more NEO stuff as well as astronomy as a way to do some big brain chill in your spare time.