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Here's the latest on space, and my opinions on it...
This is the legacy site, with blog entries from November, 2004 through June, 2011.
Updates after June 9, 2011 can be found at

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

More of What I do
Earlier, I posted when GOES N launched. While that's an important milestone for any satellite, a more important milestone takes place when that satellite starts to gather useful information. At NOAA, that event is marked by the satellite's "first image." Basically, it's the first publicly-broadcast image which shows the full disk of Earth from the satellite's point of view. There's varying interest levels among management for attending the event itself (we command it from the Suitland Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC), and after a few links in a pretty long chain, the image is projected back at SOCC), but any delays or problems in producing this image would have gotten a lot of internal attention.

This image was taken when the sun was almost directly behind the spacecraft. The information on the bottom relates to the image date and time (in days of the year instead of human-based month/day), as well as the satellite (GOES N was renamed GOES 13 on June 4th, and the details of that would be worth onother post on its own), then the instrument used and some of its settings.

The official NOAA release for the picture can be found here, where it's their image of the day.

For anyone in the Western Hemisphere, you can say "I'm in that picture!" Of course, in a less-frequently-photographed sense, you can also say that you're in this picture, (Earthrise on Mars) but I don't work with the vehicle that brought you that image.
8:23 pm est

Lost in Translation?
I know, the movie was about Japan, not China. That's especially funny considering this faux pas.

China Daily has an article about a speech Steven Hawking gave at a Chinese university. While the article title deals with his interest in Chinese women, the speech shared at least one point with an earlier one he gave in Hong Kong. He discussed global warming. I somehow doubt that this is a serious concern of his, however:
He said he was afraid that Earth "might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid."
These conditions would be the result of a runaway greenhouse effect, which I've not heard even the most vocal activists mention as a potential outcome of Earth's warming.

I found this line telling:
Hawking has near-superstar status in China, and the Chinese government preaches that scientific prowess is crucial to the country's future power.
If this is truly where they're putting their focus, China may be more of a concern than I've given them credit for. Dong-ma?
7:57 pm est

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Heavens Above!
On a lark, based on my earlier Spaceweather posting, I checked Heavens-Above to see if I had any cool upcoming ISS viewings. Turns out that there's a great one (magnitude -1, I know, there are better ones, but hey, this is a fluke!) coming up in about 35 minutes. The site is very user friendly, and will also tell you if there are any Iridium Flares near you, past or present.
8:09 pm est

Not Quite as Big...
Looks like the Norwegian meteorite wasn't as big as originally reported. According to Spaceweather (no permalink, view archive from 16 June) the estimate is now 300 tons of TNT vice 12,000, and this type of impact happens once a month. D'ooh. I guess a factor of 40 could be considered a significant error.
2:56 pm est

When Going "Zero-G" Take the Drugs!
Here's a pretty good summary of a Zero-G flight. Or at least it seems to be a pretty good one, as I haven't taken one yet. An officemate of mine surprised her husband with a flight which turned out to be the first to return-to-base with no parabolas. Anyway, in the prep work, I heard all about the motion sickness pills, and would recommend that anyone going to fly without wings take the prescribed dosage.
5:40 am est

File one under "Kinda Interesting" the other under "Duh"
There are a couple of articles out there that made me scratch my head:
  • What would your voice sound like (and how far would it travel if you were outside on Mars (and you could breathe carbon dioxide and the low pressure on the surface didn't kill you?) The Slow Sound of a Scream on Mars
  • If you're getting ready to fly on the shuttle, what would one of your biggest fears? Mabe the fact that it's been sitting idle for so long? Astronauts Acknowledge Hidden Danger
5:19 am est

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New Version of Einstein's Letter?
In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to the President of the US, advocating research into nuclear weaponry before Germany could do the same thing. While many debate the wisdom of our research into such weapons (Einstein himself described the letter as his greatest error), no one can argue the significance of the chain of events that letter started. Szilard chose Einstein to be the signatory for the letter due to his celebrity status.

This week, Stephen Hawking, the closest thing we have to a modern-day Einstein, has declared space as the key to human survival. The article quotes some detractors who say Dr. Hawking is speaking outside of his area of expertise, but I agree with his sentiment.
5:53 pm est

Friday, June 9, 2006

Multi-Kiloton Blast in Norway
Someday, one of these is going to hit something we really care about. Then there'll be all sorts of calls for why we didn't "connect the dots", and I can't wait to hear what conspiracy types will say.

Asteroid impacts are something we need to take seriously. This piece of space rock was smaller than any we're even looking for, yet could have caused serious damage if it struck a city.

Saturday Update: The Bad Astronomer is his usual skeptical self, though he says that the seismic report is a good sign that this is legit. This article (an english version wasn't immediately recognizable) claims to have a picture, though there's no sense of scale. The picture could be of a fragment's impact zone.
8:20 pm est

Monday, June 5, 2006

Some Thoughts on Overhyping
Jeff Foust has some worthy comparisons of the promises of Segway and of space travel in The Space Review. Of course, Segway will always have a leg up on space because it was featured in a Frasier episode.
7:21 pm est

Is the Rice Equally Divided?
NASA announced the division of work for Project Constellation today. Looks like every center got something to do, although I'm sure that each believes they could do more. As long as everyone's equally unhappy, I guess all is well...

...until Congress gets its say.
7:15 pm est

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Late TiVO (or VCR) Notice
TheNational Geographic Channel starts a miniseries tonight called Space Race. Looks like it focuses on the differences of fortunes between von Braun and Korlev . There's a review here.
2:29 pm est

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Another (Potential) Impact Find and Another Depot Article
Posting's been lite due to work and around-the-house tempo. Unfortunately for the blog, neither is scheduled to change anytime soon.

Today, I participated in the National Race for the Cure for breast cancer. My mom (a 20+ year survivor) walked it with me and my kids.

Though the results are still being argued (and likely will be for a while) a new crater discovery in Antarctica may answer a lot of questions about another mass extinction. If verified, it's bigger than the KT impactor.

An email tip from Bert Kaal led me to this article about fuel depots. The article relates to a project office at Marshall, and mentions many problems that I believe are easily solved. Hopefully, NASA will announce the prize soon. Of course, then I'd have to put up (get an entry together that solves all the problems) or shut up.
1:23 pm est

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