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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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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anniversary Week
If I were superstitious, I'd try to assign a lot of importance to the fact that NASA's three big space disasters: Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia all happened between 27 Jan and 1 Feb. Take a moment to remember the losses, then work to learn the deeper lessons and move humanity forward.
7:01 am est

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Earth-Follower Asteroid
2009 BD is a recently-discovered asteroid that, according to the JPL orbit model, nearly orbits with Earth, passing close by every 90 years or so. I'm doing some more research with the Horizons system, which is more accurate, but not as user-friendly as the orbit visualizer. News article here.
8:38 pm est

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Detailed View of 20 Jan
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get the Landsat images posted, but in the meantime, check out this one which is getting more press for an obvious reason. Note the slight fuzziness near the capitol due to some high cloudiness.
11:32 am est

Solar Storms Effects Report
Our sun is quite active, at times belching out huge clouds of charged gas, x-rays, or a mix of a whole bunch of bad stuff. Sometimes, those ejecta effect Earth. There are archives of solar storms over the last 150 years. Two notable ones I've heard of were the 1989 storm that caused a blackout in Quebec and one of the 1882 storm that caused fires at the ends of telegraph lines. Our world is much more wired now, and much more dependent on electricity. Turns out that it's the 'wiredness' that gets us, as detailed in this article and linked report.
11:28 am est

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Landsat 5 Images DC Today
As the United States turns a new page in its history, a spacecraft that's been imaging the country for nearly 25 years flew overhead and took a picture of the Nation's Capitol. The first January it imaged was in 1985. I'll post some pictures from it soon, but in the meantime, you can check them out yourself.

Landsat 5...imaging from Reagan through Obama. The plan is for it to image near another one of these events as well.
12:43 pm est

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Entering the '00s
Well, I've finally activated a Facebook page for yours truly. I wanted to put a link to it up, but I haven't figured out their addressing. Turns out there are 500 "Tom Hills" out there, so I can't just say 'search for me.' The page came in response to the TEMPO page created to support the project. TEMPO also has a presence on Twitter, which means I'll have to come up with something short and witty to say every day or so, I guess. Twitter seems like overkill for a project in development. I could see it as useful for a satellite that's flying, sending updates about which countries it's flying over and the like, but we'll have to see.
10:01 pm est

Travelin' for TEMPOł
Looks like I'll be going to the CubeSat Conference in April, as well as the SmallSat Conference in August talking about TEMPOł. Hope to see you there!
9:55 pm est

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mark your Calendars!
In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, you may want to jot down these astronomical events.
6:53 pm est

Sunday, January 4, 2009

On the Air
I'm listening/calling in to The Space Show right now. The guest is Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings. I've been enjoying his blog, and the talk is pretty good too.
4:12 pm est

Saturday, January 3, 2009

5 Years?
I'm trying to figure out where the five years have gone since the Mars Rovers started their explorations of the Red Planet. I gave a talk at the local library, right after Opportunity landed. A lot of people attended, and the librarian said I should come back "Maybe after the mission is over."

Guess I should have picked another topic...
8:56 pm est

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year, New Space Controversy
Via Space Politics comes a half-baked article about The Obama Administration "tearing down the walls" between NASA and the DoD with the possibility of NASA using the Delta IV and Atlas V to loft NASA's manned spacecraft.

The thing is, it would be possible to use Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs, the original name of the Delta IV and Atlas V rockets) to loft manned payloads. The original idea of the EELV program was to launch the then-planned thousands of satellites (remember, during the heady days of the mid-90's everyone had a satellite program...) at unheard of launch rates. If NASA's Ares rockets were changed out with the EELVs, the necessary launch rate to put people on the moon and send us to Mars would be huge. This number of launches required per lunar or Mars mission is often cited as a reason why we can't use EELVs. The missing piece of information in that argument is that multiple launches would drive different mission designs, including such things as supply depots and modular spacecraft. Such an approach would make for a much more flexible missions.

Another point brought up is the idea of blackout zones, where a launch vehicle's trajectory leads to portions of the flight path where crew escape is impossible, difficult, or challenging depending on who you talk to. I don't know enough about the flight profiles to comment intelligently (plenty of other people don't let a lack of knowledge stop them) on that.
6:50 pm est

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Space: Search Now! with Google

Tom and Discovery
Taken During a Tour of KSC on 6 Oct 2010

TEMPOł Update
Click on the picture to go to the Mars Society TEMPOł Page

Solar System Ambassadors
Click on the image above to see Tom's SSA profile

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