Thursday, September 30, 2010
Planet Found in the
8:43 pm est
We've been discovering extrasolar planets
for over a decade. The discoveries so far are biased bacause of the methods we've used, but most we've found so far are
big and hot, but just recently, scientists discovered a planet in the "Goldilocks Zone"
, that is, not too hot and not too cold to have liquid water on its surface. The star is much less bright than our sun, so
the planet's year is pretty short (~30 days), and there are lots of other issues (the planet is likely tidally locked
, etc) but this is still an exciting find.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Had to Check the Source
6:39 pm est
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Space Policy Emergencies
7:20 pm est
I've been half-heartedly following the Congressional political battles over space policy
. The more I watch, the more despondent I get that anything smart can actually happen. Any plan with some semblance of well-thought-through
strategy is attacked for what it's missing or deleting, so someone else fiddles with the plan, adding some things, deleting
others, changing others.
I just can't get excited about these moment-to-moment things.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
They Fooled Me
12:32 pm est
In my visits to Kennedy Space Center, I didn't notice that the Gemini-Titan
vehicle on display was actually made of two Titan I
first stages. This article
describes the recent swap-out. The thing that made the biggest impression on me in the display was the bird's nest on the
top of the Gemini capsule, since it was a flat surface.
Another Meteor, Another All-sky Camera
12:22 pm est
recorded over the skies of Texas and New Mexico
Thursday, September 23, 2010
More Depots and FiDOs
The Space Show
9:40 pm est
Thursday will host Dan Adamo, the flight dynamicist featured earlier along with Dennis Bienhoff, a Boeing engineer who's
done a lot of the engineering work of how to build and use them. Pre-read presentations (and some pre-show comments!) can
be found here
, and discussions will take place here
(I'll update this link after the show).
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Oh the Times, They are a Changin'
5:17 pm est
4:36 pm est
Been down for a bit between business travel, kids getting back to school, and a recent computer failure. Thought I was in
deep trouble, but it turns out there's a known flaw
in my laptop's video card that the vendor replaces for free. Gotta love free.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The Depots and the FiDO
8:37 pm est
I may write more about this later, but I've been having some communications with a former Flight Dynamics Officer
(while the description is for an Apollo position, the job stayed much the same in the Shuttle Era, though focusing on Earth
orbit and later, docking with ISS) who's been on The Space Show
saying that propellant depots won't work because of the orbital mechanics involved. His particular episode was part of The Space Show Classroom
. He'll be on again tonight, and I'll link to the archived show here
once it's posted. Some told me I was wasting my time in trying to debate the topic with him, at first I thought I wasn't,
but later communications made me think that perhaps I was. I'm still debating whether I'll call in.
Wednesday Update: Show link now in place. There's a new discussion board here
for this episode, as well as some past ones.
Listening to the show, I realized that I am in agreement with Dan about almost all the orbit dynamics issues he talks about
in this show and in other places. The difference is in how we view them: as challenges or as obstacles. To me, the idea
of multiple times more space launches, many more space launch providers, and improved space control methods for example, which
come from the depot fueling process are a huge advantage. Spelling this all out would be the stuff of a very large article,
or perhaps a small book like The Rocket Company
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Gil Levin, Call your Office
6:54 pm est
While Gil Levin
has been (and remains) on the fringe by saying that the Viking Spacecraft
found life on Mars, this news
certainly moves the mainstream a little closer to his position.
Old Dog, New (Important) Tricks...
4:37 am est
It's funny how in astronomy, some local (and important) observations take a back seat to more distant objects. It may be
similar to the phenomenon of lots of satellite engineers working on the spacecraft side, while one or two people work on the
ground system. Anyway, the Spitzer Space Telescope
is now out of its cryogenic coolant, which allowed it to view the deep-space objects it was launched for. Turns out, the
remaining capabilities allow it to characterize local asteroids
. It's very cool that the spacecraft is doing this, though I wonder if it could have done more involved characterization
when it had coolant. I guess that will have to wait for the dedicated asteroid hunter near Venus that Lindley Johnson is
. Given Spitzer's orbital characteristics (it's orbiting the sun, moving away from Earth at .1 AU per year), it may be a
good asteroid survey craft itself!
4:22 am est
The Lockheed Martin report on Orion asteroid missions mentioned earlier
is now out
. Look under "Orion Alternative Mission Capabilities." It's also getting some press