Tag Archives: NASA

Stop Building Bombs and Start Building Starships: Scientific American

Read this and had to share it considering I’m 100% in favour of space exploration and scientific progression through exploration as opposed to exploitation.  I say that, because that is exactly what happens now, in that the only scientific advancements we truly see, as Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson said, are the ones that are attached to military funding, the ones that develop new weapons.  Read more.

‘The Fleet Advances’ by newcmd001

Stop Building Bombs and Start Building Starships

Side Note: To go where no human has gone before.. this may come off as a lengthy read but I would definitely recommend it to any follower who is either into futurism or at least has an interest in where our future ought to head. Scientific American guest blogger Steven P. discusses ways where science and our ever developing technologies can really take us into an age of space exploration. So give it a read or save it on the blog for later, I definitely enjoyed it myself. But then again I’m always up for some interstellar space travel.

by Steven Ross Pomeroy

In 1969, a great shadow was cast over the United States. That shadow, however, was not one of gloom. Instead of evoking the absence of light, this shadow caused us to look up in wonder at the brightness that created it. When the Saturn V Rocket propelling Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins dashed across the blue, cloud-splotched sky, we did not see a dark present. We glimpsed a bright future.

Elsewhere, however, truly ominous shadows were cast by rockets which never saw the sun. Nestled in silos and buried beneath barren landscapes, “Minuteman” missiles meant not to uplift man, but to deliver the end of man, shrouded much of our world in trepidation.

These two rockets, with two very distinct purposes, bring into focus a problem that has long plagued our nation. We spend far too much money on war, and not enough on science.

Considering that we are nearing the ominously titled “fiscal cliff” — a series of government spending cuts and tax increases that will automatically take effect if Congress and the President do not act to stop it — we have a unique opportunity to review Federal spending and ensure that we are investing our time and wealth to their most productive ends.

I argue that such a review – if guided by reason – would reveal that defense spending should be reduced in order to make way for a world-changing commitment to science and technology, a bold move that will put both the United States and the world on a path to a bright future.

As it stands today, the United States is clearly over militarized. Defense spending in 2011 was estimated at $711 Billion. That’s equal to the combined budgets of the next fourteen top-spending countries, over half of whom are strong U.S. allies. Moreover, a 2011 Government Accountability Office audit of defense spending found that a combined $70 billion was wasted in 2010 and 2009.

This over-the-top spending is indicative of a military-industrial-complex run amok, precisely the scenario that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, perhaps the most revered military commander of the 20th century, warned against in his farewell address. “Together, we must learn how to compose differences not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose,” he avowed.

I can think of no better way to fulfill Eisenhower’s vision than through the pursuit of science.

By intelligently, purposefully, and gradually drawing down the defense budget from 4.7% to 3.0% of GDP (from $709 to $453 billion), and diverting some of those funds to meaningful science projects of both national and global significance, the United States can accomplish the essential goal of protecting its citizens, while simultaneously making the world a safer, healthier place and reinvigorating our economy.

We can begin the funding transition at home by re-committing ourselves to NASA. If we double the space agency’s budget (currently at $17.8 billion), our space accomplishments in ten years will dwarf even the monumental success of this summer, when the Curiosity rover landed on Mars.

We can complete the James Webb Space Telescope, allowing us to peer farther into the Universe than ever before. We can go to Mars by the end of the decade, a mission which astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson insists “would reboot America’s capacity to innovate as no other force in society can.” And with the recent news that warp drive may be more feasible than originally thought, we can focus on researching and eventually engineering interstellar starships that could one day take humans to Gliese 581 g — a potentially habitable Earth-like planet — in a mere two years. Along the way we could solve a myriad of other problems, writes’s Clara Moskowitz:

“…if human beings can solve the challenges of interstellar spaceflight, in the process they will have solved many of the problems plaguing Earth today, experts said. For example, building a starship will require figuring out how to conserve and recycle resources, how to structure societies for the common well-being, and how to harness and use energy sustainably.”

In addition to funding NASA, we can make fusion energy research a top national priority. Fusion power – an unparalleled energy source that generates electricity by effectively creating a miniature star – has eluded scientists for decades, but researchers now believe that successful fusion is within mankind’s grasp. Before the year is out, scientists at the National Ignition Facility in California hope to fire the world’s most powerful laser into a small test chamber with pea-sized fuel pellets of deuterium and tritium inside. The two isotopes of hydrogen will fuse together and potentially create up to one hundred times more energy than was used to ignite the fuel.

This breakthrough could serve as our “Sputnik Moment” for energy production. If we can put a man on the Moon a mere eight years after deciding to do so, then surely we can master “star power” if we pledge ourselves to the task. Fusion produces no carbon emissions, could provide power for thousands of years, is estimated to be cost-competitive with coal, and is unquestionably the energy source of the future. Yet despite the impressive resumé, fusion energy research is only allotted a relatively paltry $474.6 million.

Why wait for the future to happen later? With additional spending freedom by making cuts in defense, we can fund fusion and make that future happen now.

Continue over at SciAm

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Life, randomness


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NASA Announces Next Steps in Effort to Launch Americans from U.S. Soil

NASA Announces Next Steps in Effort to Launch Americans from U.S. Soil

The next step in space exploration from NASA.

Read more here.

NASA and its Commercial Crew Program announced new agreements with three American commercial companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years.

Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements through the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.

SpaceX’s crewed Dragon will get more lift capability from the next-generation of Falcon rockets. The uncrewed version of Dragon recently made history as the first commercially built spacecraft to rendezvous and then berth with the International Space Station.

Sierra Nevada Corporation will advance its Dream Chaser spacecraft, which resembles NASA’s space shuttle but is smaller and based on improvements to the agency’s HL-20 lifting-body design. The company partnered with United Launch Alliance to launch its spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket.

Boeing will continue to develop its CST-100 spacecraft, which underwent rigorous testing during two previous commercial crew development phases. It too will launch atop an Atlas V.

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Fun, photos, randomness


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I interrupt my holiday to bring you… Mars!

The latest Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Martian surface and has sent back the first images to NASA.

This image was taken by Front Hazcam: Right A (FHAZ_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 0 (2012-08-06 05:20:36 UTC) .

This image was taken by Rear Hazcam: Left A (RHAZ_LEFT_A) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 0 (2012-08-06 05:18:38 UTC) .

For more images sent by Curiosity, click here.  As for the NASA Team, they were elated with the success of Curiosity.

Screenshots I got from Ustream broadcast. TOUCHDOWN CONFIRMED. Receiving information from the surface of Mars!! Congrats JPL!! Images coming down! (via thescienceofreality)

There were even those who gave honourary tribute to the success of the mission.

In honor of Curiosity’s successful landing, I present “Three Generations,” courtesy of John Klose , JPL employee since 2002. It shows the Mars landers Spirit (foreground), Opportunity (middle), and Curiosity (background) taken in front of JPL building 180, aka the Directors building. (via spytap)

Naturally, there was congratulations all around, even the President giving his own words of appreciation.

I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality—and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover. ~President Obama on last night’s rover landing on Mars (viabarackobama)

We’ll be watching and hoping that this will give new information about the mysterious red planet.


Posted by on August 6, 2012 in photos, randomness


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Pictures from space

This recently-released image shows galaxy NGC 2683, which is nicknamed the UFO Galaxy. Using visible and infrared light, Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys captured this image.

This is the most detailed image ever captured of the global star cluster, Messier 9. Global star clusters are thought to contain some of the oldest stars in our galaxy; Messier 9 lies around 25,000 light-years from Earth, close to the centre of the Milky Way.

This Hubble image captures a planetary nebula located in the constellation of Cygnus. Scientists believe the nebula’s shape is caused by a binary star at the centre of the nebula. At the centre of this image is the inner nebula, thought to be about one fifth of a light-year across and from the centre come the ‘wings’, which spread out about one light-year from tip to tip.

This barred spiral galaxy is part of the Dorado Group of galaxies located around 62 million light-years away. This group comprises an estimated 70 galaxies, many other distant galaxies can be seen in this image.

This composite image shows the distribution of dark matter, galaxies, and hot gas in the core of the merging galaxy cluster Abell 520, formed from a violent collision of massive galaxy clusters. Hubble was one of the many telescopes used in this composite image, which has false-coloured maps showing the concentration of starlight, hot gas, and dark matter in the cluster. According to NASA: ‘The blend of blue and green in the centre of the image reveals that a clump of dark matter resides near most of the hot gas, where very few galaxies are found. This finding confirms previous observations of a dark-matter core in the cluster. The result could present a challenge to basic theories of dark matter, which predict that galaxies should be anchored to dark matter, even during the shock of a collision.’

This isolated galaxy is located more than four million light-years from Earth and was only discovered in 1997.

Records show that in 1843 Eta Carinae became one of the brightest stars in the sky, but eventually started to dim and in the 20th century became invisible to the naked eye. The star system has started to brighten again and has been a regular target for Hubble over its 22 years in service.

This Hubble image shows planetary nebula Hen 3-1333; this is the death throes of a star with a mass around 60% of the sun. This visible-light image was taken by the high resolution channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.

A huge section of the Milky Way galaxy is captured in this mosaic, which features constellations Cassiopeia and Cepheus, named after an ancient Queen and King of Ethiopia in Greek mytholog.

WISE was able to capture the forgotten remains of Puppis A, the red, dusty cloud that’s the remnants of a supernova explosion some 3,700 years ago.

This image of the nebula NGC 2174, which sits on the border of the Gemini and Orion constellations and features a beautiful image of colour and light, is why NASA calls it the Vincent van Gogh of the sky.

In Greek mythology, Orion was a hunter whose ego was so great he angered the goddess Artemis, who banished him to the sky. Here we see the head, the fuzzy red dot in the middle, of Orion, one of the most famous constellations.

Few stretches of the sky are as colourful as the Rho Ophiuchi cloud, found rising above the Milky Way in the night sky.


Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Fun, photos, randomness


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This Is the Definitive Photograph of Planet Earth

This Is the Definitive Photograph of Planet Earth.

From Gizmodo:

This is the highest resolution image of Earth ever made, 121 megapixels. That’s an amazing 0.62 miles per pixel. It was taken by Russia’s latest weather satellite, the Electro-L, which is orbiting Earth on a geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator, sending photographs of the entire planet every 30 minutes.

The image combines four light wavelengths, three visible and one infrared. The three reflected sunlight bands can simulate a conventional red-green-blue color picture. The near infrared channel (orange in the image) is a vegetation indicator, since plants reflect near-ir as well as green.

Download original image: 100 MB, JPG

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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Fun, photos, randomness


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Hubble Spies ‘UFO’ Galaxy

Hubble Spies ‘UFO’ Galaxy : Discovery News.

Hubble got into a great position to take photos of what scientists are dubbing a UFO Galaxy.

It may resemble a classic alien spaceship, but in a press release NASA says the side-on view gives scientists “a great opportunity to see the delicate dusty lanes of the spiral arms silhouetted against the golden haze of the galaxy’s core.”

The picture, released Friday, also shows bright clusters of young blue stars scattered throughout the disc, showing the galaxy’s star-forming regions.

Astronomers believe NGC 2683 is a barred spiral galaxy, even though we can’t see that directly.

Read more at the link above.


Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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Have we stopped dreaming?

Odyssey Class Starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise F. Star Trek Online.

There was a great comment made by Neil deGrasse Tyson on Real Time with Bill Maher a while back.  It asked the question, or at least it gave the opinion “we stopped dreaming”.  Here’s the comment in it’s entirety.

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NA...

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First of all, let’s clarify what the NASA budget is. Do you realize that the $850 billion dollar bailout, that sum of money is greater than the entire 50-year running budget of NASA? And so when someone says, “We don’t have enough money for this space probe,” I’m asking, no, it’s not that you don’t have enough money, it’s that the distribution of money that you’re spending is warped in some way that you are removing the only thing that gives people something to dream about tomorrow.

You remember the ’60s and ’70s. You didn’t have to go more than a week before there’s an article in Life magazine, “The Home of Tomorrow,” “The City of Tomorrow,” “Transportation of Tomorrow.” All of that ended in the 1970s. After we stopped going to the Moon, it all ended. We stopped dreaming.

And so I worry that the decision that Congress makes doesn’t factor in the consequences of those decisions on tomorrow. Tomorrow’s gone. They’re playing for the quarterly report, they’re playing for the next election cycle, and that is mortgaging the actual future of this nation, and the rest of the world is going to pass us by.

For a better representation, here’s the video clip from Real Time.

It’s something that worries me as well, because I grew up wanting to know about space, exploration, the Moon, and so much more.  A while back I talked about books that introduced kids to the wonders of space.  Where is that now?  Where are the books and the teaching of what’s out there?  Where’s the interest?  It’s almost like when the last Star Trek series wrapped up, the interest in space exploration was gone.  Even before then.

I don’t speak of that lightly.  Star Trek had a hand in shaping people’s interests.  In the documentary by William Shatner, The Captains: A Film By William Shatner, Shatner himself talks about meeting the head of Bombardier in Canada who told Shatner Star Trek was the reason he became an aeronautics engineer.

But we don’t do that anymore.  We don’t celebrate the discovery of space.  A very large part has to do with the current climate of politics, and the upsurge of racial tensions that are occurring again in the world.  Overtly racist comments and the worry about our national security is overshadowing the want to explore space.  Yes, I know Newt Gingrich said that if he were president there would be a lunar base during his term.  In time, that might happen.

But not with the current climate in the world.

We need to start dreaming again.

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Life, randomness


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Space, an uncovered treasure

I found this image on Tumblr today.

The cover of a book written in 1956, by Albro Tilton Gaul, who as it turned out, wrote several books of this type.  The book was targeted at young boys and girls and even suggested that the first astronaut was, at that time, already as old as ten.  Here’s some more from the introduction of the book.

Space travel is already here. Flying saucers are probably indicative of space travel by a race other than ours. We are slowly solving the problems of man’s own survival in space. It is only a matter of a few years, and many, many dollars, before our first space pilot will launch himself into the last frontier of exploration, adventure, and commerce.

We read much about space stations, the small man-made satellites which will be designed to circle the earth at an altitude of several thousand miles. Actually, these space stations will be very useful, even if space travel never develops any further, and we should know about them too.

Although much has been written about space travel, much of this material deals with the mechanics of ship construction to get us into space.

It is the purpose of this book, on the other hand, to show that space travel is also a biological problem, even perhaps to a greater extent than it is an engineering problem. Moreover it is the purpose of this book to describe, to the best of present knowledge, what we expect to encounter when we get to space. This is important, because the success of man’s greatest adventure will depend upon being well prepared.

For me, this wasn’t my introduction to space travel and the wonders of the cosmos.  Mine didn’t come around until the early 1980’s.  You know, after I was done with dinosaurs (though, not really, because I read Jurassic Park, watched all three movies and still take in as much information as I can about said interest that comes along).  No, this was the book that introduced me to space.

It came with a stellar map, and how you could see the stars in the sky at what time, what day, what month.  There was also a small telescope that you could make (it was a kid’s telescope, made from cardboard, but for a ten year old it was awesome), and there was a record that had different sounds discovered from space.

Yes, I said a record.  One of these things…

A 12" record, a 7″ record, and a CD-ROM.

A 12" record, a 7″ record, and a CD-ROM. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…that went on one of these things…

An early 1930s portable wind-up phonograph fro...

An early 1930s portable wind-up phonograph from His Master's Voice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seeing that cover of that old 1950’s book brought back a ton of memories from one that I was given when I was ten in 1980.

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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Space Images: Herschel Sees Through Ghostly Pillars – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Space Images: Herschel Sees Through Ghostly Pillars – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This Herschel image of the Eagle nebula shows the self-emission of the intensely cold nebula’s gas and dust as never seen before. Each color shows a different temperature of dust, from around 10 degrees above absolute zero (10 Kelvin or minus 442 degrees Fahrenheit) for the red, up to around 40 Kelvin, or minus 388 degrees Fahrenheit, for the blue.

Herschel reveals the nebula’s intricate tendril nature, with vast cavities forming an almost cave-like surrounding to the famous pillars, which appear almost ghostly in this view. The gas and dust provide the material for the star formation that is still under way inside this enigmatic nebula.

Far-infrared light has been color-coded to 70 microns for blue and 160 microns for green using the Photodetector Array Camera, and 250 microns for red using the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver.

Figure 1 combines data from almost opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum. Herschel captured longer-wavelength, or far, infrared light, and the space telescope XMM-Newton imaged X-rays. The X-ray data show the hot young stars in the center of the cloud, which are sculpting and interacting with the surrounding ultra-cool gas and dust, seen in infrared. Both wavelengths would be blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, so space telescopes such as these are critical to our understanding of the life cycle of stars.

Both Herschel and XMM-Newton are European Space Agency missions. NASA plays an important role in Herschel. NASA’s Herschel Project Office is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel’s three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the United States astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Family, Fun, Life, photos, randomness


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A new ‘Blue Marble’

Eastern hemisphere (lfet) and western hemisphere of Earth from high resolution images taken by NASA.

After NASA released the Blue Marble image, it received quite a bit of response.  So much so, they released another, this focusing on the eastern hemisphere.  From NASA’s Flickr:

Responding to public demand, NASA scientists created a companion image to the wildly popular ‘Blue Marble’ released last week. This new image shows the Earth’s eastern hemisphere.

NASA reports that, according to Flickr, “The western hemisphere ‘Blue Marble’ image has rocketed up to over 3.1 milling views making it one of the all time most viewed images on the site after only one week.”

As seen in the above image, the new Blue Marble is on the left while the original Blue Marble is on the right.

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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Fun, photos, randomness


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