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The Mystery of the Missing NASA Moon Rocks January 22, 2012

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The only moon rocks that ever were returned to Earth came from NASA. And it has been NASA’s mission over the last 40 years to protect those rocks..

Much like NASA’s failure to protect manned space flight launch capability, NASA has failed in its responsibility to keep track of all of its’ moon rocks as well.

“Although such losses at any time are regrettable, and NASA agrees with the I.G. report that continuing to improve certain procedures could reduce the rate at which they occur, the benefits to science of making these samples available for study have vastly outweighed the tiny risk of loss,” a NASA spokesman in Houston, William P. Jeffs, said in a statement.

The whole story is up over on the New York Timesand it’s a fascinating read

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NASA Mars Phoenix Lander Dead and a Failure November 10, 2008

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So poor little NASA Mars Phoenix lander has sent it’s last Tweet. The space probe no longer has enough power to remain operational.

NASA is branding the mission a success – but it’s really a failure.

“Phoenix not only met the tremendous challenge of landing safely, it accomplished scientific investigations on 149 of its 152 Martian days as a result of dedicated work by a talented team,” said Phoenix Project Manager Barry Goldstein at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif in a statement.

That’s total BS isn’t it?

The probe has only been on the surface of Mars since May and now it doesn’t have enough power? That’s nuts. Couldn’t they have put a power efficient mechanism that could last for a while? What a collossal waste of US taxpayer dollars.

Voyager is more than 30 years old and it still is operational sending back signals from beyond the Solar system. Don’t tell me the Mars Phoenix didn’t cost more.

Cassini Goes in for a Close up of Enceladus March 11, 2008

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Big day for NASA Cassini on March 12th as it zoom in for an extreme closeup of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

This daring flyby requires exquisite technical finesse, but it has the potential to revolutionize our knowledge of the geysers of Enceladus. The Cassini mission team is eager to see the scientific results, and so am I,” said Alan Stern, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington in a statement

Apparently Scientists and mission personnel have determined that flying at close distances to Enceladus poses little threat to Cassini because, despite the high speed of Cassini, the plume particles are small. Add that to the fact that Cassini regularly crosses regions made up of dust-size particles in its orbit around Saturn.

Neat stuff. Good luck Cassini and PLEASE don’t get burned.

Martian Avalanches March 4, 2008

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Science Fact is often waaaaaay cooler than Science Fiction. Case in point are some new pics from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of Mars.

An avalanche on Earth (so long as no people are stuck nearby) is cool. On Mars? Multiply that by a factor of ooooh a million or so since the scale of the avalanche is literally astronomical.

“It really surprised me,” says planetary scientist Ingrid Daubar Spitale of the University of Arizona in a statement. “It’s great to see something so dynamic on Mars. A lot of what we see there hasn’t changed for millions of years.”

NASA has also posted a whole whack of wickedly cool picks from Mars – including one of the spaceship looking back on Earth.

Bionic Vision a Reality? February 28, 2008

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Yes, we all know now that the new Bionic Woman is really bad show.

But the basic premise of bionics is still kinda cool. Apparently it’s not all just Science Fiction anymore either. There may be a way to get real bionic vision sometime soon since the technology is mostly already here.

Check out this interesting clip from ABC.com all about it:

Norway’s Doomsday Vault February 25, 2008

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No it’s not SciFi. It’s real.

Deep in the Norwegian Artic permafrost, there is a Doomsday vault that will keep all of the Earth’s seeds. Just in case we exterminate a species or two as Global Warming heats up.

Sure it’s a good idea – that’s why the general idea has been in a gazillion (that’s an exact figure) sci fi stories and movies.

January 31, 1958 – US Explorer 1 Launched Beginning The Space Race January 31, 2008

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It was fifty years ago today that the US got its act together and launched its first satellite. Yes the US was behind the USSR with Sputnik but Explorer is not just a matter of historical Trivia. It was also the true beginning of the US Space Program’s Golden Era that a decade later landed the first man on the moon.

The satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral (now Cape Kennedy) in Florida at 10:48 P.M. EST on 31 January 1958 by the Jupiter-C vehicle–a special modification of the Redstone ballistic missile–that was designed, built, and launched by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) under the direction of Dr. Wernher Von Braun. Jupiter-C, a direct descendant of the German A-4 (V-2) rocket, was originally developed in 1955-1956 as a high-performance rocket for testing purposes.

NASA has put together a really tight site all about Explorer 1 – so get your fix of space history!

A White Dwarf Pulsar? NASA has found one. January 3, 2008

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Apparently there is alot more to White Dwarf stars then previously thought. Until now a White Dwarf star was thought to be a cooling star that was on its way to fading away..apparently that’s not necessarily the case.
White Dwarf star AE Aquarii according to new NASA research emits pulses of
high-energy (hard) X-rays as it whirls around on its axis.

“We’re seeing behavior like the pulsar in the Crab Nebula, but we’re seeing it in a white dwarf,” says Koji Mukai of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The Crab Nebula is the shattered remnant of a massive star that ended its life in a supernova explosion. “This is the first time such pulsar-like behavior has ever been observed in a white dwarf.”

Vulcan Discovered 148 years ago today January 2, 2008

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  French mathematician Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier claimed on this date in 1860 the discovery of the planet Vulcan. Vulcan was supposed to inhabit the orbit between Mercury and the Sun and was not the home of Logic.

As it turns out Logic which is what let Le Verrier to deduce the existence of Vulcan was flawed as no such planet exists in the orbit he surmised.

To his credit though Le Verrier did ‘discover’ another planet…Neptune.

NASA Takes A Step Back With Orion November 6, 2007

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Remember when the Shuttle was first rolled out? Wasn’t that cool? Futuristic?

Well NASA is now going backwards and is rolling out its next generation manned space transport and its a total throwback to the Gemini capsule days.

It’s a SAD SAD SAD day for Space science and the manned exploration of space.

Toronto Observatory – once one of the largest in the world – to be sold. November 6, 2007

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Further proof that Toronto is a second rate city. The University of Toronto is selling off the David Dunlap Observatory and the 191-acre property that surrounds it.

When the observatory opened in 1935 the 188-centimetre telescope was the world’s second-largest.

The first Black Hole ever discovered – Cygnus X1 was discovered by the Dunlap observatory..

But now the GREED OF TORONTO is sending this great center of science into a black hole fueled by a lack of foresight and a total disrespect for the memory of the man who donated the money to endow the observatory in 1935.

Toronto apparently values development over science – and apparently has little regard for Astronomy.

The Toronto Star has a solid story on this travesty. It’s a darn shame that the University of Toronto, the Government of Ontario and Canada have no respect for the wishes of the people.

Toronto has a very poor relationship with Astronomy in fact – it was just yesterday that we reported on the sad state of the Toronto McLauglin Planetarium…which is now likely set to become a condo development.

SHAME SHAME SHAME.

Former Toronto Planetarium Site to be sold– for Condos? November 5, 2007

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Toronto claims to be a world class city – but how could it be..when it has turned its back on the stars?

Over a decade ago the Royal Ontario Museum closed what was the Toronto McLaughlin Planetarium – over money issues. They sold off the stellarium, the Zeiss star projector and abandoned–no they NEGLECTED the population of Toronto.

The building has stood vacant – with a few exceptions – for most of this millennium. Now the geniuses that run the ROM who spent all their money on the crystal monstrosity that grows out of the side of the legacy ROM building like some kind of malignant tumor – want to see the Toronto Planetarium site sold for condo development.

SHAME. SHAME. SHAME.

The shame is not just on the ROM but on Toronto itself.

Blog Action Day : SciFi is Littered With Tales of Worlds Gone Wrong October 15, 2007

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What Kind of Blogger Are You?So today is Blog Action Day with the theme being about the environment…considering that Al Gore just won the Nobel Peace price for his work – (and Al Gore of course famously once claimed that he invented the Internet) – i guess this makes sense.

How many SciFi classics deal with a world (Earth or otherwise) that has gone bad because of environmental disaster? The list is certainly very very very very long. It’s actually almost a cliched theme in SciFi actually.

The fact that now in 2007 it is front and center is just a testament to the fact that SciFi leads the way for society and that beyond being great entertainment – there are things that we humans today should be doing to save this planet before it is destroyed.

Then again a big meteor could come loose from the Oort cloud and head towards earth (as it did 200 million years ago) – in which case, we’ve got bigger problems to deal with.

The answer of course is colonization of worlds beyond Earth. The time will come when the Earth becomes uninhabitable – that shouldn’t mean that life as we know it and that human life should then cease to exist too.

Juno Set for Jupiter Flyby in 2016. October 11, 2007

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NASA is hard a work on its next Jupiter exploration craft called Juno.

This week NASA settled on an Atlas 5 model 551 rocket, provided by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, to launch the  $700 million Juno mission in August 2011.

According to NASA’s mission page:

Using a spinning, solar-powered spacecraft, Juno will make maps of the gravity, magnetic fields, and atmospheric composition of Jupiter from a unique polar orbit. Juno will carry precise high-sensitivity radiometers, magnetometers, and gravity science systems . Juno’s 32 orbits over 11 days will sample Jupiter’s full range of latitudes and longitudes. From its polar perspective, Juno combines in situ and remote sensing observations to explore the polar magnetosphere and determine what drives Jupiter’s remarkable auroras.

Personally I think this sounds VERY LAME – especially in comparison to what the Galileo probe accomplised with 1980’s era technology. Apparently NASA is really aiming low these days. What ever happened to the idea of long term orbits examining all of the Jovian system? Or like Galileo some kind of atmospheric probe?

NOPE. NASA may know the way to Jupiter – but the US Space Agency apparently has lost its adventurous ways.

A New DAWN For NASA September 27, 2007

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took of this morning  Cape Canaveral  on its way to check out a pair of asteriods.

NASA itself has called the extremely efficient space craft – The Prius of space travel

“Dawn has risen, and the spacecraft is healthy,” said the mission’s project manager Keyur Patel of JPL in a statement. “About this time tomorrow [Friday morning], we will have passed the moon’s orbit.”

Dawn’s 4.8-billion-kilometer (3-billion-mile) odyssey includes exploration of asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. These two icons of the asteroid belt have been witness to much of our solar system’s history. By using Dawn’s instruments to study both asteroids, scientists more accurately can compare and contrast the two. Dawn’s science instrument suite will measure elemental and mineral composition, shape, surface topography, and tectonic history, and will also seek water-bearing minerals. In addition, the Dawn spacecraft and how it orbits Vesta and Ceres will be used to measure the celestial bodies’ masses and gravity fields.

Sounds like one heck of a trip to me.

Duke University Searching for – Naked Singularities September 26, 2007

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ThoughT that the only people at Duke looking for ‘naked’ were the Duke Rugby team? (i know…bad taste..)

Turns out not all Black Holes are actually – well..black.

Apparently research from Duke University think there is a way to determine whether some black holes are not actually black.

“It would show that nature has surprises even weirder than black holes,” said Arlie Petters, a Duke professor of mathematics and physics in a statement.

Since no one has even measured the core of a black hole it has been impossible to actually determine if they were in fact all black. The Duke team has a plan to figure it out.Working with research at the University of Cambridge they figure that a black hole could be shed of its event horizon and become a naked singularity if its angular momentum — an effect of its spin — is greater than its mass.

…I’m not an astrophysicist but if a black hole’s center of mass is a black dwarf that has so much gravity that all light gets sucked in..i don’t see how a naked singularity could exist unless of course..the dwarfs gravity is somehow..incomplete..

Anyways..if you’re interested in the full story check out the Duke site