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Showing posts with the label space exploration

"One Small Step" in a Long Journey

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"A journey of a thousand li starts with a single step."
(Tao Te Ching," Laozi)

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
(Neil Armstrong) I figure the journey to Earth's moon began when someone looked up and wondered what this world's "lesser light" might be. Uncounted ages, most likely, before folks like Laozi and Thales of Miletus added their thoughts to humanity's storehouse of knowledge.

Thales of Miletus gets credit for figuring out that Earth's moon is roughly spherical. So does Anaximander, depending on who's talking. Those two lived about two and a half millennia back.

A century later, Anaxagoras said Earth's moon was earthy, made of the same sort of stuff we stand on. He was right about that. Other details in his cosmology, not so much....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Apollo 11, 50 Years Later

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Apollo 11's Lunar Module reached Mare Tranquillitatis fifty years ago this month. I remember hearing Neil A. Armstrong announce the landing site's name: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

A few hours later, Armstrong opened the Lunar Module's MESA — a storage locker built into the lander's side.

A television camera in the MESA showed us Armstrong's, and humanity's, first step onto another world.

Back on Earth, one out of every five people were watching: at home, in pubs, at cafes, in New York's Central Park and at shop windows. Pope St. Paul VI watched at the Castle Gandolfo observatory....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Commercial Spaceflight: Another Step

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon demonstration and test flight has gone well. The spacecraft returns to Earth Friday morning.

Folks may be riding Crew Dragon to and from the ISS later this year.

I found quite a bit about space stations, docking technology and other more-or-less-related topics. But if this is going to be done in time, that must wait until another day.

(More at A Catholic Citizen in America.)

Space 'Firsts:' New Horizons, Chang'e-4

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It's been a month for space exploration 'firsts,' and a 'farthest.'

Ultima Thule became the most distant object visited by a probe on January 1, with the New Horizons flyby.

A few days later, China's Chang'e-4 mission landed in the von Kármán crater, part of the moon that's not visible from Earth. It's the first lunar farside landing, and the first time plants sprouted on the moon...."

(More on A Catholic Citizen in America.)

Mars and Beyond

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Falcon Heavy's test flight last week wasn't perfect. But I'll call it a success. That's good news for SpaceX. Not my opinion: the largely-successful flight.

The test flight's dummy payload included an actual dummy. "Starman" is that mannequin wearing a spacesuit at the wheel of a red Tesla roadster.

I'll be talking about that, how I see the news, technology, and humanity's new horizon....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Still Seeking Earth 2.0

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We've known about 55 Cancri e since 2004.

It may have lakes and rivers of lava. But that's probably not what keeps its night side hot enough to melt copper.

Ross 128 b, discovered this year, is a bit more massive than Earth, warm enough for liquid water, and too hot. It's not quite 'Earth 2.0,' but it may support life....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Cassini-Huygens Mission

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The Cassini-Huygens mission ends this week, after 13 years in orbit around Saturn. Scientists found answers to some questions they had, and uncovered new questions.

I think they'll be studying Cassini's and Huygens' data for years. Decades.

I'll take a quick look at what we've learned, and why scientists want follow-up missions to the Saturn system.

The Enceladan subsurface ocean wasn't a complete surprise.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

GSLV, Rocket Lab: Looking Good

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India's 'monster rocket,' the GSLV Mark III, successfully put the GSAT-19E satellite in orbit this week.

BBC News called some coverage of ISRO's launch "euphoric."

That's understandable. India is like America in the late 20th century, where spaceflight is involved: and is rapidly catching up. I'm not euphoric, quite, but I see what's happening as very good news for everyone.

Rocket Lab's Electron test launch wasn't entirely successful. But the company thinks they can get the system working, and plan to start commercial launches later this year.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Repeatable Results That Aren’t

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I'll be talking about scientific research that may not be "fake:" but isn't reliable, either. The good news is that many scientists want to fix the problem.

I'll also take a look at truth, beauty, Copernicus, and how a science editor sees faith and science.
Faith and science Truth and Beauty"...There Will be Babblers...."Being ScientificNews and views...
More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mars: Leaky Red Planet

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What we're learning about Mars, and a new type of really small spacecraft, reminded me of earth, air and kilts.

Also pharaohs, Thomas Paine, and Lord Kelvin. By then I was running out of time to write something more tightly-organized.

I figured you might be interested in some of what I have written. On on the other hand, maybe not. So I added links to my ramblings before and after what I said more-or-less about the science news, and figure you can decide what's interesting and what's not.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

TRAPPIST-1: Water? Life??

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TRAPPIST-1's planets may support life: or not. We don't know. Not yet.

We're pretty sure that all seven are rocky worlds, like the Solar System's inner planets.

Three are in the star's habitable zone. The inner two definitely do not have one sort of atmosphere that would make life as we know it impossible.

Even if we don't find life there, we'll learn a great deal while looking.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mars, Aliens, and SETI

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I'd love to be talking about unambiguously artificial signals picked up by the Allen Telescope Array, or reports of a ship from beyond the Solar System settling into orbit around our moon.

But that hasn't happened, and probably won't. Not in my lifetime.

Instead, I'll talk about why I don't "believe in" extraterrestrial life; and do not assume that we are alone in the universe. That puts me in the third of folks who aren't sure, and I'll get back to that.

My 'Friday' posts are usually about more-or-less-current 'science news.' That won't happen this week. I've read a few interesting articles, and will be talking about them — after the Christmas-New Year's gymkhana is over.

This week I'm using material that didn't quite fit into an earlier post. I'll also talk about the Great Moon Hoax, Nicola Tesla and Martians; and what I think about life in the universe.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Near-Earth Asteroids

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Scientists spotted 2016 UR36 days before it passed by Earth. "Killer asteroids" headlines notwithstanding, we knew it would miss our planet by a comfortable margin.

Sooner or later, though, something big will hit Earth: again. We still can't prevent that, not yet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Europa, Mars, and Someday the Stars

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Scientists think they've detected more plumes of water, shooting up from near Europa's south pole. It's early days, but we may have found a comparatively easy way to collect samples from the Jovian moon's subsurface ocean.

Stephen Hawking says humanity needs to keep exploring space. I agree, although not quite for the reasons he gave.

SpaceX tested an engine they plan to use on their Mars transport, and Gaia's data seems to have raised as many questions as it answers.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Philae, Jupiter, and Life

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Scientists spotted Philae, the European Space Agency's spacecraft that crash-landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014: which will help them make sense of data sent back while the probe still functioned.

Other scientists think they’ve worked out where carbon near Earth's surface came from, and the Juno orbiter has been sending pictures of the giant planet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Studying Thousands of New Worlds

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Scientists studied the atmospheres of two exoplanets, planets orbiting another star, earlier this year. Both planets are roughly Earth-sized, with atmospheres a bit like the Solar System's terrestrial planets.

Juno arrived at Jupiter last month, and will start its science mission in October.

Finally, scientists found more than a thousand new planets; including more than a hundred Earth-sized ones.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Starshot, SETI, and the Universe

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We may be within a generation of sending probes on flyby missions to other stars, high-energy jets from several distant galaxies all point in the same direction, and we're learning more about hot super-earths.

That sort of thing fascinates me, your experience may vary.

Meanwhile, SETI researchers will be checking out red dwarfs: which may be more promising places to look for neighbors than we thought.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

BEAM Prototype Habitat, Bigelow's Plans

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The BEAM Bigelow Aerospace habitat module, will be launched toward the International Space Station (ISS) today: if all goes well.

BEAM is packed in the Dragon spacecraft's pressurized section. This cargo run also carries supplies for the ISS crew, and for several dozen of the roughly 250 experiments planned for Expeditions 47 and 48. (SpaceX press kit)

After getting attached to the ISS and inflated, BEAM will mostly just sit there for at least two years: empty except when someone in the ISS takes samples and swaps out radiation sensors. I think that's a good idea, since BEAM is testing technology for Bigelow Aerospace rental properties in low Earth orbit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Reaching for the Stars

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Scientists and engineers in BAE Systems' Project Greenglow are trying to control, or sidestep, gravity.

Back on my side of the Atlantic, scientists at NASA's Eagleworks say they've successfully tested prototype RF resonant cavity thrusters and a warp field generator. Other scientists are skeptical. Very skeptical....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Luxembourg and Asteroid Mining

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Stories like "Rip Foster Rides the Gray Planet" and "Red Dwarf's" Dave Lister singing "...Lived an old plutonium miner / And his daughter Clementine..." probably didn't help make asteroid mining seem like a serious idea.

Then there's the 1966 Outer Space Treaty treaty: a tribute to the high ideals, and international politics, of the '60s. The idea was that anything we find outside Earth's atmosphere would belong to everyone. Nifty idea, not entirely wrong, and I'll get back to that.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.