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Tutor (Lunar LEGO Lander…): Looking at the photo, it looks like the lander's en…
Lain (Lunar LEGO Lander…): And really works
jordan (Lunar LEGO Lander…): I purchased on ebay the discovery shuttle in this s…
Lain (Lunar LEGO Lander…): Ooh, that's the one I want the most, I think.

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31 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § The Real Deal?

space fossilAfter the events of my 21st birthday, one should take announcements like this with a grain of salt, and, really, the announcement hasn't even been made yet, but--astrobiologists believe they may have found evidence of extraterrestrial life in a meteorite that fell 140 years ago. The meteorite contains what appears to be bacteria fossils, which contain isotopes indicating they are not of terrestrial origin.
"I think this is the real deal," Klyce said.
A manuscript on the finding is being prepared for a peer-reviewed publication.
So... stay tuned.

+ 0 - 0 | § More Politics, Sorry

Moon2From the Republican Party platform:
In addition, the Republican Party will remain committed to America’s leadership in space research and exploration. We will ensure that this Nation can expand our knowledge of the universe, and with the support of the American people, continue the exploration of Mars and the rest of the solar system. We consider space travel and space science a national priority with virtually unlimited benefits, in areas ranging from medicine to micro-machinery, for those on earth. Development of space will give us a growing economic resource and a source of new scientific discoveries. The potential benefits of new science and technology to the American people, indeed to all humanity, are incalculable and can only be hastened by the international free market in ideas that the Information Revolution has created.
To the best of my knowledge, there's been no equivalent statement from the Democrats.

+ 0 - 0 | § Congratulations

recordCongratulations to the X-43A team for their official Guinness World Record recognition for the Mach 6.83 air-breathing aircraft speed record earlier this year. The team plans to break their own record in October by taking the remaining X-43A up to Mach 10.

30 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

BlufordOn this date in 1983, Guy Bluford became the first African-American astronaut to fly, on the first night launch of the Space Shuttle.

+ 0 - 0 | § Worlds Of Excitement

planetCosmic Log has posted feedback from readers guessing what tomorrow's big extrasolar planet announcement will be, with most of the guesses centering around the discovery of an Earth-like world.
I'm guessing they're all hoping for too much. The discovery may be of an Earth-like world, but if so, I imagine it will only be in the roughest sense--rocky, no more than 14 Earth masses (the size of the recently discovered "Super-Earth"). One reader guesses that it may have to do with visual detection of a gas-giant planet, but then goes on to speculate that Earth-size moons may have been found orbiting it. There has been at least one image which is believed to be direct imaging of an extrasolar world, so it's possible that the announcement will be a confirmed direct imaging (which would tie in with the claim that the annoucnement "represents a significant and much-anticipated advance in the hunt for extrasolar planets."), but hoping for not only a direct imaging of a giant world, which is possible, but a bonus of Earth-like moons is I imagine a bit much to hope for me.
My personal speculation is that the new G5 iMacs will be the more exciting of the two announcements tomorrow (though I don't know that they'll be as cool as the first- and second-gen iMacs).

+ 0 - 0 | § Going Up

ElevatorA new group, Elevator:2010, is hoping an X Prize-type competition could speed development of a space elevator. The group would offer prizes in various competitions over the rest of the decade that would show the feasibility of various elevator-supporting technologies.

+ 0 - 0 | § RTF Update

STS-114The STS-114 launch window has been shortened, which also pushes back the NET launch date. The new launch window begins on March 16 instead of March 6. (Sidebar update is being modified accordingly.)

+ 0 - 0 | § Near Vision has an article about near-term implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration, which notes that one major milestone will be reached in the next month or so, and that several others will occur in the next year.
And yet there are still idiots who believe "It was as though sending men to Mars was a momentary brainstorm, one of those ideas that seems great at midnight and is quickly forgotten the next morning."

+ 0 - 0 | § Last Walk

FinckeThe Expedition 9 crew will perform its final space walk Friday starting at 11:50 CDT. More preparations will be made for the arrival of the first ESA ATV unmanned supply ship next year, and some basic Station maintenance will be performed.

28 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § All Bets Are On

Per New Scientist:
Betting on the greatest unsolved problems in the universe is no longer the preserve of academic superstars such as Stephen Hawking. From Thursday anyone will be able to place bets on whether the biggest physics experiments in the world will come good before 2010.

27 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Strange New Worlds

planetNASA has a press conference scheduled for Tuesday to make a major extrasolar planet discovery announcement. The announcement will reportedly address the "discovery of a new class of planets beyond our solar system" which "represents a significant and much-anticipated advance in the hunt for extra-solar planets."
I'm not certain how likely it is that there are a substantial number of extrasolar worlds that have been discovered but not announced, so how "new" the information will be to those who have been following the extrasolar world hunt I don't know.
Addendum: Cosmic Log has a bit more context and speculation.

+ 0 - 0 | § Depths Of Mars

MarsUniverse Today (which unfortunately doesn't have permalinks, so you may have to scroll to find the link) had a link yesterday to a new 3D Mars screensaver by the European Space Agency. Unfortunately, it looks like it may be PC only, though I'm not certain.
Also, a direct link to the ESA site is here.

26 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Summer In The SETI

SETISETI@home, the world-network task-distribution search for extraterrestrial life application, enters a new phase today with the when a new program joins BOINC. Under the new program, you can dedicate your computer's processing power toward working on a variety of problems, from searching to alien life to predicting the weather to supporting Einstein to building a better particle accelerator.

+ 0 - 0 | § Snikt!

George WillLain sent me a link to this George Will column, which I liked the ending of:
Knowledge, tickled from the heavens, is the business of a small band of possible explainers — the people of JPL and NASA, government at its best.

+ 0 - 0 | § Recommended Reading

Moon2The Planetary Society has put together a report on implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration, written by a team of experts, co-led by Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott.
The report has excellent insight on the challenges involved in carrying out human missions to the Moon and Mars, and features some innovative ideas on overcoming those challenges.

On a similar note, Frank Sietzen has an interesting article on the process of choosing a launch vehicle for space exploration.

+ 0 - 0 | § Who's Taking Genesis?

GenesisSo it turns out that the upcoming Genesis sample return midair capture may be the most highly planned helicopter flight in history.

+ 0 - 0 | § This Week At NE

airplaneThis week at NASAexplores, I've got an article based on a discussion by a panel of experts about what the world would be like if airplanes had never been invented. We've also got an article by Maggie about NASA's research in subvocal speech transmission, and a new type of feature, an Earth Explorer article.

+ 0 - 0 | § To Seek Out Old Life... has articles today which address the possibility of extraterrestrial life on three worlds.
For habitability, there are implications for Venus and there are implications for terrestrial planets in general. Venus almost certainly had liquid water when it was young. So the conditions for the origin of life, as conventionally defined, were satisfied there as much as on Earth and Mars.
While the amount of methane seen by the PFS is very small – about 10 parts in a thousand million – the implications of the detection are large. Perhaps Mars isn’t a planet waiting to exhale, but one that is a thriving world of panting microbes?
In a discovery that has left one expert stunned, European astronomers have found one of the smallest planets known outside our solar system, a world about 14 times the mass of our own around a star much like the Sun.
While that last planet is, itself, an unlikely candidate for hosting life due to its proximity to its sun, it demonstrates that there are planets smaller than the ones we've been finding out there, and that we're getting closer to being able to find them. The same proximity to a star that made this a dead world is likely also a major factor in our ability to detect it--I'm guessing its closer proximity compensated for its smaller size in creating detectable stellar perturbations. The planet is now part of a known stellar system of three worlds.

+ 0 - 0 | § RTF Update

STS-114Radar tracking data gathered during the launch of the Mercury MESSENGER spacecraft earlier this month successfully demonstrated imaging techniques that can be used to monitor Shuttle launches, bringing NASA a step closer to its goals for Return To Flight.

+ 0 - 0 | § A Space Odyssey

OdysseyAs much as I've posted here about the two Mars rovers completing their missions and original lifetime and moving on into new missions long after they were expected to have failed, I thought it'd be only fair to note that the Mars Odyssey orbiter went into overtime yesterday, having completed its original mission and been granted an extended mission until September 2006. One of the main focuses of the extended mission is to use the data gathered thus far as a baseline to monitor climate change on the Red Planet. Odyssey will also provide back-up support for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which launches next August for an MOI in March 2006.

25 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § INA Info

SoyuzIf anyone's interested, The Washington post has an informative article about the Iran Nonproliferation Act, which, among other things, prevents the U.S. from paying Russia for use of Soyuz spacecraft, detailing its history and what it may mean for the International Space Station program.

+ 0 - 0 | § Fixin' To Space Walk

FinckeIn a bit of news for the future of space exploration, NASA announced that ISS Expedition 9 FE/SO Mike Fincke has fixed one of the two malfunctioning space suits on the Station. The malfunction in the two American EMU space suits led to the use of the Russian Orlan suits for a U.S. space walk earlier this year. The malfunction of the suits, in my opinion, represented an area of concern for an agency planning long-duration missions away from Earth, during which replacing malfunctioning equipment would not be an option. The more demonstrated ability astronauts have to repair equipment in-flight, the more likely such missions are to be successful.

+ 0 - 0 | § Planet-Hunting For The Masses

extrasolar worldAstronomers have announced that a new planet has been found using a small, 4-inch telescope, about the size that can be easily bought by the average public. The planet is the first found using a new method which should lead to the discovery of many more extrasolar worlds.

24 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Picture Of The Day

dummy head
"The head of a dummy that was placed within the Rubicon's crew compartment to represent the pilot washed up on the beach after the Aug. 8 launch failure." Courtesy Cosmic Log.

+ 0 - 0 | § Saving Hubble

Hubble servicingThe New York Times (reg. req.) has a good article about the growing support for a robotic Hubble servicing mission. The article discusses some of the issues that would be involved in the mission, and how the tasks might be carried out.

23 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § X Prize Update

Ansari X PrizeAlan Boyle's Cosmic Log has a update on various goings-on in the world of commercial spaceflight. While it looks like the X Prize competition itself should be wrapping up within the next 2 months, it will be interesting to see what the long-term fallout of the competition will be.

+ 0 - 0 | § No Bucks...

Sergei PolonskyOctober's Soyuz crew-rotation mission won't see the world's third space tourist (or Russia's first paying space voyager). Rosaviakosmos has rejected passenger candidate Sergei Polonsky. While RSA is citing medical concerns (which earlier grounded candidate Greg Olsen) for rejecting the construction mogul, speculation is that the decision has more to do with failure to come to an agreement on a price--Polonsky had been driving a hard bargain, believing the Russian agency would be desperate to find a paying passenger for the imminent flight after losing Olsen.
Filling the third seat instead will be military cosmonaut Yuri Shargin, the first to have been selected from the Russian Space Force.

+ 0 - 0 | § Mars: The Game

MarsThe Missoula Independent has an article about a Mars colonization game by University of Montana students funded by NASA. The game sounds interesting, though there's no word on how or when it will be available.

+ 0 - 0 | § RTF Update

STS-114Per NASA:
Engineers at NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi have successfully tested what's expected to be the last of three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) that will carry the next Space Shuttle into orbit. ...
"Piece by piece, milestone by milestone, we're getting closer to flying the Shuttle again," said Michael Kostelnik, deputy associate administrator for International Space Station and Space Shuttle Programs. "Today's engine test is another important step to make sure we give the STS-114 crew a safe ride to and from the Space Station."

20 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Today In History

Voyager 2On this date in 1977, Voyager 2 launched on a tour of the solar system's four gas giant planets. The probe is now travelling at about 3.3 AU per year and is in its extended Voyager Interstellar Mission, along with its more-distant sibling.

+ 0 - 0 | § Heavy, Man

Delta 4 HeavyI've got an item in the Aerospace Events box in the left sidebar about the upcoming demonstration launch of the Delta 4 Heavy booster. An earlier story has specs on the rocket.

19 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § This Week At NE

future MoonbaseThis week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about the AIM project, which is responsible for making sure all of the new equipment and procedures developed for the Vision for Space Exploration integrate together properly. Also, Maggie's got an article about how jet fuel is made.

18 August 04

+ 0 - 0 | § Man Versus Machine

roverNot to take anything away from the amazing job the Mars rovers are doing, but this is another reason why I have to disagree with anyone who supports unmanned missions to the exclusion of manned missions:
On Opportunity, a tool for exposing the insides of rocks stopped working Sunday, but engineers are optimistic that the most likely diagnosis is a problem that can be fixed soon. "It looks like there's a pebble trapped between the cutting heads of the rock abrasion tool," said Chris Salvo, rover mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We think we can treat it by turning the heads in reverse, but we are still evaluating the best approach to remedy the situation. There are several options available to us."
OK, so the tool stopped working on Sunday, and 3 days later, they think there's a pebble stuck in it, but they're not sure, so they're going to spend more time evaluating the situation.
On a human mission, that would have been about a 2 minute fix, at most. Tool gets stuck. Look at tool. See pebble. Untrap pebble. (NOTE: Do not stick fingers in operating cutting heads!) Start working again. Spend next several days working instead of evaluating the broken tool.
The results we've gotten back from the Mars rovers have been amazing; they were well worth every penny; and are an important precursor to human exploration.
But the science performed by the two rovers will be nothing compared with what we'll do when we actually have people there.

+ 0 - 1 | § Picture Of The Day

Lance Bass
Spaceflight participant nominee Lance Bass builds a metal pumpkin. Courtesy NASA Spaceflight.