Showing posts from February, 2016

Marco Rubio in Huntsville: Vows to rebuild military, space program

From taking the stage to "Sweet Home Alabama" to promising to restore American prominence in national defense and the space program, Marco Rubio cast a wide net for votes at a campaign rally in Huntsville on Saturday. The Republican presidential hopeful, stumping in the Rocket City three days before the Super Tuesday primary, fired salvos at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and talked about preserving the American dream. "When you elect me president, we are going to undertake a Reagan-style rebuilding of the military," said Rubio, speaking to a crowd his campaign estimated at 3,000 people. "And that includes the space program. The space program is a key part of our national security. There is a reason the Chinese is practicing blowing up our satellites. "Great nations do great things. We are going back to space." Rubio arrived about 5:40 p.m. at the rally after participating in a candidate forum in Birmingham earlier in the day. He was schedul


In a meeting centered on the future of space exploration and research, NASA met with the congressional House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today in Washington. Among the many items discussed, both congressmen and representatives of NASA brought up the future of space travel, particularly in the context of a manned mission to Mars. Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin suggested (via Gizmodo) a gradual build toward space exploration and travel, suggesting the Moon as an ideal testing ground and telling the committee “If God wanted us to go to Mars, he’d have given us a Moon to practice on first.” Griffin laid out a hypothetical in which astronauts would first spend some time on the space station before living on the surface of the moon for six months, thus providing astronauts and researchers with more information on how to better equip future researchers and travelers wanting to visit the surface of Mars. Astronaut Eileen Collins built on the idea, suggesting p

New imaging technique can find Earth-like planets near their stars

The quest to find Earth-like planets (and extraterrestrial life) may have just gotten a huge boost by way of a newly-developed imaging technique. Astrophysicists have long been on the lookout for planets where life may exist—very generally, those in a sweet spot of being close enough to a star so the planets are warm, but not too warm to support life. The only problem is, often these planets are difficult or impossible to see through a traditional telescope because the brightness of their star drowns out the tiny bit of light reflected by the planet—kind of like trying to see a firefly next to a lighthouse but much, much harder. "Current instrument technology is very complex and expensive and still a ways off from achieving direct images of Earth-like planets," added Florida Institute of Technology astrophysicist Daniel Batcheldor in a statement. New solution to an old problem But now there is new hope, according to a new paper in Publications of the Astronomical So

NASA Announces Development of Telescope With View 100 Times Larger Than Hubble’s

The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will image large regions of the sky in near-infrared light to answer fundamental questions about dark energy and the structure and evolution of the universe. It will also greatly expand our knowledge of planetary systems around other stars, and revolutionize many other astrophysical topics. Slated to launch in the mid-2020s, the observatory will operate at a gravitational balance point known as Earth-sun L2, which is located about 930,000 miles from Earth in a direction directly opposite the sun. After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe — the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). With a view 100 times bigger than that of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, WFIRST will aid researchers in their efforts to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and explore the evolution of the cosmos. It will also discover new worlds ou

3 Things to Watch for From SpaceX This Spring

At SpaceX, the stakes remain high for Elon Musk and his team as they pursue out the short-term successes necessary for the rocketry company's long-term goals. It'll be a busy spring for Musk & co. at SpaceX as they plot the next rocket launch, NASA missions and more in coming months. Here's what you need to know about what's just ahead for SpaceX: Catching Up on Launches - SpaceX has been delaying the launch of an SES satellite since September, but will finally go into orbit on Feb. 24, assuming no further postponements. The multiple delays have confused many people, since this version of the Falcon 9, the Falcon 9 v1.2 or Falcon 9 Upgrade, has already been proven to work during the successful December launch of Orbcomm satellites. But, there are reasons to think that there will be fewer non-weather related delays as SpaceX's Transporter Erector for the Falcon 9 and the Falcon 9 Heavy are now set up at Cape Canaveral, which will help support the rockets a

NASA on Interstellar Travel: "There Is No Known Reason Why We Cannot Do This"

Achieving near-relativistic speeds is the "holy grail" of space travel, as it would allow humanity to visit potentially habitable exoplanets, explore faraway galaxies, and possibly become interplanetary. Now, NASA scientists are claiming that cutting-edge technologies are inching closer and closer to making this pipe dream a reality. "Imagine getting to Mars in just 3 days… or putting points beyond our solar system within our reach. New propulsion technologies could one day take us to these cosmic destinations making space travel truly interstellar!" In the video, NASA's Phillip Lubin discusses his NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC) for energy propulsion for interstellar exploration, which he discussed in detail at the 2015 NIAC Fall Symposium in October. According to Lubin, scientists regularly achieve relativistic speeds with microscopic particles in laboratory settings, using electromagnetic acceleration, but it becomes significantly more diffi

Nasa’s new alien-hunting telescope is so sensitive it could spot a bee on the moon

Amazingly powerful instrument 100 times more sensitive than the Hubble telescope will search for signs of life on far-distant planets. Nasa’s new space telescope is so sensitive that it could detect the heat given off by a bee on the Moon. You might think insects are cold-blooded animals. But a small number of insects are able to regulate their temperature. Notably, bumble-bees, who can uncouple their wing muscles and ‘shiver’ until they’re warm enough to fly. Even so, the difference between the heat signature of a bumble bee and the ambient background would be almost imperceptible to human senses. But the James Webb telescope’s extraordinarily sensitive instruments could pick out the thermal radiation of a bumble bee that was as far away as the Moon. But the 6,200kg telescope, the largest ever launched into space, isn’t being sent to look for stray bees. Its incredibly fine instruments will be able to see further into space than ever before, effectively looking back in

New Earth-like Planets Found

A team of scientists has discovered two Earth-like planets in the habitable orbit of a sun-like star. Their work is published in Science Express. Using observations gathered by NASA's Kepler Mission, the team found five planets orbiting a sun-like star called Kepler-62. Four of these planets are so-called super-Earths, larger than our own planet, but smaller than even the smallest ice giant planet in our solar system. Using observations gathered by NASA's Kepler Mission, the team, led by William Borucki of the NASA Ames Research Center, found five planets orbiting a Sun-like star called Kepler-62. Four of these planets are so-called super-Earths, larger than our own planet, but smaller than even the smallest ice giant planet in our Solar System. These new super-Earths have radii of 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.9 times that of Earth. In addition, one of the five was a roughly Mars-sized planet, half the size of Earth. Kepler-62 is one of about 170,000 stars observed by the Kepler

Luxembourg’s Bold Move into Space Mining

Luxembourg’s announcement of its space resources initiative provides three things that companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries (DSI) need to make their dreams of mining asteroids a reality. Legal Recognition. The United States is alone in the world in recognizing space property rights. There is some dispute over whether the law violates the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Luxembourg plans to “set out a formal legal framework which ensures that private operators working in space can be confident about their rights to the resources they extract, i.e. rare minerals from asteroids.” Luxembourg also plans to work with other countries to get establish an international legal framework for these rights. The country’s location in Europe — a major space power — and as a member of the European Union are assets in this effort. Investment. Luxembourg plans to invest “invest in relevant R&D projects and consider direct capital investment in companies active in this fiel

SpaceX boss WILL put man on Mars by 2025 for 'our greatest ever adventure'

MANKIND will walk on Mars in less than a decade in humanity's "greatest ever adventure", a space boss has pledged. lon Musk, whose company SpaceX builds rockets for NASA, revealed plans for flights to begin to the red planet by 2025. And he said it offered humans their best shot at building a "self-sustaining city" in an echo of the classic sci-fi film Total Recall. It comes after the European Space Agency set out plans to build a town on the moon by 2030 as its initial stop on the way to Mars. Musk revealed the plans at a conference in Hong Kong and said getting people to Mars could prove crucial to our survival. He said: "It's really a fundamental decision we need to make as a civilisation. What kind of future do we want? "Do we want a future where we're forever confined to one planet until some eventual extinction event? However far in the future that might occur. "Or do we want to become a multi-planet species? And the

NASA moves closer to sending humans to deep space

The Orion spacecraft pressure vessel is ready for transport to Kennedy Space Center. This small step moves NASA closer to sending humans beyond the moon. NASA takes another step toward sending humans past the moon, to Mars and perhaps beyond. The space agency announced Monday that the Orion spacecraft pressure vessel, an underlying structure that seals off a chamber for astronaut life support, is ready for transport. The unit will travel in NASA's Super Guppy aircraft from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans where it was built to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once in Florida, the pressure vessel still faces a barrage of tests before it is added to the assemblage that will be the Orion spacecraft, a craft designed specifically to carry astronauts to deep space, with a special eye on Mars. When the unit was completed in mid January, Mike Sarafin, manager of Orion's first mission, said in a statement, "We’ve started off the year with an key step in o

Star Trek: History & Effect on Space Technology

Since viewers first heard the famous tagline, "… to boldly go where no man has gone before," "Star Trek" has represented the hope of what space — “the final frontier” — can mean for humanity in a few centuries. Over several television series and films, the franchise mostly follows the adventures of crews on the USS Enterprise. Humanity is just one of a vast number of alien species participating in a quasi-military organization called Starfleet, whose main goal is to explore the universe for scientific reasons. Starfleet has strict rules about interacting with more primitive species and protecting uncolonized planets, but from time to time the crews in the show run afoul of these rules — sometimes with tragic results. General franchise history and overview "Star Trek" was created in the 1960s by Gene Roddenberry, a WWII veteran who began his screenwriting career writing freelance scripts while with the Los Angeles Police Department. Famously, NBC e