In this April 1972 photo made available by NASA, John Young salutes the U.S. flag at the Descartes landing site on the moon during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity. NASA says the astronaut, who walked on the moon and later commanded the first space shuttle flight, died on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. He was 87. (Charles M. Duke Jr./NASA via AP)
Marcia Dunn reports: Legendary astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon and later commanded the first space shuttle flight, has died, NASA said Saturday. Young was 87.
The space agency said Young died Friday night at home in Houston following complications from pneumonia.
NASA called Young one of its pioneers – the only agency astronaut to go into space as part of the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs, and the first to fly into space six times. He was the ninth man to walk on the moon.
“Astronaut John Young’s storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight,” acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said in an emailed statement. “John was one of that group of early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation’s first great achievements in space.”
Young was the only spaceman to span NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs, and became the first person to rocket away from Earth six times. Counting his takeoff from the moon in 1972 as commander of Apollo 16, his blastoff tally stood at seven, for decades a world record.
He flew twice during the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, twice to the moon during NASA’s Apollo program, and twice more aboard the new space shuttle Columbia in the early 1980s.
His NASA career lasted 42 years, longer than any other astronaut’s, and he was revered among his peers for his dogged dedication to keeping crews safe — and his outspokenness in challenging the space agency’s status quo.
Chastened by the 1967 Apollo launch pad fire that killed three astronauts, Young spoke up after the 1986 shuttle Challenger launch accident. His hard scrutiny continued well past shuttle Columbia’s disintegration during re-entry in 2003.
“Whenever and wherever I found a potential safety issue, I always did my utmost to make some noise about it, by memo or whatever means might best bring attention to it,” Young wrote in his 2012 memoir, “Forever Young.”
He said he wrote a “mountain of memos” between the two shuttle accidents to “hit people over the head.” Such practice bordered on heresy at NASA.
Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who orbited the moon in 1969 as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked its surface, considered Young “the memo-writing champion of the astronaut office.” Young kept working at Johnson Space Center in Houston “long after his compatriots had been put out to pasture or discovered other green fields,” Collins wrote in the foreword of “Forever Young.” Read the rest of this entry »
Julie Takahashi reports: Alex Jones has managed to provoke NASA into responding to a bizarre conspiracy theory that they have a child slave colony on Mars. Nathan Rousseau Smith (@fantasticmrnate) reports.
“We actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20-year ride,” said Steele. “So, that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.”
Jones responds to his guest, “Look, I know that 90 percent of the NASA missions are secret and I’ve been told by high-level NASA engineers that you have no idea. There is so much stuff going on.” … (read more)
The Mars Slave Baby story was broken by Robert David Steele who declared: “We actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20-year ride. So that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.” Adding to the chilling aspects of this colony is that these children could travel for 20 years to Mars and still be children. Read the rest of this entry »
Flanked at an Oval Office bill-signing ceremony by astronauts and lawmakers, Trump observed that being an astronaut is a “pretty tough job.” He said he wasn’t sure he’d want it and, among lawmakers he put the question to, Sen. Ted Cruz said he wouldn’t want to be a space traveler, either.
“For almost six decades, NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth. I’m delighted to sign this bill. It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology.”
— President Donald Trump
But Cruz, R-Texas, offered up a tantalizing suggestion. “You could send Congress to space,” he said to laughter, including from the president.
Trump, who faces a crucial House vote later this week on legislation long promised by Republicans to overhaul the Obama-era Affordable Care Act health law, readily agreed. The health care bill is facing resistance from some conservative members of the party.
“What a great idea that could be,” Trump said, before turning back to the space exploration measure sponsored by Cruz and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
It’s the 106th birthday of Ronald Reagan, and since he was one of the most widely recognized world leaders, it’s not hard to find some interesting facts about the 40th president.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. Reagan had a long career as an actor and union leader before he became the governor of California in the 1960s and won presidential elections in 1980 and 1984.
Here are 10 facts about President Reagan you may not know.
2. One food that Reagan didn’t like was brussels sprouts. This is according to the Reagan Library website. In her autobiography, Nancy Reagan said her husband wasn’t a fussy eater since he traveled on the public speaking circuit for decades, but he also didn’t like tomatoes.
3. Reagan’s nickname of “Dutch” was given to him at an early age by his family. Reagan’s ancestry is Irish on his father’s side and Scots-English on his mother’s side. The name came from his childhood haircut, among other things.
4. The future President’s last movie role was in the 1964 release, The Killers. Based on an Ernest Hemingway story, it was Reagan’s only role as a villain in a film, and it was the first made-for-TV movie. However, The Killers was considered too violent for TV, and released to movie theaters instead.
5. The future President lost partial hearing in one ear when he was hurt on a movie set in the late 1930s, after a gun was fired next to his ear. Decades later, President Reagan wrote to Michael Jackson offering his support after Jackson was burned filming a TV commercial.
7. Reagan was not the original choice to star in “Casablanca,” instead of Humphrey Bogart. The urban legend over the issue is documented on snopes.com, and it started with a paragraph in a Warner Brothers’ press release issued before the movie was made. Bogart was always expected to play the lead role. Read the rest of this entry »
Susan Schneider writes: Humans are probably not the greatest intelligences in the universe. Earth is a relatively young planet and the oldest civilizations could be billions of years older than us. But even on Earth, Homo sapiens may not be the most intelligent species for that much longer.
“Why would nonconscious machines have the same value we place on biological intelligence?”
The world Go, chess, and Jeopardy champions are now all AIs. AI is projected to outmode many human professions within the next few decades. And given the rapid pace of its development, AI may soon advance to artificial general intelligence—intelligence that, like human intelligence, can combine insights from different topic areas and display flexibility and common sense. From there it is a short leap to superintelligent AI, which is smarter than humans in every respect, even those that now seem firmly in the human domain, such as scientific reasoning and social skills. Each of us alive today may be one of the last rungs on the evolutionary ladder that leads from the first living cell to synthetic intelligence.
What we are only beginning to realize is that these two forms of superhuman intelligence—alien and artificial—may not be so distinct. The technological developments we are witnessing today may have all happened before, elsewhere in the universe. The transition from biological to synthetic intelligence may be a general pattern, instantiated over and over, throughout the cosmos. The universe’s greatest intelligences may be postbiological, having grown out of civilizations that were once biological. (This is a view I share with Paul Davies, Steven Dick, Martin Rees, and Seth Shostak, among others.) To judge from the human experience—the only example we have—the transition from biological to postbiological may take only a few hundred years.
I prefer the term “postbiological” to “artificial” because the contrast between biological and synthetic is not very sharp. Consider a biological mind that achieves superintelligence through purely biological enhancements, such as nanotechnologically enhanced neural minicolumns. This creature would be postbiological, although perhaps many wouldn’t call it an “AI.” Or consider a computronium that is built out of purely biological materials, like the Cylon Raider in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica TV series.
The key point is that there is no reason to expect humans to be the highest form of intelligence there is. Our brains evolved for specific environments and are greatly constrained by chemistry and historical contingencies. But technology has opened up a vast design space, offering new materials and modes of operation, as well as new ways to explore that space at a rate much faster than traditional biological evolution. And I think we already see reasons why synthetic intelligence will outperform us.
Silicon microchips already seem to be a better medium for information processing than groups of neurons. Neurons reach a peak speed of about 200 hertz, compared to gigahertz for the transistors in current microprocessors. Although the human brain is still far more intelligent than a computer, machines have almost unlimited room for improvement. It may not be long before they can be engineered to match or even exceed the intelligence of the human brain through reverse-engineering the brain and improving upon its algorithms, or through some combination of reverse engineering and judicious algorithms that aren’t based on the workings of the human brain.
In addition, an AI can be downloaded to multiple locations at once, is easily backed up and modified, and can survive under conditions that biological life has trouble with, including interstellar travel. Our measly brains are limited by cranial volume and metabolism; superintelligent AI, in stark contrast, could extend its reach across the Internet and even set up a Galaxy-wide computronium, utilizing all the matter within our galaxy to maximize computations. There is simply no contest. Superintelligent AI would be far more durable than us.
Suppose I am right. Suppose that intelligent life out there is postbiological. What should we make of this? Here, current debates over AI on Earth are telling. Two of the main points of contention—the so-called control problem and the nature of subjective experience—affect our understanding of what other alien civilizations may be like, and what they may do to us when we finally meet.
Illustration by Kristian Hammerstad
Ray Kurzweil takes an optimistic view of the postbiological phase of evolution, suggesting that humanity will merge with machines, reaching a magnificent technotopia. But Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and others have expressed the concern that humans could lose control of superintelligent AI, as it can rewrite its own programming and outthink any control measures that we build in. This has been called the “control problem”—the problem of how we can control an AI that is both inscrutable and vastly intellectually superior to us. Read the rest of this entry »
This film documents the selection of the original seven astronauts for Project Mercury: Lieutenant Malcolm S. (Scott) Carpenter, Captain Leroy G. (Gordon) Cooper, Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Captain Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom, Lieutenant Commander Walter M. Schirra, Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, and Captain Donald K. (Deke) Slayton.
The footage shows the selection criteria and process, the astronauts in training, and the beginnings of our knowledge of manned space flight.
Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States led by its newly created space agency NASA. It ran from 1959 through 1963 with the goal of putting a human in orbit around the Earth, and doing it before the Soviet Union, as part of the early space race. It involved seven astronauts flying a total of six solo trips.
On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space in a suborbital flight after the Soviet Union had put Yuri Gagarin into orbit one month earlier. John Glenn became the first American to reach orbit on February 20, 1962. He was the third person to do so, after Soviet Gherman Titov made a day-long flight in August 1961. Read the rest of this entry »
“Today, the first American to orbit the Earth, NASA astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn, passed away. We mourn this tremendous loss for our nation and the world. As one of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts, Glenn’s riveting flight aboard Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, united our nation, launched America to the forefront of the space race, and secured for him a unique place in the annals of history.
“While that first orbit was the experience of a lifetime, Glenn, who also had flown combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War as a Marine aviator, continued to serve his country as a four-term Senator from Ohio, as a trusted statesman, and an educator. In 1998, at the age of 77, he became the oldest human to venture into space as a crew member on the Discovery space shuttle — once again advancing our understanding of living and working in space.
“Glenn’s extraordinary courage, intellect, patriotism and humanity were the hallmarks of a life of greatness. His missions have helped make possible everything our space program has since achieved and the human missions to an asteroid and Mars that we are striving toward now.
“With all his accomplishments, he was always focused on the young people of today, who would soon lead the world. ‘The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel,’ he said. ‘To me, there is no greater calling … If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something.’ Read the rest of this entry »
The multiple-axis space test inertia facility, fondly called “the gimbal rig,” simulated tumble-type maneuvers that might be encountered in space flight. From February 15 through March 4, 1960, the gimbal rig provided valuable training for all seven Project Mercury astronauts. John Glenn explains how it worked and what the experience was like. Credits: NASA
On February 20, 1962, NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Mercury capsuleFriendship 7. In 4 hours and 56 minutes, John Glenn circled the globe three times, reaching speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour. The successful mission concluded with a splashdown and recovery in the Atlantic Ocean, 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.
The rig, which simulated an out of control spacecraft and required the astronauts to bring it back under control, was located at what was then NASA’s Lewis Research Center near Cleveland, Ohio. That center now bears Glenn’s name. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s an agency needing significant attention – and in Trump-supporting Alabama, home to Huntsville‘s Marshall Space Flight Center, we should be pushing for NASA to be revamped, re-energized, and perhaps re-imagined.
NASA traditionally has been one federal agency that gets good “bang for the buck,” in terms of benefits to human life. Because of experiments that can be conducted only in the weightlessness of space, NASA has contributed mightily to human medicine in ways too numerous to count (heart-transplant-related devices, artificial limbs, and pain reduction during cancer treatments among them). NASA also has contributed in many ways to highway safety, mapping, weather tracking (especially valuable for those of us who deal with hurricanes), oil-spill cleanup, and better computer software, not to mention the plethora of ordinary (non-life-saving) consumer products made possible or made better by NASA discoveries.
Meanwhile, NASA can boast a string of successes in its highest-profile role, that of exploration of both near- and deep-space. Sometimes we take for granted the astonishing feats of technology that NASA has produced – but recent robotic and orbiting analyses of Mars, and our amazing studies of distant semi-planet Pluto after a nine-year space flight, have added immeasurably to our knowledge of the solar system and its capacity for life. The orbiting Hubble Telescope, meanwhile, has opened new vistas into far-off galaxies we never knew existed.
Knowledgeable observers, it is true, will say that no need exists for only government to do everything space-related. They are correct:
Commercial/private space projects show signal successes and great potential for more. Nonetheless, the sheer scale and cost of rocketry makes space the one frontier in which the national government can rationally engage in public/private partnerships of the sort usually more suited to state and local governments. Read the rest of this entry »
Sifting through muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin yielded 500 tiny particles from the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Cosmic dust raining down from space has been discovered on rooftops in three major cities.
“We’ve known since the 1940s that cosmic dust falls continuously through our atmosphere, but until now we’ve thought that it could not be detected among the millions of terrestrial dust particles, except in the most dust-free environments such as the Antarctic or deep oceans.”
The tiny particles date back to the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Scientists usually collect cosmic dust in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. Now, for the first time, the space debris has been found hidden in city dirt.
“The obvious advantage to this new approach is that it is much easier to source cosmic dust particles if they are in our backyards.”
— Matthew Genge, Imperial College London
Researchers sifted through 300 kilograms of muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin. Using magnets to pull out the particles, which contain magnetic minerals, they identified a total of 500 cosmic dust grains. Read the rest of this entry »
On board was a $200m, 12,000lb communications satellite – part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project to deliver broadband access to sub-Saharan Africa.
Zuckerberg wrote, with a note of bitterness, on his Facebook page that he was “deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite”. SpaceX founder Elon Musk told CNN it was the “most difficult and complex failure” the 14-year-old company had ever experienced.
“Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, is arguably the most visible billionaire in the new space race. The apparent inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark character in Iron Man, Musk has become a god-like figure for engineers, making his fortune at PayPal and then as CEO of luxury electric car firm Tesla and clean energy company Solar City.”
Yet despite those challenges, a small band of billionaire technocrats have spent the past few years investing hundreds of millions of dollars into space ventures. Forget gilded mansions and super yachts; among the tech elite, space exploration is the ultimate status symbol.
Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, is arguably the most visible billionaire in the new space race. The apparent inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark character in Iron Man, Musk has become a god-like figure for engineers, making his fortune at PayPal and then as CEO of luxury electric car firm Tesla and clean energy company Solar City. Yet it is his galactic ambitions, insiders say, that really motivate him. “His passion is settling Mars,” says one.
SpaceX has completed 32 successful launches since 2006, delivered cargo to the International Space Station and secured more than $10bn in contracts with Nasa and other clients. Musk has much grander ambitions, though, saying he plans to create a “plan B” for humanity in case Earth ultimately fails. He once famously joked that he hoped to die on Mars – just not on impact. Read the rest of this entry »
The Progress MS-04 cargo craft broke up at an altitude of 190 kilometers (118 miles) over the remote Russian Tuva region in Siberia that borders Mongolia, Roscosmos said in a statement. It said most of space ship’s debris burnt up as it entered the atmosphere but some debris fell to Earth over what it called an uninhabited area.
The Progress cargo ship had lifted off as scheduled at 8:51 p.m. (1451 GMT) from Russia’s space launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, to deliver 2.5 metric tons of fuel, water, food and other supplies. It entered an orbit nine minutes later and was set to dock with the space station on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
Take a journey across the surface of the moon. See the earth rise and set from the lunar surface.
This video was recorded by the SELENELunar Orbiter – images are copyright JAXA / NHK
SELENE , better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya, was the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft following the Hiten probe]
Glenn Reynolds writes: Space entrepreneur Peter Bigelow, who’s working on hotels in space, wants the Trump Administration to sharply increase NASA spending. But although I’m all in favor of making America’s space program great again, I’m not so sure that pumping money into NASA is the way to do it. For that matter, I’m not even sure that the term “space program” makes much sense in the 21st century.
Rather than a space program, what we really have is a package of space policies. Unlike the Apollo era, when the nation was fixed on a single major goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970, we now want a bunch of different things, all of them important, but no single one of them is our sole focus. And, honestly, much of what’s going on at NASA isn’t even close to overridingly important.
The good news is that, as I’ve noted before, space — at least the burgeoning commercial space industry — has been one of the Obama Administration’s notable policy successes. Where not long ago the United States was looking at an aging fleet of increasingly dangerous space shuttles, we now have a flourishing collection of private companies providing transportation into earth orbit, from SpaceX, to Blue Origin, to Virgin Galactic, to a number of smaller companies. (Full disclosure: I own a small amount of friends-and-family stock in one of those smaller companies, XCOR Aerospace). Moon Express even plans to land a robot on the Moon.
NASA’s Curiosity rover has just found something truly surreal on Mars – a black, shiny object which looks like an alien egg.
The object is actually a metallic meteorite – but that (of course) hasn’t stopped UFO sites from suggesting that the thing might actually hatch.
“Iron meteorites provide records of many different asteroids that broke up, with fragments of their cores ending up on Earth and on Mars.”
Mystery Vault says that the find raises, ‘hopes of finding life on Mars’.
It doesn’t of course – but what NASA scientists call the ‘Egg Rock’ is interesting nonetheless.
Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory project, which operates the rover, first noticed the odd-looking rock in images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) at at a site the rover reached by an Oct. 27 drive.
‘The dark, smooth and lustrous aspect of this target, and its sort of spherical shape attracted the attention of some MSL scientists when we received the Mastcam images at the new location,’ said ChemCam team member Pierre-Yves Meslin.
ChemCam found iron, nickel and phosphorus, plus lesser ingredients, in concentrations still being determined through analysis of the spectrum of light produced from dozens of laser pulses at nine spots on the object. Read the rest of this entry »
Quantum physics is a field that appears to give scientists superpowers. Those who understand the world of extremely small or cold particles can perform amazing feats with them – including teleportation – that appear to bend reality.
“Demonstrating quantum effects such as teleportation outside of a lab environment involves a whole new set of challenges. This experiment shows how these challenges can all be overcome and hence it marks an important milestone towards the future quantum Internet.”
The science behind these feats is complicated, and until recently, didn’t exist outside of lab settings. But that’s changing: researchers have begun to implement quantum teleportation in real-world contexts. Being able to do so just might revolutionize modern phone and Internet communications, leading to highly secure, encrypted messaging.
Image above: This image shows crystals used for storing entangled photons, which behave as though they are part of the same whole. Scientists use crystals like these in quantum teleportation experiments. Image Credits: Félix Bussières/University of Geneva.
A paper published in Nature Photonics and co-authored by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, details the first experiments with quantum teleportation in a metropolitan fiber cable network. For the first time, the phenomenon has been witnessed over long distances in actual city infrastructure. In Canada, University of Calgary researchers teleported the quantum state of a photon more than 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) in “dark” (unused) cables under the city of Calgary. That’s a new record for the longest distance of quantum teleportation in an actual metropolitan network.
“By using advanced superconducting detectors, we can use individual photons to efficiently communicate both classical and quantum information from space to the ground. We are planning to use more advanced versions of these detectors for demonstrations of optical communication from deep space and of quantum teleportation from the International Space Station.”
While longer distances had been recorded in the past, those were conducted in lab settings, where photons were fired through spools of cable to simulate the loss of signal caused by long distances. This latest series of experiments in Calgary tested quantum teleportation in actual infrastructure, representing a major step forward for the technology.
“Demonstrating quantum effects such as teleportation outside of a lab environment involves a whole new set of challenges. This experiment shows how these challenges can all be overcome and hence it marks an important milestone towards the future quantum Internet,” said Francesco Marsili, one of the JPL co-authors. “Quantum communication unlocks some of the unique properties of quantum mechanics to, for example, exchange information with ultimate security or link together quantum computers.”
Image above: This image shows crystals used for storing entangled photons, which behave as though they are part of the same whole. Scientists use crystals like these in quantum teleportation experiments. Image Credits: Félix Bussières/University of Geneva.
“The superconducting detector platform, which has been pioneered by JPL and NIST researchers, makes it possible to detect single photons at telecommunications wavelengths with nearly perfect efficiency and almost no noise. This was simply not possible with earlier detector types, and so experiments such as ours, using existing fiber-infrastructure, would have been close to impossible without JPL’s detectors.”
Photon sensors for the experiment were developed by Marsili and Matt Shaw of JPL’s Microdevices Laboratory, along with colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colorado. Their expertise was critical to the experiments: quantum networking is done with photons, and requires some of the most sensitive sensors in the world in order to know exactly what’s happening to the particle.
“The superconducting detector platform, which has been pioneered by JPL and NIST researchers, makes it possible to detect single photons at telecommunications wavelengths with nearly perfect efficiency and almost no noise. This was simply not possible with earlier detector types, and so experiments such as ours, using existing fiber-infrastructure, would have been close to impossible without JPL’s detectors,” said Daniel Oblak of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Quantum Science and Technology.
Safer emails using quantum physics
Shrink down to the level of a photon, and physics starts to play by bizarre rules. Scientists who understand those rules can “entangle” two particles so that their properties are linked. Entanglement is a mind-boggling concept in which particles with different characteristics, or states, can be bound together across space. That means whatever affects one particle’s state will affect the other, even if they’re located miles apart from one another.
This is where teleportation comes in. Imagine you have two entangled particles – let’s call them Photon 1 and Photon 2 – and Photon 2 is sent to a distant location. There, it meets with Photon 3, and the two interact with each other. Photon 3’s state can be transferred to Photon 2, and automatically “teleported” to the entangled twin, Photon 1. This disembodied transfer happens despite the fact that Photons 1 and 3 never interact. Read the rest of this entry »
Neil Armstrong may have been the first person to walk on the moon, but he wasn’t the only astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission; someone had to stay onboard the ship.
Molly Fosco writes: Michael Collins is one of three astronauts that were aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. You’re probably a little more familiar with the other two astronauts from the mission, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. That’s because Collins is the only one that didn’t get to actually walk on the moon, which is why he’s sometimes referred to as the “forgotten astronaut.”
Collins was the command module pilot on Apollo 11 so he stayed behind to man the spacecraft while Armstrong and Aldrin took their famous moonwalk. Ultimately, this means that Collins isn’t a household name, but he’s still a very important part of space history. Read the rest of this entry »
NASA just successfully launched its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on an Atlas V rocket. Now, the vehicle is on its way to scoop up pieces of an asteroid and bring them back to Earth, a journey that will take seven years to complete. But if successful, those asteroid pieces could tell researchers a lot about the early Solar System and how life got started on our own planet. Read the rest of this entry »
Information about this absurd behavioral team remains sketchy because the administration, which claims to be the most transparent in history, withheld nearly 100 pages of records that could have shed light on the taxpayer-funded group’s secret operations.
In 2015 Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to use behavioral science to sell their programs to the public, the records obtained by Judicial Watch reveal. By then the government had contracted “20 leading social and behavioral research experts” that at that point had already been involved in “more than 75 agency collaborations,” the records state. A memo sent from SBST chair Maya Shankar, a neuroscientist, to OSTP Director John Holdren offers agencies guidance and information about available government support for using behavioral insights to improve federal forms. Sent electronically, the memo is titled “Behavioral Science Insights and Federal Forms.”
The records, obtained from the OSTP under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), also include a delivery by Holdren in which he insists that the social and behavioral sciences “are real science, with immensely valuable practical applications—the views of a few members of Congress to the contrary notwithstanding—and that these sciences abundantly warrant continuing support in the Federal science and technology budget.” Holdren, a Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate is a peculiar character who worked as an environmental professor at Harvard and the University of California Berkeley before becoming Obama’s science advisor. In the late 70s he co-authored a book with doomsayer Paul Ehrlich advocating for mandatory sterilization of the American people and forced abortions in order to depopulate the country. A head of the OSTP Holdren technically oversees the SBST.
Information about this absurd behavioral team remains sketchy because the administration, which claims to be the most transparent in history, withheld nearly 100 pages of records that could have shed light on the taxpayer-funded group’s secret operations. The Obama administration cited an exemption—officially known as B5—that applies to deliberative process, which allows government officials to discuss policy without the discussions being made public, or attorney client privilege. In this case it appears that the administration used the deliberative process exemption to withhold the records since it’s unlikely that attorney client privilege applies. B5 is the most abused of the FOIA exemptions and is regularly used to hide material that may embarrass the government. Read the rest of this entry »
What Jupiter’s spot is not, is tranquil. New infrared images taken by Boston University scientists on a NASA telescope in Hawaii show that whereas Jupiter’s north and south poles are heated by strong magnetic fields, its large, stormy red spot generates its own heat by a different mechanism. Shock waves from turbulent winds in the spot and other storms help explain how the planet’s upper atmosphere stays warm so far from the sun. Read the rest of this entry »
Orbital Sciences will once again attempt to rendezvous with the International Space Station when it launches the Cynus spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket, shown here in a file photo of an earlier launch. Photo courtesy Orbital Sciences
Artist’s concept of the new SpaceX Dragon, which may one day fly from Brownsville, Texas (Image: SpaceX)
On July 20, 2015, NASA released to the world the first image of the sunlit side of Earth captured by the space agency’s EPIC camera on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite. The camera has now recorded a full year of life on Earth from its orbit at Lagrange point 1, approximately 1 million miles from Earth, where it is balanced between the gravity of our home planet and the sun.
EPIC takes a new picture every two hours, revealing how the planet would look to human eyes, capturing the ever-changing motion of clouds and weather systems and the fixed features of Earth such as deserts, forests and the distinct blues of different seas. EPIC will allow scientists to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth.
A TV documentary set to premier today (July 20) will tell the incredible story of the first moon landing, which took place 47 years ago today.
The documentary, called “Go: The Great Race,” will air four times today on the Decades TV Network, as a special episode of the show “Through the Decades.” A trailer for the documentary leads off with footage from President John F. Kennedy delivering his famous 1961 speech that called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.
“He had no reason to believe that we could even come close to doing something like that,” says one of the documentary’s interviewees (supposedly someone who worked on the Apollo, referring to Kennedy’s challenge. Read the rest of this entry »
CBS INFO: On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off on a mission to put man on the moon. That dream came true on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Forty-five years after Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made history, CBS News is celebrating their achievement.
Each day through July 20, CBSNews.com will post videos showcasing archival footage of the coverage of the monumental mission and interviews with the astronauts and others reflecting on their great accomplishment.
Above, watch CBS News legend Walter Cronkite anchor coverage of Apollo 11’s dramatic blastoff from Cape Kennedy in Florida and the dramatic days that followed, culminating in the moon landing.
Buzz Aldrin launches social media campaign to mark moon landing anniversary
Cronkite marveled at how throngs of people stopped in their tracks to watch the liftoff.
“It seemed that the whole world stopped as man set out on the adventure to escape from his own planet and to set foot on a distant one,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was commanded to roll 360 degrees on one axis. The maneuver was performed in 7 hours and time-lapsed here. It’s done to take ‘precise measurements of the solar limb’ according to the SDO team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Among the arriving cargo is the first of two international docking adapters, which will allow commercial spacecraft to dock to the station when transporting astronauts in the near future as part of our Commercial Crew Program.
This metallic ring, big enough for astronauts and cargo to fit through represents the first on-orbit element built to the docking measurements that are standardized for all the spacecraft builders across the world.
Experiments launching to the station range from research into the effects of microgravity on the human body, to regulating temperature on spacecraft. Take a look at a few:
A Space-based DNA Sequencer
DNA testing aboard the space station typically requires collecting samples and sending them back to Earth to be analyzed. Our Biomolecule Sequencer Investigation will test a new device that will allow DNA sequencing in space for the first time! The samples in this first test will be DNA from a virus, a bacteria and a mouse.
How big is it? Picture your smartphone…then cut it in half. This miniature device has the potential to identify microbes, diagnose diseases and evaluate crew member health, and even help detect DNA-based life elsewhere in the solar system.
OsteoOmics is an experiment that will investigate the molecular mechanisms that dictate bone loss in microgravity. It does this by examining osteoblasts, which form bone; and osteoclasts, which dissolves bone. New ground-based studies are using magnetic levitation equipment to simulate gravity-related changes. This experiment hopes to validate whether this method accurately simulates the free-fall conditions of microgravity. Read the rest of this entry »
The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.
Paul Smith writes: NASA’s Apollo 11 mission—the mission that put human beings on the moon for the first time—was launched in 1969, the year after I was born. My early Christmas presents were giant kids’ books full of pictures of that giant Saturn V rocket launching into space, the command and lunar modules, and of guys in bulky space suits walking on the moon. The first intelligible answer I gave to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was, “Astronaut.”
I did not end up becoming an astronaut.
Computers also captured my attention at an early age, and now I work as a developer for Slate. But my fascination with space endures—so needless to say, I was pretty excited when I heard that the source code for Apollo 11’s computer guidance systems was uploaded on July 8 to Github, a popular site used by programmers to share code and collaboratively build software. Anyone can now read the actual lines of programming code used to land men on the moon.
The code was written in the late ’60s by Margaret Hamilton and her team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory for the Apollo Guidance Computer.
“I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean ‘launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.’ And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?”
The code is pretty inscrutable to casual inspection: It’s not written in a programming language recognizable to modern coders. But Hamilton and her team wrote comments in their code (just like I do when I write code for Slate’s website) to help remind them what’s going on in a given spot in the program. Those parts are surprisingly readable. Here’s a block of code from a file called BURN_BABY_BURN–MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.s (really, that’s what it’s called):
So, clearly, “don’t forget to clean out leftover DVTOTAL data when GROUP 4 RESTARTS and then BURN, BABY!” I have no idea what a DVTOTAL is, but I’m pretty sure that by BURNBABY, they mean “launch a 300-foot rocket ship into space.” And how totally and completely freaking awesome is that?
Altogether, with comments and some added copyright headers, the AGC code adds up to about 2 megabytes—a teeny tiny fraction of the amount of code packed into an Apple Watch. Read the rest of this entry »
Loren Grush reports: NASA’s Juno spacecraft has successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, bringing it closer to the planet than any probe has come so far. The vehicle reached the gas giant’s north pole this evening, and NASA received confirmation that the vehicle had turned on its main engine at 11:18PM ET. The engine burned for 35 minutes, helping to slow the spacecraft down enough so that it was captured by Jupiter’s gravitational pull. NASA confirmed that the burn was successful at around 11:53PM ET and that Juno was in its intended 53-day orbit.
The orbit insertion was a bit of a nail biter for NASA, as the spacecraft had to travel through regions of powerful radiation and rings of debris surrounding Jupiter. As an added precaution, the probe’s instruments were turned off for the maneuver so that nothing would interfere with the engine burn. But everything seemed to work flawlessly, and NASA received confirmation of the burn’s success almost exactly as expected. The timing only differed by 1 second from pre-burn predictions.
That confirmation came 48 minutes after the event actually occurred, though. That’s because it currently takes 48 minutes to send a signal from Jupiter to Earth. Juno started its burn at around 10:30PM ET and finished at 11:05PM ET, but NASA didn’t confirm all of this until just before midnight. If something had gone wrong and stopped the burn too early, the space agency wouldn’t have been in a position to fix the problem. Read the rest of this entry »