End of the Cassini mission

October 15, 1997. Cassini made a beautiful and perfect launch. I had just met my wife-to-be. I had no kids of my own.

January 14, 2005: Cassini drops Huygens probe on Titan. One of my all-time favoritest moments:

September 15, 2017: Cassini’s fuel has finally run out. It will take an intentional dive into the atmosphere of Saturn. Taking pics and measurements along the way, it will very doubtfully reach anything resembling a surface. Instead it will burn up and disintegrate along the way, just barely scraping the highest of Saturn’s mostly Hydrogen, incredibly windy atmosphere. I just celebrated my 16th anniversary, my son is fourteen years old.

What a remarkable mission it’s been.

ULA to begin human spaceflight in 2017

Today I was personally assured by ULA that they will be launching humans into space again from Cape Canaveral in 2017.

That was in response to my criticism of Charles Bolden announcing NASA needed to focus more on a destination for tourist travel.  I thought that was a clear indication of his ineptitude given the fact that since 2011 we’ve had a destination with no ability whatsoever to get people there.

Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell was the first man to set foot on the Moon after the near disastrous Apollo 13 mission.  Their trip to the Moon re-assured a rather nervous country that space travel could be fairly safe.  Within a few years after their return to the Moon, the Apollo mission was cancelled without fanfare and no man has stepped on the Moon since.  The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts have always been my biggest idols.  Nothing to me defined guts more than leaving your planet in a tiny, tiny, metal can.

Greenland’s Ice Melt, aka NASA drinks the Kool-Aid

On July 24, 2012, NASA ran this visual and accompanying story:

Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt

The text was not too subtle:

Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt

And NASA tears into several paragraphs of how extensive this event is.  As if that were not clear enough, they later refer to the event on their Facebook page as “the record surface ice melt”.

Tucked away in it all was this little bit at the end of the first article:

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.

OK, which is it?  A “record” or something repetitive?  Maybe this post explains it a lot more clearly:

The President’s Budget will also increase NASA’s funding, accelerating work — constrained for years due to the budget demands of Constellation — on climate science, green aviation, science education, and other priorities.

Remember when Obama slashed space flight and funded climate research?  Apparently NASA does very well.

The Future of Human Spaceflight is Bright?

That’s the words Charles Bolden had to say this past week.

I kept trying to figure a way to get a piece of the article, detailed enough to get the point across, but not so much to violate the intent of copyrights.  I can’t do it.  It’s just too absurd.  So, here’s the whole thing with the link to space.com to make it theirs.

Even though NASA’s iconic space shuttle program is ending in a matter of weeks, the future of American human spaceflight remains bright, according to NASA chief Charlie Bolden.

Private spaceflight firms will pick up NASA’s slack before too long, ferrying humans to low-Earth orbit and back relatively cheaply and efficiently, Bolden told reporters here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday (July 7).

And handing off that taxi service to commercial companies, Bolden added, will free the space agency up to do what it was meant to do: explore further afield in our solar system. So the nation is not abandoning human spaceflight, despite a pervasive public perception to the contrary, he said.

“The future of human spaceflight is bright,” Bolden said. “You’ll hear me say that over and over and over again.”

You get that?  Although the US won’t be doing any more human space flights, the nation is not abandoning human space flight BECAUSE someone else will still be doing it.  Virgin Galactic is NOT a US company.  I think most people are pretty aware SIR Richard Branson is a Brit.  What if Iran buys out SpaceX?  Does he REALLY think SpaceX can compete with the Chinese?

Given the ball for a buzzer beating half court shot to save NASA, Charles Bolden, rather than shooting the ball, would rather tell us how great someone else could have shot it.

The space race is over.  If you want to go to space now, you have to make your reservation with Russia.

May 3, 2017 update. The United States still has not been able to put a man in space since Bolden’s rosy assessment nearly six years ago.  We are STILL paying the Russians to do it for us while everyone keeps bragging on the fact the private sector, after six years, is ALMOST about ready to try.

When Kennedy said we were going to the Moon, we got it done in LESS time than they have had to work with in the private sector.

Think about that.


Sea water on Enceladus?

Enceladus has always been my #1 favoritist place to look for life.  It’s not all that far away, and it seems to have a rather active geology.

Now, we get this:

Data from Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer show the grains expelled from fissures, known as tiger stripes, are relatively small and predominantly low in salt far away from the moon. But closer to the moon’s surface, Cassini found that relatively large grains rich with sodium and potassium dominate the plumes. The salt-rich particles have an “ocean-like” composition and indicate that most, if not all, of the expelled ice and water vapor comes from the evaporation of liquid salt water.

That little moon just keeps getting cooler and cooler all the time.  Wonder when Virgin Galactic will start taking vacation trips there?

Obama killed NASA

This is so unbelievable it’s surreal.  It’s so crazy that even people like Phil Platt were in denial.  As of two days ago, when people started saying NASA was being raped, he had this to offer:

OK, yes, it does look like (assuming the rumors are true) the Obama budget for NASA is cutting out the Constellation rocket program in general and Ares in particular. But that doesn’t mean manned spaceflight is dead.

As I said in that above link, private space companies are still a ways off from putting people in orbit. However, I strongly suspect they’ll be doing it before Ares would’ve been ready to do it anyway. Private companies like Space X may be two years from that, while Ares wouldn’t have been ready for five, assuming NASA could even get Ares ready by the scheduled time and in the assigned budget (which I would give a chance of, oh, say, precisely 0). So it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that after the Shuttle retires later this year (or early next) companies like Space X will be able to reach the International Space Station with rockets before NASA could.

Clue here Phil, private companies are two years away from REACHING ORBIT.  We’re not talking heavy lifters here, we’re talking cruises taking up to six people into space for fifteen freaking minutes.  You remember when NASA was at that point?  Yeah, 1962.  Well, ignore the damned rumors, here it is in black and white:

nasa cuts 1 nasa cuts 2

Yeah, I know that’s kinda small.  In particular, I think all a person really needs to read is:

In place of Constellation, the President’s Budget funds a redesigned and reinvigorated program that focuses on leveraging advanced technology, international partnerships, and commercial capabilities to set the stage for a revitalized human space flight program for the 21st Century. The President’s Budget will also increase NASA’s funding, accelerating work — constrained for years due to the budget demands of Constellation — on climate science, green aviation, science education, and other priorities.

That’s right folks.  Our National Aeronautics and Space Administration is now dedicated to studying climate science, green aviation, science education, and whatever Obama feels like.

Now, people like Phil Platt think it’s kinda good that NASA’s budget’s being increased.  And he thinks it’s kinda good that we focus on the private sector.  The question I have, is, given he’s an astronomer, what’s he going to think when Hubble or Chandra blows a fifty cent fuse and shuts down?  We’re not going to have a bus to take spare parts up there any more.

Exactly how is Space-X, which has never even reached orbit, going to grab onto that thing, stop it, fix it, and place it back in orbit?

Clue here, it ain’t gonna happen in the next decade or two.  With Obama spending all of NASA’s resources trying to prove IOCC’s lies aren’t really lies, Hubble will die.  Chandra will die.  Spitzer will die.  Tell me how they won’t?  If we’re just going to let our space stuff die, what’s the point in wasting all our money funding astronomers all over the country?  It’s rather useless now.  Astronomers don’t seem to see a connection to killing off telescopes and astronomy research, I do.

Obama wants to continue the ISS.  What for?  If we’re not going to travel in space, then why bother learning how to live in space?  How are we going to get major modules to the ISS?  Sure, rockets will do the trick, but it seems rather wasteful to expand ISS at this point since there’s really no research they can do and extended stays in space now serve no purpose whatsoever.  And, it would seem to me that if we had a reliable heavy lifter, men could go into space rather easily.

In the meantime, NASA will get an additional $6 BILLION.  Let me clarify that.  On top of cutting manned space flight because it was under-funded, as it states in that report, NASA is getting an ADDITIONAL $6 BILLION to do climate research that is already being done by NOAA.  That stands for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Those are the people that study, get this, our atmosphere and oceans.  In a more generic sense, they study climate change.  Call it climate science if you wish.  If you want, you can subscribe to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Education.  They fund, get this, science education.  Particularly, climate science education.  Guess they weren’t doing a very good job.  Not sure what the point of having two huge federal agencies doing exactly the same thing is.  I mean, NOAA can contract a private rocket company exactly the same as NASA.  That’s Obama economics for ya.  When faced with two agencies doing different things, pay one a lot more than you were paying to have them do exactly the same as the first.

Now, when I was enduring being constantly referred to as a flat-earther a couple of years ago by global warming advocates such as our esteemed astronomer, my concern at the time was that people were taking this hocus pocus way too seriously based on NO supporting evidence.  Obama’s actions here are exactly the worst case scenario.  Real science is being destroyed by Obama’s pursuit of something the IOCC couldn’t prove because to this day there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that man-made climate change has ever existed.  And if it does exist, we’re screwed now for sure.  If this planet dies, we’ll have no escape plan now.

Now, in a perfect world, Obama would have taken that $6 billion and put it in the private sector for stuff like electric cars, bullet trains, and immediate things that will affect the Earth’s climate.  But, he’s not.  By their own admission, a bunch of that money will go to Russia or China to send our stuff into space to a space station we mostly paid for.  And, watch a Russian or Chinese launch vs a United States launch.  You think they worry about the environment more than we do?

You think I’m pissed?

This is the worst freaking president we’ve ever had.

In one year he screwed Teddy Kennedy by making sure a Republican got his seat.  Now he’s screwing John Kennedy by killing his legacy.

Quickie update, March 31, 2016.  Six years after this post, NASA STILL can not put a man in space.  But, they are quick to tell you, that although there’s a record amount of ice in Antarctica, we should ignore that since it’s been kinda warm in the Arctic.

And Phil Platt is worried another Republican might wage a war on science.


Cassini Iapetus Flyby

This is getting cooler than I really thought it would. Check out this incredibly ugly little Saturnian moon, Iapetus.

JPL has a lot more pics. It’s getting really close now. However, unlike Io or Europa, the closer it gets to Iapetus, the uglier it gets. This poor little moon has obviously been battered hard by meteor strikes. It’s little spine circling the moon is the source of a lot of speculation. However, my completely uneducated guess is those two really large strikes on the same side have something to do with it. If you’ve ever squeezed a pingpong ball really hard you’d know what I’m referring to. That’s just a guess tho. I’ll leave the hard science up to those who get paid to do it. I’m in the boat of those people who just LOVE seeing this for no other reason than curiosity.

Voyager II has left the solar system

Voyager I exited our solar system about a year ago.  Voyager II apparently exited the solar system very recently.  However, it wasn’t supposed to for another year.  This told some very smart people something.  The edge of our solar system apparently is not a circle, but an egg shaped object.  To make it understandable to people like me, they did what works best, they drew a picture:

The big red thing is apparently applying pressure to the heliopause causing it to blow away from it causing the egg shaped figure.

Now, they explain what the big red thing is, sorta:

The researchers think that the heliosphere’s asymmetry might be due to a weak interstellar magnetic field pressing inward on the southern hemisphere.

It just seems to me that something that would morph the figure of our entire solar system would be something a little more exciting than a weak interstellar magnetic field.  I bet this is where conspiracy theories come from.