Advertisements

As expected, today Obama submitted his budget proposal for NASA, which includes cutting the Constellation/Ares rocket program. Under the new plan, he wants to pursue commercial options for getting people to low-earth orbit, and focus NASA’s main efforts on exploring the rest of the solar system. This will no doubt meet some resistance in Congress and the Senate, but overall I think it will go through. I’m starting to agree with it more and more. The biggest reason is that companies like SpaceX will probably be capable of safely transporting our astronauts to the ISS much sooner than NASA’s Ares rockets could have (without a massive and utterly impossible funding boost). Read more details at Space.com and at Discovery news.

Now enjoy these two nice nuggets via yewknee’d:

Unhappy Hipsters

Sky:

Advertisements

An historic solar eclipse occurred today over parts of Asia, including India, Nepal, and China. CNN.com has a great slideshow of images from the event. I’ve been patiently awaiting the next solar eclipse that will be seen in the U.S., and there’s a lot more waiting to be done. It won’t happen till 2017. But, when it finally does hit the U.S., Nashville is in for a real treat. Check out this map (be patient, it seems that website is a bit slow) of the Aug. 21st, 2017 total eclipse. You can easily see that the main shadow, or umbra, goes right smack over Nashville. I have no idea if I’ll still be in Nashville in 2017, but you can bet I’ll be traveling back for it if I’m not still living here. A total solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The May 20th, 2012 annular eclipse barely extends into northern California, but the 2017 one will be much better. For more info and a complete list of solar eclipses for the next several hundred years, check out the NASA eclipse website.

Charles Bolden was confirmed as NASA’s new administrator, along with Lori Garver as his Deputy Administrator. The two laid out some fresh policies at a videoconference with all the NASA centers. Of particular interest is their view toward feelings in the NASA workplace. Garver said “Feelings are not something that were popular in the last few years at NASA, but they’re back. Feelings are back!” I like it. If bringing feelings back to NASA equates to more passion for broadening mankind’s reach into space, then I’m all for it. Hopefully Garver can be successful in keeping Congress interested in what NASA’s up to, and keep them a top priority when it comes to funding. (Via Universe Today)

Speaking of NASA’s budget and direction, a new article on Space.com sheds some more light on details of what our first manned Mars mission would look like. The Ares V rocket under current development would do all the heavy lifting and get the cargo/equipment there, but they’d probably have to develop something a bit roomier than the Orion capsule to get the crew there, as Orion is only big enough to fit 3 people and at least 6 will be needed for a mission to Mars. Check it out here.

Credit: Pete Souza/official White House flickr photostream

Credit: Pete Souza/official White House flickr photostream

Obama officially announced former astronaut Charles Bolden as his pick for the new NASA Chief Administrator. FINALLY! I’m just glad they now have a clear idea of who’s in charge, and soon will have a clear direction as well.

In case you’re under a rock, Obama also announced Sonia Sotomayer as his pick for the vacant U.S. Supreme Court Justice seat.

Space Shuttle Atlantis landed Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California after 3 scrubbed attempts to land at Cape Canaveral. The orbiter will spend a week there being prepped for the piggy-back ride on top of a modified Boeing 747 to take it back to Florida.

With the scheduled Soyuz Rocket launch tomorrow at 6:34AM, the International Space Station will have a full crew of 6 personell for the first time ever. Coincidentally, this also marks the first time that representatives from all 5 agencies involved with the ISS have been aboard it at the same time. Those agencies are NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Ok, enough space stuff already… we’ll stick to science, though, because I found lot of good science news in my reader today, and not much else worth posting.

The National Ignition Facilily (NIF) in California is about to create a tiny man-made star with deuterium, tritium, and one big-ass laser. This has to be one of the coolest-sounding descriptions I’ve ever seen. In all honesty, though, it’s not really a star. But they will create nuclear fusion, the process that occurs at the core of stars, on a very tiny scale for a fraction of a second. This is just one small step toward the solution to all of earth’s energy problems. Not only will this device help solve energy problems, it will also help physicists study what happens when a star explodes, and also the inner-workings of any nuclear explosion. Back to the energy issue, though. If we can figure out a way to contain a sustained fusion reaction, and make it yield more energy than is required to create and contain it, then humans will have solved our energy crisis. As far as I can tell, there’s no Dr. Octavius employed at the NIF, thank goodness…

Stephen Colbert interviewed Seth Shostak on The Colbert Report. Shostak is the Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute. (SETI stands for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.) Watch it on Colbert Nation.

Ok I have to post something not-so-serious now- Hurley has a blog! Seriously, it’s not the most interesting thing I’ve seen but it’s still way-cool to read about his real life. Besides, who doesn’t love Hurley?

Hope you didn’t miss me yesterday. I just didn’t really have anything to blog about. But today I bring you this:

Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

Credit: NASA/Thierry Legault

Yes, that is space shuttle Atlantis, and the tiny dot just below it is Hubble, just before the shuttle’s robotic arm grappled it yesterday. This is the first time the space shuttle AND Hubble have been photographed transiting the sun. It’s really an awesome achievement. Yesterday the astronauts successfully installed a new camera into Hubble, and today they will tackle the task of replacing all 6 of Hubble’s gyroscopes and installing new batteries. While we’re talking about astronauts and space and whatnot, I might as well show you this TOTALLY AWESOME airstream astrovan in which they ride to the launch pad to board the shuttle. How cool is that? They get to ride in a vintage airstream!

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

In other NASA news, Obama is expected to appoint former astronaut Charles Bolden as the new NASA chief administrator on Monday. FINALLY. I agree with Phil Plait (of Bad Astronomy) that he took way too long to make this decision. But with the economic issues, the war issues, and having to fight the GOP tooth & nail to achieve any of his goals, I can understand how this kinda got put on the back-burner.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has posted a collection of stunningly beautiful aerial photographs by photographer Jason Hawkes. Go have yourself an eye-gasm.

We still don’t have any concrete plans for this weekend, but I’m hoping to include Shoot The Mountain’s EP release show at the Basement Saturday. I highly recommend it, as the Protomen and Totally Snake are also on the bill. This will indeed be one EPIC show. Then there’s also Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele with Kindercastle and the Winter Sounds tonight at Mercy Lounge.

One more quick link- Pitchfork did an interview with Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. Only 12 more days till their Mercy Lounge show!

Have a great weekend!

Advertisements