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Ares I-X/Man-made Auroras

August 5, 2009

Image Via Universe Today

Image Via Universe Today

NASA is assembling the Ares I-X rocket currently in the the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kenndey Space Center. This rocket is a test version for the Ares I which, under the current plan, will eventually take astronauts to the ISS and moon. They plan to do the test flight on Oct. 31st of this year. However, Obama’s Augustine Commission is currently reviewing the direction of NASA and could come out with a report that recommends scrapping the Ares rockets in favor of retro-fitting the space shuttle’s external fuel tank/SRB assembly to work with the new Orion Crew Vehicle. (I’ve posted about this before.) I’d say the test will happen regardless of the Augustine Commission’s recommendations, and furthermore I’d speculate that their findings will be somewhat dependent on the results of this test flight. Either way, it’ll be cool to see what happens. (Via Universe Today)

It’s unfortunate that most really big advances and breakthroughs in science are the result of military initiatives. (See: THE INTERNET) A scientist can ask the government for money to research a technology that could greatly improve the lives of everyone, but as soon as he/she mentions that the technology could have military applications, their chance of getting said money goes up exponentially. Such is the case with one of the most mysterious facilities ever to be built. No, I’m not talking about Area 51, I’m talking about HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) in Alaska. This thing is literally capable of creating its own miniature aurora in the sky. It’s a 3.6 megawatt antenna array aimed directly into the sky, and its purpose is to turn the ionosphere (a layer at the top of the atmosphere full of charged particles) into a giant low frequency antenna. I think the intent of the scientists behind this project is good, but the facility has fueled tons of conspiracy theories. Some even say it is responsible for Hurricane Katrina. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know exactly how ultra low frequency radio waves can affect the weather, but I do know that something powerful enough to blast the ionosphere and create a mini-aurora is pretty awesome, and the scientific knowledge that can be gained from such experiments is well-worth the evils of military application. The main military application in this case is the penetrating power of those ultra-low frequency radio waves generated by the ionosphere. Those waves could be used to detect underground bunkers and communicate with submarines deep in the ocean. Other radio waves are quickly absorbed by just a few feet of water or land, but these high-powered, low frequency waves have much more penetrating ability. I suggest reading this well written article on Wired about HAARP for more info if you’re interested. Here’s what the antenna array looks like:

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A sneak peek from the new season of LOST. I’m officially excited. I might even try to start having LOST viewing parties. I don’t really have people over to my place very much… if at all, so here’s to trying something new.

What does Obama have in mind for NASA’s Constellation program? Ok, I get it, we have budget problems… but we can’t just throw away all the hard work NASA has put into the successor to the space shuttle- the Constellation program. We have to see Ares I, Ares V, and the Orion capsule through to their completion. As quoted in the article, those programs are years ahead of any alternative. Changing course now would only widen the gap between the space shuttle and its successor. Mr. Obama, I love you, but please leave Constellation alone. For that matter, leave NASA’s budget alone… I’m all about your “scalpel” approach to budget cuts, but take the scalpel elsewhere. Too many people see space exploration as “unnecessary” or think “oh, it can wait.” The science that NASA does is VITAL to the progress of the human race. It’s more of a “big picture” mentality, but we’ll never achieve the goals of putting men on Mars, and eventually colonizing other worlds if we keep putting off the first steps toward them. NASA has been put on the backburner with increasing budget cuts ever since the end of the Apollo missions. The nation must get out of the mentality that space exploration and scientific discovery are secondary to the problems we face here on earth, because the scientific breakthroughs/discoveries that come as a result of said exploration will probably help to solve many of those problems- the biggest of which is the energy crisis and global warming. Sorry about the soap box, but I feel like I need to start including more of my own thoughts into this blog rather than just posting lots of links.

I was unaware of the legislation that passed in 2007 to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2014. I’m glad it passed… but this article points out that the mercury contained in the new compact fluorescent bulbs will pose a major environmental hazard if people don’t dispose of them properly.

In local music, The Features have a special Christmas package deal going at their website. You can get their latest album Some Kind of Salvation and a new Tshirt as a package deal. Get it while it’s hot.

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