Today NASA announced:
New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.
WIRED is reporting:
Researchers have tested a small prototype of a nuclear-reactor engine design that could one day power deep-space exploration probes.
The proposed design is based on a Stirling engine – an engine first invented in the 19th century that uses hot pressurized gas to push a piston. It would use a 50-pound nuclear uranium battery to generate heat that is then carried to eight Stirling engines to produce about 500 watts of power.
While the U.S. has sent spacecraft such as rovers to Mars, humans have yet to set foot there. 51% of Americans favor the U.S. sending astronauts to Mars, but a sizeable number – 43% – are opposed to manned exploration of the Red Planet. Five years ago, the country was more divided on the subject, but in years prior to that, more than half of Americans supported sending astronauts to explore Mars.
There are striking gender differences on this question, with 62% of men in favor of sending astronauts to Mars, compared to just 42% of women.
Also, Americans under age 45, who were less likely to have watched the moon landing on television in 1969, favor exploring Mars. Older Americans are opposed to the idea.
As the partisans in Washington argue about health care reform and the current Supreme Court nominee, at least half of Republicans (50%), Democrats (53%) and Independents (51%) in this poll agree that the U.S. is ready to send astronauts to Mars.
Twin Peaks Left View
Image credit: NASA/JPL
▪ Aerospace industry employs about 500,000 people across the nation.
▪ 2008 aerospace industry sales increased over the previous year to more than $204 billion.
▪ Sales of U.S. aerospace products account for nearly 2% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
▪ U.S. aerospace industry had a foreign trade surplus of $61 billion in 2007 – the largest trade surplus of any manufacturing sector.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr.
“I did grow up watching Buck Rogers and Buck Rogers didn’t stop at Mars. In my lifetime, I will be incredibly disappointed if we have not at least reached Mars.”
“And so what all of us need to understand is that we all agree that we want to go there. What we don’t agree on is how we get there. And so there are some of you sitting in this audience that think we are wasting time talking about the moon. I know there are. And there are some of you who may even say, ‘Yeah, we may need to go to Mars but we can go there the next thousand years, I really don’t care as long as we go back to the moon.’ And there are some of you who say, ‘Hey, I really like the International Space Station. So let’s make sure that’s really beefed up and then we can go to the moon and Mars when we can do it in good time.’ “Those are all ways, they are all paths to get to where we collectively want to go. And so the challenge for us in the next few months is to figure out the single most efficient, most cost-effective path is to get there. We can’t get there the way we are doing it right now.”
The Apollo 11 mission — one of the worlds most significant achievements — had fulfilled President. Kennedys 1961 challenge to the nation: send an American safely to the moon before the end of the decade.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of this historic flight, the Newseum was host for a special program on the future of space discovery, A public event honoring Apollo 11s anniversary and NASAs ongoing exploration of space.
Veteran journalist Nick Clooney moderated a panel discussion with Aldrin, Charlie Duke of Apollo 16, John Grunsfeld, of the recent Hubble mission, and Goddard Space Flight Center deputy director Laurie Leshin.
10:03 GMT (6:03 am EDT) – Endeavour / ISS Crew Wake Up
12:08 GMT (8:08 am EDT) – SRMS Grapple & Unberth JLE From Endeavour’s Payload Bay
13:43 GMT (9:43 am EDT) – SRMS Hands Off JLE To SSRMS
14:03 GMT (10:03 am EDT) – SSRMS Installs JLE To JEF
15:53 GMT (11:53 am EDT) – SSRMS Removes ICC From MBS POA
18:13 GMT (2:13 pm EDT) – Twitter – You Tube PAO Event
18:43 GMT (2:43 pm EDT) – Endeavour Crew Off Duty Period Begins
21:58 GMT (5:58 pm EDT) – EVA #3 Crew Procedure Review
0:28 GMT (8:28 pm EDT) – EVA #3 Campout Begins (Wolf & Cassidy)
1:33 GMT (9:33 pm EDT) – ISS Crew Sleep Begins
2:03 GMT (10:03 pm EDT) – Endeavour Crew Sleep Begins