Water Ice on Mercury

•November 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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.

Read full article  | Also see article in WIRED

Can nuclear engine power deep space exploration?

•November 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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.

Full article

Alpha type Stirling engine.


July 2009 CBS Poll: Should we send astronauts to Mars?

•July 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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

Basic facts to know about the aerospace industry

•July 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

▪ 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’s new boss is keen on Mars!

•July 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr.


New NASA chief, 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 Legacy – video

•July 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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.

Source: NASA

STS-127 Day Seven planned activities

•July 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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


Annual John H. Glenn Lecture: 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11

•July 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Alan Bean – former Apollo astronaut – has paintings on exhibit in the National Air & Space Museum

•July 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Former Apollo astronaut Alan Bean (Apollo 12) has some of his paintings on exhibit currently in the National Air & Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C.

I did a multi-part phone interview with Alan Bean previously. You can listen to him answer my questions.  Part one starts here.

The NASM exhibit is titled:  Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World.

Alan Bean Portrait

Alan Bean in front of his painting easel at his art studio in Houston, October 14, 2008.

Image Number: WEB11163-2009
Credit: Photo by Carolyn Russo/NASM, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

The NASM says the following about the exhibit:

Forty years ago, the Moon received its first human visitors. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle landed, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface. To celebrate this 40th anniversary, this exhibition presents a view of the Apollo journeys through the eyes of the first artist to visit another world.

Alan Bean became the fourth man to walk on the Moon during Apollo 12 in 1969. After 18 years as an astronaut, he resigned from NASA in 1981 to dedicate his life to the art of painting his memories of Apollo.

Employing an impressionistic style, Bean captures the spirit of Apollo with lunar landscapes, portraits of fellow moonwalkers, and views of Earth from space. His works offer glimpses of a world on which only he and 11 others have walked.

Displaying both art and artifacts, this exhibition weaves the technology of one of humankind’s greatest achievements with an artist’s firsthand account of a new frontier.

This exhibition is on view in Gallery 211

STS-127 Day six – planned activities

•July 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

10:33 GMT (6:33 am EDT) – Endeavour / ISS Crew Wake Up
11:13 GMT (7:13 am EDT) – EVA #2 Preparations Resume
15:28 GMT (11:28 am EDT) – EVA #2 Begins (Wolf & Marshburn)
15:58 GMT (11:58 am EDT) – ICC ORU (SGANT, PM, LDU) Transfers To ESP-3 Begin; Fixed Grapple Bar Relocate From ESP-2 To P1 ATA
20:18 GMT (4:18 pm EDT) – JEF Forward Camera Installation
21:58 GMT (5:58 pm EDT) – EVA #2 Ends
1:33 GMT (9:33 pm EDT) – ISS Crew Sleep Begins
2:03 GMT (10:03 pm EDT) – Endeavour Crew Sleep Begins