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Monthly archive October, 2009

Space 3D, a new space anaglyphs blog

In October 2009, Italian amateur astronomer and space anthusiast Roberto Beltramini started Space 3D, a blog where he posts his space-related anaglyphs and discusses how to create them. You need red and cyan glasses to view the 3D images. Roberto writes in Italian, but the blog includes a handy page translation widget that supports English and all other Google Translator languages.

I knew Roberto as an active contributor to Forumastronautico.it, an Italian online community of space enthusiasts. I later found that he is also a prolific and expert creator of space anaglyphs, which he started collecting on a web site.

I was hooked. And I was probably not alone. In October 2009, BBC Sky at Night Magazine published Space 3D Collector’s Edition, a 100 pages special issue packed with stunning astronomy and space anaglyphs. Section “MAN IN SPACE” includes 20 pages with his best anaglyphs.

In the Space 3D blog, Roberto shares his new anaglyphs. Some of the images are fresh from current space missions, like one of Ares I-X on the launch pad.

A Starship Paradigm

We can get
nostalgic and name it the Enterprise
and we can also talk about going where no human has gone before, but at some
point we need to settle down and think. What we will think about is the design,
development and deployment of a starship-based space exploration system.  Again, I stress, this is not a Star Trek reality program.  I am talking about something far bigger and
more versatile. It is a major, space-age concept of human space exploration.

 

Starship in
this case is both a very large, very accommodating and powerful craft as well
as an operational philosophy. Space-age, as used in this discussion, represents
the results of a well formulated international space policy. This policy is the
product of a joint, international effort by government, scientific, and
technical representatives.  The policy
has a 10 century development and exploration plan. Yes, a 1000 year commitment
to the serious exploration of our solar system and beyond.  Anything less is, at best, timidly tepid.

 

Key elements of the plan: The plan
is made up of five principal objectives all of which are directly relevant to
our exploration of near and distant space. 
The objectives are:

 

  1. The
    creation of an International Space Congress:
    This
    is not just a deliberative body, it is the governing organization over all
    space related scientific and exploratory activities of the citizens of
    planet Earth.  Nothing ventures out
    and away from Earth into both near and deep space without it being an activity
    sponsored by the Congress.  This is
    true even for all of the many private sector ventures that are fully
    encouraged, authorized and often partially financed by the Congress.
  2. Planet
    Earth Preservation and Conservation:
    As has been discussed
    in preliminary documents, planet Earth at this time is humankind’s only
    prime source of the natural resources, science and technology needed to
    support an extended exploration of outer space. If we fail to preserve and
    protect this vital resource then we stand to totally cripple our
    exploratory ambitions and our future.
  3. Collaborative
    Research and Development Goals for all Science and Technology:
    In
    those days when nations vied with each other over territorial and
    political control, scientific and technical research and development was
    rarely shared. In fact it was regularly used as a tool of “one-upmanship”
    or “gotchas” that boosted one nation’s standings in the world order.  Sometimes this was stunning and enabling
    in that it ignited creative competitions that moved us forward, but
    generally, at best we simply kept an awkward pace with the cosmos.  Conjoining the entire technological and
    scientific prowess of the world into a collaborative effort will open so
    many new windows of revelation and opportunity that we will be challenged
    to simply keep pace with it all. In so doing, we will be motivated to extend
    all of humankind out into the deepest environs of the universe.  We are, at last, beginning to fulfill
    our existence.
  4. Design,
    development and deployment of the International Starship “Beagle II”:
    The
    purpose of this exploratory system is to carry forward an in-depth exploration
    of every planetary body in our Solar System. Like its famous predecessor
    it shall carry scientist-explorers to these areas so that they may begin
    to assess every detail associated with each planetary body.  The search for life in all its known and
    yet to be discovered forms will be a major objective of this mission.
    Habitability, with respect to human colonization will also be a major
    investigative goal.  Please visit the following link to see
    the envisioned spacecraft design and operational objectives:
    http://bit.ly/1Mhfwd. Most
    importantly, “Beagle II” is the virtual operational base for all of these
    Solar System explorations.  As such
    it shall be both the home and the launch point for its research
    community. 
  5. The
    launching of deep-space exploratory missions to be designated exosolar
    systems:
    Earth’s humankind must reach out beyond our home solar
    system and eventually even beyond our parent galaxy.  When we do, we will revitalize and fully
    honor those famous words: “do not be frightened for we come in peace.”
    Peace, this time, is an expression of reality, not a dream or false
    promise.  We have mastered it and
    put it to work for each and every one of us.  It has brought us the power and unity
    that enables us to move onward and outward. We are one, we are the
    citizens of planet Earth.

 

Discussion: Well can we really do this?  Actually we have no choice. If we wish to
insure our continuing existence and to also fulfill our true destiny then it is
a must.  In these present times, we would
refer to it as a “YES WE CAN” opportunity and obligation. There is magic here.
If humankind decides to focus on the five plan elements above, then we will
have also committed ourselves to making peace a total, and very functional
reality.  “YES WE CAN.”

 

Space, that
immense territory of amazing mystery and challenge now demands our attention.
This, again, is part of the fulfillment of human purpose. If we decide to
disagree or ignore this challenge then we place ourselves in a terminal
state.  This is not new. As we will find
out, if we agree to explore space, there have been other civilizations out
there that have essentially opted out of their futures.  Who knows, it could be that we are the very
last to have the opportunity to extend humankind into the universe.  Obviously this document is screaming out:
“Don’t drop the ball.”

 

Please, let
your imagination run unfettered. 
Consider all of the developments and human enrichment that will occur as
we undertake this effort.  Oh yes, there
will be challenges, frustrations, and, sadly, loss of life in the process.  Since, however, we are operating in unity,
those losses are no longer a singular grief, we all share and in sharing we
impart both compassion and strength.  We
emerge stronger and more resolute. We repeat the mantra: “we are citizens of
planet Earth.”

 

Conclusion:  I hope you will forgive my quoting myself as
the conclusion to this essay.  In a blog
article I wrote entitled “Sailing the Celestial Sea”  (http://bit.ly/1sWCuI)
on this same subject, I ended it with the following concluding comment.

 

The
above is not going to be an easy process, and there are many out there who
rather shoot NASA down than realize that NASA and its industrial/scientific
partners are one of the key elements of both our growth and future stability.
 Space is the next (not the last) frontier and we are a nation that has
built itself upon our exploring past frontiers.  It has worked well, and
this time we stand to move humankind far more forward and beneficially than has
ever been done before. Most importantly, the new partnership is an
international one that is far more comprehensive than the ones NASA has now.
This extends that growth and stability factor around the world.  In short,
it spells FUTURE.

 

Now,
who among us wants to deny the future?  Come aboard and let’s go sailing.
The universe awaits us.

 

STS-120, my first space launch

Crowd viewing the STS-120 launch at the KSC VIP siteTwo years ago today, on October 23, 2007, I earned my space enthusiast wings: I viewed the launch of the STS-120 Shuttle mission at Kennedy Space Center.

It all started in late July when ESA astronaut and STS-120 crew member Paolo Nespoli, of Italian nationality, invited some friends and me to view his launch at KSC. We had met him in previous years, when he took part to outreach events at the planetarium of Milan, the largest in Italy, for which we work. He was also going to fly a small flag with our planetarium logo onboard Discovery (item 70 in the STS-120 Official Flight Kit Manifest).

When Nespoli invited us, we carefully and thoroughly evaluated our schedules, considered all issues, thought “yeah, after all, somebody has got to do it, why not?”, and finally accepted. The whole process took approximately 0.0012 seconds, possibly less.

As Nespoli’s guests, we took part to ESA’s official events together with his family and friends such as a KSC tour, briefings and dinners. I kept reading on license plates that Florida is the sunshine state, but the sky told a different, rainy story up to the day before launch. And a friend’s experiences reminded something important about Shuttle launch schedules: he tried to view several launches at KSC over a period of a dozen years, but was never
successful due to scrubs.

This was our first launch, and it didn’t disappoint. Florida turned out to indeed be the sunshine state.

Launch day was awesome, from both a weather and an emotional point of view. We viewed the launch from the Banana Creek VIP site next to the Saturn V Center. Sitting behind me on the viewing stands there was a retired Grumman employee who worked on the Apollo LM. A NASA photographer caught me in awe in the image above (I’m the one at right), which is a small portion of a larger photo (original NASA story).

The launch was a rich sensory and emotional experience. Pictures and videos are just not enough, you have to be there.

What surprised me most is what happened at launch and later. As a space enthusiast, you are familiar with the typical succession of scene cuts of Shuttle launches seen on NASA TV. But when you are there, you have to be your own director and quickly — very quickly — learn to use your eyes to view a completely new scene with a much wider field of view and rich, vivid stimuli.

My trip to Florida was made even more unforgettable by other experiences. A group of friends and fellow members of Forumastonautico.it, the largest Italian online space community, had independently organized a trip to KSC for the launch (they got an additional treat, a Delta II launch on October 18, 2007). We had a really great time together.

With the Forumastronautico.it friends we had dinner with Damaris Sarria, a young and enthusiastic engineer who works at KSC and maintains the blog How I Am Becoming An Astronaut. We had interviewed her for AstronautiCAST, Forumastronautico.it’s podcast (original interview in English, MP3 file).

I recently found that space tweep @absolutspacegrl was on console at MCC in Houston for STS-120. And Nespoli’s crew member Scott Parazynski even
joined Twitter as @SPOTScott. I guess @flyingjenny lubed and tuned Discovery’s thrusters for STS-120. Were you also involved in STS-120? Did you view the launch at KSC? Let me know in the comments.

After STS-120, Nespoli was assigned to the Expedition 26/27 crew currently scheduled for launch in November 2010 onboard a Soyuz from Baikonur.
Hmmm… how cool is that (no pun intended)?

#Moonwatch is near

 The Newbury Astronomical Society is at it again, flooding all of its followers twitter feeds with Images of the Moon, Mars and Beyond! 😉 

Now of course NewburyAS is not really flooding its followers twitter feeds, they’re more like filling it up with astronomy goodness. (Its my job to flood everyones feed 😉 )

What’s really happening is that @NewburyAS along with hundreds of other twitter accounts will be tweeting LIVE images of the Moon and other celestial objects, while having Q&A’s and broadcasting Star Parties and telescopes on Ustream. 

The event starts on Monday, October 26th and continues through until the morning of the 28th, and simply stated its the worlds Second Online Global Star Party! To join in on the action simply tweet with the hashtag, #Moonwatch or contact @NewburyAS, @astronomy2009uk or @ksastro and we will be glad to help you get involved. 

Tweets for the event have already started and more and more people will join in as the week progresses. Though this weekend, the weekend prior to the start of #Moonwatch is Galilean Nights, so if you’re wanting a real fix on astronomy you sure are getting it! 😉 

Hope to hear from you all during #Moonwatch (and #GalileanNights)!

-Elias (@ksastro)

Stellar Evolution and Nucleogenesis

This is not my field and I recognize that I am not contributing any original material here but I thought about sharing some information about an historical document. 

According to the author of the following article, the 1957 scientific paper on astrophysics entitled Stellar Evolution, Nuclear Astrophysics and Nucleogenesis, or CRL-41, was difficult to find in any form until the expiration of the copyright on it made it possible to post copies.

The copy is offered on line, through this article, by Daid Kahl, a Ph.D. student at the University of Tokyo.

  

What about Apollo astronauts as honorary CAPCOMs for the first return to the Moon mission?

Will future US space efforts involve a manned lunar program? If so, I hope that it will have its first flight when most Apollo astronauts are still alive. This would make it possible to do something of high symbolic value to pass the torch between generations of space explorers: having Apollo astronauts serve as “honorary CAPCOMs.”

Apollo astronauts might sit at the CAPCOM console and notify the first lunar return crew GO/NO GO decisions for certain mission maneuvers or events. It would be great to have Mike Collins, for example, give the first lunar crew a GO for translunar injection. Or let Charlie Duke give a GO for powered descent.

Back to the future. Just my 0.02 dreams.

Towards a Japanese version of NASA?

The comments I have been able to read lately about space exploration in the Japanese press have been filled with enthusiasm not of the “gladiatorial” variety (I take up the term used by Paul Spudis in his excellent article about The Augustine Commission) but related to commercial opportunities.

This stands in stark contrast to the gloom pervading most of the debate following the Augustine Commission debate.

The following report from the DNI Open Source Center has not been approved for public release but the Federation of American Scientists obtained a copy. It is a must-read to understand Japanese government officials’ position and how they envision Japan filling the void after the Shuttle is retired. 

It is to be seen if budget limitations and Japan domestic problems will not put a break on such plans. We should know more early next year.

OSC Report (pdf)  Steven Aftergood (Secrecy News)

SpaceTweep Movie Night

Hello SpaceTweeps! 

(This is my first post and its a big subject, so I hope it’s alright)

Recently I proposed the idea of a SpaceTweep Movie night. So of course I needed to send out a Tweet and ask/see how everyone reacted to it.

There was an AMAZING response, a whole bunch of SpaceTweeps responded and as we got to talking more and more joined in, eventually it turned out to be about 12 People wanting to join in on some Movie Night Action!

Thus, I propose we all try and organize a Movie Night, were we can all watch the same movie while tweeting/talking with each other. Most of the tweets being thrown around earlier were about which movies, but what we really need to figure out is HOW and WHEN to do this. 

First, HOW:

There are many ways we could try and do this, but not all of them are very convenient. The first one that was purposed was that we all watch a DVD, well issue with that is that we all would have to go buy a DVD, start it at the same time, etc… So the second way I could think of is Broadcasting the movie over the internet. Only issue with that is we will need someone with some  Fancy schmancy Screencasting software. I have some myself, and I consider myself a “pro” broadcaster but I dont have the video software to bring the movie through without it being “patchy”. Another idea we have just came up with is, just for all of us to acquire a copy of the movie, be it through owning the DVD, renting it, getting it off Netflix/iTunes or an source. Now if anyone else has any ideas please post a comment send me a tweet or just get it out there so we can find out! 

Now we need to find out WHEN:

So this is the easy part, well kindof easy. Most SpaceTweeps have set schedules and are not always available, and we understand. What might happen and probably will is that we will have more than one movie night. Since we have had more than one movie recommendation. So I propose out first date should be a weekend sicne thats when most are available, and that it be in the afternoon/night time. To start things off I propose that we try our first movie night, Friday, October 30, 2009 around 11PM EDT/8PM PDT

Lastly, WHAT MOVIE:

This is not really an issue, but for our first Movie Night, and future movie nights I think we should at least have the movies picked out as we have the date. Below I list the movies we came up with during all the Tweeting:

Apollo 13 [ w/ commentary by @absolutespacegirl 😉 ]

Contact [Since @CatherineQ hasn’t seen it!]

Space Camp [Which I have never heard of]

Armageddon

The Dish 

The Knowing

Deep Impact

The Astronaut Farmer

Space Cowboys

Fly Me to the Moon

From the Earth to the Moon

2001 a Space Odyssey  

E.T. 

and many more (Star wars, transformers, all kinds of crazy movies!)

So any/all movies are welcome and maybe this will become a regular event! (every month, like a spacetweep meeting!)

Now that we have that down, everything is open for discussion! So all the best everyone, and hope to hear from you all! 

-Elias Jordan (@ksastro)

(EDIT: When tweeting about the Movie Night please use the tag, #STMN)

First SpaceTweep Movie Night

Date: October 30, 2009

Time: 11PM EDT/8PM PDT

Movie: Apollo 13

Contact @ksastro for more info

The importance that parents have on children, space, and the future

Hi everyone. I’ve got to commend you on what a great job you’re doing, especially @flyingjenny.  You’ve all made STS grow into what it is today, and it’s absolutely amazing.

If you’ve been following me via Twitter, then you know that my Dad passed away recently.  I’m saying this because he’s the reason that I am where I am today – and he followed STS from the beginning.

Just a few months ago, before STS, I had my own blog on another website.  Without getting into details, I was “discouraged” from continuing to post on that site (don’t ask because I won’t tell), but I always sent my Dad the link and he would pass it along to other family members.  It was a way for them to keep up with what I was doing.

Once I’d started the blog, Dad would always ask – “When are you going to have a new blog! We love to read them!” 

I’m happy now that I saved those emails – him saying how neat he thought the idea was, how he was proud, etc – yet sad that he won’t ever get to see what eventually became of it.

The point of this post isn’t to focus on that, but instead to show what an impact the opinion of parents, even up into adulthood, can have on their children. (cont……)

I’m an only child, and from the very beginning my Dad has had a HUGE influence on what it is that I do today.  He never treated me any differently because I was a girl – he taught me to throw a football, handle and shoot a gun (political viewpoints aside), work a telescope, play chess, program a computer, and secretly paid for pilot’s lessons (because my Mom wouldn’t hear of it!).

I remember looking through Dad’s telescope as a kid at Halley’s Comet and thinking that it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in (or out of!) this world.  Our favorite shows were Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jeopardy.  We’d routinely stay up until 2 or 3 am discussing the political, scientific, and philosophical meanings of each Star Trek episode – how they were relevant to life today or not, and if not then how could we change to match the ideology of Gene Roddenberry’s future?

On Jeopardy, we’d sometimes watch up to three recorded episodes in a row depending on when I would be in town visiting from college or after I landed my current job in Houston.  We’d always get excited when the categories were something to do with space or science, and congratulate each other when we got a “question”, or 2, or 3, in a row, correct.

We both loved to read and would suggest books to each other.  I regret that I was “too busy” to finish the last two that he recommended so that we never had the chance to discuss them.

On a regular basis me & Dad would exchange emails – he was always asking about my work and what it is I was currently doing.  He would end each email with “if you’re too busy to reply, I understand,” and often I was.  Or so I thought; now I wonder how busy is too busy regardless of what it is that you’re doing.

From a very young age I’ve wanted to do exactly what it is I’m doing now.  My Grandfather told me I that had to be a nurse or a teacher when I grew up because I was a girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I married a teacher!  But me and my Dad would laugh at the idea of such gender-limiting foolishness and he encouraged me each step of the way.  No matter what it is I wanted to do…be it a teacher, rocket scientist, or President of the United States, he always told me and believed that I could do it all, and supported me regardless.

For whatever reason, the percentage of women in science and engineering really hasn’t changed much over the past 10 years or so in America.  China and India are graduating more and more engineers each day – I don’t understand why the US hasn’t kept up, but we’re not.  Women still make up only 20% of graduating engineers in America, the same amount as when I graduated!

I know that the reason I’m an engineer is because my Dad never told me I couldn’t be. To him, it was ridiculous to think that I had to be something different because of my gender.  I don’t think that a lot of girls, even in the “progressive” USA, get that encouragement, and that’s stupid.  He kept a picture of me in Mission Control at home and at work – and sent any new ones I would email him from various missions to every person in his address book!

So, to keep this dream alive, to think that eventually we’re going to realize Gene Roddenberry’s ideals, and to believe that we’re going to go anywhere past low Earth orbit, we’re going to have to encourage the next generation of children regardless of traditional and past beliefs.

And to parents, if you don’t think that you’re having an impact on your kids, you do.  They may not openly express it, but they’re soaking everything in – so don’t stop trying to teach them.  They may go through a period where you’re not “cool”, but they always come back…it’s just a matter of time. 🙂

Thanks for reading, ASG.

U mean LCROSS… – LOLspace

In this classic LOLspace, someone is eagerly waiting for the LCROSS impact, but perhaps has incorrect expectations.

New to LOLspace? See: LOLspace, the space lolcats.

Bake Sale for NASA

This song was very much inspired by Space Tweeps and reading NASA’s website while watching the Augustine hearings.  I’m currently making plans to record it as quickly as possible, but at @flyingjenny’s request, I will fill in the gap by posting the lyrics (they were originally posted today at my own blog).

Bake Sale for NASA

We sent men to the moon because of some lines

In a speech that inspires to this day

We learn more about Earth from orbit

Than we can in any other way

Yet we spend and we spend and we spend and we spend

On corporate welfare that will never end

Programs that waste more than they create

Yet we’re happy to let NASA deflate

Chorus:

So let’s hold a bake sale for NASA

Show our love for a program that actually works

The cookies are sure to be out of this world

We could even have astros as clerks

Give folks a chance to learn first-hand

Why we need these adventures in space

How it affects them directly at home

And elevates the whole human race

A very large chunk of what sets us apart

Is our driving need to explore

Humans are best when we’re trying to test

Our limits and find we have more

The more that we learn the less that we know

So further on still we must go

To answer the questions that in the past

We didn’t even know to ask

Chorus:

So let’s hold a bake sale for NASA

Show our love for a program that actually works

The cookies are sure to be out of this world

We could even have astros as clerks

Give folks a chance to learn first-hand

Why we need these adventures in space

How it affects them directly at home

And elevates the whole human race


Bridge:

To turn this whole endeavor over

To private investors and other lands

Would be giving up the greatest power

We have in our nation’s hands

Some skeptics say we should keep funds at bay

Until we have fed everyone

But we produce more food than ever before

Because of what NASA has done

Nearly every invention created for space

On Earth has found a useful place

Saving some lives and improving many more

Like we’ve never seen before

Chorus:

So let’s hold a bake sale for NASA

Show our love for a program that actually works

The cookies are sure to be out of this world

We could even have astros as clerks

Give folks a chance to learn first-hand

Why we need these adventures in space

How it affects them directly at home

And elevates the whole human race

Bridge:

In these days where folks are always trying

To take real science out of schools

We need to step up our efforts

Or become a nation of fools

I could go on for days extolling the ways

Investment in NASA makes sense

But I have only this song to convince those who are wrong

And think it’s a wasteful expense

I will dare to say it’s our greatest success

Less than 1% is hardly excess

In a budget that keeps us all in debt

At least here we can see what we get

Chorus:

So let’s hold a bake sale for NASA

Show our love for a program that actually works

The cookies are sure to be out of this world

We could even have astros as clerks

Give folks a chance to learn first-hand

Why we need these adventures in space

How it affects them directly at home

And elevates the whole human race

Human race

Humans in space!!