It’s a Small World After All

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By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

August 31, 2015

W A T C H  T H E  B I R D I E

Planet Lab minisatA big story this week is one the national mainstream broadcasters won’t dare to report because they can’t turn it into a putrid giggly cliché.  Former astronaut and scientist Will Marshall has created a company that is not only opening eyes to the environmental assaults and perils on this planet, but it’s also saving lives.

San Francisco-based Planet Labs creates “toaster-sized cubesats,” which Marshall coins “doves.” Once placed in low-Earth orbit, the bantam-sized birdies … (oh gag, I just did it) can spot details on the planet’s surface often missed by larger Earth-spying satellites.

The results are paying off.  “We can track deforestation, we can track the ice caps melting.  In general, it is very helpful for climate change,” said Marshall. “We can help people respond to natural disasters like earthquakes and floods.”

Earlier this year, the dove sats took pix of Nepal before and after that nation’s devastating earthquakes, revealing two remote villages that no one knew even existed.  The discovery enabled aid workers to scramble to the exact locations with food and medical supplies.

Recently a Japanese rocket delivered an additional 14 dove sats to the International Space Station (ISS) last week, and when ISS astronauts disperse them into orbit, the company’s flock will be 87-strong.  Eventually, the Dove mission will take a photo of every single place on Earth, every single day.

Here’s the kicker: CEO Marshall has publicly announced that all stored data and images gathered from his company’s mini-sats will be accessible to anyone in the world.  You can bet that conservative politicians who relentlessly vote to defund NASA hardly had such benevolent socialism in mind when they insisted “space commercialism” could replace the agency.  Now that’s funny.

G L A C I A L  P R O P O R T I O N S

Greenland glacier (Getty images)One of those big Earth observation satellites did manage to find evidence of what scientists believe to be the biggest glacier calving in recorded history.  Since humans keep belching out planet-boiling carbon dioxide and methane into our atmosphere, glacier melts and ice crack-offs are occurring with monotonous regularity these days.

As with the dove sats, before and after pix taken by Europe’s Sentinel-A sat revealed that two weeks ago a massive ice chunk the size of Manhattan Island broke off Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier (the same glacier that produced an infamous problem-child in 1912, a calved iceberg with the Titanic’s name on it).  I found only one article on this recent incident, from a news site called HNGN.  They ended the story with: “Some people believe this event is related to climate change.”  No, really?  I’m shocked.  Shocked!

D U N G  H O

Again, brace yourselves.  The national TV newsreaders are going to have accidents in their Space food (sans human waste)pants clucking over this one.  “Waste not, want not: NASA hopes to recycle poop into food.”  That’s the actual headline used by the usually sober-toned Weather Network site.  So imagine how the vacuous talking heads are going to giddily butcher this tidbit as more and more news outlets pick up on it throughout the week.  NASA is allocating $200,000 to start the experiments.  It seems a ghastly proposition, but keep in mind that ISS astronauts routinely recycle their own urine and sweat into potable water, yes, and drink it.  I know that if I were on the ISS participating in the human dung trial, I’d also be breaking into that Japanese whisky experiment…routinely.

H U B B L E  N E T S  B U T T E R F L Y  N E B U L A E

TwinJetNebulaMeanwhile, back in deep space, the Hubble Space Telescope took a gorgeous photo of the iridescent Twin Jet Nebula, a bipolar planetary nebula.  I realize that sounds like the psychiatric category for, say, your unstable snitching neighbor, but it simply means the object consists of two old dying stars doing a very slow dance. (They circle each other every 100 years.)  Scientists estimate one of them had an outburst – hence the butterfly winged jets — just 1,200 years ago.

 

A L I E N  D E T E N T E  R E D U X

In our “Lettuce Entertain You” post of August 16, we covered a story about Apollo 14 Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 10.54.36 AMastronaut Edgar Mitchell’s beliefs in Earthly extraterrestrial visitations.  We third-handed the original source: a now-disputed “interview” a reporter from The Mirror says he had with the moonwalker.  Huffington Post interviewed Mitchell after the Mirror story broke and grew, and he claims the British tabloid’s  quotes were fabricated and that he never granted an interview to the paper.  The disputed quotes relate to the belief that UFO’s buzzed New Mexico weapons bases and disabled launch capabilities to spare earthlings World War III.  Like the game of telephone, news reporting can sorely mangle an original statement.  So, like “fair and balanced” Fox News always quips, “You decide!” Here are the links to our retelling in “Extraterrestrial Détente,” the original Mirror story, and Huffington Post’s retelling of all involved tales.

 

T H E  U N S C I E N T I F I C  U N A M E R I C A N

I was cheered when I opened my Scientific American this month to read an overdue opinion put forth by the mag’s entire editorial board, entitled “Don’t Blind NASA to Earth’s Climate.”  In it, the editors call out Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) for “egging on” his fellow congressional Republicans to cut NASA’s Earth Science budget by $260 million.  Climate change-denying politicians say they want that money to go to the robotic voyage to Europa, Jupiter’s frozen moon.  But NASA only needs $30 million for that mission.

SA graphic by Morgan Schweitzer

Look Anywhere But Earth – Graphic: Morgan Schweitzer, Scientific American.

Cruz – who bears an eerie likeness to Senator Joe McCarthy, the 1950’s witch hunting, career-ruining Communist chaser – claims Earth science is not part of the agency’s “core mission” (wrong) and that the field is not even a “hard science” (nauseatingly wrong).  It’s amazing how these guys are forever pulling crap right out of their….  As for NASA’s sister agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the lawgivers want to kill it outright.  They slashed NOAA’s budget by 5 percent, and rationed out only $8.4 million rather than the $30 million requested to study the catastrophic acidification of the world’s oceans.  They don’t want satellites analyzing the seas because that preposterous planet-killing problem is driven by climate change, which is a hoax, don’t ya know.  In 2012 Congress unceremoniously tried to “move” NOAA’s Earth sensing sats to NASA’s jurisdiction, and make them point the other way…toward Jupiter, one supposes.

Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA…my representative, by the way), infuriated by the brainless attitude of his associates, recently dropped his otherwise mild-mannered demeanor and fumed from the floor, “Don’t tell me there isn’t money available….  Are you going to save this planet or put all the money into the moon of Jupiter?”

Ah well, Sam.  Your star-crossed effort was, as always, heroic.

And this comes as no surprise:  Cruz is Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.  Why do they always give the gavel to a power-grubbing dolt who doesn’t even believe in science?

So the naysaying deniers who are hired to protect the health and welfare of the people they represent will do anything to stifle the truth. Don’t pay attention to that man behind the curtain!  Look at anything but the Earth.

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The Unscientific Unamerican

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T H E  U N S C I E N T I F I C  U N A M E R I C A N

By Kate WoodsGalactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large
August 29, 2015

Screen shot 2015-09-29 at 9.06.19 PMI was cheered when I opened my Scientific American this month to read an overdue opinion put forth by the mag’s entire editorial board, entitled “Don’t Blind NASA to Earth’s Climate.”  In it, the editors call out Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) for “egging on” his fellow congressional Republicans to cut NASA’s Earth Science budget by $260 million.  Climate change-denying politicians say they want that money to go to the robotic voyage to Europa, Jupiter’s frozen moon.  But NASA only needs $30 million for that mission.

SA graphic by Morgan Schweitzer

Look Anywhere But Earth – Graphic: Morgan Schweitzer, Scientific American.

Cruz – who bears an eerie likeness to Senator Joe McCarthy, the 1950’s witch hunting, career-ruining Communist chaser – claims Earth science is not part of the agency’s “core mission” (wrong) and that the field is not even a “hard science” (nauseatingly wrong).  It’s amazing how these guys are forever pulling crap right out of their….  As for NASA’s sister agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the lawgivers want to kill it outright.  They slashed NOAA’s budget by 5 percent, and rationed out only $8.4 million rather than the $30 million requested to study the catastrophic acidification of the world’s oceans.  They don’t want satellites analyzing the seas because that preposterous planet-killing problem is driven by climate change, which is a hoax, don’t ya know.  In 2012 Congress unceremoniously tried to “move” NOAA’s Earth sensing sats to NASA’s jurisdiction, and make them point the other way…toward Jupiter, one supposes.

Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA…my representative, by the way), infuriated by the brainless attitude of his associates, recently dropped his otherwise mild-mannered demeanor and fumed from the floor, “Don’t tell me there isn’t money available….  Are you going to save this planet or put all the money into the moon of Jupiter?”

Ah well, Sam.  Your star-crossed effort was, as always, heroic.

And this comes as no surprise:  Cruz is Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.  Why do they always give the gavel to a power-grubbing dolt who doesn’t even believe in science?

So the naysaying deniers who are hired to protect the health and welfare of the people they represent will do anything to stifle the truth. Don’t pay attention to that man behind the curtain!  Look at anything but the Earth.

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Elevated Thoughts

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E L E V A T E D  T H O U G H T S

By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

Where does one begin with an absurd week like this?  OK.  Let’s start with some pleasant, genuine news.  Astronaut Scott Kelly snapped a fab photo of the Aurora Borealis from the International Space Station this week:aurora borealis

The crew also got a pic of massive red sprites, phenomena once thought to be the coinage of minds not tightly wrapped.  Note to self:  When NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory proves something truly weird is true, pay attention.red sprites

 

J u s t  E  a t  I t
Oh heck.  Let’s just cut to the cheap stuff.  Last week I raged against mainstream media’s yuk-fest in “reporting” on the ISS crew growing their own lettuce and “munching” it.  Well folks, the newsreaders have outdone themselves.  Chirpy news anchor Rich Abney of British Columbia station CKPG (yes, Canadian news watchers have their own crosses to bear…sigh), wanted to one-up his co-anchors on the giggly subject, so he quipped, “Gotta say, it seems like a better idea than eating food grown on Yer Anus!” [Editor’s note: Idiot Abney was referring to the hilariously named planet, Uranus…..HAR! A real corker!]canadian newsreaders

Public reaction to the disgusting debacle was so intense, someone came up with a Faceybook “meme” of Abney’s fellow newsreader’s reaction to the crass pun by photoshopping her face into Edvard Munch’s iconic masterpiece The Scream.
Will the inanity ever cease?

space lettuce media memeO n w a r d  a n d  U p w a r d

The Canadians did redeem themselves momentarily this week when they patented an inflatable space elevator.  If you grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s like I did, you are likely still wondering what ever happened to scientists’ promises of flying cars, personal jet packs, and other modern wonders they said would definitely be commonplace in the distant future of 1980, you know…
“♪Meet George Jetson! ♫”
Anyway, Thoth Technology of Pembroke, Ontario, says it has a design that will zip astronauts up close to low-Earth orbit – 12 miles high – thereby greatly reducing the cost currently incurred via the conventional method of sticking humans atop gigantic roman candles and blasting them off the lithosphere.  It would be made of “pressurized, stacked cells” – whatever the tarnation that means.inflatable-space-elevator-patented-670(1)
I won’t hold my breath, but Arthur C. Clarke — his spirit now pervading the Multiverse — might be smiling about this news as he hits the penthouse button.  He put forth the space elevator vision in his 1979 Sci-Fi novel, “The Fountains of Paradise.”

 

S p e a k i n g  o f  o v e r s i z e d  b o t t l e  r o c k e t s  . . .
Meanwhile, last Monday China tested the power system for its biggest-ever launcher, the Screen shot 2015-08-22 at 12.19.02 PMLong March 5, scheduled to shoot for the space station in 2016. According to Popular Science, Chinese officials are touting the newest Long March’s “environmentally friendly”  engines as powered by oxygen and hydrogen (what a concept!) rather than their current thrusters that are fed with a brew of incredibly polluting-sounding names like dinitrogen tetraoxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine  (Yuk!).

S i g n s  a n d  W o n d e r s
According to Tech Times, the wiz kids at NASA have read the tea leaves provided by the space agency’s  “Ladee” satellite, and have discovered what scientists have suspected since the Apollo days: the presence of the rare gas neon in our Moon’s exosphere.  Hopefully, soon we might see neon signs on the Big Cheese, flashing like billboards lit in hell: “Eat a Moon Pie at Joe’s.”Screen shot 2015-08-22 at 9.35.55 AM

U n i d e n t i f i e d  W a t e r  V a p o r

Time out:  Warning, warning, Will Robinson.  A flying humanoid was spotted a few weeks ago buzzing L.A, according to the aptly named website publication, Latest UFO Sighting.  Indeed, humanoid flyingthe inanity has yet to cease.
Sorry.  We have to keep the tin-foil hatters happy.

 

 

 

N e w s  F l a s h:  O u t g o i n g

The world will not end in September. Hate to bust yer bubble, doomsayers, but NASA’s JPL just imploded the rabid Internet rumor that a humongous asteroid is supposed to hit Earth between Sept. 15 and 28. The Guardian reported that NASA doesn’t normally bother to even comment on such twaddle. But apparently this one was particularly moronic: the asteroid is” aimed” at Puerto Rico and will also obliterate the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Screen shot 2015-08-23 at 5.07.09 PM

End of the world has been cancelled for September, NASA says.

There’s “not a shred of evidence” to support the hoax, says JPL. The scientists had to rain on the “Mayan Doomsday” prediction (which actually did not predict the end) in 2012 and other screeching hysteria, such as Comet Elenin killing everyone that same year. NASA called that one “a trail of piffling particles.”

Now if you want to be concerned,  the following should make you worried as a cat at the dogpound:

 

T h e y ’ r e  D r i n k i n g  O u r  M i l k s h a k e
And now for something I have no doubt will be deemed a hoax by climate-change deniers.  Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab – you know, like, extremely educated engineers, physicists, Earth biologists and geologists – have confirmed that California’s Central Valley has sunk about six and a half feet since ag producers started relentlessly sucking up the Great Aquifer beneath the Golden State from 2003 to 2013.  The pace of land-drop is now at a break-neck speed of two inches a month. California’s record-breaking and driest drought in recorded history began four years ago. But you may not have heard that a few months ago, NASA brainiacs also proved that the water levels of Earth’s 13 of 37 greatest aquifers dropped like stones this year, including the aforementioned Central Valley Aquifer and the ancient Northern Sahara Desert Aquifer.  NASA proved the data with their twin GRACE satellites.  Our understanding is that it takes one million years for the globe’s water cycle to replenish just two inches in these aquifers.  One drawback to the sats is that they can’t determine how deep an aquifer is, only how much it has dropped.

Groundwater storage trends for Earth's 37 largest aquifers : UC Irvine/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Groundwater storage trends for Earth’s 37 largest aquifers : UC Irvine/NASA/JPL-Caltech

I n  a  G a l a x y  N o t  S o  F a r  A w a y  . . .
I can’t keep this one corked anymore.  Has anyone been following the national carnival called the Republican Presidential primary?  Yes, Donald Trump is driving the clown car.  But the fact is, every voter in the nation loathes our sticky-fingered Congressional lobbyist lovers so much that a barker like Trump is way ahead in the polls.  No surprise, except to his mealy-mouthed competitors. Screen shot 2015-08-23 at 5.21.37 PM They are mystified that their base goes for Trump’s fascism; despite the decades they spent dumbing-down their own supporters.  Surprise!
The Donald’s entire one-trick pony show is based on a xenophobic stand against Mexicans.  And when the charlatan calls for repealing the 14th Amendment (which guarantees people born here are automatically U.S. citizens), saying “they gotta go,” all the GOP candidates trip over their tongues, dog-piling atop one another to ape him.
This all may seem off-topic.  But consider the fact that every single human who has gone into space and looked back upon our fragile Earth is amazed that there are no drawn borderlines between “nations.”  There are no national distinctions, no passports, no “papers please” or barbed wired 15 feet-high walls (except the ancient conceptual art piece known as the Great Wall of China).  From space, everyone on Earth is suddenly and simply a human being.  Every astronaut’s soul returns radically changed in regards to nationalism and the tenuous environment.
What if we launched every Presidential candidate into space for a month?  We can hang barf bags around their necks,and make sure they take notes on what this globe actually is: our only lifeboat, at the moment, no thanks to conservative crackdowns on space budgets and a disdainful dismissal of humankind’s yearning to break out of our crib… at least to Mars … and perhaps someday beyond.
Remember: Vote early and often!

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In a Galaxy Not So Far Away

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I n  a  G a l a x y  N o t  S o  F a r  A w a y  . . .

By Kate WoodsGalactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large
August 22, 2015

I can’t keep this one corked anymore.  Has anyone been following the national carnival called the Republican Presidential primary?  Yes, Donald Trump is driving the clown car.  But the fact is, every voter in the nation loathes our sticky-fingered Congressional lobbyist lovers so much that a barker like Trump is way ahead in the polls.  No surprise, except to his mealy-mouthed competitors. Screen shot 2015-08-23 at 5.21.37 PM They are mystified that their base goes for Trump’s fascism; despite the decades they spent dumbing-down their own supporters.  Surprise!

The Donald’s entire one-trick pony show is based on a xenophobic stand against Mexicans.  And when the charlatan calls for repealing the 14th Amendment (which guarantees people born here are automatically U.S. citizens), saying “they gotta go,” all the GOP candidates trip over their tongues, dog-piling atop one another to ape him.
This all may seem off-topic.  But consider the fact that every single human who has gone into space and looked back upon our fragile Earth is amazed that there are no drawn borderlines between “nations.”  There are no national distinctions, no passports, no “papers please” or barbed wired 15 feet-high walls (except the ancient conceptual art piece known as the Great Wall of China).  From space, everyone on Earth is suddenly and simply a human being.  Every astronaut’s soul returns radically changed in regards to nationalism and the tenuous environment.

What if we launched every Presidential candidate into space for a month?  We can hang barf bags around their necks,and make sure they take notes on what this globe actually is: our only lifeboat, at the moment, no thanks to conservative crackdowns on space budgets and a disdainful dismissal of humankind’s yearning to break out of our crib… at least to Mars … and perhaps someday beyond.
Remember: Vote early and often!

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Lettuce Entertain You

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By Kate Woods – Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 10.25.39 AM

Ready to hear another “quirky” giggly clip about astronauts munching their ISS-grown space lettuce?  If I hear or see just one more lame-brain sound bite from a moronic glamor puss news reader about it, my TV will be blasted to bits by good ol’ Bessie.  She’s a .22 rifle.

Space-based agriculture is important – I don’t argue that – for we got to grow our own food when and if we ever get to Mars.  But the way it’s conveyed by these screaming media infants just gives me indigestion.

 ” F u n  S i z ed ” E x o p l a n e t
jupe photo from SETI The big news that’s handled barely more seriously is the recent discovery of another Jupiter-like planet, 51 Eridani b, located 100 light years from Earth.  The reason it has caught scientists’ attention is for its small size: it’s only twice the size of Jupiter, and since most of the Jupiter-like planets we’re finding are 5 to 13 times the size of our gas giant, that makes it a toddler at only 20 million years old.  This fact may force brainiacs to rethink the fundamentals of solar system architecture.  In a score for Earth-based astronomy, Eridani was spotted by the Earth-based Gemini Planet Imager at the Gemini Observatory in Chile. (Yeah, I can hear the double-digit IQ’d politicians now: “The money used to build that Cheelayin telescope could have been used to line five of our pockets! Oh the humanity!”  Ugh.)  Fun Fact: As of August 14, nearly 2,000 exoplanets have been discovered.
E x t r a t e r r e s t r i a l  D e t e n t e
But the news I find imminently more interesting is a recent interview The Mirror had with Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut who trekked on the moon in 1971.  Mitchell has Screen shot 2015-08-16 at 10.54.36 AMalways had an interest in extraterrestrial life, and in his post-Apollo incarnation he has not avoided talking about his own sightings from space.  And he does it deadpan. Not a man known for embellishment, Mitchell believes ETs prevented nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia when they buzzed and disabled nuclear silos in New Mexico in the 1950s.  His conversations with base missile launchers and personnel at the time are convincing, though second-hand.  So whom would you believe?  Mitchell, or the Air Force’s explanation of unexplained sightings as “swamp gas”?  Brace yerselves for the mainstream media’s “UFO Giggle Curtain.”
C h o r e  W i t h  A  V i e w
Speaking of Russkies, two spacewalking cosmonauts this week stopped to shine up one of the ISS’s portal windows while the remaining ISS crew members were dining on Romaine lettuce drizzled with oil and vinegar.  (I’m sure the news-reader morons are having a whale of a time yukking that up.) Thing is, while the media spun the window washing angle, the Russians performed much more important tasks including installing a new antenna, completing a detailed photographic survey of the ISS exterior, and  placing “gap spanners” on the hull of the station to help  ease crew member movement on future spacewalks.
B r e a k i n g  U p  I s  H a r d  T o  D o
Meanwhile, 37 million light years from Earth, spiral galaxy NGC 428 got its first close up NGC 428snapped by the Hubble Telescope this week.  A most refreshing fact-only story in Sci-News reports that the galaxy, first discovered by Sir William Herschel in 1786, has been banged up and warped as a result of a collision with another galaxy…which is our Milky Way’s eventual fate with the next-door Andromeda Galaxy about 4 billion years from now.  On a related note, a guy named Stu Parker in 2013 discovered a supernova occurring within NGC 428 from the Backyard Observatory Supernova Search in New Zealand. (Extra points for Earth-based astronomy!)
K e e p  L o w  E a r t h  O r b i t  B e a u t i f u l
micro cube satsNASA is taking more proposals for their Cubesat Satellite program, which allows anyone in the U.S. to launch their homemade micro sat from the space station.  Be advised: it has to be useful, advance the frontiers of space and humanity, and all the info gleaned from the tiny creations will be available to the public.  Right on cue, a New Zealand space company has developed an online booking agency to reserve a launch of any satellite into space.  Just what we need: more space junk….
W h e n  I t  R a i n s  I t  P o u r s
And speaking of “Incoming!”  The Perseid Meteor Shower was spectacular this year with Screen shot 2015-02-27 at 9.32.06 AMthe new moon politely cooperating by not being around.  From the ghost town of the New Idria Mercury Mine in California (pop. 3) – my home – it was spectacular.  During its peak on Tuesday and Wednesday, I counted three a minute – which promptly made my brother Oliver call me a “liar” since he was looking in a different direction.  The Perseids are the dust and gravel thrown off yearly by the Comet Swift-Tuttle.  The next major meteor shower is in November when the “Leonids” arrive for their yearly extravaganza, (As well as making a cameo appearance in the film “Contact,” there have been some historic years when the Leonids have turned into a meteor STORM, so pop an umbrella and don galoshes just in case!).
T h e  B i g  R I P
Oh, and by the way…. This story only merited a mention in Discovery News, and nothing but deafening silence in the lamebrain media.  But we thought you may want to know that scientists of the International Astronomical Union have announced at their yearly meeting in Hawaii that there is now further proof that our particular universe is dying.  Apparently, they have known since the 1990s that our cosmos was slowly fading, but a new survey that measured the wavelengths of 200,000 different galaxies – from the infrared to the ultraviolet – proves this universe is producing half as much energy as it did 2 billion years ago.  If it were announced on CNN, you can bet that the Doomsday preppers would move into high gear.  We better find a way to get to the next universe (or at least the way things are going on Earth, another planet).  Have a nice day!
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Birdcage Liner

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By Kate Woods – Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

I find it amazing that whenever outer space news sounds goofy, the mainstream media Screen shot 2015-08-09 at 1.50.18 PMjumps all over it for a cheap laugh. But try to find out what’s happening with the New Horizons spacecraft after the first ever Pluto flyby,  including new Pluto data and or information on the craft’s  continued trek to other spheres on the edge of the Kuiper Belt, and the silence is deafening. Look’s like 15 minutes of fame trumps decades of wonder.  It’s putrid. (Click here for the latest Pluto/New Horizons news!)

G a l a c t i c  H a p p y  H o u r
Last week’s reported space news was the most “wacky” I’ve seen in a while. Pouty glamor-puss news readers were tickled pink to report the story about how the Japanese whiskeyare going to send whiskey samples to the International Space Station (ISS) later this month to test how zero gravity affects the taste: they are counting on the booze to become more “mellow.” Not to be outdone, the European Space Agency (ESA) is sending “kamboucha” microbes” – the basis for an ancient European alcoholic elixir — to the ISS as well to see how those cultures fair.
Tee Hee!
B u s t y  M a r t i a n
But the most “highlarious” tidbit yet is the one about how a picture sent back from low Mars orbit reveals the figure of a mysterious cloaked woman – with really big breasts. The RT “news” website touted the headline: “’Space boobs:’ Alien woman with breasts’ watching Mars rover spotted by UFO lovers”.
Yuk yuk yuk yuk!
Oh, but for the days of the good old Face on Mars….Screen shot 2015-04-02 at 2.56.45 PM
O r b i t a l  D u c k  a n d  C o v e r
The more reputable BBC reports that space junk (orbital debris) has become routinely dangerous for not just our thousands of satellites but also for astronauts onboard ISS. Just last month the crew had to “shelter-in-place” once again for a piece of crap detached from a Russian satellite, speeding at 17,000 mph toward the station. It was too late to outmaneuver the debris, like they had to three times in 2014. They obviously came through it unscathed, but really, when are the engineers going to come up with a solution to clean up the neighborhood?
A s t e r o i d  H o o l i g a n s
And speaking of a “heads up”: NASA’s infrared space telescope NEOWISE has spotted a Screen shot 2015-08-09 at 2.03.12 PMrogue family of small asteroids that don’t flow with the traffic in the Asteroid Belt, but instead are taking a joy ride through the solar system’s equatorial plane. Scientists believe they are the resulting fragments of an impact some 700 million years ago, from the once larger asteroid Euphroysne. It’s not much skin off the mother asteroid’s backside since it’s still 156 miles wide. We’ll have to keep an eye on its problem children.
E T  P h o n e s  H o m e
Then there is the story about the English ham radio enthusiast who, after trying for a International_Space_Station_after_undocking_of_STS-132month, actually got an astronaut onboard SSI to respond to his call. Adrian Lane of Gloucestershire was astonished when he got through, and the crewmember told him the stars “look like diamonds.”
 W h e r e  t h e  B u f f a l o s  D r o n e
 And finally, NASA’s “Swamp Works” team at Kennedy is building flying drones to access drones on marshard-to-reach areas on Mars. They are called “Extreme Access Flyers,” run on water vapor or hydrogen jets, and can be refueled from a landed mothership. No word yet on when they will get to the Red Planet.

 

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