Gone With the Windbags

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

GONE WITH THE WINDBAGS

September 28, 2015

By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

Even while the Times Square New Years Eve Ball drops toward Earth’s environmental Doomsday, Congressional Republicans aren’t even bothering to double-talk and whitewash their aversion to NASA’s earth monitoring space programs anymore.  They are outright voicing and voting their disdain for the health of our wheezing planet.

True to form, the Republican-heavy House Science, Space and TechnologyScreen shot 2015-09-27 at 3.33.43 PM Committee recently slashed $300 million from NASA’s Earth-science budget consisting mostly of weather and Earth-sensing satellites, in space.  Unfortunately, the GOP-laden committee, which has oversight on the EPA and NASA budgets, among others, is one of the few committees that Congressional peers actually heed.

NASA head administrator Charles Bolden, a former U.S. Marine Corps Major General and astronaut, indicated a controlled disgust in his response to the cuts: “NASA leads the world in the exploration of and study of planets, and none is more important than the one on which we live.”

In a press event this week, committee head Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, aged 67,  gushed lovingly about space exploration.  He wants to be an astronaut!  Isn’t that special?

Screen shot 2015-09-27 at 3.41.29 PM

Lamar Smith – If you don’t study climate change, it doesn’t exist.

When he was pinned down on his feelings about monitoring Earth’s changing environment, Smith finally blurted, “I don’t want to cut NASA, I don’t want to cut what we do in space, and that’s why I’m resisting the administration’s transferring funds from NASA to climate change! I want to keep NASA, NASA!”

In other words, don’t study it so you can continue to deny it.

It should also be noted that NASA’s written mission statement since the late 1950s includes exploring the environmental systems of our own planet for mankind’s welfare and to better understand our relation to the rest of the Universe.
Earth-science sat

Sadly, any proposal or satellite mission that might galvanize the overwhelming evidence proving the exponentially growing threat of global warming, or “climate change,” is program non grata now.  And whether climate change is caused by humans or is naturally cyclical, or both – it’s immaterial to them.  As far as these conservative, bought-out lawgivers are concerned, climate change doesn’t exist … especially since what they perceive as the  Earth-science Greenland“Muslim President Obama” pushed for Earth-science funding in NASA’s budget.  Whatever President Obama is for, they are against.  If Obama wanted them to not cut off their noses to spite their faces, they would snip their beaks off, pronto.

Not surprisingly,  Smith’s budding 2015-2016 re-election campaign has accrued, so far, $27,900 from a plethora of carbon-belching oil/fracking companies and $5,500 from lobbyists.

All Wet
Ironically, it just so happens NASA also announced this week that sea-level sea-level riserise due to global warming and Earth’s melting ice caps will eventually submerge Cape Canaveral and a myriad of NASA facilities into the oceans in as little as 35 years.

NASA’s Climate Adaptation Science Investigators (CASI) Working Group recently reported that the agency’s five coastal facilities can expect between five and 27 inches of sea-level rise by 2050. It also warned that the coastal flooding that usually occurs about once a decade in these areas will become more frequent. As for the San Francisco Bay/Ames Research Center area, it could become up to ten times more frequent.

In terms the GOP might understand, the future loss equals an estimated $32 BILLION and 60,000 jobs.  Maybe they’ll wipe the glee off their faces when they finally grasp what that means for their chances at re-election.

Cosmic College Bowl
HIAD heat shield Mars landerAnd while Congress also cut some funding for NASA’s Orion human mission to Mars – now bumped ahead to 2023 — the agency plans on using any resources they can scrounge.  NASA just put out a call to university and college science students to submit ideas for inflatable spacecraft heat shields for the Mars lander.  Students are to send in white papers by Nov. 15, after which NASA will divide those with winning concepts into three to five groups.  Each finalist team will be given $6,000 to develop their creations, and present their heat shields before a NASA panel at Langley in Hampton, Virginia, on April 16.

Go To the Head of the Class
ion space driveTrolling science students for their brains is proving to be a good move on NASA’s part.  University of Sydney PhD student Paddy Neumann recently came up with an ion space drive that blasts all of NASA’s fuel efficiency records to smithereens.

Like the rest of the world’s space agencies, NASA has been burning standard chemical propellants to move spacecraft since we started watching The Jetsons in the ‘60s.  Ion propulsion technology uses some of the same chemicals, but ionizes or electrically charges the gases.  We’re hoping Neumann’s findings will be applied to the Orion Mars Mission, yet we know that nuclear propellants are in the running.

NASA uses Xenon gas for its ion propulsion-driven craft, while Neumann uses a range of metals for his ion propulsion, including metal magnesium.  So far, Neumann’s system is way ahead of NASA’s in getting the biggest bang for the buck.

Wizards of Id
HI-SEAS IVAnother preparation for our Mars quest is the study of human psyches – including the abilities and limitations of our social graces – on extended space missions.  In a dejà-vu scenario of Biosphere 2, six scientists entered a self-contained (and much smaller) domed habitat on the slope of a dormant volcano in Hawaii on Aug. 23.  The mix of men and women will reside there, 8,000 feet above sea level, for a year, and whenever they step outside to gather rocks or fix a solar panel, they must wear the bulky spacesuits astronauts are expected to don on the surface of Mars.

The NASA-funded Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation habitat (HI-SEAS) is 993 square feet on the ground floor where they will exercise, cook, and conduct experiments, with a smaller upstairs to contain their personal spaces and sleeping quarters.  A former shipping container attached to the dome serves as a workshop.  Let’s hope ball ping hammers are not allowed in the habitat.

Crackpot House
tin foil houseTin Foil Hatter of The Month:  And the award goes to … (drum role) …  Arthur Brown of Pennsylvania, who wrapped his suburban house in tin foil and shines ‘round-the-clock spotlights from his porch in order to thwart the imminent extraterrestrial alien invasion. (Rim shot!)

Let’s ask his neighbors how much they appreciate Brown as a foil guyteam-member of the community:  “Who wants to buy my house?”  said a frustrated Nancy Raich, who lives across the street from Brown.  “A nice decent house, garages, acreage in Hermitage, a nice place to live, when this yahoo across the street decides he wants to shine lights on me?”

It gets better.  Raich recently learned that Brown now believes she and her husband are secret liaisons for the aliens, out to “foil” Brown.  How dastardly.

A judge ordered Brown to take down the lights and pay a $500 daily fine.  Brown refuses to comply and has chalked up more than $20,000 in penalties for breaking local public disturbance and “eyesore” laws. At least the aliens haven’t attacked yet.

Snowden

Edward Snowden

Lost in Translation
In the more credible pursuit of intelligent life outside the Earth, our signals sent to ET and our attempts to find a signal from them through the SETI program are getting screwed by high-tech encryption meddling, according to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.  The former National Security Agency employee is still living in asylum from U.S. prosecutors somewhere in Russia.

In a remotely podcasted StarTalk interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Snowden said that since tech companies and the NSA started encrypting communication signals, any message from ET would be indecipherable from background microwave radiation noise – and vice versa.  The only time signals were distinguishable and therefore, noticed, was in the early days of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence efforts, kicked off by Dr. Frank Drake in 1961 from West Bank, Virginia and continuing today at the Hat Creek installation in California.

It’s an interesting theory, considering the only and best candidate as a genuine signal from a distant planet, to date, is still the “Wow!” signal picked up in April, 1977, by SETI’s University of Ohio “Big Ear” radio telescope installation.

Snowden said humanity would not even realize it had received such communications today.

Always the optimist, a smiling deGrasse Tyson said to Snowden, “Only, if they have the same security problems as us.”

Monster Mash

black-hole-collisionTwo black holes are about to smash into each other in the constellation of Virgo, according to astronomers at Columbia University.  Their research concludes that a pulsating light emanated by the regurgitations of two black holes in the pulsar PG 1302-102 are indicating an imminent collision … about 100,000 years from now.  That is considered soon, in astronomical time.
Astronomers believe quasars, the brightest objects in the Universe, are powered by black holes.

This One’s Just Right
In more black hole news, scientists at NASA Goddard have discovered a third class black holenew class of these exotic light-gulping bodies.  Until now there were two kinds: stellar massive black holes about a dozen times the mass of our Sun, and supermassive black holes a million to several million times the size of our Sun (one of those big guys is looming at the center of the Milky Way right now,  and according to recent studies, is about to feed again on hapless nearby stars).

Now there’s a “mama bear” of black holes, a medium-sized one that is in the middle of the two others, about 5,000 times the mass of our Sun.

Galactic Sandbox readers will be treated soon* to a fascinating new world concerning these phenomena when we introduce “amateur” astronomer Tom Chargin and his absorbing new theories.  Believe me, this protégé of the late John Dobson is anything but amateur.  *Soon – in impatient human terms.  Seriously.

Basket Case
PongSatLaunch Alert!  A traditional Native American Indian basket will soon be launched to the edge of space.  I’m not kidding.  Young students of the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians’ Noli Indian School of San Jacinto, Calif. are teaming up with JP Aerospace to blast-off the basket.  The students’ teacher, Kim Marcus, wove the basket by hand and gave it the name “Tukmal Tuupayum,” a Luiseno term meaning “Basket to symbolize connecting the Heavens and Earth.”

Accompanying the basket will be 70 ping-pong balls.  I wish I were yanking your chain, but alas, I am not.  The students’ experiment is called PongSat, and each student gets to load their ping-pong ball with whatever they want: magnets, a Lucky Charms marshmallow, candy, seeds. One student, Poe Pacheco, put two pennies and a corn seed in his.  When he plants the corn seed on the payload’s return, he predicts, “I think when the corn grows, it will be weird.”  Yeah.

The launch is slated for Oct. 4.  JP Aerospace uses a small sounding rocket and a platform called the “Tandem AirShip” balanced between two balloons.

Show Stopper

space junk 1

Ring around the collar – Orbiting junk belt poses galactic threat to future space missions.

This last story is about low-Earth orbit space junk.  Again.  But now it seems the problem has jumped to what experts are calling “critical density,” which means if the problem of orbiting trash isn’t solved soon, space exploration missions (like the Orion Mars Mission) to far points in deep space will have to be scrubbed.

NASA scientist Donald Kessler led the agency’s Orbital Debris Program Office for 20 years, and recently retired.  But since the problem has reached critical mass, he came out of retirement to help NASA come up with a plan.  We hope.
space junk 2

Some 200 miles above Earth there are currently half a million pieces of man-made space trash – nuts, bolts, paint chips, parts of satellites – flying at 17,500 mph.  An estimated 23,000 of these chunks are the size of softballs, or larger.  This is treacherous for the crew onboard the International Space Station, not to mention lethal for satellites and other craft in geosynchronous orbit as well.  The clogged belt around the Earth gets compounded when the space junk flies into each another, causing yet more pieces of space junk to join the garbage belt.

For decades we have heard how the problem gets worse and worse, but no one is stepping forward with a solution – like how about some kind of orbiting garbage trawler, a cow-catching scooper … anything, please!  Now, a gaggle of companies want to get in on what they call the “Space Situational Awareness” (SSA) game.  These firms expect to cash in on the object tracking market for space companies, but no, not actually invent a way to remove the trash.  Oh the humanity.

*****

Galactic Sandbox Exclusive! Near-total through partial total Lunar Eclipse taken Sunday evening September 27 by Managing Editor Agnett Bonwit – Enjoy!

Screen shot 2015-09-27 at 10.16.32 PMScreen shot 2015-09-27 at 10.41.20 PMScreen shot 2015-09-27 at 10.39.36 PMScreen shot 2015-09-27 at 10.40.57 PM

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Springboarding into the Future

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

September 21, 2015

By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

H o b b y h o r s i c a l

crowd source launchIt seems everyone these days from rocket hobbyists to billionaires wants to make a splash in the commercial space race and blast people off the planet.  The latest impresarios to catch Galactic Sandbox’s eye is a group of resourceful people in Denmark – all with regular day jobs – who are “crowd sourcing” to launch a willing human on their home-built rocket by 2025.

“We’re 50 geeks building and flying our own rockets.  One of us will fly into space,” avows Copenhagen Suborbitals’ Internet homepage.  The federation of orbit-bound enthusiasts boldly bills itself as the world’s first amateur space program.

Founded in 2008, Copenhagen Suborbitals raises money for its non-profit rocket ventures Copenhagen Suborbitalsthrough online donations.  Comprised of 50 “civilian” space devotees, the group differs from all other rocket clubs in that its sights are set a bit higher.  With every blast-off accomplished, the association gets closer to putting one of us regular folks into orbit.  Suborbitals is also the first, and as of yet, only layperson rocket group that has launched an actively guided rocket.

Launch Alert! Copenhagen Suborbitals is slated to catapult its fifth rocket on Sept. 29 – from the middle of the Baltic Sea … and in international waters wherein they can’t be pinched for breaking any nation’s ground rules.

G a l a c t i c  B a c k p e d a l

Galactic Virgin

Galactic Virgin chief impresario Richard Branson

Meanwhile, various news stories indicate that Virgin Galactic – the first private outfit to get into the humans-in-space–for-money race – is downplaying its zeal to launch people, that is, tourists, into orbit.  Billionaire CEO Richard Branson announced last week that his company is focusing, at this time, on the satellite business.  In fact, when he or any other sound-piece for Virgin Galactic is asked when they will try for another human launch, the answer is vague and flip:  “Who knows?” or “It’ll be ready when it’s ready.”

fatal GV test flight

Tragic Virgin Atlantic crash

Granted, putting a person safely in space is not an easy quest, as Branson knows all too well.  Only ten months ago Virgin’s first try ended in a fatal disaster when pilot Michael Alsbury, 39, perished in the Mojave Desert.

The tragedy was a blow to the gut for Virgin, and their tourist-in-space sign-ups dropped from 750 to 700.  But celebrity ticket-holders still include the likes of Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet and Stephen Hawking – all whom have paid $250,000 for a seat going 62 miles up to the edge of space (or forever), riding a vessel called SpaceShipTwo.

B l u e  L i g h t  S p e c i a l

In Austin, Texas, yet another space-age Steve Jobs hopeful is hawking low-Earth orbit, but for a mere $150.  For the cost of a weather balloon, a cheap camera, a Styrofoam box and Spacehacka cheap device that controls other cheap devices, anyone, says Ariel Waldman of Spacehack.org, can put presumably whatever they want into suborbit … much like the Swedish lads did with their pink glazed donut last April (See Cosmic Debris “Launch Box” in the pull-down menu above).  Waldman’s non-profit organization provides access and support to many branches of what she calls “citizen science,” and the website is intriguing.  She also works for NASA, organizing their social networking projects.

G r e a t  B a l l s  o f  F i r e

Heads up!  The next time you thrill upon observing a “shooting star,” you best cast a wary eye in the night sky for any signs of the International Space Station.  To mark the halfway mark in astronaut Scott Kelly’s one year in space, NASA put out a whimsical poster Scott Kelly's body in spacedescribing the effects of space on Kelly’s body.  Naturally, the item that grabbed all the media hacks’ imaginations was about what happens to the astronauts’ fecal matter on the station.  It is sucked outside, where it heads for the Earth’s atmosphere in a blazing trajectory on its way to the ground, much like that of a shooting star.  Of course, a “real” shooting star is a meteorite– a rock, a pebble, a grain of sand or even a smidge of dust – that leaves a trail of burning super-heated air and gas and embers behind it as we watch it from the planet’s surface.

shooting star (Langkawi Ink)

Crapshoot?

In 2009, the ISS executed a particularly massive latrine dump, which prompted many citizens to report a “mysterious glow in the sky.”  Enchanting!

The instructive poster claims Kelly will produce 180 pounds of feces during his year in space, and that it will “burn up in the atmosphere and look like shooting stars.  Your feces will not look like shooting stars.”  Seriously.

 

C o s m o n a u t  H i t s  H i g h  S p o t

cosmonaut

Space travel king Gennady Padalka takes victory lap sitting down

And while Kelly and others remain in the confines of the ISS, three of their Russian crew mates landed back in their motherland last week aboard the Russian’s warhorse Soviet Soyuz vehicle.  One of the space travelers, Gennady Padalka, has broken all records for longest time spent in orbit … not consecutively, but with his last stint of 168 days on the station, Padalka has a total of 879 space days under his belt.  Padalka breaks cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev’s 2005 record by two months.

W e ‘ r e  N o t  i n  K a n s a s  A n y m o r e

solar tornado

Solar twister

That space station gets around.  Typical space nerd yak this month (besides disposal of SSI_Sun photo bombspace poop, I suppose) includes how the ISS photo-bombed the Sun, with terrestrial telescope photos to prove it.  A week after the transit, the Sun showed its wrath by giving off a monstrous solar tornado (which luckily (by chance?) was documented by the space station crew), and then a few days later both the Moon and the Earth countered by eclipsing the gas ball simultaneously.

The solar “tornado” was actually a leaping mass SDO-Double-Eclipseof plasma that swirled over the course of 40 hours.  I don’t think Dorothy and Toto could have ridden that bronco to Oz.

 

N A S A  M a y  G e t  F e e t  W e t  o n  E u r o p a

Europa cutaway

Europa cutaway

NASA may be changing the name and nature of its planned Europa Multiple Flyby Mission.  Recently, the agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA, began looking into what it would take to include a lander for the Jovian moon mission slated for 2025.  This news was announced at the annual conference of  AIAA’s (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) last week – undoubtedly causing the stingy-fisted Republicans in the audience to chew up the glass rims of their goblets filled with boxed wine.

A lander on Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, would reveal an ocean twice as deep as Earth’s Mariana Trench (which is 7 miles deep, or 11 kilometers), a sea that touches the moon’s rocky mantle and which co-evolved with the solar system for 4.5 million years.  Scientists believe there could be chemical reactions in Europa’s ocean that may have led to life as it did here on Earth.

S n o o z e  T u b e

Old NASA TV

Zzzzzz: Old NASA cable channel

Remember the static, absurdly boring old NASA TV Channel?  It usually showed either a world map with a plastic space shuttle model moving creakingly slow over it or an empty Houston control room with one lone space nerd eating a Hostess pink coconut snowball behind a console.  Watching it made one feel like they were turning into an ossified skeleton while waiting for their order in an old Howard Johnson’s restaurant.

Now, In an effort to boost its low entertainment IQ, NASA says it is partnering with Harmonic, a worldwide video delivery company, to offer a new channel to North America — this time in Ultra-High Definition (UHD) – by Nov. 1.  The station will be based at NASA Marshall in Alabama, and have live feeds from the ISS and other space missions.  It will also be available for Internet streaming.  Sounds like finally we, the audience, will be enjoying pink snowballs while watching panoramic views from the space station portals.

C a p t a i n  K i r k  o f  I n d u s t r y

jeff-bezos-blue-originExtra! Extra! Now back to the private sector’s space race: Blue Origin is the newest kid on the block to take on Virgin Galactic and SpaceX – not to mention citizen groups like Copenhagen Suborbitals – with their bid to get paying homo sapiens into space.  And yes, another billionaire, Blue Origin’s president Jeff Bezos (and CEO of Amazon.com), announced his space company will build and launch a reusable vehicle from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  The company’s goal is to ferry astronauts and supplies into orbit as well as land back on Earth horizontally like the space shuttle did.

Bezos and his colleagues call their new launch vehicle the Very Big Brother (Blue Origin)slightly disturbing name “Very Big Brother,” and until now, have been operating suborbital launches from West Texas since 2000.  They hope to launch “Brother” by 2020.

 

 

R e s t o r a t i o n  H a r d w a r e

Stanford University science students got the surprise of their lives when a hiker in Arizona called to say she found the suborbital video footage of the group’s helium balloon launch they thought was lost forever two years ago.

Grand Canyon lost footage

Grand view of Grand Canyon

Launched in June of 2013, the experiment to test fluid lensing was armed with two GoPro cameras, a phone with a GPS unit inside, and luckily, the students’ contact info.  The balloon floated over the desert north of Tuba City, Arizona, and reached a suborbital 30 km in just 90 minutes before it went kablooey.  The students intended to retrieve the gizmo with a smartphone app, which was supposed to text the coordinates to them as the experiment floated back to Earth on a parachute … but they saw nothing on their phone screen.

It turns out the cameras captured stunning video of the Grand Canyon from the edge of space, but the footage languished in the desert for two years before hiker Pearl Tsosie (ironically, an AT&T employee) came across it.  Stanford student Bryan Chan has proudly posted the footage, and the tale, online.

P l a n e t  o f  t h e  A p e

Not to be left in the dust, North Korea’s chubby megalomaniacal Highest Imperial Ruler, Kim Jong Un, is blustering that he is now able to graduate from helium balloons to big loud rockets too!Screen shot 2015-09-20 at 8.06.10 PM

The psychopath’s Minister of Defense (who refused to use his name in the press release) claims his big daddy Jong will be firing off a fleet of  “weather satellites” any day now.  Really.  Any day now.

The military yes-man boasted the upcoming launch as one of his nation’s “many shining achievements” in aerospace technology.  Back in reality, the United Nations has forbidden North Korea from launching anything bigger than a bottle rocket.

 

P h o t o  F i n i s h

Pluto hexagons

Hexing problem: Mysterious shapes on Pluto (craters located at  bottom center and lower left)?

Pluto pix are in!  NASA has just released the latest photos taken by the New Horizons spacecraft which left Pluto’s orbit two months ago and is on its way further out to the inner Kuiper Belt of asteroids.

My brother, known as Professor Kemp of New Idria, said – after close examination of the new Pluto images – that he sees hexagons on the surface.  Clear and sharp hexagonal features.  Let us know what you think!

 

 *  *  *

Coming Soon!  World Space Week will be celebrated from Kalamazoo to the outer reaches of “SpARCS1049+56″ from October 4 through the 10th.World Space Week poster

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Planetary Paddycake

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

P l a n e t a r y  P a d d y c a k e

Screen shot 2015-09-03 at 9.44.52 PMAfter that appetizing story, let’s have dessert!  Australian baker “Rhiannon” who runs a remarkable pastry blog, has offered a tutorial on how to build her latest invention, “Planet Cakes. “ The spherical confections are uncannily realistic models of the real deals, and have fairly accurate core layers once you cut into them.  Galactic Sandbox would truly like to see one done in Saturn’s likeness, but Saturn or no, we salute the talented Jupiter cakeRhiannon for her knowledge in Zoology and “fierce passion for wildlife conservation “– and her wondrous creations that make us want to move to Australia.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

X Marks the Spot

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

September 14, 2015

By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

M u s k y  S m e l l

There is a slew of news stories this week about Space X – and not all of them are roses and lollipops.  Let’s begin with the good stuff.

Space Dragon interior

Dragon capsule interior

Space X, the private sector company that NASA expects will come up with a new manned transport system to replace the space shuttle (Boeing is in the running as well), has just revealed photos of the interior of it’s “Dragon” space capsule.  This fire-breathing hybrid rocket holds seven astronauts and is expected to blast off to the space station – a job now overburdening the Soviet Soyuz craft – by 2016.  The décor, I would say, is a minimalist theme – and it looks quite cramped considering seven people in bulky suits would be rubbing elbows.  However, low-Earth orbit is achievable quickly, thank the stars.

But apparently, Space X won’t allow even the most stringent accommodations for the 26 residents of a south Texas beach hamlet called Boca Chica.  It was there that Space X CEO Elon Musk decided to build his rocket launch facility, and where he promised the inhabitants $15 million in “incentives” (no one seems to know what they are, exactly) and to put the town “on the map.”

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 12.03.41 PM

Boca Chica Beach

So far, the only “perks” include Space X forcing residents to “register” with the county, and during launch window times (to occur once a month in 2016) requiring locals to wear identification badges throughout the 15-hour launch frames, restricting access everywhere and closing the town’s public beach.  If someone happens to be buying groceries during the launch window, they have to remain in the Winn Dixie for 15 hours. … perhaps reading The Enquirer and scarfing Twinkies to bide the time.

Cheryl Thompson

Boca Chica resident Cheryl Thompson plans peaceful protest during Space Xs first launch.

Space X plans to enforce these rules with video surveillance and drones buzzing above the local beach. “It’s like Nazi Germany,” said resident Cheryl Thompson.  Thompson, 55, settled in Boca Chica ten years ago in search of solitude and the quiet rustic beauty the beach village offered.  She plans to hold a sit-in on the beach during the first launch to show civil disobedience against Space X.

Space X has already bought one home in Boca Chica, presumably for “public meetings.”  And now, one Space X groupie has enquired about buying any other available house in the village for launch parties, where he wants to build a “tiki bar.”  Residents fear their homes will be next under Space X “eminent domain.”

K e e p i n g  U p  W i t h  t h e  J o n e s e s

Starliner crew digsThe same time Space X was flaunting the interior of its Dragon shuttle, Boeing entertained a grand opening of their new “Starliner” space taxi facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  NASA wonks were on hand to praise Starliner as “the next spaceship destined to launch our astronauts,” in lieu of the defunct space shuttle.  The Starliner should be good to go by mid-2017 to carry a crew of four to the ISS – if all goes well and IF Congress approves funding for it.  Unlike Space X, Boeing depends on NASA (whose allowance is dependent on the hangover of any given congressional politician on any bad day) to help with the bills.  One thing is for sure.  The Starliner digs look a lot roomier than the Dragon Crew capsule.  Pictured is just the upper half of Boeing’s space “cab.”

1 0 0 – W a t t  I d e a

ABS all electric sat by BoeingBoeing grew another feather on its space helmet when the first all-electric satellite reached its geostationary orbit this week – one month ahead of schedule.  The ABS telecommunications sat is part of the SatMex fleet that was bought by Eutelsat.  The fleet will provide services to the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East – essentially the entire world except Russia, Australia, and the Polar Regions.

Electric sats are not in favor because they take six months to reach their orbits, as they are not equipped with the conventional jet thrusters sported by competing propellant-fueled birds.  But since ABS got to its destination earlier than expected, minds may change.  Their advantage is that they weigh much less, cutting launch costs and allowing room for a double-sat blast-off.  Space X’s Falcon rocket launched this one five months ago.

M o b y  D i c k  a n d  o t h e r  N A S A  T a l e s

Comet Hitchhiker

NASA’s Comet Hitchhiker

NASA is developing the idea of harpooning comets and grabbing free rides with the Comet Hitchhiker project.  Now that the Rosetta spacecraft successfully did just that earlier this year, hopefully we will see more of this concept manifested.

But with the good must be mentioned the lousy.  This week NASA’s specialized satellite, SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive), stopped communicating only two months after it hit orbit and started sending info about how soil water depletion, carbon, and energy cycles are linked to improve weather forecasts and crop-yield predictions, among other things.  Since the spacecraft would obviously galvanize earth scientists’ predictions and declared causes of accelerated global warming (it’s humans, believe me), Republican politicians are thrilled it went kaputnik. [Look at anything but the Earth — any planetary system will do, let’s say Jupiter’s moons … [See The Weekly Revolution, August 31, “It’s a Small World After All.”]) Unfortunately, NASA says they fear the SMAP has had it.

Screen shot 2015-09-13 at 8.31.00 PMEDITOR”S UPDATE – Way Out-of-Towner:  Perhaps more importantly, the staff at Galactic Sandbox is thrilled to announce Writer-At-Large Kate Woods got a Mars InSight spacecraft “boarding pass” for a greatly needed and deserved extended vacation.  (See The Weekly Revolution, September 7, “Not So Pleasant under Glass”). Bon Voyage, Kate!  – Agnett Bonwit

T o n g u e – T i e d

MassiveClusterofGalaxiesPhoto Flash:  The Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have zoomed in on a new cluster of galaxies.  Guess what they named it?  It’s something that’s really easy to remember and say, and captures the essence of this find so eloquently: “SpARCS1049+56.”

I wish I were yanking your chain.  But I’m not, sadly.  WHO the HELL comes up with this idiocy??

At any rate, the new discovery suggests that massive galaxies lying at the core of galaxy clusters feed off the gas of nearby galaxies.  Normally, stars found at galaxy centers are ancient and fossilized, say the star experts.  But the centralized galaxy of “SpARCS1049+56” is a stellar nursery, churning out 860 baby stars a year.  The roll-off-your tongue enunciated “SpARCS1049+56” cluster has 27 galaxy members, is located 9.8 billion light years away and resides in the Ursa Major constellation.

C e r e s  M y s t e r y  B u r n s  B r i g h t e r

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 8.54.01 AM

Ceres leaves the lights on for NASA

Speaking of Rosetta, the Dawn spacecraft has taken brand new pix of the original dwarf planet Ceres, residing in the Asteroid Belt.  (Dawn reports back to its mother craft Rosetta, perched on a comet at the moment.)  Once again, Dawn clapped eyes on those mysterious lights emanating from Occator Crater some 4 km deep from the surface of Ceres – this time in higher resolution.

In February, NASA explained that the “lights” UFO fanatics drooled about were merely ice refractions.  But now scientists, those working for NASA included, say the spectrum numbers for reflections off ice do not match up with the math.  In other words, the lights are not reflections from crater ice.

It caused the well regarded website Science Alert to write the subhead: “WTF is happening on Ceres?” As the truly obscene Fox News Corporation would say, “You decide!”

 

G l a m o u r  S h o t s

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 10.16.33 AMNot to be outdone, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has beamed fresh close-ups of our solar system’s original ice queen, Pluto, taken during the probe’s planetary fly-by last July. Stay tuned for next week’s  Revolution for details! In the meantime, join NASA in salavating over the latest images:

R i d e r  o n  t h e  S t o r m

puppies 4

Beneficiaries of past Solar Maximum

And finally, this week a publication called Top Secret Writers gave us a feature on how space weather affects humans.  We all know how the full moon affects the frontal lobe, according to some cops who know that city violence goes on the rise during those times of the month.  According to The Huffington Post, a Norwegian study concluded that people born during the solar maximum, when the Sun is at its most belligerent, live shorter lives.  Yeah, it has to be hogwash.  Moreover, women born during solar maximums tend to be less fertile.  Ahhh so!  Now I know why I have no spawn and keep dressing up my Chi-wiener dogs!

Wave X

Wave X bathes Earth in Good Vibrations

And now some space weather “expert” is claiming that we should be afraid, very afraid, of Wave X.  Or have our arms and minds open in welcome.  Simon Atkins says that Wave X is an “electromagnetic frequency” that is speeding at us from the center of the galaxy, and due to bathe us in psychic energy sometime this month.  The specific mind living in the center of the Milky Way from where the psychic murmurings sprout is not explained.  Nor does Atkins outright claim Wave X is a planet-killing gamma ray burst (and frankly, I don’t believe he knows what one is.)
Wave X will make all of us who are spiritually in tune with the “wave” become more psychic!  Fabulous!  I’d love to eavesdrop on my brother Oliver’s mind while he is computing how many minutes of his life he spent opening and closing doors.  He does that sort of thing for fun, seriously.  He’s a genius.

Atkins describes himself as “a climate economist, disaster risk forecaster, doctor of ‘bioelectromagnetics’ and natural health, a corporate strategist in planetary and solar threats on business continuity  [Hey jobseekers! I hear that field is wide open!], a scientific truth advocate, and a spiritual pacifist.”  I think his self-portrayal says it all. You decide! – (I have.)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Not So Pleasant Under Glass

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

By Kate Woods, Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

September 7, 2015

B u r s t i n g  t h e  B u b b l e

Screen shot 2015-09-05 at 6.55.40 PM

Biosphere 2

Imagine being cooped up for two years with seven other murderously ambitious self-seekers – just like you – in a supposedly self-sustaining, completely sealed bubble.  A hideous thought… but it did happen and for a good cause.  In 1991 the pioneers of Biosphere 2 walked into an artificial environment built in the Arizona desert designed to test human endurance of seclusion – and of their other fellow inmates — on a future extended trip to Mars.  They emerged two years later yearning to go after one another with ball-peen hammers, yet stoically remained grim and tight-lipped for publicity’s sake.  But humans don’t keep secrets well.

Balloon hung capsule

World View’s balloon-hung observation capsule

U.K. citizen Jane Poytner, one of the four women who participated in that hellish trial of fear and loathing, survived the experience and 22 years later has now formed her own space tourist company: World View.  Poytner and her husband, fellow Biosphere researcher and company co-founder Tab MacCallum, announced this week they plan to launch space tourists up 19 miles (just below low Earth orbit) for two-hour excursions.  The first “hayride” is slated to blast off in less than 18 months, giving fellow Brit and competitor Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic something to worry about.

World View clients will not float in zero gravity but instead sit in a pressurized capsule suspended by a massive balloon, sip cocktails, drift in sub-space at about 11 mph, and ooh and ahh at the view – only after they pony up 47,000 pounds (roughly $79,300).  That price is merely one-third the price a Virgin Galactic space tourist will pay for going up 62 miles into zero gravity.

After having lived the unholy side of potential outer space discomfort, Poytner could well be the best qualified on Earth to envision what the sublime side could be like.  Astonishingly, Poytner and MacCallum are still married.

M U 6 9  o r  B u s t

2014 MU69A more significant bulletin comes from the scientists at NASA JPL in Pasadena, CA.  They have chosen the next target for the New Horizons spacecraft, after its unprecedented rendezvous with the “dwarf” planet Pluto, the farthest flung member of our solar system.

In 2019, the spacecraft will catch up to a frozen body known as 2014 MU69, an ice clod smaller than Pluto (which has one foot in our planetary solar system and another in the Kuiper Belt).  MU69 is located further inside the belt, which is made up of leftover debris from the earliest days of our solar system.

U n c o m m o n  U n i v e r s e

Planet made of fiery ice

Planet made of fiery ice.

A very cool website called list25.com has posted “25 Strangest Things Found in Outer Space.”  Accompanied by a video, the list includes truly bizarre entities, like “a water reservoir” – a vast cloud of H2O gas carrying 140 trillion times the water Earth has in its oceans; an object called Gliese 436 b – a planet of burning ice (known as “hot ice”) and which doesn’t evaporate; and everyone’s old-time favorite, a planet known as 55 Cancri e, made entirely out of diamond and at least four times more massive than the Earth.  Get out your pick and shovel!

T i c k e t  t o  R i d e

insight-send-your-name-marsRED ALERT!  Tomorrow, Sept. 8, is the deadline to submit your name to NASA and get it etched on the deck platform of the InSight Mars lander.  InSight will blast off next February and land seven months later on Mars in 2016.  The lander will study the inner core of Mars with specialized sensing instruments, and will tell scientists about the early history of all rocky planets, including Earth.  NASA invited the world to do this with the Orion mission to an asteroid last year, and received 1.3 million names that were etched on a microchip.  Should any alien tinkerer pull the gizmos apart to see how they work …Voila!  Your name will be there and the Martians will think you are one of 1.3 million emperors of Earth.

You can fill out your “Mars boarding pass” here (but not after Sept. 8!).

B e a m  m e  u p ,  W h o e v e r

NASA-footage-unexplained-beams-light-towards-Earth-2I have to draw attention to this recent UFO “newsflash”  – not because it’s any different from the daily fodder reported by UFO/ET reporting websites, but because of its source.  Stories of unexplained beams of light hitting Earth from an alleged alien spacecraft have caught the attention of the Maine News – and if any news source in the nation could be held as factual and objective, it would be a newspaper in Maine, believe me.

A YouTube user called “StreetCap 1” posted corny, blurry “footage,” which he claims was originally shot by the crew in the space station.  It shows two beams of light coming from a “mothership” pointed toward Earth, but it is short in duration because NASA abruptly cut off the feed, reported the Maine News.  And of course, NASA has not offered any explanation regarding the matter.  It is one of many such “light beam” UFO videos caught by space enthusiasts in the last year.

(Editor’s Note: Managing Editor Agnett Bonwit of the Sandbox said of the “footage,” “Kate, it looks pathetically fake to me.”)

C e l e s t i a l  S e a s o n i n g s

Before you succumb to some type of radiation poisoning that came from an inexplicable moon gazing (by Elysium Space)light beam from the sky, make sure your affairs are in order, including your funeral!  Now you can book a memorial service with Elysium Space, a private funerary company in Calif.  They’ve teamed up with a Pennsylvania-based launch company, Astrobotic Technologies, to take engraved containers of human ashes to the Moon and drop them in a pit on the lunar surface.  Surviving loved ones are invited to view the launch and receive a certificate assessing the completion of the lunar landing.  The first “passengers” are expected to blast-off in Dec. 2016.

Elysium also offers two additional “tribute” packages: your loved one can light up the sky with the “shooting star” memorial (only $1990); or your departed saint can travel to infinity and beyond via the “Milky Way” memorial with a one-way ticket exiting the Solar System (according to Elysium, coming soon).

P l a n e t a r y  P a d d y c a k e

Screen shot 2015-09-03 at 9.44.52 PMAfter that appetizing story, let’s have dessert!  Australian baker “Rhiannon” who runs a remarkable pastry blog, has offered a tutorial on how to build her latest invention, “Planet Cakes. “ The spherical confections are uncannily realistic models of the real deals, and have fairly accurate core layers once you cut into them.  Galactic Sandbox would truly like to see one done in Saturn’s likeness, but Saturn or no, we salute the talented Jupiter cakeRhiannon for her knowledge in Zoology and “fierce passion for wildlife conservation “– and her wondrous creations that make us want to move to Australia.

O c e a n  V i e w  G u m b o

And now from the inspiring to the disquieting.  Last week NASA announced the latest numbers in sea level rise: 3 millimeters a year (or 0.13 inches a year) – but let’s remember, scientists always lowball predictions that involve global warming because they don’t want to get fired or lose their government-sourced funding.  They’ve done it for years and end up saying contrite crap like, “Gee, we underestimated the rate again.  Swim as fast as you can to the crumbling shore!”

That low-ball estimate means seaside residents will witness a three feet inundation of sea rise in … 100 years?  Try more like 30 years.

Jindal, what me worry(meme by Bayou Buzz.comAnd as usual, despite the in-your-face indisputable mathematics, politicians whose hands are freshly greased from the greenhouse gas belching Big Oil/Fracking and Big Coal industries go nut-up when terms like “global warming” are used.  Such is the case of Louisiana Governor and Republican presidential contender Bobby Jindal, when he sent a letter to President Obama earlier in August just before Obama’s visit to New Orleans for the tenth anniversary of the Katrina disaster.  In the letter, Jindal begged Obama to not use the term “climate change” in his public addresses, since that’s just a hoax, y’all know.  “There is a time and a place for politics, but this is not it,” Jindal wrote.

Huh??  Who’s blathering politics?  We’re talking science…. Melting glaciers, a shrinking Greenland, a massive fresh water dump into the seas that eventually could halt the ocean’s weather-policing warm water conveyor belt.  Oh, that’s right.  Science is a hoax too, according to the GOP lawgivers.

Luckily, Obama ignored the “advice,” and gave an impressive speech about the urgent sea level mapneed to address global warming.  NASA, in its report, also mentioned that Louisiana’s “Master Plan” for reinforcing the state levee system, particularly in New Orleans, is woefully inadequate … especially for what’s to come.

To sign a petition to save Louisiana’s landscape and to fight climate change causing sea level to rise, go to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/625/124/077/save-louisiana-landscape-fight-climate-change-that-causes-sea-levels-to-rise/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Ocean View Gumbo

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

O c e a n  V i e w  G u m b o

by Kate Woods – Galactic Sandbox Writer-At-Large

And now from the inspiring to the disquieting.  Last week NASA announced the latest numbers in sea level rise: 3 millimeters a year (or 0.13 inches a year) – but let’s remember, scientists always lowball predictions that involve global warming because they don’t want to get fired or lose their government-sourced funding.  They’ve done it for years and end up saying contrite crap like, “Gee, we underestimated the rate again.  Swim as fast as you can to the crumbling shore!”

That low-ball estimate means seaside residents will witness a three feet inundation of sea rise in … 100 years?  Try more like 30 years.

Jindal, what me worry(meme by Bayou Buzz.comAnd as usual, despite the in-your-face indisputable mathematics, politicians whose hands are freshly greased from the greenhouse gas belching Big Oil/Fracking and Big Coal industries go nut-up when terms like “global warming” are used.  Such is the case of Louisiana Governor and Republican presidential contender Bobby Jindal, when he sent a letter to President Obama earlier in August just before Obama’s visit to New Orleans for the tenth anniversary of the Katrina disaster.  In the letter, Jindal begged Obama to not use the term “climate change” in his public addresses, since that’s just a hoax, y’all know.  “There is a time and a place for politics, but this is not it,” Jindal wrote.

Huh??  Who’s blathering politics?  We’re talking science…. Melting glaciers, a shrinking Greenland, a massive fresh water dump into the seas that eventually could halt the ocean’s weather-policing warm water conveyor belt.  Oh, that’s right.  Science is a hoax too, according to the GOP lawgivers.

Luckily, Obama ignored the “advice,” and gave an impressive speech about the urgent sea level mapneed to address global warming.  NASA, in its report, also mentioned that Louisiana’s “Master Plan” for reinforcing the state levee system, particularly in New Orleans, is woefully inadequate … especially for what’s to come.

To sign a petition to save Louisiana’s landscape and to fight climate change causing sea level to rise, go to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/625/124/077/save-louisiana-landscape-fight-climate-change-that-causes-sea-levels-to-rise/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+