October 26, 2016
R e b e l W i t h o u t A C l u e
It’s now official. Presidential nominee Donald Trump has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to science and space exploration, but those who do are finally calling him out on it.
In an open letter published by Responsible Scientists , 375 prominent scientists from the National Academy of Science (including 30 Nobel Laureates) correctly said that Trump was in denial about global warming and that it is imperative the United States and every other nation on Earth start taking meaningful action to stop the hemorrhaging of green house gasses into the atmosphere.
And yet, Trump’s plan – as scantly written in his Space News questionnaire – is to “dump” Earth global warming monitoring/science (including the satellites) because “the jury is still out on the idea of global warming.” It clearly is not. As always, Trump sycophants – his babbling used car salesmen surrogates and his so-called advisers — are scrambling to translate what he really meant in their revisionist gas lighting. On Trump’s ignorant stands regarding space goals, two of his senior policy advisers, Peter Navarro and Robert Walker, think Trump’s plan to destroy all Earth monitoring science is just dandy! “Donald Trump would make sure NASA focuses ‘primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies,’” they say in a Space News commentary. (It is important to note that Space News has just endorsed Hillary Clinton for president because of her well thought out knowledge of space endeavors.)
We all know Trump is going to lose his bid for the Presidency, and I think he will be buried in a landslide. The problem is afterwards: if we manage to survive this election circus, obstructionist Republican congressmen may still retain a majority in the House, thanks to their gerrymandering of district borders on the state level (the real election rigging). Take a look at what is actually written into the Republican Party platform, as presented by Responsible Scientists:
Climate change is “not proven science.” It calls for pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, putting an end to incentives for renewable energy, and even eliminating the EPA, leaving environmental protection to the states. Fossil fuels would be prioritized. “We will do away with the Clean Power Plan altogether. The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.”
What Republicans don’t seem to realize is, first, there is no such thing as “clean coal.” That is still a pipe-dream theory, with no recent or past breakthroughs. Second, because of real advanced technologies, coal CEOs can replace thousands of men with one massive extractor. The industry itself, not “Hillary Clinton,” (as bat-crap crazy Trump keeps shoving down his supporters’ throats) has removed tens of thousands of jobs from their own quarries. The industry is not a job-maker, it’s a money-maker for its filthy rich owners, and a poisonous gas maker for the rest of us. But clean, sustainable green energy technologies are job-makers, as Clinton has detailed in her policy stands.
Also, did you know Trump owns stock in the controversial Dakota Pipeline that is up-heaving the sacred grounds of Native Americans? Wonder how much he owns of the Keystone Pipeline? Clearly it’s a conflict of interest.
And what really makes my pot boil is that few media outlets are calling him to task on this.
In fact, one thing everyone should be madder than a zika mosquito in a mannequin factory about is that during the three presidential debates, not one question was brought up about climate change by the moderators. Luckily, Clinton herself did talk about it numerous times, despite the constant interruptions by her moronic opponent. Don’t worry, friends. This, too, shall pass. – Kate Woods
C a r b o n C o c k y
Break out the balloons and party hats folks, for according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) the Earth has reached a new milestone in CO2 amounts and may not dip below these levels for “many generations” to come, reports the BBC. In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the WMO said that the 400 parts per million benchmark was reached globally for the first time in recorded history in 2015, and in the words of Jo Dee Messina, has the rearview mirror torn off and ain’t never lookin’ back. Ironically, while human-created emissions of CO2 had remained static between 2014 and 2105, the strong El Nino global weather pattern was responsible for the spike in the greenhouse gas amounts, specifically by creating drought conditions in the tropics that resulted in less CO2 absorbed by plants. and by spawning more fires in drier areas.
P r o p h e t s o f F u m e
And in the Don’t-Say-We-Didn’t-Warn you department, an early example of scientists making the connection between fossil fuel use and climate change has been unearthed and has reached platinum viral status on the internet. According to Quartz, an article published in 1912 by a New Zealand paper warns that burning 2 billion tons of coal a year (at that time) “tends to makes the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature,” adding that the “effect may be considerable in a few centuries.” As prescient as this may seem, Quartz in fact found even earlier stories going as far back as 1883 reporting that our appetite for carbon fuels may eventually bite us in the butt. In addition, there is abundant documentation that scientists throughout the 19th century were finding potential links between the Industrial Revolution’s love of coal and the destruction of our atmosphere, including studies produced in 1824, 1882 , and 1896.
M a r t i a n C h r o n i c l e s
Last Wednesday the European Space Agency’s “Schiaparelli” Mars lander (also known as ExoMars lander) smashed into the surface of our neighboring planet, effectively ending the rover’s odyssey before it began. ESA scientists believe the lander’s parachute jettisoned during a 50-second communications loss when the ExoMars was making a fiery descent towards the surface. In addition, they believe the bottom thrusters did not fire to slow the descent. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took photos of the tragedy after it landed hard and experts believe it exploded on impact.
The good news is that the ExoMars lander’s sister craft, the Trace Gas Orbiter, which traveled with the lander, is safely obtaining data in orbit around the planet.
Meanwhile, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter is discovering some spooky and enticing stuff on the Red Planet: it has already captured a Martian “night glow,” as it’s termed by hopeful ESA brains back on Earth. Also, since MAVEN has been up there for two years, it has found that water from Mars escapes into its atmosphere, quickly – when the planet is closest to the Sun – and then, of course, more slowly when the planet is furthest away.
P l a y i n g I t S a f e
Just two months after entering Jupiter’s orbit, NASA’s Juno craft is now in a shut-down “safe mode” while controllers sort out why its primary engine is malfunctioning. Juno was supposed to be placed into a tighter orbit around the gas giant last week, changing its orbital period from 53.4 days to 14. No word yet on how the hunt for glitches goes, but Galactic Sandbox will update our readers as we get more news.
O n T h e R o a d A g a i n
There’s been no break-downs or trouble reported for the scrappy New Horizons spacecraft, now zooming towards a mysterious red object in the faraway Kuiper Belt. After discovering what are believed to be actual clouds on the dwarf planet Pluto last week, New Horizons got underway toward a misshapen rock called MU69, and is scheduled to arrive there on January 1, 2017. MU69 is part of the massive Kuiper Belt, the circumstellar disk beyond Neptune and Pluto which is filled with icy bodies (a trillion comets), asteroids and other dwarf planets. MU69 is approximately 20 to 30 miles in diameter, and scientists believe its reddish hue has something to do with Tholin, a class of molecules that’s formed through the ultraviolet irradiation of simple organic compounds such as methane and ethane.
B a b y S t e p s
NASA has officially embraced the notion that good things come in small packages with the establishment this week of its Small Spacecraft Systems Virtual Institute (S3VI). Based at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the space agency’s newest “virtual” think tank will buddy-up with the expanding mini spacecraft community with the hopes of ushering in a golden age of innovation and high-tech opportunities. According to NASA, the new S3VI will give university students and industry professionals the chance to fly spacecraft ranging in size from a postage stamp to a refrigerator, depending on mission objectives. “The S3VI will provide the first one-stop shop for technical knowledge in the rapidly burgeoning small spacecraft technology fields,” said Jay Bookbinder, director of programs and projects at Ames. “This will result in more efficient development efforts, and enable smaller vendors to compete more effectively in this market,” he added.
T o o C l o s e T o C a l l
Researchers from the Laval University in Quebec have quickened the pulse of fellow scientists following the release of their study indicating that peculiar modulations in a small set of stars appear to be coming from extraterrestrial intelligence. “We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an [ET] signal predicted in [a] previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis,” write E. F. Bora and E. Trottier in their new paper. “The fact that [the pulses] are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis.” they add. While the two alien hunters find the discovery of 234 strangely-behaving stars out of 2.5 million observed to be compelling, they stress the need for further work using different equipment in order to deny or confirm their suspicions.
A l o n g C a m e A S p i d e r
Wishing our readers a happy and haunting Halloween (and Day of the Dead), we’d like to impart this gorgeous photo snapped by the illustrious Hubble Space Telescope of the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, 170,000 light-years away from Earth. But what makes this recent picture so grand is a new hot blue luminous star cluster called R136 found in the nebula’s center. The cluster contains hundreds of stars found by Hubble’s Imaging Spectrograph, which can dissect the area in the ultraviolet spectrum. Nine of these stars are considered “monsters” because they each have masses 100 times that of the Sun. The awe-inspiring cosmic nimbus has some 800,000 stars racing through it but many, up until now, have been obscured by massive veils of gas and thick dust. Boo!