Meteor detonates over Russia, or This is why we need NASA

“After the flash, nothing happened for about three minutes. Then we rushed outdoors The door was made of glass, a shock wave made it hit us,” said Yekaterina Melikhova.

Later Friday, an asteroid known as the 2012 DA14 as due to come within 17,100 miles of Earth at 2:24 p.m. ET, a record close-approach for an asteroid this size.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.

“At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies” to shoot down meteors or asteroids, he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

We don’t have a way to stop planet-killers (although 2012 DB14 isn’t). Not that people don’t have good ideas, but most—if not all, still the most viable solutions—we can’t put into motion. We don’t have a heavy-lift space platform, because we retired the Shuttle.

And even still, the Shuttle wasn’t the most powerful, that title is still held by the Saturn rocket. The preeminent vehicle mankind has ever endeavored was the Saturn, which was designed with slide rulers.

A while back I read “Space Chronicles” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an interesting albeit somewhat repetitive collection of essays. Tyson makes four very strong arguments for why people should be willing to give a latte’s worth of money a year to NASA and why NASA needs to build a new heavy-lift platform.

  • We need to go to Mars. With people. If we ever expect to understand life, answer the question, “How did we get here?” it’ll be on Mars,
  • You can thank NASA for pretty much everything. All your Walkmans and airplanes and microwave ovens can trace a near-direct lineage to the space program, and if we want new science, we need to spend money on it
  • If an asteroid is out to get us, we can’t do jack about it. Russia is keenly aware of this today,
  • A fourth point I can’t ever remember. It was a while back, I read the book right when it came out.

Anyway, shit got real today, this is a stark reminder of how fragile things are. Hug a loved one today, we all got lucky for the trillionth time.

Features, Live » No Comments

Mars Rover Spots Metallic ‘Arm’ Sticking Out Of A Rock

tl;dr we welcome our Martian overlords

r 8441458081 9F48BAAB8B O large570 450x187 Mars Rover Spots Metallic Arm Sticking Out Of A Rock

That thing I was telling you about, it’s in the teddy suit.

@HuffPo:

You may remember the $2.5 billion Curiosity rover currently drilling rocks on the Red Planet already found strange shiny things and what was labelled a ‘Martian Flower’.

But if anything, this is even weirder.

An image posted by Nasa on 30 January and taken with the right Mastcam on Curiosity shows what appears to be a 0.5cm metal spoke protruding out of a rock.

The strange sight – which looks a bit like a robotic arm – was noticed by imaging editor Elisabetta Bonora from Italy.

Whatever it is looks shiny, casts a shadow on the rock below and looks different to the rock it emerges from.

Headlines, Know » No Comments

Two Danish men need only underground lair for supervillan trifecta.

Rocket 2011 5501 450x675 Two Danish men need only underground lair for supervillan trifecta.

Roooooooookeeeeeeeeeeetship! (img by Bo Tornvig)

Although it was the first meeting between Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, the submarine‘s creator, the duo emerged with a daring plan: to launch themselves into suborbital space using custom-built contraptions. And with that, Copenhagen Suborbitals was born.

Co-founders von Bengtson, an aerospace scientist and former NASA contractor, and Madsen, an entrepreneur and aerospace engineer, have a lot to be proud of since they founded their non-profit space program four years ago. In June 2011, for example, Copenhagen Suborbital’s army of volunteers successfully built, launched and recovered a 31-foot-tall rocket — the largest “amateur” launcher ever built — with a crash-test dummy tucked inside.

I seriously hate guys like these two. I bet they come off like total jerks every Monday morning. “Hey Peter, hey Kristian, how was your weekend?”

“Great, we launched our rocket from a barge in the ocean. I used my homemade submarine to keep the launch platform stable. Kristian here got to push the big red button. What did you do?”

“Finished watching season three of True Bl… Wait, you have a submarine?”

Assholes. Both of ‘em.

Know, Make » No Comments

SpaceX program finally launches James Doohan’s–Scotty’s–ashes into orbit

James Scotty Doohan 450x560 SpaceX program finally launches James Doohans–Scottys–ashes into orbit

"All right, you lovelies. Hold together." (img by sandrino)

The SpaceX program has demonstrated the abilities of the private sector, combined with some eccentric wealth, can succeed at literally the highest plane of exploration and scientific achievement since the dawn of man. Its Dragon spacecraft has gone into orbit where it will continue to test its maneuvering thrusters until it meets and berths with the International Space Station.

Just under 10 minutes after launch SpaceX announced Dragon successfully reached orbit. A few minutes later, loud cheers washed over SpaceX’s factory floor as Dragon successfully deployed its solar panels.

The Dragon receives power from batteries and the pair of solar arrays. The next big event will be the opening of the Guidance, Navigation and Control Bay door in two hours and 27 minutes after launch. When the door opens, it is the first step toward the rendezvous with the ISS, according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

“This is a key new feature for this mission, which basically exposes the Proximity Operations Sensors to space so we can see the ISS as we are approaching and allow us to get close enough to berth,” Shotwell explained in a press conference on May 19. “Our star trackers also get a view of space at this time, so this is a very critical operation”

While modern and impressive as this is, the whole ordeal is overshadowed by the completion of James Doohan’s final will and testament, which read that his ashes were to be launched into space. This SpaceX launch will be the third and finally successful attempt at sending Scotty’s remains into orbit. (more…)

Know, Live » No Comments