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Comment: Re:Republicans and their unhealthy space obscessio (Score 1) 110

by virtual_mps (#49728587) Attached to: Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

Rarely does NASA invent the basic technology behind the sensor these days. Usually the hard part is making it work reliably in space and then *doing something useful with the data*. Right now there's a NASA research effort for detecting lightning with space-based sensors. Making that work *in daylight* was hard, but it's working pretty well now. A few years down the road that technology should be added to a NOAA platform, because the lightning frequency information is very valuable in predicting tornado activity and other severe storms. That's the way the pipeline works; the NOAA platforms are operational, and you don't get time on one of them to experiment with new stuff, but NASA sends up research missions with experimental sensor payloads all the time. Could NOAA turn into that R&D entity? Again, why?

Comment: Re:Republicans and their unhealthy space obscessio (Score 1) 110

by virtual_mps (#49728351) Attached to: Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

You do also realize that the sensors on the NOAA satellites are the output of NASA R&D, right? Yeah, NOAA (in collaboration with researchers at NASA & other institutions) developed and runs the models. But the input for the models comes from sensors on satellites which would not exist without the NASA space research mission. Is it possible that such systems could have been developed in an alternate reality without NASA? Sure, but also maybe not. Could future developments be made without NASA? Maybe, but why would you screw up something that works because it might also work a different way? You could develop the capabilities internal to NOAA, but there's no clear reason why that would be better and cheaper than leveraging capabilities at NASA which are amortized across a greater number of programs.

Comment: Re:EM drive? (Score 1) 110

by virtual_mps (#49724659) Attached to: Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

One possibility is that DoD was planning to fly anyway and offered NASA some payload capacity because they were interested in the results of that program. There are almost always more experiments queued up than there is funding to run them, so people are always looking to scrounge unused capacity--especially for small experiments that aren't funded for their own vehicle. Capacity for long-duration missions on ISS is especially tight because of the recent launch failures.

Comment: Re:Republicans and their unhealthy space obscessio (Score 2) 110

by virtual_mps (#49724645) Attached to: Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

Weather? That's NOAA, not NASA. Yes, 4 letters and starts with "N" and they both do stuff in space, but that's about the limit of similarity. Oh, and the US DOD has their own weather bureau as well--what better way to waste lots of money than duplicating the functions of a "civilian" agency?

NASA designs, builds, and launches the NOAA satellites. NOAA manages the satellites once they're in orbit and is responsible for the data collection and analysis. NASA does support the operations. DoD flubbed their most recent weather satellite program (DWSS) and they're also now using data from the NASA-built NOAA weather satellites.

GPS? That's the US Air Force, just like the X-37B, not NASA.

The GPS program is entirely DoD, but it does use some NASA support systems.

Comment: Re:Republicans and their unhealthy space obscessio (Score 5, Informative) 110

by virtual_mps (#49724635) Attached to: Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

Weather forecasts are handled by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA - I love that acronym for a weather agency!), who operate their own birds (though a few were launched by NASA).

NASA provides the design, launch, and project management for the NOAA satellites up until they are in orbit at which point the operations is turned over to NOAA. The last system they tried to launch with a reduced role for NASA was NPOESS--which was a complete failure. (Not all of which was NOAA's fault, it was a horrible idea that tried to merge NOAA & DOD requirements, but the reality is that there was no more appetite for NOAA to try to take on tasks that were being handled well by NASA and the successor project, JPSS, returned to the historic model of NASA program management driven by NOAA requirements.)

Comment: Re:This is possibly the dumbest things I've seen.. (Score 1) 68

4. As to China and Russia getting access to the NSA, it is quite clear that much of what Snowden made public was news to the Chinese and Russians so they did not have access prior to that.

That would be the expected reaction from any competent intellegence agency. Or did you expect them to release an itemized list of what they had and had not managed to penetrate? Their post-Snowden public reaction tells you exactly nothing about their pre-Snowden activities.

Comment: Re:You're dying off (Score 1) 284

by virtual_mps (#49723087) Attached to: The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry

Nope, I'm a very careful driver with no at-fault accidents in something upwards of a half million miles behind the wheel. (I have been rear ended while stopped.) Try again.

I have a lot of things I care about, but the car isn't one of them. I would prefer to take some sort of transit and not have to bother driving but that's not how the infrastructure around here works. Self driving cars are the next best thing, can't come soon enough. This is what a lot of older people have trouble understanding--the younger generations have more options and don't need to care about a car. For an older generation that literally built their homes around their cars that's hard to comprehend. When transportation choices were limited, the car promised freedom. Now the car represents a lot of work, and not having to deal with it seems a lot more freeing.

I've seen the people that are really passionate about their cars. They tend to be really unsafe drivers because they can't wait to hit that oversize gas pedal. They seem to be focused on the car and on themselves and not on the people around them. I actually start to wonder if spending hours alone in a box turns people into psychopaths.

Comment: Re:You're dying off (Score 0) 284

by virtual_mps (#49720721) Attached to: The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry

Hey, if you like to define yourself by your car, that's cool. For myself, the car is a box that goes from place to place. I spend my money on things that actually make me happy, not the box that I use to get there. If I don't buy a new car every 3 years, that's a good quarter million dollars over twenty years that I can spend on housing, travel, cultural events, hobbies, whatever. But if you think it's better to have a nice box, it's your money. The car companies certainly spend a lot of money trying to convince people that the box really is the most important thing in life.

Comment: Re:Missing the point (Score 1) 284

by virtual_mps (#49720655) Attached to: The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry

The point of a cheap used car is to provide transportation. The point of an expensive new car is to make the driver look like someone who can afford an expensive new car. The point is that being expensive is going to end up being less important to shoppers than playing nicely with their phone (even though there are a lot of older folks who have trouble imagining a world where you can't judge someone by the car they drive).

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