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Submission + - Europa Discovery Increases Odds of Life On Jovian Moon. (

tetrahedrassface writes: "Observations of spectral emissions from the surface of Europa using state of the art ground based telescopes here on Earth have lent data that indicate the surface of the Jovian moon is not merely ice that is not dynamically linked with the vast ocean below. The observations carried out by Caltech's Mike Brown, and JPL's Kevin Hand show that water is making it from the ocean below all the way up to the surface of the moon. In their study they noticed a dip in the emission bands around lower latitudes of the moon, and quickly honed in on what they were seeing. The mineral of interest is epsomite, a magnesium sulfate compound that can only come from the ocean below. From the article: 'Magnesium should not be on the surface of Europa unless it's coming from the ocean," Brown says. "So that means ocean water gets onto the surface, and stuff on the surface presumably gets into the ocean water.

Not only does this mean the ocean and surface are dynamically interacting but it also means that there may be more energy in the ocean than previously thought. Another finding is that the ocean below the icy surface of Europa is basically very similar to an ocean on Earth, giving the neglected and premier solar body for life past Earth another compelling reason for being explored."


Submission + - A Brief Look At NASA's Nascent Renaissance.

tetrahedrassface writes: When the U.S. government declared the space race won and began cancelling Apollo missions in the very early 1970's the conventional wisdom was that since we had 'won', there would be no compelling reason to continue on the costly path of manned space exploration past Low Earth Orbit for a long time. Grandiose plans for human landing on Mars and bases on the Moon were shelved due to the fickleness of a Congress occupied with other things. The moon landings were old news, and the bogeyman of the U.S.S.R was beaten on the playing field of the moon.Or was it?

Through the 1970's and Eighties as we rested on our laurels content in the amazing science of the Space Shuttle, the cooperation of MIR, and later the ISS our technological base that was responsible for creating the Saturn V rocket, and all the components for landing on the moon, was withering. In hindsight, like a patient concerned with one aspect of health we focused on other bogeymen while our sheer dominating industrial and engineering base slowly atrophied. NASA, trying to continue on a path of exploration on limited budgets beset by ever changing Congressional and Presidential directives was perhaps like a bobbing capsule that had traveled great distances and achieved amazing results yet was adrift in the ocean with no clear view or steerage from a rescue ship. While the years mounted NASA continued to create amazing vessels of discovery, but focused on the mandate at hand the technological base that enabled us to do the greatest thing, was withering. Don't despair. NASA, despite budget cuts, and the continued machinations of Capital Hill is on the verge of a very real renaissance. Although our technological capability has shifted this has been a banner year for Human-Crewed-Spaceflight. Here is the rundown of some amazing things that promise to not only put us back in deeper space, but also put us on the Moon again, and later, Mars.

There are so many more examples of progress of late, but since 'space' is limited here, perhaps the comments will list more emerging technologies, and hardware developments. It may be easy to believe that a return to the Moon in the near future or ever to Mars in our lifetimes is out of the question. But judging from all the examples of a clear across the board increase in R&D and components that are already being tested we might have a little room to be confident, Phil Plait recently opined that we were in another space race except now we are competing against an emerging China. While this may be true, our greatest enemy has always been ourselves lacking the foresight to continue on a path that is difficult and not politically expedient. A little competition is always good, and perhaps now we've gained enough wisdom to not be the hare in the race that gets winded and loses interest. Time will tell, but NASA seems to be poised to pull it all together again. Perhaps that is the greatest miracle of all.


Submission + - Summer Fades, But NASA's Summer of Records Remains.

tetrahedrassface writes: Stennis Space Center spent a long summer testing the J2-X engine. The story hasn't received much press, but Stennis, and the J2-X had a very good summer indeed. Of note for this critical piece of equipment that will help up once again undertake manned exploration class space mission was that it smashed its endurance record not once, but twice. The first was the successful throttling up and down of the engine for 1,150 seconds. The second came on July 24'th with a test that lasted 1,350 seconds. That's great news for NASA as they try to move forward past the Shuttle Era and back into an age of beyond Low Earth Orbit manned missions.

Submission + - Tennessee Crater Inches Toward Recognition. ( 1

tetrahedrassface writes: "Slashdot carried the story of an-as-yet unverified impact crater in Tennessee a couple of years ago. After a few weeks of fairly hardcore sample taking, digging, obtaining some good images and manipulating them, I'm proud to report the first batch of evidence in favor of it being an impact site. The primary smoking gun is the presentation of an astrobleme , obtained from High Resolution Ornithographic Images taken in 2008. Also of note, are the melted/deformed rocks, magnetic crater dust, and the fitment of the crater rim to a circle. A rented plane and a bunch of photographs today and it's pretty obvious that it's a crater folks! Cheers!"

Submission + - NASA Successfully Test Fires J-2X Engine. (

tetrahedrassface writes: "NASA successfully test fired the J-2X engine today for 500 seconds at Stennis Space Center. The J2-X is derived from the J2 engine from the Apollo Era, and will power the upper stage of the SLS. From the article: 'We have 500 seconds of good data, and the first look is that everything went great. The J-2X engine team and the SLS program as a whole are extremely happy that we accomplished a good, safe and successful test today,” said Mike Kynard, Space Launch System Engines Element Manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “This engine test firing gives us critical data to move forward in the engine’s development.'"

Submission + - Apollo 18 Begs The Question (What If) 1

tetrahedrassface writes: The cinematic release today of Apollo 18 begs the question of what would have become our collective space faring history had the program not been tragically canceled. It is in fact a historical truth that Apollo 18 did fly, as a joint flight between Russia and the United States. Apollo 18 did in fact fly, but not to the moon. However had the Apollo missions continued, where would be now. It is likely that we would have landed on Mars, have a permanent presence on Luna, have mutiple space observatories that were larger, and more powerful. Conceivably the Saturn V rockets could have lofted platforms for fuel depots, and components for a larger space station further out into orbit. The loss of the Saturn V's represents a loss od America's frontier spirit, and from the great technological victory we achieved we now sit moribound in low Earth orbit. Though the movie may be fiction, it still begs the question, what if?

Submission + - Our Lazy Solar Dynamo: Hello Dalton Minimum? (

tetrahedrassface writes: Solar maximum is supposed to be occurring, and everything from satellite communications, to your toaster, or radio could be affected. The only problem is that this just isn't happening, and NASA continues to revise down the original prediction. In fact the new prediction for Solar Cycle 24 is a lot smaller and now is pegged at almost 40% of what was predicted. Recently, two scientists at the National Solar Observatory have followed the lead of a prominent Russian scientist, who forecast a dearth of sunspots, and subsequent cooling of Earth for the next several cycles almost five years ago. With Britain currently experiencing the coldest winter in over 300 years, and no new sunspots for the last week, are we heading for a Dalton Minimum, or worse still, yet another Maunder?

Submission + - AKATSUKI Ready For Orbit Insertion Around Venus. (

tetrahedrassface writes: JAXA's Venus Climate Orbiter is almost in position for orbit around Venus. Launched in May of this year, the probe marks the first time the Japanese space agency has placed an orbiter around another planet. Japan's last attempt at orbiting a planet was in 1998, when 'Nozomi' failed to enter orbit around Mars. The probe will study atmospheric particles escaping from Venus into space, take close-up photos of Venus, and observe winds on the Venusian surface that move at 60 times the speed of Venus' rotatation. The probe will also verify active volcanoes, thunder and utilize infrared light to image the surface.

Submission + - 'Adrift' NASA Manned Space Program Faces Budget Ax (

tetrahedrassface writes: It's no secret the manned U.S space program is in dire straits. The cancellation of the pricey Constellation program, and the shuttering of the Shuttle fleet is leaving our manned presence reliant on Russian rockets, while pinning our domestic manned aspirations on as-yet-developed platforms. Now potential budget cuts loom for a program that just weeks ago was 'salvaged' in a grand gesture of Congressional compromise, yet in which Congress did not give money to, and likely will not fund. Meant to be built using off the shelf components of the Shuttle, the heavy lift vehicle is encountering doubts as to whether it can be built on time and on budget, leaving many in the space community worried that NASA's manned space program is on a terminal trajectory with terra firma, never to rise like the phoenix again. As infighting brews amongst participants in the program some of the power players (Lockheed) is trying to change the tone of the debate, by offering an Orion capsule stacked on top of a Delta IV-Heavy; a system with many successful launches under its belt. According to John Karas, who is the GM of Lockheeds Manned Flight division, 'Everybody's arguing, debating. We are in this giant storm with no direction, and more than likely we're gonna get hit with more waves of money cuts. So we have to have some future plan here; some future direction — or we're just going to get capsized,'. A giant storm indeed; trying to navigate the minefield and trip the light fantastic while unseen hands keep changing the tempo of the song leaving us to wonder where is the downbeat in the symphony of spaceflight.

Submission + - Evidence For Unconfirmed Impact Crater Mounts. ( 1

tetrahedrassface writes: Last week Slashdot ran a story I authored about an as-yet-unconfirmed impact crater in my backyard. A weeks time brings more evidence to the story and some stronger evidence that perhaps this is due to an impact event. After a brief sojourn this morning to the area many pieces of magnetic bits are now in sample bags, along with a mystery metal that may be a rare earth element (it weighs in around 6.8 g/cm3 via my own non-accurate measurements). Just running the rare earth magnets over damp ground that were dug in random spots yielded dust all over magnets. In fact, there was so much dust it was necessary to clean the magnets! Samples will be sent to a friend and cohort that resides on Freenode and happens to be a geologist, space geek and friend. These samples were obtained over a wide, random area around 'The Crater' in what is most likely the strewnfield. Since the story was published and regular updates will be given perhaps weekly or monthly as we determine for sure what it is this hole in the ground is.

Submission + - The Story Of My As Yet Unverified Impact Crater. 3

tetrahedrassface writes: When I was very young my dad took me on a trip to his parents farm. He wanted to show me 'The Crater'. We walked a long way through second generation hardwoods and finally stood on the rim of a hole that has no equal in this area. As I grew up I became more interested in 'The Crater", and would always tell friends about it. It is roughly 1,200 feet across, and 120 feet deep, and has a strange vibe about it. When you walk up to it, you feel like something really big happened here. Either the mother of all caves is down there, or a large object smashed into this place a long, long time ago. I bought aerial photo's when I was twelve and later send images from GIS to a geologist at a local university and he pretty much laughed me out of his office, saying that it was a sinkhole. He did wish me luck however. It may be sinkhole. Who knows?

Last week I borrowed a metal detector and went poking around, and have found the strangest shrapnel pieces I have ever seen. They are composed of a metal that reacts strongly to acids. The largest piece so far reacted with tap water and dishwashing detergent. My second trip today yielded lots of strange new pieces of metal, and hopefully one day the truth either way will be known. Backyard science is so much fun and who knows, ff it is indeed a cave maybe Cerberus resides there.

Submission + - Google Earth Tabs Yet Another Impact Crater. ( 1

tetrahedrassface writes: Vincenzo De Michele was looking for natural features in the Egyptian desert on Google Earth. What he found was a meteor impact crater that is one of the best preserved in the world. The Kamil Crater is not exceptionally large at 45 meters wide and 16 meters deep, but is likely less than a few thousand years old. The meteor was metallic and has been postulated to have had a mass of over 10,000 kilograms.

Submission + - The Ubiquitous Magnetic Fields of Our Universe (

tetrahedrassface writes: For the first time, researchers have measured the ancient magnetic fields that likely formed in the first moments of the Big Bang. While it has been postulated for some time that such fields should exist, this is the first measurement of these primordial fields between galaxies.In order to measure this field, the researchers took a look at 170 black holes and realized that the images were not as clear as they should be. From this they inferred that the average magnetic field had a 'femto-Gauss" strength, just one-quadrillionth of the Earth's magnetic field and may have formed in the early universe shortly after the Big Bang, long before stars and galaxies formed.'

Submission + - Falcon 9: High Stakes (

happylunarnewyear writes: "The first new rocket to be launched from the Cape since 2002 is assembled and upright on Launch Complex 40. Falcon 9 will undergo fueling testing and live firing tests before the launch occurs as soon as next month. The stakes couldn't be higher either. The much politicized proposal for a change in direction for NASA which includes scrapping the Constellation program in toto in favor of privatization and a new heavy lift vehicle, veritably rides on this rocket. If the launch goes well the plan for increased reliance on privatized cargo missions. and eventually privatized manned missions will soar with it. However if something goes wrong, those plans will come crashing to Earth along with Falcon 9. Given the stakes this launch is one of the most important in recent history. From the article, 'President Obama's proposal to shift transport of U.S. astronauts to the space station from government launchers to privatized ones could suffer politically if there's a high-profile problem with the first mission of the Falcon 9, by far the most talked about newcomer vying for the opportunity.'"

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