If there is another planet in our solar system with anything more the microbial life, then Europa is it.
Maybe let's lower the bar a bit and keep looking for the first planet or moon to even have microbial life... but liquid water on Europa is still pretty awesome.
I just learned about a wonderful new measurement of time.
Planck time - the smallest measurement of time possible. To put it into perspective, there are more Planck units in a single second than all the seconds between the big bang and now combined!
This past Sunday a meteor streaked overhead and exploded over Northern California around 7:45 AM. I didn't hear anything unfortunately but it was all over the news. Fragments have been found in up in the foothills weighing about 10 grams each.
Yeah I didn't hear anything either, though supposedly it was audible from the bay area. Kinda annoyed I missed this.
In retrospect, I think I heard it in Reno, but I certainly didnt think anything of it until I saw the news. It was fairly loud apparently, with a lot of people saying it sounded like a really loud door slam. Coincidentally, the first fragments were found less that 10 miles from my parents home.
I think this mining of asteroids will be our next foray into outerspace. Private sector corporate greed will force civilian space travel.. making it safer and cheaper in the long term.
Once the miners are schleped to the rock to mine it is only a matter of time before a spinoff company takes the transportation technology and starts outer space tourism as the norm.
Won't the miners just be robots?
One idea is robots with electric rockets bring asteroids to high earth orbit, perhaps in a Lagrange point or an orbit around the moon, and humans work at that location.
I can see a market developing for water/oxygen/hydrogen/other things supplying low Earth orbit stations which are destinations for space tourists or research stations or low-g manufacturing factories or greenhouses growing genetically engineered medicines or military bases or some other thing that no one's thought of yet.
Either way, had I known there was a site I was supposed to report it to, I would have when it was still fresh in my memory.
Last night you may have seen the supermoon: a perigee full moon. The moon appeared 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual because it was at its closest point to the Earth in its orbit. It's still nearly-full and nearly-perigee tonight, so check it out.
Is anyone gearing up for the transit of Venus (across the sun) on June 5-6?
There will probably have to be overseers but yeah, most of the mining would probably be done with robots although it could become extremely expensive - Somehow I doubt Space is a forgiving work-environment.
You know, the moment we get space industry going, lots and lots of things will take off - Those miners will need some decent food and a place to rest - Voila - Spacestations of a certain size are certain to be built and THEN things really take off.
I am born probably 20 years too early :-(
Because the USA is no longer in the market to send people into space with our own technology, we depend on the Russian-made Soyuz (Союз) space ship to do it for us! (As an aside, does anyone else find this less than heartening?)
The Soyuz space station crew is preparing to launch on May 14, 2012, to dock with the International Space Station. Soyuz will dock with the ISS on May 16, 2012. There's some more information in the linked article.
Here's where it's interesting:
Depending on where you are in the world, and what your conditions are like, you may be able to see one or both of these events: if the ISS is high enough in the sky, you can see it with the naked eye. And it's so cool to see what looks like a bright star moving quickly overhead, and to know that there are people up there. And that there's a spacecraft docked with a space station.
(Actually there are people up there anyway -- the 3-man Soyuz crew is flying up to join the current 3-man Expedition 31 crew.)
Go here: http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/
Select your country, state, and city
For example, if you are in Hawaii, you can see both objects orbiting the earth at certain times while they try to meet up in orbit:
In the figure above, I've annotated in yellow the 5am passing on May 17, which is after Soyuz has docked with the ISS. You can tell that they have docked because the sighting is identical: same time, duration, elevation, approach, and departure.
Here's the timetable for San Francisco, CA:
From San Francisco, you see only one passing of Soyuz, and it happens after it has met and docked with the ISS.
If you have a telescope, you can train it on the ISS during the sighting and possibly see the objects together.
How cool is that?
Last edited by fire; 05-11-2012 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Annotation error
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/arc.../2012/18/full/Astronomers have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close
The astronomers think the bloated star was looping around the black hole in a highly elliptical orbit, similar to a comet's elongated orbit around the Sun. On one of its close approaches, the star was stripped of its puffed-up atmosphere by the black hole's powerful gravity. Only its core remained intact. The stellar remnant continued its journey around the black hole, until it ventured even closer to the behemoth monster and faced its ultimate demise.
Hmm 10-12 degrees might be a little tough depending on where you are in the city. From my usual vantage point for shots I'd probably be able to see the departure phase.
If you're keeping up with the ISS/satellite sightings, you might notice a new contender: Dragon.
(Screenshot from San Francisco, CA sightings)
This is the first privately-owned spacecraft to dock with the ISS. It was created by a group called SpaceX and it lifts off, unmanned, on Saturday. SpaceX is NASA-funded to build unmanned supply craft that will deliver supplies to the ISS in 12 installments. Dragon takes off from Florida.
05/14/12 -- Soyuz TMA-04M/30S launch - G.Padalka (CDR-32)/J.Acaba/S.Revin (~11:02 pm EDT)
05/17/12 -- Soyuz TMA-04M/30S docking (MRM2) (~12:39am EDT)
05/19/12 -- SpaceX Falcon/Dragon launch (~4:55am EDT)
05/22/12 -- SpaceX Dragon berthing (~12:15pm EDT)
Some more stuff:
SpaceX's 1st Mission to Space Station - How It Works
A little on the Soyuz liftoff and Dragon
Private Rocket Launch Saturday May Herald New Commercial Spaceflight Era