Monday, October 20, 2014

Comet Siding-Spring

Comet Siding-Spring, on its first visit to the inner Solar System from the Oort Cloud, whizzed past Mars yesterday, missing the planet by only 87,000 miles.

All the probes now at Mars were focused on observing the comet.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

X-37B

The USAF's secretive unmanned spaceplane, the X-37B, landed uneventfully in California yesterday after a 674 day mission.

Exactly what, if anything, was accomplished during the mission is classified.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cassini Zapped

The Cassini spacecraft was zapped by a beam of electrons which emanated from Saturn's moon Hyperion recently.  The beam resulted from an interaction between static electricity on Hyperion and Saturn's magnetosphere.

Cassini was not damaged.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Maybe Not, Mars One

A study by MIT students finds several aspects of the Mars One plan to colonize Mars need strengthening if the colonists are to survive.

Mars One, citing aerospace industry experts, stands by its plan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MAVEN At Work

The formal science mission of NASA's MAVEN probe won't begin for two weeks. but scientists calibrating its instruments are already getting "tantalizing" data about Mars' upper atmosphere.

MAVEN will also observe a comet's close approach to Mars on October 19.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hot Times Inside Luna

A new study of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images finds lava may have flowed on the Moon much more recently than previously thought-- perhaps only tens of millions of years ago instead of 3.5 billion.

That would mean the interior of the Moon remained hot and active into recent times, not the dead world we thought we knew.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Building Civilizations

Yesterday marked the 522nd anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World, as Europeans dubbed the lands between them and Asia, sailing west.  At the time, this area was home to a wide array of cultures and societies, many if not all of which were linked together by trade.  At least a couple of those may have approached ancient Rome in sophistication and vision.

Unfortunately for them, their technology probably wasn't quite on the level of ancient Rome, which meant they were no match for their European visitors in that regard.  Fewer than 400 years after Columbus-- an eye blink in the history of Earth-- the most powerful industrial nation in the world was in North America, stretching from sea to shining sea.

An awful lot can happen awfully quickly.  Those who argue against expanding into space should keep that in mind.