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Official Space Exploration Coolness Thread


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Official Space Exploration Coolness Thread
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Moogs
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2008-05-21, 13:14

Since we have some plantet-specific and mission-specific threads that I don't wish to taint, I thought I'd create a place where any type of new observations or discoveries (which don't have to do with Mars or Saturn) could be posted and discussed.

Entry 1: First ever "recorded supernova"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7413160.stm

Though, depending on how far away that constellation is, it obviously happened light years ago. Otherwise we'd all be a charcoal briquette right now if it were closer than that.

...into the light of a dark black night.
  quote
curiousuburb
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2008-05-21, 15:16

90 Million LY... in a galaxy known for it (3 in this picture from January)... while many of the other stars in Lynx are hundreds or thousands of LY. That's bright.

Quote:
2008 January 18



Supernova Factory NGC 2770
Credit: A. de Ugarte Postigo (ESO) et al., Dark Cosmology Centre (NBI, KU),
Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), University of Hertfordshire

Explanation: The stellar explosions known as supernovae are among the most powerful events in the universe. Triggered by the collapsing core of a massive star or the nuclear demise of a white dwarf, supernovae occur in average spiral galaxies only about once every century. But the remarkable spiral galaxy NGC 2770 has lately produced more than its fair share. Two still bright supernovae and the location of a third, originally spotted in 1999 but now faded from view, are indicated in this image of the edge-on spiral. All three supernovae are now thought to be of the core-collapse variety, but the most recent of the trio, SN2008D, was first detected by the Swift satellite at more extreme energies as an X-ray flash (XRF) or possibly a low-energy version of a gamma-ray burst on January 9th. Located a mere 90 million light-years away in the northern constellation Lynx, NGC 2770 is now the closest galaxy known to host such a powerful supernova event.

Still cool. And there's a few other groovy astonomy stories in that issue it seems.

Other sites have pictures from the SWIFT team itself... if only thumbs.

Quote:

On January 9, 2008, NASA's Swift observatory caught a bright X-ray burst from an exploding star. Carnegie-Princeton fellows Alicia Soderberg and Edo Berger were on hand to witness this first-of-its-kind event. A few days later, SN 2008D appeared in visible light.
Credit: Image courtesy NASA/Swift Science Team/Stefan Immler

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2008-05-21 at 15:28.
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Moogs
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2008-05-21, 17:21

Good work, Burb! Astronomy Factoid Man FTW!

This is what throws people off. They see "recorded" but it doesn't register that the event happened 90 million years ago. Still extremely cool though. Hopefully a Tuesday night in the near future will show some time-lapsed footage or whatnot.

...into the light of a dark black night.
  quote
Xaqtly
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2008-05-21, 17:39

Actually would it be 90 million years ago if they're using a telescope to view it? It would be 90 million years by the time the light from the event got to earth, but using a telescope essentially puts your eyeball much closer to the event, right? Or am I way off thinking that way? I don't know, I'm just askin'.
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drewprops
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2008-05-22, 06:27

Well, the light still has to reach your eyeballs, therefore 90 Million Years!!
QED


(well, with the magnification you are seeing a few milli-micro-whatevers back in time I suppose... ax Dr. Who?)

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
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julesstoop
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2008-05-22, 11:54

A telescope just gathers more light so you see weaker objects, which can be magnified. It does nothing 'magical' to the distance the light has to travel. If anything, it makes the path longer because the light has to bounce of a few mirrors and go through some lenses before reaching your retina or (more common) a camera sensor.

A black hole is where god divided by zero.
http://settuno.com/
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curiousuburb
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2008-06-07, 07:16

Bubbles on the brane, eh?

Hints of 'time before Big Bang'

Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 15:43 UK

By Chris Lintott
Co-presenter, BBC Sky At Night, St Louis, US
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbc link
A team of physicists has claimed that our view of the early Universe may contain the signature of a time before the Big Bang.

The discovery comes from studying the cosmic microwave background (CMB), light emitted when the Universe was just 400,000 years old.

Their model may help explain why we experience time moving in a straight line from yesterday into tomorrow.

Details of the work have been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.

The CMB is relic radiation that fills the entire Universe and is regarded as the most conclusive evidence for the Big Bang.
Cosmic microwave background could hold clues about the Big Bang
Although this microwave background is mostly smooth, the Cobe satellite in 1992 discovered small fluctuations that were believed to be the seeds from which the galaxy clusters we see in today's Universe grew.
Every time you break an egg or spill a glass of water you're learning about the Big Bang
Professor Sean Carroll,
California Institute for Technology
Dr Adrienne Erickcek, and colleagues from the California Institute for Technology (Caltech), now believes these fluctuations contain hints that our Universe "bubbled off" from a previous one.

Their data comes from Nasa's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which has been studying the CMB since its launch in 2001.

Their model suggests that new universes could be created spontaneously from apparently empty space. From inside the parent universe, the event would be surprisingly unspectacular.

Arrow of time

Describing the team's work at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in St Louis, Missouri, co-author Professor Sean Carroll explained that "a universe could form inside this room and we’d never know".

The inspiration for their theory isn't just an explanation for the Big Bang our Universe experienced 13.7 billion years ago, but lies in an attempt to explain one of the largest mysteries in physics - why time seems to move in one direction.

The laws that govern physics on a microscopic scale are completely reversible, and yet, as Professor Carroll commented, "no one gets confused about which is yesterday and which is tomorrow".

Physicists have long blamed this one-way movement, known as the "arrow of time" on a physical rule known as the second law of thermodynamics, which insists that systems move over time from order to disorder.

Nasa's WMAP has been studying the CMB since 2001
This rule is so fundamental to physics that pioneering astronomer Arthur Eddington insisted that "if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation".

The second law cannot be escaped, but Professor Carroll pointed out that it depends on a major assumption - that the Universe began its life in an ordered state.

This makes understanding the roots of this most fundamental of laws a job for cosmologists.

"Every time you break an egg or spill a glass of water you're learning about the Big Bang," Professor Carroll explained.

Before the bang

In his presentation, the Caltech astronomer explained that by creating a Big Bang from the cold space of a previous universe, the new universe begins its life in just such an ordered state.

The apparent direction of time - and the fact that it's hard to put a broken egg back together - is the consequence.

Much work remains to be done on the theory: the researchers' first priority will be to calculate the odds of a new universe appearing from a previous one.

In the meantime, the team have turned to the results from WMAP.

Detailed measurements made by the satellite have shown that the fluctuations in the microwave background are about 10% stronger on one side of the sky than those on the other.

Sean Carroll conceded that this might just be a coincidence, but pointed out that a natural explanation for this discrepancy would be if it represented a structure inherited from our universe's parent.

Meanwhile, Professor Carroll urged cosmologists to broaden their horizons: "We're trained to say there was no time before the Big Bang, when we should say that we don't know whether there was anything - or if there was, what it was."

If the Caltech team's work is correct, we may already have the first information about what came before our own Universe.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Moogs
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2008-06-07, 09:04

I think over the next 20 years or so some of the Big Bang stuff will be proven wrong or partially wrong ISFA as we'll discover a better explanation. The idea that everything sprang from an explosion emanating from a miniscule area / volume has always bugged me, but obviously there are certain observations we can make that do indeed show that the universe is expanding, that certain things we can observe happened a certain "time ago", etc.

So IOW, no chance the universe is 4000 years old and all that jive, but I think there is a chance we'll find a better theory than the big bang and maybe even some of our physical laws will need adjustment, though the math is way out of my realm....

...into the light of a dark black night.
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Brad
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2008-06-09, 21:30

This is a little old, but since it seems no one mentioned it, here's Earth and Moon as seen from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.



http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MR...0303earth.html

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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BuonRotto
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2008-06-09, 21:58

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xaqtly View Post
Actually would it be 90 million years ago if they're using a telescope to view it? It would be 90 million years by the time the light from the event got to earth, but using a telescope essentially puts your eyeball much closer to the event, right? Or am I way off thinking that way? I don't know, I'm just askin'.
Still 90 million years. You're enlarging the apparent image (electromagnetic waves/particles), not moving closer to the source.

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb View Post
<snip>
Ouch.
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Moogs
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2008-06-11, 19:59

GLAST in the house!

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/main/index.html

More space-based telescopes FTW. Glast can haz gamaburgerz.
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curiousuburb
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2009-04-03, 13:03

Ground Control to Comrade Tom...

Earth/Moon orbit for 6 passengers. Future versions upgradable for Mars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC

Russia to announce new spacecraft designs/launchers.


The new ship would be launched towards the end of the next decade
The Russian space agency is expected to unveil development plans for a next-generation manned spacecraft on Monday.

Roscosmos should name the ship's prime developer, which has competed to win government funds for the project.

The proposed new spacecraft should enter into service sometime towards the end of the next decade.

It will replace the venerable three-seat Soyuz capsule, which has carried Russian cosmonauts into orbit for more than four decades.

Although Roscosmos has remained tight-lipped about the upcoming presentation, the agency has quietly released its requirements for a future manned transport system to the Russian space industry.

In doing so, the agency has shed some light on the ship's likely design and its possible missions.

The spacecraft, currently known only by the Russian abbreviation PPTS, for Prospective Piloted Transport System, would be able to reach low-Earth orbit or to enter orbit around the Moon.

Several configurations

The Earth-orbiting version of the ship would have a mass of 12 tonnes, carry a crew of six, along with no less than 500kg of cargo; while its "lunar cousin" would weigh 16.5 tonnes, have four seats and be capable of delivering and bringing back 100kg of cargo.

The unmanned cargo version of the vehicle would be required to carry no less than 2,000kg to Earth orbit, and return at least 500kg back to the planet's surface.

Roscosmos has reserved the option of making the crew module of the spacecraft reusable, reckoning that a cone-shaped capsule could fly up to 10 missions during its 15-year lifespan.

Soyuz also acts as the "lifeboat" at the International Space Station
In providing the technical specifications for the new spacecraft, the agency has also given a glimpse of its vision for the future of the Russian space programme.

Although the most capable version of the ship is meant to support expeditions to the Moon, "intermediate" configurations are intended for a variety of other tasks.

... continues
  quote
curiousuburb
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2009-05-03, 15:42

Wallops Island Virginia Launch on Tuesday evening could provide groovy show for US East Coast


Quote:
Should a rocket blast off on schedule early Tuesday evening from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia, a potentially spectacular sight might be visible across a wide swath of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, weather permitting.

It would be only the third attempt at launching an orbital rocket from this coastal Virginia range – located just south of Assateague Island – in the last 13 and a half years.

The first time NASA attempted an orbital launch from Wallops, in October 1995, the liftoff of a 50-foot-tall Conestoga rocket ignited normally, but the vehicle exploded over the Atlantic just 46-seconds later. A problem with the rocket's guidance system was blamed.

Then in December 2006, a 69-foot-long, 5-foot wide, 35-ton, four-stage Minotaur I rocket successfully launched the TacSat-2 satellite, carrying a semisecret payload from the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.

Now another Minotaur I rocket awaits liftoff from the Wallops Flight Facility Tuesday, May 5, no earlier than 8 p.m. EDT. A home video of a Minotaur launch out West in 2005, shot by Doc Searls with his son, shows they can be spectacular crowd-pleasers.

...

A launch window from May 5 to 9, from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EDT each day, has been established to take into account bad weather or equipment glitches (see "Final Points" below). A launch after 8:00 p.m. EDT would occur just after sunset along the entire Atlantic Coastline.

What to expect

Over the years, similar rocket firings have routinely taken place from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. Rocket launches that have occurred around the time of sunrise or sunset have left long, glowing contrails in their wake that have been seen for a few hundred miles across the Desert Southwest; often becoming contorted by high level winds into strange and exotic patterns and sometimes, prismatic colors.

Based on a very similar launch from Wallops Island in December 2006 and similar dusk and dawn launches from Vandenberg as a guide, I've determined that it should be possible that Tuesday's post-sunset launch may be visible as far north as southern Maine; as far south as northeastern Florida and as far west as eastern Kentucky. The rocket will be launched on a southeast trajectory. Approximately six minutes after launch it will be passing north of Bermuda. Three minutes later it will reach orbital altitude over the middle of the North Atlantic.

Observers who are situated within about 800 statute miles of the Wallops Island Flight Facility appear to have a reasonable chance of catching a view of the Minotaur I contrail within the first few minutes after launch.

The key to making a sighting is to have a clear, unobstructed view of the horizon in the direction of Wallops Island. For example, a viewer in Raleigh, North Carolina should look toward the northeast; in Boston, Massachusetts look southwest; in Wheeling, West Virginia it will be due east.

Areas farther to the northeast (toward southern New England) have an advantage since skies will be darker – sunset will come somewhat earlier than it will along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. At Wallops, it's at 7:57 p.m., but from Boston it's at 7:49 p.m.

Farther to the west, across the Ohio Valley the Sun will still be above the horizon so the launch may only be barely visible, if at all against the blue daytime sky. But should the launch be delayed by just 30-minutes, sunset will arrive, sufficiently darkening local skies.

... continues ...
So get your cameras ready, East Coasters... and hope for clear skies.

Listen to the kid in the video...4 minutes of "This is sooooo cool"!

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2009-05-03 at 15:54.
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Moogs
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2009-05-07, 19:05

STS 125 coming up on Monday... be there or be square. Final mission to Hubble to give it a few more years of life, to provide us with more brilliant images.

http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/hubble_servicing/

...into the light of a dark black night.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
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2009-05-07, 21:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb View Post
Wallops Island Virginia Launch on Tuesday evening could provide groovy show for US East Coast




So get your cameras ready, East Coasters... and hope for clear skies.

Listen to the kid in the video...4 minutes of "This is sooooo cool"!
Launch for this mission scrubbed tonight. Maybe the weather will play nice tomorrow!
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curiousuburb
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2009-06-18, 16:33

To the Moon!

LRO/LCROSS launch live on NASA TV in the next minute.



edit: Everything looks good through coast period before Centaur stage 2nd firing. Onboard camera footage looked pretty cool, as ever.

Unlike traditional launches where all stages drop away and only the spacecraft makes the final trip, the empty Centaur stage will stay attached and be used to 'belly flop' into a lunar crater as part of LCROSS study. (see links above)

edit 2: LRO separation successful! LCROSS and Centaur on track. *applause in mission control*

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2009-06-18 at 17:31.
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drewprops
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2009-06-18, 19:33

I saw part of the press conference for the bellyflop.... so strange! Shouldn't that mission get its own thread?


...
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!Marc!
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2009-06-19, 14:33

Europes new space telescope sends back first image in its commissioning stage - appears to meet design targets, so expect some fabulous imagery soon.

http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8110345.stm
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Moogs
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2009-06-19, 15:51

Here's a great look at Herschel... and a tease of the one I've been waiting for. The James Webb Space Telescope that will replace Hubble with a mirror even larger than Herschel's and will cover a wider range of the spectrum than Hubble. It was originally scheduled to go up next year but now it's looking like 2012 or 2013. I guess that makes sense, given Hubble's upgrade so it's all good.

http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/scien...re/7864087.stm

...into the light of a dark black night.
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Chinney
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2009-06-20, 22:27

Long and interesting newspaper article about the Apollo missions, and why some view them as the 'beginning of the end' of manned space travel, rather than the beginning. Putting men on the moon was very, very expensive, quite perilous, and of questionable scientific benefit:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/20...o-fallen-dream

When there's an eel in the lake that's as long as a snake that's a moray.
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curiousuburb
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2009-06-21, 10:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinney View Post
Long and interesting newspaper article about the Apollo missions, and why some view them as the 'beginning of the end' of manned space travel, rather than the beginning. Putting men on the moon was very, very expensive, quite perilous, and of questionable scientific benefit:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/20...o-fallen-dream
The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.”
— Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time.

Ditto with Maxwell's discovery of electromagnetism... he saw "no value"... and yet less than a century later, our modern world depends on that 'questionable scientific benefit'.


Bill Anders colour photo of Earthrise over the limb of the Moon on Apollo 8 is considered one of the most influential photos in history, and is widely credited for kickstarting the environmental movement by vividly illustrating just how fragile our blue marble is.

Armstrong and Aldrin's first steps were shared by more people in more countries than any single event in history... (including me on my Dad's knee)... unifying mankind (in percentage terms) in a way never duplicated since.

And of course, generations of children were inspired to pursue careers in science and engineering, and to undertake all manner of seemingly impossible challenges... because "if we can put men on the moon, we can do anything."

Hardly questionable benefit.

As for cost... in 1969 5.5% of US GDP was spent to get to the Moon.
Total costs of Apollo program are widely estimated at $25B (in 1969 dollars)
For comparison, the US spent almost $30B on the Vietnam War in 1969 alone. (also in 1969 dollars)

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2009-06-21 at 11:09. Reason: corrections
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Moogs
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2009-06-21, 11:38

I do think exploration continuing is important and developing the technologies to explore via travel and telescope important, but I also think it's kind of silly to think about terraforming the moon or Mars as a real solution to anything, considering the enormous amount of resources and time required for such an undertaking, given that it's the most far-fetched thing we will ever have attempted by far (that includes landing rovers). I mean it's a true 1000-to-1 shot that the pipe-dreams people like Zubrin always run their mouth about will ever happen. Doesn't mean we can't experiment with very small colonies of people and some type of greenhouse-like biosphere or something in the next 50 years, but as a solution to solving what's going on with our planet, it's a pretty weak theory.

I think a lot of that money would be much better spent here (where we already have a wonderfully terraformed planet), perfecting cleaner ways to burn fuel, alternative energy, earth sciences, etc. Much better to try and do everything humanly possible to spare this planet than to assume we'll be able to terraform another and somehow colonize there successfully in the next 100+ years.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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curiousuburb
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2009-06-21, 14:56

I don't think the Zubrin plans are expecting to solve Earthly problems on Mars, but they're more in line with Carl Sagan's argument that we need to be a two-planet species in case something happens to Earth (planet-killing impact, or idiots with nukes, or whatever).

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Moogs
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2009-06-21, 21:21

Yah I don't know exactly what his motivations are, I just think he over-simplifies the degree of difficulty in an effort to convince people during his congressional testimonies and whatever else that it's a must-do.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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Chinney
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2009-06-22, 21:30

Well, I did not link that article because it directly reflected my views. I just saw it as a thoughtful little piece that did a good job of summarizing the debate. I’ve had the debate myself with others who have taken the vehement anti-space-exploration side (including one with my wife who took a strong ‘anti’ position during a memorable long car ride).

On the other hand, my own view is not 100% pro-exploration either. Where I draw the line is at large, expensive projects of manned exploration outside of orbit at present levels of technology. Without a profound technological transformation – of the sort that is still in the realm of science fiction – I just don’t think that these are deliver bang for the buck, nor are they justifiable in terms of risk to life. That may change some day, but not likely in my lifetime.

Space probes? Yes. Earth and orbit based observation equipment? Heck yes. More than that? Not yet.

When there's an eel in the lake that's as long as a snake that's a moray.
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709
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2009-06-23, 11:10

Pretty neat footage of Japan's Selene satellite descent over the surface of the moon before it crashed.

*note: the video is on LiveLeak, so of course there's the ubiquitous underage whores in their skivvies beckoning for a click. Just sayin'. If you're at a workplace you might not want to go there.

So it goes.
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curiousuburb
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2009-07-16, 09:13

Not sure if we've got an Apollo Anniversary thread (or will get one on the 20th), but for those who want to relive it from official records...

Apollo 11 Flight Journal

Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal

Nerds may be interested in the AFJ page on Apollo's On-Board Computers



Rope memory! Ack!

See also Computers and Spaceflight

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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@_@ Artman
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2009-07-16, 09:22

Isn't the average USB storage device today the equivalent (memory wise) of the computers used in these missions?

I don't think I worded that right.

Aldrin knew also that if all else fails, use a pen.


EDIT: The memory on the Apollo module computers was 76 kilobytes.

Weaving the way to the Moon

"I always question the received reality. The consensus reality is often intentionally misleading." - George Carlin

Last edited by @_@ Artman : 2009-07-16 at 16:40.
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drewprops
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2009-07-16, 17:09

Is it my imagination or does that new Russian tub look a bit like the Firefly class ship from that show by Jask Wheeble?


...
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jdcfsu
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2009-07-16, 17:23

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb View Post
Not sure if we've got an Apollo Anniversary thread (or will get one on the 20th), but for those who want to relive it from official records...
Don't forget the wicked awesome "reenactment" the JFK Presidential Library is putting on right now in real time: http://www.wechoosethemoon.org/

Watching the launch today was really cool.
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