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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -      December 16, 2001     -         Vol. 1 No.12

The Spacefaring Web 1.16:
The Power of Play

John Carter McKnight

** HobbySpace today welcomes to the Space Gazette the addition of a column by John Carter McKnight, Mars Program Director for the Space Frontier Foundation. His essays explore the many social, political, and philosophical aspects of humanity's voyage into space. See the index of his articles. **

The inability of the space movement to transcend its hardcore support base by spreading into popular culture represents the single greatest obstacle to our becoming a spacefaring civilization. Our shortcomings stem from an inability to shape our message into memes capable of easy propagation through formal and informal media and a lack of understanding of how people engage with technology and ideas.

We learn through play, but more importantly, play seems to be a fundamental human need.


Space Tourism

Mark Shuttleworth on the
Next Tourist Bus to the ISS
Soyuz launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome
A Soyuz spacecraft launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Russian Space Agency

The South Africa multi-millionaire Mark Shuttleworth has now signed a contract to fly on a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station in the Spring of 2002.

After several months of negotiations and training, Shuttleworth mission was formally announced last week. Space Adventures helped arrange the trip with the Russian Space Agency.

The experience will cost Shuttleworth more than Tito's reported $20 million because he is bringing equipment to carry out some scientific experiments. He explains that he sees his mission as not just a tourist jaunt but more as a scientific and educational mission to inspire more African children to enter science and engineering fields.

See his web site at The First African in Space and keep up with news items about his trip as it approaches in the HobbySpace Tourism section.

Other space tourism news

As mentioned in the previous Space Gazette, MirCorp and a television production company recently announced that the grand prize in an upcoming "reality" type game show will be a ride to space.

MirCorp and Incredible Adventures also announced that they would partner to offer tourist trips to space - Incredible Adventures Signs Deal with MirCorp - Dec.10.2001

Finally, check out the compelling editorial in a recent edition of the influential Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine: Space Tourism: A Remedy For 'Crisis In Aerospace' by Patrick Collins - guest editorial in Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine - Dec.10.01

Collecting Space * Future Hobbies: Rock Collecting

Samples of Moondust Offered For Sale (Legally)

Spaceflori [an advertising sponsor of HobbySpace] recently announced that swatches of a cloth with moondust from the Apollo 11 mission are available for sale. Previously, a similar set of samples of moondust on the cloth of a carrying bag from Apollo 15 quickly sold out.

The dust came from a film canister that was opened by NASA photographer Terry Slezak soon after the end of the mission. The unexpected dust contamination on his hands meant that he had to be quarantined with the Apollo crew. He later made a poster with photos and clippings about the experience and also added a one inch piece of tape from the canister on which there was dust stuck to the adhesive.

This poster was recently obtained by the space memoribila collector and dealer Florian Noller who is selling small pieces of the tape on framed certificates. The swatch of tape is covered by a piece of mylar, which can be lifted to expose the dust for direct touching. (The adhesive holds the dust in place.)

As discussed in the section space rock collecting, while NASA and federal law prohibit the sale of the rocks collected during the Apollo missions, they allow the sale of incidental dust samples found on surplus hardware items that NASA later released or auctioned off.

Multimedia * Living Space

Seeing Mars in the Data

Almost weekly there are new astounding pictures made by the Mars Global Explorer (MGL) and the newly arrived Space Odyssey 2000 orbiters.

In addition to the cameras, there is another important tool on the MGL called the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA). This experiment measured the altitude of the Mars surface by firing infrared laser pluses ten times a second and counting the time till the reflected light appeared. Before the instrument malfunctioned in the summer of 2001, it had made measurements in most regions of the planet.

A data set of 340 million points has been released. The vertical accuracy is about 5m and the horizontal spatial accuracy is about 100m.

The Planet 3D project created by the programmer Adrian Lark provides graphics software that allows users to take the MOLA data and obtain 3D views of the surface.

Note that going from the raw altitude data to a realistic looking view from a chosen spot on the surfact requires some artistic license, e.g. chosing the surface textures, time of day, etc.

Also, the distance traversed between each point is 330m, so some algorithm must be used to extrapolate in some reasonable manner between the points, even though in reality there could be large hills or deep ravines in betweeen.

Nevertheless, the results can be quite realistic and very spectacular. See, for example, the beautiful views as might be seen from different vistas on the Valles Marineris at Valles Marineris réalisées par Adrian Lark.

Viewers are available for download that allow one to view images of various regions of Mars. (There are also viewers for Earth and Venus using similar data.)

The Mars Explorer program allows one to move along the surface and see a full 3D panoramic view.

Also, screensavers, wallpaper, animations, and maps are avalable for free downloads.

[Ancient Mars: Renderings Show Raging Floods, Vast Oceans - Space.com - Jan.4.02]

Previous space news:

Articles Index



See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links

The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
NewSpace Watch at NSG

Satellite Building *Satellite Watching

Starshine 2 Student Satellite
Released from Shuttle

The crew of the Endeavour space shuttle today deployed the third Starshine student satellite.

Starshine 2, a spherical ball covered with mirrors polished by school kids worldwide, was released from a canister located in the payload bay.

Due to scheduling changes, Starshine 3 was actually launched already. See previous article.

The "disco ball" design makes the relatively small satellite bright and visible from the ground. Students will observe the satellite over several months and measure its orbital decay rate until it eventually burns up in the atmosphere.

This decay rate can in turn be correlated with solar activity, which affects the density of the atmosphere along the orbit.

[Starshine, Too - Science@NASA - Dec.18.01]


NEO Grants from the
Planetary Society

Amateur astronomers can apply for grants from the The Planetary Society to study Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

Named after the famous planetary geologist Gene Shoemaker, the Gene Shoemaker NEO Grants are intended to" increase the rate of discovery and follow-up studies of asteroids and comets in Earth's vicinity."

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