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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -     May 16, 2002     -         Vol. 2 No.10

The Spacefaring Web 2.8:

John Carter McKnight

With the Middle East conflict dominating the news, I've been engaged in discussions of national identity, attachment to land, diaspora and nation building. Not much of a stretch is needed to apply these themes in the context of space settlement. I'm reminded of a conversation some years back in which the suggestion was floated, mostly seriously, of establishing a Martian government in exile. And of a more recent visit to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum: before the spare Viking lander, I felt something more than merely an analogy to the Lincoln Memorial: it truly seemed a shrine to the father of my undiscovered country. Underlying these odd notions is a true theme: the space movement is a diaspora in reverse, a community striving to be united for the first time in its unsettled homelands...


Space Life

The Time of Your Life on Mars

Time on Mars
The Time on Mars applet at NASA Goddard gives the current Mars time and generates a simulated dayside / nightside view.

As long term exploration and even settlement on Mars develops from a fantasy to an actual possibility, there are many practical challenges that must be worked out.

For example, the Mars day is about 37 minutes longer than the earth day and the year is about twice as long. It is not a trivial problem to develop a clock and a calendar for Martian explorers and settlers that maintain a clear relation to the earth clock/calendar and also remain practical for Martian day to day needs.

I. M. Levitt of the Fels Planetarium - Mars Clock and Calendar - has been thinking about the problem since the 1950s. He even had a mechanical Mars Clock constructed that shows both Mars and Earth times, as well as calendar day and month.

In his original system the second & minute remain constant but the Mars hour is slightly longer so as to make the day match the local expectation, e.g. that the sun is at maximum elevation at noon.

Similarly, there are still 12 months with the same names as on earth but they are either 55 or 56 days long. The year will alternate between 668 and 669 days, like our leap years, since the revolution around the sun is not round number of days but is instead 668.6.

Other clocks and calendar ideas can be found at these sites:

Solar SciFi, Games

Your Role in Space
Transhuman Space

Many people associate role playing games (RPG) with Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy scenarios. However, RPGs now span a wide array of settings and themes.

The GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System) group, for example, has produced over 150 different "worlds". Their worldbooks outline elaborate settings, characters and supporting technologies in which participants can experience adventures as carried out under the rule system.

These settings include space worlds, as well, some of which are hard-science space futures in our own solar system

A newly developed game, for example, is Transhuman Space by David Pulver and other GURPS authors. It develops a scenario in which humans have spread throughout the solar system and genetic engineering has resulted in a "multitude of artificial races". (In the Solar SciFi spirit.)

There are several variations on the general solar system scenario including the High Frontier game in which it is the year 2100 and the "Earth-Lunar space is the most densely populated area of the solar system outside Earth itself."

Other supplementary materials include drawings of spacecraft and detailed descriptions of their capabilities.

So while you wait for the opportunity to become a spacefarer, you can at least start playing the role now.

Space Music

NASA Pays the Space Pipers

Since the 1960s NASA's Art Program has invited artists in all media to create works about space exploration. Perhaps best known for the paintings and drawings it has commissioned (see the NASA Gallery), the program also promotes space music as well. For example, singer Judy Collins and the jazz composer and saxaphonist Jan Ira Bloom have received commissions for space music.

This October the Kronos Quartet will premiere Sun Rings by the composer Terry Riley. The 90 minute work commissioned by NASA incorporates "sounds of the planets recorded by the Voyager mission on it's journey to deep space".

These Voyager sounds were developed by plasma physicist Dr. Donald Gurnett of the University of Iowa. He converted the electromagnetic signals produced during Voyager's encounter with Jupiter's magnetosphere into audio clips that are surprisingly captivating. You can find samples of the Voyager sound clips and similar recordings on line at Gurnett's Sounds of Space.

A new sub-section on NASA Commissioned Music in the Space Music department provides background information and links about some of the artists participating in the program and the musical pieces created.

Astronomy, Living Space

Comet Hunting with the SOHO's Help

Comet SOHO-6
Sungrazer website
Comet SOHO-6 (C/1996 Y1) is the small streak
at the bottom left of the sun pointing
towards "7:30". See the large image

While most comets have been discovered with old fashioned telescopes, a new approach is to search for them in SOHO images.

The SOHO (Solar & Heliospheric Observatory) sits at L1 Lagrangian point where the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun balance out. There it obtains a clear and constant view of the sun and the solar wind.

Since its launch in 1995 the observatory has revolutionized our understanding of the sun and the field of space weather, which is the state of the solar wind and its interactions with the magnetosphere of the earth.

An unexpected talent of SOHO is its ability to spot comets. Many small comets that are too dim to be seen from earth stand out dramatically in SOHO images.

Most of the over 420 comets seen in SOHO images have been spotted by amateurs. The SOHO images are posted in near-real time on the internet (latest images.) and available to any comet hunter.

For example, XingMing Zhou of China has found over 13 comets and was the first to spot Comet 2002 G3 (SOHO). Check out the video made of a sequence of images of this comet.

Now there is a contest being held to predict when the 500th comet will be discovered in the SOHO data: The SOHO-500 Comet Contest.

Take a guess and perhaps you will win a SOHO DVD and T-Shirt.

Other Recent Space Highlights

Rocket Mail - during the heyday of rocket clubs and space societies in the pre-World War II period, one application that the rocketeers pursued was the delivery of mail over long distances by rocket.

So-called Rocket Mail never proved practical, especially as mail delivery via airplanes and eventually jet planes became routine.

Stamps and covers flown on the rockets, though, are great collectors items. Find out more about rocket mail and the postal collectibles in the Rocket Mail section.

Space Auction: A big array of space collectibles, including a number of flown artifacts, were recently auctioned off at the Aurora Galleries.

Read the review of the auction by collectSpace's Robert Pearlman: "Analyzing Aurora: Auction Aftermath" - collectSPACE - May.6.02

Find previous space news in
Articles Index 1999-2002


See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links

Sat Building, Space Radio

French up,
Russia/Australia down,
US in Construction

Several events in the world of amateur satellites occured recently.

*The IDFIX-France project attached transmitters on the third stage of the Ariane that recently launched the SPOT 5 satellite.

The project is an educational of AMSAT France. Voice and telemetry transmissions will be made on amateur radio bands during the 40 days or so that the stage will remain in orbit.

French picosats launched - ARRLWeb In Brief - May.8.02

*The joint Russian / Australian satellite Kolibri-2000, mentioned here previously, successfully completed its mission and fell into the atmosphere.

The small satellite was launched on March 20th from a Russian Progress spaceship on a resupply mission to the ISS.

Russian and Australian students received telemetry data and pre-recorded voice messages from the satellite, which was renamed RS-21 (Radio Sport) once it reached orbit.

"We consider all aspects of this mission to have been a success."- Alex Papkov at Kaluga Ground Control in Russia - RS-21 Deorbit [Kolibri 2000] - AMSAT News - May.5.02

*Meanwhile, the US AMSAT organisation announced that it has begun construction of a new LEO microsat that will "incorporate all new, leading edge electronics and RF technology."

AMSAT-NA to Build New Communications Satellite - AMSAT-NA - Apr.27.02

AMSAT-OSCAR E will carry analog and digital transponders and have room for one or two experimental payloads (student groups take note!)

It should launch in late 2003.

Token Space Travel

A Muse Will Fly You to an Asteroid

The Japanese chapter of the Planetary Society and the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, ISAS, have announced the joint program "Star Prince" Muses-C that allows people to place their names on the Muses-C spacecraft.

Muses-C will be launched in November or December of 2002 and will travel to Asteroid 1998SF36 by the middle of 2005. It will land on the asteroid and return with a sample of material from the surface.

Register online. Deadline is July 6, 2002.

Meet Your "Star Prince" with MUSES-C: The World's First Endeavor to Land Names on An Asteroid - Planetary Society - May.15.02 -

Find out about other opportunities to send a token of yourself into space in the Token Space Travel section.

Space Music

at the Movies

Star One

The composer Arjen Anthony Lucassen will soon release his new album Star One in which each song on the Star One album was inspired by a different space SciFi movie.

Find out more about his album and other Spacerock happenings and resources in the new dedicated Spacerock page.

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