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The Space Log
Space for Everyone - February 2005

February 26, 2005

1:35 Am: News briefs ... The: Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomenon Conference (INSAP) - Adler Planetarium - Chicago, Illinois, June 26 - July 2, 2005 will "explore the rich and diverse ways in which people of the past and present incorporate astronomical events into literary, visual, and performance arts." ...

... Check out the ‘Greatest’ portrait of Saturn - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.24.05 ...

... Scientific exploration and inspiration for students are good reasons for public funding of space projects: It’s not rocket science - Financial Times - Feb.25.05. But there are many other excellent reasons for humanity to go into space, see for example this section and this one, and they will make it happen eventually even if public funding vanishes. ...

... Not until there are far more sophisticated rovers traversing and digging into the ground, and probably not even till there are scientists working there, will the question of life on Mars be settled. In the meantime, there are going to be a lot of battles fought over the topic: Formaldehyde claim inflames martian debate - Top scientist defends data that he says point strongly to life on Mars. - news @ nature.com - Feb.25.05.


February 24, 2005

1:35 pm: News briefs ... James Oberg recounts the story of astronaut Robert Lawrence: The unsung astronaut:Robert Lawrence's sacrifice, and why it took so long to be honored by James Oberg - MSNBC - Feb.23.05 ...

... The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), funded by Paul Allen who also supported the SpaceShipOne project, will allow SETI researchers "to search deeper for fainter levels and broader types of signals": A Universe of Sounds - Technology Review - Feb.23.05. ...

... Students with great idea for space exploration can compete for $9000 fellowships sponsored by NASA: NASA Offers Prizes to Students with Revolutionary Ideas - NASA - Feb.23.05 ...

... Alan Boyle reports on an effort by Deep Space Communications Network to make a business out of transmitting personal messages, images, etc into the cosmos: Space signals for sale - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.23.05 ...

... Dennis Wingo urges that the government's new vision for space "include the development of the Moon and its resources": The Resources of the Moon and Beyond - ad Astra/Space.com - Feb.23.05 ...

... Mark Whittington looks at opposition to VSE funding: The Fight to Fund Space Exploration: Round Two - The Washington Dispatch - Feb.23.05 ...

... The Microgravity Interdisciplinary Research project will open an exhibition of photos in Edinburgh in March: MIR Dreams of Space - STILLS Exhibitions ...

... Space not big at toy business event: "Toy Fair sparse on space in shuttle wake" - collectSPACE - Feb.23.05 ...

... Satellite radio to offer racing broadcasts: Sirius to broadcast NASCAR starting in 2007 - CNET - Feb.22.05


February 22, 2005

4:25 pm: Tracking a fiasco... Congress, in its collective ham-fisted oafishness, dictated after 9/11 that the government place restrictions on access to spacecraft tracking information. Apparently, this will keep terrorists from shooting down comsats with RPGs.

Such access previously has been free and easily obtained from NORAD. Various services redistributed the tracking data to astronomers, satellite tracking hobbyists, space radio enthusiasts, etc. Tracking programs such as CelesTrak, for example, can automatically update their satellite tracking elements.

Recently, however, a NASA site that provided tracking data has gone off-line, despite a promise of a 90 day transition period. Users must now go to Space-Track to obtain the data. This only requires a free registration but users are not allowed to redistribute the tracking elements. So all those web sites and tracking programs out there will no longer be able to provide current data, at least if they are US based.

See, for example, SatPasses, which provided tracking predictions as to when the ISS would pass over US cities. Now the site says:

Note: We sincerely regret that due to changes in federal regulations we are no longer able to publish ISS pass predictions!

I'm sure the ISS astronauts now feel much, much safer from terrorist assaults!

The page CelesTrak: Important Notice is providing periodic updates on their efforts to deal with these new restrictions.

A subset of satellite tracking data, such as the AMSAT - Amateur Satellites, will still be available online. See AMSAT - Online Satellite Pass Predictions.

Of course, foreign sites will not be bound by these restrictions. See, for example, Top 50 - List of Bright Satellites and Visual Satellite Observer, though they also typically obtain their data from NORAD. (If they get the data anyway and republish it, I doubt they will be extradited to US courts.)

This reminds me of the decision by Congress in the late 1990s to place severe restrictions on the export of any and all space-related technologies, even to friendly countries, in response to some ill-advised assistance on satellite launchers given to the Chinese by Loral and Hughes.

Congress once again shows that it is incapable of making sensible policies with respect to space that carefully and effectively targets the particular problem without causing devastating collateral damage to nearby legitimate activity.

4:25 pm: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, February 22, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - the show features Ian Brewster, co-author of "The Simple Universe."

Sunday, February 27, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) features Tom Hill, a practicing aerospace engineer and space activist discussing his new book "Space: What Now?"

4:25 pm: This week's AMSAT news: Orbital Data Redistribution Update * 2005 Combined Federal Campaign Application * ARISS School Contact Schedule * NPS RadioFest 2005


February 21, 2005

The Space Journalism Prize

12:45 pm: Finding a prize space article ... In today's issue of the Space Review, Sam Dinkin announced the 2004 Space Journalism Prize. Sam is sponsoring the contest, which will award a $1000 prize for "the best article promoting human spacefaring that appeared in a print or web publication during 2004". Sam, Jeff Foust and I will serve as the contest judges.

In his announcement, Sam makes clear his passion for space settlement and is offering the contest as one blow "in cracking the nut that is colonization." He points to "the wildly abundant resources that we can see mere seconds away" and wants to encourage people who are helping to get the word out about them.

Sam emphasizes the American Wild West model. I look farther back and see space colonization as a continuation of the process that began when humanity spilled out of Africa and spread around the globe.

People eventually reached even the most remote areas of the world. The Polynesian colonization of the Pacific islands is my favorite analogy to space settlement. I never ceast to be amazed at the level of courage, skill, and ambition it took to set forth in a small boat out upon an immense ocean in search of a new island home. On a calm, clear night with the dark ocean below and the glittering stars above, they must have actually felt like they were traveling in space. They relied on the heavens for navigation and they would find it perfectly natural that we would continue on in our travels and head directly for those stars.

12:45 pm News briefs ... When I see a big Cat on the Moon, I'll know we are making real progress in space: Area natives lend hand as NASA shoots for the moon - PJStar.com (Peoria Il.)- Feb.20.05 ...

... Someone offers a multimedia primer on Kubrick's 2001 and gives one particular interpretation of the film: Kubrick 2001: The space odyssey explained ...

... Some fabulous images from Saturn system are posted at Saturn Today - SpaceRef


February 19, 2005

1:35 pm: Science and art... Many of the pictures seen in magazines and newspapers that come from astronomical observatories like the Hubble Telescope and from space probes like Huygens at Saturn are often not true color photos. In fact, some of the images may have been produced by radio wave, infrared, and other non-visible spectrum bands. Even for visible light imagery, false colors are often used to highlight particular features of interest.

The researchers who produce these images must make choices and judgments on the colors, the contrast, intensity range, and other aspects of the images. So a certain degree of art enters into it. A speaker at the AAAS meeting in Washington D.C. this week argues that in fact the degree can be quite high: Hubble pics 'like romantic art' - BBC - Feb.18.05 * Artists of the final frontier - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.18.05.

1:35 pm: Pluto outreach ... The New Horizons - Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission under development at Johns Hopkins University is aiming for a launch next January. It will take the probe 10 years to reach Pluto.

To encourage interest in the program, the web site offers a lot of interesting educational material and promotional items such as a screensaver, models, artwork, and posters.

This E-Card allows you to put your name on the spacecraft and have it taken to Pluto and beyond ...


February 18, 2005

3:25 pm: Mars life disputed... NASA disavows the Space.com report that NASA researchers are claiming the methane on Mars definitely indicates life: NASA Denies Life on Mars Claim - NASA Watch - Feb.18.05.

Hardly surprising that NASA management would disown this. They would want to review it internally since anything published by a NASA researcher is typically reported as an official NASA result. This differs from a university where researchers can publish something dramatic and the media usually report it as the work of the individual researchers, not as a production of the university.

The official statement also hints that NASA wants to discount the methane finding made by the European Mars Express spacecraft. The agency, however, won't be able to keep outside scientists from using this, and now possibly the detection of formaldehyde, to make their own claims about Mars life.

11:40 am: News briefs.... Another researcher believes the Mars Express data indicates life on Mars:A whiff of life on the Red Planet - New Scientist - Feb.16.05 ...

... At least we know that conditions were once ripe for life there: Water Spread Across Much of Ancient Mars, Creating Conditions for Life - Space.com - Feb.17.05...

... Data from the Apollo missions are still producing interesting results: Scientists Find Deeper Meaning for Moon Rumblings - NY Times - Feb.15.05...

... The auroral light shows on Saturn can go on for days:Bright Lights, Eerie 'Heartbeat' at Saturn - Space.com - Feb.16.05 (Note that I keep a list of resources to natural space sounds in the Space Music section.)...

... Laurie Anderson continues to tour her space inspired production: An artist's year in NASA's orbit - New York Daily News - Feb.17.05

11:40 am: Tech briefs.... Here is a report - Rambling robots show human efficiency - New Scientist - Feb.17.05 - on robots that use a less fragile and power consuming walking mechanism than what is used by these types of robots ...

... Gizmag.com offers a lot of great tech news.


February 16, 2005

6:05 pm: Mars bugs? Brian Berger at Space.com is reporting that two NASA researchers are trying to publish a paper that argues the methane detected by earth telescopes and confirmed by the European Mars Express spacecraft is produced by subsurface life: NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars by - Space.com - Feb.16.05. These researchers have found an earth analog system that shows similar emissions.

Methane doesn't last long in the Martian atmosphere so it needs to be produced by something. However, it might be from volcanic activity. Here are some earlier reports on Mars life and methane:


February 15, 2005

1:25 pm: News briefs... Leonard David examines the search for hard evidence of life on Mars currently or in the past: Is There Life on Mars? Looking for Rock Solid Evidence - Space.com - Feb.14.05 ...

... Here are presentations at a recent NASA meeting about deciding on the course of Mars exploration: Presentations from the NASA Robotic & Human Exploration of Mars Roadmap Committee Meeting 4-5 Jan 2005 - SpaceRef - Feb.14.05 ...

... This article suggests starting Mars exploration by going to the Moon: How to Make the Space Vison Work (Hint: It's the Moon!) - adAstra/Space.com - Feb.15.05 ...

... A review of the Pluto : Pluto at 75: a uniquely American anniversary - The Space Review - Feb.14.05

1:25 pm: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, February 15, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time )- the show features Michael Laine, President and founder of LiftPort, which was started to support and promote the business prospects for the space elevator.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005, 7:00-8:30PM (Pacific Time) frequent quest Robert Zimmerman will be on this special edition of the Space Show to discuss recent space developments such as the new guidelines from the FAA on suborbital RLV operations.

Sunday, February 20, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) - "Mark R. Whittington, author of “Children of Apollo” which is an alternate history novel set during the early space program. Mr. Whittington is a writer and space policy analyst residing in Houston, Texas. He also writes numerous articles about space topics in USA Today, the LA Times, the Houston Chronicle, and the online magazine Washington Dispatch. Mark runs a blog called Curmudgeons Corner"


1:25 pm: This week's AMSAT news: AMSAT Financial Reporting Improvements * Miami Hamfest Report * Fairview School ARISS Contact Successful * ARISS Status


February 12, 2005

3:40 pm: News briefs... The company Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) is not giving up on making a business of satellite data/voice services. It will use a ground/space combo system to make it competitive with current ground-based only systems: New Generation of Communications Services to Emerge With Today's FCC Action; MSV Moves Ahead On Vision For MSS - MSV (Mobile Satellite Venture) - Feb.10.05 ...

... XM Satellite Radio now has 3.2 million subscribers and expects over 5 million by the end of 2005: XM loss, subscribers increase - spacetoday.net - Feb.11.05 ...

... NASA gets a small boost but some areas like aeronautics take a hit: Reaction to FY 2006 NASA Budget Continues - NASA Watch - Feb.12.05 ...

... . Does Mars need women? Russians say no: Russian space effort's gender war dates back to '60s - MSNBC - Feb.11.05.

3:40 pm: Under water and in space... A cliché criticism of humans living in space is that it would necessarily resemble the dark, claustrophobic existence of a submarine voyage. That's invalid for at least two reasons: there is a lot of space available in space and there is plenty of sunlight there too.

For example, while current space stations are rather cramped, we will soon have large, roomy habitats using inflatable structures like that under development at Bigelow Aerospace. And there are no fundamental engineering obstacles to extremely large structures.

And there is certainly no reason for space dwellers to live in the dark since the Sun is right there to take advantage of. Light piping and other techniques can bring bright sunshine into even the tightly enclosed worlds of early habitat designs. On earth our atmosphere spreads sunlight around to give us a brilliant blue sky in the daytime but there is no reason large habitats can't also spread light around as well.

All that being said, I still think that visiting an underwater resort would be a great treat. There have long been promises of aquatic hotels but most never made it past the design stage. However, this project - Poseidon Resorts - looks promising. Check out more links to underwater habitat projects and private submarines.


February 10, 2005

11:45 am: Hubble battles ... The Save the Hubble organization continues its efforts to save the observatory. In his latest update, Michael Paolucci of SLOOH reports that the campaign has raised $13,000. You can make a contribution here.

1:15 am: News briefs ... Alan Boyle highlights some amazing views sent from our space probes reporting from other worlds: Mars seen on wide-screen - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.7.05 * Saturn's blue heaven - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.8.05 ...

... And here are some amazing panoramas taken by people visiting the Moon: Apollo 11 - 17 Mission First man on the Moon - Fullscreen QTVR photo from panoramas.dk ...

... The winds of Titan were measured after all: First measurement of Titan's winds from Huygens - ESA - Feb.9.05 ...

... An obsessed space history buff gets some well deserved recognition: In Computer Years, Apollo Replica's an Antique - NY Times - Feb.10.05 ...

... Tom Gangale of OPS-Alaska sent me a list of interesting sites, some of which I have links to already, but they warrant repeating:

  • Astrosociology.com is dedicated to promoting the study of the interactions of space and society.
  • Space Synapse Systems - Anna Hill created the company Space Synapse to make "the human experience of Space travel widely available and relevant to life on Earth through interactive art and design, education and outreach."
  • Moonfront - does space consulting in the areas of design and research, education and outreach, media and entertainment, and space commercialization.
  • Astrocourier is "developing new spaceflight carrier services for clients in research, educational and merchandise files who require affordable and efficient transportation to space on a regular basis."
  • LIQUIFER is a collaboration of Susmita Mohanty Moon and Barbara Imhof who have worked on a number of space architecture related projects.
  • synthesis international involves space architect Constance Adams and is developing a wide range of projects, many of which are space related.

The OPS-Alaska and Astrosociology.com sites remind me that I should develop a section dedicated to the social aspects of space development. This would deal both with its impact on earth societies and on how societies will be created in space.


February 8, 2005

7:55 am: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, Feb.8, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - Dr. Ira Sharlip, space tourism, space medicine, and medicine in Iraq.

Sunday, February 13, 2005, 12:00- 1:30 pm (Pacific Time) - Wayne White, noted space attorney specializing in space property rights and more.

7:55 am: This week's AMSAT news: AMSAT P3E Report * OSCAR SKN 2005 * AMSAT Fundraising * ARISS Status

12:55 am: News briefs ... James Oberg points to a case study of space agency safety culture going bad: What does a sick "space safety culture" smell like? - The Space Review - Feb.7.05 ...

... Jeff Foust shows some excellent snapshots from the new Air & Space Museum extension: Photo Gallery: McDonnell Space Hangar at Udvar-Hazy Center - Jeff Foust - The Space Review ...

... The Planetary Society has collected the sound files from the microphone on the Huygens space probe as it descending onto Titan: Planetary Sounds: Sounds from the Huygens Microphone ...

... You can watch online the lectures of Dr. Bruce Betts in his Astronomy and Planetary Science course at California State University, Dominguez Hills for the Spring Semester 2005: TPS: Astronomy and Planetary Science with Bruce Betts


February 7, 2005

12:45 am: News briefs ... I came across this article - Moon Music - Moon Miners Manifesto (page 7) - March 1987 - in which Peter Kokh speculates on how lunar settlers living off the land might create musical instruments ...

... There have been nearly two decades worth of great ideas for lunar living and development offered by Peter and others in the Moon Miners Manifesto ...

... The mission of the ARC - Alliance to Rescue Civilization is to create "continuously staffed facilities on the Moon and other locations away from Earth" in order "to protect the human species and its civilization from destruction that could result from a global catastrophic event". The project's leadership roster is quite impressive. ...

... The restoration project for the Saturn V at the Houston Space Center begins by protecting the mighty rocket from the weather: Inside the Saturn V's Houston home - collectSPACE - Feb.4.05 ...

... Making Mars suitable for outdoor living, begins with some gas: Best Way to Make Mars Habitable: Inject Greenhouse Gas - Space.com - Feb.3.05 ...

... Kenneth Schweitzer informs me that the forums at Space Investor are now up and running...

... .Alan Boyle finds a wacky wabbit on the wed pwaanet: Bugs spotted on Mars - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.3.05 .

SciTech brief... Gee, I could get all the seasons of all the Star Trek series on just one of these holographic storage disks and have room left over for the ST movies as well: Group aims to drastically up disc storage - CNET - Feb.3.05.


February 3, 2005

5:35 pm: News briefs ... Richard Godwin offers 19 excellent reasons for people to go into outer space: Why Send People Instead of Just Robots Into Space? - ad Astra/Space.com - Jan.28.05 ...

... Alan Boyle describes a proposed replacement for the Hubble telescope: A new and improved Hubble? - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Feb.2.05 ...

... This problem - Lawyers Lay Waste to Military Models Industry - Strategy Page - Feb.3.05 - might start to affect rocketry and spacecraft modeling ...

... Here are some suggestions with regard to satellite radio devices: Satellite Radio Article - the-gadgeteer - Jan.20.05 ...

... Alabama's scheme for funding the Saturn V restoration looks to be off to a good start: All systems go for Saturn V tag: Space Center hits state deadline with last-minute push - Huntsville Times - Feb.01.04 ...

... At least some at NASA are thinking that space is not just for science: NASA - Space Settlement.

5:35 pm: Big time space sims ... Space simulation games are getting increasingly sophisticated and are starting to be used in real space development: Games Join.Space Race - Wired - Feb.3.05.

For example, the space station simulation developed by Vision Videogames is going to be used with Raytheon to develop their proposed systems for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) system for Earth-Moon exploration: Vision Videogames Assists Raytheon in NASA Initiative to Develop Virtual Moon Vehicle - Vision Videogames -Jan.18.05.

By the way, Vision Videogames is looking for people to test their SpaceStationSim beta version: Vision Videogames Seeks Game Testers for SpaceStationSIM Game- i-Newswire.com - Dec.20.04. ...

... DigitalSpace Commons is a company that develops 3D modeling and simulation programs. Check out the many space related projects, including CEV development, such as this Concepts for Lunar Exploration Staging Rack.


February 1, 2005

1:50 pm: Space music briefs ... From Eli Goldberg at Prometheus Music comes word that NASA has released their Born of Dreams - Inspired by Freedom DVD-ROM, which includes a full recording of Witnesses' Waltz from the To Touch the Stars album. See the Social History/Aviation and Space Music essay area of the DVD. You can obtain this DVD for free ($1.90 postage): www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/what.html ...

... More info about the Music2Titan project: Rock 'n' Roll is out of this world! - ESA Portal - Jan.31.05.

1:50 pm: News briefs ... Space artists work with space developers to show the way: Universe Looks Good From Here - Wired - Feb.1.05 ...

... The NSS will collaborate with Space.com not only on ad Astra Online but also with the print magazine: National Space Society Partners with SPACE.com on Web Site, Magazine - Space.com - Jan.31.05 ...

... Mars construction will be trickier than how it's done on earth: Sands of Mars: Driving, digging, mining: these are things astronauts will be doing one day in the sands of Mars. It's not as simple as it sounds. - Science@NASA - Jan.31.05 ...

... Here is some interesting and nice looking artwork of a Mars base: Janek Kozicki - Base on Mars

1:50 pm: The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, February 1, 2005, 7:00-8:15 pm (Pacific Time ) - Rusty Schweickart, former astronaut and Chairman, B612 Foundation.

Sunday, February 6, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm (Pacific Time) - Dr. David P. Millier, Professor of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering at The University of Oklahoma, will discuss the Sooner Lunar Schooner and Botball.


Continue to January 2005 articles in archive

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