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Tuesday, October 31, 2006
NASA to Fix Hubble
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:33 am

The new director has decided to fix Hubble after all: NASA says Hubble repair mission is a go

Filed under: Space | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Dallas’ Embarrassment Top Rated Cable Show of All Time
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:16 am

Via Bloomberg: ESPN’s Monday Night Football Has Highest-Ever Cable-TV Rating

The New York Giants’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys on ESPN’s Monday Night Football registered the highest rating ever for a cable network program.

Yesterday’s game had a preliminary rating of 11.4 to edge out a 1993 trade debate between Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot that aired on CNN’s “Larry King Live,'’ said ESPN spokesman Dave Nagel, citing data from Nielsen Media Research. The debate had an 11.1 rating.

So, Tony Romo can rest assurred that his 3 INTs were seen by lots and lots of people.

A decision on who will start for Dallas is to be made today. I say go with Romo, as it is clear that Bledsoe can’t move and isn’t going to get any better. Romo, at least, can improve (at least theoretically).

Filed under: Pop Culture, Space, The NFL | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Saturday, September 9, 2006
Atlantis Flies
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:25 pm

Via the AP:  Atlantis on its way to space station

A chunk of the hard foam appeared to hit the shuttle’s belly, but “it didn’t look like there was any damage,” Mission Control told the Atlantis crew. That foam loss, and another, came more than four minutes into the launch, when they pose less of a damage threat, said LeRoy Cain, chairman of the mission management team.

May that assessment be correct.

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Sunday, September 3, 2006
European Probe Makes it to the Moon
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:26 am

Via the NYT/ the AP: Europe’s Spacecraft Reaches Moon

The SMART-1 spacecraft slammed into volcanic plain called the Lake of Excellence at 1 1/4 miles per second right on time. The impact was captured by observers on Earth, and scientists hoped the resulting cloud of dust and debris would provide clues to the geologic composition of the site.'’That’s it — we are in the Lake of Excellence,'’ said spacecraft operations chief Octavio Camino as applause broke out in the European Space Agency’s mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany. ‘’We have landed.'’


During its months in orbit around the moon, the spacecraft scanned the lunar surface from orbit and took high-resolution pictures. But its primary mission was testing a new, efficient, ion propulsion system that officials hope to use on future interplanetary missions, including the BepiColombo mission to Mercury slated for 2013.

SMART-1 was launched into Earth’s orbit by an Ariane-5 booster rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, in September 2003. It used its ion engine to slowly raise its orbit over 14 months until the moon’s gravity grabbed it.

The engine, which uses electricity from the craft’s solar panels to produce a stream of charged particles called ions, generates only small amounts of thrust but only needed 176 pounds of xenon fuel.


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Friday, August 25, 2006
A Revolting Development over Pluto
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:29 am

Via the BBC: Pluto vote ‘hijacked’ in revolt

A fierce backlash has begun against the decision by astronomers to strip Pluto of its status as a planet. On Thursday, experts approved a definition of a planet that demoted Pluto to a lesser category of object.

But the lead scientist on Nasa’s robotic mission to Pluto has lambasted the ruling, calling it “embarrassing”.

And the chair of the committee set up to oversee agreement on a definition implied that the vote had effectively been “hijacked”.

As a political scientist, I find all this open, public argument over the status of Pluto to be somewhat amusing, given that the hard sciences usually like to preen about their concise usage of language and the fact that they have empirically superior categories of classification.

The truth of the matter is: smart people like to argue about what words mean, and scientists of all stripes love to categorize things. Indeed, they often treat the definition and categorization of items with a zeal that borders on the religious at times.

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Blog @ » Blog Archive » While You’re Waiting….. linked with [...] A Revolting Development over Pluto [...]
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Planet no More
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:38 am

Via CNN: Pluto gets the boot:

Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930.

Well, I guess the mnemonic I learned for the planets in 3rd grade needs to be updated (My Very Earthly Mother Anna (for the asteroid belt) Just Sold Us Nine Pickles). And I kid thee not: I do remember that still from waaaay back in elementary school.

And the hard science types make fun of us social scientist because we argue about definitions….

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:02 am

Via CNN: Wireless robots may float above the Earth

Jones believes his solar-powered, helium-filled Stratellites _ so named because they would hang in the stratosphere — could replace unsightly cell towers and cost less than satellites. Because of the airship’s altitude according to Jones, its radio equipment can cover an area the size of Texas.

Cell towers are hampered by line-of-sight limitations and limited range. Geostationary satellites suffer from the quarter-second it takes a signal to travel out 22,300 miles and back — insignificant in one-way TV transmissions, but terrible for two-way Internet computer communications.

Jones said his floating platforms will carry radio equipment that uses both licensed and unlicensed airwaves. The company will license spectrum if required and also work with companies that already have licenses, he said.

While Jones dreams of covering whole states with wireless services, Arizona-based Space Data thinks it can fill a cellular void by floating weather balloons in the stratosphere that would bring coverage to remote regions.

Space Data plans to test fly a balloon next month over a remote part of North Dakota to demonstrate the technology. The company, which is negotiating with several unidentified cell phone providers, could launch its first commercial balloon as early as next year over west Texas.

“Someday, you can just get a plan from your cell phone provider and you won’t even know if you’re on the balloon or if you’re on the tower,” said Chief Executive Jerry Knoblach. “You’ll just talk but you’ll have coverage even from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.”

But questions abound about the durability of dirigibles. No vehicle has ever stayed in the stratosphere — located above the jet stream where clouds rarely form and where temperatures hover around freezing — for months at a time. It’s unclear how the environment would affect a dirigible.


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Wednesday, August 16, 2006
12 Planets
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

Via the BBC: Planets plan boosts tally to 12

“For the first time in more than 75 years, we will be able to discover new planets in our Solar System. This is a fascinating prospect,” said Richard Binzel, a member of the IAU planet definition committee which put together the proposal.

Dr Andrew Coates of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Dorking said he thought the plan was “a good compromise”.

He explained: “It keeps the idea of eight classical planets, while Pluto is allowed to retain its status. But other objects are allowed in, which I suppose makes life more interesting.”

Experts have been divided over whether Pluto - further away and considerably smaller than the eight other planets in our Solar System - deserves the title.

Now, is it really “discovering” new planets or simply redefining existing objects to be planets?

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Irregular Times: News Unfit for Print linked with Pluto Demoted to Dwarf Status, Ceres Promoted to Pluton, My Left Pinky Named Matilda
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
It’s Because They Faked it!
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:05 am

Via Reuters: NASA can’t find original tape of moon landing

The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” a
NASA spokesman said on Monday.

No doubt this is helping fuel some conspiracy theorist somewhere.

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Monday, July 17, 2006
Discovery is Home
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:36 am

Good deal.

Via the AP: Space shuttle Discovery lands safely

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Friday, June 9, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:15 pm

Record meteorite hit Norway

At around 2:05 a.m. on Wednesday, residents of the northern part of Troms and the western areas of Finnmark could clearly see a ball of fire taking several seconds to travel across the sky.


“This is simply exceptional. I cannot imagine that we have had such a powerful meteorite impact in Norway in modern times. If the meteorite was as large as it seems to have been, we can compare it to the Hiroshima bomb. Of course the meteorite is not radioactive, but in explosive force we may be able to compare it to the (atomic) bomb,” Røed Ødegaard said.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Voyager 2 Approaches the Temination Shock
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:40 pm

The space geek in me couldn’t read the follownfg nd not note it: Voyager 2 Detects Odd Shape of Solar System’s Edge.

It just sounds cool:

Voyager 2 could pass beyond the outermost layer of our solar system, called the “termination shock,” sometime within the next year


Scientists determined that Voyager 1 was approaching the termination shock when it began detecting charged particles that were being pushed back toward the Sun by charged particles coming from outside our solar system. This occurred when Voyager 1 was about 85 AU from the Sun.

One AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, or 93 million miles.

In contrast, Voyager 2 began detecting returning particles while only 76 AU from the Sun.


Both Voyager spacecrafts were launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida: Voyager 2 headed out on Aug. 20, 1977, Voyager 1 on Sept. 5, 1977.

Currently, Voyager 1 is about 8.7 billion miles from the Sun and traveling at a speed of 3.6 AU per year while Voyager 2 is about 6.5 billion miles away and moving at about 3.3 AU per year.

Filed under: Space | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Saturday, April 1, 2006
First Brazilian in Space
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:03 am

Via the BBC: Brazilian pioneer docks in space

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the first Brazilian into space has docked with the International Space Station two days after lift-off from Baikonur.

Lt Col Marcos Pontes will spend nine days on board, while a Russian and a US colleague accompanying him will stay for six months.


The mission, which is costing Brazil about $10m (£6m), comes less than three years after Brazil’s space programme met with disaster when a rocket exploded on the launch pad.

The explosion of the first Brazilian rocket, built to take satellites into orbit, killed 21 people at the site in the north of the country.

However, there has also been some criticism that the cost of putting a man into space could have been used better elsewhere.

Brazil certainly finds itself with one foot firmly in the underdeveloped world, and another that is trying to gain a foothold in the developed.

Given the substantial development problems that they have, it does beg the question as to the wisdom of this investment.

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Monday, March 27, 2006
The Shuttle Program
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:42 am

The Florida Masochist notes a report on NASA and the potential that they ignored safety procedures on a 2002 shuttle flight.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006
In Memoriam
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:25 am


Also: 7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster and a previous post of mine on the Space Shuttle program.

Filed under: Space | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Florida Masochist linked with "slipped the surly bonds of earth"
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