Astronews Daily Ext. Edition (2455505)

November 4, 2010 12:11 by scibuff

Videos

Approaching Hartley 2

Approaching Hartley 2 Four images captured at about 09:20 every day for four days from October 29 to November 1 document the increasing brightness of Hartley 2 against the background star field as seen from Deep Impact, which was approaching for its November 4 flyby. The images have been rotated to align them. Credit: NASA / JPL / UMD / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

Space Shuttle Discovery/STS-133's final RSS rollback

  

Top Stories

Deep Impact’s Hartley 2 Encounter Timeline – Close approach takes place at 13:50 UTC November 4, spacecraft event time. Find out what time this is in your time zone. –Emily Lakdawalla / The Planetary Society

NASA Mission in Final Day Before Comet Meetup – Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have relayed final instructions to their comet-bound spacecraft today, Nov. 3. The new programming will guide NASA’s EPOXI mission through its close approach with comet Hartley 2 –NASA/JPL

STS-133: Discovery scrubbed ahead of tanking for 24 hours – The Mission Management Team (MMT) have concluded their evalations on Thursday morning by deciding to scrub for 24 hours, due to unacceptable weather conditions. The decision came just prior to coming out of the hold for the loading of Discovery’s External Tank (ET-137). –NASA Space Flight

LHC to Recreate Conditions Just After Big Bang – So far, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has destroyed billions of protons by colliding them head-on inside its super-chilled detectors. Soon, however, the protons won’t be alone, lead ions — whole atomic nuclei — will be smashed up. Why? To recreate the conditions immediately after the Big Bang. –Ian O’Neill / Discovery News

Newly Discovered Comet 2010 V1 – IAUC 9175 brings surprising news of the visual discovery of a bright comet by two Japanese amateurs, Kaoru Ikeya and Shigeki Murakami. Visual magnitude estimates by the discoverers and Juan Jose Gonzalez of Spain place the comet between magnitude 7.5 and 9 with the brighter magnitude be more likely. The comet is currently a morning object in Virgo at an elongation of 32°. An orbit has yet to be published. -Carl Hergenrother / Transient Sky

Did Physicists Find Evidence of a Fourth Neutrino Flavor? – When neutrinos change from one phase to another, they tell us something about their mysterious nature. These ghostly subatomic particles come in three flavors, physicists say: muon, tau, and electron. Just this summer, a team caught a neutrino in the act of changing from muon to tau, a finding that backed up the argument that these particles do, in fact, have mass. This week, a new study of neutrino oscillation—the changing of flavors—suggests an deeper mystery, and implies that these three flavors of neutrino may not be enough to account these particles’ behavior. –Discovery Magazine Blogs

Gettin’ high on the Moon – How would you know how high up you are? Well, if you had the elevation data made by the the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter you’d be all set, because then you’d know that if you were at a latitude of 5.4125° and longitude of 201.3665°, you’d be on the highest spot on the Moon! –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

[more stories]

Photos

Pad 39A at Night

Pad 39A at Night

Storm clouds over VAB!

Storm clouds over VAB!

A crescent Saturn

A crescent Saturn

A visual amateur comet discovery

A visual amateur comet discovery

  
IC 359

IC 359

NGC 7635 - Bubble Nebula

NGC 7635 - Bubble Nebula

NGC7000 - The North American Nebula

NGC7000 - The North American Nebula

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Night Lights

Constellations of lights sprawl across this night scene, but they don't belong in the skies of planet Earth. Instead, the view looks down from the International Space Station as it passed over the United States along the northern Gulf Coast on October 29. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is docked in the foreground. Behind its extended solar panels, some 360 kilometers below, are the recognizable city lights of New Orleans. Looking east along the coast to the top of the frame finds Mobile, Alabama while Houston city lights stand out to the west, toward the bottom. North (left) of New Orleans, a line of lights tracing central US highway I55 connect to Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. Of course, the lights follow the population centers, but not everyone lives on planet Earth all the time these days. November 2nd marked the first decade of continuous human presence in space on board the International Space Station. - Credit: ISS Expedition 25, NASA

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Bill Maher: sending man to the Moon is a huge waste of money

March 16, 2009 17:48 by scibuff

It seems that the amount of buzz around NASA shuttle and space programs correlates with the wave of protests against the money the flows to NASA’s budget. I understand that especially in the current economic crisis everyone is ready to point fingers and try to squeeze just a little bit more from every possible source. I must admit, however, that I was very surprised that both Bill Maher, the host of Real Time on HBO, and his guest on the March 6th show, Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, said that sending man to the Moon was a huge waste of money.

For one, despite his relentless fight to decriminalization of marijuana (whicht be of some help in the current crisis just and abandoning prohibition helped in the 30’s), judging by his articulateness, the propensity to skepticism and fight against superstitious belief, I consider Bill Maher to be a well educated person. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt … Perhaps, people who are not enthusiastic about natural sciences and the space (exploration) in particular, are not familiar with everything a “simple” mission to the Moon entails, and the benefits it brings.

First of all, NASA’s current FY 2008 budget of $17.318 billion represents about 0.6% of the $2.9 trillion United States federal budget. Americans spend over $45 billion per year just on soft drinks. For less than half of that amount, NASA is not only pushing the boundaries of our knowledge of cosmos, but also creating commerce, assisting with education, enhancing health care, monitoring climate change and improving weather forecasting.

Furthermore, money given to NASA does not disappear in a black hole (like they tend to on earmarks). It has been conservatively estimated by U.S. space experts, that for every dollar the U.S. spends on research and development in the space program, it receives $7 back in the form of corporate and personal income taxes. This value is even higher for the Apollo Program; some estimates put it at around $20. Besides the obvious jobs created in the aerospace industry, thousands more are created by contractors utilizing NASA technology in non-space related parts of economy. Every dollar invested in the space program is returned exponentially in the form of new products, technologies, and businesses. Applications of technology needed for space flight have produced thousands of spin-offs that improve our everyday lives.

Just to name some, without NASA their would be no virtual reality, pool cleaning, golf balls, quality athletics shoes, accurate weather forecast, breast cancer detection, digital cameras, pacemakers, no F1 and Nascar heat protections for drivers; the list goes on and on for miles.

Unfortunately, some do not stop at NASA. They take their fight against science even further. Last week on Monday, March 9, President Obama reversed the embryonic stem cell research ban (the ban was actually on federal funding of such research). Yet, on the same day, the legislative committee of the state of Georgia passed a bill (which was approved by the state senate on Thursday) restricting stem cell research in the state by defining a living human embryo to be a person. Stem cell research is related to so many others scientific advances. The US used to be at the cutting edge of scientific advances, now the world see it more as a country held back by primitive superstitious beliefs where (un)Inteligent Design can pass for science in schools.

The only way to fight against lies about science is to keep repeating the same old truth. Science is no way waste of money, brains or time. It is the exact opposite. Without science, you wouldn’t even have the means to read this article (nor would I to create this blog). The Internet began as a network that linked computer networks at several universities and research laboratories. The World Wide Web was developed in 1989 for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN); you know, the place where the The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) might create a black hole which will destroy the Earth.

I believe that people who don’t see the benefits science offer suffer from a severe case of myopia – the kind of shortsightedness that caused the current economic problems. If you’re still not sure that science why is important, I suggest you watch this video from Alom Shaha.