Patrick Stewart Plays China’s Broken Moon Rover

Posted by Bob Muir on Feb 6, 2014 in Science, Tech

"Jade Rabbit"

China put a rover on the moon called Jade Rabbit, which is all well and good — but it’s already having technical difficulties dealing with the moon’s atmosphere. That’s kind of a big problem if you want your rover to work on the moon. As night falls on the moon, China is trying to fix Jade Rabbit, but there’s a good chance that it won’t recover. The rover has been “writing” about its experiences in the Chinese media, and his latest entry is a sort of goodbye letter. How better to present this semisweet moment than dressing up Star Trek‘s Patrick Stewart as the rover and having him read the final lines? That’s what The Daily Show did. The whole segment provides good coverage of the incident, but you can skip to 4:50 if you just want to see Stewart in gold foil and styrofoam like some old Doctor Who monster. Read more…

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An Elegant Plea for Space Exploration

Posted by Michael Pinto on Nov 6, 2011 in Science

Only 12 men have walked on the surface of the moon

The amazing video below (which is from The Sagan Series) uses audio from the Carl Sagan audio book The Pale Blue Dot and is a wonderful argument for a return to the moon:

Read more…

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Dear Congress: If You’re Serious About NASA Going to Mars That Requires a Serious Budget

Posted by Michael Pinto on Feb 25, 2010 in Science

Charles Broden speaking to Congress

Not so long ago congress was picking apart NASA chief Charles Bolden for not having a solid plan for space exploration: This is putting the blame in the wrong place which belongs with congress. Frankly a trip to Mars or even just the Moon requires a huge financial investment. Unlike the 60s NASA is highly invested in an ancient space shuttle fleet that’s due to expire and a huge stake in a space station which is in mid-life, not to mention dozens of other side projects which involve everything to investigating climate change to send probes to the furthest reaches of the solar system. Read more…

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The Final Moonwalk of the 20th Century

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 13, 2009 in Science

Apollo 17 in 1972: The last moonwalk of the 20th Century

On this day in 1972 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt went out for their third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) — which is known to us civilians as a moonwalk. The Apollo 17 mission would mark the last time in the 20th Century when humans would walk the surface of the moon. While the close of that century would start a new golden age of astronomy with many planets outside of our solar system being discovered, it’s been a dark age of space exploration. And yet least we forget: The nation that went to the moon was in the middle of an expensive Cold War, was fighting an actual war in Asia and was enacting new healthcare programs — and yet they still had the gumption to go. Read more…

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Low Budget Lunar Exploration

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jul 17, 2009 in Science

This is an interesting Science Now segment from the PBS series Nova on doing unmanned lunar exploration on a low budget. It shows how a team working on the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) used every day items to create a payload experiment that would look for traces of water on the moon. Read more…

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Moon Trailer: Close Encounters of the Personal Kind

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 20, 2009 in Cinema

I already like what little I’ve seen of this film in the trailer, there are a few nice homages to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien which make the fanboy in me quite happy. So far very little is up on their website although the film will be out in New York and LA on June 12th. Here’s a description which gives you the basics: Read more…

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Obama is Dead Serious About Quickly Going Back to the Moon: Great News for NASA Fanboys

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jan 4, 2009 in Science

New NASA capsule Orion resembles Apollo

The most recent NASA soap opera started with administrator Michael Griffin giving the incoming Obama transition team a hard time — coming from an engineering background Griffin’s fear was that the Obama administration was going to gut the new moon rocket program. To be fair to Griffin the program was way over budget (so it looked like a good target) and early in the campaign trail Obama sent mixed signals on his support for manned exploration. The latest chapter was Griffin’s wife sending out a sad email pleading his case to keep his job (despite the fact that he is a Bush administration employee). Read more…

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Earthrise: The 40th Anniversary

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 24, 2008 in Science

1968: The first Earthrise to be witnessed by a human

On Christmas Eve of 1968 for the first time humankind watched the earth rise thanks Apollo 8 reaching the orbit of the Moon:

Happy Birthday Earthrise

“As Apollo 8 nosed its way back from the far side of the Moon for the fourth time, it was Frank Borman who first spotted the view by chance from a window, his reaction captured by the on board tape recorder. “Oh, my God! Look at that picture over there!” he exclaimed. “Isn’t that something…” After a quick joke about the fact that it was not in their flight plan to photograph it, the crew abandoned protocol and scrambled to get a snap of the occasion with their stills camera. The Hasselblad only had a black and white film magazine in, resulting in the image above – the first photograph of Earthrise taken by a human as he watched it happen.”

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Ten Reasons NASA Should Go to Mars Instead of the Moon

Posted by Michael Pinto on Dec 9, 2008 in Science

Martian Colony

As a new administration comes in I’m starting to see NASA push hard for the idea of returning to the moon. My own feeling is that this is going backwards, and people should speak up about it now. Frankly my larger worry is that in view of a major economic downturn that NASA will have their budget chopped yet again — and what sad is that there hasn’t been any serious investment in the program for almost forty years now. So here are my ten reasons why we should try to land on Mars by 2018 instead of going back to 1969: Read more…

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The Moon is an Ice Free Zone

Posted by Michael Pinto on Oct 24, 2008 in Science

If the moon had ice it might be slightly easier to colonize, but sadly it looks like the moon is a dry mistress:

Hopes Dashed for Ice on Moon 

“New images of Shackleton taken by the Japanese lunar explorer satellite KAGUYA (SELENE) support the view that there likely aren’t any exposed water ice deposits in the crater. Junichi Haruyama of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and his team analyzed the images and data. They suggest that temperatures in the crater are less than -297 degrees Fahrenheit (-183 degrees Celsius), certainly cold enough to hold ice. But the images reveal no conspicuous brightness that would indicate a patch of pure water ice.

This new analysis, detailed in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Science, could mean that there is no water ice present at all in Shackleton crater, or that any ice that exists is mixed into the lunar dirt in low amounts, Haruyama and his team concluded.”

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India’s Major Leap to the Moon

Posted by Michael Pinto on Oct 22, 2008 in Science

While it breaks my heart that NASA is in such a sad state it’s great to see India take this major step into exploration. India still have a long way to go to catch up with China, but they’ve just made some real history today. Perhaps the 21st Century will be about space exploration no longer being limited to a few nations but becoming common place:

India launches first Moon mission

“The unmanned Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft blasted off smoothly from a launch pad in southern Andhra Pradesh to embark on a two-year mission of exploration. The robotic probe will orbit the Moon, compiling a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and mapping the distribution of elements and minerals.

The launch is regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia. Indian PM Manmohan Singh hailed the launch as the “first step” in a historic milestone in the country’s space programme. “Our scientific community has once again done the country proud and the entire nation salutes them,” Mr Singh said in a message.

The launch was greeted with applause by scientists gathered at the site.”

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