Exploration: March 2009 Archives

A Leisurely Skype Chat With Astrobiologist Dale Andersen on Axel Heiberg Island

Editor's note: I got an email from astrobiologist Dale Andersen (@daleandersen on Twitter) just before 8 pm EDT tonight telling me to get on Skype. Dale is currently working at the McGill Arctic Research Station (MARS) on Axel Heiberg Island. Within a few moments we had an amazingly good connection with excellent picture quality. Dale picked up his Macbook and used its webcam to give me a tour inside the hut and the went outside to give me a view of the surrounding terrain.

Astrobiologist Dale Andersen Twitters from Axel Heiberg Island at 79 Degrees North

"The following Twitter posts were made by Dale Andersen at @daleandersen from McGill Arctic Research Station (MARS) on Axel Heiberg Island on 27 March 2009. MARS is located 8km inland at Expedition Fjord, Nunavut, on Central Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian High Arctic (approximately 7926'N, 9046'W). Established in 1960, MARS is one of the longest-operating seasonal field research facilities in the high Arctic. The station consists of a small research hut, a cook house, and two temporary structures. MARS can comfortably accommodate up to twelve persons."

The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Research Project -Life in Extreme Environments; An Antarctic Field Journal (1997)

Editor's note: Dale and I have been doing stuff like this for a long time - often with hardware and comms that are crude by today's standards. Have a look at the "How We Built This Website" section.

Return to Everest 2009 Update 23 March: Travel Notes From Scott Parazynski, OnOrbit.com

Day 1/March 22, 2009 (Sunday) The first steps are some of the hardest

"Every journey begins with a single, critical step. Once in motion, keeping your heading and inertia becomes much easier, the goal more in focus. I am now thankfully very much in motion, half a world away from home, blogging from the comfort of a cafe in the Frankfurt (Germany) airport, ABBA playing somewhat annoyingly the background. Ten hours ago, riding to the airport with Gail, Luke and Jenna, I had a tight knot in my stomach, trying to make light of the "quick trip" I had planned to Everest's summit and back, and otherwise trying to remain upbeat despite the anguish of separation we'd soon face. A curbside drop-off with two enormous and overweight duffels made the goodbye hugs pass too quickly, but once inside the terminal I pushed away any uncertainty I might have had and strode with confidence towards the Lufthansa counter. With just under 4 hours of sleep last night and weeks of planning and training, plus months of daily dreaming of it, I was finally on my way back to the Himalayas!"

Former Astronaut To Take Social Media to New Heights, Universe Today

"In 2008, astronaut Scott Parazynski came within 24 hours of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest when a painful back injury forced him to abandon his climb. Now, Parazynski is on his way back for another attempt at summitting the world's highest mountain peak. But this time, he wants to take the rest of the world with him. If everything works as planned, Parazynski will blog, podcast, vodcast and more during the climb, and he even wants to Twitter from the summit."

Follow Scott on Twitter at SPOTScott

Newly Restored "Picture of the Century": Lunar Orbiter 2's View of Copernicus

"The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) has released another iconic image taken during the Lunar Orbiter program in the 1960's. This image, which shows the dramatic landscape within the crater Copernicus was often referred to as the "picture of the century" by many people at the time of its original public release in 1966. This image was taken by the Lunar Orbiter 2 spacecraft at 7:05 p.m. EST on 24 November 1966 from an altitude of 28.4 miles above the lunar surface, 150 miles due south of Copernicus. At the time this image was originally released most views of the lunar surface involved looking straight down. Little, if any, sense of the true elevation of lunar surface features was usually available. This photo changed that perception by showing the Moon to be a world with tremendous topography - some of it Earth-like, much of it decidedly un-earth-like."

Editor's note: A larger, raw version (2.2 GB in size) is now online at NASA's Lunar Science Institute.

Bring NASA Back to Earth, Huffington Post

"Thus another recent NASA PR move is to tell Congress and the public that it is out to find 'life' on Mars and other planets. When many people hear references to life, images of Martians spin through their heads; some even envision civilizations that we could ally ourselves with, maybe against China, at least against some other aliens in some other galaxy. Actually, what the multi-billion dollar agency is looking for is some organic material, the size of amoebas or--even less, say, signs that once there was water on Mars. It would be nice to know, I grant you; however, given other priorities, it hardly belongs at the top of the list of what ought to be studied. Indeed, even if one insists that these funds are to be used for exploration--and not, say, finding better ways to fight disease or poverty--much more promising targets are near by, right here on Earth, in the oceans."

Editor's note: This guy has a bias and he wants to convince others that his oceans bias is better than their space bias. There is a simple solution: explore BOTH space and the oceans. The merits for so doing are equally compelling and relevant.

Public Views of Space Exploration, An independent national survey conducted by The Everett Group, February 2009

"The Everett Group, a full-service audience research firm in the DC area, specializes in surveys and focus groups on military and aerospace topics. This pilot survey on space exploration opinion was part of a larger methodological project the Everett Group conducted examining the differences between landline and cell respondents on telephone surveys. The results from this survey are statistically generalizable to the overall U.S. population, with a margin of error of +/-5.2%."

Return to Everest

Scott Parazynski: Everest Part Deux, in 3-D

"Mount Everest is calling me again. A week from today I will begin to answer that call, my first step being a very long flight to Katmandu. Last spring, after 59 arduous days on the mountain, I came tantalizingly close to reaching the summit, but had to turn back due to a severe back injury. Since then my determination to reach the summit has only strengthened, and I am physically and mentally ready for another shot at it. As I make this second summit bid, I hope to bring many of my friends - both old and new - along with me via this website. While this is a personal quest for me, in many ways, what I do - and how I do it - resonates with many other types of exploration, both on here on earth and in space. Therefore, I hope to use this climb to allow a wider audience, young and old alike, to gain some insight into how the business of exploration is done ... Please join me, Sherpa Danuru (who will be my climbing sidekick this season --- much more about him later), Keith Cowing, Miles O'Brien and the NASA trekking team as we undertake this epic adventure!"

Editor's note: You can follow Scott's climb at onorbit.com/everest. You can also follow Scott's Everest Climb on Twitter at SPOTScott

Driving Across The Northwest Passage to Make Polar History

"An international team of scientists has launched an expedition to drive the Northwest Passage on sea-ice this spring, marking the first time the Passage has ever been travelled in a road vehicle. The team, led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee, has a dual goal of studying climate change on Earth and advancing the human exploration of the Moon and Mars. The mission is an integral part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) on Devon Island, High Arctic, where research in space science and exploration is being conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)."

12 March 2009: Questions Of the Day: Is America's Space Program Worth the Money?, ABC News

There was a close call in space today. Space junk nearly hit the International Space Station forcing the astronauts to race to the Soyuz escape rocket until the danger passed. Space exploration is the subject of todays question: Given the tough economic times, given the ballooning deficits, is the nations space program still worth the money? NASAs budget is close to $20 billion.

Where Next?

Increased funding for NASA would stimulate economy while keeping American industry strong, op ed by Rep. Ralph Hall

"Accelerating development of the Constellation system would keep American tax dollars working for us here at home and have a multiplier effect throughout the economy by stimulating high-tech manufacturing and networks of suppliers around the country. This would expand our economic output and help our industries remain competitive in the global marketplace. By fostering this kind of innovation, the U.S. has earned a leadership role in human spaceflight, the economic benefits of which are far-reaching."

An Astronaut's Letter to President Obama: Six Space Policy Musts, Tom Jones

"En route to the moon forty years ago, Apollo 11's astronauts executed a course correction maneuver, an 8-mph rocket burn that fine-tuned their aim. You gave NASA a course correction with the 2010 budget plan. The $19.2 billion NASA budget (just half a percent of federal spending) may seem trivial amid the trillions spent to boost the economy, but such decisions will make or break America's status as the world leader in space. Here are six moves we need to keep NASA--and the United States--on the right trajectory."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from March 2009.

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