Exploration: March 2012 Archives

NASA Is Becoming Boring

James Cameron Completes Record-Breaking Mariana Trench Dive

"Now "the science team is getting ready for the returned samples," expedition astrobiologist Kevin Hand, of NASA, said in an email. ... Because Cameron had prepared extensively for the dive, he should be in good psychological health, said Walter Sipes, an aeronautics psychologist at NASA's Johnson Space Center."

Keith's note: A former NASA Advisory council member and MSL imaging co-investigator goes to the deepest place on Earth - with a NASA astrobiologist supporting his dive. The media seek out NASA experts for comment. Alas, no mention at NASA's Astrobiology website or anywhere else at NASA. Not surprising since NASA blew off "Avatar" as just another SciFi movie - until it made several billion at the box office. When Felix Baumgartner jumps from the edge of space soon NASA will ignore that too even though there are NASA alumni advising him. Meanwhile, NASA still can't figure out the name of the asteroid they (or might not) might visit in 10 or 15 years. And then the agency complains when people don't pay attention to what they do. Why should they, NASA is becoming boring.

Double the Space Budget?, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"More funding would enable more activity, but to do what? As we no longer have a reasonable, near-term strategic goal (and I do not count empty promises of human Mars missions 30 years in the future as such), more money might accelerate progress on some programs, but money alone will never establish a healthy and vigorous space program. What has held us back from creating a strong space program? I contend that it is the lack of any strategic direction, by which I mean not simply a goal, but a believable goal, one that combines clear and pressing societal value with attainable, decadal timescales, at costs at or less than their projected budget line. Under the existing operational template, most proposed space goals satisfy one or two, but not all conditions."

Cislunar Space Next

"Develop a space transportation system using existing assets to the extent possible, build new reusable vehicles to transit cislunar space, develop lunar resources with the aim of propellant production, emplace staging nodes in LEO (use existing ISS), geosynchronous orbit (GEO), Earth-Moon L-1, low lunar orbit (LLO) and on the lunar surface."

Astrobiologist Dale Andersen's Field Reports: Lake Untersee, Antarctica (Gigapixel panorama)

"Those early ecosystems resulted in the formation of luxuriant microbial mats with a variety of morphologies which are seen today in the stromatolitic fossil record scattered around the globe. Until recently, there have been no reports of modern microorganisms forming such structures, but in 2008 our research team discovered large conical stromatolites forming beneath the thick perennial ice of Lake Untersee in Antarctica."

Keith's note: SCUBA diving with robots under the antarctic ice in search of life. Good practice for looking for life's signs on Mars, Europa, Enceladus ...


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This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from March 2012.

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