News: July 2008 Archives

How is the NSSC Doing?

Reader note: "Question to all NASA managers: How do you feel about the NSSC hiring your best and brightest when they can't even pay your center bills, can't move new employees cross country, can't answer basic retirement questions, and don't return your calls?

Question to the NASA Center Directors: How do you feel about not having any control over your hiring? And how do you feel about moving your credible civil service positions to inept contracted positions?"

Click on image to enlarge (how to hire someone at NASA)

Happy Birthday NASA

Looking Back at 50 Years of NASA, Discovery Channel
NASA Turns 50, Nature

NASA 50th Bash at JSC

Tickets Go On Sale To The JSC Golden Celebration Next Week

"Tickets go on sale Monday, July 28, for the NASA 50th Anniversary JSC Golden Celebration. This event celebrates you and your dedicated service to the space program. ... Every JSC team member, civil servant and contractor, is invited to attend the JSC Golden Celebration along with their family and friends. This is not a public event. This is a celebration for you."

Editor's note: There is a curious ad in the latest issue of Marshall Star, pg.5: "Free: Tabby kittens, no snake owners."

Beam Me Up, Ed

Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up, news.com.au

"Former NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr Edgar Mitchell - a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission - has stunningly claimed aliens exist. And he says extra-terrestrials have visited Earth on several occasions - but the alien contact has been repeatedly covered up by governments for six decades."

Editor's note: I assume you have proof to back up your extraterrestrial conspiracy mongering, Ed.

NASA/Ames scientists map our return to the moon, SJ Mercury News

"For the next three days, Silicon Valley will be the base for planning humankind's return to the moon, as more than 400 scientists from around the world assemble at NASA/Ames Research Center for a conference on what type of science should be done when astronauts revisit Earth's nearest neighbor."

Scientists swap moon, Mars exploration plans, SF Chronicle

"At the lunar science conference Thursday, NASA scientists will join scientists from Canada, Korea, Japan, Italy and Britain to create an International Lunar Network to help them work together on major projects, said David Morrison, director of the new NASA Lunar Science Institute at Ames. He was joined by Stephen Mackwell, director of the independent Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, whose $7 million budget is financed by NASA grants."

Phoenix landing: Coping with Mars time, Nature

"In the toilets at the Science Operations Center, there are bags containing vials and plastic jugs. A sign above the bags warns: "Do not throw these away!" It is part of an experiment within an experiment. Phoenix scientists are going to sample Mars' ice; Walter Sipes is going to sample the Phoenix scientists' urine -- as a way of assessing their body clocks."

Injured By a Spacecraft? There's a Diagnostic Code for That, Wall Street Journal

"ICD (International Classification of Diseases) codes are the basic international health codes that exist for just about everything (as this spaceship thing suggests). They're used both for billing purposes and for tracking trends in public health."

Target Earth, National Geographic

"An estimated ten million rocky asteroids and ice-and-dirt comets pirouette in outer space, and once in a while their paths fatefully intersect our planet's. One such encounter took place a hundred miles from present-day Washington, D.C., where a 53-mile-wide crater lies buried beneath Chesapeake Bay--the scar left when a two-mile-wide rock smashed into the seafloor 35 million years ago. More notorious is the titan, six miles in diameter, that barreled into the Gulf of Mexico around 65 million years ago, releasing thousands of times more energy than all the nuclear weapons on the planet combined. "The whole Earth burned that day," says Ed Lu, a physicist and former astronaut. Three-quarters of all life-forms, including the dinosaurs, went extinct."

Association of Space Explorers Committee Lecture at COSPAR on Near Earth Objects

"At a Special Luncheon Address at the 37th COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Montreal, Canada, the Chairman of the ASE's Committee on NEOs, Rusty Schweickart, advised the international gathering of scientists that their political colleagues would soon be turning to them for advice on asteroid impacts. The ASE NEO Committee and its international Panel on Asteroid Threat Mitigation will be soon complete and submit its report and recommendations to the United Nations regarding protecting the Earth from future asteroid impacts."

Gov. Schwarzenegger to Discuss Role of NASA's Remotely Piloted Aircraft to California's Firefight

"The Governor will join NASA and federal and state fire officials at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field to tour the facility and discuss the important role of NASA's remotely piloted aircraft to California's firefight. Watch the live webcast at 10:45 a.m. PDT"

NASA Responds to California Wildfire Emergency Imaging Request

"A remotely piloted aircraft carrying a NASA sensor flew over much of California earlier this week, gathering information that will be used to help fight more than 300 wildfires burning within the state. Additional flights are planned for next week."

International Space Station Imagery: Piute fire in California
International Space Station Imagery: Basin fire in central California
NASA MODIS Image of the Day: July 10, 2008 - Fires in California

Editor's 12 July note: The "about" link on NASA Tech Briefs website says "NASA Tech Briefs is... An official publication of NASA."

So, why is "an official publication of NASA" asking its readers [now taken offline - image on right shows original text] to vote on utterly non-space related questions like this:

"This week's question concerns the Supreme Court's recent Second Amendment ruling. Gun control has always been a controversial issue in America."

[Click on image on right to enlarge] Regardless of where you stand on this issue, shouldn't this "official publication of NASA" be focusing on NASA, aerospace, etc.? Then again, there is a shotgun aboard every Soyuz docked at the ISS - but they are Russian. Is NASA developing better space-qualified shotguns for Orion?

NOTE: this is NOT an invitation to post pro- or con opinions on gun control. Don't bother because they will not be posted. If you want to weigh in as to whether this non-aerospace topic should be openly discussed by "an official NASA publication", feel free to comment.

Editor's update: But wait - there's more. It would seem that the NASA Tech Briefs Question of the Week for several months (see examples below) has had absolutely nothing to do with NASA. You'd think that such "an official publication of NASA" would be trying to raise issues relevant to the agency among its readership - both to inform the readers of what NASA is doing - and educate the agency as to what the private sector is interested in. Guess again. Have a look below.

Help NASA TechBriefs out. What questions would YOU be asking of the private sector, industrial, and policy people who read this magazine and its website?

Editor's 14 July note: If you check the comments section you will see that Joe Pramberger, President of Associated Business Publications International, tries to make the point that newsletter material published on a website with the explicit statement "NASA Tech Briefs is... An official publication of NASA" is somehow "NOT an official NASA publication" is confusing to say the least. He seems to want to have it both ways. FYI I have an archive of that page - which has now been removed. There was no disclaimer to that effect other than the generic one that applies to all material on the website.

House Passes S&T Bills Commemorating NASA's 50th Anniversary and the First American Woman In Space

"The House of Representatives today passed bills commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and honoring the first American woman to go into space. Committee Member, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), offered H.Res. 1315, commemorating the 50th anniversary of NASA, which was established on July 29, 1958. Specifically, the resolution honors the dedicated workforce at NASA, acknowledges the value of NASA's many discoveries and accomplishments, and pledges to maintain America's position as the world leader in aeronautics and space exploration and technology."

Maybe Chicken Little Wasn't Paranoid After All, NY times

"Mr. Schweickart said progress so far had come through constant pushing against resistant bureaucracies and politicians focused on whatever is the issue of the moment. And he said there was still no significant effort to devise an international agreement, let alone a deflection technique, for dealing with the inevitable earthbound asteroid or comet, large or small, when it is identified. "It may be subtle," he said, "but failure of the international decision process is the most likely reason that we'll take a hit in the future."


Mercury's Surface Dominated by Volcanism and Iron Deficiency, NASA/JHUAP/ASU

"Volcanism has played a more extensive role in shaping the surface of Mercury than scientists had thought. This result comes from multispectral imaging data gathered in January 2008 by MESSENGER, the latest spacecraft to visit the Sun's innermost planet.

MESSENGER data has also identified and mapped surface rock units that correspond to lava flows, volcanos, and other geological features. At the same time, the spacecraft's suite of instruments has confirmed an apparent planet-wide iron deficiency in Mercury's surface rocks."

Editor's note: I will be speaking on a panel from 2:15 - 3:15 pm EDT today at the NASA exhibit "Exploration Stage" at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in downtown Washington, DC.

Back from Vacation

Editor's note:Just got back from 3 days hiking at Dolly Sods. No Internet - on purpose. Catching up right now.

NASA to Reveal New Discoveries from Mercury, NASA

NASA will host a media teleconference Thursday, July 3, at 2 p.m. EDT, to discuss analysis of data from the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft's flyby of Mercury earlier this year.

The spacecraft is the first designed to orbit the planet closest to the sun. It flew past Mercury on Jan. 14, 2008, and made the first up-close measurements since Mariner 10's final flyby in 1975.

NASA Sets Briefing With Next Station Crew, Spaceflight Participant, NASA

NASA will hold a media briefing Wednesday, July 30, at 1 p.m. CDT, with the next resident crew of the International Space Station and an American spaceflight participant.

France plans revolution in space, BBC

"Ambitious plans for European missions to the Moon and Mars are being considered by the French government.

It wants to kick-start a revolution in space by letting EU politicians not bureaucrats decide on priorities for the European Space Agency (ESA).

The French say that if Europe fails to change its approach to space, it will fall behind Japan, China and India."

Buzz Aldrin: Invest in NASA to beat the Chinese to Mars, The Telegraph

"He said his message to the next president is this: "Retain the vision for space exploration. If we turn our backs on the vision again, we're going to have to live in a secondary position in human space flight for the rest of the century."


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