"NASA Television shares this inspiring production by Italian videomaker, Giacomo Sardelli, about the International Space Station, its inhabitants, and its role in space exploration. Sardelli writes of the video, "I'm not the first one to use NASA's pictures taken from the International Space Station to craft a Timelapse video. You can find many of them on the Internet, that's where my inspiration came from. What I wanted to do, though, was to look beyond the intrinsic beauty of those pictures, and use them to tell a story and share the messages sent by the astronauts who worked on the station in the last 11 years."
News: December 2012 Archives
Keith's note: NASA Watch is (more or less) on hiatus until 2 Jan 2013. Happy holidays.
If you are reading this over the holidays, then shame on you - unless you are a NASA contractor employee. If so, you have reason to be checking on the news. With the collapse of the budget deal with Congress, your government has failed you - and it looks like the fiscal cliff is something to really worry about. As we all know, when budget issues like this arise, NASA contractor employees are the first to feel it. This is completely above Charlie Bolden's pay grade and he has little (if any) flexibility as to how he deals with this.
From Craig Covault and A.J.S. Rayl "The first use the rover Curiosity's drill to obtain subsurface samples from inside a rock on Mars will be delayed until mid to late January to reduce risk to the rover during its first drilling operations."
"The delay is needed to complete extensive target rock "triage" to ensure that the heat from drilling friction will not cause the pounded rock sample to turn into a kind of gooey "Martian honey" that would foul rover components, perhaps fatally."
"A look back at the year that was at NASA in 2012. Highlights include the successful landing of the Mars Curiosity rover, the flight of the SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station and much more."
"The Obama administration's Asia team was caught so off guard by North Korea's Dec. 11 rocket launch, several of them actually had to put down their drinks and suddenly leave a holiday party being held in honor of the Japanese emperor's birthday."
Vietnam, US boost space technology cooperation, Vietnamnet.com
"At an exchange with senior high school students in Hanoi on December 11, Charles Bolden, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US, attributed his success to hard work, study and not being afraid of failure."
Keith's note: Bolden is also slated to visit Japan. Nothing has been posted by NASA about this trip. Now that North Korea's satellite has been launched, Bolden's activities in Japan have fallen completely off the radar.
CuriousMars: Opportunity Hunts for Clay Minerals on Matijevic Hill, A.J.S. Rayl and Craig Covault, SpaceRef
"The Mars rover Curiosity has been commanding headlines with its every move from its historic, breathtaking landing last August to its first major discovery of an ancient stream bed formed by fast flowing water. In recent week's rumors, speculation, and wild conspiracy theories about what Curiosity has found have demonstrated, if nothing else, just how much the public is interested in Mars.
Curiosity is this week zeroing in on its first drilling target, but driving downhill toward it slower than planned because of difficult terrain, said Rick Welch mission manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
But on the other side of the planet, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity has been quietly soldiering on in her younger sibling's shadows."
India Races China in Space For Asian Prestige, Military Security, Space Quarterly Magazine
"A surging space race between India and China is underway amidst nearly a dozen other Asian nations, like India, trying to avoid a loss of prestige or military security to China's aggressive space program."
Marc's note: A timely piece in light of North Korea's launch. You'll find more timely and thought provoking articles in the December issue of Space Quarterly Magazine which we just released. The following article is a free sample. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.
"Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds is the fifth installment in the National Intelligence Council's series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future. As with previous editions, we hope that this report will stimulate strategic thinking by identifying critical trends and potential discontinuities. We distinguish between megatrends, those factors that will likely occur under any scenario, and game-changers, critical variables whose trajectories are far less certain. In this volume, we expanded our coverage of disruptive technologies, devoting a separate section to it in the work. To accomplish that, we engaged with research scientists at DoE laboratories at Sandia, Oak Ridge, and NASA in addition to entrepreneurs and consultants in Silicon Valley and Santa Fe. We have also devoted strong attention to economic factors and the nexus of technology and economic growth."
Keith's note: Funny how NASA constantly gets tapped by other agencies when it comes to blueskying futuristic out of the box ideas - but when it comes to implementing these ideas inside of NASA ... well, that's another story.
"North American Aerospace Defense Command officials acknowledged today that U.S. missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of a North Korean missile at 7:49 p.m. EST. The missile was tracked on a southerly azimuth. Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The second stage was assessed to fall into the Philippine Sea. Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit."
"The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province by carrier rocket Unha-3 on December 12. The satellite entered its present orbit."
"The object that North Korea sent into space early Thursday appears to be "tumbling out of control" as it orbits the earth, U.S. officials told NBC News. The officials said that it is indeed some kind of space vehicle but they still haven't been able to determine exactly what the satellite is supposed to do."
CuriousMars: Martian Science Detectives Aid Curiosity and Opportunity, SpaceRef Mars Today
"Mysteries on opposite sides of Mars are drawing the Curiosity and Opportunity rover science teams closer together in a search for habitable environments that could have supported Martian life early in the planet's history."
Marc's note: Today SpaceRef debuts CuriousMars by Craig Covault and A.J.S. Rayl. CuriousMars is a major new weekly feature with authoritative and insightful reporting and analysis on all aspects of current and future robotic operations on the Martian surface and in Martian orbit. CuriousMars will report on the adventure of exploration and science combined with the realities of policy, cost, politics and international cooperation.
Also of note the new features coincides with the relaunch of Mars Today (http://spaceref.com/mars/), SpaceRef's dedicated site to Mars with over 5700 Mars mission reports categorized by mission and at times by instrument.
Keith's note: Last month NASA Administrator Bolden spent 6 days on a trip to Hawaii. He was guest of honor at a fancy Marine Corps party. NASA PAO has declined to explain what he did during the rest of his trip. Given that political employees of Bolden's rank do not actually get vacation time (they are considered on duty at all times) Bolden's salary during this trip was charged to NASA - even if the Marine Corps paid his travel expenses.
Now Bolden is preparing for a 10 day trip to Asia - to Japan and Vietnam. NASA has not explained where he is going or how this trip is related to NASA. Given that NASA is going to get its budget passback from OMB soon (Bolden is not going to like a lot of what he sees), the lingering problems with the looming fiscal cliff (and how it could impact NASA), and other headaches such as the stolen laptop with NASA employee personal information on it, you'd think that Bolden would hang out a little closer to home.
In this week's telecon with NASA center directors, Bolden ended the telecon by asking if any of the participants had anything to add. When no one did, Bolden volunteered the comment that people should not believe everything that they read in the news and that he is still interested in being NASA Administrator so long as the President desires that he serve in this capacity.
Bolden's future as NASA chief uncertain, Orlando Sentinel
"The senior White House staff is aware of the [NASA] administrator's inability to advance their agenda and will have to decide whether they make an adjustment in a second term," said a senior administration official not authorized to speak on the record. ... "No one can deny, though, there has been an accumulation of distractions, and in order to maximize NASA's opportunities, the U.S. civil space program would benefit from a leader fully committed to implementing the bold policy put forth by the president and his administration".
Keith's update: Multiple sources (some close to Charlie Bolden) report that the possibility of Bolden becoming the next ambassador to Japan have been floated around. That would explain the purpose of this trip. Stay tuned.