Space & Planetary Science: November 2015 Archives

Oh the Places We Won't Go: Humans Will Settle Mars, and Nowhere Else, Lou Friedman

"Humans will become a multi-planet species by making it to Mars, but no farther. That is, they will never travel beyond Mars. Some find this to be negativean absolute statement of limits and thus of giving up. My job here is to prove the opposite: humans exploring the universe with nanotechnology robotics, bio-molecular engineering, and artificial intelligence is something that is exciting and positive, and is based on an optimistic view of the future. ... Getting beyond Mars (with humans) is impossible - not just physically for the foreseeable future but also culturally forever."

Keith's note: Yet another defeatist, robots-instead-of-humans op ed - this time by a founder of the Planetary Society. Indeed, he's afraid to even try. One quick look at the organization's "Humans Orbiting Mars" plan shows that they have to kill the ISS and avoid sending humans back to the Moon so that they can *almost" land on Mars. If this organization has its way humans will never leave low Earth orbit again.

Friedman et al may be too afraid to try and go beyond Mars - back to the Moon - or elsewhere across the solar system - but there are many, many more people who relish the chance to do so.

- Planetary Society Does Not Want Humans on Mars, earlier post
- The Planetary Society Does Not Want "The Martian" To Happen, earlier post
- At Planetary Society: Its Do As I Say - Not As I Do, earlier post
- Planetary Society's Mars Mission Takes Longer To Do Less, earlier post
- Planetary Society is Both For and Against Human Spaceflight, earlier post

Keith's update: Lou Friedman posted a comment (comments section below). He chides me for not reflecting what his book says. DUH, Lou I never read the book. I never said that I had. I responded to your words as posted on the Scientific American website. If there is an "out of context" issue, Lou, then post your entire book online - otherwise, you wrote what you wrote. Don't expect people to be mind readers about what you meant to say - or said somewhere else. Based on your words you are quite clearly a defeatist when it comes to the human exploration of the solar system - a stance that the Planetary Society echoes. Funny how you seek to distance yourself from Planetary Society yet your Twitter handle is @TpsLdf. Just a coincidence, I suppose.

Saving Arecibo - From Itself

Arecibo observatory director quits after funding row, Nature

"Kerr traces his departure to a disagreement over a possible windfall for the Puerto Rico observatory. In late July, he publicly criticized the NSF for planning to cut its contribution to Arecibo if the facility began taking payments for helping in a private survey for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. NSF officials say that his assertions were inaccurate and that its communication with Kerr never lapsed. Whatever the facts, some Arecibo observers see Kerr's exit as an ill-timed loss for a storied, but financially threatened, scientific facility that faces a murky future.

... In Kerr's telling, NSF officials told him that if Arecibo got funding from Breakthrough, its own funding would fall by the same amount. In a 29 July article, an angry Kerr told Scientific American that the NSF had placed Arecibo in an "unscrupulous" bind: walk away from the Breakthrough money or accept it and lose NSF dollars."

More Strange Things On and Around Pluto

"From possible ice volcanoes to twirling moons, NASA's New Horizons science team is discussing more than 50 exciting discoveries about Pluto at this week's 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland."

NASA Blames "Organizational Confusion" for Embargo on Latest New Horizons Results, Space News

"Scientists involved with NASA's New Horizons mission showed off the latest analysis of data collected during the spacecraft's flyby of Pluto in July, despite "organizational confusion" at the event that mistakenly prevented attendees from initially sharing the results with the public. However, that debate of the findings was initially limited to the people attending the meeting. Attendees of the morning conference sessions Nov. 9 were told that the results were embargoed until a midday press conference. This prevented both scientists and reporters from sharing the results presented in those talks to the public, including through social media, much to the consternation of some in attendance. Sources at the conference blamed the embargo on NASA, in contrary to the conference embargo policy established for conferences run by the American Astronomical Society. Niebur said later that the embargo was a misunderstanding that won't apply to other sessions during the week-long conference. "There was some kind of miscommunication," he said. "There was a little bit of organizational confusion."

NASA's Blatant Hint About Its Own Embargoed Research News (Update), earlier post

"What is the purpose of these embargoes if NASA is just going to play games with access to the embargoed news? And why does it allow a magazine like Science control how taxpayer-funded news is released?"

NASA Maven Briefing on New Findings on the Fate of Mars' Atmosphere

"(Science and Geophysical Research Letters embargoed details until 2 p.m. EST Nov. 5) NASA will provide details of key science findings from the agency's ongoing exploration of Mars during a news briefing at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 5 in the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington."

Keith's 4 Nov 11:00 pm note: What a tease. NASA is clearly dropping a hint - to over 13 million people - complete with an illustration - about its own research news - news that is supposedly under embargo - until Thursday at 2 pm EST - news that they have already given to hand-selected news media ... why even bother with an embargo?

MAVEN Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere

"NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today."

Keith's 5 Nov update: Of course NASA looks the other way when some media (but not others) are given advanced access to NASA mission results and they also openly allow media to interview mission personnel, etc. in advance about these results such that fully written articles appear online 1 minute after the embargo lifts. Meanwhile NASA teases everyone about this news in advance by parting the curtains on the pending news and hyping it via social media. What is the purpose of these embargoes if NASA is just going to play games with access to the embargoed news? And why does it allow a magazine like Science control how taxpayer-funded news is released?

Annual Invitation for Public Nominations for NASA Advisory Council Science Subcommittees 2015

"NASA announces its annual invitation for public nominations for service on the NASA Advisory Council's Science Committee subcommittees. Five science subcommittees report to the Science Committee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC), a Federal advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). U.S. citizens may submit self-nominations for consideration to fill intermittent vacancies on these five science subcommittees. NASA's science subcommittees have member vacancies from time to time throughout the year, and NASA will consider self-nominations to fill such intermittent vacancies. Nominees will only be contacted should a vacancy arise and it is judged that their area(s) of expertise is appropriate for that specific vacancy. NASA is committed to selecting members to serve on its science subcommittees based on their individual expertise, knowledge, experience, and current/past contributions to the relevant subject area."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from November 2015.

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