Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mars Life Debate

A recent scientific paper suggests the Curiosity rover may have found fossils on Mars similar to mats of ancient life on Earth.  NASA and the Curiosity team disagree.

Mars seems to encourage such debates.  A similar one erupted over results of tests performed by the Viking landers decades ago.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Red Dwarfs Abd Mini-Neptunes

A new study based on computer modeling suggests that Neptune-like worlds that form around red dwarf stars can migrate in closer to the star and become Earth-like worlds.

The heavy radiation red dwarfs spew out in their early years would strip away most of the planetary atmosphere, leaving a rocky world perhaps dominated by water.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Biomining Asteroids

Deep Space Industries, which plans to mine asteroids, is looking at seeding asteroids with genetically-engineered bacteria that would eat and "preprocess" valuable resources.

DSI says the technique-- a variation of which is used in copper mining today-- would simplify the mining process.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Apple Profits

Apple announced yesterday it made profits of $18 billion in its latest quarter.  Three months.  Ninety days.

That's equal to NASA's yearly budget.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Water Ice Inside Vesta?

Using images taken by NASA's Dawn probe during its recent flyby of the huge asteroid Vesta, researchers have found evidence suggesting water gushed across the surface following recent meteorite impacts.

That, in turn, suggests Vesta may have a fairly large deposit of subsurface water ice.

Monday, January 26, 2015

2004 BL86

Asteroid 2004 BL86, at roughly 1800 feet across, will fly within 745,000 miles of Earth today.  That's about three times the distance to the Moon.

It's yet another reminder of the need to develop a planetary defense capability.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Extreme Life

Scientists have discovered a thriving ecosystem under 2,500 feet of ice in Antarctica, where no one thought life was possible.

The find suggests once again that life might exist in many more places throughout the universe than we currently expect.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Moon Express

Moon Express, a company intending to make its money from lunar operations, has reached agreement to use Launch Complex 36 at KSC, from which NASA launched its Surveyor probes in the 1960s.

Flight test work should begin soon.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Virgin Galactic's second SpaceShipTwo  may be ready to fly soon.

Even so, however, first flight will have to wait until the NTSB completes its investigation of the crash of the first one last October.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

USAF UFO Files Online

The U. S. Air Force has put 130,000 pages of UFO investigations under Project Blue Book online.

Of over 12,000 cases studied by Blue Book, 701 remain unexplained.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is looking at a billion dollar investmenr in SpaceX.

Google's strategy seems to be to have a finger in many technology pies, so such a move might make sense.

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Horizons

NASA's New Horizons probe, launched way back in 2006, began its encounter with Pluto last week, snapping its first photos of the dwarf planet.

The probe's closest approach to Pluto will be on July 14.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Planet X, Y, And Maybe Z

A new study of the orbits of objects far beyond Pluto suggests there may be two Earth-sized planets deep in the Solar System.  Maybe more.

Such large planets so far from the Sun would pose a real challenge to current theories of planetary formation.

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Take On Asteroids

Scientists for two centuries have viewed asteroids as the building blocks of planets, but a new study suggests they are in fact by-products of planetary formation.

So, asteroid discs around other stars may mean planets have already formed there.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

ISS Glitch

The ISS issue of yesterday seems to have been a computer glitch.

NASA says the crew was never in any additional danger.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ISS Issue

ISS crewmembers are gathered in the Russian side of the station because of a possible ammonia leak on the American side.

The situation, at this writing, is being studied.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

China's Lunar Efforts

China has placed a module equipped with a camera into lunar orbit after a long, looping flight from Earth.

The probe will look for possible landing sites for future Chinese missions.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lunar Cyclers

To quickly build up an economy and a population on the Moon, lunar cycling ships would be useful.

These large ships would fly orbits that would constantly take them between Earth and Moon.  As they approached Earth they would be loaded with cargo or people, and that load would be removed upon arrival around the Moon, perhaps to be replaced by exports to Earth.  Cyclers would be true spaceships, tracing their orbits for years.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Success And Failure

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon cargo capsule to ISS this morning, but failed in an attempt to softly land the launcher on a platform ship.

The Falcon 9 did hit the ship after delivering Dragon to orbit, but too hard, and crashed.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Musk On Mars

Elon Musk says he intends to announce his plan for colonizing Mars later this year,

Musk also said the plan calls for a large spacecraft to be used, not the Dragon capsule.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Kepler Reaches 1,000

With the announcement of eight more discoveries this week. NASA's Kepler probe has pushed the number of known exoplanets to 1,004.

Of those eight, some are good candidates to support life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mining The Moon

A new study looking at lunar natural resources finds there is no one resource that would make mining the Moon profitable in the short term, but over the long term lunar mining would be economically viable.

Of course, a healthy lunar economy would not be based solely on mining.  It would take advantage of the Moon's other attributes, as well-- low gravity, lack of atmosphere, abundant solar energy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Launch Delay

SpaceX aborted its Falcon 9 launch this morning due to an issue with the rocket's second stage.

The company expects to try again January 9.

Monday, January 5, 2015

VG Will Go On

Sir Richard Branson has publicly stated Virgin Galactic will continue to develop its spaceflight business.

VG suffered a setback last October when an accident during a test flight killed one pilot and injured another.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Life In The Universe

A new study speculates that life could exist even on worlds in eccentric orbits around red dwarf stars,

The more we learn, the more we need to expand our concept of habitability.

Friday, January 2, 2015

86 Stars

SETI researchers have scoured the neighborhood of 86 stars identified by NASA's Kepler spacecraft as having worlds capable of supporting life for possible intelligent radio signals,

No such signals were detected, but the night is young.