News from Earth 3-10-2020

I may have been a bit harsh on NASA in my last post, so lets remedy that with pointing out the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. The archive is here, and the faq here. Every day, a submission is selected from a notable scientist and, well, its beauties like this taken of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre observatory at night that reminds us of the immense infrastructure that goes into maintaining any real telescope of scale. Each selection comes with a short description and useful link pertaining to that particular image.

NASA is currently in the process of upgrading the Deep Space Network. (wiki) According to recent official DSN news, poor lonely Voyager 2 will be on its own for a while. I’m quite surprised that it still has enough propellant to keep its main dish pointed at earth, and its reaction wheels still spin. They don’t make ’em like they used to. Stay frosty Voyager, we’ll see you in a few months. Impressive and it shows NASA’s true genuine brilliance and dedication on the scientists part to keep Voyager still running. Its was amazing about their recent recovery of the spacecraft, and I have high hopes when we listen for it in a few months, she’ll be there, whispering from the edge of space. To those who saved it with new commands, programming a CH6-2 computer (best tech info I could find) after all these years is a gosh darn impressive feat any hacker would have to bow to. You have to admit, after reading that, they sent it with a pretty decent supercomputer for its time. Voyager is not a ghost yet.

This next part may be news to a lot of you know think we are all to tied up in our digital lives, and there is a lot to read in between the lines with this next article about the very quiet small town of Green Bank, WV. Home to the Green Bank Telescope, living quietly in the United States National Radio Quiet Zone. The telescope, run by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, demands quiet. Things very quiet. This article is an excellent in-depth read about what life is like in such a digitally removed world.

Not to leave out Russia, I came across these 2 articles about the Russian Yenisei rocket, and Energia series. They might not be joking about getting into the heavy lift business. Roscosmos, I’m sure would like to make its presence known in the space travel biz. We may see interesting things in the future from them. Although SpaceX might have something to say about that.

I found this blog when I came across a render of Earth without water. Looks a lot like mars, eh? I love his commentary, he has no desire to leave Earth.

Sometimes you have to be a bit crazy to Get Things Done. Boeing was ambitious with their Starliner spacecraft, However NASA administration decided to take them to task over the recent failure to reach the ISS. What NASA forgets, is that while it was not successful, it didn’t exactly fail either. Love ya NASA, but people in glass houses… I think praise for the effort and to focus on reminding the public just how hard this all is, would have been more in order.

Speaking of love and hate, I’m thinking of you Elon Musk. This article about building Starlink sats faster then you can launch them, should have you sitting back and rethinking about how you interfere with Earth observations of the night sky and cluttering up low Earth orbits. Is it worth the danger to other peoples missions and the loss of science due to your jump to dominate obit that should be open to everyone? What happens when one of those destroys someone else’s multi billion dollar launch? Will you shrug your shoulders and say, “Sorry, my bad”, or will you take responsibility for the destruction of someone else’s billion dollar project and pay for the damages?

I can understand your ambition to push to colonize Mars in your lifetime. Launching a Starship every week is quite admirable, but at what cost? What happens when one of your Starlink sats has a collision on the way up and *many* people die? I would like to see your cubesats under a lot more swarm control before I hitch a ride on your cheaply made, paper thin spacecraft. Please, we are all so very excited about all your works, but I beg you to consider safety and your responsibility to astronomy science also. Scale back your Starlink program before there is some major incident. Some things you won’t be able to fix with any amount of money. Did you consider the international implications when you have created such a problem that other nations begin to consider your cubesats as simple skeet? Nice way for various other militaries to demonstrate their shiny new lasers as they clear a path into orbit. I can see a real international incident in the future.

Elon, I hope I’m not the only one whispering this into your ear.

That’s it for this week.