India’s Space Explorers


The gringa has done innumerable posts on NASA, several on the European Space Agency (ESA) and even the space programs of Russia, China and Japan. Were my dear readers aware that India has its own space program? They do. It is called the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and they are now on the brink of exploring the galaxy with their own re-usable shuttle.

To India’s credit, they have accomplished the feat of designing and constructing a reusable launch vehicle for a fraction of what SpaceX spent on their reusable rocket. If their shuttle model is a success, the world may have to turn its eyes to India as the next world leader in space program development and exploration. Not only are they getting things done, but doing so extraordinarily efficiently.

On its virgin flight, the 21 foot long shuttle, weighing one and three-quarter tons, reached Mach 5 as it zipped through space 39 miles above Earth. The craft successfully splashed down right on target at coordinates in the Bay of Bengal. This prototype is much smaller than NASA shuttles but if the design is right and all goes well, India plans to enlarge the shuttle’s length by one hundred feet by the year 2030. By designing a re-usable shuttle, India will realize a 90% savings with every single launch. Cost was the very reason NASA’s shuttle program was discontinued.

Aerospace experts around the world view India’s achievement with great interest.  By drawing upon the successes and failures of other space agencies around the world, India has developed a space program that has avoided costly mistakes. They have also been able to model their inspirations upon the successes that have been accomplished. India is managing a successful and growing space program with a budget that, on average, is about three times smaller than their Western counterparts. One reason is that they have eliminated much of what we Westerners call pesky bureaucracy.

Going red tape free, however, is not without its risks. Only time will tell if lack of regulation results in a more hazardous space program. Re-usable shuttles should translate into multiple launches annually. This will mean more money for the space program by infusions of cash from investors and contractors who want their payloads delivered to the International Space Station and other countries paying cab fare for their astronauts to hop a ride.

At the rate India is clipping along with progress at a significant lower price, they may just boot SpaceX out of the space transport market altogether. Who knows, it may be India that gets to Mars first. And according to the stock market, investors seem to have the same suspicion. The companies involved in supplying ISRO with the materials they need have become quite attractive for foreign and Indian investors.

The gringa has always wanted to visit India. It’s rich history and beautiful culture has always intrigued me. Now, I have hopes that in yet one more country on this grand globe, this astronaut hopeful has just one more option of space programs that, one day, may be interested in sending a gringa into outerspace.

Source & Image Credit: http://www.fool.com

 

 

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Buzzed By Space Junk or ET’s?


In 2017 Earth is expected to be “buzzed” by a mysterious object being tracked by satellites and called “1991 VG” because in 1991 it did its first recorded fly-by of our planet. In December of that year the object, which is about 30 feet (10 meters) across, buzzed past Earth as it continued in its orbit around the Sun (called a heliocentric orbit in fancy Science-speak). Stargazer James Scotti at University of Arizona’s Kitt Peak observatory, using the Spacewatch telescope, spotted VG in November and continued to track it as it passed by.

Observers noted that it shone brightly but this brightness would often go through rapid fluctuations. Scientists argued that this was indicative of it not being an organic object like an asteroid. Could it be a man-made piece of space junk that has been destined to orbiting the Sun until it disintegrates? Well, let’s see just how much space junk is out there in a heliocentric orbit:

American Space Junk

  • Pioneer 4 (1959)
  • Ranger 3 (1961)
  • Mariner 2 (1962)
  • Ranger 5 (1963)
  • Mariner 3 & 4 (1964)
  • Mariner 5 (1967)
  • Pioneer 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9 (1966-1969)
  • S-IVB upper stage panels of Apollo 8 (1968)
  • S-IVB upper stage panels of Apollo 10, 11 & 12, & #10s ascent stage panel LM Snoopy (1969)
  • Mariner 6 & 7 (1969)
  • Mariner 10 & Mercury (1974, 1975)
  • Mars Observer (1992)
  • CONTOUR (2002)
  • Genesis, Spitzer Space Telescope, Kepler Telescope, STEREO-A & STEREO-B

Russian Space Junk

  • Luna 1 (1959)
  • Venera 1 (1961)
  • Mars 1 (1962)
  • Zond 2 (1964)
  • Zond 3 (1965)
  • Venera 2 (1966)
  • Mars 4, 6 & 7 (1974)
  • Venera 11 & 12 cruise stage (1978)
  • Venera 13 & 14 cruise stage (1982)
  • Vega 1 & 2 (1984-1986)
  • Phobos 1 (1988)

European Space Junk

  • Helios 1 (1975)
  • Helios 2 (1976)
  • Giotto (1986)
  • Ulysses (1990)
  • Herschel Space Observatory & Planck Observatory

Japanese Space Junk

  • Sakigake (1985-1999)
  • Suisei (1985-1991)
  • Nozomi (1998-2003)
  • MINERVA mini-lander (2005)
  • DCAM1 & DCAM2 (2010)
  • ARTSAT2:DESPATCH (2014)
  • IKAROS, SHIN-EN, & SHIN-EN2

Chinese Space Junk

  • Chang’e2

India Space Junk

  • Mangalayaan (2013-2014)

Despite the number of man-made objects orbiting the Sun, there are some space enthusiasts who eagerly await 1991 VG’s arrival, wondering if it might be an alien space probe sent to observe our planet. Scientists don’t know exactly what it is… yet. Here are some of the details they are certain of through telescopic and satellite observations:

  • It has a strange rotation.
  • It has existed a very long time in outer space.
  • It rotates rapidly
  • It has reflective fluctuations

Here are the theories bandied about as to what it could be:

  • Alien space probe
  • Small meteorite
  • Apollo 12 rocket

However, after researching each man-made possibility, they have ruled them all out. So, we are left with the possibilities of a small meteorite or an alien-made object. It’s reflective properties has scientists leaning toward a non-organic object which then leaves only an alien-made object left on the list. However, scientists also do not rule out the possibility of a Russian-made object that the science community is simply unaware of. During the years of the Soviet space program, they were very secretive. Information about failed space missions that resulted in space junk left floating about into infinity and beyond was often suppressed. So, there is the possibility that it is a bit of old, secret Soviet space history.

In tracking the trajectory of the object’s orbit, it can be determined that 1991 was not the first fly-by of VG. It also would have passed near the Earth in March of 1975. Repeat visits are another reason scientists rule out an asteroid or meteor because typically if such an object neared Earth like 1991 VG, it would either be trapped by our planet’s gravitational pull and either burn up in the atmosphere or crash (worst case scenario) or have its own trajectory affected and changed by Earth’s gravity. This object’s trajectory remains unaffected by Earth’s pull.

Because its orbit is very similar to Earth’s path around the Sun, some scientists speculate on the alien observation probe theory. Next summer Earthlings will get another up close opportunity to peek at the object as it skims over the planet’s southern hemisphere.

Edinburgh mathematicians have calculated the very real possibility that extra-terrestrials could be successful at launching observation space probes across vast galactic distances to spy on humans. Their work, published in the Journal of Astrobiology, asserts that by taking advantage of gravitational fields surrounding stars they could achieve the necessary speeds for an observation probe to travel to Earth from the far reaches of space of which humans are completely ignorant of and incapable of exploring. In fact, humans are already using this technology in the Voyager probes zipping about the universe.

Regardless of whether it’s a big space rock, hunk of junk or extra-terrestrial peeping Tom tool, the gringa has her calendar marked for the Summer of 2017. I expect interesting things to happen.

 

Sources & Image Credit:

www.motherboard.vice.com

en.wikipedia.org

www.ewao.com

Comet Fly-By Evidence For 1480BC


In the last installment of the gringa’s examination of “evidence” used by ufologists and ancient alien theorists to assert that ancient Egypt had extra-terrestrial contact or were extra-terrestrial hybrids, I explored the theories and ideas associated with the Tulli papyrus. Rather than perceive the dubious document as an ancient Egyptian record of a sighting of mass UFO visitation, the gringa interpreted the astronomical event to be a near fly-by of a comet cluster. So, the obvious next question is, “Were there any comets in Earth’s vicinity around the time of 1480BC or thereabouts?”

Even though expert translators dated the Tulli papyrus to 1480BC there is definitely room for error where that date is concerned. They could not definitively attribute it to the reign of Thutmosis III. They also did not have access to the alleged original papyrus to conduct Carbon 14 dating or any other diagnotic tests to determine its age. So, the gringa goes with the “1480BC or thereabouts” timeline.

When the gringa allows a bit of fluidity in the timeline, things do, indeed, get interesting. There seems to be astronomical and historical records to support a comet cluster or massive comet with a large tail. Author Graham Phillips asserts in his book, “The End of Eden”, that an extraordinary comet event occurred which the civilizations of Earth reacted to with awe and fear in 1486BC.

Confirming the 1486BC comet event are Chinese court records of observation of a comet with ten tails during this same time period. The Chinese record is preserved on a swath of silk, the Mawangdui Silk Almanac, and is preserved in Changsha, China at the Hunan Provincial Museum. This court record was discovered in the 1970s in a tomb and was part of an almanac of astronomical records. The almanac was dated to about 300BC and included an entry for the ten tailed comet of 1486BC.

The significance of this event is that it changed religious history in China as well as Egypt and could very well have been the catalyst for years of war and conquest that ensued throughout Asia, India and Egypt after it appeared. Monotheism worshipping a single great god began to be practiced in China and Egypt. Ancient glyphs depicting what appears to be the same comet appear in China and Egypt:

chinese lao tien yeh glyp

Chinese Lao-Tien-Yeh glyph

glyph of aten

Egyptian glyph of Aten

Considering that the Tulli papyrus recorded that the event was smelly and rained down fish and “volatiles” (the gringa supposes this would mean objects that were considered to have been burned, were on fire, hot or smelled sulphurous), if it was a comet fly-by, this would have been caused by tail debris breaking loose and passing through Earth’s atmosphere and raining down upon Egypt with large pieces impacting the rivers thus throwing up fish. Are there comets capable of this?

From 467BC-466BC ancient Greek celestial records report that a comet, possibly Halley’s comet, passed Earth. The Greek records indicate that a great meteorite impacted the northern region of Greece. Could this have really occurred? Does Halley’s Comet get close enough to Earth for tail debris to possibly be affected by Earth’s gravity, break away, enter the atmosphere, and, ultimately, if it doesn’t burn up during entry, impact the Earth?

In 1910 the New York Times reported that the tail of Halley’s Comet (it is 24 million miles long) would be traveling through Earth’s atmosphere for a duration of about six hours. It seems entirely possible that any large comet that passes near enough Earth to be seen with the naked eye, with a tail long enough that debris in the tail could enter Earth’s atmosphere, might have tail debris that could be affected by Earth’s gravity, break away and fall to Earth.

Halley's Comet.philosophyofscienceportal.blogspot

Interestingly enough Halley’s Comet has a predictable cycle and elaborate tail. It visits Earth about every 75 years. It’s earliest confirmed arrival is in Chinese astronomical records of 240BC. It is entirely possible this was the comet seen in China and Egypt 1240 years earlier in 1486BC. But there are also other comets that could have been seen:

7tail.de.cheseaux.1744

The “Great Comet of 1744”, also known as de Cheseaux’s comet, was a magnificent 7-tailed comet observed from November, 1743 until April, 1744. During these months it shone with such brightness it was visible to the naked eye. It was rated as being the sixth brightest classification for a comet. This means that even during the day it was as bright as the Sirius star at night.

It was observed all over the world with astronomical records of the United States, France, Russia and Japan among the many nations who have official records of the comet’s sighting. Japanese records even indicate that their astronomers detected audible noises and an aurora as tail particles interacted with Earth’s magnetosphere.

comet1680merian

The Great Comet of 1680 was visible from November, 1680 until February, 1681. Astronomers all over the world recorded this event and artists immortalized it. Official astronomical records can be found in Germany and the United States.

e.l.trouvelot.nypl.

The Great Comet of 1882, also called the Great Comet of 1881, or the Great September Comet of 1882, or Super Comet, may very well be the brightest comet ever observed by Earthlings. Italian sailors first reported it to authorities in September, 1882. It grew brighter as it traveled toward the Sun. Astronomical records from Spain called it a blazing star. Eventually it broke into four sections and could be observed for weeks as a bright heavenly object with a luminous tail.

With all of this data on comets and historical records confirming observances in China during the same event recorded on the Tulli papyrus, the gringa’s belief that the Tulli papyrus recorded a comet event is now stronger than ever.

Sources & Image Credit:

grahamphillips.net

www.coasttocoastam.com

idp.bl.uk

www.philosophyofscienceportal.blogspot.com

www.wired.com

en.wikipedia.org

adsabs.harvard.edu

www.wordcraft.net

oldweb.aao.gov.au

http://www.blog.flipclass.com

 

What The Heck Happened In 1480BC?!


Ufologists and Ancient Alien theorists use as supporting evidence for their beliefs something called the “Tulli Papyrus”. They claim it is an ancient Egyptian record of a mass sighting of UFOs. Is the translation accurate? Is the artifact genuine? Authentic? True? Real? Well, dear reader, please join the gringa in the discovery of what we can determine to be true.

The original document is alleged to be a record dating back to the era of the reign of Thutmose III which would be around 1480BC.  The gringa is then curious as to what else was going on in the world around that time. I mean, if extra-terrestrials were so interested in Earthlings, would they have only buzzed the pyramids? Were there any other curious civilizations that may have been worth a peek?

Earth, 1480BC or thereabouts 

  • 1575BC Baby Moses discovered and adopted by Hatsheput who later became Egyptian Queen of Thutmose II; Hatsheput ruled Egypt for 22 years after her husband’s death
  • 1504BC – 1492BC Egyptian wars conquering Nubia (area of Upper Nile to the Red Sea) and Levant (Eastern Mediterranean coastal regions)
  • 1500BC – Aryans establish the Vedic civilization in India (The Aryans, from central Asia, spoke an Indo-European language and brought a polytheistic religion and religious literature known as the Vedas)
  • 1500BC-1400BC – The Rigveda, a Vedic Sanskrit religious poem or hym, is composed; Battle of the 10 Kings: Battle memorialized in the Rigveda; Mumum Pottery Period of Korea begins centered around an Asian culture noted for its simple pottery, elaborate burials and agriculture of millet, beans and rice.
  • 1481BC – Lunar eclipse period Saros 43 begins. During this cycle (which lasts about 18 years) 85 lunar eclipses occurred within about 2 1/2 years with an average of about three eclipses monthly. The longest one lasted almost 2 hours, shortest one lasted about half an hour. During this cycle
  • 1480BC Egyptian Queen dies and is succeeded by her stepson/nephew Thutmosis III. In his hatred of her he destroys her monuments and erases her name from official records. He seeks to kill Moses, her adopted son, who escapes to the desert. Thutmosis III begins the expansion period, conquering Palestine & Syria, claiming geography from the Upper Nile to the Euphrates 

Ancient Egyptians were dedicated to keeping detailed written records. So what exactly did Thutmose III record on this “Tulli” papyrus? Where was this artifact found? What exactly was it? Who translated it? What does it mean? The gringa just has to know these things before I accept someone else telling me it’s a record of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh’s eyewitness account of UFO visitation.

In 1933 a fellow by the name of Alberto Tulli visited Cairo. He worked for the Vatican Museum in the department of Egyptian antiquities. So, he was on the hunt for something interesting for the museum. He visited an antique shop, which was common practice in the old days when searching for antiquities. Tomb raiding was still going on so artifacts from ancient tombs would be sold to antique shops by the sticky-fingered burglars of all things old.

Tulli found a document he wanted to buy but the price was too steep. So, he did the next best thing, he copied the text of the document. Yes, Tulli was a plagiarist. That’s one strike against him in the gringa’s book. The gringa says, “Uh oh. So, there is no original to compare the translation with. Mm hmm. Red flag of doubt number one raised quite high.” So, Tulli claims he copied down the original hieratic script which then would have been translated into hieroglyphics and then translated into the language of your choice. So, basically a third hand copy of a document of dubious existence. Many of the present translations in English, as well as other languages, are filled with gaps where it is obvious that content has been deleted and no explanation has been given.

Twenty years later Italian Prince Boris de Rachewiltz claimed to be in possession of the original document. He said that he found it among papers belonging to the now deceased Tulli. He appointed renowned Egyptologist Etienne Drioton with the task of translating and transcribing the original document. Drioton was an expert Egyptologist on staff at the Cairo Museum as well as author of his own independent research and work, often being consulted by others worldwide on ancient Egyptian history and translation.

Translation of the document revealed that nothing within it could designate it as originating with Thutmose III’s dynasty. Experts accept the credibility and quality of the translation, however and do not consider it to be a hoax. Although the document is called a papyrus, it is not actually a papyrus. The original document in Rachewiltz’ possession was only the “original” copy made by Tulli of the papyrus he claimed to have found in the antique store. So, that takes us back to the original dilemma of having nothing to authenticate what Tulli wrote down. The world has only Tulli’s claim that he copied these words from an authentic papyrus and the Prince’s claim that he had found it. So, what was it Tulli wrote down that is so sensational? I have chosen anthropologist R. Cedric Leonard’s translation because it is closer to modern English:

“In the year 22, of the third month of winter, sixth hour of the day  (big blank space)… among the scribes of the House of Life it was found that a strange Fiery Disk was coming in the sky. It had no head. The breath of its mouth emitted a foul odor. Its body was one rod in length and one rod in width. It had no voice. It came toward His Majesty’s house. Their hearts became confused through it, and they fell upon their bellies. They [went] to the king, to report it. His Majesty [ordered that] the scrolls [located] in the House of Life be consulted. His Majesty meditated on all these events which were now going on. 

After several days had passed, they became more numerous in the sky than ever. They shined in the sky more than the brightness of the sun, and extended to the limits of the four supports of heaven (big blank space)… Power was the position of the Fiery Disk. 

The army of the King looked on, with His Majesty in their midst. It was after the evening meal when the Disks ascended even higher in the sky to the south. Fish and other volatiles rained down from the sky: a marvel never before known since the foundation of the country. And His Majesty caused incense to be brought to appease the heart of Amun-Re, the god of the Two Lands. And it was [ordered] that the events [be recorded for] His Majesty in the Annals of the House of Life [to be remembered] for ever.” 

When the credibility of the Tulli papyrus was tested, investigation began by Gianfranco Nolli who was Inspector to Egyptian Vatican Museum. He reported that the Tulli Papyrus was not Vatican property and could offer no suggestion as to the original document’s location. Dr. Walter Ramberg, Scientific Attache with Rome’s U.S. Embassy responded that Tulli’s original copy was presumed to be among documents bequeathed to his brother, a priest, after his death. However, upon the death of Tulli’s brother, the document became lost as his belongings were eventually dispersed among family members.

So, an original copy of a presumed authentic antiquity does not even exist. The case grows even more tenuous. The only credibility for this testament now lies in the word of Prince de Rachelwitz who had the document translated by Drioton. So, the question now is, “Did the darn thing ever exist in the first place?”

Well, the gringa will give ol’ Rachelwitz and Tulli the benefit of the doubt and just assume that, once upon a time, that papyrus in the antique shop was the real deal. But when the gringa reads the translation, I don’t see images of UFOs. I see images of a comet.

Ancient Egyptians were master astronomers. Around 1450BC ancient Egyptians began using sundials and had been constructing sun-aligned temples since 2000BC. They were expert stargazers along with their Babylonian neighbors. The gringa believes they would know the difference between a mass sighting of UFOs and a comet. Please follow my trains of thought:

  • A strange Fiery Disk was coming in the sky…” A fireball is seen in the heavens approaching. It is described as a disk because, from the Egyptian’s vantage point, they could not tell that it was a sphere, only two dimensional, round and flat.
  • “It had no head. The breath of its mouth emitted a foul odor. Its body was one rod in length and one rod in width…” It was circular, hence no “head”.  It smelled bad. Astronomers and scientists have concluded that comets are smelly. With many containing things like ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, formaldehyde, and methanol, if Egypt experienced a massive comet fly-by very near Earth and raining down tail debris that broke away and entered Earth’s atmosphere to eventually  shower the region, Egypt’s air probably smelled like a dead man’s fart. An ancient Egyptian “rod” measures, roughly, about 520 millimeters (or 20 inches). Um, not a very big and threatening UFO. Certainly the ancient Egyptians were squinting their eyes and holding a measuring rod up to the sky to measure the fireball in the background.
  • “After several days had passed, they became more numerous in the sky than ever. They shined in the sky more than the brightness of the sun, and extended to the limits of the four supports of heaven (big blank space)… Power was the position of the Fiery Disks.” This astronomical event lasted for days which is common when a comet passes near enough Earth to be seen by the naked eye or a telescope. The comet or meteorites were numerous and could be seen during the day as they burned up in the atmosphere. They filled the sky and could be seen in every direction. The largest, or “mother” of the comet cluster was oriented in the East (position of power).
  • “It was after the evening meal when the Disks ascended even higher in the sky to the south…” Within one day the orientation of the “mother” comet had traveled from the Eastern horizon to the Southern horizon, appearing higher (smaller) as it traveled further away.
  • “Fish and other volatiles rained down from the sky…” The gringa suspects that some tail debris of the comet crashed into the Nile and/or Euprates and the impact blew fish up into the air and they rained down upon the Egyptians.

So, the gringa does not think that, even if this record is authentic, that it is evidence of UFO visitation with ancient Egypt. What I believe is that there was a very close fly-by event of a comet or comet cluster. It came so close to Earth’s atmosphere that some of the debris in the tail section broke away, much of it burning up in Earth’s atmosphere. However, there were some bits that were incredibly large and at least one that impacted the Nile or Euphrates Rivers. The impact was so powerful that the splashback ejected fish into the air that rained down upon the area.

And just like the raining down of Egyptian fish, the gringa is very sorry to be a UFO party pooper, raining on the dear reader’s parade of the ancient Egyptian/extra-terrestrial connection. However, to be fair, I am still digging through the “evidence” to see if at least one item could create an “AHA!” moment. Stay tuned.

Sources & Image Credit:  www.npr.org, en.wikipedia.org, www.catchpenny.org, www.touregypt.net, www.thelatinlibrary.com, www.ancient-code.com

 

 

A New Moon For A New Age


Most people think Earth’s moon is old news. However, what the public may not realize is that NASA has a rover active on the Moon, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LRO). The gringa will call the rover “Elroy” for your reading pleasure.

Elroy has a new exhibit on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. that reveals that our Moon is anything but boring. What with Mars and black holes and parallel universes getting so much attention, it’s easy for our little ol’ Moon to get lost in the mix. The gringa wants to give it some glory that is long overdue.

One thing that is interesting about the Moon is that it undergoes such frequent change. It seems to get blasted all the time by meteors and such. The images on display in the exhibit show the formation of new impact craters (kind of scary when the gringa considers its proximity to home! The Moon may very well be our shield!). Recent volcanic activity has also been detected. And, most curious of all, is evidence that the Moon’s core may be cooling which has caused it to shrink and crack the crust of the Moon’s surface.

Elroy is a busy little rover. So busy, in fact, that there are too many images for this single exhibit. So, in addition to the favorites that were selected for display, there is a large screen which projects lunar images that are updated daily.

Since 2009, in addition to a fabulous photography collection, Elroy has also collected environmental and geological data with the seven other instruments he is equipped with. Elroy’s mission is to map the entire surface of the Moon. Even the legendary “dark side” of the Moon.

You see, one reason the Moon remains so mysterious is because it has a “backside”. Yes, we never get to see the Moon’s rear-end. We always see only one physical side of the Moon. Now, this is not because the Moon hangs suspended in space and never rotates. It’s just that it has a rather peculiar rotation cycle.

Millions of years ago the Moon spun around much faster. The pull of Earth’s gravity has caused it to slow down. So much so that its rotation cycle now matches its orbit cycle.  These cycles take 27.3 Earth days. However, observed from Earth it takes 29.5 days. (Don’t expect the gringa to get into that mystery here! You can research it yourself by clicking on… Understanding the moon phases). So, since the orbit and rotation cycles are exactly matched, as the Moon travels about the Earth, at night, when we see it, the same side is always presented to Earth.

However, for serious stargazers with top-notch telescopes, you can get a peek at a sliver of the hidden aspects of the Moon. Since the Moon is not “round and flat” like a coin but is actually elliptical, like a ball, at just the right time there is a speed differential when the Moon is farthest from Earth, thereby its rotation speeds up a bit because of a little less gravity drag. This causes what scientists call a “rocking” motion and an extra nine percent of the Moon’s surface is visible. But now, thanks to Elroy, all Earthlings can see just exactly what is on the Moon’s backside which is not “dark” after all, except during the cycle of a full moon when the Earth is blocking all sunlight.

Only two years into its mission NASA declared Elroy a complete success. Over four billion measurements were used by Elroy to complete a topographical map of the entire Moon. Elroy’s instruments determined that the coldest spot in our entire solar system is right smack on the Moon. It is found inside the shadows of Hermite crater which is located near the north pole. It is a bitter minus 415 degrees Fahrenheit. The gringa hopes Elroy was wearing his mittens.

Elroy is not just taking photos and temperature readings. The rover is also looking for water deposits, such as ice, and searching for fuel resources such as hydrogen. In preparation for future manned Moon missions, environmental radiation levels are also recorded.

So, the next time you gaze up at the Moon, give Elroy a salute. He is still on the job!

 

Sources: www.nasa.gov, www.moonconnection.com

 

Image Source: http://www.nasa.gov

 

 

 

 

 

Jason & the Argonauts… and NASA, Too


Who remembers the story of Jason and the Argonauts? You know, that ancient Greek myth of seafaring Jason and his crew, the Argonauts, who embarked upon the high seas in search of the Golden Fleece. Well, Jason is back! And this time he is orbiting Earth’s high seas and measuring their levels.

SpaceX may have had a bitter disappointment a couple of days ago, but the gringa prefers to focus on their accomplishment that went unnoticed. Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched Jason into outerspace, well, the Jason-3 spacecraft, that is. Jason-3 is the product of NASA collaboration with France’s CNES and Europe’s Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Jason-3 is on a mission to track the rise of sea levels all around the world.

The goal of this intelligence gathering is to improve forecasting of Earth’s weather, climate and oceans. The data will also help scientists expand their knowledge on the ocean’s role in the world’s climate. Jason-3 will be working in tandem with Jason-2 that is already in a locked in orbit. Jason-2 has been in operation since 2008. Jason-3 will officially clock in and report for duty after a six-month phase of calibration and system checks. Once on duty, every ten days Jason-3 will report precise measurements of the height of 95% of Earth’s ice free oceans, this is called ocean-surface topography.

The Jason duo measurements will provide information about coastal tides, shallow seas, open ocean tides, currents and eddies. This type of topography also tells scientists how much energy from the sun is stored within the ocean which is the key to understanding how sea level rise affects climate change.

Jason’s official mission began in 1992 along with Topex/Poseidon. Since then scientists have discovered that the world’s seas are rising, on average, about 3 millimeters every year. As humans continue to make industry and lifestyle decisions that cause global warming, mankind is actually reshaping the surface of our home planet.

The gringa wants to know exactly what kind of shape we are getting ourselves into. What the heck is going to happen if sea levels keep rising?  But first, the gringa needs to know how this happens. What I’ve found out is:

  • Climate Change Causes Thermal Expansion: Water heats up, it expands, therefore it occupies more space
  • Glacial & Polar Ice Cap Melts: These natural ice formations experience a natural summer cycle of ice melt that is usually replaced in winter by evaporated seawater that creates snow. Climate change creates consistently warmer temperatures. This creates warmer Summers where more ice than usual melts. Summer usually lasts longer, Spring arrives earlier, thus winter is shorter and unable to keep up with replacing all the extra ice that is lost. Thus, all of this extra melt runoff causes sea levels to rise.
  • Greenland & West Antarctica: Climate change creates warmer temperatures that is causing the accelerated melt of massive ice sheets in these critical regions. Meltwater & seawater may also be seeping beneath these ice sheets which is causing them to slip out to sea quicker. Warmer sea temperatures are compromising the stability of underwater ice shelves causing them to weaken and break. All this contributes to rising sea levels.

Here are some of the things that happen as sea levels rise and the geography and coastlines of Earth transform:

  • Coastal habitat erosion
  • Coastal wetlands flooding
  • Contamination of coastal aquifers and agricultural land
  • Habitat loss for coastal fish, birds and plants
  • Larger, more powerful storms
  • Vulnerability to flooding for coastal dwelling people
  • Eventual mass migration of island and coastal dwelling people

The gringa wants to know, “What can we do?” Scientists seem to think that it’s a done deal with a relatively slow timeline (depending on how you look at it). So, mankind has until about the year 2100 to relocate folks from the future swamplands of the world’s coastlines. That’s the year they predict the world’s oceans could be about six feet higher than they are now, or possibly even 20 feet higher if the Greenland ice sheet bites the dust.

The gringa, however, has a plan. I’m near enough the Texas Gulf Coast that, by the time I’m in my golden years, my low rent apartment could be prime ocean front property. Sweet. My one hour drive to the beach could become a ten minute stroll when I’m too darn old to drive. So, over the next couple of decades I’ll be stocking up on fishing supplies and sunblock. I tell ya, timing is everything!

If you want to know more about Jason’s mission and follow along with the tracking of the seas, visit www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3.

Source & Photo Credit: http://www.nasa.gov

 

 

The Federal Space Agency AKA Rocosmos


The Russian Federal Space Agency has an illustrious history managing the space assets of Russia as well as being a cooperating partner with many other nations involved in space exploration. Russia has played a significant leadership role in advancing the technologies and capabilities of exploring space safely.

Although the Russian Bear has historically been depicted by American literature as the “enemy”, and there certainly are Defense Ministry aspects to Russia’s space program, this should not overshadow the fact that Rocosmos is dedicated to the purpose of developing space technologies for socioeconomic and scientific purposes. In fact, their website expressly states that Rocosmos is committed to maintaining “coordination and cooperation with foreign states under cooperation agreements in the field of peaceful space exploration and research…”

Areas of activity Rocosmos is committed to using its space technologies for are:

  • Environmental monitoring of natural disasters and emergencies, natural resource exploration, gathering hydro and meteorological data
  • Improving current space navigation system and creating a unified data transmission system
  • Global communication support over Russian territories
  • Support International Space Station missions
  • Research and development of space technologies and microgravity medical research
  • Research and development of space vehicles, launching systems, experimental facilities and infrastructure

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, visitors are welcome at Rocosmos. Simply write a letter to:

Russian Federal Space Agency (Rocosmos)

42 Schepkina st.

Moscow, Russia  107996, GSP-6

Or, you can send your visitor request by fax to: (495) 688-90-63, (499) 975-44-67. After you send your fax, call (495) 631-94-44 or (495) 631-94-48 to confirm that it was received. A digital request can also be made online through their website:  http://en.federalspace.ru/

Online requests will receive a written response via snail mail. If you do a digital visit request, make sure you use the Rocosmos website form and do it correctly. Boo-boos are rejected.

A brief recap of Russia’s accomplishments in space begin even before World War I:

  • In 1929 Konstantin Tsjolkovsky introduced the concept of the multi-staged rocket
  • 1933 the first Soviet rocket launched
  • 1951 the first Soviet rocket with animals aboard launched with successful recovery of live crew
  • 1957 the first intercontinental ballistic missile launched
  • 1961 the first human, Yuri Gagarin, safely completed a single orbit
  • 1961-1963 six manned spaceflights, including the longest flight up to that date, 34 hours
  • 1963 first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova
  • 1968 first living creatures reach the moon & successfully return, Russian tortoises
  • 1971 first space station, Salyut 1
  • 1980 first Hispanic and Black person in space, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, Soyuz 38
  • 1984 first woman to walk in space, Svetlana Savitskaya, Salyut 7
  • 1987 first crew to spend over one year in space, Vladimir Titov & Musa Manarov, Soyuz TM-4, Mir space station

So, the dear reader asks the gringa, “What are they up to today?” Well, they are the only space agency that currently has space flight capabilities. Since the United States scuttled the shuttle program, all astronauts around the world have to rely on Russia to ferry them back and forth between Earth and the ISS.

They also manage an orbiting remote sensing system (RSS). Its mission objective is to monitor the Earth and provide images used to manage natural resources, monitor atmospheric/water/soil pollution, monitor natural and man-made disasters, and conduct research.

There are the Meteor-M No. 1 Spacecraft and ELEKTRO Geostationary Hydrometeorological Spacecraft. These spacecrafts observe Earth’s atmosphere and provides hydrometeorological data used for scientific and socioeconomic purposes.

The Kanopus-V spacecraft and Resurs-P spacecrafts are devoted to monitoring natural and man-made disasters. It does this by providing high quality imaging of Earth.

The gringa is a big fan of Rocosmos and grateful that the Russians do not mind letting American astronauts hop aboard and hitch a ride to outer space. It is my greatest hope that this type of cooperative relationship will spill over into all aspects of international dialogue and engagement because the gringa continues to dream a dream of cosmic proportions.

Source:  en.federalspace.ru