Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Filed under: — Kate @ 7:01 am EST

Well, happy belated birthday (it was yesterday).

Image credit: NASA (full res image here)

See Also:
-Happy Sweet Sixteen, Hubble! [NASA]
-Hubble Space Telescope [Wikipedia]



Filed under: — Kate @ 6:58 am EST

I have to admit, I’m a bit excited about NASA’s upcoming Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. In addition to high-resolution mapping, the mission will send a small craft to crash into the moon’s south pole in an attempt to determine the presence of water. Water on the moon means that humans could soon follow.

Most of the things NASA has been doing lately have been really interesting, but there’s just something so special about our moon. A lot of people take the it for granted. It’s our closest neighbor; Earth’s faithful companion; we’ve even been there.

But the last astronaut set foot on the moon more than 30 years ago, and there’s so much more to do. Establishing ourselves on the moon will allow us to develop the technology we need to travel to Mars, and beyond. But the moon is not just the gateway to the galaxy; it’s also a place where we can look back at ourselves from a very unique perspective.

So when that little spacecraft (hopefully) crashes into the moon in a couple years, I will be watching—you’ll be able to see it with a telescope—and waiting with great anticipation.

Further Reading:
-NASA Adds Moon Crashing Probes to LRO Mission [Space.com]
-NASA to Crash Space Probe Into Moon [WaPost]
-Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [NASA]


Lieutenant Dan in Space

Filed under: — Kate @ 11:20 am EST

Okay, this is going to sound a little weird, but bear with me.

A few nights ago, I caught a snippet of Forrest Gump on tv. It was the part where Lieutenant Dan says something like “The day you become a shrimp boat captain is the day I become an astronaut.”

I mused that it was sort of funny that Gary Sinise later played an astronaut in Apollo 13 (albeit, a grounded astronaut) along side Tom Hanks.

Then I started thinking: would zero gravity help to narrow the playing field for people who have lost their legs or the use of their legs? In other words, would a life in space be an equalizer for people with certain types of disabilities?

I haven’t thought this through in the slightest—just thought it might make for an interesting discussion.


The Seat With the Clearest View

Filed under: — Kate @ 11:52 am EST

Dear NASA,

Congratulations on managing to have several successes in a row!!

I kid, I kid. But in all seriousness, this is a pretty cool month for astronomy and space exploration.

First, your Cassini probe finds water on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

And now, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has managed to plop itself into orbit around the Red Planet.

Not to mention the Stardust mission that ended smoothly back in January.

My heart is brimming with joy. Keep up the good work!


See Also:
-Google Mars


They Belong to the Stars

Filed under: — Kate @ 2:02 pm EST

As many of you probably saw in the news, this past Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. It’s staggering to me that it’s been so long.

I remember the anniversary of the Challenger every year. I’m not really sure why, but I never need to be reminded by the media. Still, this time I was surprised to hear them say “twenty years.” How could so much time have passed?

The memory is still vivid, even though I was quite young. It hit me particularly hard, because already at the tender age of six, I had decided that I wanted to be an astronaut. I knew all about NASA and the shuttle program, and I fully understood the impact of the disaster.

Although I clung to my childhood dream for a long time, reality sadly and inevitably prevailed in the end. But I never lost the wonder or the fascination with what lies beyond our tiny little corner of the universe.

I was traveling and in meetings all day on Friday and Saturday, but I did catch little bits of news here and there—from the radio, newspapers, television. I was a bit saddened to hear people talking only about Christa McAuliffe, as if she was the sole person to perish in the tragedy. The other members of the crew are treated like a footnote.

While it’s true that she didn’t follow one of the traditional paths into the space program, it does not make her death any more tragic than those of her six crewmates. Perhaps I’m wrong, since I didn’t really get any complete news coverage.

But just in case I’m right, let me remind you that the Challenger had a crew of seven: Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. Take a minute to remember them. All of them.


Escape Velocity

Filed under: — Kate @ 12:00 pm EST

SO freaking awesome:

Outcast Star Zooms Out Of Milky Way

*Note: this post was reconstructed on 2/14/05 due to loss of data.