seticat: (gen - signal-boost - mine)
SETI SHUT DOWN
Budget cuts shutdown SETI

Shamelessly copied from [livejournal.com profile] syrwolf

SAN FRANCISCO — In the mountains of Northern California, a field of radio dishes that look like giant dinner plates waited for years for the first call from intelligent life among the stars.

But they're not listening anymore.

Cash-strapped governments, it seems, can no longer pay the interstellar phone bill.

Astronomers at the SETI Institute said a steep drop in state and federal funds has forced the shutdown of the Allen Telescope Array, a powerful tool in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, an effort scientists refer to as SETI.

"There's plenty of cosmic real estate that looks promising," Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the institute, said Tuesday. "We've lost the instrument that's best for zeroing in on these better targets."

The shutdown came just as researchers were preparing to point the radio dishes at a batch of new planets.

About 50 or 60 of those planets appear to be about the right distance from stars to have temperatures that could make them habitable, Shostak said.

The 42 radio dishes had scanned deep space since 2007 for signals from alien civilizations while also conducting research into the structure and origin of the universe.

SETI Institute chief executive Tom Pierson said in an email to donors last week that the University of California, Berkeley, has run out of money for day-to-day operation of the dishes.

"Unfortunately, today's government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found," Pierson wrote.

The $50 million array was built by SETI and UC Berkeley with the help of a $30 million donation from Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. Operating the dishes cost about $1.5 million a year, mostly to pay for the staff of eight to 10 researchers and technicians to operate the facility.

An additional $1 million a year was needed to collect and sift the data from the dishes.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the billionaire's philanthropic venture, had no immediate plans to provide more funding to the facility, said David Postman, a foundation spokesman.

The institute, however, was hopeful the U.S. Air Force might find the dishes useful as part of its mission to track space debris and provide funding to keep the equipment operating.

The SETI Institute was founded in 1984 and has received funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and several other federal programs and private foundations. Other projects that will continue include the development of software and tools to be used in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Despite the shutdown of the Allen Telescope Array, the search for E.T. will go on using other telescopes such as a dish at Arecibo in Puerto Rico, the largest radio telescope in the world, Shostak said.

The difference, he said, was that SETI researchers can point the Arecibo telescope at selected sites in space for only about two weeks a year.

While the telescope in Northern California is not as powerful, it could be devoted to the search year-round.

"It has the advantage that you can point it where you want to point it and you can keep pointing it in that direction for as long as we want it to," Shostak said.

The dishes also are unique in the ability to probe for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations while gathering more general scientific data.

"That made the telescope a double-barreled threat," said Leo Blitz, a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley and former director of the observatory that includes the Allen Telescope Array.
seticat: (tvm - drwho-stardust - aerianya)
Thirty one years ago today, LEM "Eagle" settled itself on the face of the moon at a location dubbed "Tranquility Base".






And it all started right here:

"These Seven Men"
Mike Stewart - The Kingston Trio

He's gone away for to stay a little while
but he's comin' back if he goes ten thousand miles.

Who are these seven men whose path leads them so far
and shake our minds to wonder who they are?
They scout the new frontier to find the surest way
and they look to us for they have shown the way.

They're gone away for to stay a little while
but they're comin' back if they go ten thousand miles.

What is there left to look to that yet has not been done. W
hat West is there if all the Wests are won?
Look not back o'er your shoulder but high above your head.
These seven men have shown the way.
These seven men have said,

"We've gone away for to stay a little while
but we're comin' back if we go ten thousand miles.
We're gone, gone away."


Tonight, take a moment and look up into the night sky. Rest your eyes on the beautiful quarter moon floating in the night sky. And ask yourself:

Was is all a dream? When will we go back?
seticat: (gen - shit_happens - mine)
On 'Large Dangerous Rocket Ships', someone just launched a home made model of a Klingon D-7 battle cruiser. At least, I think it's a D-7. [In truth I speak Romulan tech a lot better than Klingon.] It did just fine, great launch, stable flight and deployed it's parachute making a nice landing.

Can't say the same for the R2-D2 model right after it.

Great launch. Fine trajectory. 'DQ d/t prang.' [Disqualified due to failue of recovery system to deploy]

R2D2 go splat.

Next up on the pad? Astro Kitty 'Nibbles'. [Relaxed, he's a plushie]
seticat: (cat - geek - notpurrrfect)


The story behind the cartoon is this:

NASA: Mars Rover Will Likely Rove No More
by Joe Palca

January 26, 2010 NASA is abandoning for now plans to try to extricate the Mars Exploration Rover named Spirit from a sand trap it has been stuck in since April 2009.

The decision has been forced on mission managers by the Martian weather; it will soon be winter in the area where Spirit is stuck.

Just like on Earth, during the Martian winter, the sun is lower in the sky. That means less sunlight will reach the Spirit's solar panels, and that means less power to operate the rover.

Full article here

Poor little Spirit - all alone in the deep, dark night.
seticat: (gen - moon purple by moonchulde)
Great info and beautiful pictures. I mean, how can you go wrong?

In all seriousness, this is a great web site, an informative newsletter and it's all free. The weekly newsletter brimming with information about space and astronomy, but concise enough to be enjoyed in less than two minutes.

Please, go look things over. I think you'll like it. The year in Space
seticat: (fun - confirmed - kgems)
I found these in a notebook and decided I really needed to scan them and upload them so they would never be totally lost. So let's play 'Find the silver headed geek-girl in the photos'.


Advance Space Academy Sept 1999 - Team Shepard [and yes, this *is* a life size shuttle mockup in the background outside the window]



Advanced Space Academy Sept 1999 - Team Shepard on the LEM mockup



Team Shepard Mission Patch - one of the team designed this, but we never were able to get it made.



Advance Space Academy Graduation Certificate

I *SO* want to go back and do this again. I did the 6 day program [around $900], but they now also offer an 8 day program [$1300]. I don't consider the prices bad. You have to get there and back on your own, but unless you want to buy additional flight suits so you have one to take home [they issue you one for wear while you're there], the 'camp' fee covers all room and board, events, free use of all the parts of the Huntsville Air and Space Museum, etc.

I mean, come on - lectures from folks actually involved in various space programs. I had one by Dr. George von Tisenhausen.. We designed and built our own model rockets, launched them and prayed that none of them would make their way over the fence and into the dry grasslands at Redstone right next door. We did a lot of mock up and sims, played on the multi-axis trainer and 1/6G sim. And one of my personal favorites, did SCUBA training similar to what the NASA teams train to. Made me glad I was already SCUBA trained and qualified. I got to spend more time in the water doing rather than training. Please daily mission oriented training [equipment, emergencies, etc] on the Endeavor Orbital sim [which is only 4 feet shorter than the actual Endeavor and had a working Canada arm] the Mission Control area and the ISS Sim.

And all the rides at Huntsville were ours to play on as often as we could.

The 'crowns' of the 6 weeks? The two 7 hour flight/training sims and the crowning all day flight mission sim complete with the traditional steak and beans breakfast. I was in the Command Track' [vrs Mission Specialist or Payload Specialist] so my long mission followed this format: shuttle launch, orbit, dock with the ISS, turnover to let the already based crew leave, time on the ISS and then turnover to a new crew and return to Earth. Our '10 hour' final graduation sim actually ran almost 16 hours.

And I was honored and blessed with being chosen by the other 5 members of the Team Shepard Command Track to fly the position of Pilot. You want the truth, the Mission Commander does 90% of the actual flight decisions on a mission - the Pilot actually acts more like a modern airline co-pilot. But the Pilot's time to shine is landing. We had an emergency divert on re-entry, I had to make a lot of last minute calls to catch the window for the Kennedy Space Center's alternate landing site. I don't care there really wasn't a multi-billion dollar spacecraft beneath my 'stick', the sights and sounds and feel was as real as a sim could be.

AND I LANDED THE FREAKING SHUTTLE!!

So... any questions why I want to go play again?

I am a geek and proud of it.
seticat: (tvm - drwho-stardust - aerianya)

Friendship 7  'slipped the surly bonds of earth' atop an Atlas rocket and threw it self into the skies, making John Glenn the first American astronaut into orbit the Earth.  I remember watching this on the black and white TV my folks had [great big console - little tiny TV screen].  This was one of the rare times my mom let me 'have a sick day' and stay home from school to watch.  [One of those things' we didn't tell dad about - he didn't understand my fascination in things science and space].

By today's standards three orbits is nothing.  But back than, it was amazing. Add the fact there was a mechanical failure that pretty much forced Glenn to drop computer control to line up for re-entry position.  Add to that the error message saying that the clamps holding the retro-rocket pack 'may' have released too early - if they had, the chances of a 'catastrophic re-entry failure' [read 'burn in like a meteor'].

It's amazing just how long a 10 year old can hold their breath if they are really motivated.

I think I'm going to dig up my copy of 'The Right Stuff' and rewatch it later tonight.  It feel right.

God Speed, John Glenn

Mercury Friendship 7 Mission Patch


High Flight
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.


Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.





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