A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘moon

[LINK] “Strategic Defense: Military Uses of the Moon & Asteroids (1983)”

At his fascinating Beyond Apollo blog at Wired, David S.F. Portree notes how in the 1980s, Cold War America began to consider the defense applications of the Moon and near-Earth asteroids.

In February 1977, James Arnold, a UCSD chemistry professor, had spoken with NASA Administrator Fletcher about making the exploitation of near-Earth space resources a major new focus for NASA. He subsequently summed up his thoughts in a detailed two-page letter to Fletcher. Three years later, Arnold became the first director of Calspace, which had its origins in California Governor Jerry Brown’s enthusiasm for technological development in his state.

Arnold’s deputy in 1983-1984, planetary scientist Stewart Nozette, organized the La Jolla workshop, which brought together 36 prominent scientists and engineers from aerospace companies, national laboratories, NASA centers, the Department of Defense, and defense think-tanks to weigh in on SDI’s potential use of moon and asteroid resources. Nozette also edited the workshop report, which Arnold submitted to Fletcher on 18 August 1983. A revised version of the workshop report was completed on 31 October 1983; this post is based upon the latter version.

In the late 1970s, NASA, aerospace companies, and universities expended a great deal of time and effort on planning large structures – for example, Solar Power Satellites – that would be assembled in space. Some of these plans relied on space resources. In the cover letter to the La Jolla workshop report, Nozette explained that these studies, though conducted “in an unfocused and low priority vein,” had laid the groundwork for SDI exploitation of moon and asteroid resources. The La Jolla workshop was, he added, the first to consider the defense implications of the 1970s concepts.

At the time of the La Jolla workshop, relatively little was known of near-Earth space resources. Five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft had imaged much of the moon at modest resolution and selected portions of it – most corresponding to potential Apollo landing sites – at higher resolution. NASA had landed Apollo astronauts at six sites between 1969 and 1972 and scientists had analyzed many of the more than 2400 geologic samples they collected. In addition, Apollo astronauts had surveyed the moon from lunar orbit using remote sensors. These provided low-resolution data on the composition of perhaps 10% of the lunar surface.

Scientists had hypothesized since 1961 that permanently shadowed craters at the lunar poles might contain ice deposited by comet impacts. The lunar poles, far from the “Apollo Zone” – the near-equatorial region where orbital mechanics dictated the Apollo Lunar Modules could land – nevertheless remained unexplored.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2015 at 11:28 pm

[LINK] “A new mission for Akatsuki, and status updates for Hayabusa 2 and Chang’e”

The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla has a nice update about the status of Japan’s Akatsuki Venus probe and its Hayabusa 2 asteroid probe, along with China’s Chang’e lunar missions.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2015 at 11:39 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait does explain the question of whether or not the Moon is a planet.
  • blogTO notes that the old Kodak lands on Eglinton will be repurposed for mass transit and observes that Stollery’s at Yonge and Bloor is already being demolished.
  • Crooked Timber notes, looking back in American history, that people who have accused others of playing the “race card” are actually overlooking serious grievances.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes Kepler’s detection of more than twenty thousand exoplanet signals and notes a new method for estimating the mass and age of stars with transiting planets.
  • Geocurrents notes that the site is being suspended, hopefully temporarily.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Minneapolis’ Roman Catholic archdiocese has declared bankruptcy, putting compensation to victims of clerical sexual abuse in jeopardy.
  • Marginal Revolution argues that a majority of American public school students are not in poverty, at least not if we go by the barometer of free lunches.
  • The Numerati’s Stephen Baker argues in favour of the virtues of unregulated hate speech.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that the Nicaragua canal is already seeing a course adjustment.
  • Registan notes that Putin’s Russia is loved by proponents of the men’s rights movement.
  • Towleroad profiles out star Alan Cumming.
  • Transit Toronto notes that consultations for the Scaroborough subway extension are imminent.
  • Window on Eurasia notes China’s interest in supplying nuclear fuel to central and eastern Europe and observes the disintegration of the old German churches of Kaliningrad.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Claus Vistesen’s Alpha Sources considers the arguments for thinking stock markets will continue on their current course.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of eight potentially Earth-like worlds by Kepler, as does The Dragon’s Gaze.
  • Crooked Timber considers the future of social democracy in a world where the middle classes do badly.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at a redesigned American anti-missile interceptor.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that same-sex marriage in Vietnam is no longer banned, but it is also not yet recognized.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to reviews of bad restaurants favoured by the ultra-rich.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla provides updates on Japan’s Akatsuki Venus probe and China’s Chang’e Moon probe.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the immediate impact of political turmoil last year in Crimea on the peninsula’s demographics.
  • Mark Simpson suggests that straight men want attention from gay men as validation.
  • Spacing Toronto reviews The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling.
  • Torontoist looks at a Taiwanese condo tower that featured on-tower gardening.
  • Towleroad and Joe. My. God. both note that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has told its employees it might fire them if they comment favourable about same-sex marriage.
  • Why I Love Toronto really likes downtown restaurant 7 West.
  • Window on Eurasia notes turmoil in the Russian intelligence community and a higher density of mosques than churches in the North Caucasus.

[LINK] “Orion’s ‘Picture Perfect’ Splashdown Marks New Era in Spaceflight”

National Geographic News’ Dan Vergano reports on the successful test flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

Unmanned for this test flight, the Orion space capsule successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:29 a.m. EST, after a 20,000 mile per hour (32,000 kilometer per hour) plunge through the atmosphere.

“A picture-perfect splashdown,” said NASA’s Amber Philman, from a ship some 630 miles (1,014 kilometers) southwest of San Diego that is recovering the floating capsule.

“This is NASA, very slowly, on its way to deep space again,” said space policy expert John Logsdon of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The next test of the space capsule comes in 2018, with another unmanned mission that will take the capsule into orbit around the moon.

Orion is intended to carry four astronauts aloft on 21-day missions that will fly higher than low Earth orbit, beyond the altitude of the International Space Station, which travels only 270 miles (430 kilometers) up. The capsule’s reentry test was designed to show whether its new heat shields could withstand temperatures of 4,000°F (2,200°C) as it passed through the atmosphere on its high-speed return from deep space missions.

[. . .]

This reentry test was a trial run for the capsule, part of a decade-long, $9-billion development effort by NASA intended to eventually carry astronauts on deep-space missions. If funding comes through, Orion will help carry astronauts on an asteroid exploration mission around 2025, and perhaps someday to a deep space habitation vehicle for future years-long trips to Mars.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 6, 2014 at 3:34 am

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO noted yesterday that Jian Ghomeshi dropped his ill-judged suit against the CBC, then observed today that he had been arrested.
  • Centauri Dreams reflects on Europa, starting with the latest high-definitin photo of that world.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting ways to use seismology to study giant exoplanets.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a crowdfunded effort to send a rover from Africa to the Moon.
  • Language Hat shares the work of an early linguist, George Grey, who argued in the mid-19th century that Australian languages belonged to a single family.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that a successful tour does not necessarily result in a band’s financial success.
  • Marginal Revolution argues that putting cameras on police can backfire.
  • Spacing Toronto shares stories of the giant prehistoric beavers of the Don River.
  • Bruce Sterling shares an academic definition of cyberpunk.
  • Torontoist reflects on the life of late hockey player and coach Pat Quinn.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that people on both sides see ferguson through a narrow lens.
  • Window on Eurasia claims (perhaps dubiously) that Russian soldiers are injuring themselves to stay out of Ukraine, reports on suggestions that Crimean Tatars and Circassians are allying against Russia, and shares an intriguing alternate-history scenario for a Russian-Ukrainian war in the early 1990s.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO explains why the TTC is playing classical music in the subway.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the formation of exomoons around gas giants, suggesting planets and moons form through different processes.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that the Theia impact of the Earth, creating the Moon, may have made Earth habitable by slowing off its atmosphere.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla made an initial report about the Philae landing.
  • The Way the Future Blogs links to a celebration of Frederik Pohl.
  • Window on Eurasia notes continued Turkish support for Crimean Tatars and suggests that the past year has dealt a fatal blow to the status of the Russian language in Ukraine.

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