One of the many disappointments of the NRC report on human spaceflight is the almost total neglect of this topic. That’s at least partially because if was rooted in a neo-Apollo mindset, which must have boots on the ground, though it’s not clear what they’ll be doing.
Without the space. XKCD stitched together all of the land area in the solar system.
Monte Morin has a great piece on him and the ISEE-3 reboot.
A beautiful map of the field, courtesy of the late GRAIL satellites.
Jeff Foust reports on the NRC report, and reactions to it.
As I tweeted last week, as both a space enthusiast and a taxpayer, I don’t want to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to send a few civil servants to Mars decades from now. Call me completely uninspired.
I’d missed this, but apparently Louise Riofrio’s book project met its funding goal. I’ll look forward to seeing it.
Dennis Wingo has a guest article at Watts Up With That.
The B612 Foundation is going to have a press conference at the Seattle Museum of Flight at 2:30 EDT. It will be live streamed.
My thoughts on the latest discovery from the Kepler data, over at PJMedia.
A scale map of the solar system, with the moon as a single pixel.
Sorry #Cosmos, he may have been a martyr for religious freedom, but for science? Not so much.
But, you know, it has that truthiness thing going for it.
Is it slowing down?
Louise Riofrio’s Kickstarter didn’t hit its goal last time, though it came close. She’s taking another shot at it.
…may have more fresh water than on all of earth. Seems in many ways more habitable than Mars.
NPR has a story on various peoples’ plans, including Mars One.
Could it explain the Fermi paradox?
As I point out in the book, one of the reasons space policy is such a mess is because we don’t have a national consensus on that question.
Marcia Smith has a good summary. This amused me:
Rehm exclaimed that she didn’t understand what Gold meant because the “language you’re using” sounds “proprietary” and one cannot own the Moon. Gold began answering, but apparently the show ran out of time for that segment (music began playing) and he was not able to fully respond. Rehm said it “sounds confusing to me,” and cut him off.
Diane Rehm always strikes me as someone who is easily confused. I’ve never understood her popularity, except that a lot of Beltway denizens share her propensity for confusion.
[Update a while later]
Monumental willful ignorance from Mark Whittington:
The cancellation of the SLS, unlikely in the current political climate, would mean the end of any hope of sending American astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the foreseeable future.
If you can’t see beyond the next five years, perhaps. It’s the lack of propellant storage and transfer technologies, and landers, that is keeping bound to LEO, not lack of heavy life. Money wasted on SLS is trapping us there.
Expect him to show up shortly with his standard, foolish, “But you provide no alternative,” despite the fact that he’s been shown alternatives many times. We can explain it to you, Mark, but we can’t understand it for you.
Louise Riofrio is raising some money to publish a book and scientific paper on an interesting cosmological theory.
The Juno probe provided the best view ever of the earth-moon system.
It’s not surprising at all that it would see it as a potential area to reduce the deficit (see page 74). The entire NASA budget is an option for that, in fact, as is the entire federal budget, really. But it points out how completely out to sea we are on why we’re doing it. Note the underlying assumption.
This option would terminate NASA’s human space exploration and space operations programs, except for those necessary to meet space communications needs (such as communication with the Hubble Space Telescope). The agency’s science and aeronautics programs and robotic space missions would continue. Eliminating those human space programs would save $73 billion between 2015 and 2023, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.
The main argument for this option is that increased capabilities in electronics and information technology have
generally reduced the need for humans to fly space missions. The scientific instruments used to gather knowledge in space rely much less (or not at all) on nearby humans to operate them. NASA and other federal agencies have increasingly adopted that approach in their activities on Earth, using robots to perform missions
without putting humans in harm’s way. For example, NASA has been using remotely piloted vehicles to track
hurricanes over the Atlantic Ocean at much longer distances than those for which tracking aircraft are conventionally piloted.
Eliminating humans from spaceflights would avoid risk to human life and would decrease the cost of space exploration by reducing the weight and complexity of the vehicles needed for the missions. (Unlike instruments, humans need water, air, food, space to move around in, and rest.) In addition, by replacing people with instruments, the missions could be made one way—return would be necessary only when the mission required it, such as to collect samples for further analysis—thus eliminating the cost, weight, and complexity of return and reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
A major argument against this option is that eliminating human spaceflight from the orbits near Earth would end
the technical progress necessary to prepare for human missions to Mars (even though those missions are at least
decades away). Moreover, if, in the future, robotic missions proved too limiting, then human space efforts
would have to be restarted. Another argument against this option is that there may be some scientific advantage
to having humans at the International Space Station to conduct experiments in microgravity that could not be
carried out in other, less costly, ways. (However, the International Space Station is currently scheduled to be
retired in 2020, postponed from an earlier decommissioning in 2015.) [Emphasis added]
There are multiple flawed assumptions in this analysis. First that the only purpose of sending humans into space is about science. Second, that it is about exploration. Third, that Mars is the goal.
If we aren’t going to develop and settle space, there is no point in sending people there, or hazarding their lives. But we never have that discussion.
Seemed to be a link problem. Hope it’s fixed now, sorry.
Is it a job only for government employees?
As a commenter over there says, can’t they find some astronomer other than Tyson for an opinion on this?
I’d go further, and ask why they imagine an astronomer knows anything about it.
As long as we continue to pretend, or imagine, that the purpose of human spaceflight is to “explore,” we’ll continue to get the policy wrong.
A cute video, featuring the sun destroying the earth. Time to pack up and find a new one — we only have half a billion years or so.
Is gravity not quite inverse R squared? That would be a pretty amazing result if it’s true.
This would revolutionize space exploration. It would allow massively parallel data gathering.
Can we detect them with current telescopes? That assumes they exist at all, of course.
A “Values-Based Approach“? The question is — what are the values? I think he’s got it wrong:
Discovery is why a nation should go to space. It is what inspires all of humanity. It has been NASA’s only use of human spaceflight in the post-Apollo era that has returned value that is highly regarded by nearly all people in developed countries with free access to information. The synergy that once existed between human-assisted and robotic space exploration in the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) program is a blueprint for sustained deep space human-assisted exploration that can stoke the nation’s competitiveness in science, technology, and math toward realization of long-term financial and physical security.
That’s an opinion, not a fact. I would expect a scientist to think that science is the reason for human spaceflight, but most people don’t agree with him (or have even given it much thought). If it’s not for the purpose of developing and settling space, the amount of money we’re spending on it is unjustifiable.
Planetary Resources has kicked off a Kickstarter to raise a million dollars for the project.