Posts Tagged ‘space
NASA’s top priority now isn’t science, rather improving relations with Muslims? Then who’s job is it to get us into space?
Read this and tell me if you see it differently.
NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World
Published July 05, 2010
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his “foremost” mission as the head of America’s space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.
Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA’s orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.
“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering,” Bolden said in the interview.
The NASA administrator was in the Middle East last month marking the one-year anniversary since Obama delivered an address to Muslim nations in Cairo. Bolden spoke in June at the American University in Cairo — in his interview with Al Jazeera, he described space travel as an international collaboration of which Muslim nations must be a part.
“It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim (nations),” he said. He held up the International Space Station as a model, praising the contributions there from the Russians and the Chinese.
However, Bolden denied the suggestion that he was on a diplomatic mission — in a distinctly non-diplomatic role.
“Not at all. It’s not a diplomatic anything,” he said.
He said the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help.
Bolden has faced criticism this year for overseeing the cancellation of the agency’s Constellation program, which was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon. Stressing the importance of international cooperation in future missions, Bolden told Al Jazeera that the moon, Mars and asteroids are still planned destinations for NASA.
Many of you read my post about bubbles floating in space. Here’s another anomaly–a giant ribbon. These types of discoveries astound us, probably as planets astounded our predecessors. We know so little of the Universe around us.
October 15, 2009: For years, researchers have known that the solar system is surrounded by a vast bubble of magnetism. Called the “heliosphere,” it springs from the sun and extends far beyond the orbit of Pluto, providing a first line of defense against cosmic rays and interstellar clouds that try to enter our local space. Although the heliosphere is huge and literally fills the sky, it emits no light and no one has actually seen it.
NASA’s IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) spacecraft has made the first all-sky maps of the heliosphere and the results have taken researchers by surprise. The maps are bisected by a bright, winding ribbon of unknown origin:
Above: IBEX’s all-sky map of energetic neutral atom emission reveals a bright filament of unknown origin. V1 and V2 indicate the positions of the Voyager spacecraft. [more]
“This is a shocking new result,” says IBEX principal investigator Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute. “We had no idea this ribbon existed–or what has created it. Our previous ideas about the outer heliosphere are going to have to be revised.”
Although the ribbon looks bright in the IBEX map, it does not glow in any conventional sense. The ribbon is not a source of light, but rather a source of particles–energetic neutral atoms or ENAs. IBEX’s sensors can detect these particles, which are produced in the outer heliosphere where the solar wind begins to slow down and mix with interstellar matter from outside the solar system. “This ribbon winds between the two Voyager spacecraft and was not observed by either of them,” notes Eric Christian, IBEX deputy mission scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “It’s like having two weather stations, but missing the big storm that runs between them.”
Unlike the Voyager spacecraft, which have spent decades traveling to the edge of the solar system for in situ sampling, IBEX stayed closer to home. It is in Earth orbit, spinning around and collecting ENAs from all directions. This gives IBEX the unique “big picture” view necessary to discover something as vast as the ribbon.
The ribbon also has fine structure–small filaments of ENA emission no more than a few degrees wide: image. The fine structure is as much of a mystery as the ribbon itself, researchers say.
“That cannot be a coincidence,” says McComas. But what does it mean? No one knows. “We’re missing some fundamental aspect of the interaction between the heliosphere and the rest of the galaxy. Theorists are working like crazy to figure this out.”
Understanding the physics of the outer heliosphere is important because of the role it plays in shielding the solar system against cosmic rays. The heliosphere’s size and shape are key factors in determining its shielding power and, thus, how many cosmic rays reach Earth. For the first time, IBEX is revealing how the heliosphere might respond when it bumps into interstellar clouds and galactic magnetic fields.
“IBEX is now making a second all-sky map, and we’re eager to see if the ribbon is changing,” says McComas. “Watching the ribbon evolve–if it is evolving–could yield more clues.”
Stay tuned for updates.
The world is so amazing… Read this:
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