Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen from around the world to this week’s unbelievably spectacular edition of the Carnival of Space! I’m your Ringmaster for today’s festivities – Ken, the Lunar Librarian here at Out of the Cradle.
This week’s edition just so happens to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, so I am particularly pleased that Fraser was kind enough to let me host for a fifth time so that I can share with everyone the abundant riches of our Moon, courtesy of our good friend Selene.
Image Â© Virgil Finlay
While your friendly Lunar Librarian will ever and anon call July 20th Moon Day, some folks are trying to get it proclaimed as Space Exploration Day.
It is our goal to establish July 20th of each year as Space Exploration Day. This day will be recognized as a non-paid holiday, with a legal status equal to Flag Day. At this point we will not press to have a paid federal calendar holiday.
Yours truly has not yet signed the petition, because for me it’s Moon Day. To help spread the idea of a declared Space Exploration Day, the National Space Society is leading the effort for a Space Settlement Blog Day, wherein a community of bloggers, many participating in this week’s Carnival of Space, will publish posts on July 20th celebrating human space settlement.
“which is surprisingly good!”
Lots of spoilers in the review, something I was rather circumspect about in my review back in April, although I alluded to it obliquely in referencing the movie Metropolis and its theme of the industrialization of human beings. My local chapter of the National Space Society, NSS of North Texas (now on Facebook!), had our last chapter meeting at a screening of the film and it was one of the best attended meetings in ages!
One of the strange wonders of our Moon is the Solar Eclipse, a completely natural occurrence that nevertheless inspires a tremendous sense of awe at the power of nature. Sean over at Visual Astronomy provides the details for Total Solar Eclipse, July 22, 2009, and what will be the longest eclipse for the next 100+ years. A few fortunate folks, like Astropixie, are going to go there to see it for themselves.
Image Â© Virgil Finlay
Astropixie Amanda also brings us some Apollo reflections in mission to the moon [sic], with pictures, reflections, and a quote from Michael Collins, one of the 3 astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission!
One of the ways that NASA is celebrating the anniversary is with a real-time rebroadcast of the mission communications from Apollo 11.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11′s historic landing on the Moon, when human beings stepped on our favorite (and only) natural satellite for the first time. This will be in the news all week, so we thought it would be a good time to revisit Chandra’s contribution to studying the Moon. Back in 2003, scientists released some results of Chandra’s observations of the Moon. For those of you who are familiar with X-rays from space, you probably know that they are produced from phenomena and sources that are really hot or energetic. And, you may also know that the Moon – a rocky, cold body with no apparent heat source of its own – is neither of those things.
Read all about it in Skipping Over The One Small Step.
Steve at Cheap Astronomy continues his epic podcast trilogy on the Apollo 11 adventure with part two: The Landing (mp3). Part one, Getting There (mp3) was last week, and the triumphal conclusion Getting Back Again is scheduled for next week.
Looking Beyond Apollo, David examines what might have happened if better sensors has let flight controllers know how little fuel truly remained in the Eagle on its descent to the surface in The Eagle has crashed (1966). There were many risks to which the Apollo astronauts were exposed, this is the story of one of them.
[Update: David clarifies:
the issue wasn't better sensors, it was that no one was sure how much propellant Eagle had on board as Armstrong maneuvered to a safe landing spot. During the mission flight controllers estimated 25 seconds of propellant left at touchdown; afterwards, they estimated 45 seconds. With that degree of uncertainty, they might as easily have estimated 20 seconds while Eagle was still aloft, in which case mission rules called for an abort. And, if Armstrong had aborted, it could easily have turned into a fatal disaster, at least according to Teixeira's 1966 analysis.
I'll just note again, better fuel gauge sensors would have given mission controllers a better idea of remaining fuel levels.]
Image by Joe Vinton
One of the risks that few considered was the archiving of data, and a minor hubbub was unleashed this last week when it was revealed that oops, they had borrowed some of the old Apollo tapes to handle the overflow of data arriving from a Solar system full of probes. Luckily, someone found some data stashed away in a closet and NASA has been able to apply some of the powerful image processing capabilities they’ve developed as they’ve had to prise the signal of mission data from the noise of space and turn it into useful results. This is the same sort of image processing capability that has been applied to medical ends to refine the ability of doctors to detect malignancies earlier, especially relating to breast cancer. Phil, host of Bad Astronomy over at the Discovery Blogs shows us what happens when they apply those capabilities to the Apollo broadcasts in NASA releases partially restored Apollo 11 footage.
CC gives her perspective on Remembering Apollo over at the Spacewriter’s Ramblings. On a more contemporary note, she highlights some of the Moon-related activities of this year’s International Year of Astronomy, and notes the recently-released stunning images from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in Humanity’s Moon.
Bruce at 21st Century Waves examines recent comments from some space journalists for reasons why we went to the Moon, and then didn’t anymore, in The Secret of Why Apollo Was a â€œGiant Step, Full Stopâ€. The good news is that we appear to be approaching another window of opportunity for serious space development, hopefully it won’t be frittered away on political games this time around.
Mike over at Simostronomy recalls his Lunar adventures of yore in The Summer We Flew to the Moon. I have a feeling Mike wasn’t the only kid at the time that wanted to test to see if they had the ‘Right Stuff’ to be an astronaut on the frontier of adventure.
At Astropoetry, Stu poetically ponders whether his memories of Apollo?… are real or the idylls of an infant’s slumber. I’ll note that I was half Stu’s age when it happened so I really have no memory of the event. Stu also takes Cumbrian Sky to the edge of the Moon for some serendipitous Lunar photography in Moon peek-a-boo!
Image by Alex Aurichio
Speaking of peek-a-boo, the gentleman’s magazine Esquire decided to have some fun with the anniversary and took a look at what a few other legends of history might have said had they been the first human on the Moon in What Neil Armstrong Should Have Said. I’ll have to go with the Sun-Ra quote as my favorite (Space is the Place was trippin’, yo), though R. Buckminster Fuller’s is a close runner-up.
A more serious magazine, New Scientist, features a number of stories and features about the Moon, including a sort of editorial mea culpa for not having given ample credence in years past to the importance of Apollo. As penance, they offer a special report ‘Apollo 11: Why the moon still matters‘:
-Gallery: What if the Eagle had landed on Earth? (very cool)
-It’s the solar system, stupid
-Mirrors on the moon
-Another small step
-The loneliest museum
-Welcome to Lunarville
-Interactive Map: Moon landings: 1959-2009
-Spy probe images Apollo landing sites
(Um, LRO is not a spy probe)
-Moon rock competition winner revealed (lame)
Scientific American takes a retrospective look at the ‘40th Anniversary of Apollo 11‘:
-For Neil Armstrong, the First Moon Walker, It Was All about Landing the Eagle
-Down to Earth: The Apollo Moon Missions That Never Were
-The Moon Landing through Soviet Eyes: A Q&A with Sergei Khrushchev, son of former premier Nikita Khrushchev
-Slide Show: Apollo and the Moon: The Astronauts’ View
-1969 Reprint: The Exploration of the Moon
-Slide Show: Auction Offers the Moon–Or at Least NASA Gear That’s Been There
-What Will NASA’s Next Spacesuit Look Like?
Image by Alex Aurichio
A surprising entrant with an Apollo special is Forbes Magazine, although with the advent of NewSpace and a more entrepreneurial and commercial perspective on space activities this is less surprising than it might have been in the past.
For Out of the Cradle’s submission this week I was going to go with a dry, staid review of an old text on Lunar mineralogy, but instead I want to highlight the review of Moon 3-D, a really cool book that features 3-D lenses built into the cover and scores of 3-D pictures from the Moon. It’s a definite treat for the eyeballs!
Here in Dallas we celebrated Moon Day with an event on Sunday at the Frontiers of Flight Museum (pdf). My local NSS chapter headlined the event with the museum, and yours truly helped to arrange most of the displays that you see in the picture. The museum estimated the crowd over the four-hour period at between 500-600. Authors Marianne Dyson and Craig Nelson were there to speak and sign books. Drs. Carter and Hoffman were there to talk about their work with the Apollo missions. We had Moon rock sample disks and telescopes and space toys and rockets and robots and all kinds of stuff. Each child left with a goodie bag full of swag (while supplies lasted). All of the exhibitors seemed happy at the end, so it looks like it can be considered a raging success.
Out in California, NASA Ames played host to Moonfest 2009, a much more elaborate and sophisticated event (I’ll bet they had a budget much bigger than $0 to work with, too), which was sponsored in part by the NASA Lunar Science Institute, which is hosting their second annual Lunar Science Forum this week that your Lunar Librarian sorely wishes he could attend.
If you’re looking for a memorable memento to remember the anniversary of Apollo, you do have the option of splurging for some high-end merchandise that’s not readily available to the masses. Top of the list is a new book from Taschen entitled ‘Moonfire‘, an update of Norman Mailer’s 1970 book ‘Of a Fire on the Moon’. These limited edition tomes run a mere $1,000. Also limited edition are the special AG7-40LE – Astronaut Space Pen 40th Year Moon Landing Celebration Commemorative Pen & Box. These sleek darlings feature retro stylings, as well as Kapton material from the Apollo 11 capsule, all for the low, low price of $800.
Cislunar space is a phrase you’re going to be hearing more as it describes the area of space falling within the orbit of our Moon (cis- meaning ‘on the near side of’), and is wherein is found the vast majority of our space assets. A future asset is likely to be space-based Solar power (SBSP), because it just makes sense to get our energy directly from the Sun. Brian over at Next Big Future explores the approach proposed by Powersat, which adopts a number of unique but not untried techniques to help bring the cost of implentation down to a more financeable level, in Powersat Space Based Solar Power Plans and Patent.
One of the best assets we have in cislunar space right now is the International Space Station. There’s been a fair amount of outcry regarding a quote from ISS program manager Michael Suffredini that the ISS would be decommissioned, de-orbited and destroyed in 2016. But don’t bet on it! Nancy has the story at Universe Today with De-Orbit the Iss in 2016? Don’t Bet On It!
One of the biggest risks to our orbital assets comes from the pesky problem of debris. Uncontrolled objects traveling at high velocity pervade the space near our Earth all the way out to geosynchronous orbit. Efforts have been underway for a a while on figuring out strategies for dealing with the issue of orbital debris. Clark Lindsey blogs from the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2009 conference on a panel discussing ‘Orbital Debris: Should we be worried, and what is being done about it?‘ A useful resource for those wanting to know more about the debris problem is the quarterly newsletter published by the Orbital Debris Program Office of NASA, with the latest issue hot off the pdf presses.
Over at Starts with a Bang!, Ethan gives us the low-down on Earth’s fascinating second, that’s right 2nd moon, the little rock called 3753 Cruithne in Meet our Second Moon! I’ve known about Cruithne for a while, but this is the first time I’d seen the unique orbit adequately demonstrated. Ethan also recently pointed to the Lunar World Record 2009 for the World’s Largest Ground-Based Digital Lunar Mosaic. This neat little tool is endlessly diverting, and well worth checking out.
Speaking of weird orbital mechanics, dj over at Orbital Hub brings us a Q&A with Ed Belbruno, author of the recent book “Fly Me to the Moon”. Ed helped rescue a stranded satellite by sending it on what might be thought of as an unusual bi-elliptical orbit around the Moon that took advantage of the gravity warps and folds caused by the interactions in space of the Earth’s and Moon’s gravitational masses. He was at the cutting edge of mathematics and computational heft (developments spurred by Apollo, by the way) in what is becoming an established area in orbital mechanics that deal with low-energy trajectories and riding the gravitational curves to save money on fuel. These developments have huge implications for how we can build our in-space infrastructure (imagine if we Hubble-ized all of our Solar system probes so that we could bring them home on the Inter-Planetary Superhighways for servicing and upgrade), but the ideas still haven’t disseminated widely, in part because orbital mechanics are heady stuff and not for the weak of heart (or mind).
If you think you’re up to it, you can check out a presentation on ‘A New Path to the Moon and Beyond Using Gravitational Chaos‘ that will take place tonight, July 20th at 7:30pm at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater at the American Museum of Natural History, supported, in part by a grant from the Newmanâ€™s Own Foundation.
Attendees will learn about weak stability boundary theory, the alternative approach to space travel developed by Ed Belbruno in the 1980s. By utilizing the chaos associated with the subtle gravitational forces between planets, a new low-fuel route to the Moon was created. A new NASA mission called GRAIL will implement this route, which has not been used since 1991.The upcoming mission also represents an exciting development in the emerging field of low energy trajectory design.
Speaking of weird space stuff, David over at Mang’s Bat Page uses some simple astronomy software to lay to rest any concerns of harmonic resonantial planetary alignment wreaking global havoc in Nostradamus 2012: Not fit for the KYBO. Seriously, it is so easy for people to do their homework these days and no one ever does. Luckily we’ve got Boy Scouts on our side. Peace out to Mr. Armstrong! – Distinguished Eagle Scout extraordinaire.
Out beyond our little sister the Moon, in trans-Lunar space, lie many Near-Earth Objects, or NEOs, what normal folk would call asteroids. In one of the classically bad (aren’t they all?) Big Rocks from Space movies, Armageddon, a mining machine is adapted for use on an asteroid’s surface. In her continuing voyages to all of the coolest places on Earth, A Babe…in the Universe got to see one of these vehicles up close, as well as a mock-up of the de rigeur rickety Russian space station in Armageddon and Asteroids.
Traveling to the outer reaches of the Solar system, Paul over at Centauri Dreams traveled to the comparatively much closer city of Aosta, Italy for a recent conference and heard of the idea of a fast orbiter mission to Haumea, a mysterious ellipsoidal object in trans-Neptunian space. There are strange things in the stygian depths beyond the Gas Giants…so let’s go check them out!
Moving into Deep Space, Jon over at The Angry Astronomer unleashes some celestial rage on Stars, Planets, and Metal, explaining how older studies with less good intruments may have underestimated the amounts of metals in certain star systems of interest.
So everyone raise a toast to those who defy insignificance and strive towards a better future for humanity, both on Earth and off. Cheers to those who answer the challenges of the space field and a Hip-Hip-Hurrah to our heroes, who have done the impossible and traveled to entirely new lands in service of humanity.
And with that, Ladies and Gentlemen we come to the end of this week’s Carnival of Space. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show, and encourage you to visit previous Carnivals to further enrich yourself of the vast wonders of the cosmos, and be sure to stay tuned to your favorite space blogs to find the location of the next