Building the World

September 6, 2019
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SPACE: Chandra/Moon Mission

“Chandra, Moon God.” Folio from Book of Dreams. India, Rajasthan, Mewar, Udaipur: circa 1700. Image: wikimedia.

Chandra, Hindi and Sanskrit word for moon, gave name to Chandrayaan 2; on 6 September 2019, its lander Vikram will do the same thing Neil Armstrong did 50 years ago: decide where to land on the moon. Apollo 11‘s Neil Armstrong switched controls to manual at the last minute to avoid a programmed drop, turning history from disaster to success as NASA’s Eagle landed and humans stepped onto the moon in 1969. Vikram will have to think just as fast: when the lander reaches 100m (328 feet) above the surface, Vikram will select the exact site, landing 78 seconds later. The plan is to touch down between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, just north of the lunar south pole. A perfect lunar landing (only 37% of attempts in history have been successful) would make India the fourth nation to land on the moon, following achievements of the United States, Russia, and China. Witness history, here.

Bartels, Meghan. “Here’s where India’s Chandrayaan-2 will land near the Moon’s south pole (and why).” 5 September 2019. Space.com. https://www.space.com/india-chandrayaan-2-moon-south-pole-landing-site.html

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). https://www.isro.gov.in/chandrayaan2-home-0

Kumar, Chethan. “Chandrayaan 2: 100m above Moon, Vikram will pick final landing spot.” Times of India. 6 September 2019. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/100m-above-moon-vikram-will-pick-final-landing-spot/articleshow/7100912.cms.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Lice

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July 19, 2019
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SPACE: Lunar Life in 2069

“Lunar image animation.” Author, Tom Ruen, 2007. Image: wikimedia.

Fifty years ago, humans set foot on the moon, reaching the lunar destination through NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong, first person to alight on the lunar surface, famously proclaimed: That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. As lunar explorations continue, what will life be like on the moon in 2069? Scientists from China, Europe, Russia, and the USA, among others, project several developments.

Lunar Life in 2069:

Chinese Academy of Sciences’ National Space Science Center: “Tourism for space holidays; hotel staff (some robotic) will live on the moon, perhaps in seasonal shifts.”

Earthrise Alliance: “The moon will be like Antarctica today – mainly science, some rarified tourism, limited habitation.”

European Space Agency: “Science, with an emphasis on shared projects among many nations.”

NASA: “Public/private cooperation with scientific partnerships. Tourism from private industry.”

Russian Academic of Sciences’ Space Research Institute: “The moon will look like a resort.”

Source: Boyle, 2019.

One thing is certain: innovation. Expected to arrive on the lunar surface soon: a nuclear power station, missions of exploration for water, minerals, and maybe even evidence of microbial life, fossilized now in rock. Among visions developed during the last fifty years, Frank P. Davidson suggested Lunar U, an educational program for universities offering the ultimate study abroad. Meanwhile, if you weren’t watching in July 1969, here’s a video.

Boyle, Alan. “The moon in 2069: Top space scientists share their vision for lunar lifestyles.” World Conference of Science Journalists, Lausanne, Switzerland. 2 July 2019. GeekWirehttps://www.geekwire.com/2019/moon-2069-space-officials-share-visions-future-lunar-lifestyles/

Griffin, Gerry “Moon Landing: Wow, it worked!” Witness History. BBC. 17 July 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/stories-48955513/moon-landing-wow-it-worked

NASA, “Apollo 11 Moon Mission.” https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/hd/apollo11_hdpage.html

Wenz, John. “Life on the Moon? Maybe long ago.” 23 July 2018. Astronomy. http://www.astronomy.com/news/2018/07/life-on-the-moon/.

Appreciation to George H. Litwin for this topic, and Frank P. Davidson for lunar future visions.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

 

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June 15, 2019
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SPACE: Airbnb $35,000 per night

Astronaut Dale A. Gardner holds “For Sale” sign. Image: nasa.gov

Space is growing increasingly private and commercial. NASA announced the availability of the International Space Station for private rental. Chief Financial Office Jeff DeWit stated that while NASA will continue research for lunar and other explorations, the agency will also work with the private sector, in a vision that sees low-Earth orbit as a public/private economy. It’s not new: more than 50 businesses are already conducting commercial R&D aboard the International Space Station; another set of companies have installed commercial facilities on the ISS National Lab. Bookings are open to those meeting 3 criteria:

Project requirements for Booking a Space on ISS:

Project must require microgravity environment to enable development of a commercial application;

Project  must have a connection to NASA’s mission;

Project must “support development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy.

Privately-sponsored astronauts may stay aboard iSS for up to 30 days, with 5% of crew spots open for booking. Interested in knowing more? There is a Request for Information (RFI) from NASA for enabling commercial activity in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in its “Plan for Commercial Lower Earth Orbit Development” – deadline July 3.

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson aboard ISS in 2011. Image: wikimedia

International Space Station booking gives new meaning to “AirBnB” with the per night price of $35,000. Boeing and SpaceX will handle transit and related services. Space, once the realm of government engineering and science, is changing rapidly; how should the Outer Space Treaty, still restricted to nations, be updated to recognize and manage private enterprise?

NASA. “NASA Opens International Space Station to New Commercial Opportunities, Private Astronauts.”

NASA. “Plan for Commercial Lower Earth Orbit Development.” https://www.fbogov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=0f19423342d628199e2b03c7bf79d11e.

Nasdaq video conference link: “Space station will open to tourists, NASA says,” by Michael Sheetz.  7 June 2019. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/07/nasa-opening-iss-to-business-including-private-astronauts-by-202.html.

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April 11, 2019
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SPACE: Photo of Infinity?

Enter here: matter, time, and space. Black hole Messier 87,  galaxy located in Virgo cluster 53 million light years away. “Black Hole” photograph by Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, 10 April 2019. Image: wikimedia commons.

April 2019. A photo of a black hole just gave the world first view of what was thought unseeable. Black holes are so termed because matter, time, space, even light, are pulled into the vortex and never come back, or perhaps become suspended in the energy field around the black hole called the Event Horizon, identified by Stephen Hawking and suggested by Einstein. Messier 87, a very large black hole photographed today, is termed “a supermassive spacetime deforming structure.” (Heater, 2019).

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team. Image: wikimedia.

Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration worked as a team of eight telescopes around the world, including coordination by NASA. One of the project heroes: Katie Bouman, postdoc fellow from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (Bouman will teach at Caltech in the fall of 2019), who worked on the CHIRP (Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors) algorithm that combined the eight data flows into one image. Also on the CHIRP team: MIT’s Haystack Observatory and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Event Horizon’s photo may place Bouman in the tradition of Photo 51. It’s worth noting that Event Horizon’s historic photo is evidence of the essential importance of global collaboration in space; is this hope for a path to peace?

Bever, Lindsey. “Katie Bouman helped the world see a black hole. Fans want ‘a rightful seat in history’ for her.” 11 April 2019. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/04/11/katie-bouman-helped-world-see-black-hole-fans-want-rightful-seat-history-her/.

Bouman, Katie. “How to take a picture of a black hole.” TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/katie_bouman_what_does_a_black_hole_look_like?language=en.

Event Horizon Telescope. https://eventhorizontelescope.org

Ghosh, Pallab. “First ever black hole image released.” 10 April 2019. BBC Science and Environment.

Hawking. “Black holes store information.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkRDmJpthXg. KTCH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, 2015.

Heater, Brian. Here’s the first image of a black hole.” 04/10/2019. TechCrunch.

MIT CSAIL. @MIT_CSAIL.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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March 31, 2019
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First Poem written from SPACE

“Good Morning from the International Space Station.” Image: nasa.gov

31 March 2009. Astronaut Wakata Koichi wrote what may be the first poem ever written by a human being in space. Wakata Koichi floated into view on the computer monitor at JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, (counterpart to NASA) at the Tsukuba Space Center. From the International Space Station, called Kibo or Hope in the Japanese language, the scientist/poet held a sheet of paper and wrote something; upon completion, Wakata-san turned the paper to the camera and spoke these words:

Afloat in the darkness before my eyes,

the watery planet bluely glows

How strong is my affection for that ancient home of ours,

how deep my gratitude for the gift of life.

Tomorrow, I will dare the blue sky

and open up worlds unknown

For there we have our dreams.

Wakata Koichi, astronaut, 2009

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Space Poem Chain. http://issjaxa.jp/utiliz/renshi/index_e.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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February 9, 2019
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SPACE: Naming the Future (and searching for Photo 52)

Rosalind Elise Franklin, once and future DNA pioneer. Image: wikimedia.

Space: will we find life? If we do, Rosalind Franklin will be part of history – again. It was Franklin who helped to discover the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. Franklin’s X-ray images led to the detection of the double helix. Under Franklin’s direction, a photo, famously called Photo 51, revealed the structure of life itself.

Life takes a Selfie. Photo 51, most important photo ever taken – yet. Image: wikimedia.

Many scientists believe that Franklin would, and should, have been awarded the Nobel Prize, along with Crick, Watson, and Wilkins in 1962; her untimely passing may have eclipsed her significant contribution.

When the European Space Agency (ESA) sends its Mars Rover in search of life, the explorer will bear the name of Rosalind Franklin. NASA is already on Mars, and SpaceX is planning for habitation. As the human race proceeds into space, there will be discoveries that may reframe what we know as civilization, and life.

Franklin, Rosalind E. “Influence of the Bonding Electrons on the Scattering of X-Rays by Carbon. Nature 165, pp. 71-72. (1950).https://www.nature.com/articles/165071a0

NOVA, “The Secret of Photo 51,” Public Broadcasting Service, PBS. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/photo51/

Space.com. “European Mars Rover Named for Crystal Scientist Rosalind Franklin,” by Meghan Bartels. 7 February 2019. https://www.space.com/43259-exomars-rover-named-for-rosalind-franklin.html

“All the countries (and companies) trying to get to Mars.” Mary Beth Griggs, 20 September 2017. Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/who-wants-to-go-to-mars?” 60mGfwRBa7H1hCz4.03.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

 

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January 3, 2019
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New Year, New Place, New Space

January 1, 2019, Nasa reached Ultima Thule. Image: wikimedia.

January 1, 2019. New Horizons, Nasa‘s spacecraft, made history, achieving a successful flyby of the most distant space object ever reached, 6.5 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away. Likely coalesced more than 4.5 billion years ago, iced together in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, also termed Trans-Neptunian Region of our solar system, two round balls (some liken the formation to a space snowman) are officially designated as 2014 MU69, but more lyrically named “Ultima Thule.” Scientifically, this new place in space may yield valuable data about how planets were formed, including Earth. While many know the meaning of Ultima (name of the larger part),  Thule merits further comment: the name is a Latin phrase meaning a place beyond the known world.

Amos, Jonathan. “Nasa’s New Horizons: ‘Snowman’ shape of distant Ultima Thule revealed.” 2 January 2019, BBC.

Chang, Kenneth. “Snowman-like Photo of Ultima Thule Sent Home by NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft.” 2 January 2019. The New York Times.

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute. “Ultima Thule in 3D.” 1 January 2019 historical date; published 3 January 2019. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/2237/ultima-thule-in-3d/

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December 24, 2018
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Golden Anniversary, Golden Opportunity

Earthrise, December 24, 1968: “You don’t see . Image: wikimedia.

Fifty years ago, someone grabbed a camera and changed history. NASA Apollo 8’s crew was to orbit precisely 10 times while photographing the surface of the moon, as a field study for the Lunar Landing mission.  It was 1968: before digital photography, a crew could carry only so much film – all of it was to be used for lunar surface documentation.

For hours, only the occasional click was heard as the spacecraft hovered above the lunar surface, snapping photos of the topography of the moon. There was not much to look at: gray gravely surface cloaked by a dark sky. Then, suddenly, as Apollo 8 completed the first circle of the moon, an orb of blue and green surrounded by swirling clouds appeared in the module window. It was Earth.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets.

When Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders looked out the spaceship module’s window, three voices whispered astonishment in unison. Anders grabbed the camera. “Hey, that’s not our authorized mission; we’ve only carried designated film,” said the commander. The three stared at each other in a wild surmise. Then, all three nodded in assent. Anders, mission’s official photographer, captured the first view that humanity ever saw of our own Earth.

To call it a selfie would be to trivialize it. Earthrise, as the photo came to be called, snapped history into a new era. “It was credited with awakening the modern version of the environmental movement,” according to former American Vice President and environmental leader Al Gore; author of An Inconvenient Truth. “You don’t see cities, you don’t see boundaries, you don’t see countries,” stated mission commander Frank Borman. The first Earth Day followed. World water laws developed further; in the United States, the Colorado River Compact updated environmental provisions; new policies like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act set new standards.

But where are we now, fifty years later?  Hope for our planet’s blue and green miracle is narrow but not impossible. Many governments are setting new goals to save the climate before it is too late, bringing the Paris Agreement COP21 to shared measurement standards at COP24. Cities and states are taking matters into their own hands. Businesses and industries, including aerospace, shipping, and fashion, are setting global supply chain standards to reduce emissions. In response to changing markets, innovations are developing at a pace that some find encouraging. Clean energy jobs are growing faster, and more profitably. There could be trouble, but there is a narrow window of success possible. If we too see the vision in the photo, words of Borman and Anders might ring true: “Got it?” “Yep.” 

Watch the video. Apollo 8 took the Earthrise photo on December 24, a half century ago. So, today is a kind of Golden Anniversary. Is it time to renew our vows?

“Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act,” 1974. http://usbr.gov/lc/region/pao/pdfiles.crbsalct.pdf

NASA.”Earthrise.” https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181224.html.

Vaughan-Lee, Emmanuel, director, and Adam Loften, producer: “Earthrise.” Go Project Films. http://goprojectfilms.com

Wall, Mike. “This New ‘Earthrise’ Photo from NASA Is Simply Breathtaking.” 21 December 2015. Space.com. https:///www.space.com/31422-earthrise-photo-nasa-moon-probe.html/

Wright, Ernie. “Earthrise” – visualizations created for the 45th anniversary, released on 20 December, 2013. Includes extensive downloadable videos showing the actual cloud pattern on Earth at the moment. There is link to Wright’s presentation at SIGGRAPH Vancouver. NASA, Scientific Visualization Studio. http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-releases-new-earthrise-simulation-video/.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Lice

 

 

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November 26, 2018
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SPACE: Touchdown – InSight Landed on Mars

Mars. “Mars: BeforeAfter Duster-2018” Image: wikimedia commons.

 Touchdown! InSight landed on Mars. “We can’t exactly joystick the landing,” quipped InSight’s Descent and Landing Leader, describing the approach at an angle of precisely 12 degrees, in precisely planned stages measured by velocity changes from 12,300 mph (19,800 kph) to 5 mph (8 kph) in seven minutes, all directed by  NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, USA. Once established on the Red Planet, InSight will get to work, revealing data relevant to the deep interior of Mars. One scientist likened the deeper probe to taking Mars’ temperature; if it’s warm, that may have implications for a suspected lake of water inside the planet.

InSight is supported by a team of partners including France’s Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, and Imperial College, Oxford University. With scientific cooperation, how might space advances influence updates of the Outer Space Treaty that governs the rights of planets? Can space become our first true commons establishing shared values, including environment and peace?

Cook, Jai-Rui and D.C. Agle. “NASA InSight Team on Course for Mars Touchdown,” 21 November 2018. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. https://mars.nasa.gov/news/8389/nasa-insight-team-on-course-for-mars-touchdown/?sight=insight

“Mars Had a Busy Year.” A  review of recent scientific advances including NASA’s Curiosity Rover identifying organic modules in June, followed by July’s discovery by the European Space Agency ESA of a large, watery lake beneath the planet’s southern polar ice, and in November, the confirmation of NASA Mars 2020 Rover landing site on Jezero Crater. The New York Times team. 25 November 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/25/science/mars-nasa-insight-landing.html

Outer Space Treaty: http://www.ifrc.org/docs/idrl/I515EN.pdf

Watch the landing in an interactive visualization: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/entry-descent-landing/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Lice

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November 20, 2018
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Happy 20th Birthday, International Space Station

International Space Station Insignia. Image: Nasa.gov.

What do you get for a birthday present – for a space station? Today is the 20th birthday of the International Space Station. It was on November 20, 1998, that the Zarya module launched from Kazakhstan; two weeks later, the United States launched the NASA module, Unity. A new era of cooperation and peace began when Russia and the United States joined together to build the largest human-made object in space. At 375 feet, it’s just one yard shy of a regulation football field. Over the past 20 years,  230 people have joined the scientific crew, with Peggy Whitson staying the longest – 665 days. For its 20th birthday present, the International Space Station will receive a 3D Printer: combination recycling and fabricator, the Refabricator can melt old plastic and transform the material to build new tools. Regarding birthday cake: surely no candles. But, since astronauts dine while hovering in zero gravity, but maybe root beer floats.

NASA. “NASA, Northrop Grumman Launch Space Station, National Lab Cargo.” 17 November 2018. https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-northrop-grumman-launch-space-station-national-lab-cargo.

Sommerland, Joe. “International Space Station: twenty facts about the ISS as it celebrates its 20th birthday.” 19 November 2018. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/international-space-station-iss-location-nasa-orbit-20-birthday-anniversary-a8641431.html.

Watch an astronaut eat cake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zRKValrrGE

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Lice

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