Building the World

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.

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

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

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

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

 

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/

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

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

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

September 21, 2018
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Space: Hayabusa touchdown on Ryugu

Ryu Hayabusa, video game ninjutsu martial artist, now also conquering the sky? Image: Hideo Yoshizama, wikimedia.

It may take a ninjutsu martial artist to fight and float at the same time. Gravity is light on asteroid Ryugu. So, if visiting rovers tried to roll along the surface, as Curiosity did on Mars, the momentum would send them quickly aloft. Solution? Hops. Touchdowns will allow two 7 inch rovers to collect data before elevating into another hop. The Minerva Rovers descend from Hayabusa2, Japan’s spacecraft that embarked upon the mission on 3 December 2014 from Tanegashima Space Center. It took two tries: but Hayabusa2 scored a touchdown today.

While NASA may have been the first to touch down spacecraft, and human footprints, upon the lunar surface, in the Apollo mission, much space exploration has followed, including the promising field of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, thought to contain valuable minerals worth quadrillions. Japan’s Hyabusa1 was the first spacecraft to achieve a roundtrip to an asteroid, bring a bit of asteroid dust from Itokawa to earth in a sealed capsule in 2010. Meanwhile, NASA is still in the running. Osiris-Rex will arrive at asteroid Bennu on New Year’s Eve 2018. Purpose? Information on the origins of the solar system, perhaps even the building blocks of life.

Corum, Jonathan. “Hayabusa2 Prepares to Drop Rovers on Asteroid Ryugu.” 19 September 2018. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/25/science/hayabusa-ryugu-photos.html.

Desjardins, Jeff. “There’s big money to be made in asteroid mining.” 5 November 2016. Business Insider.https://www.businessinsider.com/the-value-of-asteroid-mining-2016-11.

JAXA. For a view of the landing, see: http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleries/onc/nav20180920/

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

July 14, 2018
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Ghost of a Chance

Image: NASA

Space research just opened a new chapter: the “ghost particle” neutrino was found on earth, having come from a blazar galaxy to the left of Orion, 3.7 billion light years away. Ghost particles can pass through any kind of matter without changing. The team that found the neutrino is based at the University of Wisconsin, joined by 49 collaborating institutions worldwide, including NASA‘s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The detector, called the IceCube, is located in Antarctica’s South Pole. The long-sought neutrino gives evidence of cosmic rays, and accelerators, opening a new view of space and energy. Summing up the discovery, Naoko Kurahashi Neilson of Drexel University stated: All of astronomy is light.

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

June 28, 2018
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Life on Enceladus?

The global ocean of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, may contain organic molecules that are the birth of life. Image: NASA.

Water is one of the foundations of life: on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. NASA‘s Cassini spacecraft has discovered “complex organic molecules” in the plumes of spray from the ocean of Saturn’s moon. In 2015, Cassini found a global ocean beneath the crust of Enceladus. The mission collected data that will drive research for decades to come, even though Cassini immolated itself in September 2017, merging and disintegrating into the atmosphere of the planet it had come to explore, to court, and finally to become. Is there life on Enceladus?

Postberg, F, et al. “Macromolecular organic compounds from the depths of Enceladus.” 28 June 2018. Nature, Volume 558, p. 564 ff. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0246-4.

Strickland, Ashley. “Could life exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus?” 27 June 2018. CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2018/06/27/us/enceladus-saturn-search-for-life/index.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 License

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