It was tough to watch NASA as well as other government workers go through the 2013 sequester. The grassroots of NASA that instil the dreams of yesterday into the hope of today is none other than you, the space enthusiast. It’s the NASA-loving enthusiast who knows why NASA is important and what they are capable of. When people complain that NASA has enough budget it’s the astronomy buff who steps in and clears it up with the facts. It really isn’t enough to love NASA and support Penny4NASA to make sure that NASA doesn’t follow the trend of budget cuts.
So a plea is brought to you the space lover and wanderer. Make your actions count by speaking to your congressmen and letting them know that you care about NASA. Don’t just take action today and write a letter but get one more person involved as well. It won’t be an easy feat but when it happens you’ll know you were apart of something wonderful and inspiring.
Let’s double NASA’s budget today: www.penny4nasa.org/take-action
A look at floating cities, such as Seasteading.
Freedom Ship - Freedom Ship International, 1990s
Seasteading - The Seasteading Institute, 2008
Cities in The Sea - Venus Project, 2002
Operation Atlantis - Werner Stiefel,1971 (no image)
Blueseed - Blueseed 2011
New Utopia - Lazarus Long, 1990s
Eugene Tsui - Nexus, 1986
Floating cities are dreamed of because how cool is that?–an entirely legitimate, admirable reason. The archives of seasteading are irresistible reading, the best of the utopias are awesome, and floating-city imaginings are in themselves a delightful mental game. The problem is the crippling of this tradition by free-market vulgarians.
The uncompromising monoliths of fascist and Stalinist architecture expressed their paymasters’ monstrous ambitions. The wildest of the libertarian seasteaders, New Utopia, manages to crossfertilize its drab Miami-ism with enough candy floss Las Vegaries to keep a crippled baroque distantly in sight. Freedom Ship, however, is a floating shopping mall, a buoyant block of midrange Mediterranean hotels. This failure of utopian imagination is nowhere clearer than in the floating city of the long defunct but still influential Atlantis Project.
It is a libertarian dream. Hexagonal neighborhoods of square apartments bob sedately by tiny coiffed parks and tastefully featureless marinas, an Orange County of the soul. It is the ultimate gated community, designed not by the very rich and certainly not by the very powerful, but by the middlingly so. As a utopia, the Atlantis Project is pitiful. Beyond the single one-trick fact of its watery location, it is tragically non-ambitious, crippled with class anxiety, nostalgic not for mythic glory but for the anonymous sanctimony of an invented 1950s. This is no ruling class vision: it is the plaintive daydream of a petty bourgeoisie, whose sulky solution to perceived social problems is to run away–set sail into a tax-free sunset.
In 1998, The Shuttle-Mir program, continuing a series of international collaborations in space, concluded Phase One when Space Shuttle Discovery completed its final mission to the Russian Mir space station. Phase Two began shortly after with the beginning of the construction of the largest space station to date and the first built by five different space agencies with input from up to 15 different nations. Today, this is known as the International Space Station, and it all began 15 years ago today with the launch of the first module, known as Zarya.
Zarya, which is Russian for “dawn,” was named to signify the beginning of a new era of international cooperation in space. It is also known as the Functional Cargo Block, and used initially for electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance until later modules were added. It is now primarily used for storage, but its launch marks the beginnings of the ISS and effectively, the station’s birthday. Though Russian built, the Zarya module is actually owned by the United States; its front docking port now serves as the connection of the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS to the U.S. Orbital Segment (the latter containing components from America, Japan, Canada, and Europe).
Though operated by five space agencies, the budget of NASA still heavily influences the ISS. The continued support of the greatest international collaboration in space relies on NASA’s ability to be properly funded. Take action today if you think such support deserves a Penny4NASA: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action
NASA is now offering selected technologies for commercial nonexclusive licensing through its NASA QuickLaunch Licensing program. NASA technologies have been used through countless commercial spinoffs that benefit people on Earth. The QuickLaunch licensing program will allow businesses to license NASA technology, create further innovation, and to continue the legacy of adapting space technology for use on Earth.
Currently there are 38 NASA technologies available in the QuickLaunch portfolio. Each QuickLaunch license has a set initial fee, annual royalty, and standard terms, which are listed on the QuickLaunch website. The greatest benefit to this program is the straightforward and quick process for gaining approval for a license agreement. Normally regular NASA licenses may take three to nine months for a license agreement, but under the QuickLaunch program approval for license agreements will averagely take less than a month. NASA technologies available through the program include a fuel tank for liquefied natural gas, Propulsion Controlled Aircraft computer, Visual Instrument Sensor Organ Replacement (VISOR), and conductive coatings to prevent corrosion in metals.
Learn more about NASA QuickLaunch licensing here.
NASA technology creates solutions for both space and Earth. Let’s give a Penny4NASA.
Research by the University of Liverpool has found that people experiencing depressive episodes display increased brain activity when they think about themselves.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain imaging technologies, scientists found that people experiencing a depressive episode process information about themselves in the brain differently to people who are not depressed.
Researchers scanned the brains of people in major depressive episodes and those that weren’t whilst they chose positive, negative and neutral adjectives to describe either themselves or the British Queen - a figure significantly removed from their daily lives but one that all participants were familiar with.
Professor Peter Kinderman, Head of the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: “We found that participants who were experiencing depressed mood chose significantly fewer positive words and more negative and neutral words to describe themselves, in comparison to participants who were not depressed.
“That’s not too surprising, but the brain scans also revealed significantly greater blood oxygen levels in the medial superior frontal cortex – the area associated with processing self-related information – when the depressed participants were making judgments about themselves.
“This research leads the way for further studies into the psychological and neural processes that accompany depressed mood. Understanding more about how people evaluate themselves when they are depressed, and how neural processes are involved could lead to improved understanding and care.”
Dr May Sarsam, from the Mersey Care NHS Trust, said: “This study explored the difference in medical and psychological theories of depression. It showed that brain activity only differed when depressed people thought about themselves, not when they thought about the Queen or when they made other types of judgements, which fits very well with the current psychological theory.
“Thought and neurochemistry should be considered as equally important in our understanding of mental health difficulties such as depression.”
Depression is associated with extensive negative feelings and thoughts. Nearly one-fifth of adults experience anxiety or depression, with the conditions affecting a higher proportion of women than men.
Did You Know: Gas Giants, All Gas?
We’re often told that the solar system is a simple dichotomy between terrestrial (rock) planets and gas/ice giants, or inner solar system vs. outer solar system. But are all of the gas giants purely gas?
Moment of Inertia
Inertial measurements of a planet can actually suggest what constitutes its core; such is the case with Saturn (Helled 2013). In measuring a spacecraft’s acceleration about a planet, as well as other qualities like precession, angular momentum, and rotation rate, scientists can estimate a planet’s moment of inertia. But there are a variety of other factors that are needed to understand the internal structure of a planet, leading to far more complicated mathematics for this post.
Moment of inertia is suggestive of density and the distribution of mass in a planet. With known measurements and models, the composition of planetary interiors, and thus cores, can be determined to a certain point.
So what’s in there, and why?
While science is generally up in the air about the composition of Jupiter’s core (i.e. whether it is solid), Saturn likely has a rocky core of 12 Earth masses (1 Earth mass = 5.9 x 10^24 kg); Neptune and Uranus have similar-sized, although differently composed, cores. So why is this?
During the early years of the solar system, planets formed through the process of planetary accretion. The system was originally a proto-planetary disc of dust that rotated around the young Sun; over time, particles collided and grew bigger, and larger masses accreted, or gathered, more material due to the basic idea of gravity as a function of mass. Therefore, larger bodies increased in size at an exponential level.
The terrestrial planets formed close to the sun from planetesimals (proto-planets) and never reached the proper mass to capture gases, while the future gas giants formed further from the sun, where there was more material, and were able to gain enough mass to capture gas.
So while we consider the gas giants to be enormously gaseous, they still likely have rock (silicates), metal, liquids, and/or solid ice at their cores. Saturn’s core even has an effect on its shape; it is far more oblate (stretched out/deformed from a sphere) than Jupiter because of a larger core. Meanwhile, Neptune and Uranus’s cores also consist of methane, ammonia, and water as both solids and liquids (they are indeed the ice giants!).