Automotive Holiday Deals Up to 50% Off Select Books Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Black Friday egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Grocery Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $15 Off All-New Fire Kindle Voyage Cyber Monday Sweepstakes in Prime Music Outdoor Deals on HTL
Customer Discussions > Science Fiction forum

Is NASA On Life Support?

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 101-125 of 1000 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2009 12:47:23 PM PST
M. Helsdon says:
"Verification/validation is in progress, and the organic matter may be just residue from comets or asteroids."

This isn't organic matter but organic compounds - carbon in combination for instance with hydrogen, oxygen or nitrogen.

The headline should perhaps be "building blocks of life found on the Moon" which isn't surprising as one theory of the formation of the Moon suggests it resulted when the early Earth was smashed by a smaller planet, so the Moon is made of much the same material as the Earth.

For historical reasons the term organic compound can be applied to compounds that have no connection to any substance found in living organisms (some definitions simply require carbon to be present, others a carbon-hydrogen bond).

The Apollo soil samples were found to include sparse amounts of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, though not in the form of complex compounds.

Posted on Dec 18, 2009 6:27:57 PM PST
Headlines like that are one of the big problems with science journalism today. They catch your attention with some exciting promise, and then the reality comes as a letdown. I know science is seen as dry and boring to some, but sheesh, hyping it up isn't the answer.... OK, rant over.

Posted on Dec 19, 2009 8:40:21 AM PST
M. Helsdon says:
A daring proposal to try to put a nuclear-powered "boat" down on a sea of Saturn's moon Titan is about to be submitted to NASA:

However, whilst NASA and ESA are currently considering a joint multi-billion-dollar mission to the outer planets, they have the Jupiter system and not Saturn as their next priority.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2009 4:58:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2009 4:59:36 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
Well, April, they're not much of a letdown if you don't actually read (or [try to] understand) the articles ... like our resident treasure hunter. ;)

"Ooh ... shiny!"

Posted on Dec 20, 2009 7:08:14 AM PST
M. Helsdon says:
Member-states of the European Space Agency have given final approval to revised plans to explore Mars in partnership with NASA. The Council of Esa has given the green light to a two-mission endeavour that would see the launch of an orbiter in 2016 and a rover in 2018.

This is based in part on the ExoMars concept.

Posted on Dec 23, 2009 11:47:59 AM PST
M. Helsdon says:
NASA has just supplied the answer to the mystery of the presence of the Local Interstellar Cloud our Solar System is travelling through. Voyager probe data indicates that it has a strong magnetic field.

Posted on Dec 27, 2009 7:58:21 AM PST

Stanford University's Hoover Institute reviews a book titled "Surrendering Outer Space". It details the many causes for NASA's slow demise, and the danger of the U.S. "surrendering" outer space to more ambitious nations, like China.

Posted on Dec 27, 2009 4:15:26 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
Oh NO! Panic! Aaaaagh!

Well, at least when we finally get out there, the Chinese take-out will be waiting for us! :D

Posted on Dec 28, 2009 7:45:27 AM PST
Below is a link to an interesting 2003 JPL/NASA Presentation on "Goals For Future NASA Space Systems". Sad that we'll never see these goals realized - at least not by NASA!

Posted on Dec 31, 2009 7:44:20 AM PST
M. Helsdon says:
The head of Russia's federal space agency has said it will work to divert an asteroid which will make several passes near the Earth from 2029.

Anatoly Perminov told the Voice of Russia radio service that the agency's science council would hold a closed meeting to discuss the issue.

Any eventual plan is likely to be an international collaboration, he said.

If this intention comes to anything, with a Roscosmos NASA ESA etc. collaboration it might help kick start manned missions beyond near Earth space. 99942 Apophis is calculated to only have a 1 in 250,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2029, so any such mission may be deemed unnecessary. It would, however, be a useful preparation for a possible second impact window in 2036, or for any near Earth asteroids we haven't detected yet...

Posted on Dec 31, 2009 1:40:16 PM PST
M. Helsdon says:
NASA has selected three projects as finalists for its next celestial mission:

* The Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer, or SAGE, mission to Venus would release a probe to descend through the planet's atmosphere. During descent, instruments would conduct extensive measurements of the atmosphere's composition and obtain meteorological data. The probe then would land on the surface of Venus, where its abrading tool would expose both a weathered and a pristine surface area to measure its composition and mineralogy. Scientists hope to understand the origin of Venus and why it is so different from Earth. Larry Esposito of the University of Colorado in Boulder, is the principal investigator.

* The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer spacecraft, called Osiris-Rex, would rendezvous and orbit a primitive asteroid. After extensive measurements, instruments would collect more than two ounces of material from the asteriod's surface for return to Earth. The returned samples would help scientists better undertand and answer long-held questions about the formation of our solar system and the origin of complex molecules necessary for life. Michael Drake, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, is the principal investigator.

* MoonRise: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission would place a lander in a broad basin near the moon's south pole and return approximately two pounds of lunar materials for study. This region of the lunar surface is believed to harbor rocks excavated from the moon's mantle. The samples would provide new insight into the early history of the Earth-moon system. Bradley Jolliff, of Washington University in St. Louis, is the principal investigator.

Funding has been provided to further study these proposals prior to determining which to pursue.

Posted on Dec 31, 2009 4:41:13 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
Fairly vigorous death throes, huh? ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 9:35:38 AM PST
To Marilyn Martin:
Here's another book that's on the same topic, one that I can personally recommend. It's entitled "Lost in Space: the Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age". It's by Greg Klerkx, and the publisher is Pantheon Books.

Here are some short reviews:
Portrayed by Klerkx (a former senior manager of the SETI Institute) as a "hydra-headed agency" with many masters, bureaucratically hidebound, and systematically incapable of promoting and executing a bold vision for space exploration, NASA is contrasted with the "entrepreneurial" spirit of the private space companies (or the "alternative space community", which in his view are generating the more exciting and innovative approaches and ideas for space exploration. He argues that the two space communities cannot achieve anything without each other and recommends that NASA "embrace the efforts of the entrepreneurial space sector and actively support broad-based, participatory interest in human spaceflight. Annotation #169;2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR ( Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Review
In this sprawling and sometimes polemical account, Klerkx, formerly associated with the SETI Institute, excoriates what he sees as NASA's present-day loss of vision. During the Apollo program, NASA's goal was manned space exploration. But over the last 29 years, the agency has scaled down its vision, content to send unmanned missions to the other planets and keep human beings in earth orbit with the short-lived Skylab, the troubled shuttle fleet and the "money-gobbling" International Space Station. Klerkxdraws out some of the threads in the tangled web that connects the perpetually feuding NASA fiefdoms, NASA's major suppliers (and major congressional contributors), like Boeing, and the politicians who write the checks. He believes that private-sector entrepreneurs will wrest future space exploration away from the self-serving NASA bureaucracy, which too often views space in terms of military and strategic applications. Klerkx presents the nouveaux riches businessmen investing millions in space-related projects, like Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Elon Musk, founder of Paypal, as well as eccentric visionaries like Robert Zubrin and his Mars Society. The Columbia disaster hangs over Klerkx's tale like a dark shadow.. Some readers may think Klerkx is still under the spell of his boyhood dream of being an astronaut and giving short shrift to arguments against human space exploration. But readers who share Klerkx's dream will be captivated by his vision of what needs to be done to resume manned space flights and of what humankind is capable of achieving. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From: Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright Reed Business Information

Library Journal Review
Has the era of human space exploration ended? So worries Klerkx (former director of development, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Inst.). He blames NASA, once a daring and innovative organization but now a "calcified," "truncheon-swinging government bully." Fearful for its own survival, NASA focuses on the space shuttle and the International Space Station while opposing all independent space flight initiatives. Klerkx argues that human space exploration can and should be revived by restricting NASA activities to fundamental research while rerouting much of its funding to support private, competitive, entrepreneurial space ventures. Despite an incongruously saccharine and uncritical final chapter, readers who enjoy insider space titles like Bryan Burrough's Dragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard the MIR or James Oberg's Star-Crossed Orbits: Inside the U.S.-Russian Space Alliance should like this book. Some, however, may get bogged down in the endless details as the author describes how NASA impedes or squelches one space enthusiast or space project after another. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. (Index not seen.)-Nancy R. Curtis, Univ. of Maine Lib., OronoCopyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From: Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright Reed Business Information

Booklist Review
Wedded to the space shuttle and the International Space Station, NASA long ago lost its Apollo-era elan. Klerkx is familiar with the organization because of his work with the search-for-extraterrestrial-intelligence program. Here he rambles through a variety of explanations for the dissipation of NASA's ability to excite public interest in its space programs. He interviews a number of dissatisfied employees, often ex-NASA engineers with entrepreneurial schemes. Inevitably, a tone of exasperation creeps into Klerkx's presentation, but more of lamentation than condemnation. Describing numerous examples of the conflict between private enterprise and NASA, Klerkx shows how NASA's institutional resistance to the commercialization of human space flight is a fundamental impediment to re-energizing the space program. NASA is, after all, a government bureaucracy beholden to congressional barons and its client contractors--a classic example of a Washington iron triangle that upholds the status quo rather than the public interest. Chock-full of interesting activity in the so-called alternative-space community, Klerkx's situation report, while critical, does possess enough optimism to encourage space enthusiasts. GilbertTaylor. From: Syndetics Solutions, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

Posted on Jan 1, 2010 10:07:12 AM PST
Hi Walter! (And Happy New Year)

Thanks for your fascinating post. And I agree with all of it. Why doesn't NASA embrace or partner with the "alternative space community"? (Especially with combined budgets.) Why doesn't NASA revitalize itself with "participatory interest in human spaceflight"? Sounds like NASA has indeed turned into yet another stodgy, clunky government program.

Here's one (possible) bright spot, however. NASA's Keplar Project (to search for habitable planets) still has a "Planet Count" of 000. BUT there will be a big press conference on January 4th, to release their latest data.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 10:32:31 AM PST
M. Helsdon says:

That would be:

Named for Johannes Kepler and his laws of planetary motion.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 2:42:57 PM PST
To Marilyn Martin:
Happy New Year to you too!

How can it be considered a "bright spot" when the Kepler Project has a current planet count of 0000, while other astronomers have discovered a total (so far) of 208 exosolar planets, circling 172 different stars? ADDENDUM: Having read the mission statement, I see that NASA is looking for TERRESTRIAL planets that orbit in the HABITABLE ZONE (having temperatures that allow liquid water to exist) around their respective stars.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 3:30:21 PM PST
Hi Walter!

Yes, I was a little disappointed at the Keplar (Habitable) Planet Counter set at 000, too. I can only hope their Jan. 4th press conference has some positive news, and gets covered by something better than the Tasmanian Science Newsletter ...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 10:01:59 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
It's KEPLER, dammit.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2010 7:53:28 AM PST
Michelle says:
So tiresome, WR Johnson.

Sure the space program was about beating the Soviets. But one would have to lack any sense of wonder or even reality to say that it was ..."merely a propaganda tool in the Cold War."

It was about "...exporation, knowledge, and advancing as a species." as well.

It takes a very small mind, uneducated and probably brimming with cynicism and political preconceptions to have so little understanding of humanity. The world is not black and white, it is in color.

Life, society, people are complicated. Conflicts of interest, quandaries, mixed feelings and all such realities are just that, reality.

One reason does not obviate all the other reasons. All the reasons are true.

Posted on Jan 2, 2010 4:32:33 PM PST
M. Alexander, re. "It was about "...exporation, knowledge, and advancing as a species." as well." Those people who believed this were in the minority. The funding to implement it was, really, a propaganda tool of the Cold War. I lived through that era. The USSR was all about how their state run government was so superior to democracy and free markets. "We will bury you" was the quote from Khrushchev if I remember correctly. They loved waving Sputnik and Gagarin's flight around as part of their superiority. The USA tried to fob it off as a stunt that didn't mean anything at first. In fact, Eisenhower SLASHED NASA's budget in 1960 if you can believe it. Later, I remember a political cartoon of Krushchev bouncing a rocket off of Kennedy's head.

Even Kennedy said that we wouldn't try to match the Soviets, at first. Oops - Bay of Pigs fiasco so we needed to do something. His options were 1) Quit space 2) Play 2nd fiddle forever 3) Do something dramatic. The ONLY chance of ever beating the Russians were landing on the moon and returning, so that's what we picked.

Just look at what happened after the 1st Moon landing. Interest waned, funding reduced. Few people watched the Apollo 13's telecast since they were bored already. (I wasn't, but I couldn't bump up the ratings all by myself.) Two Saturn V's that were built went to waste since the last 2 Moon missions were cancelled (though I think one of the 2 was used for Skylab).

So, we space enthusiasts believed it is not about the politics, but we were in the minority, and back then it really was politics that got the Moon landing to happen. NASA knows how MOST people got bored so fast after the Moon landing, so they are paranoid, and rightly so.

Posted on Jan 3, 2010 10:49:30 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2010 11:34:05 AM PST
Hi Bob!

Some good points. I also fault NASA's publicity department. All they give out are astronaut profiles (which all sound basically alike anymore), and breathless weather updates about whether or not Canaveral can launch, or whether the shuttle will land in California or Florida. When the most exciting factor about your government's space program is the weather ... you're in big trouble!

Where are the interesting explanations about the science experiments they are doing at the ISS? Where are the "live feeds" from there while they work on these experiments or analyze the results? Where are the live "hook ups" with other scientists, where the ISS researchers describe their latest experiment's results, and answer questions and get immediate feed-back? (ALL this can't be "classified"!)

Being a little more forthcoming about the "mysterious" workings in and around the ISS, at the very least would stop the rash of highjacked You Tube videos claiming space debris is yet another UFO near the ISS ...

Tomorrow (Jan. 4th) NASA's Kepler Project will announce their findings at a barely-mentioned press conference. Maybe something interesting will come out of THAT!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2010 11:24:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2010 12:07:49 PM PST
M. Helsdon says:
"Where are the interesting explanations about the science experiments they are doing at the Space Lab?"

Spacelab was a reusable laboratory flown into space on the shuttle; it was decommissioned in 1998.

"Tomorrow (Jan. 4th) NASA's Keplar Project will announce their findings at a barely-mentioned press conference. Maybe something interesting will come out of THAT!"

That would be the Kepler Mission, named for Johannes Kepler and his laws of planetary motion.

Remarkable. MM has re-edited her post to refer to the ISS instead of the defunct Spacelab and discovered how to spell Kepler.

Posted on Jan 3, 2010 12:11:21 PM PST
M. Helsdon says:
The ISS does provide weekly news reports. They probably won't be very interesting for the people who go to YouTube for UFOs and antigravity helicopters.

ISS Science Summary: December 7 - December 13, 2009

The Expedition 22 two-person crew of ISS Commander Colonel Jeffrey Williams and Colonel Maxim Suraev continues to conduct science activities onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Three additional members of Expedition 22, Colonel Oleg Kotov, Soichi Noguchi, and Colonel T.J. Creamer, will launch on December 20th 2009 aboard Soyuz TMA-17.

Bisphosphonates (Bisphosphonates as a Countermeasure to Spaceflight Induced Bone Loss): Col. Williams supported the weekly U.S. Bisphosphonates biomedical countermeasures experiment, by ingesting an Alendronate pill before breakfast. This experiment will determine whether anti-resorptive agents (agents that help reduce bone loss), in conjunction with the routine in-flight exercise program, will protect ISS crewmembers from the regional decreases in bone mineral density documented on previous ISS missions.

Reaction Self Test (Psychomotor Vigilance Self Test on the ISS): Col. Williams completed a session of the Reaction Self Test experiment, which consists of a 5-minute reaction time task that will allow crewmembers to monitor the daily effects of fatigue on performance while on ISS. The experiment will provide objective feedback on neurobehavioral changes in attention, psychomotor speed, state stability, and impulsivity while on ISS missions, particularly as they relate to changes in circadian rhythms, sleep restrictions, and extended work shifts.

SPHERES ZERO-Robotics (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites ZERO-Robotics): Col. Williams conducted a test session for the SPHERES ZERO-Robotics competition. The session used satellite algorithms that were developed by high school students and tested them with the SPHERES payload, which uses bowling-ball sized spheres to test satellite formation flying. The goal of these algorithms was to direct one of SPHERES? satellites to a desired location or to intercept a competing team?s satellite from reaching its location. The SPHERES ZERO-Robotics experiment aims to inspire future scientists and engineers by making the benefits and resources of the space program accessible and tangible to students, and builds critical engineering skills such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, team work and presentation skills.

Additional U.S. Experiments Conducted on ISS:

CEO (Crew Earth Observations)

CSI-03 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus Science Insert - 03)

Sleep-Long (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure During Spaceflight-Long )

Integrated Cardiovascular (Cardiac Atrophy and Diastolic Dysfunction During and After Long Duration Spaceflight: Functional Consequences for Orthostatic Intolerance, Exercise Capability and Risk for Cardiac Arrhythmias)

Nutrition (Nutritional Status Assessment)

Repository (National Aeronautics and Space Administration Biological Specimen Repository)

Automated U.S. Experiments (ongoing without crew efforts):

ALTEA-Dosi (Anomalous Long Term Effects in Astronauts - Dosimetry)

HREP-HICO (HICO and RAIDS Experiment Payload- Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean)

HREP-RAIDS (HICO and RAIDS Experiment Payload- Remote Atmospheric and Ionospheric Detection system)

MAMS (Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System)

MISSE-7 (Materials International Space Station Experiment - 7)

SAMS-II (Space Acceleration Measurement System-II)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2010 4:22:17 PM PST
Ronald Craig says:
"Remarkable. MM has re-edited her post to refer to the ISS instead of the defunct Spacelab and discovered how to spell Kepler."

No doubt she'll claim it was pointed out to her by people she "reads here and respects" ... or whatever that quaint phrasing was she used a while back! :D

Posted on Jan 3, 2010 9:31:01 PM PST
The problem, I think, is NOT that they don't provide information on what they are doing, but that they don't do it in an entertaining manner for the YouTube generation. Wouldn't it be cool to actually see a small time lapse segment of the SPHERES ZERO-Robotics in flight?

I was once at a presentation of a shuttle mission specialist whose job on the ISS was analyzing how fire works in space. Some of the video was amazing (imagine floating fire globules). Yet, we don't see any of that on the NASA website or on TV specials.

I heard once that NASA was specifically told they could not self promote, since Congress did not want the public bothering them with requests to up NASA's funding. And since Congress holds the purse strings, NASA can't go against their wishes or risk losing LOTS of dollars. I don't know how true this is, or if it was true in the past and not true now, but I could certainly see this happening.

So the guys at NASA are stuck making dry factual cases and leaving the interesting stuff and promotions to others (TV specials, individuals, space enthusiast organizations). Welcome UFO Hunters!
[Add comment]
Add your own message to the discussion
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Prompts for sign-in

Recent discussions in the Science Fiction forum

  Discussion Replies Latest Post
Read fresh new science fiction stories - and help take them to the next level
10 Aug 16, 2015
Important announcement from Amazon
190 Jul 2, 2014
New Star Wars Release: The Jedi Path now available. Read the author's insider notes...
31 Sep 3, 2015
It's November 2015. What sci-fi are you reading? 11 2 hours ago
MARS 11 2 days ago
technology 5 2 days ago
How about LitRPG (MMO-based virtual reality books)? 97 4 days ago
anyone recognize this novel? 7 9 days ago
spaceports 3 10 days ago
Spaceships 37 10 days ago
Does my movie stink?? 2 11 days ago
Ják 5 11 days ago

This discussion

Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  99
Total posts:  1309
Initial post:  Sep 19, 2009
Latest post:  Sep 15, 2013

New! Receive e-mail when new posts are made.
Tracked by 6 customers

Search Customer Discussions