A House of Representatives Committee approved a bill designed to make NASA the only governmental body doing space research and development.
“Today’s bill is a step in the right direction to ensure that NASA will continue to innovate and inspire,” stated Chairman Lamar Smith. “The Authorization levels for FY16 and FY17 included in this bill provide NASA with the resources necessary to remain a leader in space exploration in a time of tight budget realities. For more than 50 years, the U.S. has led the world in space exploration. We must restore balance to NASA’s budget if we want to ensure the U.S. continues to lead in space for the next 50 years. And we must continue to invest in NASA as the only government agency responsible for space exploration.
VOX.com has a page with “40 maps that explain the universe”. Photos and drawing plus text are there for your review. Some of the illustrations are really eye catching. For example:
Even a single comet is pretty darn big
This is the comet 67P/C-G — which the Philae probe landed on in November 2014 — superimposed on Los Angeles. In terms of space, the comet is absolutely tiny: just 3.5 miles wide.
On 5 August 2012, the NASA Curiosity Rover landed on Mars. NASA has provided several videos to commemorate Curiosity’s yearlong exploits. The first video condenses 12 months of images taken in “rover’s eye view” down into two minutes:
Click here 12 months in 2 minutes
The Mars Rover Curiosity drilled in the John Klein area of Mars, (about 500 meters East of where it landed) and the sedimentary rock samples were passed to the on-board analyzers. The objective was to determine if the minerals necessary to maintain life were in this sample. Carbon, oxygen and sulfur in various forms were found. The NASA team has concluded that the John Klein area was once a fresh water environment that would have been favorable to organic life. Other Rovers samplings have found areas that once contained water but the conditions were not considered suitable to support organic life. On March 15 2013, the NASA team provided an informative video “Curiosity Rover Hits Paydirt”. It can be seen by clicking on the link below:
NASA has published the path that the Mars Rover, Curiosity, has taken since its August landing in the Gale Crater through the end of November, 2012. The distance traveled is about 500 meters. NASA says that the Gale Crater is approximately the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, two small US States. In the Center of the crater is Mount Sharp, some 3.4 miles high above the crate floor. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
NASA tells of some of the work being done by Curiosity: “ It was at the easternmost waypoint on this map on Nov. 30, 2012. It worked on scoops of soil for a few weeks at the drift of windblown sand called “Rocknest.” The place called “Glenelg” is where three types of terrain meet. The depression called “Yellowknife Bay” is a potential location for selecting the first target rock for Curiosity’s hammering drill.” The next target will be Mount Sharp.
The NASA photo below is of Glenelg.
While the new, Mars Rover Curiosity is on everyone’s mind, Opportunity and Spirit Rovers have been on Mars since January of 2004. Spirit’s mission was ended in May of last year after being stuck in sand for about a year. Opportunity is still operational. Curiosity is more sophisticated than Opportunity and Spirit, but these two provided many new Martian mysteries to be solved. NASA’s website has some of the pictures that Opportunity has taken that are full of wonder for us Earth bound. You can see them here, and here and here.
The Mission Team for Opportunity and Spirit Rovers are to be awarded the Haley Space Flight Award. At launch the targeted operational life of these two rovers, on Mars, was estimated at 90 days.
New panorama of Mars from Rover Curiosity. To view click here.