Mars Opportunity rover is dead, NASA confirms

NASA has finally plugged the plug on its Mars Opportunity rover, which has been silent on the Red Planet’s surface for eight months. “I declare the Opportunity mission is complete,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate during a press conference on Wednesday. “I have to tell you, this is an emotional time,” he added. The rover reached Mars in 2004, but NASA lost contact with the vehicle last year following an epic dust storm that enveloped the red planet and prevented sunlight from reaching its surface. The last signal received from the $400 million solar-powered rover was on June 10, 2018. NASA made its last planned attempts to communicate with Opportunity late on Tuesday, but did not receive any response back. “I heard this morning that we had not heard back,” said Zurbuchen, explaining that the “beloved” rover remains silent. The missing vehicle was spotted three months later. On Sept. 20, the HiRISE high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured an image of the rover in Mars’ Perseverance Valley. However, scientists were still unable to talk to the vehicle. Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 24, 2004 PST, just three weeks after its identical twin, Spirit, reached the Red Planet’s surface. Both outlived and outperformed expectations, on opposite sides of Mars. The golf-cart-sized rovers were designed to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbor inside cushioning airbags. They rocketed from Cape Canaveral a month apart in 2003. Spirit was pronounced dead in 2011 a year after it got stuck in sand and communication ceased. “This is a celebration of so many achievements,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, during Wednesday’s press conference at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Opportunity set records on the Red Planet. Rolling along until communication ceased last June, Opportunity roamed a record 28 miles around Mars and worked longer than any other lander. Its greatest achievement was discovering, along with Spirit, evidence that ancient Mars had water flowing on its surface and might have been capable of sustaining microbial life. Contact with Opportunity was lost during the fiercest Martian dust storm in decades. The storm was so intense that it darkened the sky for months, preventing sunlight from reaching the rover’s solar panels. The storm may have scrambled the rover’s internal clock, NASA explained on Wednesday, meaning that the rover would not know when to sleep, wake up, or receive commands. NASA has two other probes operating on Mars. The Curiosity rover, which reached the Red Planet in August 2012, has more than 12 miles on its odometer. NASA’s Insight Mars Lander reached the surface of the Red Planet in November 2018, ending a journey that lasted six months and more than 300 million miles. In November 2018, NASA announced that it has selected the location where its Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet. The rover is expected to land on Mars Feb. 18, 2021.

NASA puts return to moon in crosshairs with ambitious timetable

NASA is buzzing with excitement these days about its ambitious new mission to return to the moon — this time to stay. The agency set an aggressive timetable to have the Gateway space station orbiting the moon by 2024, then begin ferrying astronauts from the station to the lunar surface sometime after 2026. And that is just the beginning. Gateway also will serve as an outpost for deep space science and exploration, including a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s, according to NASA. The timeline, which some scientists say is overly optimistic, isn’t fast enough for President Trump, who dreams of sending humans on the 33.9-million mile journey to the red planet during his administration. “We want to try to do it during my first term or at worst during my second term. So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?” he quipped in a video call last year with NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The president likely will have to make do with getting astronauts aboard Gateway before the end of a potential second term. Just hitting the 2024 goal will take major technical feats and a bunch of cash. So far, the Trump administration and Congress have kept the money flowing, with $19.5 billion in 2018 and $19.9 billion teed up for 2019. NASA has spent years drafting plans for Gateway, officials known as Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway or LOP-G, but the space agency has not yet built any of it. The design for the 55-ton orbiting station consists of several components: a power and propulsion unit, a habitat module to house astronauts, an airlock section where spacecraft will dock and a massive robotic arm. The first section NASA wants to finish is the power and propulsion element, currently scheduled to deploy in 2022. If everything goes according to plan, the next pieces — habitat and airlock modules — would quickly follow. They would be delivered by the agency’s new deep space rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS. Heralded as the world’s most powerful rocket, SLS has been under development for a decade and is scheduled for its debut flight in 2020. The flight, code named EM-1, is supposed to send the empty Orion crew capsule on a three-week voyage around the moon.

Exciting!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

NASA is heightening the search for alien life using ‘technosignatures’

If E.T. is out there, NASA thinks it has a new way to find him – tracking the time he spends on his iPhone. NASA is upping the search for whether we are alone in the universe, using new tools in an effort to find “technosignatures” that may emanate from advanced civilizations. The government space agency is hosting a workshop in Houston to utilize “technosignatures,” signs or signals it says could be evidence of a technologically advanced civilization. “Technosignatures are signs or signals, which if observed, would allow us to infer the existence of technological life elsewhere in the universe,” NASA said on its website. “The best known technosignature are radio signals, but there are many others that have not been explored fully.” Under the scope of looking for extraterrestrials, “technosignatures” have generally been limited to communication signals, but any kind of evidence, such as “radio or laser emissions, signs of massive structures or an atmosphere full of pollutants could imply intelligence,” NASA added. NASA has several tools that it uses to look for exoplanets, including its $337 million alien-planet hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, known as TESS. Earlier this month, NASA released the first images from TESS. Included in the first batch of pictures are the Large Magellanic Cloud and the bright star R Doradus, among several other planets and stars that could potentially be home to alien life. Fast radio bursts (FRBs) have recently been discovered emanating from deep space, though there is no explanation for what causes them. Most recently, unusual and “mysterious radio bursts” were detected 3 billion light years away from Earth, thanks to an artificial intelligence program at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). “Complex life may evolve into cognitive systems that can employ technology in ways that may be observable,” NASA wrote in its 2015 Astrobiology Strategy paper. “Nobody knows the probability, but we know that it is not zero.” However, it’s not clear whether we’ll ever find evidence of advanced civilizations, as put forth by the physicist Enrico Fermi with his Fermi paradox, which states “that if another intelligent life form was indeed out there, we would have met it by now.” On the other hand, astronomer Frank Drake created a formula in 1961 known as the Drake equation which theorizes that there are approximately 10,000 potentially intelligent civilizations in the galaxy, so the topic is up for much debate in the scientific community. For its part, NASA says it will keep looking for signs of alien life, even if they haven’t found anything yet. “Although we have yet to find signs of extraterrestrial life, NASA is amplifying exploring the solar system and beyond to help humanity answer whether we are alone in the universe,” NASA said on its website.

We’d be fools to ASSume that we are..  There are billions and billions and billions of solar systems throughout the universe.  To ASSume Earth is the only planet with intelligent life is preposterous.  It’s almost a mathematical impossibility.

Neil Armstrong Movie Starring Canadian Ryan Gosling Doesn’t Feature American Flag

A new movie starring Canadian actor Ryan Gosling tells of the story of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon–but omits the American flag. The Telegraph reports that the flag is not shown in the new movie First Man, with star Ryan Gosling saying that the American moon landing “transcended countries and borders,” and that instead of being an American achievement, it was a “human achievement.” The Canadian actor also acknowledged his own “cognitive bias” due to his nationality. First Man is slated for an October 12, 2018 release date. It’s unclear exactly why the movie would omit the iconic image of Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon with the American flag planted in the surface, even if the producers do consider it a “human achievement” and not solely an American one. Although, it is solely an American one, as the United States is, to this day, the only nation that sent a man to the moon. Gosling hasn’t been as outspoken about his political beliefs as many of his celebrity peers have been in the past, but he has shown flashes of his political sympathies. He once tweeted out a video of socialist Bernie Sanders hugging a Muslim student after the student asked about Islamophobia in America.

Soo..  We now know that Ryan Gosling is another liberal HollyWEIRD actor.  What a shocker, lol.  Let’s be clear..  This is typical HollyWEIRD hating America.  The iconic moment when Neil planted the American flag on the moon was of great historic significance.  At the time, we (i.e. America) was in a “Space Race” with the then Soviet Union.  The planting of the flag was a moment of victory for us.  Yes, it was a “human” achievement.  BUT, it was a uniquely AMERICAN achievement and victory.  Sorry if that offends the tender, bed-wetting sensibilities of the liberals who don’t want to offend some.  Those who are offended by that historical moment need to get over it.  Remember Sputnik?  Well, if the Soviets had beaten us to the moon. and had planted the Soviet flag on the moon, I’m sure socialist-loving HollyWEIRD would have happily included that in the film.  The great Buzz Aldrin has already weighed in on some of Ryan’s ridiculous statements..and he’s clearly not happy with this brazen history revisionism.  Can’t blame him.  I don’t plan on wasting my money supporting this bs.  Hope you don’t either.

NASA created a rare, exotic state of matter in space

NASA has cooled a cloud of rubidium atoms to ten-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, producing the fifth, exotic state of matter in space. The experiment also now holds the record for the coldest object we know of in space, though it isn’t yet the coldest thing humanity has ever created. (That record still belongs to a laboratory at MIT.) The Cold Atom Lab (CAL) is a compact quantum physics machine, a device built to work in the confines of the International Space Station (ISS) that launched into space in May. Now, according to a statement from NASA, the device has produced its first Bose-Einstein condensates, the strange conglomerations of atoms that scientists use to see quantum effects play out at large scales. “Typically, BEC experiments involve enough equipment to fill a room and require near-constant monitoring by scientists, whereas CAL is about the size of a small refrigerator and can be operated remotely from Earth,” Robert Shotwell, who leads the experiment from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in the statement. Despite that difficulty, NASA said, the project was worth the effort. A Bose-Einstein condensate on Earth is already a fascinating object; at super-low temperatures, atoms’ boundaries blend together, and usually-invisible quantum effects play out in ways scientists can directly observe. But cooling clouds of atoms to ultra-low temperatures requires suspending them using magnets or lasers. And once those magnets or lasers are shut off for observations, the condensates fall to the floor of the experiment and dissipate. In the microgravity of the ISS, however, things work a bit differently. The CAL can form a Bose-Einstein condensate, set it free, then have a significantly longer time to observe it before it drifts off, NASA wrote — as long as 5 or 10 seconds. And that advantage, as Live Science previously reported, should eventually allow NASA to create condensates far colder than any on Earth. As the condensates expand outside their container, they cool further. And the longer they have to cool, the colder they get.

Fascinating!!  For more, click on the text above.      🙂

Trump’s Space Force Will Guard the U.S. From Above, NASA Chief Says

NASA’s administrator is a strong defender of President Donald Trump’s proposals for space — including an armed force and a permanent presence on the moon — and says he wants Americans to realize how much their well-being depends on what happens far above Earth. “Every banking transaction requires a GPS signal for timing,” Jim Bridenstine said in an interview. “You lose the GPS signal and guess what you lose? You lose banking.” “If you look at what space is, it’s not that much different than the ocean,” added Bridenstine, who made 333 aircraft-carrier landings as a Navy pilot. “It’s an international domain that has commerce that needs to be protected.” Bridenstine was in his third term representing a congressional district in Oklahoma when Trump nominated him to lead the $21 billion space agency. He was confirmed in the spring despite criticism over his lack of scientific or engineering experience and his previous statements questioning climate change science — though he said in hearings that human activity was the chief cause of global warming. Last summer, when he was still in Congress, Bridenstine supported a measure that would have created a “space corps.” It passed the House but was removed from the final defense spending bill. Then last month, Trump called for the Pentagon to develop a sixth branch of the American armed services that would protect national and commercial interests in space. Trump’s surprise announcement caught Pentagon officials and members of Congress off guard. The Defense Department already has several major programs in the works and the Air Force has contended that a new branch was not necessary for space defense. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who once took part in a space shuttle mission, tweeted: “generals tell me they don’t want” it and “now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart.” How to establish U.S. security in space has been debated for at least two decades. An independent commission — led by Donald Rumsfeld before he became defense secretary — reported in 2001 that “in the longer term it may be met by a military department for space.” Some 60 different agencies within the defense establishment play roles in space-related work, said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That may slow the realization of Trump’s goal. “This isn’t going to happen quickly.” Harrison said.

Indeed..  For more, click on the text above.

NASA Curiosity rover unearths building blocks in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars

The “building blocks” for life have been discovered in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars, NASA scientists announced Thursday. Researchers cannot yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process. However, “we’re in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life,” said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA biogeochemist and lead author of a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. The findings were also remarkable in that they showed that organic material can be preserved for billions of years on the harsh Martian surface. The material was discovered by the Mars Curiosity rover, which has been collecting data on the Red Planet since August 2012. The organic molecules were found in Gale Crater — believed to once contain a shallow lake the size of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. For the past six years, “the Curiosity has sifted samples of soil and ground-up rock for signs of organic molecules — the complex carbon chains that on Earth form the building blocks of life,” according to Science. “Past detections have been so faint that they could be just contamination,” the journal said. Now, samples taken from two different drill sites on an ancient lake bed have yielded complex organic molecules that look strikingly similar to the goopy fossilized building blocks of oil and gas on Earth. The rover also discovered traces of methane in the Martian atmosphere, which was reported in a second paper in Science. This is significant because most methane on Earth, for instance, comes from biological sources. “The detection of organic molecules and methane on Mars has far-ranging implications in light of potential past life on Mars,” said Inge Loes ten Kate, a Utrecht University scientist in an accompanying article in Science. “Curiosity has shown that Gale Crater was habitable around 3.5 billion years ago, with conditions comparable to those on the early Earth, where life evolved around that time. “The question of whether life might have originated or existed on Mars is a lot more opportune now that we know that organic molecules were present on its surface at that time,” Kate said. NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said that “with these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life. I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.” The nuclear-battery-powered Curiosity rover, a $2.5 billion mobile chemistry lab, launched in 2011. NASA calls Curiosity the “largest and most capable” rover ever to make contact with Mars. It’s about the size of a car, has a 7-foot-long arm and carries 10 science instruments, 17 cameras and a laser to “vaporize” rocks.

Fascinating!!  To see photos of Mars and more, click on the text above.     🙂