Curiosity spots cracks formed from drying mud

mud cracks on Mars?

As Curiosity moves across the dust-shrewn dune-filled flats at the base of Mt. Sharp it has recently taken images of surface rocks that have cracks resembling those found from drying mud.

Scientists used NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover in recent weeks to examine slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges that likely originated as cracks in drying mud. “Mud cracks are the most likely scenario here,” said Curiosity science team member Nathan Stein. He is a graduate student at Caltech in Pasadena, California, who led the investigation of a site called “Old Soaker,” on lower Mount Sharp, Mars.

If this interpretation holds up, these would be the first mud cracks — technically called desiccation cracks — confirmed by the Curiosity mission. They would be evidence that the ancient era when these sediments were deposited included some drying after wetter conditions. Curiosity has found evidence of ancient lakes in older, lower-lying rock layers and also in younger mudstone that is above Old Soaker.

The rover is no longer on the floor the crater, but in the foothills at the base of Mt. Sharp. Thus, what we are likely looking at is evidence of the slow disappearance of the giant lake that scientists think once filled Gale Crater. These mud cracks suggest that the rover is now moving up out of the lake and through its margins.

I plan to do a rover update for both Curiosity and Opportunity tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Second video released of planned violent protests at inauguration

Project Veritas has released its second video of planning meetings by violent leftwing protest groups as they prepare for shutting down the Trump inaugural, including blocking roads, causing the DC metro to close, and physically attacking Trump supporters.

The video is embedded below the fold. At the moment we have no word on what the CIA, FBI, and DC police plan to do about this.
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Some background on leftist terrorist Colin Dunn

A friend emailed me this story, describing how Colin Dunn, one of the three leftists who were videotaped planning violence during Trump inauguration events, was previously arrested interfering with firefighters as they fought a fire in West Virginia.

Two people claiming to be volunteer firefighters from Maryland have been arrested, charged by West Virginia State Police with obstruction for taking an emergency vehicle and driving it into the tunnel. According to news reports, 30-year-old Colin Dunn and 30-year-old Virginia Price of Maine came southbound through the East River Mountain Tunnel in their own vehicle as the fire was being fought on the northbound side. When they reached the Virginia side, police claim the couple put on gear and took a county emergency vehicle.

Samantha Perry, Bluefield Daily Telegraph: “They ran into the tunnel, in their infinite wisdom,” (West Virginia State Police Sgt. D.W.) Miller said. “They said they were attempting to help their friends — they are volunteer firemen in Maryland. We explained to them they were not in Maryland, and did not have friends in the tunnel. They had no authority to do that here, basically.”

Dunn is obviously a dangerous person who thinks he has the right to grind his boot into the face of anyone he dislikes or opposes.

Big money offered to protest Trump

Advertisements in two dozen cities offered protesters a $2,500 monthly retainer plus $50 per hour to be professional protesters against Donald Trump.

Demand Protest, a San Francisco company that bills itself as the “largest private grassroots support organization in the United States,” posted identical ads Jan. 12 in multiple cities on Backpage.com seeking “operatives.”

“Get paid fighting against Trump!” says the ad. “We pay people already politically motivated to fight for the things they believe. You were going to take action anyways, why not do so with us!” the ad continues. “We are currently seeking operatives to help send a strong message at upcoming inauguration protests.” The job offers a monthly retainer of $2,500 plus “our standard per-event pay of $50/hr, as long as you participate in at least 6 events a year,” as well as health, vision and dental insurance for full-time operatives.

Though the article does not say where the money is coming from, it really doesn’t matter. It proves that the protests we will see are generally fake, and not expressing a real undercurrent of protest. Congressional Republicans and Trump should thus ignore them.

The

Inaugural event organizer to bring charges against leftists for their terrorism threats

Pushback: The organizer of the inaugural ball event that leftist groups were filmed planning a terrorist attack against announced tonight that they are filing charges.

They made a real big mistake,” [organizer Mike] Cernovich said about the ‘Disrupt J-20’ organizers. “When you’re threatened with terrorism, and you have people saying they’re going to commit terrorism at a party you’re hosting, you have to take that quite seriously.”

“They seem to think it is just a prank, and I would refer them to the Dept. of Justice’s website — This is actually a felony,” he continued. “This isn’t funny at all. It is terrorism… We have filed a criminal complaint against the conspirators, and the FBI is investigating that right now. Tomorrow we will be filing a civil action against them also. Against the domestic terrorists who purchased tickets… This is a criminal conspiracy to commit terrorism, and we are treating it like the serious criminal conspiracy that it is.”

Cernovich also notes that the three leftists caught on camera had already bought tickets to his event, so he can document that they planned to come. The video proves they planned an attack. Combined, this evidence exposes them and makes them very vulnerable to both criminal charges and civil suits.

For too many decades the left has been allowed to get away with these kinds of illegal and sometimes violent behavior. It is time they learned that they can’t do that any longer.

Head of ethics office Obama supporter

Surprise, surprise! The head of the Government Ethics Office that the Republicans tried to defang two weeks ago donated money to Obama.

It appears by his actions since the Republicans were forced to back off that their concerns were completely justified. He has since tried to help the Democrats by pushing to have hearings for Trump’s nominees slowed. In addition, he has been harshly attacking Trump’s plans to separate himself from his businesses, in great contrast to his strong support of Clinton when ethics questions were raised about her paid speeches to foreign governments.

There is more at the link. It is quite clear that the Republicans in the House knew this guy was a Democratic plant, and wanted to get him out. They just handled it badly, and are still stuck with him. Fortunately, it appears that they are not only mostly ignoring him, his documented biases are now working against him. Expect them to act to shut this ethics office down not too far into the future.

Video of leftists planning terrorist acts during Inauguration events

Fascists: A new video from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, the first of a series, shows the leaders of a variety of leftwing organizations planning terrorist acts during the inauguration and related events.

I have embedded the video below the fold. It is very damning, and definitely involves the planning of illegal acts of violence. Worse, this is only part 1.

I wonder if the DC authorities will do anything about this.
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Gene Cernan, 82, has passed away

Gene Cernan, the last Apollo astronaut to walk on the Moon, passed away today.

His words as he stepped off the lunar surface still resonate to me.

This is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.

At the time, I firmly believed that we would return relatively soon. It has now been almost a half century, and no human since has left Earth orbit.

Preparing to dive into Saturn’s rings

Saturn from above

Cool image time! The photo at the right, reduced to show here, was taken by Cassini on October 28, 2016 as it was shifting its orbit to prepare for the spacecraft’s last year at Saturn, where it will make repeated dives down past and even inside the gas giant’s rings. As they note at the link,

No Earth-based telescope could ever capture a view quite like this. Earth-based views can only show Saturn’s daylit side, from within about 25 degrees of Saturn’s equatorial plane. A spacecraft in orbit, like Cassini, can capture stunning scenes that would be impossible from our home planet.

It is interesting to compare this image with this July image. Comparing the two provides a sense of Cassini’s travels.

Private Chinese rocket company gets launch contract

The competition heats up: A private Chinese rocket company, Landspace, has signed a launch contract with a Danish firm to launch an unstated number of satellites.

The article does not provide much information, but from it I suspect this is a smallsat operation, similar to Rocket Lab and Vector Space Systems. I also think that its private nature in China and the timing of its announcement, only a few weeks after China released its five year space plan which seemed to lend support to the development of a private space industry, provides confirmation of that support.

“We have waited for you for a very long time.”

Link here.

Who said this, and why they said it, puts the lie to every left wing anti-American cliche expressed for the past half century. The people who know what oppression is, and where it comes from, also know who has consistently defended their freedom the most, in the past.

My only fear is whether the United States that these Eastern European nations remember and love still exists. I am sadly no longer sure.

Japan’s SS-520 launch a failure

Japan’s attempt to launch a payload into orbit with the smallest rocket ever ended in failure today.

[A]ccording to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), communication systems malfunctioned after the rocket launched, causing the ignition of the second booster to be terminated. The rocket fell into the sea southeast of Uchinoura.

My impression of Japan’s space effort in recent years is somewhat comparable to that of Russia’s: Significant quality control issues that cause too many failures. This is just one more example.

I must also note that the rocket was not a private effort, but a demo project of Japan’s government space agency, JAXA, designed to show off new technology but funded through coercive government funds, not monies provided voluntarily by customers. Thus, the pressure to succeed was much less, as no one’s job or business was at risk should it fail.

SpaceX is flying again

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has successfully launched 10 Iridium satellites, and its first stage has also successfully landed on the barge.

The live view of the first stage landing was especially thrilling, using a camera on the stage, looking down to the Pacific Ocean. While there were a few dropouts, the picture stayed live for the entire descent.

Pakistan test fires a submarine-launched cruise missile

Does this make you feel safer? Pakistan last week successfully tested a submarine-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 miles and capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The article provides a lot of detail not only on Pakistan’s capabilities but of India’s as well.

Although still a far cry from India’s 6,000 ton displacement Arihant class nuclear ballistic missile submarines (one is service and three others planned) and the short-range K-15 or medium-range K-4 ballistic missiles they carry, Pakistan’s nuclear armed Agosta class boats at least get the country in the second strike game, but in a very minimal way.

The Indian Navy’s anti-submarine capability is credible, and their submarine fleet includes multiple diesel-electric submarines of different origin, as wells a Russian Akula II class nuclear fast attack boat. So keeping an eye on Pakistan’s tiny Agosta 90B fleet will be possible, although it is not clear what level of confidence the Indian Navy has that they can always keep the boats in their own submarines’ crosshairs. Not just that, but even attempting to do so will tie up valuable assets that could better be assigned to deterring other regional nuclear powers, like China.

Yannapoulos speech canceled because of violent protesters

Update: I’ve posted some video below the fold. Watch it and tell me is you want to be allied with these protesters.

Fascists: Because a mob of violent protesters tore down barricades and attacked people, a speech by Milo Yannapoulos was canceled tonight at the University of California-Davis.

Not surprisingly, the local California authorities and the university did not seem very interested in providing proper protection, and actually laid the responsibility for the violence not on the protesters but on the conservative student club that had organized the event.

A statement from the UC Davis College Republicans: “We were told by the chief of Davis police that they could not guarantee the safety of the students, the speaker, or the police officers if the event should go ahead,” said Gabrielle McDowell, vice chair of the UC Davis College Republicans. “As the organization hosting the event, we would have been held personally responsible for any harm caused as a result of its taking place. We were therefore forced to cancel the event” she continued.

The violence and thuggery from the left has been getting worse. Five years ago they wrote letters of protest. Three years ago they merely heckled the speakers. Now they are aggressively attacking them and forcing them to flee. I suspect that, given time, these thugs are next going to advocate having every conservative arrested and shipped to concentrations camps.
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Moon Express completes funding for Google X-Prize lunar mission

The competition heats up: Moon Express, one of the five remaining contestants vying for the Google Lunar X-Prize, announced today that it has raised an additional $20 million to complete the necessary funding needed to complete its mission.

The new round brings the total Moon Express has raised to $45 million. Richards said the company is looking to raise an additional $10 million as a “contingency” and to support future missions. “This is not a stunt,” he said. “We’re not putting all our eggs in one basket.”

The company is developing a small lunar lander called the MX-1E. The spacecraft is designed to land on the moon and then “hop” to another landing site, fulfilling the requirement of the Google Lunar X Prize to travel at least 500 meters across the surface after landing. That initial mission will carry scientific and commercial payloads from several customers. Richards said Moon Express is currently focusing on the spacecraft’s key technology, its propulsion system. The company previously tested that propulsion technology in tests at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, but Richards said the company is making changes to improve its performance.

That additional performance is needed since the spacecraft will launch on Electron, a small launch vehicle being developed by U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, which can only take the lander into low Earth orbit. Earlier mission concepts called for launching on a larger vehicle that could place the spacecraft into a geostationary transfer orbit. “We need that extra punch from our own engine in order to get to the moon,” Richards said.

The article provides one more tidbit, this time about Rocket Lab and its Electron rocket:

The company’s current schedule calls for integrating the spacecraft in July, and then shipping it to Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch site in October. The launch, scheduled for late this year, will be the seventh or eighth operational flight of the Electron, Richards said, shortly after a NASA mission under a Venture Class Launch Services contract Rocket Lab received in late 2015.

Although Rocket Lab has yet to launch an Electron — its first test flight is scheduled for no earlier than February — Richards believed the company would be ready in time for Moon Express, which faces a deadline of the end of this year to win the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize before the prize expires. [emphasis mine]

In other words, if things go as planned, Rocket Lab will launch Electron in February, and then do about one launch per month before it launches Moon Express. That will be an impressive start for the new rocket company, should they succeed in doing it.

House approves Senate budget resolution repealing Obamacare

The House today approved the Senate budget resolution repealing Obamacare’s tax and spending provisions.

The House voted 227-198 Friday to approve the resolution a day after the Senate voted 51-48 to clear it. Nine conservative House Republicans voted against the measure: Justin Amash of Michigan, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Walter Jones of North Carolina, John Katko of New York, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Tom McClintock of California.

The resolution, which is nonbinding, sets budgetary and spending levels for Obamacare. It will act as a vehicle for Republicans to craft legislation that would gut Obamacare via the reconciliation process.

What the article does not note is that the Democrats voted 100% against the bill, once again demonstrating their steadfast marriage to this disastrous law. The Republicans who voted against the bill did so because they are sincerely worried about its budgetary impact. The Democrats who voted against it did so because they have become close-minded on the issue, and will defend this law no matter how many voters they offend.

When the next election comes we should remember this and remove more of these fools from office, if only to finally get the Democratic Party to wake up and abandon this bad policy.

“We do see ourselves as preventing a peaceful transition of power.”

Fascists: The leaders of a leftwing protest group planning protests for Inauguration Day admitted during a press conference yesterday that they opposed the idea of a peaceful transition of power in the United States.

Watch the video at the link. Essentially what these leftists are arguing is that, though they agree with Trump that Washington is corrupt, they don’t like Trump himself because he isn’t them. Their solution to that corruption isn’t a peaceful election where the voters choose someone new but the violent overthrow of the government so that they can take over and rule.

NASA names acting administrator

NASA yesterday named Robert Lightfoot as the Acting NASA administrator, taking over from Charles Bolden when he leaves on January 20, 2017 at the start of the Trump administration.

Lightfoot is a former Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, having begun his NASA career there in 1989. He transferred to NASA Headquarters in 2012 to serve as Associate Administrator, the highest ranking civil service position in the agency. It is traditional for the highest ranking NASA civil servant to take over as acting administrator during changes in presidential administrations. The Trump transition has not always followed traditional paths so today’s announcement provided some degree of reassurance. Bolden said the Trump transition team officially told NASA yesterday that Lightfoot will serve in that job. A mechanical engineer, he has served in many capacities at Marshall, Stennis Space Center and Headquarters, including assistant associate administrator for the space shuttle program (2003-2005) at headquarters and manager of the space shuttle propulsion office at MSFC (2005-2007). He was named MSFC Deputy Director in 2007 and Director in 2009.

Essentially Lightfoot will act as a placeholder until the new administration names its pick for the position.

NASA asteroid redirect mission delayed again

Due to the uncertainty of its budget NASA has decided to delay the award of the contracts to begin work on its asteroid redirect mission (ARM).

The uncertainty is that Congress has never budgeted any real money for it. The mission was proposed by Obama but only vaguely, without any real support. First it was to be a manned mission to an asteroid, using Orion. Then it was to be an unmanned mission to bring a large asteroid closer to Earth to be later visited by astronauts in an Orion capsule. Then the large asteroid became a mere boulder, with the manned mission delayed until the unforeseen future.

I think NASA sees the writing on the wall here. They expect this vague unsupported mission to die with the next administration, and have decided it is better not to waste money on it now.

Berkeley professors demand silencing of dissent

Fascists: Merely because they disagree with Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a group of more than 100 University of California-Berkeley professors have signed a letter demanding that he be banned from their campus so that he will be prevented from speaking there during a scheduled lecture on February 1.

More significantly, these so-called intellectual educators demonstrate that they have never once read or listened to a single word Yiannopoulos has written or said by their claim that he supports “white supremacy, transphobia, and misogyny”. My god, the guy is as openly homosexual as can be imagined. More importantly, his primary advocacy is for freedom and human rights. I guess these are ideas that modern academics can no longer support. Instead, they like to grind their boots into the faces of those they oppose.

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