Curiosity: Through the notch and looking back

Looking back at the entrance to Gordon Notch
Click for full image.

The Mars rover Curiosity has now climbed up into Maria Gordon Notch. The image to the right, reduced to post here, was taken by the rover’s left navigation camera and looks back at the entrance to the notch, with the floor and rim of Gale Crater beyond. The crater floor is about 1,700 feet below and the rim is about 30 miles away.

The red dotted line indicates the path Curiosity took after entering the notch, traveling about 80 feet to the southeast. The rover will continue south inside the notch for another 800 feet or so and then turn west, climbing out of the notch and up onto the Greenheugh Pediment and continuing west until it gets to the base of Gediz Vallis Ridge, a ridge that had been in prominent view about a year ago when the rover was north of it but lower down the mountain. (See the panorama in this February 2021 post.)

Below is another picture from a day earlier, this time taken by the rover’s high resolution mast camera. I think it looks up at the top of the western cliff, but now looks at that cliff after having gone past it slightly.
» Read more

Class action securities fraud lawsuit filed against Virgin Galactic

Capitalism in space: In what will likely be the first in a number of similar legal actions, a lawsuit was filed against Virgin Galactic earlier this month accusing the company and a number of upper management individuals of securities fraud.

A class action lawsuit was filed in New York on Dec. 7 alleging securities fraud by Virgin Galactic, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in October 2019 after merging with Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH).

Named in the lawsuit are Virgin Galactic Holdings, CEO Michael Colglazier, former CEO George Whitesides, former current chief financial officer Doug Ahrens, and former chief financial officer Jon Compagna.

The lawsuit was filed amid years-long delays in the start of commercial human suborbital flights that have caused a sharp decline in the value of the stock. Virgin Galactic began trading on the New York Stock Exchange at an opening price of $12.34 on Oct. 28, 2019. The stock is now trading at $14.46 having previously soared to a high of $62.80.

The article description of the condition of the company’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane and its suborbital craft VSS Unity suggests that the likelihood of further tourist flight could be low.

It is also interesting that Richard Branson is not named, as he clearly played a part in any such action. He also conveniently sold most of his stock in the company when its price was on the high end of its roller coaster. It could be the plaintiffs left him out in order to keep his substantial financial big guns from firing back at them.

More lawsuits are expected however, and we should not be surprised if both Branson and Palihapitiya get included at some point.

Japanese tourists return to Earth after 12 days in space

Capitalism in space: Japanese tourists billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant Yozo Hirano safely returned to Earth yesterday in their Russian Soyuz capsule after spending 12 days on the Russian half of ISS.

Maezawa’s and Hirano’s flight contracts were negotiated by Space Adventures, the only company to date to fly its clients to the International Space Station. Prior to Soyuz MS-20, Space Adventures organized eight flights for seven self-funded astronauts (one flew twice).

Maezawa, 46, is the CEO of Start Today and founder of ZOZO, an online retail clothing business, which he sold to Yahoo! Japan. In 2018, he paid an undisclosed but substantial amount to SpaceX for a circumlunar flight on the company’s still-in-development Starship spacecraft. Maezawa’s “dearMoon” mission, which will fly him and a crew of artists around the moon, is currently targeted for launch in 2023.

Hirano, 36, managed the photography team at ZOZO and is now a film producer at Start Today. In addition to filming Maezawa during the mission, Hirano also took part in human health and performance research on behalf of the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. The studies included collecting electrocardiogram readings and using a portable auto-refractor device to collect sight data.

The article also notes a minor record set during this tourist flight. On December 11th a total of 19 people were in space, the most ever, though only for a very short time. Ten were on ISS, three were on China’s space station, and then six were launched on a suborbital flight that day by Blue Origin.

The next commercial tourist flight on the schedule is February’s first Axiom flight to ISS, carrying three customers to ISS for eight days.

Webb launch confirmed for December 24, 2021

Ten years late and twenty times over budget the European Space Agency (ESA) yesterday confirmed that the launch of NASA’s infrared James Webb Space Telescope is now scheduled for December 24, 2021.

The ESA announcement is only a couple of sentences long, and does not mention if engineers had solved the intermittent ground communications issue with the telescope. Further tweets from ESA and NASA also said nothing about the communication issue.

A final readiness review is set for December 21st where a final launch decision will be made.

SpaceX completes 2nd launch in less than 16 hours

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight successfully completed its second Falcon 9 launch in less than 16 hours (the company’s shortest time between launches), putting the communications satellite Turksat-5B into orbit.

The first stage successfully landed on the drone ship, completing its third flight. Both fairings flew their second flight.

More important, this was the 30th successful launch for SpaceX in 2021, which not only continues to extend its record for the most launches ever in a single year by a private company, it also exceeds the company’s prediction of 29 launches for ’21.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

48 China
30 SpaceX
22 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

China now leads the U.S. 48 to 47 in the national rankings. This was the 126th successful launch in 2021, putting it in a tie for the third best year in rocketry since Sputnik.

SLS likely facing another launch delay

Engineers for NASA’s SLS rocket have determined that they need to replace the flight controller on one of the engines in the rocket’s core stage, an action that will likely force a delay from the presently scheduled February launch date.

After performing a series of inspections and troubleshooting, engineers determined the best course of action is to replace the engine controller, returning the rocket to full functionality and redundancy while continuing to investigate and identify a root cause. NASA is developing a plan and updated schedule to replace the engine controller while continuing integrated testing and reviewing launch opportunities in March and April.

It appears they hope to make this change-out quickly and only have to delay one or two months, though at the moment it is also unclear this will be possible.

Space Perspectives to build new balloon manufacturing facility in Florida

Capitalism in space: Space Perspectives, the company aiming to fly tourists to the edge of space using high altitude balloons, announced yesterday that is building a balloon manufacturing facility in Titusville, Florida, near its launch facility in the Kennedy Space Center.

Space Perspective, which has already sent up a successful test flight in 2021 and aims to have its first passengers in 2024, announced it would make the $38 million investment that projects the creation of 240 full-time permanent jobs in Brevard County by the end of 2026. The company said the annual average wage would be $80,000, and hiring will continue through 2022.

…The campus and balloon manufacturing facility will be at the Space Coast Airport and Spaceport in Titusville, the updated name of Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville after it was awarded spaceport status in 2020 by the Federal Aviation.

The company is targeting 2024 for its first commercial tourist flights, with tickets priced at $125K each.

SpaceX in launch of 52 Starlink satellites reuses a 1st stage for the 11th time

Capitalism in space: SpaceX early this morning successfully launched another 52 Starlink satellites into orbit, reusing a Falcon 9 first stage for a record-setting 11th time.

The booster landed successfully on a drone ship in the Pacific, and can now be used again. This success adds weight to the company’s claim a few years ago that the final iteration of the Falcon 9 first stages have the potential for as many as 100 launches. SpaceX has now proven that the stage can fly more than ten times, and still be reused.

This launch also extended SpaceX’s record for the most launches ever by a private company in a single year.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

48 China
29 SpaceX
22 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

China now leads the U.S. 48 to 46 in the national rankings. However, the race to see which country will end up with the most launches is getting tighter. SpaceX has another two launches scheduled in the next three days, with a Virgin Orbit launch following the next day.

This launch was the 125th in 2021, making it the sixth most active year in rocketry since Sputnik. Should those four launches above all succeed, it will be the second most active year, with an outside chance of beating the record of 132 launches from 1975.

Ingenuity successfully completes its 18th flight

According to a JPL Twitter post today, on December 15th Ingenuity successfully completed its 18th flight, flying 754 feet for just over two minutes.

The plan had been to continue north to cross the rough Seitah region as the helicopter heads back to the spot where Perseverance initially dropped it. Though at this moment no specific information about the flight’s direction or landing place have been revealed, its success suggests it went exactly as planned.

Pushback: NY gym owners will not comply with new mask mandates

Owners of World Gym Greece
The owners of World Gym Greece will not comply.

Do not comply: The owners of a gym in Rochester, New York, World Gym Greece, have announced that they will not comply with the new mask mandates imposed unilaterally by New York State’s Democratic Party governor, Kathy Hochul.

The owners, Michelle Sember, Ron Sember, and Tim Dougherty, say that they aren’t worried about fines or punishment, as the oppressive edicts of their state and city governments have already been catastrophic. According to Ron Sember,

“The fine is irrelevant at this point. They’ve already destroyed our businesses.”

They have found their membership dropping because people do not want to exercise in a mask. Given a choice between losing more customers or getting punished by the state, they have decided their customers are more important, and are telling everyone to come and work out and throw the mask away.

At the moment the local county government in Rochester is saying it will enforce Hochul’s mandate, while also equivocating on how it will do so.
» Read more

SpaceX accused of sexual harassment by same “Woke” venue that accused Blue Origin

SpaceX this week was accused of sexual harassment by one named former employee and several anonymous accusers, published in same venue that back in September had published similar anonymous accusations against Blue Origin.

No need to go into the details. The accusations are as light weight and as petty as those against Blue Origin, which the FAA dismissed last week as having no merit because the anonymous accusers refused to identify themselves while the only named accuser’s allegations were deemed meritless. From CNN’s report:

[I]nvestigators had to rely on current and former Blue Origin employees voluntarily coming forward to offer information. But “no technical experts have reached out to us or provided any specific documentation regarding the safety allegations.”

CNN of course spins this in favor of the accusers, claiming that they don’t have any legal whistle-blower protections. I say balderdash. If such people won’t go public, such accusations are worthless. Blue Origin has the right to be faced in public by its accusers.

All in all, the allegations against both companies reek of modern “woke” politics, aiming to smear and slander successful companies because some people are filled with leftist rage and hate and want to destroy anyone who doesn’t obey their every command. I expect the charges against SpaceX will evaporate as well because the anonymous accusers will also refuse to go public, while the actual accusations from the one person willing to go public read like the whining of a mentally unstable person (admitted to in her own statement) who simply can’t handle a modern competitive work environment where you are expected to perform.

SpaceX proposes new launchpads for Starship at Kennedy

Long term Land Use map for Kennedy Space Center
From NASA’s long term road map for Kennedy,

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has submitted a new proposal for building several launchpads at the Kennedy Space Center for its Starship heavy lift rocket, including rebuilding one old pad (LC-39A) and building another at a new site (the never used LC-49).

The project for LC-49 comes in addition to the previously announced work that SpaceX began within the perimeter of Launch Complex 39A, the K Environmental Program Office said. In September 2019, an environmental assessment was completed and a finding of “no significant impact” was issued.

Musk confirmed via Twitter on Dec. 3 that construction of SpaceX’s Starship orbital launch pad at LC-39A was underway. “Construction of Starship orbital launch pad at the Cape has begun”.

The KEP [Kennedy Environmental Program] office noted that this new proposed expansion would allow for not only redundancy with launches of Starship, but also “allow SpaceX to increase the flight rate of Starship and minimize potential disruptions to Falcon, Falcon Heavy and Dragon missions at LC-39A.”

LC-49 is a 175 acre area just north of LC-39B, the launchpad NASA plans to use for its SLS rocket.

It also appears that SpaceX plans on creating a new Starship orbital launchpad at LC-39A that will not impact the use of that site by Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, though in the long run launches of those latter rockets will decrease as Starship becomes operational.

All these plans will need a full environmental assessment, but according to the article at the link, the process will be different than at Boca Chica in Texas.

The [environmental assessment]process likely won’t involve live discussions with the public, according to [Don Dankert, the technical lead for the Kennedy Environmental Planning Office], but the public will get comparable information, like with an EIS [Environmental Impact Statement]. “We will put out the same information,” Dankert said. “We’ll put out an informational packet with a .PDF chart, a description of the project and instructions on how to provide comments back to us and SpaceX.”

Engler said there may also be some lessons learned from the process of getting the launch facilities at Starbase approved for an orbital launch, but how that crossover would work has yet to be determined.

Sounds to me that this is all a pointless paperwork dance. The construction will be approved, no matter what, because Florida and Cape Canaveral desperately wants this new business and the jobs and tax dollars it will bring to the state.

Perseverance scientists: First volcanics then water in Jezero Crater

On December 15th the Perseverance science team presented a summary of the rover’s first nine months exploring the floor of Jezero Crater, finding evidence first of volcanic lava activity followed by several periods where water covered the these same rocks.

“These rocks that we originally thought might be sedimentary rocks, these are in fact igneous [volcanic] rocks,” said Kelsey Moore at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). “And even more excitingly, they’re not just igneous rocks – there’s more history to the story.”

The analysis of the rocks’ compositions revealed minerals that are generally produced by interactions between water and rock, as well as traces of two different salts that were probably left behind as salty water flowed through the cracks and pores in the volcanic rock.

The variety of minerals indicates that these rocks were probably underwater at least twice. “Two different types of liquid with two different types of chemistries points towards two different episodes of liquid water interaction,” said Eva Scheller, also at Caltech.

It seems strange that the scientists were surprised that Jezero Crater has a history of volcanic activity. Most craters when formed have what is called impact melt in their crater interior. The impact not only carves out the crater, the heat of impact melts the rock. Possibly the scientists expected such impact melt to be well buried and not accessible to Perseverance.

Regardless, this data will be used as the baseline for documenting the geological history of this region on Mars as Perseverance continues its journey across the floor of the crater, up onto the delta, and then out of the crater into the uplands beyond.

Cracking glaciers on Mars

Cracking glaciers on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was released today as the picture of the day for the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Located in the 2,000 long northern mid-latitude strip that I dub Mars’ glacier country, it shows many of the numerous glacial features that are routinely found in images taken in this region. According to Dan Berman, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, who wrote the caption,

This observation shows a lobe-shaped debris apron emanating from a massif (shown in the upper left of the image) in the Protonilus Mensae region in the Northern Hemisphere of Mars. These aprons are composed of nearly pure water ice with a layer of debris on the surface protecting the ice from sublimation (going directly from a solid to gaseous state). This image shows different terrain types on the apron that indicate the presence and flow of ice, from smoother polygonal terrain closer to the massif, to rougher, patterned ground commonly called “brain terrain.” Also visible on the apron are a series of linear pits.

Protonilus Mensae is the central mensae region in that mid-latitude strip of glaciers.The overview map below shows the location of this photo in that region. Also below is a close-up of the linear pits and cracked terrain surrounding that oblong mound, as indicated by the white rectangle.
» Read more

Pushback against blacklists: Harvard students relaunch conservative newspaper

Among some of Harvard's students, freedom of thought might still exist.
Among some of Harvard’s students, freedom of
thought might still exist.

In an effort to push back against the effort by leftist students at Harvard to silence and blackball conservatives, a group of students have revived the publication of a conservative college newspaper, The Salient, that had folded sometime around 2010.

Harvard student Jacob Cremers, spokesperson for the Salient, said in an email to The College Fix on Nov. 30 that the revival of the paper is meant “to fill the vacuum and to encourage diversity of opinion on Harvard’s campus.”

“The Salient has traditionally served as a source and platform of independent and contrarian thought at Harvard; it seemed to us a shame that it had vanished without leaving another newspaper to take its place,” Cremers said.

About 5,000 copies of the new edition were distributed, he said, including under the doors of every student dorm and over 800 faculty offices on campus. The November 2021 edition was titled: “Revising America: The Deconstruction of the American Commonwealth and the Patriot’s Reply.” It featured eight articles written by students using pseudonyms.

“Pseudonyms are used in order to encourage freedom of expression and attract contributors who would otherwise be too shy of public exposure. The pseudonyms also allow readers to focus on the ideas communicated, rather than the writer behind them,” Cremers told The College Fix. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted quote should be translated: “We allow authors to publish anonymously because we know the intolerant left that dominates Harvard will immediately move to destroy anyone who writes for us, once they find out who they are.”

Significantly, it appears this effort is being funded by alumni and “others” who apparently want to encourage freedom of speech at Harvard while working to break up its monolithic and oppressive leftist culture. After years of sleepy disinterest, it looks like those dedicated to free thought have finally decided to fight.

Right now the plan is to publish The Salient two to three times per year. When the next issue is distributed throughout the college, do not be surprised if the leftist thugs who run Harvard to have organized a plan to steal and destroy all copies. It is the left’s playbook to silence all debate and opposition.

The publishers of The Salient had better be prepared for such thuggery, and arrange the distribution in order to defeat it.

Scientists discover underground reservoir of hydrogen, likely ice, near Martian equator

Detection of underground hydrogen in Valles Marineris
Click for full image.

In what could be a very significant discovery, scientists using Europe’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) have discovered a surprisingly large underground reservoir of hydrogen, likely ice, near Martian equator and inside the solar system’s largest known canyon, Valles Marineris.

The map to the right, reduced to post here, provides all the important data. From its caption:

The coloured scale at the bottom of the frame shows the amount of ‘water-equivalent hydrogen’ (WEH) by weight (wt%). As reflected on these scales, the purple contours in the centre of this figure show the most water-rich region. In the area marked with a ‘C’, up to 40% of the near-surface material appears to be composed of water (by weight). The area marked ‘C’ is about the size of the Netherlands and overlaps with the deep valleys of Candor Chaos, part of the canyon system considered promising in our hunt for water on Mars.

What the caption does not note is the latitude of this hydrogen, about 3 to 10 degrees south latitude. Assuming the hydrogen represents underground ice, this would be the first detection on Mars below 30 degrees latitude, and the very first in the equatorial regions. Data from orbit has suggested that Mars has a lot of water ice, found near the surface more and more as you move into higher latitudes above 30 degrees and making Mars much like Antarctica. Almost no ice however had until now been detected below 30 degrees latitude. As the European Space Agency’s press release noted,
» Read more

China’s Kuaizhou-1A rocket fails during launch

China’s Kuaizhou-1A rocket experienced its second launch failure on December 14th, though few details about what went wrong have been released.

The Kuaizhou-1A rocket is built by one of China’s pseudo-private companies, Expace.

Expace had been encouraged by three successful Kuaizhou-1A launches across September, October and November, which followed the Kuaizhou-1A being grounded for one year as a result of a failure in September 2020.

Since the rocket’s first three stages use solid rocket motors, it must have been derived from military missile technology. Thus, the company is not private, even if it has obtained Chinese private investment capital, but closely supervised by the Chinese government and its military.

Today’s blacklisted Americans: Google to fire anyone who refuses COVID jab

Google: a company of oppressive clowns
Google: a company of oppressive clowns.

They’re coming for you next: In a memo to all its employees, Google has announced that it intends to fire any employee who refuses to get any of the COVID shots.

“We expect that almost all roles at Google in the US will fall within the scope of the executive order,” the memo said, according to CNBC. “Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite,” the memo said, adding that “frequent testing is not a valid alternative to vaccination.”

The company will give those lacking the jab six months of unpaid leave to get it, after which they will be terminated. It also appears that it will not matter whether the employee is working remotely or is coming into the office. Google wants everyone to get COVID shots, and will use force if necessary to make them do it.

The insanity of this rule is breath-taking. The evidence now shows that the various COVID shots are generally ineffective over the long run in protecting the population from getting the Wuhan flu. Thus, making employees get these shots is silly, and irrational.

It also violates numerous civil rights and privacy laws. First, Google has no right to demand this medical information from its employees. Second, to blackball certain employees because of their personal medical decisions is certainly discriminatory and violates their civil rights.

So, why are you still using gmail? Why are you still using Google as your default search engine? Both are easily replaced, especially the latter, and until you get rid of both you need to be logged into this unethical and oppressive company, which means it is collecting data from you continuously, for its own use.

For the same reason, I beg my readers who like to suggest evening pauses to look at other video sites, like Rumble and Vimeo, before relying on Google-owned YouTube. We need alternatives from a company that not only censors and blacklists conservatives, but now clearly wants to discriminate against some of its employees.

Visible clean water ice on Mars

Crater with ice scarp
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, is today’s picture of the day for the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Taken on September 13, 2021, it shows an exposed scarp on the southern inner wall of a small 800-foot-wide crater.

What makes that scarp intriguing is its blue color. As noted by Shane Byrne of the Lunar and Planetary Lab University of Arizona, who wrote the caption:

This north-facing cliff appears to expose icy material that’s similar to other pole-facing scarps showing buried ice elsewhere on the planet. These cliffs give us a cut-away view of the buried ice in that location and can help answer questions about what the Martian climate was like when this ice formed.

The crater itself sits inside a much larger crater, as shown in the wider picture below.
» Read more

Scientists confirm Parker entered Sun’s corona in April 2021

Scientists yesterday announced that the Parker Solar Probe successfully entered the Sun’s corona for the first time during its April 2021 close fly-by.

More information here, including some excellent short movies made from images created by Parker’s instruments.

The top edge of the corona is dubbed the Alfvén surface, and Parker’s passage across that boundary three different times during the April ’21 fly-by revealed it to be a sharp boundary that also has a great deal of topography. From the second link:

The first time Parker passed the Alfvén surface was the longest; it flew through the atmosphere for about five hours. Even as it continued flying toward the Sun, though, it popped back out, only to submerge again more deeply when it was at its closest approach — but briefly, that time exiting after just half an hour. Then, on its way outward, the spacecraft once again skimmed beneath the surface for a few hours.

“[The Alfvén surface] has to be wrinkly,” Kasper says. “It’s not fuzzy — it’s well-defined while we’re under it — but the surface has some structure to it.” So while the probe sees a smooth change in conditions while crossing the boundary, where the boundary is can change. The reason for this wrinkly surface is still an open question, though the researchers suspect the crossing over a pseudostreamer lower in the corona pushed the boundary out to enable the first crossing.

What’s clear is that inside the Sun’s atmosphere, conditions are different than just outside. Parker saw plasma waves moving back and forth instead of flowing outward. That difference was visible not just to the SWEAP and FIELDS instruments, which measure particles and electric and magnetic fields, respectively, but also to the probe’s WISPR imager.

The Parker science team also indicated that the preliminary data from the probe’s next two fly-bys — the most recent in November that was the closest yet — suggest it passed through the corona then as well.

One of the biggest unsolved mysteries about the Sun’s corona is that it appears to have a temperature in the millions of degrees, far hotter than the Sun’s surface below, something that is counter-intuitive. The expectation was that the atmosphere would be cooler than the surface. Finding out why the corona is hotter is one of the main science goals of Parker. It appears the probe is finally gathering data that might help solve that mystery.

Webb launch delayed two days because of ground equipment issue

After engineers at Arianespace’s French Guiana launch facility found an intermittent issue with ground equipment related to the Ariane 5 rocket launching the James Webb Space Telescope, it was decided to delay the launch two days to make sure the problem was resolved.

n a brief statement, NASA wrote on its website late Tuesday that the Webb team is “working a communications issue between the observatory and the launch vehicle system.”

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate, said Tuesday that engineers found an “interface problem” in a system that communicates with Webb while it’s on top of the Ariane 5 rocket. “The way to think about it is it’s a ground support equipment thing,” Zurbuchen said Tuesday night in an interview with Spaceflight Now. “Basically, the data cables are dropping some frames.”

Technicians inside the Ariane 5 rocket’s final assembly building in Kourou have tried to diagnose the problem, but so far, haven’t been able to resolve it.

The December 24th target day date remains tentative, and could slip to December 25th, or even later, depending on how successful engineers are at fixing the issue.

Enrollment plunges when students are no longer forced to take critical race theory class

Freedom of thought might still exist at St. Joseph's
Among the students, freedom of thought might
still exist at St. Joseph’s University.

A victory for free thought: When students at St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania were no longer required to take a class promoting race and the anti-white agenda of critical race theory, enrollment dropped so much that most of the offered classes will likely be canceled.

The university’s campus paper noted:

Multiple sections of the university’s new one-credit diversity course, Inequality in American Society (INT 151), are at risk of getting canceled for the spring 2022 semester due to under enrollment.

As of Dec. 4, only four of the 26 sections offered for the spring 2022 semester are full, according to numbers on the Course Registration website. Twelve of the 26 sections have 50% or more seats still available.

Of course, the teachers who are promoting this racist class want this problem solved by making the class a requirement. More important, these teachers are not really interested in diversity of thought, as illustrated by this comment by professor Brian Yates, the course’s leading advocate:
» Read more

99.9% of all mass at center of Milky Way is found in central black hole

New measurements of the orbits of several stars circling the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A* (pronounced A-star), have confirmed that 99.9% of all mass at the galaxy’s center is concentrated in that black hole.

Astronomers have measured more precisely than ever before the position and velocity of four stars in the immediate vicinity of the supermassive black hole that lurks at the center of the Milky Way, known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) [1]. These stars — called S2, S29, S38, and S55 — were found to be moving in a way that shows that the mass in the center of the Milky Way is almost entirely due to the Sgr A* black hole, leaving very little room for anything else.

The measurements, which further refine the mass of Sagittarius A* as 4.3 million times the mass of the Sun, show that very little of this mass is found in the surrounding space as gas or dark matter. It is all in the black hole, which might also help explain why the Milky Way’s central black hole is so quiescent. It has very little gas or other stars to feed it and thus produce emissions.

Conflict in Hubble constant continues to confound astronomers

The uncertainty of science: In reviewing their measurements of the Hubble constant using a variety of proxy distance tools, such as distant supernovae, astronomers recently announced that their numbers must be right, even though those numbers do not match the Hubble constant measured using completely different tools.

Most measurements of the current acceleration of the universe (called the Hubble constant, or H0) based on stars and other objects relatively close to Earth give a rate of 73 km/s/Mpc. These are referred to as “late-time” measurements [the same as confirmed by the astronomers in the above report]. On the other hand, early-time measurements, which are based on the cosmic microwave background emitted just 380,000 years after the Big Bang, give a smaller rate of 68 km/s/Mpc.

They can’t both be right. Either something is wrong with the standard cosmological model for our universe’s evolution, upon which the early-time measurements rest, or something is wrong with the way scientists are working with late-time observations.

The astronomers are now claiming that their late-time observations must be right, which really means there is either something about the present theories about the Big Bang that are fundamentally wrong and that our understanding of early cosmology is very incomplete, or the measurements by everyone are faulty.

Based on the number of assumptions used with both measurements, it is not surprising the results don’t match. Some of those assumptions are certainly wrong, but to correct the error will require a lot more data that will only become available when astronomers have much bigger telescopes of all kinds, in space and above the atmosphere. Their present tools on Earth are insufficient for untangling this mystery.

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