More criticism of Bolden emerges as he heads to China

More criticism of NASA administrator Charles Bolden emerges as he heads to China. Key quote:

Since taking charge of NASA in July 2009, the 64-year-old Bolden has visited 14 countries and has been missing at critical moments. Last year, he skipped one of the first shuttle flights under his watch to visit Japan and most recently was on a trip to Europe and the Middle East when the U.S. House nearly defeated the NASA vision endorsed by the Obama administration. “How about saving the manned space program — in America?” said U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas).

Dried up lake beds on Mars?

A paper published on Saturday in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets of the American Geophysical Union, scientists suggest that the polygonal shaped cracks seen in the crater floors on many Martian craters could be evidence of ancient lakes. The evidence also suggests that the lakes were formed by the impact that created the crater. The energy of the impact melted underground ice to form a temporary lake inside the crater, which eventually dries out, leaving behind the polygons. From the abstract:

We propose desiccation to be a dominant mechanism for the formation of Crater Floor Polygons without ruling out thermal contraction as a possible contributor in some cases. This implies that lakes or water-rich sediments occupied the craters in the past. Many such aqueous environments have no apparent external source of water, and thus, hydrothermal processes occurring shortly after the impact event may be viable explanations for the observed evidence.

Crater floor polygons on Mars

Chicago mainstream reporters threaten reporter asking tough questions of Emanuel

Updated and bumped.The police have now issued an arrest warrent against reporter Jay Levin. (This is based on his behavior in the video below. He is the reporter in the red wind breaker, threatening another reporter, William Kelly, who was asking tough questions of Rahm Emanuel.) Key quote:

This morning, I [William Kelly] filed a police report and signed an arrest warrant against Jay Levine for assault. The Chicago police have already reviewed the video and agreed that an assault was committed.

——
Is there no wonder people joke about a “state-run” media? Here, Chicago mainstream reporters threaten a reporter when he tries to ask Rahm Emanuel some tough questions. More here. Best line from CBS reporter Jay Levin:

Let him finish or I’m going to deck you!

Watch the whole video. The good stuff begins at around one minute.

Sorry that much of today’s posts relate to politics and not science or space. I can only follow the news where it takes me.

The New York Mets 1969

An evening pause: Who says miracles cannot happen? In 1969, the New York Mets proved that they can. Even if you are not a sports fan, watch this short film (which only covers the World Series and not the entire astonishing season) and you’ll get a glimmer of how miraculous that victory was. Today, October 16, is the anniversary of that victory.

Charles Lollar vs Steny Hoyer

Steny Hoyer must be in trouble. At the Charles County Candidate Forum on Wednesday, he lowered himself to actually debate his opponents for the upcoming Congressional election, the first time I have seen this happen since I moved to his district in 1999. However, his Republican opponent, Charles Lollar, got the last word, and made Hoyer look bad.

Two Democratic candidates try to silence their opposition

Freedom of speech alert! Rather than debate their opponents, two Democratic House candidates are trying to shut them up.

In the first case, incumbent Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) is trying to use election laws to block an anti-abortion group from putting up billboards against him. Ed Morrissey at hotair.com has more details.

In the second case, incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pennsylvania) is trying to get radio stations to pull the radio ads of another anti-abortion group which attack her for her healthcare vote.

In both cases, the Democratic candidates voted for the Healthcare bill, and seem to want to hide that fact now from the voters. Not only does this illustrate the contempt they have of freedom of speech, it shows us just how toxic the healthcare bill has become politically. I suspect that this law is going to dog the Democrats who voted for it for years to come.

A wish list of spectacular future planetary missions

Steve Squyres of Cornell University and the project scientist of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity spoke today at an astrobiology symposium in Arlington, Virginia. He described several spectacular planetary missions that might be flown in the coming decade. All are being considered. None have yet been chosen or funded.

  • A mission to grab a sample from a comet and return it to Earth.

  • A mission to put a rover or lander on one of the poles of Mars to study the frozen layers of water under the icecap.

  • Mars sample return mission. This mission is so difficult and expensive that it probably would be broken down into three parts:
    • Two rovers on the surface to gather and cache sample material.

    • A lander/rover mission to grab the samples and bring them up to Mars orbit. “Putting into orbit a precious cargo the size of a coconut,” Squyres said.

    • A mission to grab the sample cargo in Martian orbit and return it to Earth.

  • An orbiter to study both Jupiter and its moon Europa.

  • An orbiter to Enceladus, the moon of Saturn, to study the water and organic chemistry in its mysterious plumes.

  • An orbiter to Titan, with balloon to probe the atmosphere as well as a “lake lander, a boat” to study Titan’s lakes.

  • A variety of landers and rovers to go to Venus. One of the more astonishing mission concepts would land, then take off again to visit different places on the surface.

Squyres is the co-chair of a committee of the National Science Foundation that is right now putting together a decadal survey for outlining unmanned planetary research for the next decade. This survey is expected to be released in March, which is when we will find out which of the above missions the planetary science community prefers.

Climate Talks in China Limp Toward Deadlock

Thank god for small blessings. The climate talks in China this past week are limping towards a deadlock, with no new agreements. It appears that the biggest problem are disagreements between China and the U.S.

Personally, I love how this quote from the article so nicely illustrates the totalitarian nature of many climate activists and their organizations:

Currently, the World Resources Institute is proposing the White House abandon legislative means and rely on the existing Clean Air Act to make emissions reductions administratively.

In other words, if the elected Congress of the United States is unwilling to pass restrictions (because a majority of the people of the United States oppose them), then the government should ignore the people’s wishes and impose those restrictions, without permission.

Ugh. The less power these environmental dictators have, the better for everyone else.

Hubble tracks the aftermath of a possible asteroid collision

Using the Hubble Space Telescope over the last ten months, astronomers have tracked the decaying aftermath of a possible asteroid collision. Key quote:

Astronomers think a smaller rock, perhaps 10 to 15 feet wide, slammed into the larger one. The pair probably collided at high speed, about 11,000 mph, which smashed and vaporized the small asteroid and stripped material from the larger one. Jewitt estimates that the violent encounter happened in February or March 2009 and was as powerful as the detonation of a small atomic bomb.

The image sequence below, taken from the original paper describing the discovery [pdf], shows the slow changes that have occurred since January. At the moment scientists do not have an satisfactory explanation for the nucleus’s X-shaped pattern in the earliest images.

sequence of images of disrupted asteroid

We won’t release our contributors because the adminstration will then harass them

Is this how a government in a free society functions? The Chamber of Commerce won’t release its contributors because they fear the administration will harass and threaten them. And they have experience to back that fear up. Key quote:

What this administration wants is a list of who the companies are who are contributors, and we saw last year . . .when we very publicly ran ads against the Patients Protections and Affordable Care Act . . . there was an attempt to try and find out who were the corporations that were contributing to that effort. When some of those corporate names were divulged, not by us, by others, what did they receive? They received protests, they received threats, they were intimidated, they were harassed, they had to hire additional security, they were recipients of a host of proxies leveled at those companies that had nothing to do with the purpose of those companies. So we know what the purpose here is. It’s to harass and intimidate. [emphasis mine]

That the White House and President Obama are right now willing to accuse their opponents of all manner of evils (taking money from foreign governments) without any evidence is further evidence that there are reasons to fear them.

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