Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Loose fibers significantly cuts Gaia’s output

Europe’s Gaia telescope, designed to precisely measure the motions of a billion stars in the Milky Way, will have its accuracy cut in half because of the presence of loose fibers on the telescope’s sun shield that are allowing too much stray light in.

These fibres were spotted on Gaia before launch, but cutting them off was considered too risky, because that could allow small particles to enter the spacecraft. Another option, taping them down, was also ruled out because the increased stiffness could prevent the sunshield from unfolding.

The stray light shouldn’t affect measurements of the galaxy’s brightest stars, says Gaia science team member Anthony Brown at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, but it will double the expected errors on most of the stars in the Milky Way, which are much fainter.

For astronomers this is a great tragedy. Gaia will still teach us much, just not as much as they had hoped.

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2 comments

  • D.K. Williams

    Of all the plethora of things that can go wrong with a spacecraft, this one takes the cake.

  • Pzatchok

    I have to ask.

    Exactly how many telescopes have gone up recently and how many have had a serious problem long before their life expectancy was up?

    And in this case all I can think of are those cloth bellows that old cameras used. I have a few around that still work after 100 years.
    I guess that technology was too much for them.

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