Category Archives: Points of Information

Global topography of the Moon

New results from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, including a new global topographic map.

Global topography of the Moon

From the caption: A lunar topographic map showing the Moon from the vantage point of the eastern limb. On the left side of the Moon seen in this view is part of the familiar part of the Moon observed from Earth (the eastern part of the nearside). In the middle left-most part of the globe is Mare Tranquillitatis (light blue) the site of the Apollo 11 landing, and above this an oval-appearing region (Mare Serenitatis; dark blue) the site of the Apollo 17 landing. Most of the dark blue areas are lunar maria, low lying regions composed of volcanic lava flows that formed after the heavily cratered lunar highlands (and are thus much less cratered).

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China continues satellite maneuvers

China is continuing the mysterious maneuvers of the two satellites that might have actually touched earlier this month. Key quote:

The maneuvers, which appear to involve rendezvous operations between the SJ-06F satellite and the more recently launched SJ-12 craft, could amount to practice for space station dockings or coordinated satellite observations from orbit. Few folks would have a problem with that. But they also could be aimed at developing the expertise for lurking near someone else’s satellte and eavesdropping, or even knocking that satellite out of commission in the event of a crisis. That’s the worrisome part.

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Judge overrules local town over Constitution Day rally

A judge has overruled Andover Township in Ohio over its effort to squelch a Constitution Day rally by a Tea Party group, allowing the rally to go forward. Key quote:

“It’s very ironic that an effort to celebrate the Constitution results in a violation of the Constitution,” attorney Curt Hartman, part of the legal team representing the group, noted.

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Ohio Town forbids Tea Party to Celebrate U.S. Constitution in Town Square

Freedom of speech alert! Ohio town forbids celebration of U.S. constitution in town square because of the “political affiliation” of the event’s organizers. Key quote:

Several residents of the small central Ohio town formed the Andover Tea Party in May 2010, and in that same month, they asked to use the square for a rally to commemorate Constitution Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. But on July 19, a trustee informed one of the tea party organizers, Margaret Slingluff, that they would not be allowed to hold the event, which would have included singers performing patriotic songs and public policy-related speakers, in the square.

A court suit has already been filed.

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How blind cave fish find food

How blind cave fish find food. Key quote:

“Vibration Attraction Behavior” (or VAB) is the ability of fish to swim toward the source of a water disturbance in darkness. Postdoctoral associate Masato Yoshizawa measured this behavioral response in both wild caught and laboratory raised cave and surface-dwelling fish using a vibrating rod at different frequencies as a stimulus. Most cavefish displayed VAB and would swim toward the vibrating rod and poke at it, while few surface fish did.

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Building a lunar vegetable garden on Earth

University of Arizona scientists have built a hydroponic lunar vegetable garden on Earth. More information here. Key quote:

The membrane-covered module can be collapsed to a four-foot-wide disk for interplanetary travel. It contains water-cooled sodium vapor lamps and long envelopes that would be loaded with seeds, ready to sprout hydroponically.

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Government high speed railroad and elections

The federal government’s very expensive and probably unnecessary project to build a high speed railroad line between two cities in Wisconsin — using stimulus money — is having a significant influence on the elections there. Key quote:

With the U.S. economy in shambles and our national debt strangling the country, it doesn’t bode well for Feingold that he supported the wildly unpopular health-care bill, which [challenger] Johnson wants repealed, as well as last year’s big clunker, the stimulus bill. Feingold’s support for the unfunded and bottomless money pit of [high speed rail] doesn’t appear to be working for him either. If an entrenched insider like Feingold loses, it could have serious ramifications for the future of high-speed rail across the country. [emphasis mine]

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Space Makes Polymers Hard

The harsh environment of space, normally hostile to most materials, acts beneficially to cure certain epoxy resins. Key quote:

“You don’t have to take it up there in the shape that you eventually want,” said University of Sydney physicist Marcela Bilek, a co-author of the new study. “You can take something in a packaged form, all folded up, and then inflate it in space and have it cure into a mechanically solid structure.”

Read the research paper here.

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Scientists predict when the first Earthlike planet will be discovered

Don’t bet the bank on this: In a preprint paper posted tonight on the astro-ph website, scientists predict the discovery of the first Earthlike extrasolar planet — using statistical analysis alone! Fun quote:

Using a bootstrap analysis of currently discovered exoplanets, we predict the discovery of the first Earth-like planet to be announced in the first half of 2011, with the likeliest date being early May 2011.

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The pain of spacesuit gloves

The number one injury reported by astronauts appears to be fingernail and hand injuries resulting from the use of spacesuit gloves. Key quote:

A previous study of astronaut injuries sustained during spacewalks had found that about 47 percent of 352 reported symptoms between 2002 and 2004 were hand related. More than half of these hand injuries were due to fingertips and nails making contact with the hard “thimbles” inside the glove fingertips. In several cases, sustained pressure on the fingertips during EVAs caused intense pain and led to the astronauts’ nails detaching from their nailbeds, a condition called fingernail delamination.

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