Category Archives: Points of Information

Space war breakthrough?

Is the space war over NASA’s future ending? I wonder, reading this report in which NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver confidently announces that a compromise between Congress and the administration is pending. More importantly, she said the following:

Many things are still uncertain, but one thing is not uncertain. Marshall [Space Flight Center] will lead the heavy-lift launch program.

Considering Garver’s previously strong opposition to Constellation, this statement indicates that she and the administration have backed down, and are willing to accept the heavy-lift part of Constellation, once called Ares V, as long as no one uses those Bush-era names.

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Plastic pollution down

Despite increasing use by humans, the plastic pollution floating in the North Atlantic ocean has not increased over the last two decades,and scientists don’t know why. From the Science press notice:

The authors propose a handful of possible explanations for why more discarded plastic is not appearing out in the open Atlantic Ocean. It may break up into pieces too small to be collected by the nets, or it might be sinking beneath the surface. Or, it might be consumed by marine organisms. More research will be necessary to determine the likelihood of each scenario.

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Astronauts lose about half their muscle power on long space flights

Though this only confirms what the Russians learned on Mir, scientists have determined that long periods in weightlessness cause a significant loss in muscle strength. More research like this — to both study the problem as well as possibly solve it — is exactly what we need to do on ISS. Key quote:

Damage caused to the tissue is such that it is equivalent to a 30- to 50-year-old crew member’s muscles deteriorating to that of an 80-year-old. Despite in-flight exercise, the report warns that the destructive effects of extended weightlessness to skeletal muscle poses a significant safety risk for future manned missions to Mars and further afield.

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