Tag Archives: engineering

More evidence Penn State’s investigation of Mann was a whitewash

More evidence that Penn State’s investigation of IPCC climate researcher Michael Mann was a whitewash.

The key point is that the Penn State investigators never interviewed a principal who was able to confirm or deny a key charge against “Hockey Stick” lead author of “Hide the Decline” infamy Michael Mann. This individual has now been interviewed, and what he told federal investigators has indicted Mann and Penn State.

I have noted this already, the very week the Penn State report was issued, but it is nice to see there is further evidence to confirm my conclusions.

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A hint of what is inside X-37b

X-37b patent image

Want to know what’s inside X-37b? New Scientist dug around in the patent office and got some clues. Key quote:

Boeing reveals in the patent that the solar array has been designed to permit fast folding and stowing. The reason? So the X-37B can fold the solar array away, fire its thrusters and change its orbit to confound adversaries. This would be useful for satellites, too, says Boeing: “The ability to completely re-stow would offer mission flexibility to move the satellite thus making its orbit unpredictable.”

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A lean future for U.S. planetary missions

Planetary scientists make their recommendations for the kinds of planetary missions they think the United States should do for the next decade. And it looks like a lean future, as the scientists also note that their primary recommendations, missions to Mars and Europa, should only be built if their budgets can be trimmed significantly:

NASA’s top priority, according to the survey’s recommendations, should be the Mars Astrobiology Explorer Cacher, or MAX-C, which could help determine whether Mars ever supported life and offer insight on its geologic and climate history. It would also be the first step in an effort to get samples from Mars back to Earth. However, the report said this mission should only be undertaken if NASA’s cost is about $2.5 billion, which is $1 billion less than independent estimates provided to the panel. The mission would be run jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency, according to the survey.

A mission to Europa and its subsurface ocean — which might support life — should be the second priority mission, the experts said. But its estimated price tag of $4.7 billion may make it too expensive without an increase in NASA’s planetary science budget or a paring of the mission’s costs. [emphasis mine]

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The second X-37b is in orbit

The second X-37b is in orbit. Key quote:

Similar to [Orbital Test Vehicle-1] , [Orbital Test Vehicle-2]’s actual mission duration will depend on the vehicle achieving its test objectives, but he expects it to remain on orbit for approximately 270 days. “We may extend the mission to enhance our understanding of the OTV capabilities,” Colonel Giese said, “especially since the performance data from the first flight suggest that the vehicle could have gone beyond the 270-day requirement.”

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The Beer has Landed: Astronauts4Hire Completes Space Beer Microgravity Test

The beer has landed: The first test of space beer in weightlessness has been completed. Key quote:

Astronauts4Hire Flight Member Todd Romberger was selected to perform the flight research. Todd sampled the beer during 12 microgravity parabolas, each reproducing the weightless conditions of space for 30 seconds at a time, and recorded qualitative data on beverage taste and drinkability as well as biometric data to gain a first look at alcohol effects the body.

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Detector Array Deterioration Poses New Problem for JWST

More problems for the James Webb Space Telescope: The detector arrays for several instruments are deteriorating, even as they sit on the shelf. And remember, the 2014 launch date is probably going to be delayed until 2016. Key quote:

“As you get further and further out with [the launch date], it really raises questions about how far down the [integration and test] process you go for the instruments … and how long you have to store all that before you actually launch,” [Webb program director Rick Howard] told the NASA Advisory Council’s astrophysics subcommittee during a Feb. 16 public meeting here. “And that just makes everybody even more nervous about this problem than anything else.”

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Scientists Steer Car With the Power of Thought

What could go wrong? Scientists have developed technology allowing someone to steer a car by thought alone. Key quote:

“In our test runs, a driver equipped with EEG sensors was able to control the car with no problem — there was only a slight delay between the envisaged commands and the response of the car,” said Prof. Raúl Rojas, who heads the AutoNOMOS project at Freie Universität Berlin.

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