Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NASA – not your parents space program!

While often choosing to toot NASA’s horn, it is mostly because they are up to such cool stuff and apparently it is the best kept secret! People are under the mistaken belief that once the space program as they knew shut down, that NASA hibernated. Although I am sure that people are thinking that this whole MARs thing is awesome. That the rover is neat! Especially if you read about its super-abilities. (mini science lab on board.)

I thought perhaps I should give you all a bunch of short comments about some of what NASA is up to! (They really don’t do enough PR so somebody needs to help them out.)

We start with the most obvious – Curiousity – the Mars Rover. A mini science lab, the ability to snap Hi-Res photos and an arm with a laser that can blow stuff up! (It is actually part of the steps for analysis of a Mars rock etc.)

NASA’s colossal crawlers: These are the huge slow & steady things that transport things from fully fueled and ready to go rockets to their launch pads. These “Colossal Crawlers” travel at the break-neck speed of 2 mph and take nearly 6 hours to travel three and a half miles. Now NASA is giving the crawler an overhaul so that it can carry more (up to 18 million lbs) to allow for the new generation of heavy left rockets.

SLS – Part of the upgrade to the crawlers is planned to handle the Space Launch System, the first exploration class vehicle that NASA brings to us since it debuted the Saturn V rocket which was used with Apollo. It is anticipated that this new methodology will allow for human spaceflight and has the capability to go to the edge of our solar system and beyond!

An oldie but goodie – The ISS (International Space Station) With Astronauts that call the ISS home NASA has enabled tests to be handled that move us forward – in medical treatments to planning for a manned trip to Mars to Hydroponics and the effects of long term space on the human body. & actually a whole lot more, but then NASA was always up to more…

SATELLITES; I use plural there because there are so many types for many different reasons that I thought it would be easier to group them together. Here is a sample of what they have: Satellites in space that monitor the weather – more than Earth weather but solar storms and radiation worries, of course they also get a bird’s eye view of the hurricanes and other life threatening things. NASA’s WISE surveyor (Wide Infrared Survey Explorer) captured the existence millions more black hole’s, an aging star erupting with dust, and the Flame Nebula burning a hole in the cosmic dust. The Hubble telescope provides us daily with images that otherwise would be impossible but it does so much more! Much of what scientists theorize about other planets and other worlds and their make-up is based on light through whatever they are viewing and where on the spectrum it comes through. (FYI – Hubble has a planned upgrade & boy when it is done we will see farther than we have seen before!) NASA maintains a watch on the electron beams of the Sun. I haven’t even gone into to their LCRD satellite – for the laser communications, or their CubeSATs; their mini-satellites that self destruct instead of falling to the earth.

Voyager – The twins are leaving the solar system. Our most successful travelers go forth where no man has before! Having surveyed Jupiter and Saturn, they are now leaving our backyard.

NASA’s Dawn just finished up with Vesta and now moves on to the dwarf planet Ceres.

Did you know we plan on sending another rover to Mars that will drill into the planet, provide a subterranean understanding? Work on this is underway.

Surely you know of the Kepler mission and the discovery of hundreds of potential Earth’s and a better understanding of the universe and galaxies that surround us.

I have not even scratched the surface. But you know me, space is my ocean, and NASA’s backyard there is always more. Just to give you an idea of how much NASA has going on these days there are tons of projects that have nothing to do with space – terrestrial based but I’m a space person, plus there are many more on the books but I only wanted to open your eyes. I will zoom in on some of what our esteemed NASA has to offer!

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