A labor of love is about to be carried out by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) involving Opportunity, the ten-year veteran Martian rover. It seems fitting to write about this on Labor Day as the rover continues to set new records for distance and longevity on the Martian surface.
While away on vacation, I read about LiftPort Group, a Kickstarter-funded space elevator project that received over $110,000 U.S. from more than 3,400 backers. The company, located in Tacoma, Washington, originally sought $8,000, so one would think this was largely fantasy, but with the amount of money that has come in it would seem it owes its investors something more than one it has delivered to-date.
The Perimeter Institute at University of Waterloo, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, has proposed in recent discussions among its faculty focused on cosmology, that the Big Bang may have been the back side of a black hole.
In the last week updated plans for the next generation of Martian rovers have been released.
The real story behind this most recent imagery of Charon circling in close proximity to its parent, Pluto, is just how little we actually know about the dwarf planet. Here is an astonishing reminder of our lack of knowledge. We humans have yet to observe a full year on Pluto. We've known of its existence since 1930 but the dwarf planet takes 248 Earth years to orbit the Sun. As a result we don't, to date, have an accurate measure of Pluto's complete orbital path.
October 19th is the date when Comet Siding Spring makes its Mars flyby. The distance will be 132,000 kilometers (82,000 miles) from the planet's surface. The tail of the comet will potentially threaten NASA's two orbiters as well as one operated by the European Space Agency. And NASA has a third orbiter, MAVEN, expected to arrive at Mars in September, just a month before Siding Spring passes.
It has taken 10 years and a journey of 4 billion miles for the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft to achieve rendezvous with the comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Launched on March 2, 2004, the spacecraft has used several gravity-assist swings by the Earth and Mars to push it beyond Jupiter before catching up to the comet seen in these ESA provided multiple images taken by Rosetta on July 20.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is using 3-D printing with multiple materials, proving that additive manufacturing is not just the future of manufacturing, but also the present.
The images that Curiosity is sending back from Gale Crateris showing soil profiles similar to the ancient soil found in the dry valleys of Antarctica and in the alto-Plano of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. The soil images and data indicate chemical weathering and accumulations of clay just as one would find them here on Earth. Phosphorus depletion, associated with microbial activity here on Earth, is evident from the information Curiosity has gathered.