I never get tired of videos like these. ;-) This one doesn’t show the actual touchdown (they don’t always get a good video of that; weather was an obstacle this time, as it was snowing) but it does do a great job of showing the crew extraction process.
This is completely adorable. Seriously, go and check out the whole list; all the Doctors, as dogs.
Are you excited to see Neil deGrasse Tyson step solidly (and pretty literally) into the role of the 21st Century Carl Sagan?
Because I know I am. ;-)
It seemed the Master was gone at the end of “The End of Time”, but we all know he cheats certain death with enormous ease, and sometimes not even anything in the way of an explanation. But reportedly, not only has he been cast, but some of the old cast knows who he is. Sylvester McCoy let slip at a convention that he knows who the next Master is (though he wouldn’t say who) and that he will be “very, very scary”.
Sounds intriguing, for sure. ;-)
NASASpaceFlight.com has an intriguing article on the subject of SpaceX’s plans for future super heavy lift vehicles, heavier even than the Falcon Heavy (which is planned to have three Falcon 9 first stages strapped together) — the Falcon X and Falcon XX would be more powerful than even the Saturn V, and would likely require a new engine. The Merlin engine is very much state-of-the-art for kerosene burners, but the propellant does have its limits, and the engine isn’t robust enough for the many restarts over a long maintenance-free period that would be needed during a Mars mission. So what are they planning?
Well, surprisingly, it appears that this time instead of perfecting a very reliable, tried-and-true combustion cycle and propellant combination, they’re considering treading new ground with a full-flow staged cycle methane/LOX engine, with a novel turbopump design that would greatly improve longevity and safety. It’s very ambitious, and could be the answer . . . but have they finally bitten off more than they can chew? The answer will likely come when they start test-firing the Raptor engine. It’s not clear when that would be, but they’re in the process of modifying a test stand at Stennis Space Center to supply the methane/LOX combination. So, probably sooner rather than later. Exciting. ;-)
That’s right. NASA’s 2015 budget proposes grounding the SOFIA observatory, a huge gamma-ray telescope mounted in the side of a 747. It’s a beautiful instrument, and it’s only recently become fully operational, but NASA’s budget is limited. Indeed, this decision was made entirely from the budget office, without any input from (or even warning to) the astronomers and JPL engineers who operate the aircraft. Unless Congress decides to fight for SOFIA (which seems unlikely), the only hope for keeping it flying next year is for the Germans to supply the necessary funding. If they don’t, it’ll be parked at Dryden Flight Research Center once the current budget cycle is over.
Today’s XKCD really gave me pause, so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s a visualization of the mass of all the world’s land mammals. Humans are a larger fraction than I expected, and if you add in all of our domestic animals, our entire footprint is pretty huge — but I wasn’t prepared for quite *how* huge. (Original comic here.)