If you’re planning on heading to the moon any time soon, you’ll at least be able to get a drink. NASA announced today that the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite has discovered water on the moon. The mission intentionally crashed a rocket stage onto the moon’s surface, creating an enormous plume of ejecta. When the plume was analyzed by spectrometers on board the satellite, the evidence of water became clear. In the photograph, you can see the debris plume showing up as the little gray fuzzy area inside the black boxes.
There are many ways the water could have gotten there. It could have come via solar winds, comets, giant molecular clouds or some kind of internal activity. Scientists say that it could even have come from Earth.
NASA has released a free app for the iPhone that offers dynamically updated information, images, and video from many of its ongoing missions. NASA seems to be suffering through a confused decade in which it wonders what vehicle should replace its aging shuttle fleet, whether to dump the International Space Station into the ocean to save money, whether to go back to the moon, or whether Mars might be a suitable destination for a manned visit.
I think it’s probably safe to say that NASA is learning an enormous amount through its telescopes, satellites and rovers. I suspect that very little is really learned from sending three or four humans to the moon other than how to keep three or four humans alive on the moon for a few weeks. Perhaps NASA should just relax a little and stop worrying about making people interested in what it’s doing. Perhaps they should just worry about collecting information.
The International Space Station which has taken 11 years and $44 billion to finally bring to a state of completion may be scuttled when its funding runs out in 2015. How about that? One of the greatest achievements in human history – greater than the building of the pyramids – may be dumped into the ocean before it can perform its intended mission which is scientific research and experimentation outside of the Earth’s gravity.
So we elect a man to the presidency twice over who is on the intellectual level of a monkey and give him $80 billion every few months so that he can arbitrarily slaughter the boys and girls of the people who elected him by sending them into a needless Iraqi hell on earth without adequate protection. But we can’t keep the greatest machine ever built by a human hand orbiting the planet? Someone simply must be kidding. I refuse to accept this as a possibility. There’s death money and there’s life money. Iraq war money is death money and sets human civilization back. The space station money is life money and it moves civilization forward. This is a simple equation that almost anyone can figure out. Except of course the drooling moron retired in Texas.
Yesterday I posted about the JFK Presidential Library’s interactive recreation of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing mission. The mission has now reached stage 6 with the command module at a distance of 22,000 nautical miles from earth. The site is doing an absolutely marvelous job of making you feel as if you are riding along with the historic Apollo 11 mission. They have all the real-time radio communications between the astronauts and Mission Control. So you can listen to exactly what was happening through every second of the entire mission! They also have video clips that fit the current point you are watching in the mission.