Friday, July 25, 2008

Lunar Science Pt. 2

Interior of wind tunnel at Ames Research Center. Thanks to Rich for reminding us of the value of wind tunnels

The Lunar Science Conference at NASA Ames was a huge success. Twice as many people showed up as the organizers expected. Wednesday morning Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute talked about research possibilities. Some doubt the value of humans in Space, so it is important to get astronomers behind the Vision.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) have just been delayed until early 2009. The good news is that many Moon missions are planned by various nations. For those friends who have been hurt by the job picture, planetary science is a rapidly growing field. There will be many opportunities for study of the Earth and Moon.

Wednesday evening, in an unrelated event at Ames, Lenny Susskind of Stanford talked about his new book: BLACK HOLE WARS. In the book he writes about the Black Hole information paradox and his arguments with Hawking. Having already enjoyed Lenny's Theoretical Physics lectures for 10 weeks, I elected to visit Google in San Francisco.

Astronaut Rusty Schweickhart gave his presentation from COSPAR about asteroids. As founder of the B612 foundation, he wants international cooperation on the threat from Near Earth Objects. Next he will take his presentation to the UN. I asked him how he feels about human missions to asteroids--Schweikhart's answer was an unequivocal yes. He thinks that could be a precursor towards mining.

Speaking of astronauts, the legendary BUZZ ALDRIN has joined the chorus of those questioning Constellation. On his own Buzz has advocated "cycler" spacecraft reaching Mars. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Aldrin wants an outside panel of experts to examine whether Ares I/V is the way to go. He also wants a fresh look at the DIRECT architecture. We are wise to heed the advice of those who have been there.

For more Space news, check out the Carnival of Space!

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