The Martian – Well, A Good First Step, Anyway

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Yesterday, American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko parachuted their Soyuz capsule back to Earth after 340 days on the International Space Station—a new NASA record. Spending almost a year in space is an early step in NASA’s longer term plan for sending astronauts to Mars. And that trip will take two and half years return—hell of a commute.

While orbiting in his tin can, Kelly experienced more than 10,000 sunrises and sunsets in less than a calendar year. He travelled more than 231 million kilometres.

Meanwhile back on Earth, his identical twin, Mark offered himself as a medical test subject so doctors can compare the effects of zero gravity, radiation, etc. on the two brothers.

Here’s to putting boots on mars in our lifetime!

BTW—apparently NASA is looking for volunteers for more 1 year missions.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/03/02/nasas-space-endurance-champ-savours-fresh-air-after-340-days-in-orbit.html

 

 

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RIP, Henry Worsley—Explorer Dies Attempting Solo Trek across Antarctica

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1600 km across the frozen wastes of Antarctica—to complete Ernest Shackleton’s failed lost expedition mission, and to raise money for wounded troops. And he almost made it. Just 48 km shy of the end of his trip, Henry Worsley’s body gave out—forcing him to call for help.

After 71 days alone on the ice, pulling his supplies on a sled, and suffering every step of the way, he finally succumbed.

Worlsey was an ancestor of Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton’s ship, The Endurance, had been trying to find a route across the Antarctic through the South Pole, but had been trapped by pack ice. In a desperate bid for survival, Shackleton successfully led his crew across the ice to the safety of a whaling station.

Worsley was attempting to complete that original mission and find a way across the barren continent. Unfortunately, after being airlifted to a hospital in Punta Arenas, Worsley’s body could take no more punishment. He passed away the next day.

Rest in Peace, one of the great explorer’s of our, or any time.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/01/25/british-explorer-henry-worsley-dies-on-solo-antarctic-trek.html

And Then There Were Nine…Planets…Again

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We kicked Pluto out of the happy planets club a decade ago, meaning the solar system’s active roster was down to just eight planets in the solar system. But now there’s a new member on the scene—dubbed Planet X.

On Jan. 20, Caltech scientists, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, announced their discovery of evidence suggesting the evidence of a Neptune-sized planet out beyond the orbit of outcast Pluto. Evidence suggest it’s a gaseous ice giant that’s up to ten times the mass of the earth. And it’s orbiting so far beyond Pluto that it takes 10,000 years to orbit the sun

Brown and Batygin went looking for evidence of Planet X because something was pulling the orbits of recently discovered planetoids out past Pluto towards a common point near the plane of the solar system—something huge…

And of course, conspiracy theorists have wasting no time in announcing that the discovery of Planet X obviously portends the end of the world. Stay tuned for more on apocalypse times and dates in your local area.

The only thing left now is for someone to actually lay eyes on the elusive giant. Check out the details here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/01/20/new-evidence-suggests-a-ninth-planet-lurking-at-the-edge-of-the-solar-system/

 

The State of Private Space Flight—Good Luck Elon Musk

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Good news—private, corporate space flight company Orbital ATK successfully docked their spacecraft with the international space station last month. Good news—Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard spacecraft managed to land itself on a launch pad in recent weeks.

Not so great? Elon Musk’s SpaceX craft has been grounded since it exploded during what Musk called a ‘rapid, unscheduled disassembly’ while attempting a landing earlier this year. But the Falcon 9 rocket has been updated, and now sits on a Cape Canaveral pad awaiting launch tomorrow night.

So maybe NASA’s not up to as much as it once was. But, given the strides countries like China and India have made in the last year—and the progress made by private interests…it may be that our dreams of a future in space are more realistic than ever before.

That’s all good news to me.

For more, check out: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/spacex-scheduled-to-return-to-flight-sunday-and-attempt-another-dramatic-landing-this-time-on-land

Jade Rabbit Moon Rover, what you up to?

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So the latest out of Chinese state media is that the Jade Rabbit rover which landed on the moon five months ago is still hanging on—barely. The rover captured hearts and minds over the past few months as it struggled to survive the cold lunar nights, died, and then was miraculously re-born. And now, its wheels no longer turn and the solar panels that protect it from the cold have failed. But still it fights on…

Check out the story here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2642739/Jade-Rabbit-hanging-Chinese-moon-rover-alive-weak-claim-reports.html

Lazarus Moon Rover Resurrected

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Lazarus Moon Rover Resurrected

Jade Rabbit’s back! China’s plucky moon rover, Jade Rabbit, who landed on the lunar surface in December, then captured the hearts of the world when it announced its own malfunction and imminent demise, has risen from the dead.
The Rover, speaking on the Chinese social media site Weibo , told the world of it’s coming death and signed-off with a final, “Goodnight Earth. Goodnight Humanity.” And tens of thousands took to the internet to send their condolences.
Now, three weeks later, the rover is back! He’s up and running and only a little worse for wear. And the world is thrilled again.
Check out the details here:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/china-shows-resurrected-lunar-rover-jade-rabbit-some-love/article16913625/

Digby stalks the frozen Great Lakes!

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Digby stalks the frozen Great Lakes!

For the first time in more than twenty years the five Great Lakes are almost 90% frozen. In one of the weirdest weather winters in memory Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior have iced over, creating opportunities for people( and Digby our Dane/Mastiff cross) to walk to islands or visit sea caves not previously possible.
Even here in Toronto we’re enjoying the ability to walk from our condo-packed waterfront across the busy harbor to the serenity of the Toronto Islands. And from the Islands, across the narrow Eastern Gap, to the off-leash dog area of Cherry Beach or the vast bird sanctuary of the Leslie Street Spit.
Check out these pics:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/passantino/the-great-lakes-are-nearly-frozen-over-for-the-first-time-in