07Dec2012

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Is there something on your mind? Want to comment on a  story you read here or elsewhere? This is the place we criticize or praise what’s happening in the world of space and astronomy.

Is there some part of the space program you disagree with or feel should be done… better? Maybe you purchased a crummy telescope, a real lemon, and want to tell the world it sucks! Maybe there’s an idea you’ve had for awhile you’d like to pass on… OR perhaps you want to praise an aspect of the current space scene or an individual contributing to it. Whatever it is THIS is the place for you. Let me know if you want to remain anonymous.

This is a sounding board and you are invited to submit anything concerning space or astronomy. Be critical but also try to be impartial and fair. Yes, relevant images are accepted.

Email (Astro Dave)  davereneke@gmail.com  and tell me

 


What Cheeses Me Off?

 Is NASA Lost In Space? 

NASA’s much-touted mission to land astronauts on an asteroid by 2025 as part of a trip to Mars is being undermined largely because most agency workers don’t enthusiastically support the mission, a new report says.

That finding reflects the space program’s broader struggles to chart a long-term course that can inspire and win broad support, but is also affordable, given tight budgets and political turf wars.

“We’ve seen limited evidence that (an asteroid) has been widely accepted as a compelling destination by NASA’s own work force, by the nation as a whole, or by the international community,” says the report, completed by 12 experts chosen by the National Research Council, a division of the National Academies of Sciences.

Wednesday’s report, requested by Congress, is the second in two days to question the trajectory of the U.S. space program, which critics say needs a goal that the nation can rally around like NASA had during the Apollo era. It called NASA “an agency at a transitional point” and noted it faced challenges in nearly all of its endeavours.

The study put the blame on “a lack of consensus on the scope of NASA’s broad missions for the nation’s future.”

On Tuesday, an industry-funded study echoed those concerns, saying NASA was being asked to do too much without adequate support. It urged the space agency to shed some of its science and research functions and focus again on exploring space.

Reading The Reports

Among the findings by the National Research Council in its report, “NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus:”

• Aside from a trip to Mars, NASA has had trouble getting its workforce to agree on the next deep-space destination for its astronauts. Many employees and a number of congressional lawmakers would prefer to return to the moon, a mission that President Barack Obama scrapped, rather than fly to an asteroid on the way to Mars, as the president and NASA leaders have recommended.

“There is no national consensus on strategic goals and objectives, which helps to explain why NASA does not have a real strategic plan,” said Albert Carnesale, who chaired the panel of experts who produced the report. “If you look at what the administration says and look at what Congress says and look at the strategic plan, it is not clear what the priorities are.”

• NASA’s ability to complete projects on time and within budget have been hurt by “overly optimistic expectations regarding cost and schedule,” a criticism the agency’s inspector general leveled in a report last month.

Solutions such as increasing NASA’s budget or deeply cutting its workforce are unlikely due to economic conditions, existing laws and competing interests between Congress and the White House.

• The agency could save money by downsizing some of its 10 centers, but the report stops short of recommending specific cuts.

• NASA should expand joint ventures with international partners on human space exploration and science programs to take advantage of foreign capabilities and share the cost of expensive missions.

“There are a lot more potential international partners for NASA now than there were a decade or two ago,” Carnesale, an aerospace engineering professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, told reporters.

Being Realistic

But the study noted to attract their interest, “the U.S. must have a program that other countries want to participate in.”

• Earth and space science missions are suffering due to unrealistic budget projections and poor cost control.

• Aeronautics programs, once a key part of the agency’s scope, now make up only about 3 percent of NASA’s budget and are “slowly atrophying” from lack of attention.

NASA spokesman David Weaver said the agency is “making steady progress” implementing the goals spelled out in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, the bipartisan law charting the space program’s trajectory for the next 20 years.

The agency is developing a heavy-lift rocket and crew vehicle capable of transporting U.S. astronauts into deep space, including Mars. It’s also teaming up with private companies to develop spacecraft to ferry astronauts and cargo to the space station and back to Earth — tasks once done by space shuttles.

Weaver said NASA is developing faster and cleaner aircraft, continues to pursue a “robust portfolio” of science missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope, and is expanding the technology needed for future human and robotic missions.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. a fierce champion of NASA, said that while Wednesday’s report is critical of NASA’s funding limitations, “the agency’s not alone in having to face tough decisions due to belt-tightening.”

“But it’s in our national interest to continue to move forward with exploration, which is NASA’s chief mission,” Nelson said.

Wednesday’s report was requested by Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA’ spending.

“I felt there was no vision, no uniform program, no goals that we as a nation would all (rally) around,” Wolf said. Source: Florida Today


 BEWARE A SITE CALLED ‘WOT’

My site was recently listed with this website as ‘dangerous’ and a site to be wary of. No reason except they singled me out.  Some people have looked at this site for a service called ‘Web of Trust’  (It’s anything BUT) and taken their recommendation a face value.

This site is a money making Scam …and trades on fear. They get high ranking sites and list them on their site which they claim to be ‘protectors of the web, then demand a ‘fee’ to remove your ‘bad rating’ …go to the site/it has been red-flagged as dangerous. It gives reputable people and sites a bad name. It has a red warning sign indicating it is a fraud when you go there.

See this report  http://complaintwire.org/complaint/d6wBAAAAAAA/wot-web-of-trust             

In the gangster days of the mob we called that PROTECTION MONEY. Remember the old movies. Pay up and we don’t destroy your business. Only its done different in the cyber age, Tell anyone you know about this practice and get honest folks involved. Help wipe this crap off the internet! This is their sad website., DO NOT be fooled by these garbage peddlers! http://www.mywot.com/


 NASA Really Needs A Press Release Writer

Coming after yet another embarrassing Press Release from NASA regarding the findings on Mars of their Curiosity rover we again see nothing surprising in their findings. So many times in the past NASA have made announcements about ‘startling’ discoveries or ‘exciting’ new finds only to have the press walk away scratching their heads after attending another mundane press conference with little or nothing new to report.

It’s also time I believe to stop sending expensive rovers to the Red Planet and get a set of human footprints on the place. This agency needs a damn good shake up and returned to what it does best – the human exploration of space.


What I Liked This Week

Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication – Guy Nolch

http://www.isubscribe.com.au/images/covers/319/9263/large/AUSTRALASIANSCIENCE201112163820.jpgThe Australian Science Communicators are proud to announce that the winner of the Australian Science Communicators Unsung Hero Award of Science Communication for 2012 is Mr Guy Nolch, editor and publisher of Australasian Science

The judging panel selected Guy as the standout choice from a number of worthy nominees. The judges mentioned Guy’s many notable achievements and attributes:

  • his long period of distinguished science publishing (20 years publishing Australasian Science);
  • training and mentoring science communicators;
  • making scientists’ work accessible to and understood by the public;
  • dealing with controversial issues;
  • his major contributions to the discussion of science policy and scientific issues in Australia;
  • and for the fostering of good science journalism in Australia and for promotion of leading Australian scientists and their research.

The ASC created this award to honour a person or group who exemplify science communication, who have not yet received significant recognition for their contribution to science and its promotion, and for work done in Australia over a considerable or prolonged time.

This is the first time the ASC has made this national award. In the past the ASC acknowledged unsung Australian scientists, but now feel that it is time to put into the spotlight those who communicate the science.

Guy joined the AGM meeting via a video Skype hook-up for the announcement and our accolades. Guy said he was humbled at winning the award. His humility was appropriately accompanied by his ear-to-ear grin.

Guy has been making his living as a science communicator for many years and as such he is a beacon to us all. Next year the ASC will once again shine its own light on another previously unsung science communicator. 

* Congratulations from me as well and, as most of you know, I submit the ‘Out Of This World’ column for the magazine and act as publicist when dealing with the media on over 13 regular talk spots I do, to 3 million listeners weekly.  It went to the right bloke! See Australasian Science magazine’s webpage here:  http://www.australasianscience.com.au/


 A Nice Xmas Gift Sent To Me

Thank you Richard Garner and the team from ‘The Space Collective’ for your generosity in supplying me with this amazing watch I’m currently wearing with pride in all our astro shows and talks here in Australia. The quality of this timepiece knocked me out! Folks, this space store is now a sponsor of my website and supporter of ‘Astro Space News’. Situated in the U.K. they carry an amazing amount of stock and deliver quickly world-wide. Highly recommended!

apollo_chronograph_watch.png

Welcome to our Space Store & NASA Gift Shop!

We are the Space Collective; the UK’s number 1 Space Store! Where you will find hundreds of Space Memorabilia products brought together to celebrate the worlds Space Exploration and Discovery heritage – a heritage that spans from glory to disaster, from the Apollo 1 tragedy to the STS success. At our Space Store, you will find NASA Space Gifts, NASA Memorabilia, Science Toys, in fact, everything from genuine NASA Models, Flight Suits, NASA Jackets and Astronaut Food to NASA’s very own Fisher Astronaut Pens, NASA Watches, Flown in Space Artifacts, Astronaut Autographs and even Astronomy Holidays!

See their website: http://www.thespacecollective.com/

Dave says:

Peter, in almost all cases when I write this sort of stuff up I make sure it can be seen here too… most showers are but a couple only to a limited degree. Look in the same direction (usually easterly) ,,,thanks and contact me if any questions on future events OK

Jockothe truckie says:

With all the hoopin & hollerin about the recent eclipse of the sun, not one pic has found it’s way to this page. Come on you cousins from the far north, how about sharing with the rest of the family down here, south of the border. 😉

Dave says:

Watch tomorrow… your voice has been heard.

Peter says:

Dave, this is a great site you run, full of info that is relevant and interesting. One thing that tends to confuse me for instance, the Geminids meteor shower, since your article is from a Northern hemisphere site are the times and dates still relevant for us Southerners. Do we still look in the same direction etc. Sorry if this is a lame question but I have missed other events because of this.
Again thanks for your work in keeping us Sons of the Southern Cross informed.

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