"Sic Itur Ad Astra"


Weird, Wild & Breaking News Stories in Space and Astronomy From Around The World 24/7 Weekly With Updates. It's a FREE Service To The Public and ALL Media, It's Safe and Reliable. (Est. 2002)

This news service is emailed out each week to all requesting radio stations across Australia.  David Reneke ('Astro Dave') is one of Australia's most well known and respected astronomers and lecturers with links to some of the world's leading astronomical institutions. David is radio savvy, well experienced talking to the media and presents information in an easy to understand, up to date and informative manner. Enquiries for interviews or info Ph: (02) 6585 2260 Mobile: 0400 636 363 Email: davereneke@gmail.com

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'Beam me up, Jeff': William Shatner going to space in Bezos' Blue Origin

He'll be a spaceman, and he played one on TV. William Shatner will be part of the second space trip from Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origin, according to a report. The "Star Trek" star, 90, will take flight in October. He will become the oldest person to ever travel to space. Blue Origin's first flight occurred in July, with Bezos, his brother Mark and two other passengers experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness in the 12-minute round trip. A lifesaver for people with lung conditions, this gadget tackles your mucus buildup to clean your lungs.

Shatner is the first reported passenger on the second flight. Few details have been released about the follow-up trip. No word on if Shatner will be in full Captain Kirk uniform for the journey. Shatner, a prolific Twitter user with 2.4m followers, has made no secret of his desire to experience space travel. In May he posted a tweet of himself in an astronaut's helmet with the words: "BTW Nasa, just in case; the suit does fit!"

Two months later, while moderating a debate on the future of human spaceflight at Comic-Con in San Diego, Shatner hinted that would soon make a short private journey on an up-and-down flight such as that provided by Blue Origin. According to space.com, he also expressed concerns about the risks of space travel. Shatner, who is Canadian, has enjoyed a long association with Nasa, during and after his years playing Kirk in Star Trek.

In 1976 he narrated a short film, Universe, and he has worked on other video projects since, including a 2011 documentary about the space shuttle, the 100th anniversary celebration of Nasa's Langley research center in 2017 and a promotion of the Parker solar probe the following year. According to TMZ, William Shatner will blast off from Earth next month aboard a Blue Origin capsule owned by the Amazon founder Jezz Bezos, with the 15-minute joyride being filmed for a documentary.

Shatner's mission, however, appears shrouded in secrecy, with neither the actor nor Blue Origin commenting. Cynics point out that the TMZ report appeared on the same day Shatner sent tweets about his new album, Bill, which is described as an autobiographical journey in "poetry and prose, music, spoken word, performance art and philosophical exploration".

Supermassive Solar Storm Could Knock Out The Internet For Months

Scientists are worried our sun is preparing to pump out a massive solar event that could knock out the internet for months. Earth's ionosphere does a wonderful job defending us from solar winds ejected from the sun and deflects them to our poles (which cause the incredible northern and southern lights), however this system wouldn't be able to fully stop rays from a humungous coronal mass ejection (CME).

CMEs consist of electrically conducting plasma emitted from the sun and, if they're big enough, they can race towards the earth at 2,000km/s. It would only take a few days for it to reach us. Because they're electrically conducting, they have the potential to affect anything that is powered by electricity, which is essentially everything we hold dear to us these days.

Information presented at the SIGCOMM 2021 data communication conference has warned the world is not ready for such an event and could be catastrophic to modern life. Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at the University of California, explained in her paper that an 'internet apocalypse' could last for a long time. She said: "What really got me thinking about this is that with the pandemic we saw how unprepared the world was.

"There was no protocol to deal with it effectively, and it's the same with internet resilience. Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event." She has warned that a particularly massive CME could 'cause large-scale Internet outages covering the entire globe and lasting several months'. Our central celestial body pushes out a supermassive coronal mass ejection roughly once a century.

Our world has developed massively in the last 100 years and a solar event similar to 1921 would cause carnage. Dr. Scott McIntosh, deputy director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, added that we should expect a CME aimed at earth soon. "We have every reason to believe that the current solar cycle which began in December 2019 could be the most active since the 1970s. This is a particular concern for the GPS," he told NextGov.com.

"Strong solar storms can charge the atmosphere and prevent signals from getting through for days. The strongest can damage or even destroy satellites."

Volunteers wanted to begin the colonisation of Mars

The four humans chosen to be confined in NASA’s Mars Dune Aplha simulation module will begin their virtual journey in 2022. They will return to reality in 2023 – if all goes well and they endure the challenge.
The four humans chosen to be confined in NASA’s Mars Dune Aplha simulation module will begin their virtual journey in 2022. They will return to reality in 2023 – if all goes well and they endure the challenge.

NASA has launched a project aimed at the human colonisation of Mars. The idea is to send astronauts to the Martian surface and live there. Women and men are now being chosen for such a mission. But what are the requirements, and what will their training be like?

Space food only

Four people in total will be chosen. The application makes it clear that there will first be an extreme experiment to be carried out on Earth as a prologue to a future mission. It will be a long 'trial' for those who dream of a trip to Mars: a year isolated together in a 158 square metre space with no windows. 

During that year, the four chosen ones will only eat "space food". Each will have their own room, whilst there are also two bathrooms and a communal living area. Of course, zero gravity will be a large part of the experiment.

Physical and mental challenge

The aim is to gauge the effects on humans of the living conditions that they will be subjected to on the long journey through space, followed by a future stay on a planet with hostile conditions. NASA admits that the experiment will determine the physical capacity needed to make the trip but, above all, the mental effects of such an isolating journey.

 But let's not forget exactly what it means to be isolated on Mars: despite technological advances, communication with Earth usually has a time lag of 11 minutes. In an emergency, that's an eternity. "Houston, we have a problem" would be a phrase heard (around 11 minutes) too late.

Every manned mission to Mars needs to design a self-sufficient project. Crew members and machines that can fend for themselves and react accordingly in times of crisis.

Mars Dune Alpha

Mars Dune Alpha: the name of the place where the four chosen people will spend their year of training. Built at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

To be eligible for this first trial of the Martian adventure, there are strict conditions set by NASA: you must be between 30 and 55 years old, in good physical condition, fluent in English, have a master’s degree in a scientific field (engineering, mathematics, etc.) and be a non-smoker. For the time being, only Americans or residents of the United States can apply.

Better still if you have experience as as pilot

Another requirement these four applicants will have to meet is the equivalent of 1,000 flight hours as a pilot. 

China wants to conquer Mars by 2033

NASA does not have such a detailed plan as the Chinese government has. They have announced a project to send the first manned mission to Mars in 2033. The date chosen has to do with a well-thought out calculation: around 2035 the Earth and Mars will be closer due to their natural orbital motion

NASA does not have such a detailed plan as the Chinese government has. They have announced a project to send the first manned mission to Mars in 2033. The date chosen has to do with a well-thought out calculation: around 2035 the Earth and Mars will be closer due to their natural orbital motion.

2022: the adventure begins

The four humans chosen to be confined in NASA's Mars Dune Aplha simulation module will begin their virtual journey in 2022. They will return to reality in 2023 - if all goes well and they endure the challenge.

A new planet? Astronomers believe they've found proof

A ninth planet may be lurking on the icy outer edges of the solar system
A ninth planet may be lurking on the icy outer edges of the solar system

Astronomers using the Subaru Telescope believe they have found evidence of a ninth planet in the solar system. Astronomer Michael Brown and astrophysicist Konstantin Batygin, both professors at the California Institute of Technology, have after years of observations completed a study postulating that an unknown new planet might exist beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Brown and Batygin used the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea to observe the movements of several objects in the Kuiper Belt, a band of various icy celestial objects outside of Neptune's orbit. Nearly 20 years ago, certain objects in the Kuiper Belt were found to have strange orbits clustered together that could only be explained by an unknown massive object influencing them, although that did not necessarily suggest the existence of a ninth planet.

But in 2016 - 10 years after Brown's research was used to demote the previous ninth planet, Pluto, to a dwarf planet - he announced that he believed there to be a Planet Nine roughly 10 times the size of the Earth orbiting 20 times farther from the Sun than Neptune. Subaru astronomer Tsuyoshi Terai said Brown used Subaru's Hyper Suprime-Cam, an extremely powerful wide-field digital camera, to conduct about 30 nights of observations between 2016 and 2019.

Although Terai said none of the observations revealed Planet Nine, by tracking 11 additional objects in the Kuiper Belt, Brown and Batygin have 99.6% confidence that the objects' strange movements are not the result of some cosmic fluke and are caused by a yet-unseen large object. Furthermore, according to the study, the two researchers have estimated the potential ranges of the hypothetical planet's mass and orbital characteristics to within 95% probability.

Based on the results of 121 simulations performed during the study, Brown and Batygin conclude that Planet Nine is most likely a gas giant with an icy and rocky core and is about six times the mass of Earth. The simulations also predict, with a 95% probability, the region of the sky the planet may be found within. Despite this, the planet has not been directly observed, and its existence remains conjecture.

Brown and Batygin write that based on the planet's potential orbits and its reflectivity, directly observing it might require dedicated searches on 10-meter telescopes or larger. Brown and Batygin also concede that the composition of the planet may be very different than their predictions, which would have wildly varying impacts on its detectability.

Terai said confirming the existence of a ninth planet would have significant impacts on the existing models of how the solar system was formed, and would raise questions such as how the planet was formed in the first place, how it ended up so far from the Sun, and how it has influenced the movements of other celestial objects over the eons.

Brown did not respond to requests for comment. However, he told National Geographic that he believes the ninth planet will be discovered soon. "I think it's within a year or two from being found," he said, before adding: "I've made that statement every year for the past five years. I am super-optimistic.

Three Record-Breaking Quakes Have Been Detected on Mars, And They're Fascinating

On 25 August, InSight detected two quakes, at magnitude 4.1 and 4.2. Then, on 18 September - the lander's 1,000th Mars day of operation - it picked up the rumbles of another magnitude 4.2 quake.

These new quakes blow the previous record of a magnitude 3.7 quake detected in 2019 out of the water. Fascinatingly, the largest of the August quakes was the most distant detected yet, with an epicenter some 8,500 kilometers (5,280 miles) from InSight.

Analysis is still ongoing, but scientists are excited about the possibility of learning something new about the interior of the red planet.

"Even after more than two years, Mars seems to have given us something new with these two quakes, which have unique characteristics," said planetary geophysicist Bruce Banerdt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

InSight, squatting stationary on the surface of Mars, instrumentation primed to detect the rumbles and grumbles of the planet's belly, has been operational since 2018. During that time, the lander has given us a wealth of new information.

First, there was the direct detection of marsquakes in the first place. That's a big deal, because Mars had been considered geologically dead. Now we know for certain that there's enough going on in the interior to keep things occasionally trembling.

Second, marsquake data is allowing planetary scientists to map the Martian interior. When acoustic waves bounce around inside Mars and propagate through materials of different densities, the resulting signals can be decoded to work out what - and where - those materials are. It's how we map Earth's interior, too. In this way, scientists earlier this year determined that Mars has a larger-than-expected, low-density liquid core.

The newly detected quakes bring something new to the table. Firstly, almost all of the large quakes detected by InSight to date are from much closer to its landing site, in a region called the Cerberus Fossae, around 1,600 kilometers from InSight. Here, a series of fissures can be found, created by faults that pulled the crust apart. Evidence suggests that the region was tectonically and volcanically active recently, i.e., within the last 10 million years.

Scientists are yet to analyze the September quake, or precisely pinpoint the epicenter of the larger of the two August quakes, but they're looking at another region that shows signs of past volcanic activity - Valles Marineris, a massive canyon system that gouges a 4,000 kilometer path across the face of Mars. The center of this system is 9,700 kilometers from InSight.

The two August quakes also delivered different seismic profiles. The 4.2 magnitude quake was slow and low-frequency, and the 4.1 magnitude quake was faster and higher. It was also much closer, a mere 925 kilometers from the lander.

Different seismic profiles can mean different processes at play within Mars, but they also help with the aforementioned Mars interior mapping, since they can help put together a more detailed reconstruction of interior densities.

InSight, the poor little ducky, hasn't exactly been having an easy time of it. First, it had some issues with its burrowing instrument, the Mole, designed to monitor heat flow. The Mole was pronounced dead earlier this year. And, although the lander received a two-year mission extension, it suffered some power issues when its solar panels became coated in dust.

In May of this year, scientists cleverly fixed this by directing InSight to trickle sand next to the solar panels on a windy day. The larger grains hit the panels and bounced off, collecting smaller dust in the process, resulting in a significant power boost. The action was performed several times, restoring the lander's functionality. "If we hadn't acted quickly earlier this year, we might have missed out on some great science," Banerdt said.

Scientists Believe They've Found Physical Evidence For One Of The Most Infamous Biblical Stories

Scientists believe they have found physical evidence that an exploding space rock could have inspired one of the most infamous stories in the Bible, archaeologist Christopher R. Moore wrote, Yahoo News reported.

Scientists may have found proof of an icy space rock hurtling through the atmosphere at about 38,000 mph toward the ancient Biblical city Sodom, now called Tall el-Hammam, roughly 3,600 years ago, Moore wrote. The Bible describes the destruction of an urban center near the Dead Sea, with stones and fire falling from the sky.

The discovery is the result of 15 years' worth of excavation work, Moore wrote. Scientists suspect a firestorm led to the city's destruction due to the presence of a roughly 5-foot-thick jumbled layer of charcoal, ash, melted mudbricks and melted pottery, called a destruction layer. 

The group was able to determine through analysis that the only event that could have raised temperatures enough to melt many of the materials found at the site was a cosmic impact, Moore wrote. Similar evidence was found at other suspected cosmic impacts, such as the crater created by the asteroid that triggered the dinosaur extinction.

Scientists used the Online Impact Calculator, which "allows researchers to estimate the many details of a cosmic impact event, based on known impact events and nuclear detonations," to aid their efforts to learn about the cause.

Scientists estimate the rock exploded about 2.5 miles above ground, creating a blast around 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Moore wrote. Air temperatures would have then skyrocketed to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius), setting the entire city on fire.

A massive shockwave would have followed, moving at roughly 740 mph, faster than any tornado on record, demolishing every building and killing all inhabitants, Moore wrote. There are currently more than 26,000 near-Earth asteroids and one hundred short-period near-Earth comets that could cause a cosmic impact with similar consequences, Moore wrote.

"One will inevitably crash into the Earth," he added. "Millions more remain undetected, and some may be headed toward the Earth now."

Here's what we know about the signal from Proxima Centauri

Proxima Centauri, our Sun's nearest stellar neighbor, lies about 4.25 light-years away.
Proxima Centauri, our Sun's nearest stellar neighbor, lies about 4.25 light-years away.
Parkes radio telescope in Australia have detected a signal of unknown origin coming from the region around Proxima Centauri.
Parkes radio telescope in Australia have detected a signal of unknown origin coming from the region around Proxima Centauri.

An enigmatic radio signal from the direction of Proxima Centauri, the Sun's nearest stellar neighbor, has set the internet ablaze with rumor and speculation. It could turn out to be the real deal - a calling card from another civilization. More likely, it's much ado about nothing.

The discovery was leaked to the British newspaper The Guardian, which reported the story December 18. Researchers subsequently granted interviews to Scientific American and National Geographic. Since then, however, the discovery team has remained tight-lipped about the signal.

A strange signal

The 64-meter Parkes radio telescope in Australia picked up the faint signal in April and May 2019 while observing Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf 4.25 light-years from Earth. Notably, this feeble star has at least two planets, one of which is a super-Earth with at least 1.17 Earth masses that orbits in the star's habitable zone - the region around a star where a planet with the right conditions could host liquid water on its surface.

Astronomers were using Parkes to catch radio emission from powerful flares shooting off the star. But the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project, the world's most advanced SETI endeavor, was piggybacking on the observations to simultaneously search for alien signals.

In late October 2020, Breakthrough Listen intern Shane Smith, an undergraduate at Hillsdale College, found a narrowband transmission at a frequency of 982.002 megahertz - in a portion of the radio spectrum rarely used by human-made transmitters - buried in the data.

Although the press reports are a bit unclear on exactly how and when Parkes detected the signal, it apparently showed up during five 30-minute periods over several days, all while the telescope was pointing directly at Proxima. Notably, when the telescope was turned away from the star, the signal vanished. Ultimately, the signal's origin appears tightly constrained within a 16'-wide circle - roughly half the size of the Full Moon - around Proxima Centauri on the sky.

Breakthrough Listen employs software filters that reject the cacophony of signals originating from Earth or Earth-orbiting satellites to isolate those coming from deep space. But this transmission was unlike anything the project has previously encountered. Team leader Andrew Siemion told Scientific American, "It has some particular properties that caused it to pass many of our checks, and we cannot yet explain it."

Digging deeper

The team has dubbed the signal BLC-1, for Breakthrough Listen Candidate-1. And they are emphasizing the word "candidate." Pete Worden, executive director of Breakthrough Listen's parent organization, Breakthrough Initiatives, told Scientific American that the signal is 99.9 percent likely to be human radio interference. On December 19, he tweeted: "At this point we have some interesting signals we believe are interference but as of yet have not been able to track down the source."

Based on the information that has been made public, the signal was concentrated into an extremely narrow range of frequencies - the hallmark of an artificial signal and distinctly unlike all known natural radio sources. The transmission was apparently monotone, meaning it was not modulated in a manner that conveys more complex information.

Over the course of the observations, it increased in frequency - essentially rising in pitch - by an unspecified amount, suggesting a source moving toward the telescope. "It could be from the orbital motion of a planet, or from a free-floating transmitter, or from a transmitter on a moon," Penn State University astronomer Jason Wright wrote on his blog.

But he quickly added, "The most likely explanation is probably that it is a source on the surface of the earth whose frequency is, for whatever reason, very slowly changing." Astronomers think the fact that the signal is very close to an integer MHz value strongly suggests a human origin, Wright also wrote. After all, why would aliens transmit signals that match such a specific value of a human-derived unit of measurement?

What if?

On the off chance that BLC-1 turns out to be the real deal, it would raise the question of whether humanity should send a reply - something within our current means. Our message could potentially stimulate a response in less than a decade, starting an interstellar dialogue well within the lifetimes of most people alive today. That's an incredibly exciting prospect.

But this possibility also raises concerning questions about our conversation partners: Who are they? What are their motives? Do they pose a threat? Technologically advanced beings at Proxima Centauri could reach Earth in a few decades if they can traverse interstellar space at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. After all, Breakthrough Initiatives is planning just such a venture with its Starshot project, which plans to use a powerful laser to accelerate about a thousand ultra-lightweight, centimeter-sized craft attached to light sails. Such craft can theoretically attain 15 to 20 percent the speed of light, meaning they could reach the Proxima system in 20 to 30 years.

And what would such a nearby alien civilization know about us?

"I find it difficult to believe that a technological civilization on Proxima Centauri would not know about life on Earth," says astrobiologist Jacob Haqq-Misra of the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science. "The only way they would not know is if they are almost exactly at our present-day level of technology, so that we are discovering them the same time they are discovering us. This is generally unlikely, because even a thousand-year difference between our two civilizations - a short time in astronomy - would lead to drastic differences in our detection capabilities."

Next steps

The Breakthrough Listen team is now working on two scientific papers that will report more details on BLC-1. They are also undoubtedly trying to identify all possible sources of terrestrial interference, as well as determine whether the signal repeats by observing again with Parkes and other radio telescopes, or combing through archival data.

At least for now, BLC-1 is the most tantalizing SETI signal since Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope picked up the powerful "Wow!" signal on August 15, 1977. That 72-second narrowband transmission emanated from the direction of Sagittarius. The signal has never repeated, but it also remains unexplained.

If BLC-1 is simply - as is most likely - human interference, then it's no big deal, perhaps just a bit of an embarrassment to whomever leaked the story to The Guardian. But if BLC-1 is a bona fide extraterrestrial signal, it could change the course of world history. An alien radio transmitter just 4.25 light-years from Earth would be a game changer. No doubt this is why the discovery team has gone silent and is working hard to get its analysis right.

Even if BLC-1 turns out to be human radio interference, detailed analysis will help SETI researchers refine their search parameters to make later searches more efficient. "Ultimately, I think we'll be able to convince ourselves that [BLC-1] is interference. But the end result will certainly be that it will make our experiments more powerful in the future," Siemion told.

Stark Differences Between Spacex And Nasa

Garrett Reisman is someone with experience in two radically different space organizations. At NASA, he flew on three space shuttles across two trips to the International Space Station, one in 2008 (where Reisman arrived and returned on different shuttles) and one in 2010. In 2011 he joined SpaceX, where he helped develop the human-carrying Crew Dragon capsule that flew on the Inspiration4 mission.

 Reisman explains that the two organizations are worlds apart when it comes to getting things done - where SpaceX likes to move fast and adjust on the go, NASA is far more cautious in its decision-making. "[At SpaceX] we would make a decision in a single meeting that would take years to reach the same decision point at NASA," he says.

This cultural difference is perhaps best exemplified by Reisman's experience of trying to get a change to the space shuttle. NASA had a shuttle cockpit avionics upgrade program to tweak the vehicle's information displays - but even then, the team was extremely limited. 

Reisman's job was to develop a new way of doing procedures in case of, say, engine failure. These procedures used a physical paper guide, so astronauts had to flick to the correct page, identify the fault, and follow the instructions. His improved method would use a tablet computer hooked up to the vehicle's telemetry string. That way, instead of identifying the fault and flicking to the correct page, the tablet could locate the relevant issue and display the proper instructions.

"That immediately got shot down," he says. "There was no budget to do all the testing, we can't possibly do anything that complicated!" NASA's space shuttle could have done with an upgraded instruction manual.Shutterstock Reisman had another idea. NASA printed the procedure guide in black and white. Could NASA print the manual in color to improve usability? He admitted that NASA might have to buy color printers, but wouldn't it be worth it?

"[They said] 'what if people are colorblind?'," Reisman says. "I'm like, 'well, you test all of us to make sure we're not colorblind as part of the selection criteria.' They're like, 'well, still, we can't do it.'" Reisman ultimately managed to get one change of any substance into the procedure system. A lot of instructions had steps laid out with dashes to delineate the desired value. That could cause problems when the instruction read to "set temperature - 20," as it could read as both 20 and minus 20.

"So I said, 'instead of using a dashed cut, we use an arrow,'" he says. "And they said, 'okay!' That's the one thing I changed!" Reisman once told the story to Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound. Yeager lamented the fact that the astronauts weren't involved enough in the design and operation of hardware.

"I told him this whole story, and he just looked at me, and he said, 'you sorry bastard!'" he says. "It was frustrations like that that helped precipitate the decision to go to SpaceX." "I told him this whole story, and he just looked at me, and he said, 'you sorry bastard!'" he says. "It was frustrations like that that helped precipitate the decision to go to SpaceX."

Spacex And Nasa: Why Is Nasa So Slow?

It's important to note, Reisman explains, that NASA doesn't work this way because it doesn't want to move fast. It's because of two main reasons:

  1. Complicated supply chains: NASA has several contracts, suppliers with subcontractors, and complex supply chains. SpaceX sources more of its components in-house, which means it can make more changes without drawing the ire of third-party suppliers.
  2. Aversion to risk: SpaceX hosted a series of uncrewed flights before moving to the crewed stage. That meant it could test ideas like landing a Falcon 9 booster on a drone ship or returning a Starship to Earth before adding people. NASA did not have the same luxury - the first shuttle launch to space in 1981 sent up two astronauts. While NASA conducted a series of test shuttle launches before the first crewed mission, they did not go as far as space.

SpaceX didn't start out with these benefits, Reisman explains. Instead, CEO Elon Musk initially started by visiting traditional aerospace suppliers for components. Musk took a "first principles" approach and asked why suppliers charged so much for something they could do in-house for a fraction of the cost.

Those cost savings ultimately developed SpaceX's in-house approach, fostering a Silicon Valley-style fast-moving culture to prototyping.

This new approach has ultimately come to benefit NASA, too. The agency employed SpaceX to build the Crew Dragon to send astronauts to and from the ISS. In April 2021, it also announced it would use SpaceX's under-development Starship as a lander for the Artemis crewed lunar missions. As the new era of space travel brings in new companies with new ideas, it could ultimately benefit the entire industry.

Bill Mumy, Angela Cartwright launch new 'Lost in Space' book 

“Lost In Space” cast e (from left): Jonathan Harris as Dr. Zachary Smith, Angela Cartwright as Penny, Mark Goddard as Don West, June Lockhart as Maureen Robinson, Bill Mumy as Will, Guy Williams as Professor John Robinson and Marta Kristen as Judy Robinson. Photo CBS archives
“Lost In Space” cast e (from left): Jonathan Harris as Dr. Zachary Smith, Angela Cartwright as Penny, Mark Goddard as Don West, June Lockhart as Maureen Robinson, Bill Mumy as Will, Guy Williams as Professor John Robinson and Marta Kristen as Judy Robinson. Photo CBS archives

If you were a child growing up during the 1960s and a fan of sci-fi television of the day, the nostalgic value of shows like "Lost in Space" can't be overstated. Cast members Bill Mumy and Angela Cartwright, who played young siblings Will and Judy Robinson, recognize the connection many seniors may have to the series and have updated and expanded their 2015 "Lost (and Found) in Space" book into a new volume, released Sept. 14 (available at NCPBooks.com).

"The new book is now 350 pages and contains over 900 photographs," says Mumy, who played a bright, plucky junior astronaut in the series, from his home in Los Angeles. "The original was largely a scrapbook with a few captions, but this one contains a lot more stories about the show as well as the intertwining lives of Angela and me, who have remained friends for over 50 years. Much of the credit for the expanded book goes to (the late producer, director and screenwriter) Kevin Burns."

Cartwright, the show's genial and imaginative space-teen, says Burns called her after acquiring the CBS photo archives of the show. "We were planning to update the book with maybe 50 additional pages, but it ended up so much more with all these never-before-seen photos," she explains from her Los Angeles art studio. "Bill and I got on the phone and began writing down all the personal memories the photos brought back."

"I was 10 when the show began," Mumy recalls. "Angela and I were at school together for four years, we went through puberty together, we became each other's first loves, traveled the world together, and went on to have our own families. So it's both a book on 'Lost in Space' and our long friendship."

Why the show, and science fiction in general, remains so popular with audiences is no mystery to Mumy. "Sci-fi is just a canvas for the imagination. And because our show had children, kids watching could relate to those characters and go along on the space adventures with us each week."

"Lost in Space" debuted on CBS in 1965. After the three-season show ended in 1968, Mumy and Cartwright continued to act - including cameos in the new Netflix "Lost in Space" reboot series. But both have enjoyed successful careers beyond the screen in other artistic areas. Mumy is a respected musician and singer/songwriter (billmumy.com) while Cartwright is a noted photographer and painter (angelacartwrightstudio.com). However, the pair never distanced themselves from the iconic Irwin Allen series.

"The props, the cast, the stories - I loved every minute working on the show," Mumy recalls. "We've been living through a hard time on this planet lately, so a little nostalgia can take you back to a happy time. 'Lost in Space' even inspired people to go into the space program."

"When we visited NASA to watch the Discovery liftoff, an experience I'll never forget, that's what technicians told us," Cartwright adds. "We just made this little show but it really captured the imagination of the youth of the day. Now, people in their 50s and 60s have introduced it to their children and grandchildren. In 30 or 40 years when we're all no longer around, there will probably be new generations still watching it with fond memories. So we're grateful for the fans and hope the book brings back a snippet of their childhood."

And as the stars aged, so have their fans. "That's a special connection we have with them," Cartwright says. "They've even been very forgiving about my white hair!" Actor-musician Bill Mumy with the newly expanded "Lost (and Found) in Space 2: Blast Off into the Expanded Edition."Courtesy NCP Books

Mumy says the book should delight fans. "We've told our story and told it honestly," he says. "'Lost in Space' just makes people happy."


Many thanks to Peter and the crew at ASTRO ANARCHY Queensland. A New business with the amateur astronomer firmly in mind.  Astro Anarchy has the experience, the stock and the knowledge to set up the first timer, to assist in the development of our hobby for the experienced observer OR cater to any other size need or desire in the field of amateur astronomy. 

ATRO ANARCHY AS OUR SPONSOR: My business partner Peter Davies and I have set up a new Astro Tourism business focusing on the recently 'Dark Sky Town' accredited to Norfolk Island. We call it 'Norfolk Island STARGAZING'. When approached, Pete from Astro Anarchy had no hesitation in organizing and supplying all our Telescopes, Binoculars and associated gear to get started. Nothing was any trouble allowing us more than enough time to set up and become fully operational. He and he and his business come highly recommended for anyone wanting any astronomical gear in Australia.

Web: https://www.astroanarchy.com.au/    Sales: sales@astroanarchy.com.au   Phone: 0412 085 224

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