Astronomy/Space Exploration

Articles about astronomy and space exploration.

Is NASA really preparing to announce the discovery of life on Mars?

A number of small items from NASA’s public relations efforts have caught my attention in the last several days, and — like pieces of a puzzle — I’m beginning to suspect that they all fit together in a way that points to a major upcoming announcement about Mars. But unfortunately I also suspect that announcement will disappoint those who champion the idea of a Mars that once (or even still today) harbored life.

A Cure for the “Radiation Space Travel Blues”?

Science magazine has just published a peer-reviewed article examining the radioprotective (or anti-radiation) abilities of an emerging class of drugs. [1] This follows the recent announcements that two pharmaceutical/biotech companies have received government funding to further develop their respective anti-radiation drugs. According to the announcements for the research awards, the US Department of Defense is seeking anti-radiation drugs that can be used to treat soldiers who are exposed to radiation. My initial thought with respect to this news, however, is that such anti-radiation drugs also may help solve one of the largest challenges associated with interplanetary travel — in fact, the development of anti-radiation drugs could be as important to human spaceflight as the development of the spacesuit. …

Space and the 2008 Campaign: Obama “Believes in the Final Frontier”

I have been watching the U.S. presidential candidates (in both parties) for statements on their positions and viewpoints regarding space exploration. (See The Candidates’ Stand on Space Exploration — December 31, 2007.) When it comes to space exploration, the topic has rarely come up in the current presidential campaign. Thus I’ve been reporting any written or verbal comments on the topic that I can find, or that come to my attention.

Last Friday, March 7, 2008, Senator Barack Obama added some additional detail to his position. …

The Candidates’ Stand on Space Exploration

The beginning of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Primaries is now only three days away (Iowa on January 3, 2008), yet one topic we have heard almost nothing about is that of space exploration. Based on an extensive content review I have just completed — examining the candidates’ official campaign websites, published speeches and public comments — the topic of space exploration rarely comes up, and it is even more rare for a candidate to have stated any sort of formal position.

Based on campaign websites and published speeches, here are the candidates’ positions and viewpoints on space exploration (listed alphabetically by party) …

Sputnik: It was 50 years ago today.

On October 4, 1957, humans looked skyward and for the first time saw a manmade object orbiting over their heads. A dot of light passing west to east across the night sky, history’s first artificial satellite: Sputnik.*

At the time, much of the world’s reaction seemed political in nature. For Russians, Sputnik evoked a strong streak of pride for what their nation had accomplished. Throughout the United States and Western Europe, the reaction was more one of shock and amazement at how a seemingly third-world agricultural nation had become the first to reach beyond Earth. Yet the true significance of the event was lost for most. …