Shuttle Geek: The Last Rollout

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Photo: NASA

The last rollout. Space Shuttle Atlantis heads for the launch pad. This will be the last launch of the program.  After this, if an American astronaut needs to get into space, he’ll have to hitch a ride with the Russians.  The USA will not have a manned launch vehicle for many years into the future.  Not the best planning, for a people that went from modified ICBMs to men on the Moon in ten years.

Sometimes you just have to play with the humans

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Harvey Milk Day Commentary

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Here’s the text of my Guest Commentary in the Visalia Times Delta of May 20, 2011.

“My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you.”

Making this statement during public appearances, Harvey Milk was recruiting people to come out of the closet. He felt this action was the most important thing people in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community could do to ensure their civil rights. If more people were aware of the gay associates, friends, family and loved ones around them, it would become impossible for most of them to continue past habits of discrimination.

Sunday, May 22, is the second annual California Harvey Milk Day. It’s a day to remind all Californians of the ability of one person to make a difference.

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Grand Rapids Michigan Sings It

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This is jut way too cool.

The choreography to make this work is incredible.  It looks like one continuous shot.

Lunar Geek: Is the Moon Too Wet?

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Photo art: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Science marches on.  New studies of lunar material might call into question the collision theory of lunar formation.  If a Mars sized object struck the Earth early in it’s history, then today’s Moon might be too wet.

It’s odd to think of the Moon as too wet, or indeed, to think of it as wet at all.  Recent discoveries have indicated there is a lot of water there.  Some very recent work has indicated, however, that the Moon may be too wet!

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My take on the #Republicans right now

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Mars Geek: Spirit Gives Up The Ghost

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Spirit has died.  One of two NASA rovers on Mars, no contact has been made with the plucky little machine since March 2010.  NASA had been hoping that with the return of summer to the region, the amazing little machine would come back to life.  Sadly, it appears that will not happen.

Transmissions to the Martian surface from Earth, and from orbiting relay stations have failed to elicit a response.  Age and the terribly cold Martian winter have finally silenced the science lab on wheels.

The next generation rover, Curiosity, is nearing it’s launch date, and NASA must reconfigure Earth bound transmission arrays, as well as the satellites orbiting Mars, to support the new mission.  Spirit will stand silent sentinel near Gusev crater now, slowly collecting a layer of Mars dust, waiting for the day when humans arrive to reclaim the sturdy little machine designed to operate for 90 days.  Landing January 5, 2004, Spirit studied Mars for 6 years.  Perhaps, someday, we’ll collect up Spirit, and return it home.  An honored spot at the Smithsonian would be appropriate, I think.  It’s certainly earned that distinction.

It’s twin, Opportunity, still roves on the other side of the planet, sending science back to eager researchers on Earth.

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