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"...all these worlds..." is a blog by David Hitt. It covers space exploration, decent science fiction, humor (by its very nature), and whatever else I happen to find cool. (Formerly "You Must Fight The Bear")

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[::..aerospace events..::]
::Aug. 3::
:: Mercury orbiter "Messenger" launch
::Aug. 3::
:: Expedition 9 EVA
::Aug. 5::
:: Wild Fire Unveiling
::Sept. 8::
:: Genesis solar wind sample return
::Sept. 29::
:: SS1 X Prize Attempt
::Oct. 9::
:: Expedition 10 launch
::Oct. 18::
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::Oct. 19::
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::Dec. 25::
:: Huygens Probe Release
::Dec. 30::
:: Deep Impact launch
::Jan. 14 '05::
:: Huygens descent to Titan
::NET March 6 '05::
:: STS-114 launch
::April '05::
:: ISS Crew Exchange
::NET May '05::
:: STS-121 launch
::August 10 '05::
:: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

[::..release dates..::]
::Aug. 3::
:: The Black Hole SE DVD
::Aug. 13::
:: Alien Vs. Predator M
::Sept. 7::
:: ST: Generations CE DVD
:: Clerks 10th Anniv. DVD
:: Jersey Girl (1st) DVD
::Sept. 10::
:: Enterprise premiere TV
::Sept. 17::
:: Sky Captain... M
::Sept. 21::
:: Star Wars Trilogy DVD
::Sept. 22::
:: Smallville premiere TV
::Nov. 5::
:: The Incredibles M
::Nov. 9::
:: Gone With The Wind DVD
::Nov. 16::
:: Buck Rogers DVD
::Dec. 7::
:: Mary Poppins DVD
::May 19, 2005::
:: Star Wars: Episode III M

[::..space voyagers..::]
As of today, a total of 434 people have flown into space.
Latest: Mike Melvill

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[::..comic books..::]
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[::..comic strips..::]
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[::..Mac stuff..::]
:: Cult of Mac [>]
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[::..other links..::]
:: Engrish.com [>]
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:: Strong Bad e-mail [>]
[::..tutor's kitty kam..::]
Kitty Kam

[::..my profile..::]

Name: David Hitt
About Me: Inspiring the next generation of explorers...
See my complete profile

The opinions expressed on this page are those of the author, and very likely no one else.


:: Saturday, January 31, 2004 ::

ISS Update Rumor 

comsonautIt was reported recently that Expedition 10 commander Leroy Chiao would replace Bill McArthur as commander of Expedition 9, to launch in April. Now, there are unconfirmed reports that the new Expedition 9 crew will be swapped with the new Expedition 10 crew, Gennadi Padalka and Edward "Mike" Fincke. No word on why, though there have been rumors of concern from the RSA about launching an Expedition crew with two members with no long-duration experience.

The Panel 

MoonBush has announced the eight people who will join Pete Aldridge on the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. None of them are names I recognize, and none of them appear to have been involved directly with the space agency (save Aldridge himself, of course). I'm excited about this program, of course, and have high hopes for its success, but I hope this particular step does not end up being more of a stumbling block than a step forward. One can't help but have flashbacks of Space Station Freedom. Still, the CAIB commission last year appeared to be extremely capable, so hopefully Bush's new board will be as well.

Progress Docked 

ISSMichael Foale can breathe again! The Russian Progress cargo ship has successfully docked with the International Space Station.
Among its cargo, by the way, are a pair of research dummies which will be used to study radiation exposure in spaceflight, a key step towards further space exploration.

"One Dozen Wheels On Soil!" 

OpportunityOpportunity has left the lander and is rolling through the Martian dirt!
Next up: inspecting confirmed hematite samples near the lander, which may indicate the past presence of liquid water.
Elsewhere on Mars, Spirit continues to make progress, and is expected tomorrow to be fully functional.

:: Friday, January 30, 2004 ::

Wind Beneath My Wings 

champ"Did you ever know that you're my hero? And everything I would like to be?"

Touring Towards Ecstacy 

SarahSweet, sweet Sarah McLachlan has announced new tour dates! Among her stops, she'll be in Atlanta on Tuesday, July 27, and Nashville the next night (also, New Orleans the night before Atlanta). Nicole and I are currently eyeing the feasability of an Atlanta excursion.

Secret Service Man 

LainAh, what a work of wonder is the Web! Thanks to this fantastic invention, with just one click of the mouse, one can Lain in a compelling work from his college acting career. Don't blink, or you'll miss it.
That said, this piece is completely unrealistic, because it depicts Lain as not liking the idea of a guy dressed up as a Secret Service agent protecting him, when history clearly proves otherwise.

Battlebots On Mars 

Spirit landerHere's a theory I bet you haven't considered. At least, I hope not. 'Cause it's dumb.

Working Too Hard Will Give You A Heart Attack! Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack! 

CathySo, is Cathy getting married? That's what everyone who loves the Cathy comic strip desperately wants to know! And, outside of those three or four people, others are mildly interested. UPI's announced that Irving will propose on Valentine's Day. No word on what the outcome will be.
However, UPI promises the result will be "a comic and societal milestone."
So, what's going to happen?
Well, if she gets married, that could be considered a comic strip milestone, in that it would probably be the first major character marriage in a non-continuity strip. It happens all the time in strips like Doonesbury and For Better Or For Worse, but I don't remember it happening in a "static" strip.
But, a societal milestone? Single Cathy was kind of a societal milestone, in that it was an early strip to depict a woman on her own, showing that she didn't need a man, but could be perfectly succesful on her own leading life as a fat, bland, anxious, often-depressed wreck--a veritable feminist icon.
So, is it a societal milestone for her to get married? It's not like she be the first married female character in comics.
So, here's my guess--and this would be a milestone: Irving's proposal finally provides the impetus for Cathy to come out. I don't think any central characters in mainstream comics are gay, currently. You've got bit players in ensemble strips like Mark Slackmeyer and that guy in FBOFW, but no leads.
When you think about it, all the pieces fit. Maybe there even will be a wedding after all.
(Man, this is way more about Cathy than I ever thought I would write on my blog)

Daily Hatbag 

Hatbag paintingNo Hatbag ran 10 years ago today, 'cause it was Saturday. But, this one ran 7 years ago, so that should be worth something.

Raising Spirits 

SpiritAs early as today, Spirit "will be perfect again," according to the JPL team. Good news, indeed, considering that it was orginally believed it would take weeks to restore functionality, and that it might never be back to spec. Spirit resumed acquiring science data yesterday, using its panoramic camera to focus on two rocks scientists have called Cake and Blanco.
Let me just say, it's an honor and a privilege to be associated with this agency, where saying no one else on Earth can do things NASA does is an understatement.


JAXAApparently inspired by the success of China's Shenzhou V manned spaceflight, Japan is considering developing its own manned space program. Currently, the nation does have astronauts, which have flown for about a decade aboard NASA Shuttles, and has completed an ISS module which is currently at KSC awaiting launch. No time frame has been given, but a new policy is expected to be developed by mid-year.

And So The End Begins 

SoyuzWhen Ken Bowersox, Don Pettit, and Nikolai Budarin launched aboard Endeavour in November 2002, they never would have dreamed that they would be the last ISS Expedition crew to fly to Station aboard the Space Shuttle, but it appears that may be the case. In order to expedite the exploration initiative goal of ISS completion by 2010, all future Expedition crews may fly to Station aboard Soyuz, even after Shuttle returns to flight. While no decision has been made, NASA officials say that removing crew rotation requirements from the Shuttle schedule would make it easier to complete the required construction tasks. No word on how exactly this would be arranged, since NASA is not currently allowed to pay the cash-strapped Russian Space Agency for Soyuz seats.

Hubble Trouble 

HubbleSean O'Keefe announced yesterday that the decision to cancel the Hubble SM4 servicing mission will be reviewed by CAIB head Adm. Gehmen. Contrary to reports that costs, particularly in light of funding realignment under the exploratin initiative, were driving the decision to discontinue Hubble servicing, the primary concern is safety. CAIB requires that NASA conducts on-orbit inspection of orbiters on all future missions. Protocols are being developed to perform these inspections while Shuttle is rendezvoused with Station, but no protocols have been developed for conducting them on non-Station missions. However, with the final Hubble servicing mission cancelled, none would be needed, since all remaining Shuttle missions would be Station missions. Gehmen will evaluate the servicing mission as it relates to CAIB recommendations.

Progress In Space 

ProgressA Russian Progress cargo ship was launched from Baikonur yesterday, and will dock with ISS Saturday around 7:15 a.m. CST. Nothing in the manifest struck me as terribly exciting. The crew will be getting a new flex hose for Destiny's Earthward window to replace the one which caused the leak earlier this month. Also, it amuses me that they're getting "an entire spare Elektron." You'd think they'd try to stay positive.

Early Opportunity 

SpiritThe JPL team is now saying that Opportunity could drive off its lander Saturday night, rather than on Sunday as was previously reported. "It's going to be an easy ride," said mission manager Matt Wallace.

Jason In Space 

foxtrotIf anyone doubts the success of NASA's endeavors to inspire the next generation of explorers, just read this week's Foxtrot strips.

Freelance Jobs 

incrediblesPixar has broken off negotiations to continue its distribution deal with Disney, and is now seeking a new studio partner.

Changing Lanes 

curiousSo, apparently, Beyonce won't be Lois in the Supes movie. No new word on whether Depp will be Luthor.

:: Thursday, January 29, 2004 ::

This Week At NE 

SpiritIn a rare event recently, I have two stories at NASAexplores this week, one about how NASA was able to succesfully land the two rovers on Mars, and the other about research into cellular skeletons.

CEV Update 

spacecraftIn a move that will likely excite confused Trekkies, Peter David, and Scotty in Star Trek V, Sean O'Keefe announced yesterday that NASA will develop Constellation-class spacecraft.

Daily Hatbag 

Hatbag paintingTen years ago today, Hippie and the Black Guy had a big day

Stand-Up Opportunity 

OpportunityOpportunity has begun standing up in preparations for a roll-off from the lander likely Sunday night. Health checks on the rover so far are going well, with the exception of a faulty thermostat, which causes heating units to run during the night.

That's The Spirit! 

SpiritJPL late yesterday released the first photo sent from Spirit on Mars since its problems began last week. The black and white haz-cam photo shows the rover's science arm reaching out to examine a pyramid-shaped rock nicknamed Adirondack. Efforts continue to clear the rover's overloaded flash memory so that it can return to something closer to full functionality.l

Wrong Lane 

curiousSo, according to Ain't It Cool News, the next big screen Lois Lane will be Beyonce Knowles, and Johnny Depp will be playing the other big Double-L (sorry, Lana). Um, suddenly Nic Cage as Superman doesn't seem as colosally bad anymore.
Well, OK, it still does, but these stink pretty bad too.

:: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 ::

Fallen Heroes 

Over the past 18 years, I have often marked the anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger by writing a brief remembrance. Below are a few thougts from this year:


One year ago, the pain was in the past.
One year ago, the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger and her crew on January 28, 1986 was a scar from a wound distant but still remembered, not completely healed.
As I paid tribute a year ago today to those who had given their lives 17 years earlier, I had no idea that just days later, the wound would be re-opened.
That days later, seven more would also make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause to which they dedicated their lives.
The hurt was very different this time. The loss of Challenger was a national tragedy. The loss of Columbia was death in the family. I had not personally met any of the seven men and women who died on February 1, 2003. But I know and have worked with those who did; I have seen the hurt of those who lost friends that day.
And STS-107 may well be the last time I have the luxury of anonymity. When the Shuttle fleet returns to flight, faces familiar to me will fly aboard the next three missions.
We are in the midst of NASA’s darkest week, in the midst of a period of a mere six days filled with too many anniversaries, too many remembrances. Seventeen lives lost in the last 37 years.
On January 27, 1967, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in the Apollo I pad fire during ground tests for their upcoming mission.
On January 28, 1986, Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe were killed during the 51-L mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger when the Shuttle was lost 72 seconds into flight.
On February 1, 2003, Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Dave Brown, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, and Ilan Ramon were killed during the STS-107 mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia when the orbiter disintegrated during re-entry.
Too many anniversaries, too many remembrances. Too close together.
But today, NASA is preparing to remember fallen heroes in a fitting manner. Today, with a plan for the future, NASA is poised to honor their legacy.
Like any good agenda, NASA's plan includes both old business and new business.
Old business like returning the Shuttle fleet to flight.
Old business like an unfinished mission from 18 years ago. Christa McAuliffe lost her life on her way to be the first teacher in space. Soon, her dream will be fulfilled. Eighteen years ago, Barbara Morgan was the backup for Christa, prepared to step in if needed. On STS-118, that time will finally arrive. This time, however, Barbara Morgan is not a “teacher in space.” She is an astronaut—a fully trained, fully prepared member of the corps. Her first flight will be no publicity stunt, but a first step in a new era of inspiring the next generation of explorers. And she will be followed by others—a new group of educator astronauts has already been selected, and will be announced soon along with their fellow members of the astronaut class of 2004.
Old business like the legacy of a mission from one year ago. The STS-107 crew of Columbia lost their lives in pursuit of performing science on the frontier. They carried with them some 80 experiments, seeking in the unique environment of microgravity everything from clues to new cures for diseases to ways to create more efficient engines. Looking in space for new ways to improve life on Earth.
Even as they flew, a better way was already under development. Even before its launch, STS-107 was already likely to be the last of its kind—the last science laboratory mission of the Space Shuttle. Already, that science was being performed aboard the International Space Station, still very much a work in progress. What better way to honor their legacy than to see that work in progress through.
And, then, on to new business.
For the three men who were NASA’s first to give their lives in the cause of space exploration, even the new business would sound much like old business.
Grissom, White, and Chaffee died in preparations for what was to be the next step toward landing a man on the Moon.
Today, NASA is rededicated to that goal.
But, make no mistake, this new initiative is about far more than old business. It is about far more than landing a man on the Moon. It is about exploration; about opening the door into the unknown.
The Apollo program was about a goal to be met—“before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
This new exploration initiative, on the other hand, is about taking first steps—“We do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this: human beings are headed into the cosmos.”
Apollo was finite. Exploration is infinite. New business, indeed.
Three weeks before he was killed in the Apollo I fire, Gus Grissom said, "If we die, do not mourn for us. This is a risky business we're in, and we accept those risks. The space program is too valuable to this country to be halted for too long if a disaster should ever happen."
The same could be said for all who have followed. They knew the risks, and accepted them. They braved the danger, because they felt it was worth it. To honor them, we, as a nation, can do no less. Their legacy is in our hands.
This week, we honor fallen heroes.
But to truly honor them, and their legacy, let us look not only to the past, but also to the future.

:: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 ::

Still, If You're Only Sending One... 

So, it turns out that Bill Clinton sent only two e-mails the entire time he was president--one a test message, and the other to John Glenn in space. And after Al Gore did all that work inventing the internet...

The Undiscovered DVD 

Star Trek VI comes out on DVD today, along with Comic Book: The Movie and The Critic.

Cosby Day 

I can't verify this, but it turns out it's a real shame that I'm not going to be around for Bill Cosby's Huntsville show, because apparently that date marks the first day of National Jello Week.


I'm home sick today, and not feeling all that hot, so forgive the lazy bloggin'.

:: Monday, January 26, 2004 ::

Daily Hatbag 

Hatbag paintingWith the 10th anniversary of Hatbag now behind us, here's where it all began.

Boeing, Boeing 

LanderWhat will the future of space exploration look like? Well, if Boeing has it's way, it could look something like this. This gallery shows artist's concepts of various spacecraft that would be used as part of the new NASA exploration initiative.

Hyper-Time For NASA 

X-43Preparations are being made for a Feb. 21 test of the X-43A "Hyper-X" scramjet test vehicle. "If it works, the X-43A will become the first air-breathing hypersonic vehicle in free flight."
(BTW, starting with this news item, I've added another item in the sidebar to the left with an aerospace calendar, in which I'll be posting upcoming NASA- and space-related events as I hear about them or get around to it.)

Fallen Heroes 

107The next week marks the anniversaries of every American spaceflight tragedy:

  • 37 years ago tomorrow, Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee were killed in the Apollo 1 pad fire during ground tests for their upcoming mission.
  • 18 years ago Wednesday, Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnick, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe were killed during the 51-L mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger when the Shuttle was lost 72 seconds into flight.
  • 1 year ago Sunday, Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Michael Anderson,Dave Brown, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, and Ilan Ramon were killed during the STS-107 mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia when the orbiter disintegrated during re-entry.
    Here are some articles discussing NASA, 1 year after the latest tragedy:
    NASA: One Year After Columbia -- Bush's New Vision Changes Agency's Course Mid-Stream
    O'Keefe: New NASA to be 'Distinctively Different' than Old Agency
    NASA: Shuttle Flights to Look Like Business as Usual
  • Opportunity Update 

    MarsPer CBS News "Space Place":
    ""I will attempt no science analysis because it looks like nothing I've ever seen before in my life," Squyres told flight controllers as the black-and-white navigation camera images flashed on large projection screens.
    ... We had expected to see something that was very flat on a broad scale and that was hilly and hummocky on a finer, more regional scale and that's what we're seeing. That outcrop is just out of this world. I can't wait to get there. I've got nothing else to say. These are fantastic. This is the sweetest spot I've ever seen."

    Spirit Update 

    SpiritPer Spaceflight Now:
    "The group working to unravel the glitch with Spirit and return the rover to action has narrowed the possible cause of its trouble to three potentials, officials said Sunday afternoon.
    "Spirit is still serious but we are moving toward guarded condition now," rover project manager Pete Theisinger said. "I think we got a patient well on the way to recovery."

    Anniversary Celebration 

    MacIf your still in a celebrating frame of mind even though the weekend's over, MacNN has a bunch of links to articles about the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh for your reading pleasure.

    :: Friday, January 23, 2004 ::

    Opportunity Knocks 

    OpportunityWhile the JPL team works to get Spirit roving again, her sister rover, Opportunity, is drawing closer to the Red Planet. Landing will be tomorrow at around 11:05 p.m. CST, and will be televised and Webcast on NASA TV.

    New Poll 

    NewtonIn addition to updating the sidebar today, I finally got around to changing the poll once again. For the old poll, regarding what product people would most like to see Apple create, a new PDA was the big winner, with 54 percent of the vote. OS X for Intel, a video-capable iPod, and an under-$500, stripped-down PC each received 18 percent of the vote.

    Daily Hatbag 

    HATBAGWith tomorrow being the 10th anniversary of Hatbag, what better time to go back and remember how it all came about.

    One Trillion Dollars 

    MoonJames Oberg has yet another excellent article today, this one about the actual cost of the Moon initiative:
    "Bush’s new space plan certainly deserves to be debated. And it won’t be cheap. But any discussions that are based on flawed data and outright fantasies are worthless."

    More Martian Water 

    MarsThe European Mars Express orbiter has confirmed the existence of water ice at the south pole of Mars. It was already known that water ice exists at the north pole, and the south pole had been believed to hold water ice as well, but Mars Express has provided the first confirmation that there "appears to be a vast store of frozen water mostly buried under a blanket of carbon dioxide ice."

    Spirit Update 

    SpiritSpirit has transmitted back "limited data" twice today, for a total of 30 minutes. The JPL team have not had time to completely analyse the data sent back, but have said that it confirms that the rover is in a contingency fault mode. The team is trying to determine whether the problem lies in software, which could be fixed remotely, or hardware, which can't.

    Happy Anniversary, Macintosh! 

    MacThe Macintosh turns 20 tomorrow! To commemorate, Lain sent me this link to the very first Macinoth presss release ever.
    "CUPERTINO, Calif., January 24, 1984--Apple Computer today unveiled its much-anticipated Macintosh computer, a sophisticated, affordably priced personal computer designed for business people, professionals and students in a broad range of fields. Macintosh is available in all dealerships now."

    :: Thursday, January 22, 2004 ::

    Garage Bandolier  

    Movie reelOnce again, in the Fantasy Film League, Bandolier Of Schmutz has pulled out even farther ahead of Automan: The Movie. Be forewarned, though: The comeback starts next week.

    This Week At NE 

    bugThis week at NASAexplores, I've got an article about new cockpit displays that will give pilots weather information. For those that prefer more interesting articles, Maggie's got one about space research on insects.

    "Very Serious Anomaly" 

    Spirit landerNASA has been unable to communicate with Spirit for over 24 hours.
    "Scientists initially thought a storm in Australia was keeping them from sending signals to instruct the Spirit rover to drill into a Mars rock. But on Thursday, the problem appeared to be more serious than a passing storm."

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingHere's another look back at Hatbag history. This piece of artwork is one of the most-viewed things on the site, presumably from people running a search for "Hippie draft" or something similar.

    Suddenly My X-Wing Is Much Less Cool 

    SoloOK, now here's the coolest Star Wars Lego construction ever: Han Solo. In carbonite. Life size. Built from about 10,000 Lego bricks.
    So, here's my idea for saving the Star Wars franchise: This guy and the girl with the X-wing car yesterday should get married. They should have kids. Their kids should direct the sequel trilogy. (Well, that could cause a problem with using the original actors I guess. Maybe we could skip a generation, and they could just get together themselves and make the new films. Because clearly they love Star Wars far, far more than Lucas does).


    NASAJames Oberg has an excellent article about details of NASA's new spaceflight goals that talks about the agency's plan to "refocus" itself.

    X Marks The Spot 

    X PrizeSites in Florida and New Mexico were recently named as finalists for hosting the X Prize Cup, the follow-on games that will see competition between private spacecraft after the orginal X Prize is won. The article notes that the X Prize may be won by this summer (which seems pretty likely). As a reminder, for just $20 you can become an X Prize general member, which means that your name will be flown on the first private spaceflight.

    People Are Morons 

    MoonLet me just say: People are morons.
    And the media does little to help.
    I'm doing my daily space reading, when I see an article posted on, natch, SpaceDaily (though originating from AFP news service) saying that "Three-fifths of Americans oppose Bush's mission to moon, Mars" (possibly because they missed that last comma).
    I'd be curious, though, what they asked, in that the article says "his plan to spend billions of dollars to manned mission to the moon and eventually to Mars drew opposition from 61 percent ..."(sic)
    So does that mean they asked, "Should the president spend billions to send a manned mission to the Moon and Mars?" I would imagine that doing that would give you very different results than asking, "Would you support a 1 percent annual increase in the NASA budget if it would mean sending returning men to the Moon instead of remaining in Earth orbit?"
    I get tired of hearing about how many billions of dollars this project is going to cost absent any sort of context.
    Anyway, on the important bit about people being morons.
    "Some 40 percent they would rather improve education, 27 percent would balance the federal budget, and 13 percent would clean up the environment."
    Let's put this in some perspective here.
    The proposed increase for NASA's budget for next year is $200 million.
    As I stated earlier, this is an increase of a little over 1 percent of NASA's most recent budget of about $15 billion.
    The Department of Education budget passed in August for the current fiscal year is $55.4 billion. The proposed NASA increase is a little over a one-third of one-percent of that. Would that make a big difference in improving education? Well, the Education Department budget in 2001 was $39.9 billion, meaning that it's seen an increase of $15.5 billion in 3 years. Again, let's put that in perspective--In the last 3 years, the federal Education Department has had a budget increase greater than THE ENTIRE NASA BUDGET. And, keep in mind, this is just federal education spending, and that most education spending comes from state and local moneys. So, again, how much improvement of education is another $200 million going to bring about? Greater than the benefits of reinvigorating spaceflight? I'm biased here, but to me, you stand to gain more by showing a new generation of kids that science and math can be cool, by doing something exciting again.
    The federal budget for natural resources and environment is $30.4 billion for FY 2004. The proposed NASA increase would represent two-thirds of 1 percent of this. In comparison, in actuality, environmental funding for FY 2004 is up $1 billion over FY 2003--a 1 year increase equal to the amount Bush is proposing NASA's budget be increased over the next 5 years.
    So the question is not whether federal spending on these areas should increase--it already is. I see no reason why NASA shouldn't be allowed a small increase also.
    Of course, my personal favorite is the 27 percent that would balance the federal budget, which, as we all well know, is only $200 million off, right? That's how the deficit increased by about $216 billion from 2002 to 2003. You could eliminate the entire NASA budget, and it would have left the federal budget for that year another $359 billion shy of being balanced. I also like the version of this that I've seen elsewhere--that instead of giving NASA the increase to go to the Moon, we should use that money to repay the national debt. Even with a balanced budget, repaying the debt with the $200 million the president has proposed to give NASA next year would take over 35,000 years. Now, I realize that the president's proposal would amount to a much greater increase than $200 million over the next 20 years, but even at the real rate, the extra NASA funding wouldn't eliminate the debt in our lifetimes. Or our childrens'. Or our grandchildrens'. Or our great-grandchildrens'. Or our great-great-... well, you get the idea.
    I'm all for more responsible government spending, but looking to change education, the environment, or the federal budget with the extra pocket change being given to NASA is like trying to reroute the Mississippi River by bailing it with a bucket.

    :: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 ::

    Objects In The Mars View Window 

    MarsHere's what Mars looks like from the Opportunity rover spacecraft, which will be landing Saturday night. This simulator constantly updates, so the Red Planet will be getting bigger in the view as Opportunity approaches it.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingRather than posting a strip, here's something a little bit different today. As the 10th anniversary of Hatbag approaches, here's a look back in history.

    The Mississippi Valley State University Of The North 

    SpiritA Harvard instructor is disappointed with technological accomplishments of the Spirit rover, basically because it isn't as cool as stuff he watched in science fiction movies. Apparently, teaching at Harvard makes you an expert in subjects of technology, even if you just teach writing.

    Major Milestone 

    SSMEWhen the Space Shuttle Main Engine has succesfully fired for a total of a million seconds since its creation, the landmark event will occur not in space, but in Mississippi. The SSME will pass the million second mark today during a test firing at Stennis Space Center.

    RTF Update 

    ShuttleIt's too early to tell when the Shuttles will return to flight, according to the Stafford Covey Task Group, which reported yesterday that while substantial progress has been made, there's still a lot left to do before the fleet is ready to fly again.

    Strange New Worlds 

    AdirondackTo be sure, I had hoped that Spirit would quickly confirm that bodies of liquid water had once existed on Mars, and that the research and analysis would go easily for the JPL team. That said, I do find it cool that Mars is turning out to truly be an alien world. With all of our modern understanding, I, and I think others, assumed that we would be able to go there, take samples, apply models from Earth, and figure out easily what's going on. But, it turns out in everything from the "mud" in the rover tracks to the discovery of olivine, Mars is a pretty complicated place.

    The Next Samurai 

    iPodAccording to thie arguement, the iPod is the modern-day equivalent of the samurai sword.

    Drink 'Em Both Down 

    diet cokeHaving apparently misheard the line in the old song about putting the lime in the coconut, they putting the lime in the Coke. Coca-Cola Co. has released a lime-flavored version of Diet Coke, which supposedly is pretty good. I have yet to actually find in, having looked for it a total of one place last night. If anybody tries any, let me know what you think.

    Attention Single Guys! 

    Red 5I don't know if this woman's single, but, man, it could be worth your time to find out.
    Although, that said, I think I would have gone a little lighter on the blast marks. But, that's just me.

    I, Movie 

    iMovieOh, man, this clinches it: We need to make a movie!
    "Tarnation may be the first feature-length film edited entirely on iMovie, and it cost $218.32 in videotape and materials. Despite its low budget, the film has already earned a high profile."

    :: Friday, January 16, 2004 ::

    North Vs. Mars 

    MarsIt's very cold in space, but not was cold as up north. Well, at least not on Mars.

    Gateway To Space 

    Space AdventuresAccording to Cosmic Log, space tourism company Space Adventures is currently in the process of trying to establish a private, suborbital spaceport, and will likely pick a location within the year.

    Bandolier On The Run 

    Movie reelIn the Fantasy Film League, Bandolier Of Schmutz has pulled out even farther ahead of Automan: The Movie.

    I'm Batman? 

    BatmanSo, according to an AICN rumor, Batman may already be on Smallville.

    Lucky Cow 

    lucky cowThis guy needs his own spin-off strip, or possibly animated TV show.

    :: Thursday, January 15, 2004 ::

    The Race, Part II? 

    "MOSCOW, January 15 (Itar-Tass) - Resumption of the Moon and Mars exploration programs is now being discussed in Russia, Rosaviakosmos First Deputy Head Nikolai Moiseyev told Itar-Tass. “A federal space program, covering a period of up to 2015, is to be drawn up before the year is up. The above-said projects may be included in it,” he added."

    The History Of The Future 

    MoonThe writers who last week broke the story about Bush's announcement have published a piece on how exactly the plan came about. Very fascinating reading.

    Trilogy Of Trilogies 

    Star WarsAint It Cool News has a report on the latest rumors about the Star Wars sequel trilogy, reporting that there's some evidence that Lucas is keeping the door open to keep going after Episode III. Now, I love Star Wars as much as the next guy, but I'm kinda torn on this. After the prequel trilogy, I'd really just as soon that he leave well enough alone. On the other hand, if a sequel trilogy were made with the original characters, aged as they have in real life, I might be interested in it. Of course, it could ruin the original trilogy in a way that the prequels failed to but screwing up beloved characters, but, if done right, I could dig it. It's just that "if done right" part that would be the trick.
    So, I open it for discussion--what could Lucas do in a sequel trilogy that would make you want to see it made?

    This Week At NASAexplores 

    Mars menOK, I'm proud. Keep in mind, I had the idea for this story months ago, and finished writing it weeks ago, not even being sure when it was going to run. But, through sheer luck, this week at NE I've got a story about preparing for human exploration of Mars that even mentions using the Moon as a proving ground for the Red Planet. How's that for well-timed?
    Also this week, Maggie's got a story about the Super Guppy cargo plane that can carry around ISS modules in its hold, and a story on "city-swallowing sand dunes," the first story from the office of microgravity, which we recently added as our third sponsor.

    Let The Roving Begin! 

    Spirit's landerThe Spirit rover is now on the surface of Mars! During the night, the rover successfully drove off of its lander, and on the Martian surface, finally getting its wheels dirty. Due to problems retracting the airbags, the rover had to leave the lander via a less-than-optimum route, which the JPL team described as the most dangerous task the rover would have to perform once on the surface.

    Putting A Dent In Casting 

    H2G2According to the BBC, casting has begun for the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" movie.

    Low-Carb News 

    Atkins Latest developments on the low-carb front:

  • Frito-Lay has announced that it will be making low-carb Doritos and Tostitos. Under the names Doritos Edge and Tostitos Edge, the chips will have about six net carbs per serving.
  • Chili's Grill & Bar announced that it's adding a low-carb option on its menu as well. However, most of the menu appears to consist of either existing menu items, such as steak or chicken wings, or slightly modified menu items, such as hamburgers without the buns, or fajitas without the tortillas.
  • Donatos Pizzeria has become the first pizza chain I know of to go low-carb. The chain will start testing next week in limited locations a "NoDough" pizza made with a base of "low-carb soy crumbles." The bad news, though, is that the low-carb pizza still has 14 grams of net carbs per serving.
  • Burger King becomes the latest fast-food joint to go low-carb, if half-heartedly. The chain will sell you a Whopper with no bun for the same price as one with a bun. And, unlike Hardee's, which has the second-laziest low-carb menu, Burger King doesn't even wrap it in lettuce for you, they just drop it in a bowl. The chain is also adding chicken and shrimp salads to its menu relatively soon, and a steak salad a little further down the road.
    Given that tasty low-carb hamburger buns are out there, and would cost less than 60 cents each, it really disappoints me that burger joints that are doing the low-carb thing won't sell them. I'd sooner pay an extra 60 cents for a really good low carb burger than I would pay the same amount for less food. Given that Blimpie's is going the low-carb bread route, I don't see why others can't.
  • Denny's and Holiday Inn are jumping on the low-carb bandwagon, primarily at breakfast, and 7-Eleven will be selling 50 Atkins-branded products.
  • For those in or visiting Huntsville, local restaurant Green Hill's Grille has added a low-carb menu, but no word as to what's on it.

  • :: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 ::

    And So It Begins 

    Earthrise...to worlds beyond...

    Full text of speech is here.

    Quote Of The Day 

    Apple"Apple's market share does provide us with an accurate reading of the percentage of reasonable people in our society."
    --Roger Ebert

    Ad Luna 

    What's So Amazing About Really Deep Impact 

    Deep ImpactIf you haven't signed up to have your name sent to a comet, time is running out. This month is the deadline to have your name included on NASA's Deep Impact space probe, while will collde with a comet in July 2005.

    Ask An Astronaut 

    GrunsfeldThe Ask The White House Forum will be hosting astronaut and NASA Chief Scientist John Grunsfeld for an online Q & A today at 4 p.m. CST to discuss U.S. space policy. You can submit questions now, though that seems kind of silly given that nobody will know exactly what U.S. space policy will be until very shortly before he's supposed to start answering questions.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingHere ya go.
    You know, I mentioned the upcoming Hatbag anniversary, but didn't realize until last night that we began regular publication of Hatbag on the 10th anniversary of the Macintosh. Kinda cool, huh?

    Answered Prayers 

    AppleNearly 7 years ago, Wired Magazine published an article on "101 Ways To Save Apple." This blogger takes a look back at how reality compared to Wired's suggestions.
    For example, Wired's number one suggestion--"Admit it, you're out of the hardware game"--would probably have been a bad idea.

    RTF Update 

    ShuttleAccording to Floriday Today, the late delivery of a new attachment for the Canadarm robot arm means that the Shuttle may not return to flight until November, or possibly next year.

    Hey, Wernher, You Wanna Go To The Moon? 

    von BraunPer The New York Times:
    "The next steps in von Braun's blueprint read like NASA's achievements of the past four decades ... Today, in remarks at NASA headquarters in Washington, President Bush is expected to announce new efforts to complete the last two items on von Braun's list: a permanent Moon base and a mission to Mars."

    Not Bad For A Bean Counter 

    Sean O'KeefePer CNN:
    "As the dust settled on that effort (in 2002), O'Keefe began a series of discussions with people inside the agency to discuss NASA's long-range goals. O'Keefe said he was surprised that the agency had no plans to explore beyond low Earth orbit.
    In separate discussions with President Bush, O'Keefe shared his surprise and began discussing a bolder vision for NASA. The president was immediately supportive, according to O'Keefe.

    Ad Luna 

    Moon"As we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. ... America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow."
    --Commander Gene Cernan, Apollo 17, Taurus-Littrow, 14 December 1972

    Happy Belated Birthday 

    HAL 9000If you believe the novel "2001," the HAL 9000 on Monday turned 7 years old.

    Space Kvetching Daily 

    SpaceDailyIn a shocking turn of events, SpaceDaily, which has been griping forever about the fact that NASA is stuck in LEO is now griping about the prospect of NASA leaving LEO. The site, which has also been highly critical of the Space Shuttle over the past year and has written about the need to replace it, also describes today's announcement as possibly really just "a clever way of announcing plans to phase out the space shuttle." But, my favorite part, is the fear that this announcement will really just be a way for NASA to conquer the Moon!
    "What I'm afraid of is they'll go to the moon, lock everybody else out, and NASA will run the show."

    Nerves Of Copper 

    SpiritIt turns out that Spirit's descent to Mars was probably even more dramatic than planned or previously realized. Flight controllers reconstructing the Martian landing have said that the changes made to compensate for a dust storm meant that, with the parachute open, the craft was still falling substantially faster than a free-falling skydiver on Earth.

    Head For The Hills! 

    MarsAs Spirit is being prepared to drive off of its lander and onto the Martian surface early tomorrow morning, the JPL team has mapped out a plan for the rover's exploration, which would include first visiting a nearby crater, and then heading toward some hills the better part of a mile away. Given the rover specifications, it is unlikely the rover will actually succeed in reaching the hills before its ceases functioning, but it will conduct scientific research while heading in that direction.

    :: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 ::

    A Dingo Ate My Alternate Universe Baby! 

    Trek gameThis new Star Trek: Shattered Universe game looks like it could be kind of cool, if only 'cause I'm a sucker for Sulu continuity stuff. I wish it told a little bit more about what sort of game it is (it sounds possibly like Star Trek-style Wing Commander), but it may be about as close to new classic Trek as we're gonna get anytime soon.

    Hotty Toddy, Mars 

    Mars, againWhen men first walk on Mars, Ole Miss may have helped them get there.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingHere ya go.
    And let me just note that it's now only 11 days until the Hatbag 10th anniversary!

    Here We Are Now, Entertain Us 

    NirvanaIt turns out the early 90s are the new 80s.

    Who Cut The Cheese? 

    CheeseA researcher from the University of Wisconsin has figured out how to slice cheese with a laser in possibly the coolest application of science I've seen lately.

    Ride, Sally Ride 

    Sally RideOn this date 26 years ago, NASA brought in the "Thirty-Five New Guys" to the astronaut corps, the first class selected specifically for the Shuttle era, and the first class to include African-American and female astronauts, including Sally Ride.

    We Choose To Go To The Moon 

    For your reading pleasure:
    ... If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space. ...
    Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. ...
    We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. ...
    We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. ...
    I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold. ...
    Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there.
    Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."

    ISS Licht 

    ISSMove over Atkins. According to the summary for this article, Station Was Losing More Than Two Pounds A Day (unfortunately, that's not the actual headline). Yet another reason to be jealous of the International Space Station.

    Any Interests? 

    YMFTBLet me just say, there is A LOT of news about NASA coming out right now. I get a digest every morning summarizing most of what has been written around the country about the agency and space exploration, and these days it's pretty voluminous. As a result, I'm kind of going with either the biggest highlights, the stuff I find most interesting personally, or the stuff that I want to comment on. However, if anyone has any particular area of interest, I'd be glad to try to accomodate it.

    T -28 Hours 

    Moon14 January 2004
    2 p.m. CST
    The revolution will be televised
    (And Webcast)

    What Spirit Sees 

    360 degrees of MarsWorldVR has created QuicktimeVR versions of the color Spirit panoramas much like the black and white ones I linked to earlier. Very very cool. Check 'em out.

    Divining Spirit 

    marsMore possible evidence of past liquid water from Spirit: Detailed photos show surface features consistent with water-driven erosion. The detail is from Spirit's first 360-degree high-resolution color panorama from Mars.

    Space Chiao 

    ChiaoNASA announced yesterday that Leroy Chiao would replace Bill McArthur as commander of the upcoming Expedition 9 mission, scheduled to launch in April. McArthur is being pulled from the mission as a result of an undisclosed temporary medical condition relating to fitness for long-duration flight (about a year and a half ago, a similar thing occurred with Expedition 6 science officer Don Thomas, who was replaced by Don Pettit shortly before the mission began). In addition to serving on the back-up crew for Expedition 9, Chiao had previously been assigned as commander of Expedition 10.

    What Was The Matrix? 

    Matrix RevolutionsThe final movie in the Matrix series will DVD April 6 in a two-disc set full of the usual Matrix documentaries. Let me just say that if the final package for Matrix Revolutions is as depicted in this picture that it's kind of disappointing (although some would argue that would be pretty appropriate).

    :: Monday, January 12, 2004 ::

    The Year In Preview 

    meatballThe NASA Portal has put together a cool Flash feature showing all of the upcoming missions in 2004.

    Up For AHOF? 

    AHOFAstronauts Dick Covey, Frederick Gregory, Dick Scobee, Kathryn Sullivan, and Norm Thagard will be inducted into the Astronaut Hall Of Fame on May 1 at the Kennedy Space Center. I'm seriously planning on trying to make a trip to KSC later in the year for RTF, but if there were interest in going to this, I might could be talked into it.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingThe racing folks have once again made this strip one of the top ones for the month thus far.

    Ad Luna 

    MoonThere's a whole lot being written about the rumors of a Moon mission announcement being made Wednesday, but due to the phenomenal number of stories with conflicting information, I'm holding off until after the announcement is made to link to any fact-related stories. Pure-conjecture-fueled discussion is always welcome, though, of course.

    High Resolution 

    From NASA Watch:

    Bush on Mars

    ISS Leak Update 

    ISSThe cause of the leak aboard ISS has been apparently found and fixed, allowing everyone to breathe a little more easily.

    Red Rover, Red Rover 

    MarsJPL has announced that Spirit will roll of the lander on Thursday to begin its roving exploration of Mars. The rover is now "standing" on the lander with its wheels extended. The additional delay will give the team time to rehearse the "risky" alternative path Spirit will take to the surface.
    But, without even having left the lander, Spirit has already found possible signs that liquid water once existed at Gusev.

    Mac On Mars 

    SpiritPer MacNN:
    Meanwhile readers note that the Mars Rover uses a variation of PowerPC chips: "The computer in each Mars Exploration Rover runs with a 32-bit Rad 6000 microprocessor, a radiation-hardened version of the PowerPC chip used in some models of Macintosh computers, operating at a speed of 20 million instructions per second."
    MacNN also has a story about the two Mac-friendly apps available from JPL in support of the Rover missions (as well as links to where you can download them). I've been remiss in having not posted them earlier, I've been meaning to put Mars24 on my computer at home, and was going to report on it afterwards, but haven't yet.

    Blimpie Up 

    BlimpieBlimpie has joined the group of restaurants offering a low-carb menu, becoming the first one that I know of to offer sandwiches on low-carb bread, instead of a tortilla wrap (or lettuce, in the case of Hardee's).

    :: Saturday, January 10, 2004 ::


    59.523809523809525% of me is a huge nerd! How about you?

    All These Worlds 

    I'm not saying this is good, I'm just saying it's kind of interesting.

    New Tech, Old Tech 

    What will we need to go back to the Moon and to Mars?

    :: Friday, January 09, 2004 ::

    Ad Luna 

    MoonStart with the original article, co-written by NASA Watch's Keith Cowling, who knows his stuff.
    And Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log is definitely worth reading.
    Here's the story from The Associated Press.
    Here's the Reuters story.
    The grumpy folks at Spacedaily have their own take.
    And, of course, links to several more on NASA Watch.
    And that's just the tip of the iceberg, but it's enough to get started.


    iPod miniHere's a few more details on the Apple-Hewlett-Packard iPod deal.

    :: Thursday, January 08, 2004 ::

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingHere's another one that's been viewed several times this month for no apparent reason. Um, unless I've posted it recently. Which I may have. Oh well.

    Foiled Again 

    foil prankWhen an Olympia, Washington man returned home from an out-of-town trip, he discovered that every single item in his home had been wrapped in aluminum foil by friends whom he had let use the apartment in his absence.
    ""It's also an act of friendship. It took a huge amount of work from a lot of people. This is a labor of love."
    No detail was too small or too time-consuming.
    Trerice and his friends unrolled the toilet paper in the bathroom, enveloped the bath tissue in aluminum foil and rolled it back up again. They covered Kirk's book and compact disc collections but made sure each CD case could open and shut normally.

    Testing Their Metal 

    Mars rocksYay! Yet another benefit of the success of the Spirit mission! It's led to new wacky content on the Mars conspiracy nut Web site, Enterprise Mission! Going through the high-resolution images from Spirt, they've found several "metal-cased objects" and "machinery" littering the Martian surface! Also, Waldo! As they ask, how is NASA going to get out of this one?!
    Apparently, now-extinct Martians used to wander through flat wastelands dropping small parts of machines. Or possibly they were filming the "Look, sir! Droids!" scene in Martian "Star Wars."
    Hopefully, there's plenty more to come.

    Joe Vs. The Martians 

    bloggerThe first new Joe Bloggin' of 2004 is now online! Go check it out, immediately! (I really don't have a good image to go with Joe Bloggin'--I need to come up with something better.)
    The Rebecca blog, on the other hand, still hasn't been updated since well before Halloween.

    This Week At NE 

    airborne internetThis week at NASAexplores, I've got a story about the Airborne Internet. It turns out NASA's working toward a not-too-distant future in which if you want to travel semi-long distances, you just go to your community airport, rent a small plane, and fly yourself there. Pretty cool, huh? To make it work, the agency is developing a communications infrastructure that would get amateur pilots the info they need.
    Also, Maggie's got a story about how astronauts get taller in space due to microgravity exposure.

    ISS Leak Update 

    ISSNASA and Russian space officials have announced that air pressure aboard the International Space Station is stable once again. Even though the leak appears to have stopped, it's worth noting that ISS carries back-up air supplies which would have been capable of maintaining air pressure on Station for several months had it continued.
    In unrelated news, the crew will today use the engines of a docked Russian Progress to move the station into a higher orbit. And here's an interesting stat I hadn't seen before--ISS moves about 660 feet closer to Earth every day.

    Mars Watch 

    Mars WatchSo, it turns out you can buy your very own Mars watch, for a price. Executive Jewelers, which has produced the watches worn by the Mars team which run on a 24 hour 39.5 minute cycle, will sell the watches to the public after all the JPL orders have been filled. The low end of the price range starts at $145.

    Mars Online 

    SpiritIt turns out the Mars landing has generated a lot of internet traffic for NASA, according to Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log (and plenty of other places).
    "Between Saturday and midday Wednesday, the NASA Portal network received 1.3 billion hits from 10.4 million unique users ... the system has pushed out more than 34.8 terabytes of information — that's basically 35 trillion characters' worth. In comparison, the full textual content of the Library of Congress has been estimated at a mere 20 terabytes."
    To put it in context, that a lot more than YMFTB sees on an average day.

    Orbiter With A View 

    MarsNASA has developed a new technique that has allwed the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter to take pictures in which the Mars Pathfinder and Viking 1 landers can be spotted, though don't expect a whole lot of detail.

    That Vision Thing Update 

    MoonThe coming-and-going of the centennial flight anniversary and the shift of focus with all the attention to the Spirit landing has somewhat quieted the rumors that Bush is planning an announcement soon of a new vision for spaceflight, but Space.com has an article discussing the impact that the so-far-succesful Spirit mission will have on public attitude toward such an announcement.
    Also, questions about space policy were raised during White House press conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday, during which Press Secretary Scott McClellan had the following to say:
    "There's no update to what the President has previously said and what I have previously said, that, as you are aware, in the aftermath of the tragic Columbia accident, the President asked -- or directed his administration to review our space policy, and that is where it stands. ... The review has been moving forward, and I have no additional update at this time.
    " I would reiterate that the President is a strong supporter of the exploration of space. And there are many benefits that we have realized from exploring space."

    Martian Soil 

    Mars close-upNeedless to say, the Martian Soil weblog is staying on top of the latest developments relating to the Red Planet.

    Mars Complex 

    MarsHigh-resolution photos have shown that Gusev Crater is apparently a more complex location than previously believed, and has many features that differ greatly from what would be expected from a lakebed.
    Also, the JPL team has said that Spirit may not move off the lander and start roving until next Wednesday.

    Good Of The Mini 

    iPod miniUnsurprisingly, it turns out this blog is not alone in thinking that the iPod mini is just too darned expensive to really be a worthwhile product. Or, more to the point, is priced too closely to the bottom-line iPod. Steve talked a lot at Macworld about how the iPm was aimed at claiming a share of the high end flash player market, but I fear it'll cut into the regular iPod niche more than it will cut into the cheaper market.

    :: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 ::

    Accuarcy In Reporting 

    newsHere's a fine bit of news coverage from Netscape.com. Um... "Contact With Mars Orbiter Lost"? Not according to the story it links to, or any other news site.

    No Match For The Bandolier 

    Movie reelThe first results are in, and, so far, Lain's film "Bandolier of Schmutz" is somehow outgrossing "Automan: The Movie" in the Fantasy Film League, though, to be fair, only on the mighty strength of Viggo Mortensen. Nonetheless, I will prevail.

    Me And A Bot 

    JabberwackyOK, one of my major life's ambitions has been realized. My conversation with the Jabberwacky chatbot has been added to their archive of cool conversations. It's not as funny as some of the others, but it's an honor nonetheless. Plus, I'm helping to promote NASA's Mars missions.

    Toying With Spaceflight 

    Hardee'sJust a reminder--NASA toys are in Hardee's Kids Meals starting today.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingFor some reason, this is one of the most viewed strips for the month so far, but not the others in this little series. Huh.

    Regular Richie Feature 

    YMFTBRecent search strings at hatbag.net:

  • Nintendo Naked
  • hotty toddy definition
  • 65 pound ipod (and I'm proud to say I'm the first site listed if you run this search on Google)
  • A Job for a hippie
  • Bill Cosby Brain Damage
  • Procylon television
  • Spare Time Magazine
  • StarProse Journals
  • comic strips on discrimination
  • guy hippie
  • how to fight a bear instructions
  • lotr-rotk missions
  • m2k4 music nasa
  • matrix deconstruction
  • nude house of wacky people
  • Beagle, RIP? 

    BeagleWhile going on to say that they have not completely given up hope, the ESA announced about 40 minutes ago:
    "I have, I am afraid, to make a sad announcement. Today when we were in conditions we thought were very good to get communications between Mars Express, the mothership, and Beagle 2, the baby, we did not get any content of a signal nor indeed a signal from the surface."

    All These Worlds... 

    EuropaOn this date 394 years ago, Galileo discovered Jovian moons.


    Mars close-upAn interesting juxtaposition of editorials in Washington, D.C. recently.
    First up, in The Washington Post, you have Anne Applebaum:
    "The first color pictures from the NASA space probe expedition to Mars have now been published. They look like -- well, they look like pictures of a lifeless, distant planet. They show blank, empty landscapes."
    "Mars, as a certain pop star once put it, isn't the kind of place where you'd want to raise your kids. Nor is it the kind of place anybody is ever going to visit, as some of the NASA scientists know perfectly well."
    "Worse, there is always the risk that yet another politician will seize on the idea of "sending a man to Mars," or "building a permanent manned station on the moon" as a way of sounding far-sighted or futuristic or even patriotic."

    Then, you have the editorial staff of The Washington Times:
    "Its landing signals the beginning of an exciting three-month period of discovery and may mark the opening of a period of great achievement in space. "
    "The stream of information and amazing images Spirit sends back should not overshadow the feat of engineering that put it there."
    "Those successes demonstrate that despite the manned space program's current doldrums, there are plenty of individuals involved with NASA who are eager and able to rise to the challenges of the final frontier... The names of both craft epitomize the current state of NASA's manned program. The spirit exists to send men to the moon or to Mars. The opportunity awaits. All that is needed is the vision and the plan. "

    Can I Have A Cookie? 

    O'KeefeGot a question you'd like to ask Sean O'Keefe? You can ask it at this site, right now, but you'd better hurry.
    Addendum: The transcript of the session has been posted.

    Hodgkins' Star 

    Solar twinAstrononmers have discovered that a star in the constellation Scorpio about 47.5 light years away is nearly identical to our Sun in temperature, rotation, and age. This was previously suspected, and has led to the star having already made its way into planet hunters' sights, though no planets have yet been detected there.

    ISS Leak Update 

    ISSGround controllers have identitied, but not confirmed a possible cause for the apparent leak on the International Space Station, but say that it doesn't present a real problem at this point.

    Hail Columbia 

    memorial plaqueAmong the payload carried to Mars aboard Spirit is a tribute to the STS-107 crew of Columbia. In addition, O'Keefe has announced that the Spirit landing site will be named the Columbia Memorial Station.

    Stop--Hammer Time 

    1984To mark the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh, Apple has posted a Lucasized version of the original 1984 commercial on their Web site.

    What's In A Name? 

    YMFTBAlright, I need your help. I'm toying once again with the idea of spinning off the spaceflight related part of YMFTB into a seperate blog. But, to do that, I need, of course, a name. Anybody got any good, respectable names for a spaceflight blog? Also, any thoughts on the spin-off plan?

    :: Tuesday, January 06, 2004 ::

    The Color Of Mars 

    Mars close-upSpirit has started sending back color images! There's a whopping 40MB picture of Mars on the JPL site now!
    Addendum: Probably wisely, the 40MB version is now offline, but the 8MB version that's still there should be adequate for most people's needs.
    Addendum: Strike that. Due to demand on NASA's servers, the 8MB version is now also unavailable.


    AppleIn my tribute to Richie, I'm too busy to actually write about Macworld right now, but will give occassional updates as appropriate.
    11:38: G5 XServe announced.
    11:42:30 million songs have been sold on iTMS, WAY more than any competitor. Top spender has spent $29,500 since beginning. "It feels good to get out of that 5 percent (market share), doesn't it?"
    11:49: Pepsi program starts Feb. 1. Kicks off at Super Bowl. 100 million songs given away. 1 in 3 drinks is a winner.
    12:07: Among the cool new titles in iMovie is a new Star Wars-style scrolling title effect.
    12:49: It turns out Elijah Wood really likes iPhoto, but I hope that on his computer, he's got it renamed iFrodo.
    12:52: Sheryl Crow is a big iLife fan, saying that she likes iMusic, iPhoto, iMovie (along with iPod), saying that it makes her life "so much easier," particularly with the addition of the new app, iHavemoresensethantodateKidRock.
    12:55: Big iPod news--new 15 GB $299 iPod, new headphones for $39, and--dundundun--you ready for this? A new ad!
    12:56: iPod has 31 percent of market. 31 percent is high-end flash, 31 percent is low-end flash. The other 7 percent is hard drive players "that we're in the process of eliminating."
    12:57: OK, I think this is going somewhere.
    12:58: The iPodmini--4 G drive, 1,000 songs. $249. "The best $50 bucks you'll ever spend" compared to other flash players. (But wouldn't you rather spend $50 for the low end iPod?--ed.) About size of business card. Uses iPod interface. Buttons in scroll wheel. Supports Firewire and USB2. Comes in colors. Annodized aluminum. Ships next month.

    Leland Melvin--Playing For NASA's Team 

    LelandA 6-minute profile on Astronaut Leland Melvin will air nationally on Inside the NFL's Superbowl show, and will include Leland talking about his NFL and astronaut careers, his work on the NASA Educator Astronaut Program, and the loss of his friends on the Shuttle. It will air on Wednesday, January 28 at 9:00 p.m. CST and will repeat 3 times later that week leading up to the big game.
    For those of you not familiar with the immensely cool Leland Melvin, there's a profile of him written by my coworker JoCasta at NASAexplores.

    Make Your Own Movie 

    Movie reelThe January 2004 season of Fantasy Film League has started, but you can now sign up for the April 2004 season, which will give you plenty of time if you want to participate (hint, hint). If you do, be sure and join the "You Must Fight The Bear" league. It's number 1197, and the password is YMFTB. You'll have to set up your movie, and then join the league.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingHere it is. You know, compared to giants like "Panel Three: They Look At Each Other" and "You Wanna Rephrase That?", "Gee, Nobody Saw This Coming" is probably the most forgotten old Hatbag cliche.

    Mars--In 3D! 

    3D glassesWant to see those cool 3D images from Mars, but somehow threw away the red-blue glasses you got watching Spy Kids 3D? Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log has info on several sites that will send you a "free" pair. In no time at all, Mars will be popping out of your computer screen. (And I do have a pair at home, and some of the images, particularly the Mars Unearthed images are pretty cool indeed.

    ISS Experiences Leak 

    ISSMission Control has detected a slow, steady drop in air pressure aboard the International Space Station, indicating the presence of a small leak. The crew performed a check of valves on the Station yesterday and found nothing amiss. Investigation into the problem will continue today. The drop in pressure was first noticed Jan. 1. Since that time, air pressure on Station has dropped not quite 2 percent. Both members of the Expedition 8 crew are familar with situations like this. Michael Foale was a member of the Mir crew in 1997 when a Progress supply ship collided with that station, casing a leak in the U.S. lab module. As one of the last two men on Mir, Sasha Kaleri was tasked with investigating a leak similar to the one being experienced on ISS.

    So Far, So Good 

    Mars close-upSpirit has received a clean bill of health thus far in another day of instrument check-outs. The JPL team was hoping to start receiving the high-quality color images today, so maybe we'll have something cool to see relatively soon. The team is eagerly anticipating checking out the "Sleepy Hollow" depression as soon as the rover begins roving. Kind of odd to think that they want to go about 40 feet away, and can't do it for another week. Of course, once it starts moving, it's going to set new Mars speed records. If I recall correctly, Spirit can move about as far in a day as Sojourner did in its entire operational life.
    Addendum: According to SpaceDaily, the good pics could still be a week away.

    Then Again, Maybe So 

    AppleAccording to the Wall Street Journal, Apple may indeed announce cheaper iPods today in the Macworld S.F. Keynote, though not as much cheaper as previous rumors had indicated. However, this article was likely written before an announcement yesterday of a new cheaper mini-storage drive, that might be used in iPods closer in price to the $100-$150 rumors.
    Jobs' Keynote will begin at 11 a.m. CST. It's supposed to be Web-streamed, but I'm having trouble finding it. More as it develops.
    Addendum: Possibly here?

    Still Clerkin' 

    Road HouseAccording to NewsAskew, Kevin Smith said that he is planning on releasing the Clerks animated movie straight to video, but is considering having it be the first in a series of such videos released like once a year. A while back, he said that MTV had talked to him about picking up the Clerks cartoon as a series, but that he was waiting to see how the movie did.

    Get Schooled 

    School of RockSchool of Rock hits DVD March 2, with tons of bonus features, though none of which stand out as the sort of really cool extras you would expect on such a disc.
    Lain might be interested in knowing also that following the link above will also take you to details of an upcoming Pink Panther film collection.

    :: Monday, January 05, 2004 ::

    Space Geek Heaven 

    ISSI'm going to talk to Station!
    To culminate what will be the biggest space geek week of my life, days after returning from the Internation Space Station Educators Conference at Johnson Space Center, I'm going to be conducting an interview with Michael Foale about ISS about his long-duration spaceflight experiences.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingFor some reason, this is the most popular strip so far for 2004.

    Mars And Britney 

    BlogdexIt turns out, according to Blogdex, that bloggers, at the moment, are really interested in the Mars landing and Britney Spears.

    The End Of An Era 

    ShaggyI posted on here recently that I wondered what Casey Kasem thought about the changes in music that he's seen during 34 years of hosting the American Top 40 countdown. Well, apparently, he's had enough. Sunday was Kasem's last time hosting the Top 40 countdown. He'll continue hosting two Top 20 shows, however, moving from the now all-encompassing "pop" format to adult contemporary.

    Geaux Tigers 

    LSUIn case Jason's out there, I would just like to say congratulations on LSU beating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and winning the national championship--kinda.

    Paper Spirit 

    paper SpiritWant your very own Mars Spirit rover, but don't have hundreds of millions to spend on it? This Dutch site has a downloadable pattern to build a paper model of the MERs, along with several other U.S. and European (and other) spacecraft.

    Mars Watch 

    MarsAlthough there would be no practical reason for me to have one, I want one of these (like that's a shocking phrase to hear me say). The main scientist for the Mars rover mission has a watch that tells Martian time, taking 39 minutes and 35 seconds to go around twice than a standard Earth-time watch does, so that he can check his watch and know exactly what time it is where Spirit is.

    Out Of The Coma 

    Wild-2Stardust survided its trip through the tail of comet Wild 2. In addition to the particle samples it collected and will return to Earth in 2 years, Stardust took a total of 72 pictures of the comet nucleus, as it came within 143 miles.

    Elsewhere On Mars 

    Mars ExpressThere's still no word from Europe's Beagle 2 Mars lander. If it survived landing, Beagle should know be in Communication Search Mode 2, sending more frequent signals. The next major milestone will be early Wednesday morning, when the ESA Mars Express orbiter passes directly overhead of the landing site at an altitude of only about 315 km, creating what will probably be the greatest opportunity for contact ever.
    Addendum: This very complimentary article from across the pond is also interesting reading.

    The Color Red 

    SpiritMars now has a broadband connection! The Spirit Mars rover has succesfully moved its high-gain antenna, allowing the JPL team to send commands to the rover, and allowing it to send back better information, including color photos, which are to be released later today (possibly around 2 p.m. CST). These IMAX-quality images will be the best pictures ever taken on Mars.
    Also, those of you with red-blue 3D glasses can see Mars in depth thanks to these processed images from Spirit's stereo cameras.

    The Joys Of Mac 

    AppleDoubt that Macs are far more enjoyable to use than PCs? Just look how excited the staff of NASA's JPL is that three-fourths of their laptops are G4 Powerbooks in this photo from Saturday night that was posted at the Mars Rover site.

    :: Sunday, January 04, 2004 ::

    Mars VR 

    More MarsCollectSPACE has posted a Quicktime VR file of Spirit images, which let you pan around to see the landscape surrounding the rover from the initial images. Very cool.

    Kitty, Kitty 

    BritneyIn the third huge news story of the young day, it turns out that Britney Spears apparently got married last night. To Jason Alexander, no less, but not that one. Not that there would have been anything wrong with that.

    Oh, Crap! 

    burgersAfter extensive research, scientists have learned that eating too much makes you fat! What the?! Why couldn't somebody have figured this out years ago? I mean, science of this calibur makes landing on Mars suddenly seem much less impressive.

    'We're Back!' 

    Mars, courtesy of SpiritSpirit is alive and well on the surface of Mars!
    The rover has even begun sending back a first few images from the Red Planet, but keep in mind, you ain't seen nothing yet. These rough postcards don't even begin to compare with what's coming.

    :: Friday, January 02, 2004 ::

    Movie Game--The Next Generation 

    Movie reelIf any of the rest of y'all are interested in this, I've set up a league. It's number 1197, and the password is YMFTB. You'll have to set up your movie, and then join the league. But, you'll have to be pretty crafty if you think you can outgross the upcoming box office juggernaut, "Automan: The Movie."

    Opus Offline 

    OpusI had posted a while back that the site where I was reading Opus online was no longer working, and then posted a back-up location. When I went there today, the back-up location was no longer working. It turns out, as I suspected, that Breathed is having people take down their online archives, apparently to ensure that fewer people read his strip. I can understand why he'd be embarrased by it, but it's kind of a shame. My only option now for reading the thing is to go to the bookstore every Sunday and read an out-of-town paper that runs it, but frankly that's probably more trouble than the strip is worth right now.

    Daily Hatbag 

    Hatbag paintingWelcome to 2004!

    This Week At NE 

    John HerringtonThis week at NASAexplores, we have my profile of astronaut John Herrington, who became the first Native American space traveler during his flight on the STS-113 mission in 2002, during which he performed station-construction EVAs. Also knew this week is instructions to build your own paper model of the ESA's Jules Verne ATV.

    Richie In The News 

    RichieWhen I saw the headline, "Lawsuit Against Popular Video Game Moves," on Yahoo today I just knew that Richie must have convinced his legal masters to file a suit on his behalf demanding that people stop using moves in video games, since he doesn't know any.

    2003 In Space 

    loss of ColumbiaCollectSPACE has posted the top five spaceflight-related events of 2003 voted on by its readers. Coming in at number 4 was an event that I suggested by added to their list of choices, the announcement of the Orbital Space Plane.

    Lost Dog 

    Mars ExpressThe search for answers as to what happened to the European Beagle 2 Mars lander will also intensify this weekend. On Sunday, the Mars Express orbiter will enter a new orbit closer to the surface which will let it get a better view of the area where Beagle was expected to land. Then, on Monday, Beagle should switch into a contingency communications mode, in which it will send signals continuously throughout the day, as opposed to just once or twice a day.

    Ole Miss Got The Blues 

    B.BB.B. King will headline the second annual Blues Today Symposium at Ole Miss on February 26-28 (our anniversary, BTW). The legendary blues musician and Indianola native will perform a concert at 8 p.m. (CST, natch) on Friday, Feb. 27 in the new Ford Center For Performing Arts, during which, one hopes, no children will dance on stage.

    Smells Like Mars Spirit 

    SpiritHoping for better success than that of the European Beagle lander, NASA's JPL is preparing for the landing tomorrow of the Spirit Mars rover, at about 10:35 p.m. CST. If the landing is successful, the first signal from Spirit could be received tomorrow night, however, Earth may not be able to receive a signal until Sunday evening.
    You can follow the status of the mission at JPL's Mars rover homepage

    Spaceflight In A Coma 

    StardustThe Stardust space probe has been in the coma of comet Wild-2 for about 2 days, and will be passing the nucleus of the comet around 1:40 p.m. CST today. During the rendezvous, Stardust will collect samples of comet material, which it will return to Earth in January 2006. The probe is currently 242 million miles from the Earth, or about seven times farther away than Mars was during its perigee last year.
    You can follow the mission at NASA's Stardust home page, which features a countdown clock for the encounter, which is at 5 hours 28 minutes as I write this.

    Rebs Go Bowling 

    Ole MissCotton Bowl. Today. 1 p.m. CST. No. 16 Ole Miss v. No. 21 Oklahoma State. Rebs are 2-point favorites per C-L, for what it's worth.

    It's Not Your Usual Shower--Now It's Even Meteor 

    meteorTo celebrate this week's big space weekend, stay up late Saturday night and check out the Quadrantid meteor shower which will peak beginning at midnight CST for a couple of hours Sunday morning.

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