Monday, December 27, 2010

Spacing out

As the year wraps up, some miscellaneous space news ...

One of the most fascinating results to come from the Apollo program concerned the longstanding puzzle of the origins of Earth's moon. (Our moon is anomalous, most visibly because it is so large compared to the planet it orbits.) The conclusion, based upon rock samples collected on the lunar surface: the moon likely resulted from the cataclysmic collision of a Mars-sized object with the (then very young) Earth.

This year's semi-related news item concerns Phobos, Mars's largest (but still tiny) moon. (The nearby picture is a [color-enhanced] image of Phobos taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.) Phobos likely formed from a smaller impact with Mars itself.

The space-shuttle fleet will be retired in 2011. For the foreseeable future, the US will have to pay the Russians for crew rides to the International Space Station. As disappointing as is that situation (I've commented on it before), at least getting supplies to the International Space Station aboard American spacecraft just became more credible with the successful test flight of Space-X's Dragon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

History sniffing

My concern/dismay(/obsession?) about privacy -- or modern lack thereof -- has been fed again ...

It seems that the websites you visit can access (through your browser) the history of other websites you've visited. The practice is called "history sniffing," and I, for one, find it disturbing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ring(world) around the betrayer

(Updated December 14th)

The release (last October) of Betrayer of Worlds led to several interview requests, which Larry and I divvied up.  For those of you curious about things like how the book came to be written, how we work together, or about Larry's massively award-winning Ringworld -- to which Betrayer (and the rest, so far, of the Fleet of Worlds series) is a prelude -- here are a few items that you may find interesting:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Of cabbages and kings

The time has come, the blogger said, to talk of many things.  You guessed it: another potpourri posting.

JAXA, the Japanese space agency, has lost contact with its Venus Climate Orbiter. Perhaps this is only a temporary setback. JAXA's recent success with an asteroid-sample return mission shows what can be accomplished with perseverance (and a fault tolerant design)(and luck).

(This image, if you wondered, is a radar map of Venus composited from data captured by NASA's Magellan probe). 

But wait, there's (much) more!