Our fear of contaminating the Red Planet with Earth microbes is hampering our search for life there
Ray Bradbury If science fiction is kids' gateway drug to science—and it surely was mine— then Ray Bradbury is a major pusher, in the ranks of H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Philip K.
Once the U.S. regains its ability to send humans into deep space, there's more than one nearby planet for them to explore
Credit: IStockphoto I knew I wasn't like the other kids. Oh sure, I collected baseball cards and model airplanes, but not with the passion that I saved for my real obsession—collecting each and every element of the periodic table.This was just part of my chemical romance, which also involved (but was not limited to): watching phenolphthalein solution in test tubes change color, launching sodium carbonate/acetic acid (vinegar)–powered rockets, generating the sulfurous odor of rotten eggs and making a smoke bomb that accidentally detonated in the basement, and eventually graduating to electrolysis and various combustibles that fortunately resulted only in singed eyebrows, but no loss of digits or eyesight.Outside of explosives, however, lay the Holy Grail—a complete set of the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
Atlantis Launch Notes: July 8, 9:00 P.M.KENNEDY SPACE CENTER—What a day it was. One to which I’ll dedicate lots of long-term memory neurons.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER— Atlantis lifted off Friday at 11:29 A.M. Eastern time after a last-moment hold at 31 seconds on its 33rd and final mission—both for it and NASA's 30-year-old manned space shuttle program, putting on hiatus the era of human access to low Earth orbit on board U.S.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER— Shuttle a Go-Go Atlantis lifted off Friday at 11:26 A.M. Eastern time after a last moment hold at 34 seconds on its 33rd and final mission—both for it and NASA's 30-year-old manned space shuttle program, putting on hiatus the era of human access to low Earth orbit on board U.S.
Atlantis Launch Notes: July 7, 6:00 P.M.KENNEDY SPACE CENTER—At T-11 hours and holding all day (as usual, a planned halt). Just got back from the launch pad—and just in time, seems lightning hit within a third of a mile from the shuttle.
Atlantis Launch Notes: July 7, 9:00 A.M.KENNEDY SPACE CENTER—As of now, NASA's final space shuttle launch is still on for Friday at 11:26 A.M. Eastern time, but a gathering storm bearing down on Florida's Space Coast remains a major concern.While waiting on a go/no-go decision from the mission managers yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a little field trip thrown by the people at SpaceX, the builders of the Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule, slated to carry cargo—and later up to seven crew members—to the International Space Station (ISS).Interviews and tours for the press brought me face to face with the Dragon capsule, which, at least in appearance, recalls both Apollo and the new Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.
Atlantis Launch Notes: July 6, 2:45 P.M.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER--One day, 20 hours to launch on Friday. This may be a last for the shuttle program, but it's a first for me.
This is the third of a three-part series that looks back at the 30-year history of the U.S. space shuttle program. Before the 1986 Challenger disaster made safety paramount and new constraints had been established, the shuttle could carry fueled upper-stage rockets to launch space probes, which embarked for planetary destinations.
If Atlantis were lifting off on any other flight, its space station resupply mission would be considered routine at best, mundane at worst. No doubt, it would be given only cursory coverage by the mainstream media.
This is the second of a three-part series that looks back at the 30-year history of the U.S. space shuttle program. Any summary of the shuttle program cannot go on without mentioning 14 lost astronauts and two doomed vehicles— Challenger on launch in 1986 and Columbia on reentry in 17 years later.
This is the first of a three-part series that looks back at the 30-year tenure of the U.S. space shuttle program. "The orbiter is a completely different vehicle than anything that has ever flown in space.
On Dec. 21, 1968, Apollo 8 was launched on one of the greatest journeys in the history of human exploration.
Imagine If Columbus took only the Santa María, sans lifeboats, 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
When three U.S. astronauts became the first humans to leave Earth's gravity field, some NASA experts gave them a 50-50 chance of making it home alive
The U.S. Navy has successfully shot down NROL 21 (aka USA 193), the crippled and covert National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite. (See SciAm's slide show here.) Whereas skepticism was voiced by some, the mainstream media outside of the science and technology press largely went along with the U.S.
Thanks to insomnia, I have gone where only the most dedicated fans of Star Trek --the Original Series have gone before. It was 3 A.M. and I switched on the TV to somnambulantly wander with my remote through the hazy media netherworld of half hour infomercials, advertisement-pocked B horror flicks and tedious reruns of the Andy Griffith Show .
I am saddened by the news that Don Herbert, aka "Mr. Wizard" died yesterday at the age of 89. His weekly program, on NBC from 1951 to 1965, brought simple science to children—and made it fun.
Good-bye Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., whose resemblance to that other great American satirist, Mark Twain, is almost uncanny. And I believe his literary doppelganger would have enjoyed visiting the Vonnegutian universe populated by Kilgore Trout, Wanda June, Eliot Rosewater, Francine Pefko, Paul Proteus, Billy Pilgrim, Howard Campbell, Jr., the planet Tralfamadore, ice nine, granfalloons, foma, Illium, N.Y., and, of course, the lovely Montana Wildhack.Call him a pessimist, a stoic, or a dark and cranky curmudgeon, Vonnegut, like Twain, supplied what any self-satisfied civilization occasionally needs to keep it honest—a good thwacking from a brilliant satirist.And thwack he did.