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Holger Isenberg
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Today's National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 sends promising statements and sets remarkable clear goals about the future of NASA! Some extracts:

Congress finds that [...] extending ISS beyond 2020 to 2024 or 2028 will have significant negative impacts on the schedule of crewed missions to Mars, without significant increases in funding.

In order to achieve the goal of successfully conducting a crewed mission to the surface of Mars, the President may invite the United States partners in the ISS program and other nations, as appropriate, to participate in an international initiative under the leadership of the United States.

Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report addressing th ability of Orion to meet the needs and the minimum capability requirements described in section 303(b)(3) of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The report shall detail [...] the expected date that Orion, integrated with a vehicle other than the Space launch System, could be available to transport crew and cargo to the ISS.

The Committee on Human Spaceflight affirmed that Mars is the appropriate long-term goal for the human space flight program.

The human exploration roadmap shall include an integrated set of exploration science, and other goals and objectes of a United States human space exploration program to achieve the long-term goal of human missions near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s.

The Administrator shall submit to the appropriate committee of Congress an initial human exploration roadmap, including a critical decision plan, before December 1, 2017.

It is the sense of Congress that the technological and scientific goals of the Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission have not been demonstrated to Congress to be commensurate with the cost; and alternative missions may provide a more cost effective and scientifically beneficial means to demonstrate the technologies needed for a human mission to Mars that would otherwise be demonstrated by the Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission.

Not later than 120 days of the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall contract with an independent, non-governmental systems engineering and technical assistance organization to study a Mars human space flight mission to be launched in 2033.

The study shall include a technical development, test, fielding, and operations plan using the Space Launch System, Orion, and other systems to successfully launch such a Mars human space flight mission by 2033.

It is the sense of Congress that the Mars 2020 mission, to develop a Mars rover and to enable the return of sample to Earth, should remain a priority for NASA.

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At 14ft height this is the largest solid state driven Tesla Coil! Seen Dec 1 2016 at the San Francisco Exploratorium After Dark First Thursday. The Coup de Foudre project.

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A fortuitous finding by Spirit Rover, who wasn't equipped with any dedicated life detection instrument! Having a good color camera working in the visual light spectrum was the key!

Original article in Nature:

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Definitely worth a visit when the Kubrick exhibition makes a stop near your city! I enjoyed it here in San Francisco today!
5 Photos - View album

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Der ESA Trace Gas Orbiter hat erfolgreich den Mars-Orbit erreicht! Neben den Instrumenten zur Analyse der Atmosphäre und Wassereisvorkommen unter der Oberfläche dient er zukünftig als Relay-Station zur Datenübertragung. Damit ist ein wichtiger Schritt zur Landung des ExoMars-Rovers getan, die für 2021 geplant ist.

Zur Geschichte der Entwicklung des Orbiters und Landers sind Bernd Leitenbergers Artikel empfehlenswert:


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Live Video stream from the Mars Society Convention:

The plenary presentations and debates are shown. Especially the debates tonight should be interesting!


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I hope he meditates or something.

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk
- Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation. Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years.
- Important to note that this happened during a routine filling operation. Engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source.
- Support & advice from @NASA, @FAA, @AFPAA& others much appreciated. Please email any recordings of the event to
- Particularly trying to understand the quieter bang sound a few seconds before the fireball goes off. May come from rocket or something else.

Lewis Chandler ‏@LewisChandlerDN 3h3 hours ago
@elonmusk aliens dude. Aliens

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk
@LewisChandlerDN nope, it wasn't me

AJ ‏@ashwin7002
@elonmusk @NASA @faa @AFPAA there are some videos on YouTube claiming something hit the rocket. Any reality there?

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk
@ashwin7002 @NASA @faa @AFPAA We have not ruled that out.

Will get back to Autopilot update blog tomorrow.

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Checkout this amazing ‪#‎APOD‬ picture of dark dunes on ‪#‎Mars‬ -

Image credit: +NASA  +Jet Propulsion Laboratory- Caltech, Malin Space Science Systems

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My 2003 article about re-calculating the geographical centre of all land surfaces on Earth made the local news in a Turkish provincial capital which is located closest to the calculated center point! Thanks to +Çağrıhan Ceylan from Istanbul who pointed that out to me this week as I cannot read Turkish and wouldn't heard about the story otherwise!

I'm surprised to see, how this pure mathematical curiosity now stimulates discussions about possibly boosting the local economy! Debates are starting about revising the regional airport to make it more inviting for increasing numbers of tourists. If someone thinks about "Earth Center Airport" as name, though strictly mathematical correct, I'm not sure if it might be seen as too overbearing.

Some thousands of years ago, when the famous Hittites set their mark in history by founding one of Earth largest metropole of that time there, Hattusa, this region played an important role in politics and trade.

The calculation itself is applying some numerical calculations in spherical trigonometry, mainly summarizing great-circle distances. Depending on the used digital map data and the simplification of the actual three-dimensional irregular shape of the Earth globe, the result varies. The simple calculation described in my article only uses a sphere as approximation of the Earth globe. More precision could be achieved using the WGS84 geoid or modern even more precise geoid shapes.

Another simplification my 2003 calculation made, is the contour of Antarctic. By that I don't just mean the differences in outline wether the shape of the ice sheet or the hidden solid land surface below is used. The problem therein is that both interlocks. If all ice was removed, the land surface below would rise between 500m to 1km as soon as the isostatic depression by the weight of the ice is removed. So deciding which shape of Antarctica to use for the calculation poses a difficult question.

2003 article:

related Wikipedia article:

local news articles via Google translate:

local news articles:
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