Saturday, March 15, 2014

Returning without Russia and other space and astronomy news for the Ides of March

I alluded to the current crisis in in the opening to Death and destruction in the Roman world for the Ides of March.*
There is plenty to beware of in the modern world today, beginning with the referendum in Crimea, which will begin while it's still the Ides of March in much of the Western Hemisphere.  I'm sure I'll get to that and other factors leading to and resulting from collapse and decline in future posts.
One of the risks from the tensions over Russia's response to the revolution in the Ukraine and the U.S. reaction to Russia's actions is that Americans and others from NATO countries on the ISS may not have a way home without Russian cooperation.  Discovery News explores the options in Can Astronauts Return to Earth Without Russia?

The crisis in Ukraine is causing some tension between the United States and Russia. If Russia decided that they don't want to bring American astronauts on the International Space Station back to Earth, are they stranded? Trace breaks down a few alternate ways we could bring astronauts back home.
That's not likely, as NASA and Roscosmos will continue to cooperate even when their parent governments are at odds, but it is a possibility worth considering.

Follow over the jump for more of last week's space and astronomy news, including reassuring news on Russo-American cooperation in space.

NASA: FY 2015 Budget briefed on This Week @NASA

NASA's Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal was announced March 4. The $17.5 billion budget supports NASA's new strategic plan to drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics and space exploration. The budget enables NASA to continue fostering growth of a vibrant American commercial space industry, stay on target to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil by 2017, keep utilizing the International Space Station until at least 2024 and carry out even more ambitious missions beyond low-Earth orbit. Also, Budget highlighted at Capitol Hill luncheon, Next ISS crew trains in Russia, Flight test boosters arrive at KSC, Goddard Memorial Symposium and 5 year anniversary of Kepler launch!
Note the "Next ISS crew trains in Russia" segment.  As of right now, the Russians will continue to carry our astronauts to and from the ISS.

Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: A Telescope Bigger than a Galaxy

Astronomers have figured out how to use the gravity of distant galaxies to bend light and magnify images, allowing them to see deeper into the cosmos than ever before.
Speaking of telescopes, University of Texas reports UT Austin to Become Partner in Construction of World’s Largest Telescope.
AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas System Board of Regents Friday authorized UT Austin to spend $50 million in research reserves to participate in building the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be the world’s largest telescope when it’s completed in 2020. The project will give students, researchers and faculty the opportunity to make groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy.

The Giant Magellan Telescope, or GMT, will be built in Chile, in the foothills of the Andes, because the extremely dry climate is optimal for providing the sharpest images.

The telescope’s seven mirrors will comprise about 3,900 square feet, which is about the size of a basketball court. Compared to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the UT Austin’s McDonald Observatory in west Texas, the GMT will have six times the light-gathering power and the ability to produce images 10 times sharper.

The total cost of the telescope is expected to be about $1.05 billion. UT Austin has set a goal to contribute 10 percent of the construction costs, or roughly $100 million.
Now, two guides to the month half past.

JPL/NASA: What's Up for March 2014

Watch starlight get blocked by a passing asteroid, planets march across the sky and a lunar eclipse preview.
Hubble Telescope: Tonight's Sky: March 2014

Backyard stargazers get a monthly guide to the northern hemisphere's skywatching events with "Tonight's Sky." In March, the constellations of spring mark the change of seasons.
That's it for last week's space news.  Time to start collecting this week's.

*I also alluded to another risk, higher oil prices, in Corner station charged into No Man's Land then retreated when I linked to two stories that blamed the jump in crude futures on the current crisis: UPDATE 8-Brent rises by more than $1 ahead of Crimea referendum from Reuters and Oil Futures Rise as U.S.-Russia Talks Break Down from NASDAQ.  This crisis is fraught with all kinds of risks.

No comments:

Post a Comment