Thursday, September 28, 2006

---Clinton Says Stuff, Digging for Apollo, Space News Rundown 

Some of the people all of the time....
FOXNews.com - Former President Bill Clinton Defends Handling of Usama bin Laden in Combative FNC Interview
Blessedly-ex-President Clinton had another spell of finger-wagging, which in the past has usually meant that he was counteracting an outbreak of rampant factuality. Hillary later spoke up in his defense, apparently still paying for her Senate seat. Various news sources are still doubtless admiring Clinton’s mastery of the political process.
Secretary of State Rice and Press Secretary Snow responded negatively to the claims presented by Clinton, before the rest of the current Administration evidently decided that the whole mess was a pointless waste of time.

Still digging
FL Today Space: "NASA hopes archives have map to moon"
NASA is still digging around in un-indexed, dusty archives from the Apollo days to find out how the Moon missions worked. It was the last time anybody in charge at the agency had clearly identifiable goals, and generally knew what they were doing.
The current plan is to go back to the Moon in what looks a lot like an enlarged and upgraded version of the Apollo spacecraft, to be called Orion/Ares. This would apparently require the current management to cede their positions of authority to people who can clearly identify goals---other than career prolongation---and who know how to make stuff actually work. Maybe if the manned space program could be put on hold for a few decades, until all those careers run their courses....
Contrary to earlier reports on the FL Today weblog, those original pre-broadcast recordings of the Apollo landings, possibly the most significant events in the history of human exploration, are still unaccounted for:
Florida Today: The Flame Trench: " Apollo 11 tapes still missing"

Considering the enormous volume of paper---drawings, drawing change drawings, defect correction drawings, flight-rated part de-certification and disposal drawings, and so on--- that was generated for the relatively minor SpaceLab projects when I was at (and/or near) JSC, the enormity of the paper mountain range necessary to document and build the parts of the Apollo-Saturn spacecraft and boosters beggars imagination. Worse, “The research has been complicated by the fact that the collection isn't indexed.” Also, the devices necessary to read, enlarge, and print out the contents of the ancient "arpeture cards" (evidently a micro-fiche-like storage medium) apparently no longer exist.

In other space news:
SPACE.com -- Pluto-bound Probe Snaps Photo of Jupiter
New Horizons tested its camera systems by taking a long-range picture of Jupiter.
Cassini sent back some interesting SARS radar images of apparent ethane-methane lakes in Titan’s northern latitudes from its latest flyby of the Saturnian moon:
Cassini-Huygens: Titan: "Shorefront Property, Anyone?" Cassini-Huygens: Titan: "Titan's "Kissing Lakes""
Hypotheses are developing about methane and ethane circulations toward the poles in the gelid atmosphere, reasons the “lakes” are concentrated toward the poles, and the possibility that the lakes are seasonal. Further flybys are planned to test an idea that the lakes could be a manifestation of huge under-“ground” reservoirs of organic liquids. Beyond any question, even now, Titan is a very wierd place.
'Disappearing' lakes may dot Titan - space - 28 September 2006 - New Scientist Space
MER rover “Opportunity” is approaching the half-mile-wide Victoria Crater:
JPL.NASA.GOV:"NASA Mars Rover Arrives at Dramatic Vista on Red Planet"
The crater is much larger and deeper than craters seen with the rovers before. The images show the serrated rim of the crater, with periodic outcroppings of layered rock.
Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Press Release Images: Opportunity
The latest navigation camera shot shows a seemingly gradual opening into the huge, dune-infested bottom of the crater. They named this area of the rim "Duck Bay", which conjures up memories of a certain---extremely unfortunate---real estate development with a similar name which was also on the edge of a very large hole in the ground near where I grew up, albeit some distance from the nearest Dairy Queen. But I digress....
Meanwhile, MRO is due to return its first ultra-high-resolution photo of Mars from its mission orbit tomorrow:
Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | HiRISE camera to take first close-up pictures of Mars


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