Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NASA Picks New Space Missions for Next Round

Hey Space Placers!

Read about the space missions that were selected by NASA today for further competition.

OK, I confess, Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) is my favorite because:

1. It will help find asteroids that threaten Earth;

2. Dr. Amy Mainzer would be the Principal Investigator of the mission - and I know her:

Greg Redfern & Dr. Amy Mainzer, NASA JPL
She is passionate about asteroids and this mission. NASA would do well to select the mission to protect Earth and learn more about our solar system.

Sky Guy in the possible bull's eye of Hurricane Joaquin

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NASA Announces Liquid Water Found on Mars

Hey Space Placers!

As usual, Google says it all when there is a major space event.

Scroll through the headlines and stories to get the background and latest on NASA's 9/28/15 announcement that "a mystery on Mars had been solved". The mystery being the cause of long, dark streaks found at numerous craters and hills on Mars during certain times - read seasons - on Mars.

Due to the combined work of various NASA spacecraft studying Mars, scientists were able to definitely say that these dark streaks are liquid, but briny (salty) water areas. These are not fast flowing streams but areas where the Martian soil has become wet due to the presence of liquid water.

What makes this announcement so important is that we are now talking about liquid water on PRESENT DAY Mars and not in the distant or geological past.

Of course the presence of liquid water is necessary for life as we know it to exist AND can provide a valuable resource for future astronauts on the Red Planet.

Social Media (SM), especially the Twitterverse was abuzz about what the announcement would be about and some guessed it right about being water related. There were political comments made in the media that tried to align the announcement with "left wing" elements - unreal. Some also had comments about how NASA had characterized this announcement as being "major" when they didn't think it was.

But the Red Planet beckons us to keep observing, learning and sending new missions and one day, ourselves.

Sky Guy in RAIN SOAKED VA with a LOT more to come in the next week!!

PS - Clouded out for the Eclipse but had a GREAT audience at Shenandoah National Park

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT: Rare Harvest-Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse 9/27-28/15

Hey Space Placers!

Shenandoah National Park
Greg Redfern
You have to watch this Sunday's (9-27) rare Harvest-Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse. All of the details are here.

We are probably going to be cloudy here on the East Coast :-(

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis Visits the U.S.

Hey Space Placers!

With Pope Francis visiting the U.S. and his stated stance on climate change, here is a video you should watch.

All living things share this planet and one person's pollution is another's next breath. We have nowhere else to go at present and MUST take steps to preserve our planet's health.

As I have stated many times, the Earth doesn't need humanity, we need the Earth. Humanity cannot continue its present course in population growth, go-go economics and power generation without consequences that could radically change civilization for the worse.

Humanity as a whole must come together to change how we generate power and use our finite resources.

Pope Francis is an inspiration due to his faith, his vision that includes science (he has a Master's degree in chemistry) and most of all, his humanity.

Let's hope that his wisdom will influence members of Congress and others who continue to deny climate change is real and happening now.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Matt Damon - "The Martian" - Talks About NASA's Journey to Mars

Hey Space Placers!

We are at T-10 days until 'The Martian' makes its debut in movie theaters. On October 2nd we will be able to watch what I think will be a space blockbuster movie.

The star of the movie, Matt Damon, plays marooned on Mars NASA astronaut Mark Watney. The film is based on Andy Weir's best selling 2011 novel of the same title and was directed by Ridley Scott.

NASA went all out in supporting the film as it is a good promotion for the agency's "Journey to Mars".

Matt Damon has done a promotional video for NASA's 'Journey to Mars' which is a nice mix of the movie and NASA's efforts to get to Mars. I think that people seeing 'The Martian' will gain an appreciation for the efforts it takes to get to Mars and learn about the Red Planet.

The astronauts aboard the International Space Station got an off planet premiere of the movie as you can see in the 9/20 post by Astronaut Lindgren. ISS is key to going to Mars as we need to learn how to survive and thrive in space for the 500+ day mission to Mars.

Movie night! What a treat to watch while in space and see reflections of our own !

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dark Matter Primer

Hey Space Placers!

A bit under the weather - cough, cough......

Check out this GREAT video on DARK MATTER - a great primer on one of the biggest mysteries in our understanding of the Universe.

Be sure to check out the other videos in this most excellent series by the great people at Keck Observatory.

Sky Guy cough-cough in VA

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Half Way Done on "One Year Mission"

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's "One Year Mission" aboard the International Space Station (ISS) involving Commander Kelly and his one-year crewmate, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, is at the half way point. Click on this link to send your personal best wishes to them - I did.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, September 17, 2015

This Just In....From PLUTO!

Hey Space Placers!

This is the most amazing picture I have ever seen returned from a planetary mission in over 50+ years of watching solar system exploration:

It is a close up from this overall view pic taken by New Horizons spacecraft 15 minutes after closest flyby on July 14, 2015. These latest pics were downloaded from the spacecraft on September 13.

You can see the high peaks of the ice mountains, the insanely smooth (no impact craters) plain and the layers of the atmosphere.

When you look at the other pics there are glaciers, fog in the mountain valleys and a host of other similar arctic-like features we see here on Earth.

The dwarf planet Pluto is way ahed of the 8 regular planets in the unexpected and the incredibly complex.....

Way to go Pluto!

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Latest On NASA's Orion Manned Spacecraft

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's newest manned spacecraft, Orion, is continuing to prepare for missions to the Moon, asteroids and Mars.

NASA completed a key milestone recently that will move Orion closer to its upcoming test flights, EM-1 and EM-2.

NASA/Robert Markowitz
Actual building of the Orion spacecraft for the EM-1 mission has started at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, LA. I visited MAF a year ago and it is quite the facility.

NASA/Radislav Sinyak
Let's hope that Congress funds NASA adequately and that the new president doesn't change the manned space program.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Hey Space Placers!

NASA released news today, 9-15-15 that Enceladus, the big moon of Saturn, has a global ocean.


The announcement comes after years of analysis of data collected by the Cassini spacecraft which has been studying the Saturn system for over 10 years. The active jets contain water vapor, icy particles and simple organic molecules.

Additional study will be forthcoming to determine how the ocean remains liquid.

Enceladus joins Jupiter's moon Europa as having a liquid water ocean.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Clear Night At Shenandoah National Park

Hey Space Placers!

Had the clearest night ever last night in Shenandoah National Park and was able to take a couple of pics I thought you might enjoy. The trees seem to reach all the way to the Milky Way Galaxy.....

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Hey Space Placers!

Check out this newest panoramic view of Mars taken by Curiosity.

Can hardly wait for the vistas we will see in "The Martian" on Oct. 2.

Don't forget, 2 weeks from today is the total lunar eclipse - more on that soon.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ceres Close Up

Hey Space Placers!

I'm back from AK and CA and it is good to be home again! I was without Internet capability for the past 16 days so thanks for being patient.

Ceres' crater Occator shows off its bright spots in this image taken by the Dawn spacecraft and released by NASA today, 9/9/15 - Wow!

The white spots have been a mystery since first discovered by Dawn and continue to intrigue us and mission scientists.


Dawn also photographed in great detail the 4-mile high mountain that astounded us when it was first discovered earlier this year. This is an amazing structure that is not easily explained because of its very existence.


Dawn is settling in to its third mapping cycle and will be accumulating a lot of new data and images. 

Stay tuned for more updates as they come in.

Sky Guy Back in VA