Monday, February 07, 2005

Terraform Mars?

A recent article revisits the notion of terraforming the red planet. The notion of modifying our second closest planetary neighbor is certainly seductive. Atmospheric heat trap techniques offer a relatively cost effective means of accomplishing the task.

The concept raises some thorny ethical questions that must be addressed before we start thinking of Mars as a second Earth. Unlike Venus, which harbors no possibility of life, the Martian environment still holds out the possibility that native organisms continue to exist either on or beneath the surface. Should terraforming be prevented by the possibility of life? If single celled organisms are discovered, does that pose an insurmountable ethical barrier to terraforming?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Space Policy Internship Available

The National Academies Space Studies Board is looking for an undergraduate Summer intern to assist on one or more projects relating to issues of space policy. The deadline for the application is February 18th.

If you have any thoughts of a career in space policy, this is definitely worth considering. It's the sort of thing I wish had been available when I was in college.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Space Agency Heads Meet

The heads of the primary space agencies involved in the construction of the ISS met today in Montreal. They reaffirmed their commitment to station construction but it remained unclear how many shuttle flights would be committed to construction before the spacecraft is retired.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

MD Representative Joins The Hubble Fray

Maryland congressman Steny Hoyer, following the example of Senator Mikulski, has made clear his opposition to the elination of funds for Hubble servicing.

Senator Vows Hubble Fight

In a recent press release from her office, Senator Barbara Mikulski declared that she will lead the fight to restore money dedicated to the Hubble servicing mission.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Commercial Space Conference

The FAA is holding its 8th annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington D.C. on February 10th and 11th. Early registration rates for the conference are in effect through January 28th.

Panel topics include:
X Prize and Beyond
Emergent ELV Technologies
Pencils to Rockets:  Educating Tomorrow’s Engineer
Regulating Outside the Box
Space and Air Traffic Management
Commercial Human Space Flight:  Making It Possible

Friday, January 21, 2005

White House Cancels Hubble Rescue

Recent reports indicate the White House has eliminated funding for a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope from its 2006 budget request and directed NASA to concentrate solely on de-orbiting the craft at the end of its operational life.

Though this might have been anticipated given the stated human exploration priorities, it is nonetheless a great loss for the astronomical sciences given that there will be no comparable visible light instrument available in the forseeable future. The Webb telescope program will not address the same portions of the spectrum and terrestrial based telescopes with adaptive optics are limited to those regions of the sky that have a suitable guide star for calibrating the moment to moment changes necessary for effective operation.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

AAS Endorses NRC Report On Hubble

American Astronomical Society has endorsed the National Research Council Report on "The Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of Hubble Space Telescope", which calls for a servicing mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope using astronauts and the space shuttle instead of a repair mission based upon teleoperation.

Space Agency Heads To Discuss ISS

The top officials for the space agencies of the U.S., Europe, Russia, Canada and Japan, will be meeting in Montreal, Canada on January 26th to discuss matters of cooperation with regard to the International Space Station with particular focus on assembly issues.