Well, that time has rolled around again. Here in the US we're gearing
up for the final month before holding our political elections. It has
been exciting to watch all the mud-slinging and thinly-veiled
name-calling go on over the last couple of years. Our TV news companies
are full of it - That last statement is so true on so many levels!
(Grin) Unless this is the first time anyone has mentioned to you that
this is an election year here, you've probably already gotten
more broadcast and online information about the candidates than you
ever wanted to know. I'm not going to insult your intelligence by
adding to that info-flow. I'll content myself with doing my patriotic
duty by asking you to go register to vote, pick a candidate, and go
vote on election day. That's it- just "go out and vote." You can make a
difference, but not if you don't go out and vote.
All right, that's the last I want to say about that subject for another four years.
I want to add my congratulations to SpaceX for getting their latest
rocket up and out into orbital space! Well done! With hard work and
determination like that, SpaceX is bound to be able to make a real
difference in the future of human space exploration. Excitement,
adventure, and really hard work!
China's space program recently marked another milestone; their first
spacewalk. As far as I've been able to find out, everything went off
without a hitch. Mankind now has three space-going nations that have
dared to build a ship and put their people out there above the thin
blue haze of Earth's "security blanket" of atmosphere. Well done,
China! Congratulations! Now, please don't forget that there are human
rights problems and pollution problems that you still need to work on
down here on the ground. Both can be solved, and space exploration can
go on at the same time.
In other news, the Large Hadron Collider went online and Earth wasn't
destroyed. Or maybe it was destroyed, and we were all too wrapped up in
ourselves to have noticed. (Grin) In any case, some of the equipment
broke down and the LHC had to be shut down a little more quickly than
the builders had planned, but the repairs are proceeding and the LHC
will be running again quite soon. After that, I expect Physics to
become even more complicated as more new sub-atomic particles are found
and more clues to the nature of the universe reveal themselves.
Speaking of the universe, I hadn't realized that it might just be
larger than we humans generally think that it is. I was doing some
online reading and came across a paper explaining that, because the
universe went through a period of inflation shortly after the Big Bang,
there could be more of it out beyond the limit that that we can see.
Out past the distance that light has had time to travel, there could be
more stars and galaxies than we can see. It's jut so far away that the
light from those stars hasn't had time to get to us. Inflation
pushed them out further than we humans are old enough to see. As with
most other things in life, time will tell.
In yet other news, part of the main control system on the Hubble Space
Telescope has broken down. From what I've read about it, the Hubble can
still collect data, but at the moment it has no way to send it down to
us. NASA is working on a plan to send up the necessary replacement
parts along with the normal service mission that had already been
scheduled. But to do the job correctly, they'll have to delay the
service mission until the equipment has been made and the astronauts
have had time to practice installing it. They'll have to get more work
done up there than they had planned on doing, but they won't have any
additional time to do it. Everything will have to be planned and
practiced before the mission can proceed. In the meantime, there is a
secondary, or backup, control system that could be activated and used.
But that system has been sitting there for the entire life of the
Hubble, without having been switched on. Who's to say that it hasn't
aged beyond usefulness? NASA is very cautious about activating it. They
don't want things to become worse. In a way, it is a good thing that
the system failed now. If it had failed after the scheduled service
mission had occurred, Hubble would have been well and truly dead until
after the time the Space Shuttle program has been scheduled to end. In
between the last shuttle mission and the first mission by the still
unbuilt replacement spacecraft, there is going to be several years when
the US has no way of putting a crew into space without buying a ride on
Russian launches. And the thing about hitching a ride is that you can't
very well ask the driver to take a little detour just so you can do a
little repair work on your own machine.
Well, I think I've been babbling on quite long enough. It's time for me to shut up and let you get on with your reading.