Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughts on NASA's Lunar Base Proposal

Over this past weekend, the Orlando Sentinel published an article about a proposed NASA space station at the second Earth-Moon Lagrange Point—beyond the Moon, where the Earth’s and the Moon’s gravity cancel out each other, creating a near-stable zone. At about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, such a base would be the farthest a human being has ever ventured from the planet. Whether it serves a practical purpose or is merely just a “make-work” for NASA’s current Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion capsule, however, is up for debate.

Undeniably, there are some advantages of NASA’s lunar ambitions. For instance, the Earth-Moon L2 point enjoys almost complete radio shielding from Earth, making it an ideal location for an astronomical research station—assuming, of course, that NASA does not want to do it with a much cheaper and practical artificial satellite. A more hands-on advantage to humans, on the other hand, would be to test preventive technologies against deep space radiation and studying the effects of long term deep space exposure on humans, which in fact could be considered as a logical step toward a future Mars mission—however small.

Despite some of its merits, however, disadvantages of this plan are also plenty,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Voyager 1!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the twin Voyager spacecrafts that are now approaching the boundaries of interstellar space. Well, yesterday, Voyager 1 turned 35 years old—her big sister, Voyager 2, is actually a couple weeks older. Yet, despite their old age, both spacecrafts are still functioning and sending back data from the farthest place that humanity has ever reached. This is pretty remarkable, reminding me of all the wonders mankind is capable of.

If you have a few minutes, go and learn a little about this marvelous human achievement: