Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission (ARRM)

arm-optionb-carrying-asteroidOver the last few years there has been a buzz over at NASA about getting people to Mars. One of the steps in their overall plan is called the Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission (ARRM). This mission looks at a Near Earth Object and shifting it to cislunar space, the space between the Earth and the Moon.

The mission itself is exciting to follow. Moving an object into cislunar space has never been done before. Moving anything inside our solar system hasn’t been done before and NASA has currently set up four companies to work on design studies for the robotic spacecraft. The companies selected are Boeing Phantom Works, Lockhead Martin Space Systems, Orbital ATK, and Space Systems/Loral. These companies are working in the first phase of the project as part of a way to see whether we can create a spacecraft that can do everything that NASA is supposed to demonstrate.

The ARRM has plans to preform a few tasks. The basis of the mission will be to demonstrate a 20-fold increase in deep space solar-electric propulsion and be able to move large payloads. The ARRM will also move a boulder up to 20 tons and redirect it an orbit around the moon that we can send crews to at a later time. Upon sending a crew, the ARRM will also work as part of an integrated team to show the viability of crewed and robotic operations in deep space.

It’s an exciting time for space exploration as we will be able to witness things happen for the first time in the next few decades. There have been a few things that have happened in the last few decades with the use of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, however, no time has felt as exciting to me as it is now. It feels like a sort of science fiction as we see steps, not only from NASA but from some commercial companies, that push the human race towards another planet.

What missions are you excited for? What do you think about the Journey to Mars? Do you think we spend too much money on space funding and should redirect it somewhere else? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Credit due to NASA for information in this article.

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Happy 10th Birthday New Horizons!

Happy 10th Birthday New Horizons!

Last summer I spent a lot of time writing about the New Horizons mission. It was awe inspiring to be a part of the first mission ever to the celestial body of Pluto. Well to be apart of it from the public’s point of view. I sat at my desk on the morning of the flyby, watching the NASA Eyes app and looking at a real time computer generated image of the flyby. That’s as good as we got as the probe was doing all it’s scientific work during the flyby.

It’s crazy to think that something that reached it’s target this previous summer could already be ten years old.

New Horizons
Artist concept of the Pluto Flyby. Credit NASA/JHU APL/SwR/Steve Gribben

Spotting the former planet Pluto wasn’t the only new thing that occurred on the mission. Everything about this mission was record setting from the get go. During lift off, there was a third stage specially built by Boeing for this mission that allowed the probe to leave Earth at a speed of more then 36,000 miles per hour, becoming the fastest departure of any spacecraft yet. As if this wasn’t fast enough, 13 months later the mission tested it’s equipment and did a gravity assist around Jupiter that increased the speed by another 9,000 miles per hour.

In January of 2015, distant images of the Pluto System started coming back in. These blurry images were used to make sure the probe was on track and that it wouldn’t run into anything along the way. A small fragment of space dust can make a big problem when traveling at 45,000 miles an hour.

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Image credited to NASA

On July 14th, 2015, New Horizons flew by the dwarf planet of Pluto, marking the end of a 50 year mission by NASA to visit every planet in our solar system. Now to be fair, when New Horizon’s launched nine years earlier, Pluto was still a planet. New Horizons has sent back images of soemething that was unknown close up to us just a few years ago. To this day as it flies towards its new destination, images are still being sent across the vastness of space to enthrall the coming generations. Who knows when we will be able to send a probe to the outer reaches of the solar system again, but I know I will remember everything I was doing on that July morning, watching NASA TV and the NASA Eyes app and seeing the excitement from the team when New Horizons flew past Pluto.

Spending Time in the Chair

Chair

Writing is not the typical career for a lot of people. Most everyone thinks that they can write a novel or a short story, however when you dig down into what makes those books on the shelves that we all love great, it’s a very complicated process. At least that is something that I have found out over my few years of trying to put something on the page.

I didn’t spend much time in an English class that focused on the grammatical aspects of writing. Most of the English I had in high school and college was of the literature variety. Reading is a great past time, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t the only source for figuring out what you need to make a story work. I’ve spent the last few years following blogs of authors that seem to know what’s going on. I’ve gotten a few craft books to try and help me figure out this whole writing thing because being published is probably the biggest dream that I have.

However there is a little thing that I have seen every author talk about that is probably the hardest part of them all and the sad thing is that it is really the easiest part. Putting your butt in the chair and actually writing. Pretty easy concept or so it would seem. However, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

This is probably my biggest falter on the path of getting published. I haven’t spent the time in the chair. After working a full time job and then doing all the things that we do at home, I find myself not spending anytime writing. And I know that there is definitely time during the day that I have to spare, yet I don’t get my butt in that chair and write. My discipline has been lacking and I plan to put a stop to that today.

My wife has always been behind me. I know my daughter would probably love and enjoy the stories that I have floating around in my head. The problem has been me. And I’m here to nip that problem in the bud. I am going to start to put a bigger emphasis on my writing. I am going to start to spend some of that free time working on the stories that I want to publish.

What things do you find yourself doing instead of your passion? How do you get around these issues?

I love to hear from you!

What’s that? A post?

Well guys, as you can tell I haven’t really been around here in the last few months. I was going strong there for awhile and then everything just sort of dropped off the map for me blog wise. I didn’t complete Camp NANO this year, I didn’t even get close.

I do have intentions of getting this blog working in my favor, but so far, I have failed miserably over it’s existence. However, there is always time.

I believe that I have always tried to push myself to get as many posts out as possible, which then gets me burnt out on looking for new topics and then I stop posting altogether. Well, I’m going to change all that. I will just be posting once or twice a week. This should allow me to not worry about a new topic everyday and slow down burnout.

Well for now, that’s all I have but I will be seeing you guys more often in the future. If you have something that you want to talk about on here, feel free to drop me a comment and I can do a little research and post on a topic of your choosing.

Pluto: Will you be watching?

New Horizons

If you follow my Facebook and this blog, you’ve heard a little bit about the New Horizon’s mission to Pluto. This first of its kind mission will who us close up photos of the dwarf planet Pluto for the first time in human history. The science and knowledge that we will gain will be astronomical to our understanding of the solar system.

But how many people will really see or even care about what is taking place? I’m sure for a lot of people it will pass them right by. Just a foot note in a day full of crappy entertainment news and who is dating who articles. When did we turn away from human achievement?

In the 1960’s the entire country was focused on the moon. The space program was in it’s hay day as people were watching as we tried to get to the moon before the Russians. Numerous scientific achievements came out of this time. Heck some of the products that we use on a daily basis came out of the space race. But the country had a goal when it came to space and everyone was supporting it’s mission.

Today those ideas have changed. NASA has grand plans for the continuation of the human race searching the stars, but because of politics and government budget control, they have limited capability to get things done. Space just doesn’t bring in the ratings it used to. If our missions were a little more popular in the public eye, then maybe the people wouldn’t see the money that NASA gets as a waste.

The Space Program is a must have for our country. I know there hasn’t been any talk about it going away or anything, but the things that we can learn by sending out probes and even manned missions to other worlds, far surpasses some of the crap that we currently spend money on.

So I urge you, (I’m sure most my followers already do check, but for new visitors) take some time out of your day and read up on what the New Horizon’s spacecraft is doing. This is human achievement at its finest. The team has been waiting for nine years to complete their mission.

So what do you think? I love hearing from you!

Camp NanoWriMo 2015

Camp Logo

NanoWriMo – The time of year where authors break down in tears and families go starving as you try to get in one more page. Wait a second, this is July not November. What in the heck are we talking about National November Write Month?

Well we are talking about it here today because today is July 1st, the beginning of Camp NanoWriMo, the summer edition. I have been a part of the November full on 50K version for two years now (so far not a winner) and this year I am going to partake in the July version that is taking place now. I have a short story, well more of a novella in a new full on setting that I want to get up and running and I’m using Camp NanoWriMo to get my butt in the seat and get those words a flowing.

CampNanoWriMo follows the same rules as NanoWriMo except for one simple thing. There is no 50,000 word count for the month. They welcome any word count that you can put in between 10,000 and 1.000.000. My novella I have clocked in at 35,000 words for the month. I started this evening and am a little behind but that was from the busy night. I plan on catching up tomorrow.

35,000 words, seems like such a huge feat. but when you get going, the words come fly right off your fingers and can make the 35,000 seem like a small amount. Well, I’m guessing at that as I’ve never made it that far yet, but talk to me on July 31st, and hopefully I can tell you. The biggest part for me is to ensure that I can keep going, keep pushing that word count everyday.

There will be days after this camp that I can look back and edit my work, thinking “What in the world was I thinking here?” “What type of person would type such drivel?” But those days are in the future. I have created a spreadsheet so that I can keep track of my word counts on a daily basis and if I can find my old counter, I will update the site with a counter along the side so that you guys can follow along to and hopefully cheer me on (or throw tomatoes, whichever works best for you :-P)

What things do you guys do to push your limits? Do you do very much to get yourself out of your comfort zone? What new things can you learn about yourself from such activities?

I love hearing from you!

Rosetta Gets an Extended Mission

Rosetta Approaching Comet - Copyright Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
Rosetta Approaching Comet – Copyright Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

We’ve been watching the Rosetta mission with awe. Rosetta brought us our first contact and close up views of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta set a monumental standard because humans had never had close up views of a comet and we could study the images to learn more about the universe and its creation.

The ESA wasn’t going to stop there though, the Rosetta probe held the lander Philae. The lander was going to be dropped onto the comet and move around, studying Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from the ground. The mission hit a snag when the Philae lander bounced a few more times then anticipated and came to rest in the shadow of a cliff. Because of it’s lack of sunlight, the Philae lander died after it’s batteries expired.

Rosetta has been orbiting the comet ever since, sending back images to study. A surprise came recently as the Philae lander was able to get some sunlight and turn back on, sending signals back to Earth. As exciting as that is, the Rosetta mission was scheduled to be ended in December of 2015.

However, the ESA has decided to extend the life of the mission for another nine months. During this time, the ESA is going to try some harder experiments by flying the probe closer to the surface, hoping at some point to catch the Philae lander that is on the surface. One of these flights will be on the night side of the comet, hoping to observe the plasma, dust, and gas interactions that happen in that region and to collect some dust for study by the probe.

In one last hurrah for the probe, the ESA is going to set the Rosetta lander down on the comet. It will take three months in a slower orbit for the lander to get to the end of its flight and land on the surface.