|The ISS Colbert Room
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
Suave satirist Stephen Colbert has unexpectedly won NASA's competition to name the new room on the International Space Station (ISS). I think they should let the result stand, but as I'm a loony Firefly fangirl, I would also be happy to see it named Serenity.
Pretty picture alert! Check out images that compare the Sun's surface at solar maximum with solar minimum here. The contrast is truly fantastic.
In marginally more srs science news, NASA is running a competition between various space missions, past and present, in which the public can vote on a regular basis. Round 2 finishes today and the Championships are 6-7 April. At present, Cassini is pitted against Voyagers 1 & 2. I don't hold out much hope that she'll win, but I voted for her anyway because she's my girl. Cast your votes here. I predict the final will be Apollo 11 v Voyagers 1 & 2. I also think Apollo 11 will likely win, just because people are so much more enraptured by manned than unmanned spaceflight. What do you think?
Re: Loony Firefly fangirl: Isn't that the normal way to be? ;-P
(I just started watching all over again, after not since before we went overseas last year. It's kind of worth the wait to rediscover all the awesome)
I think so, yes. I loved being able to share it with the bloke, who hadn't seen it before I made him watch them. :-D
One day, I want our galactic president to give us an address from the historic Colbert Room.
I like the competition. I wonder whether the draw was random or whether they thought about it - seems odd having the two highest-profile planetary missions knock out in the second round*, when other categories are full of missions whose import even a moderate space geek like me can't remember offhand. And actual missions have been left off for some which haven't even been launched yet. I mean, Ares I???!? Orion??!??
Hmm - I'd tend to agree with you about the likely final, but surprising number of people have voted for fairly obscure missions, so maybe all the votes have been cast by scientists, engineers and/or general geeks :)
*but then apparently more people have voted for New Horizons than either of them. Do they know something about Pluto we don't?
If you want to talk obscurity, look at the launch vehicles that have made it to the second round! I was surprised.
I agree that the inclusion of future missions was a questionable decision. Leaving the potential for catastrophic launch failure aside, they haven't actually achieved anything of scientific value yet, other than fueling a lot of raging speculation. Actually, there are entire fields of science that cause me to raise an equally skeptical eyebrow. *cough*astrobiology*cough*
I suspect you're also right that the competition hasn't spread beyond the geek population. For one thing, trying to vote on that many matches means even those with a passing familiarity with the more famous missions have to click on every blurb to find out what the missions they're pitted against are/were doing.
Yes, lots of raging speculation about whether any of them will actually fly (Ares . . . ) Perhaps it's not just geeks, but the engineers who work on these things, because no-one else is going to vote for some of those.
You've used both astrobiology and exobiology in recent posts, one more approvingly than the other - do you count them as different fields?
He said on the Today show the other day that NASA had agreed to let it stand, I don't see why they shouldn't, and in fact now I want the new shrimp discovered off Oz to be named the Colbert as well.
2009-03-24 18:51 (UTC)
My puns, my lovely little puns.
Surely that should be the Fry.
2009-03-25 00:00 (UTC)
Re: My puns, my lovely little puns.
Thanks for the link to the pictures of the sun. I have been wondering about this and trying to find images to compare. I find the solar minimum story compelling. That this cycle is so weak. There are so many reasons that this is one of the more underrated science stories. Those images are great. That's so awesome!
The longest sunspot cycles have been nearly 15 years and we're "only" two and a half years overdue for the usual 11 year cycle, so it's still too early to tell if we're entering another Maunder Minimum. How exciting if we are, though!
How long before the minimum would be indicative of a Maunder Minumum? I am guessing it would have to be at least 4 years. And being that the Maunder Minimum has only happened once in the history of observing the cycles, this could be something else. See I find the whole concept fun. But I'm kind of dumb like that.
I agree with your assessment. Personally, I think I'd choose the Voyagers, because they're still alive and kicking, and more specifically, Voyager 1 is outstanding as true champion, and until we find some drastic technology or spend a lot of money just for a hot-rod mission, will be standing alone as the farthest flung earth-made thing for a long time. Golden records too!
That being said, there's something magical about the manned moon missions, as evidenced by this historic front-page newspaper reprint.
(I have it on the wall in my bathroom)
I like to anthropomorphize the Voyagers sometimes. I bet Voyager 1 is out there thinking, "What, couldn't they afford to knit me a woolly jumper? It's COLD out here, dammit!"
I like to anthropomorphize everything. Makes the world not seem quite so lonely!