Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

FIVE YEARS ON MARS Sunday, November 2 @8PM ET/PT

Received an e-mail from Minjae Ormes (see below) with info on upcoming National Geographic Channel programs she thought you folks might be interested in.

Nice to see the Lunar programs starting to be mentioned as well as the very successful Mars missions.

If you watch the programs, let me know what you think.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
Hello Mr. Kellogg -

My name is Minjae Ormes and I am working with National Geographic Channel to promote their programs and interactive features online. I came upon your writings on To the Moon, Mars, and Beyond while researching folks in the science community who might be interested in some of our upcoming programs, and wanted to reach out to you.

The following are three programs that I thought might be of interest to you and your readers. I would be happy to send you additional information if you are interested, including some photos/videos:

Sunday, November 2 @8PM ET/PT*

National Geographic Channel talks to the scientists behind NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, about the legendary feats and obstacles the Rovers have overcome.

Sunday, November 2 @10PM ET/PT*

National Geographic Channel takes you behind-the-scenes at the California-based Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, where new techniques and remarkable technologies are being put in place to find the real E.T.

*DIRECT FROM THE MOON (Part of the Expedition Week, November 16 – 23)
*Monday, November 17 @9PM ET/PT

Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin enthralled the nation when they became the first men to land on the moon. Nearly 40 years later, lunar exploration has returned to the headlines as scientists are uncovering a treasure trove of information from the moon about the birth of our solar system. Now, high-definition video of the moon's surface is being beamed directly back from just above the moon, unveiling the astonishing lunar terrain in spectacular detail thanks to Kaguya, a Japanese lunar orbiter launched in September 2007. Custom-built to map the lunar surface and measure the moon's magnetic and gravitational fields, Kaguya will also allow scientists to perform pioneering analysis, setting the groundwork for future missions to the moon and a prolonged lunar base. We also hear directly from Aldrin as he watches breathtaking images of the moon's craters, haunting plains and an actual "full Earth-rise." Then, NASA scientists discuss the challenges involved and innovations under way for establishing a lunar outpost. *Direct from the Moon* features images so powerful, some scientists claim they will inspire the next generation of lunar exploration.

Also, below is the full press release for *Five Years on Mars* and *Calling All Aliens*. Please let me know if you would like more information on any or all of these programs.

Thank you in advance for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!



Minjae Ormes l Digital Consultant
[e] [c] 917.539.7646




*Like Pixar's /Wall-E/, Join the Adventures of Spirit & Opportunity*

*Two Robotic Rovers Making History While Exploring the Surface of Mars, *

*And Then Join the Out-of-This-World Quest to Make Contact with ET*

* *

Five Years on Mars * Premieres Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 8 PM ET/PT*

Calling All Aliens * Premieres Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 10 PM ET/PT***

(*WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCTOBER 22, 2008*) This November, let the National Geographic Channel take you on two real Space Age adventures — to the Red Planet and beyond!

It could be the basis for a sequel to the Pixar sci-fi movie Wall-E, except this is the real-life odyssey of two robots. On Sunday, November 2, 2008, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, NGC brings the adventures of solar-powered robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity to the screen in *Five Years on Mars*, a vivid high-definition visualization of their parallel missions on either side of the Red Planet. Using photo-realistic animation based on the actual landscape as captured by the rovers' cameras, the one-hour special dramatizes the trials and tribulations of these intrepid explorers while highlighting new scientific information on the planet's geology and water history.

Launched in 2003, Spirit and Opportunity were originally expected to collect data over 90 Martian days, called "sols." What began as a short-term science mission looking for evidence of ancient water has turned into one of the greatest adventures of the Space Age. After almost five years in operation, they have astonishingly survived, proving more resilient and luckier than anyone could have predicted. They've trekked miles across hostile plains, climbed mountains, ventured in and out of deep craters, gotten stuck in sand dunes, survived dust storms and mechanical failures, and cheated death so often no one will venture a guess as to how much longer they might last.

*Five Years on Mars* captures the emotional highs and lows experienced by the scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., who spend their days seeing through the rovers' eyes and now think of Spirit and Opportunity in almost human terms. Spirit is the hard luck rover who trekked for months across a barren desert, scaled a mountain and lost a wheel before finding anything of scientific interest. Opportunity is the lucky one for whom everything has gone right from the moment it landed right on top of abundant evidence of early Martian water.

"It was like being inside this bizarre Martian mystery novel," says Steve Squyres, lead scientist, JPL. "Every sol or two you'd get a new clue handed to you, and it really improved our understanding of what we were dealing with here."

Later that same night, on November 2, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, venture even further into space and see the remarkable ways scientists are searching for extraterrestrial life in *Calling All Aliens*. From building the most sensitive "ear" of all time — the massive Allen Telescope Array — to sending interstellar CD and text messages, there are myriad ways to try to make contact.

The one-hour special takes viewers to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif., where scientists have activated 42 out of the planned 350 giant radio dishes that make up the Allen Telescope Array. SETI never had a dedicated instrument like this to use in the search for ET 24/7 — until now. Funded in part by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the dishes collect datastreams from outer space that are then analyzed to determine if they carry any unusual frequencies. Monitoring computers alert the scientific team when a particularly strong signal comes through … but so far nothing has led them to believe that ET is trying to phone Earth.

Jodie Foster's character in the movie Contact was based on Jill Tarter, director of the Allen Telescope Array project and considered the "Grande Dame" of SETI research. SETI lost funding from NASA and Congress back in 1993, and they are now a nonprofit organization counting on donations like Paul Allen's … and anyone who wants to buy a telescope in the array.

"You can buy a telescope and have your name on it," says Tarter. "The price tag is $100,000. That's a big number in some sense, but a very small number for a radio telescope!"

SETI astronomer Seth Shostak, who hosts a weekly radio show called "Are We Alone?," is very optimistic about his colleagues' ingenuity in undertaking the search and about the advancements in technology.

"Our galaxy has a few hundred billion star systems, so it doesn't surprise that me we haven't found other intelligent life yet," says Shostak. "But the search is speeding up, and I think everybody deep down inside wishes that the experiment would succeed while they're still around to see that happen."

In Florida, one company claims it can make that happen for just $299. For that price, anyone can send a CD, text or music message out into space using a radio transmission device. Across the globe in Moscow, radio engineer Alexander Zaitsev, in conjunction with METI (Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence), has sent several messages into space on a directive from the Russian Academy of Sciences. Also in Russia, they are planning to take it a step further by sending samples of human DNA into space to show what we're made of to any highly intelligent life forms out there.

But not everyone is eager to make contact. Author David Brin thinks it is dangerous to try to communicate to a life form that we have no real knowledge of. He fears ET will come to annihilate the human race.

"I'm not claiming that there are a million deadly horrible probes out there," says Brin. "But there is no proof that there are not."

Also on November 2, in between *Five Years on Mars* and *Calling All Aliens*, catch an encore presentation of *Naked Science: Life on Mars *at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Join NASA's Phoenix Mission to determine if life could have existed — or can exist — on our closest planetary neighbor.

*Five Years on Mars* is produced by Mark Davis Productions for the National Geographic Channel. For Mark Davis Productions, producer, writer and director is Mark Davis. For the National Geographic Channel executive producer is Howard Swartz, senior vice president of special programming is Michael Cascio and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns.

*Calling All **Aliens* is produced by VIDICOM in association with ARTE/ZDF, Channel 5 Russia, SBS TV Australia and co-produced with SPIEGEL TV and Corona Films St. Petersburg. Executive producer is Peter Bardehle and director is Christian Schidlowski. For the National Geographic Channel, producer is Lauren Cardillo, senior vice president of special programming is Michael Cascio and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns.

# # #

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary in January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high-definition. NGC has carriage with all of the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available to more than 68 million homes. For more information, please visit .





Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 lifts off for the Moon

Wish them luck on getting into orbit around the Moon.
- LRK -

Chandrayaan-1 lifts off for the Moon

Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh (India): India's first unmanned flight to
the moon blasted off from Sriharikota, off the Andhra Pradesh coast,
early morning on Wednesday.

India launches unmanned mission to moon

(CNN) -- India launched its first lunar mission Wednesday, with hopes
of achieving high-resolution images of the moon's topography and
diving into the international space race.

The launch of the unmanned lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1, or "moon
craft" in ancient Sanskrit, came at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday (8:50 p.m. ET)
from the Sriharikota space center.

The two-year mission seeks high-resolution imaging of the moon's
surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions, ISRO said.
It will also search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to
identify the chemical breakdown of certain lunar rocks, the group

ISRO on its Web site said the mission would lay the groundwork for
future lunar missions and "probe the physical characteristics of the
lunar surface in greater depth than previous missions by other


It is hard enough to get into orbit around Earth.
Then you have to leave Earth Orbit at the correct moment to put you on
a track that will lead the Moon enough to feel the Moon's
gravitational pull as it comes around to meet you.
Add to that the correct amount of change in velocity to actually be
captured by the Moon's gravity to get you into Lunar Orbit.
Finish up with some circularizing adjustments and then begin your mission.

For a really good time, make sure your orbit is adjusted before you
get pushed into the Lunar surface or clipped by a tall mountain.

To get an idea of what they are in for.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:

India readies 1st moon mission in Asian space race

Gavin Rabinowitz And Seth Borenstein, Associated Press Writers – Tue
Oct 21, 5:11 pm ET
NEW DELHI – Scientists have better maps of distant Mars than the moon
where astronauts have walked. But India hopes to change that with its
first lunar mission.

Chandrayaan-1 — which means "Moon Craft" in ancient Sanskrit — is
scheduled to launch from the Sriharikota space center in southern
India at 8:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday in a two-year mission aimed at laying
the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions.

Chief among the mission's goals is mapping not only the surface of the
moon, but what lies beneath. If the launch is successful, India will
join what's shaping up as a 21st century space race with Chinese and
Japanese crafts already in orbit around the moon.


CHANDRAYAAN-1: India's first mission to the Moon

"THE MOON" with the history of the early solar system etched on it
beckons mankind from time immemorial to admire its marvels and
discover its secrets. Understanding the moon provides a pathway to
unravel the early evolution of the solar system and that of the planet

Through the ages, the Moon, our closest celestial body has aroused
curiosity in our mind much more than any other objects in the sky.
This led to scientific study of the Moon, driven by human desire and
quest for knowledge. This is also reflected in the ancient verse.
Exploration of the moon got a boost with the advent of the space age
and the decades of sixties and seventies saw a myriad of successful
unmanned and manned missions to moon.Following this, a hiatus of about
one and a half-decade followed. During this period we refined our
knowledge about the origin and evolution of the moon and its place as
a link to understand the early history of the Solar System and of the

Press Release


Chandrayaan-1 blast off successful
Pallava Bagla
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 6:23 AM (Sriharikota)

India's first unmanned rocket to the moon has been successfully placed
in its orbit. ISRO Chairmain Dr G Madhavan Nair described it as a
historic moment for India.

A rocket is carrying India's maiden spacecraft to the moon,
Chandrayaan-1 and the scientists ensured the launch was smooth.

During its two-year life Chandrayaan-1, an Indian mission with
international partners will map the moon's resources like never

Chandrayaan-1 (Sanskrit: चंद्रयान-1, lit: Lunar Craft-1), is an unmanned lunar exploration mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India's national space agency. The mission includes a lunar orbiter as well as an impactor. The spacecraft was launched by a modified version of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on 22 October 2008.



Saturday, October 18, 2008

SpaceDev Founder Jim Benson Dies at 63 - October 10 2008

I was reading the Saturday/Sunday, October 18 - 19, 2008, The Wall
Street Journal, and noticed a very nice Remembrance for JIM BENSON 1945
- 2008.

You have probably followed the SpaceDev story and know they made the
thrusters that powered Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne in 2004 when it became
the first private craft to reach space.

Oct 10, 2008 0:00
SpaceDev Founder Jim Benson Dies
POWAY, CA - October 10, 2008 - SpaceDev, Inc. (OTCBB: SPDV) announced
today that SpaceDev Founder and Board Member James Benson, 63, died
peacefully in his home. Benson was diagnosed in 2007 with a glioblastoma
multiforme brain tumor, the cause of his death early this morning.

When Mr. Benson founded SpaceDev, in 1997, he had hoped to build an
all-inclusive space-exploration company that would put rovers on the
moon and lay claim to asteroids near Earth. That didn't happen, but he
had told The Wall Street Journal in 2007 that there were minerals
waiting to be extracted there that "would probably create the first
Rocket Man Ran a Proper Business, But Loftiest Plans Were Ill-Starred

Who the vision now has?

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
*SpaceDev Founder Jim Benson Dies at 63 *
*By Tariq Malik
Senior Editor
posted: 10 October 2008
9:25 pm ET

American entrepreneur Jim Benson, founder of the aerospace firm SpaceDev
that helped build the rocket engine that launched the world's first
privately-built manned spaceship into suborbital space, died early
Friday of a brain tumor, the company announced today.

Benson died in his sleep from a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor,
which he was diagnosed with last year, SpaceDev officials said. He was 63.

"Jim was a true visionary
said Mark Sirangelo, SpaceDev's CEO and Chairman of the Board. "He saw
that space exploration could be more effective if done commercially, and
formed SpaceDev to make that dream become a reality."

Benson founded the Poway, Calif.-based SpaceDev in 1997 after 30 years
working in the computer industry.


*SpaceDev Founder Jim Benson Dies

*Date Released:* Thursday, October 9, 2008
Source: SpaceDev, Inc. <>

SpaceDev, Inc. announced today that SpaceDev Founder and Board Member
James Benson, 63, died peacefully in his home. Benson was diagnosed in
2007 with a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor, the cause of his death
early this morning. Mr. Benson had resigned from an operational role in
SpaceDev in September 2006. He retained a seat on the Board of Directors
of SpaceDev where he had continued to support the Company that he
founded in 1997.

"Jim was a true visionary," said Mark Sirangelo, SpaceDev's CEO and
Chairman of the Board. "He saw that space exploration could be more
effective if done commercially, and formed SpaceDev to make that dream
become a reality. He will be missed by many but his legacy contained in
SpaceDev will continue to forward his vision for the commercialization
of space. On behalf of the employees, board and shareholders of SpaceDev
we would like to express our condolences to the Benson family."




Thursday, October 09, 2008

Liquid Mirror Telescopes on the Moon

Spin me another one.

In one science fiction story I read, a mirror was made out of ice,
coated with a reflective metal compound, and used to bounce a
communication laser off of it and into the view port of the lunar base
doing bodily harm to the occupant. The Sun came up, ice melted, and all
that was left was some fine powdery residue on the lunar regolith.

Here we want to spin us a large reflector for a telescope and in the
past we have heard that mercury would do this on Earth, but mercury is
HEAVY and the vapors are not good for you. You probably wouldn't be
breathing them in the vacuum of the Moon but then your mirror wouldn't
be too good if all the liquid left to contaminate the vacuum.

Here we have a different substance used for the liquid and again coated
with a very thin film of metal.

Take a look at the article and see just how the story is spun up.
- LRK -

NASA Science News for October 9, 2008

A team of internationally renowned astronomers and opticians may have
found a way to make 'unbelievably large' telescopes on the Moon.


Check out our RSS feed at!

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:

John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650-604-5026

June 21, 2007
NASA Liquid-Mirror Telescope on Moon Might See Deeper Back in Time
Someday, astronauts on the moon may pour liquid onto a disc-shaped mesh
to make a huge mirror for a powerful telescope, according to a technical
article just made public.

The liquid would include a silver-coated surface, and would be part of
an optical-infrared telescope with a 66-foot (20-meter) to 328-foot (100
meter) aperture capable of observing objects 100 to 1,000 times fainter
than the James Webb Space Telescope, the authors say. The technical
paper will appear in the June 21, 2007, issue of the journal, Nature.

"In this case we have shown how the moon is ideal (for) using liquid
mirror technology to build a telescope much larger than we can
affordably build in space," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA Ames
Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, and a co-author of the
technical paper. The lead author is Ermanno Borra, Laval University,
Quebec, Canada. "Such telescopes, perhaps 100 meters in diameter can see
back to the early phases of the universe after the Big Bang," Worden added.

The authors envision making lunar, infrared telescopes to study normal
and dwarf galaxies.

Liquid Mirror Telescopes on the Moon

October 9, 2008: A team of internationally renowned astronomers and
opticians may have found a way to make "unbelievably large" telescopes
on the Moon.

"It's so simple," says Ermanno F. Borra, physics professor at the Optics
Laboratory of Laval University in Quebec, Canada. "Isaac Newton knew
that any liquid, if put into a shallow container and set spinning,
naturally assumes a parabolic shape--the same shape needed by a telescope
mirror to bring starlight to a focus. This could be the key to making a
giant lunar observatory."

Borra, who has been studying liquid-mirror telescopes since 1992, and
Simon P. "Pete" Worden, now director of NASA Ames Research Center, are
members of a team taking the idea for a spin.




Saturday, October 04, 2008

Google Moon - Been there - lets do it again to stay

Well we aren't back to the Moon with humans yet.
This gives us a little more time to learn what we can and see where we
might like to go.

Pop in on the Moon with Google Moon and enjoy the view.

Maybe later we will have updates that show your kids habitats.
- LRK -

Apollo Series
These six missions of the Apollo Program, which lasted from 1963 to
1972, were the first and last times that Mankind has set foot on another
A mosaic of landing site images and a tour of the Apollo landings

Google Sky

Google Sky, Mars, and Moon

Google Moon (Part II of "The Googling")

Be careful though. :-)

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
Bob in Conroe, Texas sends -,2933,391480,00.html

International Space Race Heats Up as More Players Jump In
Monday, July 28, 2008

As NASA's space-shuttle program nears its official end in 2010, space
exploration has become an increasingly global competition.

The Europeans, Russians, Chinese and others are competing for bragging rights to
develop the next generation of manned spacecraft.

NASA's Constellation program, designed both to replace the space shuttle and get
America back to the moon and on to Mars, has gotten a lot of publicity and a
lot of flak as it threatens to go over budget and behind schedule.

Meanwhile, the Europeans and Russians have teamed up to create their own
platform, the Chinese are continually upgrading their vehicles and the Japanese and Indians are mulling their own
manned space flights.

Lunar Bases and Settlement

Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century

Copyright © 1986 by the
Lunar and Planetary Institute <>.

Made available electronically by the
NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) <>
*The Second Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century

*Edited by W. W. Mendell. NASA Conferences Publication 3166, Volume 1 (Parts
1-4) & Volume 2 (Parts 5-8), 1992, 706 pages. Available here in PDF
as individual papers below.

*Table of Contents and Prologue* [PDF 585K

*Volume 1:
Part 1: Lunar Transportation Systems
**Part 2: Lunar Base Site Selection
**Part 3: Lunar Surface Architecture and Construction
**Part 4: Scientific Investigations at a Lunar Base

*Volume 2:
Part 5: Utilization of Lunar Resources
**Part 6: Life Support and Crew Health at a Lunar Base
**Part 7: Operations and Infrastructure on the Lunar Surface
**Part 8: Enabling a Program for Human Exploration of Space

*Indexes and Acronym Glossary* [PDF 2.7 MB




Friday, October 03, 2008

LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for a major ESA/NASA mission planned for the near future

Bob, in New Zealand, passed me a couple of links about Hubble Space
Telescope findings and the LISA Pathfinder mission progress. (see

I thought I should take a better look at what the LISA Pathfinder is about.
- LRK -


LISA Pathfinder will pave the way for a major ESA/NASA mission planned
for the near future: LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), aimed
at detecting gravitational waves generated by very massive objects
such as black holes. Detecting gravitational waves will tell us more
about the way space and time are interconnected.

The mission consists of placing two test-masses in a nearly perfect
gravitational free-fall, and of controlling and measuring their motion
with unprecedented accuracy. This is achieved through state-of-the-art
technology comprising inertial sensors, a laser metrology system, a
drag-free control system and an ultra-precise micro-propulsion system.

All these technologies are essential not only for LISA; they also lie
at the heart of any future space-based test of Einstein's General
Relativity. LISA Pathfinder is scheduled for launch at the end of

When you read the whole article from the European Space Agency, it
reads like science fiction.
- LRK -

Very first detection of gravitational waves in space

With LISA Pathfinder, the technology needed to detect gravitational
waves will be tested in space for the very first time. Using this
technology, LISA will be able to show whether a key prediction of
Albert Einstein's, put forward more than 90 years ago in his General
Theory of Relativity, is indeed correct. The prediction is that
ripples in space-time, known as gravitational waves, criss-cross the
Universe, however, these waves have never been detected directly. By
detecting these ripples, LISA will tell us more about the way in which
space and time are interwoven. LISA will detect these waves, their
intensity, properties and direction in order to investigate elusive
objects such as black holes and neutron star binary systems within our
galaxy that we would otherwise have no way of observing.


You probably have seen criss-crossed standing waves in a stream where
two rocks stick out and the water flowing by makes ripples that
radiate out and cross each other. They might look like they are fixed
in place and yet the water is rushing by. What if massive bodies were
to disturb the gravitational attraction each feels of the other and
there would be some way to experience this?

If you thought you had an idea of how to test this theory, how long
would you persevere in seeing a mission take place that could go out
in space and sense the disturbance in the force?
- LRK -


LISA Pathfinder was approved by the ESA Science Programme Committee
(SPC) in November 2000. It was further reconfirmed by the same body
and by the ESA Council in May 2002, as part of ESA's new 'Cosmic
Vision' Scientific Programme.


How would you go about making the spacecraft quiet enough to feel any
disturbance from out there in space while you are in orbit around the
L1 point?
- LRK -

The Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) is an experiment provided by
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which includes also a
set of micro-rockets that aim to control the spacecraft's position to
within a millionth of a millimetre. Once validated by this mission,
the technology on LISA Pathfinder will be ready to be used in the more
complex and further-reaching mission LISA. There the relative movement
of two spacecrafts located 5 million kilometres apart will be measured
to an accuracy of 10 picometres (1 picometre is equal to one millionth
of a millionth of a metre).

And you thought your were just going to lay out in the Sun with
nothing between you and the rays.
May the force be with you and may you be one with it.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
LISA Pathfinder

System level acoustic tests completed
23 Sep 2008 11:23
The LISA Pathfinder system level acoustic tests were performed on 9
and 10 September 2007 at the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF)
at ESTEC, The Netherlands. The purpose of these tests was to confirm
the load levels on the spacecraft units arising from random
vibrations. Initial assessment of the test results indicates that the
loads were as expected.

The science and propulsion modules arrived at ESTEC in early August.
Since then the modules have been in one of the clean rooms being
prepared for these acoustic tests, the first in a series of system
level tests scheduled for this year. The tests are performed on
representative models of the flight modules with dummy masses taking
the place of most system units.

LISA Pathfinder modules ready for acoustic tests
01 Sep 2008 09:43
The LISA Pathfinder science and propulsion modules are now ready for
acoustic testing in the Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF) at
ESTEC, The Netherlands. In the four weeks since the modules arrived at
ESTEC engineers have been busy preparing the units for this first
system test.

For these acoustic tests a spare flight model of the science module
has been equipped with representative models of the micro-propulsion
thrusters, the flight model of the solar array and a number of dummy
masses (which take the place of many of the standard system units).
When it comes to galaxies, diversity is everywhere [heic0819]

A thorough survey using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has
observed around 14 million stars in 69 galaxies.
Some galaxies were found to be full of ancient stars, while others are
like sun-making factories.

The detailed study, called the ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury
(ANGST) program, explored a region called the Local Volume, where
galaxy distances range from 6.5 million light-years to 13 million
light-years from Earth.

Many stars in nearby galaxies are the fossil equivalents of new stars
forming in the far Universe. "When we look back in time at distant,
young galaxies, we see lots of vigorous star formation. However, we
can only guess as to what those galaxies might eventually turn into,"
Dalcanton explained. "Using the galaxies in the nearby Universe as a
'fossil record', we can compare them with young galaxies far away.
This comparison gives us a history of star formation and provides a
better understanding of the masses, structures, and environments of
the galaxies."




Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) - fly me to the Moon

Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) - fly me to the Moon

David said that in England there was a video on the discovery channel
called Moon Machines.
One of the machines was designed by MIT, a small silicon computer that
would take the astronauts to the Moon.
They mentioned the 1201 and 1202 errors due to having the radar turned
on at the wrong time during the first landing.

I saw a TV show on similar or maybe the same subject some time back.
It showed the making of the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC).
They showed the machines that were made to wire the logic circuits for
the firmware that let women pass a shuttle cock through to wire wrap
around the proper post to make the connections. Each card was then
placed on a tester that called up the logic it was supposed to solve.
Remember this is back in the 60's.
- LRK -


The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was the first recognizably modern
embedded system, used in real-time by astronaut pilots to collect and
provide flight information, and to automatically control all of the
navigational functions of the Apollo spacecraft. It was developed in
the early 1960s for the Apollo program by the MIT Instrumentation
Laboratory under Charles Stark Draper, with hardware design led by
Eldon C. Hall. Based upon MIT documents, early architectural work
seems to have come from J.H. Laning Jr., Albert Hopkins, Ramon Alonso,
and Hugh Blair-Smith. The actual flight hardware was fabricated by
Raytheon, whose Herb Thaler was also on the architectural team.

It is interesting what was done with so little memory and storage for firmware.

I pulled a UNIVAC Digital Trainer out of salvage when I was at the
Navy training center just north of Memphis Tenn.
It took me about six months of playing with the circuit cards and
logic diagrams in the evenings to get it to work. - UNIVAC 422 TRNG COMP - BRL Report 1964

I think it had about 512 (15 bit) words of memory and was made up of
little circuit cards that were NOR gates made up of a transistor, some
diodes and some resistors. When I left my assignment there I gave it
back to salvage and had tears in my eyes.

When I got out of the Navy in 1983 I went to work supporting the
Pioneer programs at NASA Ames and they had Sigma V computers that were
still using transistors and diodes to make NOR gates to then make half
adders, that combined made full adders and WOW, you could add 1 to 1
and get 10 (in binary addition).


SDS Sigma-5 was a 32-bit computer that was introduced by the Xerox
company in 1965. (Scientific Data Systems [SDS] was a company Xerox
had acquired in 1969.) This was a reduced-capability version of the
Sigma 7 computer. It was commercially retired in the 1970s after Xerox
left the Mainframe computer manufacturing business.

Here we are now in 2008 and you can try your skill and landing.

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:

NASA Office of Logic Design

A scientific study of the problems of digital engineering for space
flight systems,
with a view to their practical solution.


Block I Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC):
How to build one in your basement

Computers in Spaceflight: The NASA Experience
- Chapter Two -
- Computers On Board The Apollo Spacecraft -
The Apollo guidance computer: Hardware

[34] The Apollo Guidance Computer was fairly compact for a computer of
its time. The CM housed the computer in a lower equipment bay, near
the navigator's station. Block II measured 24 by 12.5 by 6 inches,
weighed 70.1 pounds, and required 70 watts at 28 volts DC. The machine
in the lunar module was identical.

Crew members could communicate with either computer using display and
keyboard units (DSKY, pronounced "disky"). Two DSKYs were in the CM,
one on the main control panel and one near the optical instruments at
the navigator's station. In addition, a "mark" button was at the
navigator's station to signal the computer when a star fix was being
taken. A single DSKY was in the lunar module. The DSKYs were 8 by 8 by
7 inches and weighed 17.5 pounds. As well as the DSKYs, the computer
directly hooked to the inertial measurement unit and, in the CM, to
the optical units.

The choice of a 1 6-bit word size was a careful one. Many scientific
computers of the time used 24-bit or longer word lengths and, in
general, the longer the word the better the precision of the
calculations. MIT considered the following factors in deciding the
word length: (a) precision desired for navigation variables, (b) range
of input variables, and (c) the instruction word format. Advantages of
a shorter word are simpler circuits and higher speeds, and greater
precision could be obtained by using multiple words. A single
precision word of data consisted of 14 bits, with the other 2 bits as
a sign bit (with a one indicating negative) and a parity bit (odd
parity). Two [35] adjacent words yielded "double precision" and three
adjacent, "triple precision." To store a three-dimensional vector
required three double precision words . Data storage was as fractions
(all numbers were less than one). An instruction word used bits 15-13
(they were numbered descending left to right) as an octal operation
code. The address used bits 12-1. Direct addressing was limited, so a
"bank register" scheme (discussed below) existed to make it possible
to address the entire memory.

The Apollo computer had a simple packaging system. The computer
circuits were in two trays consisting of 24 modules. Each module had
two groups of 60 flat packs with 72-pin connectors. The flatpacks each
held two logic gates. Tray A held the logic circuits, interfaces, and
the power supply, and tray B had the memory, memory electronics,
analog alarm devices, and the clock, which had a speed of one
megahertz. All units of the computer were hermetically sealed. The
memory in Block II consisted of a segment of erasable core and six
modules of core rope fixed memory. Both types are discussed fully


National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA History Office

NASA Contractor Report 182505 Computers in Spaceflight The NASA
Experience James E. Tomayko Wichita State University Wichita, Kansas




Moon and Mars - Videos