Curiosity is trying to determine whether Mars ever had environments capable of supporting simple life forms. NASA points out that it took Curiosity four years to reach its current location, joking about one wall of layered sandstone, "Wait, is this the Utah or Mars?"
Dr. Metzger wrote in 2013 that "This industry promises to revolutionize the human condition." (See RockDoctor's original submission for more details.) While Metzger now notes that "It will require a sustained commitment of several decades to complete," his new article points out that a lunar supply chain outpost "will cost about 1/3 or less of the existing annual budgets of the national space programs," thanks to advances in both robotics and artificial intelligence, and will help humanity develop renewable energy and greatly expand the availability of other limited resources.
Meanwhile, long-time Slashdot reader taiwanjohn shares an editorial published by Ars Technica the same day, titled "We love you SpaceX, and hope you reach Mars. But we need you to focus." Noting that SpaceX receives the majority of its funding from NASA, the site's senior space editor writes that the company's business model requires that they ultimately deliver a reusable launch system. "I understand SpaceX has a master plan -- the company wants to colonize Mars... But at some point you have to focus on the here and now, and that is the Falcon 9 rocket... if there is no Falcon 9, there is no business."
In a related story, Saturday NASA's history office shared a photograph from the Viking 2's landing on the surface of Mars -- which happened exactly 40 years ago.
With the euphonious names "EPIC 204278916" and "2MASS J16020757-2257467", the star is a young M1 (red) star, traveling as part of a group of stars which haven't had time to disperse from their place of formation. The age is estimated at 5 — 11 million years. Analysis of 70+ days of data from the K2 mission epoch shows a rotation of 3.6 days, but a period of 25 days near the start of the observation epoch showed dips in intensity of up to 60% lasting for up to about a day each. Details are in the Arxiv paper linked to above, particularly figures 1 and 4.
If confirmed, this discovery changes the situation with interpreting the so-called "Tabby's Star". Firstly with a second object in the class, the odds of it representing a class of naturally occurring objects compared to a unique, unusual object is greatly increased. Secondly, the different celestial mechanical situations around the different stars allows a better estimate of plausible formation mechanisms. One potentially important point is that clumps of debris that could produce these dimmings seem to be quite large. "It is also important to note that the resulting size for the transiting and occulting clump would be quite large at with the clump being in the order of 1.5 times the radius of the Sun. Sadly, this appears to be a new class of "dirty young planetary system." no alien Overlords, no screaming in the streets. Just business-like astronomy.
Sutter and his engineers "initially played second fiddle to the more glamorous Boeing development project at the time, the Supersonic Transport (SST)," according to Stuff.co.nz. "But the US government ultimately killed funding for the SST, and the 747 turned into the icon of international long-haul flying that established Boeing's supremacy in commercial aviation for more than two decades after it entered service in January 1970."
Sutter's team completed the roll-out of the 747 in just 29 months -- a record -- and in 1986 Sutter also served on the team investigating the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. "Appalled that NASA's safety standards were lower than those in his commercial airplane world, Sutter was typically vocal in his criticism and pushed a key recommendation of the committee to implement a new safety management system."
The Verge adds:SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, meant to launch a satellite this weekend, exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida this morning. The explosion occurred during the preparation for the static fire test of the rocket's engines, NASA told the Associated Press. The blast reportedly shook buildings "several miles away." The company confirmed to The Verge the loss of the Falcon 9 an hour later: "SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today's static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries."