Just thought I'd end November with this interesting meme that was posted on my Facebook news feed a few days ago. I could definitely relate to it...ever since January of 2011. Won't elaborate—but the amount of fun and memorable memories that I have of last decade is equated to the amount of memorably tumultuous experiences I've had over the past five years. It's true that a lot of cool things have happened to me since the start of this decade (finally being able to do the HALO jump in 2013, appearing on my favorite TV show The Big Bang Theory two months ago, etc...), but if I can go back to the feeling of contentment (not complacency, mind you) that I felt in December of 2010, I would. Happy Monday.
Monday, November 30, 2015
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Kobe Bryant just announced this evening that he will be retiring from the NBA at the end of this season. I'll wait till next Spring to start realizing the fact that a sports icon who devoted almost 20 years of his life and five championships to the city of Los Angeles will soon be departing from the Lakers...
Maybe now, the media will spend as much time talking about Michael Jordan's true heir as they do gushing about Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Those two definitely deserve to be recognized for their talents and accomplishments, but come next April [I'd say May, but the Lakers do not look like playoff material (that's an understatement) as of this entry], one of the greatest basketball players of all time will be playing his final game at STAPLES Center. I'm tryin' not to get emotional here...
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Or should I say, as an annual tradition— Happy Falsify-A-Peace-Treaty-Then-Slaughter-Your-Dinner-Guests-And-Steal-Their-Land-And-Eat-Until-Your-Sick Day!!! Of course, this seems a bit redundant considering these two memes I found online that speaks the truth about current world events... Carry on.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
NASA / Chris Gunn
NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Receives First Mirror Installation (Press Release)
NASA has successfully installed the first of 18 flight mirrors onto the James Webb Space Telescope, beginning a critical piece of the observatory’s construction.
In the clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland this week, the engineering team used a robot arm to lift and lower the hexagonal-shaped segment that measures just over 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). After being pieced together, the 18 primary mirror segments will work together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) mirror. The full installation is expected to be complete early next year.
“The James Webb Space Telescope will be the premier astronomical observatory of the next decade,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This first-mirror installation milestone symbolizes all the new and specialized technology that was developed to enable the observatory to study the first stars and galaxies, examine the formation stellar systems and planetary formation, provide answers to the evolution of our own solar system, and make the next big steps in the search for life beyond Earth on exoplanets.”
Several innovative technologies have been developed for the Webb Telescope, which is targeted for launch in 2018, and is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Webb will study every phase in the history of our universe, including the cosmos’ first luminous glows, the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, and the evolution of our own solar system.
The 18 separate segments unfold and adjust to shape after launch. The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium chosen for its thermal and mechanical properties at cryogenic temperatures. Each segment also has a thin gold coating chosen for its ability to reflect infrared light. The telescope’s biggest feature is a tennis court sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the sun more than a million times.
“After a tremendous amount of work by an incredibly dedicated team across the country, it is very exciting to start the primary mirror segment installation process" said Lee Feinberg, James Webb Space Telescope optical telescope element manager at Goddard. "This starts the final assembly phase of the telescope."
The mirrors must remain precisely aligned in space in order for Webb to successfully carry out science investigations. While operating at extraordinarily cold temperatures between minus 406 and minus 343 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not move more than 38 nanometers, approximately one thousandth the diameter of a human hair.
"There have many significant achievements for Webb over the past year, but the installation of the first flight mirror is special," said Bill Ochs, James Webb Space Telescope project manager. "This installation not only represents another step towards the magnificent discoveries to come from Webb, but also the culmination of many years of effort by an outstanding dedicated team of engineers and scientists."
The mirrors were built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system. The installation of the mirrors onto the telescope structure is performed by Harris Corporation of Rochester, New York. Harris Corporation leads integration and testing for the telescope.
The James Webb Space Telescope is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency. NASA works with the international science community to explore our solar system and beyond. We look to unravel mysteries that intrigue us all as we explore to answer big questions, like how did our solar system originate and change over time, and how did the universe begin and evolve, and what will be its destiny?
NASA / Chris Gunn
Monday, November 23, 2015
NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI
Psychedelic Pluto (Press Release - November 12)
New Horizons scientists made this false color image of Pluto using a technique called principal component analysis to highlight the many subtle color differences between Pluto's distinct regions. The image data were collected by the spacecraft’s Ralph/MVIC color camera on July 14 at 11:11 AM UTC, from a range of 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers). This image was presented by Will Grundy of the New Horizons’ surface composition team on Nov. 9 at the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
I stumbled upon this meme on Facebook three days ago and it's been lingering on my computer desktop since then. Not anymore. Saddam Hussein must be laughing in his grave right now... "Mission Accomplished?" I wonder if George Dubya wanted to smack himself upside the head for making that premature declaration about the Iraq War aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln back in 2003. In all fairness though, President Obama said that ISIS was "contained" prior to the Paris attacks last Friday. If not for his naïveté, our military forces wouldn't have been fully withdrawn from Iraq four years ago...prompting militants to call open season on taking over the beleaguered country and causing the Islamic State to eventually rise. The gist of this entry: Our recent presidents seemed to underestimate the enemy—and overstate America's military effectiveness when it comes to waging a conflict in the Middle East. And in the case of Bush, starting a war to make up for your dad's previous failure (George H.W. Bush was unwilling to have U.S. military forces enter Baghdad and oust Hussein in 1991's Operation Desert Storm) is not good foreign policy. Carry on.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Just a few hours ago, I drove down to Cal State Long Beach, my college alma mater, to attend a vigil for Nohemi Gonzalez at the campus' University Student Union. Gonzalez was one of 129 people who sadly lost their lives in the Paris terrorist attacks two days ago. Around 2,000 attendees—which included Nohemi's classmates, her family and friends, faculty and staff members, alumni (like myself) and foreign dignitaries—were on-hand to hear about what a bright and ambitious student Nohemi was at CSULB before traveling to Paris to study there for a semester. It completely struck a nerve with me that a prodigious industrial design student who attended the same school as me would be a victim of such a senseless tragedy. As shown in the photo above, Ms. Gonzalez's family should take solace in the fact that there were so many people who showed up today to support them in this time of sadness. Rest In Peace, Nohemi... I didn't know you personally, but the stories told this evening by the people who did indicate that you're someone who would've left a positive mark on my life if we met. Farewell.
Friday, November 13, 2015
Just thought I'd share this photo that I saw on Facebook showing the 1 World Trade Center in New York City with its antenna spire lit in blue, white and red—corresponding to the order of colors on the French flag. First, Charlie Hebdo and now this. The people of France need all of the support they can get as they have been continually placed in the crosshairs of cowardly fanatics since January. This is another example of why the war on terrorism will not go away for a long time. Pray for Paris.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Monday, November 09, 2015
NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI
Four Months after Pluto Flyby, NASA’s New Horizons Yields Wealth of Discovery (Press Release)
From possible ice volcanoes to twirling moons, NASA’s New Horizons science team is discussing more than 50 exciting discoveries about Pluto at this week’s 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland.
“The New Horizons mission has taken what we thought we knew about Pluto and turned it upside down,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It's why we explore -- to satisfy our innate curiosity and answer deeper questions about how we got here and what lies beyond the next horizon."
For one such discovery, New Horizons geologists combined images of Pluto’s surface to make 3-D maps that indicate two of Pluto’s most distinctive mountains could be cryovolcanoes -- ice volcanoes that may have been active in the recent geological past.
“It’s hard to imagine how rapidly our view of Pluto and its moons are evolving as new data stream in each week. As the discoveries pour in from those data, Pluto is becoming a star of the solar system,” said mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Moreover, I’d wager that for most planetary scientists, any one or two of our latest major findings on one world would be considered astounding. To have them all is simply incredible.”
The two cryovolcano candidates are large features measuring tens of miles or kilometers across and several miles or kilometers high.
“These are big mountains with a large hole in their summit, and on Earth that generally means one thing -- a volcano,” said Oliver White, New Horizons postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “If they are volcanic, then the summit depression would likely have formed via collapse as material is erupted from underneath. The strange hummocky texture of the mountain flanks may represent volcanic flows of some sort that have traveled down from the summit region and onto the plains beyond, but why they are hummocky, and what they are made of, we don't yet know.”
While their appearance is similar to volcanoes on Earth that spew molten rock, ice volcanoes on Pluto are expected to emit a somewhat melted slurry of substances such as water ice, nitrogen, ammonia, or methane. If Pluto proves to have volcanoes, it will provide an important new clue to its geologic and atmospheric evolution.
“After all, nothing like this has been seen in the deep outer solar system,” said Jeffrey Moore, New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team leader, at Ames.
Pluto’s Long History of Geologic Activity
Pluto’s surface varies in age -- from ancient, to intermediate, to relatively young --according to another new finding from New Horizons.
To determine the age of a surface area of the planet, scientists count crater impacts. The more crater impacts, the older the region likely is. Crater counts of surface areas on Pluto indicate that it has surface regions dating to just after the formation of the planets of our solar system, about four billion years ago.
But there also is a vast area that was, in geological terms, born yesterday -- meaning it may have formed within the past 10 million years. This area, informally named Sputnik Planum, appears on the left side of Pluto’s “heart” and is completely crater-free in all images received, so far.
New data from crater counts reveal the presence of intermediate, or “middle-aged,” terrains on Pluto, as well. This suggests Sputnik Planum is not an anomaly -- that Pluto has been geologically active throughout much of its more than 4-billion-year history.
“We’ve mapped more than a thousand craters on Pluto, which vary greatly in size and appearance,” said postdoctoral researcher Kelsi Singer, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “Among other things, I expect cratering studies like these to give us important new insights into how this part of the solar system formed.”
Building Blocks of the Solar System
Crater counts are giving the New Horizons team insight into the structure of the Kuiper Belt itself. The dearth of smaller craters across Pluto and its large moon Charon indicate the Kuiper Belt, which is an unexplored outer region of our solar system, likely had fewer smaller objects than some models had predicted.
This leads New Horizons scientists to doubt a longstanding model that all Kuiper Belt objects formed by accumulating much smaller objects --less than a mile wide. The absence of small craters on Pluto and Charon support other models theorizing that Kuiper Belt objects tens of miles across may have formed directly, at their current -- or close to current -- size.
In fact, the evidence that many Kuiper Belt objects could have been “born large” has scientists excited that New Horizons’ next potential target -- the 30-mile-wide (40-50 kilometer wide) KBO named 2014 MU69 -- which may offer the first detailed look at just such a pristine, ancient building block of the solar system.
Pluto’s Spinning, Merged Moons
The New Horizons mission also is shedding new light on Pluto’s fascinating system of moons, and their unusual properties. For example, nearly every other moon in the solar system -- including Earth’s moon -- is in synchronous rotation, keeping one face toward the planet. This is not the case for Pluto’s small moons.
Pluto’s small lunar satellites are spinning much faster, with Hydra -- its most distant moon -- rotating an unprecedented 89 times during a single lap around the planet. Scientists believe these spin rates may be variable because Charon exerts a strong torque that prevents each small moon from settling down into synchronous rotation.
Another oddity of Pluto’s moons: scientists expected the satellites would wobble, but not to such a degree.
“Pluto’s moons behave like spinning tops,” said co-investigator Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.
Images of Pluto’s four smallest satellites also indicate several of them could be the results of mergers of two or more moons.
“We suspect from this that Pluto had more moons in the past, in the aftermath of the big impact that also created Charon,” said Showalter.
NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI
Saturday, November 07, 2015
NASA / GSFC
NASA Mission Reveals Speed of Solar Wind Stripping Martian Atmosphere (Press Release - November 5)
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.
MAVEN data have enabled researchers to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere currently is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind. The findings reveal that the erosion of Mars’ atmosphere increases significantly during solar storms. The scientific results from the mission appear in the Nov. 5 issues of the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters.
“Mars appears to have had a thick atmosphere warm enough to support liquid water which is a key ingredient and medium for life as we currently know it,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Understanding what happened to the Mars atmosphere will inform our knowledge of the dynamics and evolution of any planetary atmosphere. Learning what can cause changes to a planet’s environment from one that could host microbes at the surface to one that doesn’t is important to know, and is a key question that is being addressed in NASA’s journey to Mars.”
MAVEN measurements indicate that the solar wind strips away gas at a rate of about 100 grams (equivalent to roughly 1/4 pound) every second. "Like the theft of a few coins from a cash register every day, the loss becomes significant over time," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "We've seen that the atmospheric erosion increases significantly during solar storms, so we think the loss rate was much higher billions of years ago when the sun was young and more active.”
In addition, a series of dramatic solar storms hit Mars’ atmosphere in March 2015, and MAVEN found that the loss was accelerated. The combination of greater loss rates and increased solar storms in the past suggests that loss of atmosphere to space was likely a major process in changing the Martian climate.
The solar wind is a stream of particles, mainly protons and electrons, flowing from the sun's atmosphere at a speed of about one million miles per hour. The magnetic field carried by the solar wind as it flows past Mars can generate an electric field, much as a turbine on Earth can be used to generate electricity. This electric field accelerates electrically charged gas atoms, called ions, in Mars’ upper atmosphere and shoots them into space.
MAVEN has been examining how solar wind and ultraviolet light strip gas from of the top of the planet's atmosphere. New results indicate that the loss is experienced in three different regions of the Red Planet: down the "tail," where the solar wind flows behind Mars, above the Martian poles in a "polar plume," and from an extended cloud of gas surrounding Mars. The science team determined that almost 75 percent of the escaping ions come from the tail region, and nearly 25 percent are from the plume region, with just a minor contribution from the extended cloud.
Ancient regions on Mars bear signs of abundant water – such as features resembling valleys carved by rivers and mineral deposits that only form in the presence of liquid water. These features have led scientists to think that billions of years ago, the atmosphere of Mars was much denser and warm enough to form rivers, lakes and perhaps even oceans of liquid water.
Recently, researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observed the seasonal appearance of hydrated salts indicating briny liquid water on Mars. However, the current Martian atmosphere is far too cold and thin to support long-lived or extensive amounts of liquid water on the planet's surface.
"Solar-wind erosion is an important mechanism for atmospheric loss, and was important enough to account for significant change in the Martian climate,” said Joe Grebowsky, MAVEN project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “MAVEN also is studying other loss processes -- such as loss due to impact of ions or escape of hydrogen atoms -- and these will only increase the importance of atmospheric escape.”
The goal of NASA's MAVEN mission, launched to Mars in November 2013, is to determine how much of the planet's atmosphere and water have been lost to space. It is the first such mission devoted to understanding how the sun might have influenced atmospheric changes on the Red Planet. MAVEN has been operating at Mars for just over a year and will complete its primary science mission on Nov. 16.
Friday, November 06, 2015
NASA / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute
NASA's New Horizons Completes Record-Setting Kuiper Belt Targeting Maneuvers (Press Release - November 5)
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has successfully performed the last in a series of four targeting maneuvers that set it on course for a January 2019 encounter with 2014 MU69. This ancient body in the Kuiper Belt is more than a billion miles beyond Pluto; New Horizons will explore it if NASA approves an extended mission.
The four propulsive maneuvers were the most distant trajectory corrections ever performed by any spacecraft. The fourth maneuver, programmed into the spacecraft's computers and executed with New Horizons' hydrazine-fueled thrusters, started at approximately 1:15 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and lasted just under 20 minutes. Spacecraft operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, began receiving data through NASA's Deep Space Network just before 7 p.m. EST on Wednesday indicating the final targeting maneuver went as planned.
The maneuvers didn't speed or slow the spacecraft as much as they "pushed" New Horizons sideways, giving it a 57 meter per second (128 mile per hour) nudge toward the KBO. That's enough to make New Horizons intercept MU69 in just over three years.
"This is another milestone in the life of an already successful mission that's returning exciting new data every day," said Curt Niebur, New Horizons program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These course adjustments preserve the option of studying an even more distant object in the future, as New Horizons continues its remarkable journey."
The New Horizons team will submit a formal proposal to NASA for the extended mission to 2014 MU69 in early 2016. The science team hopes to explore even closer to MU69 than New Horizons came to Pluto on July 14, which was approximately 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers).
"New Horizons is healthy and now on course to make the first exploration of a building block of small planets like Pluto, and we're excited to propose its exploration to NASA,"said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.
The KBO targeting maneuvers were the mission's largest and longest, and carried out in a succession faster than any sequence of previous New Horizons engine burns. They were also incredibly accurate, performing almost exactly as they were designed and setting New Horizons on the course mission designers predicted. "The performance of each maneuver was spot on," said APL's Gabe Rogers, New Horizons spacecraft systems engineer and guidance and control lead.
The first three maneuvers were carried out on Oct. 22, 25 and 28. At the time of yesterday's maneuver, New Horizons, speeding toward deeper space at more than 32,000 miles per hour, was approximately 84 million miles (135 million kilometers) beyond Pluto and nearly 3.2 billion miles (about 5.1 billion kilometers) from Earth. The spacecraft is currently 895 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) from MU69. All systems remain healthy and the spacecraft continues to transmit data stored on its digital recorders from its flight through the Pluto system in July.
New Horizons is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. APL designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute leads the science mission, payload operations, and encounter science planning.
Source: New Horizons Website
NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)
Thursday, November 05, 2015
Yesterday, I worked at a location in downtown Los Angeles that was only a few blocks away from the new Wilshire Grand Center (WGC)...which is currently undergoing construction. This skyscraper is still ways away from making its grand opening in 2017—but the fact that this is supposed to be the nation's tallest building west of the Mississippi River once completed (the highest U.S. building east of the Mississippi being none other than the 1 World Trade Center in New York City) made me eager to see it in person. I had such a long work day yesterday that I took photos of the WGC early in the morning and late at night, before I went home. Can't wait to take more pics once this tower opens to the public!
Sunday, November 01, 2015
I just found out recently that Yahoo! has decided not to renew Paul Feig's hilarious sci-fi web series Other Space for a second season. Such a shame... We'll never find out who was after that alien who hitched a ride aboard the UMP Cruiser at the end of Episode 8 (the series finale) and why. Or—if the ship's main computer Natasha (Conor Leslie) and Kent Woolworth (Neil Casey) managed to live happily ever-after upon their eventual return to Earth. Or—if Stewart Lipinski (Karan Soni) finally won the heart of Tina Shukshin (Milana Vayntrub), and they left the Universal Mapping Project to start a new life together in a quiet, rural part of Uzbekistan. So many things left unresolved...
I guess this will be the only drawing I make of the hilarious characters who will forever be lost in that alternate universe...eating nothing but chocolate and randomly giving Michael Newman (Eugene Cordero) a hard time. That is all.