Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Send a Digital Time Capsule to the Lunar Surface Next Year!

An artist's concept of Astrobotic's Peregrine lander on the surface of the Moon.

Happy End of June, everyone! Just thought I'd let you know that you can send photos and/or other files to the Moon's surface aboard a NASA-sponsored mission flying sometime next summer! Thanks to the Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic, a lander known as Peregrine will launch aboard a Vulcan Centaur rocket (which itself would be making its maiden flight on this mission) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July of 2021—and touch down on the lunar surface with 200 pounds (90 kilograms) of cargo. Among that payload mass will be a container carrying time capsules that you can purchase through Astrobotic's MoonBox page.

If you don't feel like buying an actual container to put mementos in on the journey to the Moon, FutureGrind.org is collecting digital content to be saved on an SD card that it will place on the Peregrine lander. Based on the prices listed on the MoonBox page mentioned in the previous paragraph, Future Grind spent quite a bit of money to purchase space to put that memory card in. So it makes a lot of sense that it would try to recoup its investment while at the same time allowing the public to upload images and/or other files of its own that will be put on the card! For $20, you can submit a 5-megabyte file (which is just the right storage space if you want to send a raw photo file taken by a nice digital camera) to Future Grind for inclusion. If you want to send extra files, you have to pay $20 for each additional content that you want to fly aboard Peregrine. Future Grind will send you a cool certificate and post-mission photo confirming that the SD card is on the lunar surface in response.

To state the obvious: If you want to submit 11 personal images to head to the Moon next year (like I did last weekend, though I plan on paying for more), that's $220 you'd have to dish out. But it will be completely worth it should things obviously go as planned in 2021, and Astrobotic becomes the first private space company to land a robotic probe on the lunar surface! I'm rooting for ya, Peregrine. Godspeed on Mission One (the name of next year's flight)! And thank you to Future Grind for this awesome opportunity!

A screenshot from an animated video depicting the Vulcan Centaur rocket--which will launch the Peregrine lander to the Moon next year--soaring into space.
United Launch Alliance

Saturday, June 27, 2020

More Official Info on the NBA's Return Next Month...

One of LeBron James' most memorable dunks during the 2019-'20 NBA regular season.
Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE via Getty Images

NBA and NBPA Finalize Comprehensive Plan for July 30 Restart to 2019-20 Season (Press Release - June 26)

NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association announced today that they have finalized a comprehensive plan for a July 30 restart to the 2019-20 season, which includes stringent health and safety protocols, a single-site campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the goal of taking collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice.

In addition, the NBA and Disney have reached an agreement that makes the Arena, the Field House and Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex the venues for all games for the remainder of the season, which will resume with 22 teams returning to play and with no fans in attendance.

The NBA and the NBPA confirmed today an agreement on health and safety protocols that will govern the resumption of the season. The rigorous program, which addresses risks related to COVID-19 and focuses on the well-being of players, coaches, officials and staff, was developed in consultation with public health experts, infectious disease specialists and government officials.

As announced on Wednesday, the NBA and the NBPA have agreed in principle that the goal of the season restart will be to find tangible and sustainable ways to address racial inequality across the country. Leaders from the NBA and the NBPA have also discussed strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities, and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community. In recognition that long-term change can only come from an informed and sustained commitment, conversations regarding these efforts will continue and additional details will be released at a later date.

“We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections.”

“It is very exciting to officially announce the restart of the 2019-2020 season,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. “It has taken true collaboration between the League and the Union – special kudos to our Executive Committee and several other team reps – along with the continued support and assistance from medical experts, public health officials and many others. Additionally, our platform in Orlando presents a unique opportunity to extend the ongoing fight against systemic racism and police brutality in this country. We will continue to work with our players and the League to develop specific plans in Orlando as well as long-term initiatives to bring about real change on these issues.”

“We’re glad to be able to provide a unique venue where the NBA can resume its season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We look forward to welcoming the players, coaches and staff to Walt Disney World Resort as they prepare for the exciting return of professional basketball.”

Under the competitive format for the restart, the 22 participating teams will be the eight teams in each conference with the highest current winning percentages and the six teams that are currently within six games of the eighth seed in either conference.

The restart will begin with each participating team playing eight “seeding games,” as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. The complete game and national television schedules for the seeding games will be announced tonight. The NBA and its broadcast and technology partners are collaborating to enhance game telecasts and bring fans an immersive, interactive viewing experience.

At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the highest combined winning percentages across regular-season games and seeding games will be the first through seventh seeds for the NBA Playoffs for that conference. If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular-season games and seeding games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best winning percentage would be the eighth playoff seed in that conference.

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference (Team 8) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference (Team 9), then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference. The play-in tournament will be double elimination for Team 8 and single elimination for Team 9.

The NBA’s standard playoff tiebreaker procedures will be used to break any ties on the basis of winning percentage. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs will proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The 2020 NBA Finals will end no later than Oct. 13.

About ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, located at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, is one of the premier sites for amateur sports in the nation. The complex hosts more than 100 entertainment and sporting events each year and has accommodated 70 different sports featuring athletes from 70 different countries. Designed to provide professional, amateur and youth athletes with experiences synonymous with the names Disney and ESPN, the 220-acre facility features multiple competition venues, including 16 baseball/softball fields, a 9,500-seat ballpark, 18 multi-purpose outdoor fields for soccer, football and field hockey, three indoor venues for basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, dance and other indoor sports, a track & field facility and a cross country course. For more information, visit www.disneysportsnews.com for news releases, photos and videos.

Source: NBA.com

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Lakers' Schedule for Next Month's NBA Return Is Revealed...

Just thought I'd share this image that was posted on the Lakers' Twitter page today revealing the 8-game 'seeding' schedule that LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo and company will play when the NBA resumes its regular season in Orlando, Florida on July 30. The biggest games for the Lake Show will obviously be the first two...against the L.A. Clippers and defending champion Toronto Raptors. The Lakers have lots of formidable teams to go through on the march towards the playoffs, but this will only make things sweeter if they hopefully (and safely) return to Los Angeles sometime in October with the Larry O'Brien Trophy in hand. *Crosses my fingers.*

It's all good that Avery Bradley sat out the rest of this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the need to bring awareness to the new civil rights movement occurring in this country, and I hope that all players and staff members will abide by the safety guidelines to ensure that the NBA's impending return is a triumphant one. Happy Friday!

The 8-game seeding schedule that the Los Angeles Lakers will play when the NBA resumes its regular season in Orlando, Florida on July 30th.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Farewell, Vinsanity...

Vince Carter conducts a windmill dunk that helped him win the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest on February 12, 2000.

Earlier today, Vince Carter officially announced that he was retiring from the NBA after having a career that lasted 22 years and spanned four decades. He started off as a member of the Toronto Raptors during a shortened season that was the result of the 1998 NBA lockout, and ended his career on the Atlanta Hawks during a season that was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the Hawks in particular, their season ended last March (when the league suspended all play) since they will not be traveling to Orlando, Florida next month to join 21 other teams in their quest to win the 2020 NBA championship. What symmetry to Vinsanity's career.

Anyways, thanks for the highlights, Air Canada! I'll remember all of the amazing dunks that he did during the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest—and the crowd roaring in excitement when Carter scored a last-minute alley oop (which just so happened to be his most memorable dunk during the 1999-2000 NBA season) and game-winning 3-pointer against the L.A. Clippers when I watched them play against the Raptors at STAPLES Center in March of that same year. Also, I was pondering about becoming a Toronto fan while the Lakers were down by 15 against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference Finals a few months later (but pretend that I didn't just tell you that). So many basketball memories during the first half of Y2K... That is all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Artwork of the Day: Rise of the Epyon...

As promised in this previous Blog entry, here is a drawing I made of the Gundam Epyon...my favorite of all the mechas from the Japanese anime series Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. I'll probably draw it again sometime in the future, this time featuring the Epyon in its entirety. Wing Zero would also be a cool Gundam to illustrate, but its design is even more complex than that of the Epyon—so I'll see if I can make time to draw it. Don't get your hopes that I will! Even though I have all the time in the world to illustrate the Wing Zero due to this pandemic... Carry on.

My drawing of the Gundam Epyon from the Japanese anime series MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM WING.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

DART News: An Update on the Near-Earth Asteroid That Will Be Deflected by NASA...

An artist's concept of NASA's DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency's LICIACube approaching the near-Earth asteroid Didymos and its moon Dimorphos.
NASA / Johns Hopkins APL / Steve Gribben

NASA's First Planetary Defense Mission Target Gets a New Name (News Release)

Nearly two decades ago, a near-Earth asteroid was discovered to have a moon and the binary system was given the name “Didymos”—Greek for “twin,” a loose description of the larger main body and the smaller orbiting moon, which became unofficially known as Didymos B.

In 2022, that moon will be the target of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the first full-scale demonstration of an asteroid deflection technology for planetary defense. The DART spacecraft will execute a kinetic impact, deliberately crashing into the asteroid to change its motion in space. To mark this historic mission, Didymos B is getting an official name of its own: Dimorphos.

“Upon discovery, asteroids get a temporary name until we know their orbits well enough to know they won't be lost. Once the Didymos system was identified as the ideal target for the DART mission, we needed to formally distinguish between the main body and the satellite,” said Andy Rivkin, a research astronomer and DART investigation co-lead at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), which is building and managing the mission for NASA.

A Global Effort

Just as defending our planet from potentially hazardous asteroids takes a global effort, so does naming an asteroid’s moon.

In 2003, astronomer Petr Pravec, at the OndÅ™ejov Observatory in Czechia, was tracking the brightness of a still-unnamed asteroid when he recognized a pattern consistent with a small moon. Across the world, planetary scientists Lance Benner, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Mike Nolan, then at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, gathered corroborating evidence. Together, the findings pointed to the existence of a binary asteroid.

The near-Earth asteroid was originally discovered in 1996 by Joe Montani of the Spacewatch Project at the University of Arizona, but its orbit needed to be confirmed before it could be named. Backed by the work of Pravec, Benner, Nolan and other astronomers, Montani suggested “Didymos” to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which quickly approved.

After Didymos B was identified as the target for DART, mission leads at APL encouraged the discoverers to propose a separate name for the system’s moon. Weighing many possibilities, they eventually went with a suggestion by Kleomenis Tsiganis, a planetary scientist at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a member of the DART team. This week, the IAU announced official approval of the name.

“Dimorphos, which means ‘two forms,’ reflects the status of this object as the first celestial body to have the ‘form’ of its orbit significantly changed by humanity -- in this case, by the DART impact,” said Tsiganis. “As such, it will be the first object to be known to humans by two, very different forms, the one seen by DART before impact and the other seen by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hera, a few years later.”

Dimorphos, measuring 160 meters (525 feet) in diameter, is the perfect target for the DART test because of its orbit around the larger main body Didymos (which measures 780 meters, or 0.48 miles, in diameter), and because of the pair’s relatively close proximity to Earth in late 2022.

“Astronomers will be able to compare observations from Earth-based telescopes before and after DART’s kinetic impact to determine how much the orbital period of Dimorphos changed,” said Tom Statler, DART Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters. “That’s the key measurement that will tell us how the asteroid responded to our deflection effort.”

International Collaboration

DART’s impact with Dimorphos will also be recorded in space by LICIACube, a companion CubeSat provided by the Italian Space Agency that will travel on, and be deployed from, DART. Further investigation of Didymos and Dimorphos will be performed by ESA’s Hera mission a few years after DART’s impact. The DART and Hera mission teams are working together through an international collaboration called the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA).

“DART is a first step in testing methods for hazardous asteroid deflection,” said Andrea Riley, DART Program Executive at NASA Headquarters. “Potentially hazardous asteroids are a global concern, and we are excited to be working with our Italian and European colleagues to collect the most accurate data possible from this kinetic impact deflection demonstration.”

DART is the first mission developed for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, and one piece of NASA’s wider planetary defense planning. In 2016, NASA established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) to lead US Government efforts to detect and warn of potentially hazardous asteroids and comets and to study means to mitigate the hazard when possible.

From Didymos B to Dimorphos, it’s a fitting name for an asteroid that will serve dual roles as a both a test target and a part of a blueprint for protecting the planet in the future.

Source: NASA.Gov

Monday, June 22, 2020

TESS Update: Another Hot Jupiter Found Beyond Our Own Solar System...

An animated GIF of the 'hot Jupiter' known as HIP 67522 b.
NASA / JPL - Caltech

Young Giant Planet Offers Clues to Formation of Exotic Worlds (News Release)

Jupiter-size planets orbiting close to their stars have upended ideas about how giant planets form. Finding young members of this planet class could help answer key questions.

For most of human history our understanding of how planets form and evolve was based on the eight (or nine) planets in our solar system. But over the last 25 years, the discovery of more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, changed all that.

Among the most intriguing of these distant worlds is a class of exoplanets called hot Jupiters. Similar in size to Jupiter, these gas-dominated planets orbit extremely close to their parent stars, circling them in as few as 18 hours. We have nothing like this in our own solar system, where the closest planets to the Sun are rocky and orbiting much farther away. The questions about hot Jupiters are as big as the planets themselves: Do they form close to their stars or farther away before migrating inward? And if these giants do migrate, what would that reveal about the history of the planets in our own solar system?

To answer those questions, scientists will need to observe many of these hot giants very early in their formation. Now, a new study in the Astronomical Journal reports on the detection of the exoplanet HIP 67522 b, which appears to be the youngest hot Jupiter ever found. It orbits a well-studied star that is about 17 million years old, meaning the hot Jupiter is likely only a few million years younger, whereas most known hot Jupiters are more than a billion years old. The planet takes about seven days to orbit its star, which has a mass similar to the Sun's. Located only about 490 light-years from Earth, HIP 67522 b is about 10 times the diameter of Earth, or close to that of Jupiter. Its size strongly indicates that it is a gas-dominated planet.

HIP 67522 b was identified as a planet candidate by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which detects planets via the transit method: Scientists look for small dips in the brightness of a star, indicating that an orbiting planet has passed between the observer and the star. But young stars tend to have a lot of dark splotches on their surfaces - starspots, also called sunspots when they appear on the Sun - that can look similar to transiting planets. So scientists used data from NASA's recently retired infrared observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope, to confirm that the transit signal was from a planet and not a starspot. (Other methods of exoplanet detection have yielded hints at the presence of even younger hot Jupiters, but none have been confirmed.)

The discovery offers hope for finding more young hot Jupiters and learning more about how planets form throughout the universe - even right here at home.

"We can learn a lot about our solar system and its history by studying the planets and other things orbiting the Sun," said Aaron Rizzuto, an exoplanet scientist at the University of Texas at Austin who led the study. "But we will never know how unique or how common our solar system is unless we're out there looking for exoplanets. Exoplanet scientists are finding out how our solar system fits in the bigger picture of planet formation in the universe."

Migrating Giants?

There are three main hypotheses for how hot Jupiters get so close to their parent stars. One is that they simply form there and stay put. But it's hard to imagine planets forming in such an intense environment. Not only would the scorching heat vaporize most materials, but young stars frequently erupt with massive explosions and stellar winds, potentially dispersing any newly emerging planets.

It seems more likely that gas giants develop farther from their parent star, past a boundary called the snow line, where it's cool enough for ice and other solid materials to form. Jupiter-like planets are composed almost entirely of gas, but they contain solid cores. It would be easier for those cores to form past the snow line, where frozen materials could cling together like a growing snowball.

The other two hypotheses assume this is the case, and that hot Jupiters then wander closer to their stars. But what would be the cause and timing of the migration?

One idea posits that hot Jupiters begin their journey early in the planetary system's history while the star is still surrounded by the disk of gas and dust from which both it and the planet formed. In this scenario, the gravity of the disk interacting with the mass of the planet could interrupt the gas giant's orbit and cause it to migrate inward.

The third hypothesis maintains that hot Jupiters get close to their star later, when the gravity of other planets around the star can drive the migration. The fact that HIP 67522 b is already so close to its star so early after its formation indicates that this third hypothesis probably doesn't apply in this case. But one young hot Jupiter isn't enough to settle the debate on how they all form.

"Scientists would like to know if there is a dominant mechanism that forms most hot Jupiters," said Yasuhiro Hasegawa, an astrophysicist specializing in planet formation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who was not involved in the study. "In the community right now there is no clear consensus about which formation hypothesis is most important for reproducing the population we have observed. The discovery of this young hot Jupiter is exciting, but it's only a hint at the answer. To solve the mystery, we will need more."

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT's Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope was retired on Jan. 30, 2020. Science data continues to be analyzed by the science community via the Spitzer data archive located at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech in Pasadena, California. JPL managed Spitzer mission operations for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations were conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at IPAC at Caltech. Spacecraft operations were based at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Rizzuto is a 51 Pegasi b Fellow which is funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Artwork of the Day: Wrath of the Dark Trooper...

My drawing of a Dark Trooper from the STAR WARS: DARK FORCES video game.

Contrary to what I wrote in this previous Blog entry, it isn't the Gundam Epyon that I drew after illustrating Valak from the 2018 horror flick The Nun, but a Dark Trooper from the 1995 Star Wars video game, Dark Forces. It was the ad below that got me to become a Star Wars fan 25 years ago (when I was in my second semester in 9th grade). This was because I initially thought that this was a character from the Star Wars prequels—which, of course, wouldn't start hitting theaters for another four years. The cool design of this Imperial villain captured my imagination, and it wouldn't be till 1997 (when I was a junior in high school) that I played against this antagonist on Dark Forces when it became available for Sony Playstation (which my family originally had; but I have no idea what happened to it). This Dark Trooper was the final boss in the game, and he was pretty easy to defeat, hah!

I originally tried to draw this artwork over a decade ago, but I found it a bit challenging coloring-wise (using Crayola markers to emulate a painting is pretty tricky work) so I abandoned the effort. Leave it to staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic to give me motivation to try drawing the Dark Trooper again! Anyways, next up: the Gundam Epyon. No seriously!

The Dark Trooper in an official ad for the STAR WARS: DARK FORCES video game.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Remembering the Mamba's 1st NBA Championship...

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal celebrate after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers, 116-111, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at STAPLES Center...on June 19, 2000.
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

On this day 20 years ago, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Rice, Robert Horry and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers played a high-powered Game 6 against the Indiana Pacers to win the NBA championship, 116-111, at STAPLES Center. Not only was this the Mamba and Big Diesel's first NBA title, it was also the 12th championship in Lakers franchise history and the 1st title for the team in 12 years...the last trophy-clinching victory being against the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals.

Go to this previous Blog entry to read my take on the Lake Show having another shot at a championship when the NBA season resumes in Orlando, Florida next month. And in case you're wondering, yes, I was at STAPLES Center to witness the outdoor riots that took place after the Lakers clinched the title 2 decades ago this evening. And no, I didn't take part in the anarchy.

Happy Juneteenth!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Gettin' Stoked About 'Trident'...

An image of Neptune's moon Triton that was taken by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in August of 1989.

Proposed NASA Mission Would Visit Neptune's Curious Moon Triton (News Release - June 16)

One of four concepts being considered for a Discovery Program mission, Trident would investigate one of the solar system's most unusual worlds.

When NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune's strange moon Triton three decades ago, it wrote a planetary science cliffhanger.

Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft ever to have flown past Neptune, and it left a lot of unanswered questions. The views were as stunning as they were puzzling, revealing massive, dark plumes of icy material spraying out from Triton's surface. But how? Images showed that the icy landscape was young and had been resurfaced over and over with fresh material. But what material, and from where?

How could an ancient moon six times farther from the Sun than Jupiter still be active? Is there something in its interior that is still warm enough to drive this activity?

A new mission competing for selection under NASA's Discovery Program aims to untangle these mysteries. Called Trident, like the three-pronged spear carried by the ancient Roman sea god Neptune, the team is one of four that is developing concept studies for new missions. Up to two will be selected by summer 2021 to become a full-fledged mission and will launch later in the decade.

Investigating how Triton has changed over time would give scientists a better understanding of how solar system bodies evolve and work.

The oddities of Triton could fill an almanac: As Neptune rotates, Triton orbits in the opposite direction. No other large moon in the solar system does that. And Triton's orbit lies at an extreme tilt, offset from Neptune's equator by 23 degrees. About three-quarters the diameter of our own Moon, Triton isn't where it used to be, either. It likely migrated from the Kuiper Belt, a region beyond Neptune of icy bodies left over from the early solar system.

Triton has an unusual atmosphere, too: Filled with charged particles, a layer called the ionosphere is 10 times more active than that of any other moon in the solar system.

That last trait is especially strange, because ionospheres generally are charged by solar energy. But Triton and Neptune are far from the Sun - 30 times farther from the Sun than Earth, so some other energy source must be at work. (It takes 165 Earth years for Neptune to complete one orbit around the Sun.)

And Triton's climate is dynamic and changing, with a steady flow of organic material, likely nitrogen, snowing onto the surface.

"Triton has always been one of the most exciting and intriguing bodies in the solar system," said Louise Prockter, director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute/Universities Space Research Association in Houston. As principal investigator, she would lead the proposed Trident mission, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California would manage it. "I've always loved the Voyager 2 images and their tantalizing glimpses of this bizarre, crazy moon that no one understands," Prockter added.

A Three-Pronged Approach

Those mysterious plumes Voyager 2 spotted are especially intriguing. Plumes seen on Saturn's moon Enceladus, and possibly present on Jupiter's moon Europa, are thought to be caused by water from the interior being forced through thick, icy crusts. If an ocean is the source of the plumes on Triton (which lies much farther out in the solar system than Europa and Enceladus), the discovery would give scientists new information about how interior oceans form. Unlike other known ocean worlds, Triton's potential ocean likely developed after it was captured by Neptune's gravity.

It would also expand scientists' understanding of where we might find water. Figuring out what factors lead to a solar system body having the necessary ingredients to be habitable, which include water, is one Trident's three major goals. The spacecraft would carry an instrument to probe the moon's magnetic field to determine if an ocean lies inside, while other instruments would investigate the intense ionosphere, organic-rich atmosphere and bizarre surface features.

A second goal is to explore vast, unseen lands. Triton offers the largest unexplored solid surface in the solar system this side of the Kuiper Belt. Most of what we know of the moon came from Voyager 2 data, but we've only seen 40% of the moon's surface. Trident would map most of the remainder.

And Trident would use its full-frame imaging camera to capture the same plume-rich area Voyager 2 imaged - in full "Neptune-shine," when the Sun's reflected light illuminates the dark side of Triton. That way scientists could observe changes since the last visit and learn more about just how active Triton is.

Trident's third major goal is to understand how that mysterious surface keeps renewing itself. The surface is remarkably young, geologically speaking (possibly only 10 million years old in a 4.6-billion-year-old solar system) and has almost no visible craters. There's also the question of why it looks so different from other icy moons, and features unusual landforms like dimpled "cantaloupe terrains" and protruding "walled plains." The answers could shed light on how landscapes develop on other icy bodies.

"Triton is weird, but yet relevantly weird, because of the science we can do there," said Karl Mitchell Trident project scientist at JPL. "We know the surface has all these features we've never seen before, which motivates us to want to know 'How does this world work?'

"As we said to NASA in our mission proposal, Triton isn't just a key to solar system science - it's a whole keyring: a captured Kuiper Belt object that evolved, a potential ocean world with active plumes, an energetic ionosphere and a young, unique surface."

The proposed launch date in October 2025 (with a backup in October 2026) would take advantage of a once-in-a-13-year window, when Earth is properly aligned with Jupiter. The spacecraft would use the gravitational pull of Jupiter as a slingshot straight to Triton for an extended 13-day encounter in 2038.

"The mission designers and navigators are so good at this," said JPL's William Frazier, project systems engineer of Trident. "After 13 years of flying through the solar system, we can confidently skim the upper edge of Triton's atmosphere - which is pretty mind-boggling."

And it may seem that time moves slowly in the outer reaches of the solar system, where Neptune's years are long. Ironically for Triton, the long timeline presents limitations. If Trident arrives before 2040, the team could perform its test of what's powering the plume activity. Any later, and the Sun moves too far north ... for the next hundred years.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory


A composite image I made depicting the New Horizons spacecraft venturing past Neptune and its moon Triton. Like what New Horizons actually did at Pluto in 2015 and the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth last year, the Trident mission would conduct a flyby of Neptune and Triton in 2038 if selected by NASA next year.
Richard Par / NASA / JPL / Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory / Southwest Research Institute

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Remembering the Mamba's 5th and Final NBA Championship...

Kobe Bryant celebrates after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics, 83-79, in Game 7 of the NBA Finals at STAPLES Center...on June 17, 2010.
Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

On this day 10 years ago, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers played a low-scoring but epic Game 7 against the Boston Celtics to win the NBA championship, 83-79, at STAPLES Center. Exactly two years after they were humiliated by their arch-nemesis in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals at TD Banknorth Garden arena, the Lakers exacted revenge in a fitting end to their 3-year championship run that also included a win over the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals.

Almost 5 months after Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and 7 other wonderful individuals lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, the Lakers are back in position to win a title that would obviously be a fitting tribute to the late Mamba. The only thing that stands in the way of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo (who was on the Celtics squad that played against the Lakers in the 2008 and '10 Finals, respectively) honoring Kobe with a 17th franchise championship this Fall is the NBA being able to successfully resume the season next month at the Walt Disney World in Orlando. By all accounts, despite the fact that the number of coronavirus cases is slowly increasing in central Florida, the NBA has a thorough plan in place to ensure that all of the players, coaches and supporting personnel inside the league's 'bubble' at Disney World will remain safe through a potential Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Monday, October 12. Let's cross our fingers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Artwork of the Day: Drawing Valak from THE NUN...

Happy Tuesday, everyone! As mentioned in this previous Blog entry, I was debating whether or not I should make an illustration of Valak, the demonic nun from the 2018 horror flick The Nun. And of course, here's your answer! I might possibly draw Valak again since I'm not really satisfied with the way the coloring turned out (this is one of those cases where I either needed to use colored pencils, or finally learn the art of digital painting), but we'll see.

As far as my next artwork goes, I'm thinking about drawing the Gundam Epyon from the anime Mobile Suit Gundam Wing! I was such a fan of this mecha after seeing him in action when the Japanese series aired on the Cartoon Network 20 years ago, that I bought a model kit of the Epyon and displayed it on my bookshelf at home. But it's been long-gone for over a decade now (I donated it to Goodwill)... Sigh. Anyways, as a Catholic, is it blasphemous that I drew such an evil and grotesque depiction of a sacred member of the religious community? Nahhh. If anything, blame director James Wan for featuring this cool-looking villain in The Conjuring movies! Carry on.

My drawing of Valak from the movie THE NUN.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Mars 2020 Update: The Power Source for America's Next Red Planet Rover Is Ready for Launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida...

A Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator...the same nuclear system that will be used to power NASA's Perseverance rover when it safely arrives on the surface of Mars in February of next year.
Office of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Power System Delivered to Florida for NASA’s Perseverance Rover (Press Release - June 3)

The U.S. Department of Energy successfully delivered its latest nuclear power system to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida—the site of NASA’s Mars 2020 launch later this summer. The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) was fueled, built and tested by DOE’s national laboratories to power the mission’s Perseverance rover.

Fueling Space Exploration

Perseverance will be the first rover to use plutonium created by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The lab, along with Idaho and Los Alamos national laboratories, is helping NASA beef up its fuel supply for Plutonium-238—an isotope used for deep space missions.

ORNL recently automated part of the production process allowing the lab to produce up to 400 grams of Pu-238 each year, moving closer to NASA’s goal of 1.5 kilograms per year by 2025.

MMRTG Advantages

Radioisotope power systems (RPS) convert heat generated by the natural decay of Pu-238 into electrical power. The MMRTG will provide electricity for the basic operations of the Perseverance rover and keep the rover’s tools and systems at optimal temperatures. The power system has an operational lifespan of 14 years which surpasses the energy needs of the rover’s year-long journey to, and exploration of, the red planet.

Radioisotope Power System Infrastructure

DOE maintains the essential infrastructure to help fuel, build and test each power system. ORNL provides the heat source materials and hardware for NASA missions. Los Alamos National Laboratory purifies and encapsulates the plutonium-238. Idaho National Laboratory then assembles, tests, and assures the final delivery of the RPS.

The delivery and installation of the MMRTG completes the RPS production phase of this project. A hot fit check was conducted to test the rover’s system while powered by the MMRTG. A small crew from INL will monitor the power system around the clock until its anticipated launch on July 20th, 2020.

Next Steps

DOE will continue to support its strong partnership with NASA. Its next MMRTG is set to power the Dragonfly rotorcraft lander mission to explore Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Since solar energy is not a viable option in Titan’s hazy atmosphere, the MMRTG will play a major role in supplying power to the spacecraft.

Dragonfly is scheduled to launch in 2026.

Source: Office of Nuclear Energy


An artist's concept of the Perseverance rover studying the surface of Mars.
NASA / JPL - Caltech

Friday, June 12, 2020

Artwork of the Day: Goku, the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan!

Happy Friday, everyone! Just thought I'd share this artwork that I made of Goku as he appeared in the 2015 film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection "F". Several years after he finally became a legendary Super Saiyan while battling and defeating Frieza (who's pretty much the Emperor Palpatine of the Dragon Ball Z saga) on the planet Namek, Goku evolved into a Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (or 'Super Saiyan Blue' for short) when he once again fought Frieza—now known as Golden Frieza—after he was brought back from the dead by the wish-granting dragon Shenron. Goku's hair is blue because he has the combined power of the first Super Saiyan form and that of a Super Saiyan God. In other words, you'd have to be a Dragon Ball Z fan to know what the heck I'm talking about!

Anyways, that enough with delving into DBZ lore. I'm trying to think of what my next drawing will be as I stay at home (most of the time) during the coronavirus pandemic. As a Catholic, is it blasphemous that I'm thinking about drawing Valak from the 2018 horror flick The Nun? Hmm. Have a great weekend!

Goku, the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan from the film DRAGON BALL Z: RESURRECTION 'F'.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

VIPER Update: NASA Selects a Robotic Delivery System for Its New Lunar Rover...

An artist's concept of NASA's VIPER rover on the surface of the Moon.
NASA Ames / Daniel Rutter

NASA Selects Astrobotic to Fly Water-Hunting Rover to the Moon (Press Release)

NASA has awarded Astrobotic of Pittsburgh $199.5 million to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023.

The water-seeking mobile VIPER robot will help pave the way for astronaut missions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024 and will bring NASA a step closer to developing a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program.

“The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will deliver it to the Moon are a prime example of how the scientific community and U.S. industry are making NASA’s lunar exploration vision a reality,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Commercial partners are changing the landscape of space exploration, and VIPER is going to be a big boost to our efforts to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 through the Artemis program.”

VIPER’s flight to the Moon is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, which leverages the capabilities of industry partners to quickly deliver scientific instruments and technology demonstrations to the Moon. As part of its award, Astrobotic is responsible for end-to-end services for delivery of VIPER, including integration with its Griffin lander, launch from Earth, and landing on the Moon.

During its 100-Earth-day mission, the approximately 1,000-pound VIPER rover will roam several miles and use its four science instruments to sample various soil environments. Versions of its three water-hunting instruments are flying to the Moon on earlier CLPS lander deliveries in 2021 and 2022 to help test their performance on the lunar surface prior to VIPER’s mission. The rover also will have a drill to bore approximately 3 feet into the lunar surface.

“CLPS is a totally creative way to advance lunar exploration,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen. “We’re doing something that’s never been done before – testing the instruments on the Moon as the rover is being developed. VIPER and the many payloads we will send to the lunar surface in the next few years are going to help us realize the Moon’s vast scientific potential.”

VIPER will collect data – including the location and concentration of ice – that will be used to inform the first global water resource maps of the Moon. Scientific data gathered by VIPER also will inform the selection of future landing sites for astronaut Artemis missions by helping to determine locations where water and other resources can be harvested to sustain humans during extended expeditions. Its science investigations will provide insights into the evolution of the Moon and the Earth-Moon system.

NASA has previously contracted with three companies to make CLPS deliveries to the Moon beginning in 2021. Astrobotic is scheduled to make its first delivery of other instruments to the lunar surface next year. In April, the agency released a call for potential future lunar surface investigations and received more than 200 responses. CLPS is planned to provide a steady cadence of two delivery opportunities to the lunar surface each year.

“It is an enormous honor and responsibility to be chosen by NASA to deliver this mission of national importance,” said Astrobotic CEO John Thornton. “Astrobotic’s lunar logistics services were created to open a new era on the Moon. Delivering VIPER to look for water, and setting the stage for the first human crew since Apollo, embodies our mission as a company.”

VIPER is a collaboration between various NASA entities and agency partners. The spacecraft, lander and launch vehicle that will deliver VIPER to the surface of the Moon will be provided through NASA’s CLPS initiative as a partnership with industry for delivering science and technology payloads to and near the lunar surface. CLPS is part of the Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program managed by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The VIPER mission is part of SMDs Planetary Science Division. NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley is managing the VIPER mission, as well as leading the mission’s science, systems engineering, real-time rover surface operations and flight software. The rover hardware is being designed and built by NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and the instruments are provided by Ames, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and commercial partner Honeybee Robotics in Altadena, California.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

New Horizons Update: Stunning Images of the Cosmos from 4.3 Billion Miles Away...

An animated GIF showing the star Proxima Centauri as seen from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, and an Earth-based ground telescope located 4.3 billion miles (about 7 billion kilometers) from the robotic probe.

NASA’s New Horizons Conducts the First Interstellar Parallax Experiment (News Release)

For the first time, a spacecraft has sent back pictures of the sky from so far away that some stars appear to be in different positions than we'd see from Earth.

More than four billion miles from home and speeding toward interstellar space, NASA's New Horizons has traveled so far that it now has a unique view of the nearest stars. “It’s fair to say that New Horizons is looking at an alien sky, unlike what we see from Earth,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “And that has allowed us to do something that had never been accomplished before — to see the nearest stars visibly displaced on the sky from the positions we see them on Earth.”

On April 22-23, the spacecraft turned its long-range telescopic camera to a pair of the “closest” stars, Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359, showing just how they appear in different places than we see from Earth. Scientists have long used this “parallax effect” – how a star appears to shift against its background when seen from different locations -- to measure distances to stars.

An easy way to see parallax is to place one finger at arm’s length and watch it jump back and forth when you view it successively with each eye. Similarly, as Earth makes it way around the Sun, the stars shift their positions. But because even the nearest stars are hundreds of thousands of times farther away than the diameter of Earth’s orbit, the parallax shifts are tiny, and can only be measured with precise instrumentation.

“No human eye can detect these shifts,” Stern said.

But when New Horizons images are paired with pictures of the same stars taken on the same dates by telescopes on Earth, the parallax shift is instantly visible. The combination yields a 3D view of the stars “floating” in front of their background star fields.

“The New Horizons experiment provides the largest parallax baseline ever made -- over 4 billion miles -- and is the first demonstration of an easily observable stellar parallax,” said Tod Lauer, New Horizons science team member from the National Science Foundation's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory who coordinated the parallax demonstration.

"The New Horizons spacecraft is truly a mission of firsts, and this demonstration of stellar parallax is no different" said Kenneth Hansen, New Horizons program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The New Horizons spacecraft continues to speed away from Earth toward interstellar space and is continuing to return exciting new data for planetary science."

Working in Stereo

Lauer, New Horizons Deputy Project Scientist John Spencer, of SwRI, and science team collaborator, astrophysicist, Queen guitarist and stereo imaging enthusiast Brian May created the images that clearly show the effect of the vast distance between Earth and the two nearby stars.

“It could be argued that in astro-stereoscopy -- 3D images of astronomical objects – NASA’s New Horizons team already leads the field, having delivered astounding stereoscopic images of both Pluto and the remote Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth,” May said. “But the latest New Horizons stereoscopic experiment breaks all records. These photographs of Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359 – stars that are well-known to amateur astronomers and science fiction aficionados alike -- employ the largest distance between viewpoints ever achieved in 180 years of stereoscopy!”

The companion images of Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359 were provided by the Las Cumbres Observatory, operating a remote telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, and astronomers John Kielkopf, University of Louisville, and Karen Collins, Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, operating a remote telescope at Mt. Lemmon Observatory in Arizona.

“The professional and amateur astronomy communities had been waiting to try this, and were very excited to make a little space exploration history,” said Lauer. “The images collected on Earth when New Horizons was observing Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359 really exceeded my expectations.”

Download the images (and learn more about creating and posting your own parallax perspectives) at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Learn/Parallax/Parallax-Images.php

An Interstellar Navigation First

Throughout history, navigators have used measurements of the stars to establish their position on Earth. Interstellar navigators can do the same to establish their position in the galaxy, using a technique that New Horizons has demonstrated for the first time. While radio tracking by NASA’s Deep Space Network is far more accurate, its first use is a significant milestone in what may someday become human exploration of the galaxy.

At the time of the observations, New Horizons was more than 4.3 billion miles (about 7 billion kilometers) from Earth, where a radio signal, traveling at the speed of light, needed just under 6 hours and 30 minutes to reach home.

Launched in 2006, New Horizons is the first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. It explored Pluto and its moons in July 2015 -- completing the space-age reconnaissance of the planets that started 50 years earlier -- and continued on its unparalleled voyage of exploration with the close flyby of Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth in January 2019. New Horizons will eventually leave the solar system, joining the Voyagers and Pioneers on their paths to the stars.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The MSFC Planetary Management Office provides the NASA oversight for the New Horizons. Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, directs the mission via Principal Investigator Stern, and leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Source: NASA.Gov


An animated GIF showing the star Wolf 359 as seen from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, and an Earth-based ground telescope located 4.3 billion miles (about 7 billion kilometers) from the robotic probe.

Friday, June 05, 2020

The NBA Is 'GO' to Resuming the 2019-'20 Season!

NBA Board of Governors Approves Competitive Format to Restart 2019-20 Season with 22 Teams Returning to Play (Press Release - June 4)

NEW YORK -- The NBA Board of Governors today approved a competitive format to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play and a tentative start date of Friday, July 31. The Board’s approval is the first formal step among many required to resume the season.

The NBA is working to finalize a comprehensive season restart plan with the National Basketball Players Association. The NBA and the NBPA are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices. The season restart is also contingent on an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, as a single site for a campus for all games, practices and housing for the remainder of the season.

Based on the competitive format that the NBA Board of Governors approved today, the 22 returning teams would be the 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences. Those two groups comprise teams with the NBA’s 22 best records.

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

The season restart would begin with eight “seeding games” for each returning team and include the possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth and final playoff seed in each conference depending on combined records across regular-season games and seeding games. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs would proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The NBA Finals would end no later than Oct. 12. (See below for the list of returning teams and additional details.)

If, as tentatively scheduled, the season resumes on July 31, then the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery would be rescheduled for Aug. 25, the 2020 NBA Draft would be held on Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin on Dec. 1, 2020.

The 14 NBA Lottery teams would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs. These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11. The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.

NBA Season Restart: Competitive Format Plan

The 22 returning teams for the season restart would be the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards from the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns from the Western Conference.

Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.

If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best record would earn the eighth playoff seed.

If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference (Team A) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference (Team B), then Teams A and B would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed. To earn the eighth playoff seed, Team A would need to defeat Team B once and Team B would need to defeat Team A two games in a row.

The 2019-20 season would conclude with a traditional playoff format with best-of-seven series in the first round, conference semifinals, conference finals and the NBA Finals.

Source: NBA.com


One of LeBron James' most memorable dunks during the 2019-'20 NBA regular season.
Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE via Getty Images

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Photo and Video of the Day: The Lakers Clinch Their Spot in the 2000 NBA Finals...

Kobe Bryant attempts to block a shot during Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference Finals...on June 4, 2000.
Getty Images

20 years ago today, the Lakers made an epic (though some may say controversial) comeback against the Portland Trail Blazers after Los Angeles was down by 15 points in the 4th quarter. In a run that included the famous alley oop from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O'Neal that resulted in a decisive dunk (see video below), the Lakers finally put an end to three straight disappointing postseasons that included two defeats by the Utah Jazz (in 1997 and a sweep in '98), and a sweep by the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. And this run to the championship took place during the Lake Show's first NBA season at their new home, the STAPLES Center.

All I can say is, this was a classic game! Though I'll admit, I was so infuriated by the Lakers losing badly coming out of the 3rd quarter, that I pondered about becoming a Raptors fan had L.A. lost Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference Finals. Don't forget— Air Canada himself, Vince Carter, was still playing in Toronto at the time. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The Lakers Will Soon Be Back on the Court!

Tomorrow, the NBA board of governors are set to vote on a new plan that will allow the 2019-'20 NBA season to resume as early as July 31! Under the proposal, eight games will be played by 22 teams during the regular season...before it transitions to a playoff format that involves a potential play-in tournament for the 8th seed, and then the traditional postseason format that includes three best-of-7 conference rounds that will precede the NBA Finals. In regards to the NBA Finals itself, a Game 7 would be played on Monday, October 12. To help prevent infection by the coronavirus, all games will be held at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. The NBA players and personnel would be sequestered there for the duration of the season as well.

All I can say about this plan is—woohoo! I hope I'm not jinxing the Lakers' chances by posting the Photoshopped pic below (I probably am), but seeing as how LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso and company were No. 1 in the Western Conference (while the Milwaukee Bucks lead in the Eastern Conference) before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the league last March, it's time for the Lake Show to find out if they can regain the glory that slowly disappeared after Los Angeles last won the championship 10 years ago. I'm crossing my fingers that it will... Lakers fans need something to celebrate after the tragedy that befell them and the sporting world in general last January. Carry on.

I'm sure I might be jinxing the Lakers' chances by posting this Photoshopped pic, but I couldn't resist!
Courtesy of Twitter