Cupola on the ISS

With the installation of the cupola attached to the Tranquility module on the International Space Station, I know what I will definitely be taking a look at if I ever visit the space station. (I can dream, can't I?) With its much more open view compared to the tiny viewports that were already on the space station, the cupola provides a beautiful platform for looking outside at Earth or at space.

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AMS heading up this summer

Made and assembled in Switzerland…
AMS-2 in Switzerland

The International Space Station has been an enormously expensive structure in orbit that took over a decade to construct. Despite the enormous expense, however, its scientific capabilities are somewhat lackluster. So it's exciting to hear that the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a superconducting detector which can study cosmic rays, is heading to the ISS in July. It will be a three-year experiment that could contribute greatly to the study of dark matter and antimatter in the universe. And to think that it almost got cancelled due to the lack of a shuttle flight ...

About Constellation's cancellation

The Constellation program was proposed in 2004 as a program to return humans to the Moon through the development of two new rockets and a whole slew of new hardware. Unfortunately, the administration at the time neglected to allocate much funding for the program, which forced NASA to cut funding to a lot of other programs to operate Constellation with a shoestring budget (even increasing NASA's budget to what amounts to occupying Iraq for about a week was apparently too much). It didn't help that the Augustine Commission had a less than stellar opinion of the program.

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Spirit no longer roving

The Mars Spirit Rover has been stuck for months in a sand trap, and it hasn't helped that one of the wheels were broken in the first place while another wheel broke down as well. Efforts to get Spirit out of the sand trap now have finally been given up. Considering that it has roamed around Mars for six years (albeit over very small distances), far longer than its original three-month planned lifespan, that ain't so bad. And even with the Spirit rover being stuck, it will now be serving as a static station observing the Martian weather and seismological activity. Not to mention that Opportunity is still roving ...

Stone tips or not?

I'm a big fan of the MythBusters and have watched every single episode of the myth-busting show. Given the things they are testing all the time, I've always wondered if they ever work with those in academia to publish some of their results in peer-reviewed journals. I also subscribe to Research Blogging for blog posts that talk about papers discussing current research, as part of my effort to find stuff to include in Science Gossip, my "meta-blogging" site for science news.

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