Google Lunar XPRIZE


September 13, 2017 marks ten years since Google announced the Lunar XPRIZE at a technology conference sponsored by Wired magazine. Up for grabs – a $30 million US prize pool, $20 million top prize going to the first privately funded team of innovators successfully landing a robotic craft on the Moon, moving it at least 500 meters across the lunar surface and transmitting two “Mooncasts” in high definition video, no less than 8 minutes each – one on arrival, the other at completion of mobility requirements. Subsidiary, bonus and incentive prizes are detailed below. Link to full contest rules –

http://lunar.xprize.org/about/guidelines

Registration closed December 31, 2010. If no registered team managed to secure launch arrangements by December 31, 2015, the contest would end. On October 9, 2015 team SpaceIL verified a launch contract with SpaceX. Conditions met, the contest continued. Teams had until December 31, 2016 to secure launch contracts, all Moon missions must be completed by December 31, 2017. Five verified teams remain – http://lunar.xprize.org/teams

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Lunar_X_Prize

Link below for other privately funded space endeavors –

http://www.space.com/20006-deep-space-missions-private-companies.html

Core No. 7


The search term “Egyptian core 7” directs more traffic to this blog than all other search terms combined -go figure…

notestoponder

It strikes me as appropriate – my 701st post not only contains No. 7, but resonates with ancient wonder that got me blogging in the first place.

No. 7 requires an open mind, suspension of belief, dismissal of dusty textbook historical timelines, willingness to resist alien conspiracy theories and a good dose of childlike wonder. To ponder No. 7, is to accept we know jack about the past. Clear your mind of rolled eyes, dismissive platitudes, tin foil hats, new age fruit cakes, divine intervention and crocks of shit.

In 1881 British archeologist Flinders Petrie found something remarkable near the great pyramids at Giza. He didn’t unearth great riches or open an undisturbed tomb. Petrie picked up a piece of granite – a 4000 year old chunk of construction debris. A treasure politely tucked away in the Petrie Museum of Egyptology in London, England – one that defies explanation, logic…

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Venus Bubbles


This is pretty cool – do a little space homework, find out when the Moon or planets appear in the direction of setting Sun. Take a piece of picture frame size glass outside at sunset. Find an appropriate place to fasten it between yourself and the setting sun. Sprinkle glass with drops of water. Focus your camera lens on the drops of water…….

Photographer John Bell of Haversham, Bucks, UK followed the recipe and obtained the picture above on Jan. 17, 2017.

“I had been looking at macro photos of flowers through droplets and thought I’d try the same with the evening sky,” explains Bell. “I taped a photoframe glass to a tree branch in my garden and framed the droplets using my Canon 5D MK2 with a sigma 106mm macro lens. The view was of Venus by a neighbour’s tree.”

Water droplets act as inverting lenses, so in the original photo the sunset was upside down. “Easily fixed,” says Bell, who restored order by rotating the image 180 degrees. “Focusing was a bit difficult,” he adds. “After all, water droplets are not perfect lenses.” The result, however, was perfectly beautiful. More exposures are available here.

MLK Day


First posted 4 years ago, I do so again because nothing has changed. Donald Trump blithers “Make America great again” without an inkling of what a great nation stood for. MLK knew what it meant. He knew racial inequality choked the premise America might ever be great.

notestoponder

Today, January 18, 2016 is Martin Luther King Day in America. A federal holiday falling on the Monday closest to January 15, the day MLK was born in 1929. MLK was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Establishing MLK Day wasn’t easy – a 1979 vote by the House of Representatives –  defeated by 5 votes. In 1980/81, six million signatures supporting MLK Day were collected on a petition to Congress – deemed “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history”. Republican Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East from North Carolina led the opposition. Helms orchestrated a filibuster against the bill in 1983, producing a 300 page document alleging King associated with communists. New York Senator Patrick Moynihan threw it on the Senate floor, declaring it a “packet of filth” as he stomped on it. On November 2, 1983 president Ronald Reagan set aside…

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Titan Touchdown


On January 11, 2017 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory ( JPL ) released “Titan Touchdown”, a short video of stoic little probe Huygens landing on Saturn’s moon Titan. A video marking the 12th anniversary of January 14, 2005, the day Huygens bravely marched into history as the furthest ever landing from Earth. The day Huygens met fate in a blaze of glory, making the most of precious minutes until Titan claimed it for eternity.

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2987/huygens-ground-truth-from-an-alien-moon/

The Cassini-Huygens mission holds a place in my heart – RIP Huygens, your sacrifice won’t be forgotten.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/