Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, July 01, 2005

  the Nubile Projectile gets no respect

What the heck is Deep Impact, anyway?

National Geographic:Deep Impact is a trashcan. We're flinging trashcans at 23,000 mph around the solar system?

No, actually - It's a table, and a washing machine!.

JPL calls Deep Impact an "Impactor" - which is about as sexless a term that NASA could come up with, which much have been chosen with great deliberation and forethought.

So, anyway, as Deep Impact is a washer, a dryer, a trashcan, a table, and an impactor, I know what it is now.

it's absolutely everything a 50s woman could use in space.

It's a washing machine:

Great. And what 2050s woman would want to do laundry? Let's hurl our appliances at the stars. What if we actually did start - purposefully - flinging our malfunctioning gear to immolate itself against various comets, asteroids, and worlds?

At least Deep Impact spacecraft ready for climax of comet-busting mission has a sexy title...

And 625,000 names on a mini-cd are getting smashed against it:Not one single news article I've read talks about the potential material value of mining comets or asteroids... not one.

After the spectrographic analysis is performed (I have to stop reading these NASA press releases, it's making me overuse passive voice!), we'll be able to calculate the comet's value on earth, in dollars. It's liable to be a big number - but an even simpler number, if we could use the cometary materials IN space (in-situ), is easy to calculate. Launch costs from earth are well over 100,000.00 $/lb, and estimates for the comet's mass range from .1x10^14 to 2.2x10^14 kg, a kg is 2.2 lbs and thusly we could get a headline like:

Comet Tempel 1 worth 2.2 million trillion dollars in earth orbit!



Now look. That's a really big number. It's hard to cope with.

I wish it was possible to do a fantasy plot of this asset vs google's assets on some fictional stock exchange, and I remember how hard people tried to open new routes to India, Japan and the Americas.

It's easy to repeat this mission for other objects that are equally interesting - and closer. I am so tired about endless talk of defending against asteroids and never talk about using them. I'd go on - by I have written about it too many times before.

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

  Space cynic

Why do I get the persistent feeling that the july 4th impact is precisely timed for maximum political effect? If Tempel 1 is penetrated, pics will be out in time to make the front page throughout the US... why else would the following table be organized thusly around media centers?From the faq:It STILL is an impressive demonstration of our ability to navigate the solar system and hit things in the right place at the right time...

IF it hits. Me I have few doubts, there's only 3 places left in the countdown for things to go wrong - the rest is physics.
 
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

  Space Impacts as Sport

Deep Impact is my favorite space mission of this decade.

Three reasons:

1) It's cheap, as such things go - only 333m/dollars - and much of that was spent on hardware that could be mass manufactured and used as a standard technique to figure out the true composition of the 1200+ near earth asteroids, dropping the cost per asteroid explored down below 20m/per.

The cost of today's space missions can be divided, nearly equally, into three parts - the cost of the hardware development, the cost of the launch itself, and the costs of creating and later maintaining the mission. Due to inexorable political factors, these costs tend to be roughly equal in modern probe design - and in (in the case of the jupiter/pluto lobby), oftentimes the hardware development and maintaining the mission far outweigh the launch costs.

Many proposed space missions seem to be nothing more than jobs programs for the people that design (and redesign) them - and I can't even bear to publish the costs of running Dawn for example, or the ludicrously misnamed 17 year+ (30 years, if you included the design stage) "pluto express" mission...

The mission duration of Deep Impact is only 6 months.

I favor a pull-back from the edges of the solar system in order to focus on finding and then utilizing resources that could give us a better springboard to further exploration. More launches would lower launch costs. A shorter mission duration maximizes the gain of information and minimizes the cost of operation. Using impacts, rather than passive sensing, results in fast in-depth spectrographic results from a variety of sources (the big scopes - Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra will be watching) that we'd otherwise spend months teasing out of the system... and standardized hardware equals lower production costs.

Mining asteroids and comets to provide materials for future exploration should be a no brainer - it's not as if greenpeace was floating around the solar system in little rubber spaceships, or as if spending 100k/lb to haul things up from earth made any sense...

2) The results of Deep Impact promise to be spectacular. I'm far more an engineer than a scientist - blowing things up to learn about them is direct, and almost 2nd nature to me.

3) I like to think that a more frequent pace of exploration would get us a better story about these objects than the interminable - "Asteroid XXYY to not destroy earth" articles. Heck I'd like to see more betting pools spring up... see space news covered on the sporting pages... and, hey, why couldn't they hire a sportswriter or two to add some friggen excitement to the event?

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

  Justice for Souter?

I just about keeled over laughing about Justice for Souter?
    Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

    On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

    Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

    The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."
 

  talking to myself

Heh. Now that didn't take long...

From scansoft

AudioMining Search Server

Runs on Microsoft® Windows NT® 4 Server with IIS or Apache, Windows® 2000 Professional with IIS or Apache, Windows® XP Professional with IIS or Apache, Linux® running x86 processor with Apache, Sun® Solaris™ 2.6 or later on a SPARC™ workstation with Apache.
 
David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


Resume,Songs,
My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
Orgs I like
The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
Musical stuff I like
Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle spotting NEOs from around venus's orbit Asteroids as lunar orbit resources SOPA is bad news Departing France for England, then 'home'.
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
UrbanAgora
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Brizzled
Zimnoiac Emanations
Eric Raymond
Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
SpaceCraft
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My Pencil
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Callahans
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If you really want to, you can poke through the below links as well.

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