And we’re back! After a week of frolicking around Oshkosh for EAA Airventure 2015, seeing Jim Lovell and company speak about Apollo 13, and falling in love with Long-EZs, I am back in the real world (which, I might add, is much less exciting then the make believe one full of airplanes and astronauts.) Being back in the real world, I can write more editions of Science Thursday! (Wohoo!)
This week, we start off with some news about the International Space Station. Russia has formally committed to remain a partner in station operations through 2024. This is big news after recent relations between Russia and the West have been seemingly unstable. The European and Japanese space agencies, the two other large players with their own research modules on the station, have not committed to an extended station life yet, but the ESA is expected to do so sometime next year.
The NTSB has released a report regarding the crash of Space Ship 2 last October. The report, which can be found here, blamed the accident on the designer of SS2, Scaled Composites, for not doing enough human factors work in their design. They created a vehicle where it was possible for one human error to lead to a catastrophic break up of the vehicle, which is what occurred last October. So, while the copilot did mistakenly unlock the feathering mechanism early, the report blamed the designers of the vehicle for not putting any safeguards in place. So, watch for human factors job openings at Scaled Composites in the near future.
A bit of sad news: there is one less Northern White Rhino today than there was Sunday. The 31-year-old female animal named Nabire died at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic on Monday. Her death leaves only four Northern White Rhinos in existence, three females and one male. It is possible that there could still be a new birth, but moving the four animals to Kenya in 2009 in hopes that their natural habitat would facilitate breading.
Scientists have discovered an aurora for the first time outside of our solar system. The aurora was discovered around a brown dwarf some 18 lightyears away. The brown dwarf, which is not quite a star, but much larger than a planet, has auroras, but scientists are puzzled as to what is actually causing the auroras.
Finally, The solar system has faces. Quite a few of them actually. Some of them are on Pluto, like Mikey Mouse, some of them are on Mars, like that one everyone thought the government was making up or hiding or something (conspiracy theories don’t rise very high on my radar), the man on the moon, all those sorts of things. Anyway, this article goes about describing some of these faces (but it does go a bit whacky at the end.) Still a little fun though.
That’s it for this weeks edition of Science Thursday. Thanks for reading, and remember, only 63 days until The Martian comes out! See you next time.