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Hometown: Atlanta
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Member since: Sat Jun 1, 2013, 01:19 AM
Number of posts: 4,329

Journal Archives

A Star Grazed Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago, and Early Humans Likely Saw It

Source: Space.com

Some distant objects in our solar system bear the gravitational imprint of a small star's close flyby 70,000 years ago, when modern humans were already walking the Earth, a new study suggests.

In 2015, a team of researchers announced that a red dwarf called Scholz's star apparently grazed the solar system 70,000 years ago, coming closer than 1 light-year to the sun. For perspective, the sun's nearest stellar neighbor these days, Proxima Centauri, lies about 4.2 light-years away. The astronomers came to this conclusion by measuring the motion and velocity of Scholz's star — which zooms through space with a smaller companion, a brown dwarf or "failed star" — and extrapolating backward in time.

Scholz's star passed by the solar system at a time when early humans and Neanderthals shared the Earth. The star likely appeared as a faint reddish light to anyone looking up at the time, researchers with the new study said.

The new study bolsters the 2015 analysis with a different type of evidence. A research team led by Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, of the Complutense University of Madrid, analyzed 339 known solar system bodies with hyperbolic orbits — paths through space that are V-shaped, rather than circular or elliptical.

Read more: https://www.space.com/40043-star-grazed-our-solar-system-disrupted-orbits.html

I am using my name because I'm still not sure the Mavericks get it.

Source: Sports Illustrated

Last month former Mavericks president Terdema Ussery was presented with allegations that he had sexually harassed multiple women while he held that position. In response he said this: “I am deeply disappointed that anonymous sources have made such outright false and inflammatory accusations against me.”

Let’s tackle that issue of anonymity. I worked in marketing and game operations for the Mavs from 2010 through ’14. I was one of the women Terdema harassed and who spoke to Sports Illustrated for the story. My name is Melissa Weishaupt.


I’m using my name because I’m still not sure the Mavericks get it. Since the story broke, owner Mark Cuban has repeatedly claimed he oversaw only the basketball side of that franchise, not the business side.

Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. You own 100% of the team, Mark. The buck stops with you. When I worked on the Mavs’ business side, all marketing, promotional and broadcasting decisions went through you. Nothing was decided without your approval.

Read more: https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/20/dallas-mavericks-melissa-weishaupt-sexual-harassment-culture-mark-cuban

ProPublica Corrects Its Story On Trump's CIA Nominee Gina Haspel And Waterboarding

Source: NPR

ProPublica is retracting parts of its story that linked Gina Haspel, President Trump's choice to lead the CIA, with the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaida leader who was held at a secret "black site" prison in Thailand in 2002. The investigative newsroom cited new clarifications from CIA insiders as the reason for its correction. It also issued an apology.

From ProPublica:

"We at ProPublica hold government officials responsible for their missteps, and we must be equally accountable.

"This error was particularly unfortunate because it muddied an important national debate about Haspel and the CIA's recent history. To her, and to our readers, we can only apologize, correct the record and make certain that we do better in the future."

Published on Feb. 22, 2017, the ProPublica story was originally titled "CIA Cables Detail Its New Deputy Director's Role in Torture." It cited criticism from two Democratic senators "who have seen the still-classified records of [Haspel's] time in Thailand" as well as declassified documents and books by "officials involved in the CIA's interrogation program."

Read more: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/16/594282245/propublica-corrects-its-story-on-trump-s-cia-nominee-gina-haspel-and-waterboardi

Kepler Space Telescope Is Almost Out of Fuel

Source: Popular Mechanics

After an extraordinarily durable run, NASA's Kepler space telescope is finally running out of gas. The agency expects Kepler to burn the last of its fuel within the next several months, ending nine years of incredible science searching for planets beyond the solar system. Trailing behind the Earth as it orbits the sun, the space telescope has located more than 2,500 confirmed exoplanets.

Launched in 2009, Kepler is designed to scan the skies for planets by detecting the dip in brightness of their host stars as the planets pass in front. The space telescope's primary mission was only to last three and a half years, but after "outstanding success," its mission was extended through 2016.

However, mechanical problems began to plague the space telescope in 2012 and 2013. Two of its reaction wheels failed, which are used to point the telescope at target stars and their orbiting planets. The telescope still works, but the craft carrying it could not stabilize the optical components, threatening to end the mission. But then NASA found a fix.

"Using the sun and the two remaining reaction wheels, engineers have devised an innovative technique to stabilize and control the spacecraft in all three directions of motion," NASA explained at the time. "To achieve the necessary stability, the orientation of the spacecraft must be nearly parallel to its orbital path around the sun."

Read more: https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/telescopes/a19444952/kepler-space-telescope-is-almost-out-of-fuel/

It's a good thing the TESS is set to launch next month. Kepler will be sorely missed.

NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot To Retire, White House Appointee Not Yet Confirmed

Source: Tech Times

NASA acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, will retire from his post starting April 30. Whether or not White House appointee Rep. Jim Bridenstine will be the next NASA administrator is still undetermined.

This week, Lightfoot penned a memorandum letter addressed to NASA employees announcing his retirement. He did not give a specific reason for leaving NASA, but he said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Long Career At NASA

Lightfoot, a rocket propulsion engineer and senior career civil servant started his term as the space agency's acting administrator on Jan. 20, 2017, under the Trump administration.

He replaced former NASA administrator Charles Bolden who served under the Obama administration. Before becoming acting director, Lightfoot had been with the space agency for the past 29 years

Read more: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/222893/20180313/nasa-acting-administrator-robert-lightfoot-to-retire-white-house-appointee-not-yet-confirmed.htm

Wreckage of U.S. aircraft carrier sunk in WWII found

Source: CBS News

A piece of prized World War II U.S. naval history, the wreckage of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which was sunk by the Japanese in a crucial sea battle, has been discovered by an expedition funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The expedition team announced that the wreckage of the Lexington, crippled by the enemy and then scuttled on May 8, 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, was found Sunday on the seabed in waters about 2 miles deep, more than 500 miles off Australia's east coast.

"To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor," Allen said on his web page. "As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice."

The battle helped stop a Japanese advance that could have cut off Australia and New Guinea from Allied sea supply routes and crippled two Japanese carriers, leading to a more conclusive U.S. victory at sea a month later at the Battle of Midway.

The sea battle is also famous for being the first in which the opposing ships did not come in sight of each other, carrying out their attacks with carrier-launched aircraft.

Read more: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/uss-lexington-aircraft-carrier-world-war-ii-japan-wreckage-found-australia/

In response to Trump budget, NASA ending separate technology plan

Source: ARS Technica

Even though Congress has yet to formally consider President Trump’s new budget for NASA, the space agency is already moving swiftly to implement some of its core principles. Among those is a White House desire to end a separate program within the agency focused on the development of advanced new spaceflight technologies intended to keep NASA at the cutting edge.

With an annual budget that has varied between $500 million and $1 billion, the Space Technology Mission Directorate was created in 2010 to develop the kinds of technology NASA needed to explore deeper into space, such as advanced propulsion and power systems, in-space manufacturing, and new means of landing on far-off worlds. If humans really were to really expand beyond low-Earth orbit, research and development of these new technologies was deemed critical.

The President’s fiscal year 2019 budget for the space agency seeks to realign the space technology program by folding it into NASA’s “Exploration” program, which is managing development of deep space hardware Congress has directed the space agency to build—the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and ground systems at Kennedy Space Center.

Some former space technology officials have begun sounding the alarm about these changes, being made without oversight from Congress. “Disastrous news!” tweeted Mason Peck on Thursday morning. He served as the space agency’s chief technologist earlier this decade. “NASA is already dismantling STMD even though the President's budget is only a month old. Don't give up. We need Space Technology if we want NASA to have a bold future. I hope Congress will reject this gutting of NASA's technology investments.”

Read more: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/03/in-response-to-trump-budget-nasa-ending-separate-technology-plan/
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