Posts tagged apollo

NASA Gets a Quarter from Every Dollar

First thing’s first: NASA does NOT get a quarter from every dollar. A quarter would be 25% of the entire Federal Budget.  Math isn’t hard.

That does get attention though doesn’t it?  Seems there is a misconception on how much money NASA actually gets.  I’m sure that if anyone reads this they have the intellect enough to google “NASA federal budget” and find out how much NASA really gets.  The answer just might shock most people.

I’ve known for years how much money NASA gets and it’s paltry.  Bad Astronomy has inspired me to blog about it myself.  Sure he gets more readers but in the name of science, every voice must be heard!  Also, I’m going to mooch some of the content of his blog.  Why invent the wheel twice?

This article talks about the perception of NASA and what it does, among other things.  The stunning part was where respondents were asked how much money NASA got.  24% was the number.  That would be 3% more than Defense.  This was in 2007.

So how much money does NASA get?  In 2007, 0.58% of the Federal Budget.  A little more than half a penny per dollar.  That’s pretty sad, eh?  We’re talking about an organization that put men on the Moon.  They put up a telescope that was a dud and then fixed it: in space.  They’ve done most of the heavy lifting in construction of the International Space Station.  They’ve sent probes all over the Solar System to study the planets.  Two rovers are still on Mars performing science well beyond their planned mission time.

I haven’t even scratched the surface.  That’s the stuff we hear about somewhat regularly but let it go, in passing.

Given that they can do so much with so little, I would be amazed to see what they could do if given a little more.  Keep in mind that at NASA there is still wasteful spending.  It’s a government organization, duh.  Even with that, they’re able to do such amazing things.  Not bad for being so low on the totem pole.

If you ever wonder why we haven’t done more or gone further in space, then wonder no more.  Shun the non-believers, shuuuuuunnnnnnn.

LRO (Lunar Recon Orbiter) Strikes Back!

Yes, I was too lazy to type reconnaissance, my bad.  And ok, it’s not “striking back” really as much as it is just doing its job.  The point is LRO has been busy! One objective is to thoroughly map the surface of the Moon.  A nifty side item is to photos of certain areas of interest.  What could be more interesting than the old Apollo sites?  Not a whole lot!  This is important to people like myself who try to combat the small, yet persistently stupid, sect of the population who believe man never went there in the first place.

A few months ago some preliminary photos were released of some of the Apollo sites.  I’ll admit, the resolution was small but it was there.  Also, the Sun has a way of either hindering or helping in bringing out certain details.  In an Apollo XII photo you can see the descent stage and the trails made by Al Bean and Pete Conrad.

LRO photo showing in detail the landing site of Apollo XII.

See the little squiggly lines emanating out from the descent stage.  Yes, those are trails from the footprints!

Well, the photos were amazing in their own right but what was more amazing is that the spacecraft was still in it’s elliptical (commissioning) orbit.  It wasn’t until the middle of September that the final orbit of 31 miles altitude was reached.  And so with that, the resolution of the pictures beamed back have increased.

Take a look at this pic below.  It’s from Google Earth/Moon.  It’s about as clear as mud.  You can kind of make out some blobs that are craters and it’s all grey and mushy.  Very uninteresting from a detail point of view.

This is the area where Apollo XVII landed, not much to see here.

Now, here is roughly the same area (ok it’s not spot on but it’s close enough, I was multitasking a few things).  Now, that is some fine detail.  The blobbiness is gone.  The grey mush gives way to a textured surface.  Right there in the middle is the Apollo XVII descent stage.  The resolution on this photos is about twice that of the previous Apollo sites.

Feast upon the fine detail below:

LRO views the landing site of Apollo XVII

This is more important than trying to rub Hoax Believers (or HBs as they’re known) face in it.  It shows that the camera works, and works well.  I do have to admit though that it’s nice to see this stuff and take to a HB and ask them to explain it.  The typical response is that it was doctored.  I digress, for some, there is no changing their minds.

The more important thing is to keep the people that really believe it was faked from poisoning the minds of others who are genuinely just looking for answers to questions.

Ultimately, it shows that as a human race we can continue to do truly inspiring things when we put our minds to it.  There is a lot more to LRO/LCROSS than fancy photos.  To learn more about the mission, you can read up on it here: http://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov

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