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4 April 2011

The Science of Red Mars

Have you read the book Red Mars yet? If not, you can download a pdf of it here. It’s a classic hard sci-fi epic about the colonization of Mars, and for my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, I took a look at how the highly accurate depiction of Mars in the book has held up with all the new discoveries in the last 20 years. Head on over and check it out!


28 January 2011

Remembering Challenger

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle explosion. I was too young to remember the disaster, but it has had a lasting effect on our space program, and I certainly remember the Columbia disaster which occurred when I was an undergraduate. It’s tempting when these sorts of things happen to say that space exploration is too dangerous and too hard and that we should turn back. But that’s exactly the wrong response.


17 January 2011


I’ve voiced my frustration with NASA TV and the fact that NASA isn’t allowed to make self-promotional TV ads before. Luckily, there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about space, and some of them have video editing skills and access to the internet. So, even though we might never see an ad like this on TV, it at least can go viral online!


7 January 2011

Strange New Worlds

I realized relatively recently that I like planets and I like speculative fiction for basically the same reason: strange new worlds just fire up my imagination.  That’s the topic of my latest post over at Science in my Fiction, where I take a look at some spectacular and bizarre real (or at least realistic) planetary locations that I think would be great settings for some sci-fi. I got a little …


8 November 2010

Could Rockets Cause Global Warming?

A few weeks ago, on the same day as the runway dedication at New Mexico’s “Spaceport America“, the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters published a paper suggesting that soot from commercial rocket launches could cause significant climate change. Based on the results of climate modeling, the authors found that 1000 launches per year would have the same influence as all of the subsonic air traffic in the world combined. Talk …


12 August 2010

Can Life Survive in Space?

I’ve got a new post up at The Science of Starcraft! This time I tackle the question of whether unprotected living things could ever survive in the vacuum of space. Go check it out!


29 July 2010

Force Fields and Plasma Shields

Force fields are common in lots of science fiction, but how realistic are they? That’s the question I tackle in the latest Science of Starcraft post. Head on over and check it out!


We Didn't Fake the Moon Landings

But I want to get one of those dramatic glowing tables!


20 June 2010

Space-Based Solar Power: a solution to our burning need for energy

People burn things. This crude way to get energy has done wonders for us as a species, but I think it’s about time we moved on. It’s easy to forget how important burning stuff is in modern times because the burning is mostly hidden. Most of our electricity comes from burning coal and gas, but the furnaces are far away and instead of huddling around our campfire to cook and …


15 June 2010

The Biological Singularity

If you’re a sci-fi reader, you are probably familiar with the idea of the “technological singularity“. For the uninitiated, the Singularity is the idea that computational power is increasing so rapidly that soon there will be genuine artificial intelligence that will far surpass humans. Essentially, once you have smarter-than-human computers, they will drive their own advancement and we will no longer be able to comprehend the technology. We can debate …


12 June 2010

Ares 1-X vs Falcon 9: A Comparison

Well, I’ve been a bad space blogger, and didn’t write anything about the spectacular successful launch of  SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on June 4th. Considering the ongoing wailing and gnashing of teeth over the cancellation of Constellation in favor of using commercial rockets to send astronauts to the ISS, I thought it would be worth taking a look at how Falcon 9 compares with the Ares 1-X, which launched back …


9 June 2010

Ice Caves on Mars!

Hey, guess what? There might be caves with ice in them on Mars! You should go check out my post about this cool new possibility over at Universe Today!


3 June 2010

The Case for Mars: Autotuned

For me, none of the newer symphony of science videos can match the sheer catchy-ness of the original, but this one is about exploring Mars, so I can’t complain too much. Check the Symphony of Science page for other autotuned science-themed music videos.


20 May 2010

The "explorer" analogy and US spaceflight

The other day, the blog Sociological Images had a thought-provoking post about a Canadian ad campaign which invokes the idea of exploration and discovery to promote Canadian tourism. It got me thinking about one of the most common defenses of U.S. space exploration: that it is the natural next step for a nation founded on exploration to start exploring space. So, are we really a nation of explorers if all …


18 May 2010

Big Pictures: Space Shuttle and Mount St. Helens

The Big Picture has been on a roll lately, with two sets of particular interest to planetary and space-types. First, is the feature on the final launch of the space shuttle Atlantis last week: Second, today is the 30th anniversary of the explosive eruption of Mount St. Helens, and there are some amazing photos that show the devastating power of a volcanic eruption:


2 May 2010

Carnival of Space 152

Welcome to The Martian Chronicles and the 152nd edition of the Carnival of Space! As always, we’ve got a great bunch of space-related posts from across the blogosphere, ranging from life on Mars to the age of the universe to Science Ninjas! I’ll get things started with a pair of posts from right here at The Martian Chronicles. A couple weeks ago I went on a cool geology field trip …


19 April 2010

Incoming! Shuttle Re-Entry over the US!

Hello from El Paso! I just arrived at the conference hotel, and as I was checking my email, I learned from that the space shuttle Discovery will be making a rare type of re-entry tomorrow morning that will take it right over the lower 48 states! Landing is scheduled for 8:48 am EDT, and it takes the shuttle about 35 minutes to traverse the path shown above. Observers in …


15 April 2010

Thoughts on Obama's Space Speech

In case you missed it, you can click here to watch Obama’s speech at NASA today and read the transcript here. Overall there were not a lot of surprises in this speech. NASA still gets a budget increase. The shuttle is still on-track for cancellation, the Constellation program is also going to be canceled, with transportation to and from the ISS to be provided by private companies. The ISS will …


How and when to view today's Space Conference

Today’s space conference, including Obama’s speech, will be shown on NASA TV. Here’s the information (copied and pasted from this site): NASA will hold a conference following President Obama’s remarks about the bold new course the administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human spaceflight on Thursday, April 15, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A diverse group of senior officials, space leaders, academic …


18 March 2010

Book Review: The Next 100 Years

You would think that since I’m working at Johnson Space Center right now, I would have exciting tales from inside NASA to share with you, but I’m afraid it has been pretty uneventful. I have however managed to read a couple of books, one of which was The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, by George Friedman. This was a really fascinating book about using history and …