Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Little Green Men, Call the Plumber Please.

What a week it’s been for NASA and space. We have the $325 million Phoenix Lander successfully making touchdown on the red planet and the Space Shuttle Discovery made it to orbit without any major issues. That means the hunt for little green men is now on and the Space Station will get its new crapper.

The Phoenix landed just as expected and in a nice flat area with very few rocks and boulders. During its rocket assisted descent the plumes of exhaust have blown away the dust to reveal flat, bright areas that we will hopefully find to be ice of some kind. After performing all the post landing tests it was confirmed that the lander was in good shape and ready to start science. Just yesterday the bucket scoop grabbed a sample of the regolith and took images of the rusty coloured material. I have to say that it looks a lot like mud and surprisingly there is a small patch of what looks like a white/silvery substance which NASA think could be ICE or some kind of salts.
NASA hopes to do some tests on this soil sometime over the next week and confirm what the makeup of it is. We may yet see traces of hydrogen which may mean water.

And coupled with that the Space Shuttle Discovery launched almost flawlessly on its way to the International Space Station to deliver the rest of the Japanese science module Kibo and repair the toilet that is not working. The toilet has 2 parts, one for poo and one for wee, it’s the wee part that is broken, so at least they are not up shit creek yet. In saying that the manual function of the toilet is working and the crew has been using the toilet in the Soyuz capsule which is docked for emergencies so it’s not all doom and gloom. If the toilet can not be fixed they may have to evacuate the station or use Apollo era crapper bags which could be messy.

The launch which was almost flawless did no apparent damage the orbiter but it sunbstantially wrecked part of the launch facility. Mortar and bricks were blown out from the blast chamber which channels the exhaust plumes during takeoff and scattered them over the road behind the pad. NASA have said that this should be repaired in time for the next scheduled launch at pad 39A on Oct 8th.

All in all a pretty good week for NASA as they try to complete the space station and prove that little green men do in fact live on Mars and War of the Worlds is a documentary.

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