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02 Mar 2012 20:16


Tech: NASA skimps on cyber security, China hacks us regularly as a result

  • 3.9% of NASA’s IT budget is allocated to cyber security
  • 13 successful hacking attempts were carried out against NASA last year source
  • » You get what you pay for: Really, guys? Thirteen times in a year? This means NASA gets hacked more often than I pay my phone bill. But maybe that’s to be expected when you spend so little on cyber security. This is all based on testimony from the agency’s inspector general, Paul Martin, and the rest of his testimony is quite terrifying. For example, Martin says that hackers working through Chinese IP addresses were able to gain full system access to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, steal user credentials from over 150 NASA employees, and modify system logs to cover up their tracks. Let’s hope it was just a couple of bored middle schoolers.

03 Jan 2012 15:10


U.S.: NASA scientist denounces 2012 apocalypse theories

  • Nibiru is ridiculous because it doesn’t exist — it never existed as anything but a figment of the imagination by pseudo-scientists who don’t seem bothered by a complete lack of evidence.
  • Dan Yeomans, director of NASA’s Near-Earth Object program • Dismissing some of the 2012 apocalyptic theorizing that’s become something of a cultural meme leading up to this year. The fear that Earth will be struck by a planetary body known as Nibiru (also sometimes called “Planet X”) represents one such theory, distinct from  similarly stoked fears about whether the Mayan calendar can somehow forecast the end of the world. source

16 Sep 2011 16:53


Tech: NASA: Dead satellite could break apart, fall to Earth in giant chunks

  • six the weight of the dead satellite, in tons — which is pretty heavy
  • 26 the number of pieces the satellite could break into, according to NASA
  • 350 the possible weight of one of the chunks, in pounds source
  • » Better odds than the lottery: What are the odds a person might get hit by a piece of space junk, according to NASA? One in 3,200. To put this in perspective, the odds that a person playing the lottery might win are 1 in 175,000,000. The big difference of course? You want to win the lottery. You don’t want a giant piece of broken satellite turning you into a postmodern Chicken Little. NASA says it’ll have more info next week. (src ProducerMatthew)

15 Sep 2011 15:58


World: NASA’s animation of newly-discovered “Star Wars” planet

  • Meet Kepler-16b: We’ll admit, the selling of this story as the discovery of a “Star Wars” planet (so said in reference to Luke Skywalker’s desert home of Tatooine) seems a little silly. That said, dual suns are cool, and people generally don’t seem as interested in astronomy as we’d like, so we’ll forgive the attempt at pop-cultural publicity. As the animation illustrates, both of Kepler-16b’s suns would set on the same horizon. source

23 Aug 2011 21:39


Tech: The LA Times’ latest headline scares the crap out of us

  • Despite the relatively benign story, everything about this–the headline, the positioning of the robot’s arms, the fact that the robot has its own Twitter account–has us doubting humankind’s continued reign of dominance on Earth. “I’m semi-autonomous,” Robonaut 2 (or “R2”) tweeted. “I require ground control, but I can also respond to my environment within controlled specifications.” Yeah, well, you say “controlled specifications,” we hear “I, Robot.” source

08 May 2011 11:22


World: Budget bill surprise: The U.S., China can’t collaborate on science

  • We don’t want to give them the opportunity to take advantage of our technology, and we have nothing to gain from dealing with them. China is spying against us, and every U.S. government agency has been hit by cyber-attacks. They are stealing technology from every major U.S. company. They have taken technology from NASA, and they have hit the NSF computers … You name the company, and the Chinese are trying to get its secrets.
  • Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) • Describing the reasoning behind his addition to the recent spending bill that blocks two key U.S. government scientific groups — NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology — from collaborating jointly with China on any scientific projects. (Wolf has his reasons — his office was attacked in 2006 by Chinese hackers, so he’s been there.) While the White House is pulling the “foreign policy is OK!” card to work around this, it still sets a strange precedent that rolls back decades of collaboration. Now that Osama bin Laden is gone, is China the new boogeyman? Or do we need to keep our neighbor to the East out of the cookie jar? source

14 Feb 2011 22:24


Offbeat: NASA: Deep space sex unlikely to yield reproductive gains

  • YES makin’ babies in space is tough, due to radiation source

04 Feb 2011 13:33


U.S.: Gabrielle Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly going back to astronaut job

  • January Astronaut Mark Kelly had to stop his preparations for a space flight after finding out his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head by a really crazy kid.
  • Monday With Giffords in full recovery mode in Houston, Kelly will return to his preparations for leading the space shuttle Columbia into orbit in a couple months.
  • April Kelly will leave for space, his fourth trip. His goal is that his crew “can execute this mission safely — and that it’s successful.” This is a good sign, right? source

10 Jan 2011 22:08


Tech, World: Everything you need to know about our latest planetary neighbor

  • hey kids, it’s a new planet! Say hello to Kepler-10b, the new kid in town. Or, to be more accurate, the new kid from out of town: this tiny, rocky planet actually resides outside of our solar system. It’s a little guy – the smallest, in fact, ever discovered outside of our Sun’s orbit. The confirmation of Kepler-10b’s existence is the product of over eight months of data collection, and represents the “first solid evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun.” Here are some key facts about it with which to impress your friends.
  • it’s a lot like usKepler-10b has a diameter 1.4x that of our beloved blue orb. It’s also classified as a “rocky” planet, meaning it has a composition similar to that of Earth (as opposed to a gaseous planet like Saturn).
  • it’s probably way hotAlthough the physical composition of the planet would render it capable of hosting water, it’s way too close to the star it orbits (its “Sun,” if you will) for that to be possible.
  • nasa’s pumped about itWhile Kepler-10b is outside of the “habitable zone,” scientists are giddy about its mere discovery, and optimistic that the spacecraft that found it will yield more results in the future. source

15 Nov 2010 20:43


Tech: Mars: Where astronauts check in, but don’t check out

  • The main point is to get Mars exploration moving.
  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Washington State University astrobiologist • Suggesting that the first people to go to Mars shouldn’t come back to Earth, but rather stay there and help colonize the place. But, as NASA’s not convinced (“We want our people back,” a spokesperson said), Shulze-Makuch suspects they might need “an eccentric billionaire” for the project. Michael Bloomberg, what’re you up to? source