The Moon Up Close in HD; Courtesy Kaguya Probe

The Moon Up Close in HD; Courtesy Kaguya Probe

Amazing and beautiful high definition footage of the moon from Japan’s Kaguya probe, in four more days Kaguya’s mission will end as it impacts the surface of the moon.

Tales of Brave Ulysses: Solar Winds Ebb to Fifty Year Low

The solar winds are now the lowest they’ve been in fifty years, meaning that the Sun’s effects on our solar system are also at an ebb. The Ulysses solar probe is providing these measurements, and the winds have not only lessened, but are also 13% cooler. Much more at BBC.

“This is a whole Sun phenomenon,” said Dave McComas, Ulysses solar wind instrument principal investigator, from Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, US.

“The entire Sun is blowing significantly less hard – about 20-25% less hard – than it was during the last solar minimum 10-15 years ago.

“That’s a very significant change. In fact, the solar wind we’re seeing now is blowing the least hard we’ve see it for a prolonged time, since the start of those observations in the 1960s at the start of the space age.”

In addition to being calmer, the wind measured at Ulysses is 13% cooler.

However, judging from Sun activity data collected by non-satellite methods over the past 200 years, the current behaviour is thought to be well within the long-term norm.

Nonetheless, scientists expect the weakened wind to have a wide range of impacts.

Among the notable effects of this will be cooling of our upper atmosphere, and increased penetration through the solar system of external cosmic rays.

Space is a Moral Imperative

Obama Schooled on Defense

John McCain has slammed Obama on Defense policy in Iraq, but this is only one narrow dimension of our defense policy — while it’s very important today in five years this back and forth might not matter crazy as that sounds.

Our bases in Germany, Japan, South Korea, or Kuwait are not controversial, and if a country wants to ally with us and support bases, we should be ok with that. US military bases are an important part of world stability, prior to us extending our strategic reach the entire world was wracked with chronic conflicts and incessant war.

Any Chompskyite critics of Pax Americana who want to characterise it as Hegemony and US Imperialism need only look at history — Compare Europe pre-WWII to post-WWII – no European country is a puppet-state to the US, as can be seen by the anti-US sentiment of several European governments and bodies. They aren’t perfect allies either but commerce is flowing and peace is prevalent in those regions we have bases, no matter how imperfect our allies might be.

Where we do have bases countries are less fearful of their neighbors and more likely to trade with them. Where we have bases tyrannical states are less likely to threaten and bully. Where we have bases terrorism is less likely to flourish.

Barack clearly doesn’t want to get the point that McCain is speaking to, but he also doesn’t understand the rest of our strategic defense direction either. In PC-Gamer terms Obama’s a “newbie” who would get “pwned” on the international stage of Geo-political reality.

Our military stance is based on certain superiorities that we have, and that’s good for now, but not for the future if we fail to extend and update those capacities.

  • We can attack a foe with less ammo and consequent logistics chains because we have superior electronic warfare capabilities. We can guide our varied munitions via gps, television, laser, satellite, and a variety of other means, but our window of superiority there is closing as other nations are implementing similar or same systems. Research into next generation systems is continually shaved by Barack and his peers.
  • We have good missile defense, however it’s not fully deployed, and there are layers missing in the missile screen. Even as our allies deploy forward missile defense systems (Japan, South Korea, Poland, Czechoslovakia) Barrack Obama and others in the Senate are delaying programs with the goal of cutting them entirely. Ballistic missile defense is a key component in our strategic infrastructure, and it’s doubtful others will deploy if the program is put in doubt.
  • We can project power and defense capabilities quickly through combined systems that include our aircraft carriers, troopships, missile cruisers, SSBN’s, forward bases, ICBMs and long range strategic bombers and fighters. Congress continues to decrement our Air, Naval, and Land force capabilities through the death of a 1000 cuts. Barack votes consistently against all flavors of military spending.
  • The next wave of war fighting capabilities will be with unmanned drones, and other robotic and teleoperated systems. While other countries are racing to take the lead in that arena, once more congress with Barack’s support is shaving funding and research.

The big difference between Barack Obama and John McCain isn’t only on Iraq. It’s also in the approach to our defensive systems. If elected Barack would support further cuts, reductions, slow-downs and eliminations. He’s said he will cut billions from defense, and that he’s against missile defense.

It never fails that when a new war comes that we are well prepared to fight the last war we were in, but not the one in our face. John McCain understands that equation, and that’s why the clear difference on defense between him and Barack Obama is a yawning chasm, in which Iraq is just the visible edge.

If Barack gets the nod from the Democrat convention, then those differences will become much clearer.

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He says his sole priority will be protecting the american people, but in the speech above you see him promising to take away every strategic advantage we have, which will put us all in clear jeapordy. You can see that he is viscerally opposed to all defense spending, and this puts your children at risk in the real world.

What is Barack’s stance on the Taiwan straits? How does he want to handle Myanmar? Where is he at on South America? What would he do if Hugo Chavez invaded Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, or Columbia? What’s his position on North Korea? What would he do about the increasing belligerence of Russia? Where does he stand on Tibet? What would he do if Kosovo and Serbia go to war, and Europe starts choosing up sides?

Where would he be if India and Pakistan went to war? What would he do if Iran gets nuclear weapons, and attacks Israel? What is his policy towards Turkey? What about the Sudan?

The truth is that Obama’s quite naive when it comes to defense, and he’s a babe in the woods when it comes to strategic geo-politics. His voicing of threats against Pakistan is clear proof of that. Putting him in office would be a risk to your children, and your grand children, for cuts in research have long-term effects.

Several nations are racing to close the window of our military superiority, and some like Russia and China with their space programs are working to close it and nail it shut forever.

Let the Strength of Peace Run Through This Land

I know I can never return
To the time of hope when I was born
Let the strength of peace run through my hand

When we walk away from the stone’s roar
Then I will be afraid no more
And now I’m sure of where I stand
Let the strength of peace run through this land

– The Storm, Big Country

Peace through strength is a maxim that is true, but which seems weak platitude since American forces seem so strong at this point. We just defeated two countries, and are well on our way towards defeating four separate armies of insurgency. We did that without interupting little league, football, or weekend shopping.

Our prowess in technology makes us second to none in our ability to deal swift, decisive and horrible damage to any opponent… however that window of superiority is closing.

With the upcoming elections it’s very important to choose the right candidate, not only at the national level, but also at the local. I give you the Berkeley City Council as one example of why defense is important even in local politics.

In the upcoming wind-down to the war there will be many calls once again to cut back on the military, but right now it’s in need of bolstering. American history is full of instances where we were ready to fight the past war, but not the one rearing in our face in the present.

Strength in defense comes from three very simple things –

  1. you have be be able to deflect any decisive blows,
  2. you must be able to hurt your opponent decisively and with ease,
  3. and you must be able to easily recover any damage dealt by attacks from opponents.

While simple on the surface, it takes a great deal to stay pre-eminent in defense. We must keep our technological lead, we must keep a strong economy, and we must keep a strong military.

This means electing people who are smart enough to do that, and who won’t opportunistically sell our children’s futures for “peace dividends”.

The Democrats are hell-bent on destroying our capability to defend our selves. They think the world will be a better place if we are not so strong.

They will do this by stopping the economy, particularly the energy sector, by cutting the military, and by cutting research on critical technologies like Missile Defense.

We can’t let them  do that, and that’s why no matter what stripe of conservative you are this is not the election stay home for. We can not let the Democrat majorities in Congress grow, and we can’t allow them to hold all three branches of government. If we do the entire world, not just us, will suffer.

More at The Washington Times:

While the nation should be proud of its military for its professionalism, dedication and sacrifice, we must fully understand that the threat to America remains strong and should refrain from repeating the mistakes of the 1990s when a substantial “peace dividend” was levied on the Department of Defense (DoD).

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many experts expected a significant decrease in military deployments and armed conflicts. Few could imagine the number of contingency operations our forces would conduct during the next 10 years.

Despite this incredible demand, defense cuts were frequent and extreme. The Army was reduced from 18 divisions during Desert Storm to 10, the Air Force from 37 tactical air wings to 20, and the Navy from 568 ships in the late 1980s to a fleet of only 276 today.

In March 2003, the military was tasked to open a second front on the global war on terrorism. As progress in Iraq developed slower than planned, the DoD became strained. The reserve component was forced to transition from a strategic reserve to an operational force despite a long history of underfunding and lack of capital investment and modernization.

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Over the next few months I will be running a series of articles on the challenges our Military must counter in this century. It’s much worse than what you might think.

Satellite Shootdown Success

400px-uss_lake_erie_cg_70_missile_test.jpgIn a great testament to the fact that “Star Wars” does work, and that you can hit a bullet with a bullet, another Reagan legacy shone tonight. The US Navy successfully shot down the failed satellite this evening, preventing a potentially hazardous hydrazine contamination. More from CNN:

An inoperable U.S. spy satellite orbiting 150 miles above Earth was struck Wednesday by a missile fired from a U.S. Navy cruiser, military sources told CNN.

The Pentagon said the window of opportunity to strike the 5,000-pound satellite opened Wednesday, when the space shuttle Atlantis landed in Florida. The Pentagon wanted to be sure the shuttle would not be struck by any debris from a destroyed satellite.

But earlier the official said conditions had to be perfect, and that was not the case Wednesday with swells in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii running slightly higher than Navy would like. 

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said six- to eight-foot swells were reported in the area through Wednesday night and were not expected to come down until Friday or Saturday.

The United States plans to spend up to $60 million to try to destroy the satellite even though there is only a remote possibility the satellite could fall to Earth, survive re-entry and spew toxic gas in a populated area, said James Jeffrey, deputy national security adviser.

More at Space Daily, from the “US bad, no matter what” angle.

Space Round up

shuttle.jpgThe Space Shuttle Discovery is on its return trip, and will make a daylight landing with a coast to coast re-entry. The astronauts had a successful mission, and repaired a torn solar panel as part of an extra-credit problem.

Asian Space Race:

The Chinese Lunar orbiter entered moon orbit yesterday, a month after the Japanese beat them to the glory of the first for Asia.

Star Wars Works

President Reagans’ dream of an America secure from Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) made another step towards becoming reality today in a successful test of mid-flight interception – something critics in the 80’s said couldn’t be done.

From AP:

An intercontinental ballistic missile interceptor blasted out of an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly after 1:15 p.m., and tracked a target missile that had lifted off from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, the Boeing Co. said in a statement.

The Missile Defense Agency said initial results show the interceptor’s rocket motor system and kill vehicle performed as planned. Boeing said the warhead was tracked, intercepted and destroyed.

Boeing is the prime contractor for what is formally known as the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system

If you were wondering why Dan Rather is doing hit-pieces on Boeing on the little watched HDNET, here’s another reason.

STS-118 Space Shuttle Endeavor Readies for Launch

Slated to take of at 6:36 EDT, Space Shuttle Endeavor is now on the pad fueling. You can watch live here.

Phoenix Rises Enroute to Mars

nasa_phoenix_mars_210_3aug07.jpgThe Phoenix Mars mission hit a rain delay yesterday and instead took off this morning. The launch was clean, and one of our frequent commenters caught the trail, but not the takeoff — Aknot describes the scene below:

I verified the launch schedule before I left for work (3 am) and checked my watch at 5:10 am. The morning sky was cloudless and the moon was at my back…perfect! At 5:45 I saw a strange cloud formation in the sky and said “crap”, I missed it.

The trail was amazing, being lit up by the moon behind me or the city lights (Tampa and Orlando) in front of me. It looked like a huge white wispy ring but later you could better see the trail as the sun came up and changed some of it to an orange glow. The last half hour it was visible it resembled a smoke trail straight from a RoadRunner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon with loop-de-loops, u-turns, and circles.

It’s on my list of things to do to go down and watch a shuttle launch, Aknot watches from the Tampa area every launch. Continue reading “Phoenix Rises Enroute to Mars”