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O.C.Space Article Index

For submissions and questions, please contact Larry Evans.
January 2005, Volume 16, Number 1

  

Mars Mania Returns
A record-setting crowd comes to the Discovery Science Center to participate in exploration
By Larry Evans

We pride ourselves on our ability to go out into the general public and successfully educate groups about space and science. But we get even more excited with the public comes to us. And it's even better when we can work with our favorite partner, the Discovery Science Center, to create an event that generates as much excitement as "Mars Mania" did a year ago. (Yes, this event occurred a year ago. With all we do in OCSS, it's often difficult to keep up with our own pace! However, with another major event coming up at DSC on Sunday, Jan. 16 to celebrate the Cassini mission, we thought we'd take this opportunity to look back at this event.) During the "Mars Mania" event, we had a full-scale Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) on-hand to greet guests as they entered the facility. "Andy the Astronaut" (LRV builder Andy Monsen) even walked around, entertaining kids. There were talks by Boeing on the launch of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers; a 90-minute talk by Larry on President Bush's space initiative (originally scheduled to last 30 minutes); and a lecture on Mars by Dr. Maureen Clemmons that was interrupted by the God of War himself (played by OCSS member Patrick Fahey). DSC's own Dr. Neil Campbell gave a presentation on the journeys of the Martian rovers, which turned out to be so popular that more programs had to be added throughout the day to accommodate everyone! OCSS member Richard Shope gave a very entertaining presentation on Mars, using children from the audience as props. Richard is one of the most gifted presenters we have ever worked with (see photo above, right). We had a very large OCSS display, and it even garnered media attention (see photo above, left). This was the second "Mars Mania" event at DSC; the first was last summer when Mars was at its closest approach.

Looking Outward: "A Message from the Ants"
By Larry Evans

Our president takes a scene from an episode of the TV series Babylon 5 to ponder how space exploration can be terrifying, while at the same time deeply exciting. It is this dichotomy that drives us out into the darkness, pulling at our sleeves, begging us to venture farther.

To the Stars: "Clutch Performer"
By Greg Little

When Sean O'Keefe came into office as NASA's administrator, your columnist was skeptical. However, despite the tragedy of Columbia and other dark marks on the agency, Little believes that O'Keefe is leaving the agency better than it was when he started, and that the space program in general seems to be heading in the right direction.

Planetarium
By John Goerger
(Due to a scheduling conflict, John's column could not make it into the print version of O.C.Space. It is presented in its entirety here.)

Where were you and what were you doing in January 1998? Since then, what have you done over those intervening years and what are you doing now? Imagine floating but with no feeling of speed, depth, direction--no sense of velocity or inertia, just existence. Surrounding you is an infinite black sphere that appears to have both bright and faint multicolored pinpoints of lights embedded within it, with one very large, white, round light and a blue-green globe and a smaller whitish-gray orb, all of which appear to be receding from you. Eventually, only the large round light is visible, but it too gradually seems to grow dimmer as time passes. However, the diamond-studded lights remain fixed, unmoving, except for one butterscotch colored dot, which over time seems to be getting larger. Imagine if you were the Cassini Spacecraft heading for Saturn.

A day after opposition (the time when a planet rises as the sun sets), which in 2005 is January 13 on Earth, and about two hours later, Saturn will be in a fine position in the winter night sky for observing. While you observe this ringed world though a telescope, on January 14th, the robotic space probe Huygens will descend through the atmosphere of Saturnís largest moon, Titan. Will it make a soft landing, or end up sinking into a sea of liquid methane? On this date Saturn is also at its closest to Earth, 750 million miles! Saturn shines around a -0.4, with Jupiter rising around 1 a.m. on New Yearís Day at a brilliant -2.1 visual magnitude. By the 31st Jupiter clears the eastern horizon by 11 p.m.

Mars rises around 5 a.m. Look for a crescent Moon about 5 degrees to the right of Mars on the 7th. Mars is still not very bright yet, glittering at a 1.5 visual. Mercury at a -0.4 (note same as Saturn) and Venus at a -3.7 are near each other during the first two weeks of January, in the predawn sky. The Earth is at its closest to the Sun on New Yearís Day, 2005----91.4 million miles.
 

December 2004, Volume 15, Number 12

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A Gathering of Eagles
More then 30 astronauts, cosmonauts, and space-related celebrities gather in Burbank.
By Larry Evans

Astronaut Wally Schirra: "How would you rank your overall importance to the space program?"
Comedian Bill Dana, as skittish "astronaut" Jose Jimenez: "Well, there's George Washington and Benjamin Franklin [holding up fingers for each], so that puts me at number three."
Schirra: "But Washington and Franklin had nothing to do with the space program."
Jimenez (gleefully): "Then that puts me at number one!"

This little skit shows how much fun not only the astronauts had, but so did the rest of us at the Astronaut Autograph Show that was held this past Labor Day weekend in Burbank, California. Astronauts, cosmonauts, and celebrities descended on the Hilton ballroom to sign just about anything. OCSS had more than a dozen volunteers on hand to provide whatever support the guests required, from delivering food and water, to manning the door, to selling photos for autographs. Our friend Francis French from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego recommended us to the show organizers, and we were more than happy to help out. In the photos above, at left, member Dennis Gilliam (right) sits with Alexie Leonov, the first human to walk in space. He had just signed a Soviet spacesuit helmet for Dennis. In the photo on the right, a young fan shows off his Saturn V rocket that he got signed by several astronauts in attendance.

Looking Outward: "The Next Four Years"
By Larry Evans
With the rancor of the 2004 presidential election behind us, our chapter president looks toward the future with hope that President Bush will be able to continue to push forward on his plans for space exploration.

Mission: SPACE

Disney's Epcot theme park, part of the sprawling Walt Disney World Resort complex just outside of Orlando, Florida, has grown beyond its start as a world's fair-type park. One of the latest additions to the park is Mission: SPACE, which takes riders through a simulated journey to Mars. It is a simulator-based ride, and through the use of centrifuges, eye-popping graphics, and all the requisite spaceflight-based noise, you feel as though you're really rocketing through the cosmos. It's not for the faint of heart--or stomach--but our intrepid president, Larry Evans, braved the experience and lives to tell about it in this issue.

To the Stars: "Huck and Hubble"
By Greg Little

Our columnist artfully parallels the journeys through the unknown for the fictional Huck Finn, and all the surprises he encountered on his journey down the Mississippi River, to that of future space explorers, who may likely encounter unknown forces or beings.

Planetarium
By John Goerger

John discusses Meteor Crater in Arizona, as well as the possibility of another impact. Plus, he lets us know where Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars will be in the sky.

As always, check out the Secretary's Notes for the latest chapter news, and our Space Calendar for upcoming events.
 

November 2004, Volume 15, Number 11

     

A Space Age for the Rest of Us
By Larry Evans

Those of us in the "space business" have long turned our eyes to the stars with the dream of going where only government-trained astronauts have tread. In the back our our minds, we knew it was probably a long shot. Ah, but dreams are a powerful thing. And when those dreams are in the head of Burt Rutan, they're not so far-fetched after all. After a successful test flight on June 21 [see July 2004 O.C.Space], followed by the first competitive flight on Sept. 29, pilot Brian Binnie took SpaceShipOne to 367,442 feet--a new altitude record that secured the $10 million Ansari X Prize and gave birth to a new industry. In the photos above, at left, Anousheh Ansari holds a copy of Space Tourism: Do You Want to Go? by OCSS member John Spencer. At right is a composite photo of the prize-winning flight, with SpaceShipOne heading straight up and it's carrier craft White Knight veering to the left.

Looking Outward: "The Politics of Space--Part 3: Dreaming the Big Dream"
By Larry Evans

Our president finishes his discussion of how this year's presidential election could impact the American space program.

Space Frontier Conference
The 13th annual Space Frontier Foundation conference was held for the first time on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. OCSS set up a large display in three areas, and several members and friends volunteered to ensure everything went smoothly. Burt Rutan accepted the Foundation's Vision to Reality award in recognition of the success of SpaceShipOne. Rutan was quite gracious with his time, giving an almost two-hour talk after the awards dinner.

To the Stars: "Our Neighborhood"
By Greg Little

Our columnist discusses how the discovery of other planets in neighboring systems could signal that we're not alone.

Planetarium
By John Goerger

John lets us know where to find Venus and Jupiter, as well as Saturn and the moon. He also talks about how vital it is for humans to continue pushing into space.

And, as always, we have our meeting minutes and our calendar of space events.
 

October 2004, Volume 15, Number 10

Global Friendships for the Future
By Larry Evans

We finish up our coverage of of the summer activities at Space Camp Turkey in this issue. (Part one of the coverage was in September's issue.) In the photo at left, new OCSS member Colleen Brown jumps off a boat into the Aegean Sea.

Looking Outward: "The Politics of Space--Part 2"
By Larry Evans

Our president continues his discussion of how this year's presidential election could impact the American space program.

Istanbul Students Visit California
Students from the Koc School (pronounced "coach") in Istanbul came to Southern California and visited "must-see" destinations, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios. Plus, they had a chance to visit with some of the new friends from the United States that they met at Space Camp Turkey. Members Melanie Brown and Sema Basol hosted barbecue dinners at their homes where everyone could visit and unwind after a fun day exploring.

To the Stars: "Curious George"
By Greg Little

Our columnist takes issue with some of Larry Evans' political viewpoints.

Planetarium
By John Goerger

John lets us know where to find Saturn, Regulus, Jupiter and a lunar eclipse. He also talks about the two Neptune-sized planets that were recently discovered.

And, as always, we have our meeting minutes and our calendar of space events.
 

September 2004, Volume 15, Number 9

 

"International Teamwork"
Space Camp Turkey hosts the second summit to bring together kids from around the world

By Larry Evans

OCSS' travels once again takes us to Izmir, Turkey, where several members took part in the second Global Friendship Through Space Education (GFTSE) summit at Space Camp Turkey. Students participated in a number of space-related activities, and also had fun associating with new friends from different countries. There was a link with the International Space Station, as well as a video conference with Johnson Space Center. Sixth- through ninth-grade students from the United States, Turkey, Greece, Israel and Bulgaria participated, nearly 140 in all. This blurb and the photos don't do justice to the story; you'll have to order your copy of O.C.Space to read more!

Looking Outward: "The Politics of Space"
By Larry Evans

Our president talks about how the upcoming presidential election may alter the future of space exploration in this country, mirroring the events set in motion by President Kennedy in 1961.

"OCSS Responds to SpaceShipOne"
Many members of OCSS were able to attend the first civilian spaceflight on June 21 by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites team and SpaceShipOne. Several members included their comments in this issue. Look for more comments in a future issue -- or you can just join OCSS so you won't miss an issue.

To the Stars: "Easing the Frustration"
By Greg Little

Greg talks about how he is worried about the future, when our leaders don't seem to be seeing the big picture when it comes to exploration -- or lots of things, for that matter. "Instead of building rocket ships to take us to the stars, we are building M-1 tanks to take us to the desert," he writes.

Planetarium
By John Goerger

John talks about how it is through the scientific process that we gain knowledge, and just because someone makes a claim does not make it true. He also tells us what is up in the sky for the month, with Venus and Saturn making bright appearances.

We also have, as always, the secretary's meeting recap column, our space calendar, and top-notch photos.
 

August 2004, Volume 15, Number 8

Gravity Probe B Takes Flight
By Larry Evans

For decades, researchers have thrown everything they have at Albert Einstein's 1916 Theory of General Relativity, trying to knock it down. Gravity Probe B will use four incredibly precise gyroscopes in an attempt to detect any signs of space warping (the geodetic effect) and frame dragging. This has never been able to be tested because we never had the capability. Einstein theorized that a large body (i.e., a planet) would warp the fabric of space. Frame grabbing can be thought of like a body grabbing onto something (in this case, the fabric of space) and dragging it along with it. Surrounding the launch of GPB was a NASA educator's conference attended by several OCSS members.

Looking Outward: "Mars Gravity Probe-1B"
By Larry Evans

Our president talks about how the inspiration for the name of the Gravity Probe B likely came from the movie "Robinson Crusoe on Mars," and how that movie made an attempt to be realistic in its science during a time when most sci-fi movies did not.

Apollo 11: The Legacy
By Jeff Howe

July marked the 35th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11, and OCSS' secretary talks about how the public's feelings about space has ebbed and flowed during the decades since that event.

To the Stars: "The Brilliant Whales"
By Greg Little

Greg uses the movie "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" to illustrate how the future may be dependent on the most unlikely things -- like the humpback whale!

Planetarium
By John Goerger

John again talks about the Pioneer and Voyager missions, as well as interplanetary human spaceflight. Plus, he describes where Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and other bodies are lurking in the night sky.

Be sure to check out the space calendar and the secretary's notes, plus the wonderful photos in this issue.
 

July 2004, Volume 15, Number 7

328,491 Feet
By Larry Evans

Scaled Composites and 63-year-old pilot Mike Melvill make history as they launch SpaceShipOne past the boundary of space. It is the first time a private citizen has taken a privately-built craft into space. Here, we detail the event. In the photos above, SpaceShipOne is carried under White Knight as it turns the corner from the Scaled Composites facility (left). At right, Melvill shows his enthusiasm after his successful flight.

Looking Outward: "Success"
By Larry Evans

Larry talks about how Burt Rutan understands and believes in space tourism, and how much the flight of SpaceShipOne has changed the future of spaceflight, one in which the private citizen can now play a direct role.

News Briefs
OCSS received the National Space Society's Chapter of the Year award, the second year in a row we have received that honor. Also, OCSS member Kaya Tuncer, founder of Space Camp Turkey and Global Friendship Through Space Education, was honored on May 15 with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. It pays tribute to American citizens for their outstanding contributions to their own ethnic groups, their ancestral countries, and American society. He is the first Turkish-American to receive the award. The final news item was the unveiling of this website.

To the Stars: "The Voyage Continues"
By Greg Little

Greg talks about his experience with NASA TV, as it broadcasts such notable moments as the Columbia disaster, reports from the International Space Station, Mars rover updates...all thanks to this station finally being allowed some air time.

We also have an update on Cassini's arrival at Saturn, set to occur at 19:36 PDT on June 30. And, as always, we have Secretary Jeff Howe's meeting notes.
 

June 2004, Volume 15, Number 6

"The All-American Boys"
Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham takes an unvarnished look at America's space program
By Larry Evans

Cunningham paid a visit to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego to talk about his updated book The All American Boys. Walt autographed copies of the book, plus provided a spirited discussion on everything from the Mercury program through the International Space Station. He even touched on the post-Columbia era of space exploration. Here, Cunningham poses with OCSS Secretary Jeff Howe, and at right, Walt addresses the audience.

Looking Outward: "A Matter of Faith"
By Larry Evans

The OCSS president talks about how faith (not in a strict religious sense) is needed to justify the continued push into space. Some of these include faith in the future of humanity; faith that humanity is worth saving in the first place; and faith that we are destined to become a Solar System Species, reaching outward from Earth to place our feet on other worlds in exploration and eventual settlement.

"The Sounds of 'Sun Rings'"

We provide some photos of the program "Sun Rings" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. It took actual sounds from space and paired them with original orchestrations. You'll have to get a copy of O.C.Space to read more about it!

To the Stars: "Lack of Intelligence"
By Greg Little

Our columnist tells a story of how humans on this planet evolved but got too full of themselves to realize that when evil strikes, it's better to be smart than strong.

Planetarium
By John Goerger

Venus, Saturn, and Mars shine in this column, as our columnist tells us just where to see it. Plus, he provides a little history on the Pioneer and Voyager missions.

And, as always, Jeff Howe's "Secretary's Notes" recap the previous month's meeting, and our calendar lets you know what's going on in space.