Stories tagged Discovery

Lighting Up the Night
Lighting Up the NightCourtesy Tom Moler
Lights and space shuttle Discovery are reflected in the water as it rolls to the pad on its final planned mission to the International Space Station.

Preparing for Flight
Preparing for FlightCourtesy NASA/Jack Pfaller
From the NASA Image of the day:

In preparation for its last planned mission to the International Space Station, shuttle Discovery was lowered onto its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The lift and mate operation began Sept. 9 and wrapped up early Sept. 10.

On Sept. 21, 2010, Discovery completed its last planned trip to the launch pad at 1:49 a.m., leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building at about 7:23 p.m. on the slow, 3.4-mile crawl to the pad.

Discovery, the oldest of NASA's three active orbiters, first launched Aug. 30, 1984, on STS-41D and is being readied for the STS-133 mission to station. Liftoff is targeted for Nov. 1 at 4:40 p.m. EDT.

The NYTimes has a great piece about the potential ramifications of science's latest breakthrough discoveries: nanotechnology, robotics, geo-engineering. I used to think that just about anything we could develop, would be developed. Articles like this have helped educate me that we do have a choice as a society about where and when we allow science to go. It's an interesting read.

The 1507 Waldseemuller map was the first to identify North and South America by that name. The map recently went on display at the Library of Congress.


Barbara Morgan
Barbara Morgan
Astronaut Barbara Morgan is also a teacher. Several educational sessions are scheduled for the STS-118 mission.

Students from Challenger Learning Centers interact with Astronauts on Wednesday August 15th at 11am and 3pm; Shuttle Downlink with astronauts Barbara Morgan and Rick Mastracchio on Thursday August 16.(more info)

I am watching Barbara Morgan live on the NASA TV as she uses the shuttle's arm to install the external stowage platform. Yesterday a new gyroscope was installed. To follow activities I recommend these links:

I use the windows media link because it allows full screen viewing. If you want to use other video formats they are here.


Family tomb of Jesus?

Jesus of Nazareth?
Jesus of Nazareth?

If you think the Da Vinci Code was controversial, wait until you learn about "The Lost Tomb of Jesus". Combining the popularity of CSI and NUMB3RS, Academy Award winner James Cameron has put together a documentary about a family crypt possibly containing the bones of Jesus. Ten ossuaries (stone boxes) were labeled with the names of Jesus and those believed to refer to his mother, father, brothers, wife, and son. Amos Kloner estimated that the tomb contained 35 bodies. (Antiquot,Jerusalem, Vol. 29, pp. 22)

Put on your thinking caps

Faith does not require evidence. If you wish to review the evidence, though, you can start by going to Discovery also has a web site with flash navigation to maps, family trees, videos, etc. Be sure to click on "Download Documents" found by choosing "explore tomb" then "enter the tomb". The link is the middle one at the bottom (pdf). There is a discussion forum, too.

How scientific is the evidence?

Please use our comments box to discuss this event as it unfolds. I find I can learn about critical thinking and scientific methods by listening in.

Timeline of events

March 28, 1980

Talpiot, Jerusalem Construction work uncovers untouched tomb.

March 28- April 14

Israeli Antiquities Authority excavate tomb. Site survey and mapmade by Shimon Gibson


"A Tomb with Inscribed Ossuaries in the East Talpiot" published by Amos Kloner


Simcha Jacobovici researches "James son of Joseph, broher of Jesus" ossuary


Jacobovici meets Kloner and learns of "Jesus son of Joseph" ossuary

June 18, 2003

"James" ossuary declared a forgery by Israel Antiquities Authority


Jacobovici discovers futher information about other ossuaries related to New Testament

March 21, 2005

James Cameron discusses financing a film

September 15-16, 2006

Robotic cameras lowered down "breathing pipes" capture images of a different tomb - one that has not been excavated and still holds numerous ossuaries.


Image of Discovery: This image of Space Shuttle Discovery was taken by a miniature satellite that was released from Discovery's payload bay on Wednesday.  Image courtesy NASA TV.
Image of Discovery: This image of Space Shuttle Discovery was taken by a miniature satellite that was released from Discovery's payload bay on Wednesday. Image courtesy NASA TV.

The space shuttle Discovery is preparing to land tomorrow at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Preparations for landing include checking out flight systems and jets as well as stowing and securing equipment.

Along with this activity, the shuttle crew will be launching a small satellite designed to measure the density and composition of the low-Earth orbit atmosphere while being tracked from the ground. The information that this Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment satellite with gather will be used to help predict the movement of objects in orbit. Earlier in the mission a satellite the size of a coffee cup was deployed to demonstrate the use of small low-power inspection satellites that can be sent out to observe larger spacecraft.

Concerns about weather at Kennedy Space Center and a unique schedule that was the result of an unplanned spacewalk to fix a solar panel on the International Space Station could result in the shuttle landing at the White Sands Space Harbor landing strip for the first time in 24 years.

The last time, and only time, a shuttle landed at White Sands, the sand that gives the area its name resulted in days of additional work to clean the shuttle. In addition, the site lacks the equipment at Kennedy Space Center, and the primary back up, California’s Edwards Air Force Base where 50 of the shuttle’s 114 landings have taken place. Low clouds and rain are forecasted for Kennedy Space Center, and crosswinds are the problem at Edwards Air Force Base. The shuttle has to land before Sunday when it will run out of the fuel it needs to generate power. As a result of this schedule crunch, all three locations will be prepped for the first landing opportunity on Friday. There are seven landing windows starting with the first opportunity on Friday. The shuttle crew trains in a jet that mimics the shuttle over White Sands, so they are at least familiar with the area if a landing there is necessary.

If you are a space geek like me, or even if you are just a little interested, NASA does a lot of things that I think are cool surrounding shuttle flights.

They have tons of video material including the launch, views from the solid rocket boosters, space walks, messages from the crew and more. You can even subscribe to these as podcasts! I would suspect that the NASA web pages for this mission will be kept up to date as the status of the landings are determined. Stay tuned!


What stood out in the crowd?
What stood out in the crowd?

Well, 2006 is nearing its end and that means it's time for those always fun end of year lists. So what science discoveries, news stories, scandals, or events were the most important of 2006. Post your ideas as a comment and we will turn the list into a poll where people can vote which ones were the most groundbreaking. I 'heart' community created lists.

I'll add my suggestions as a comment, you should to.


Digging dinosaurs in Utah: Courtesy Bureau of Land Management
Digging dinosaurs in Utah: Courtesy Bureau of Land Management

That’s how many types of dinosaurs remain to be discovered. According to Steve Wang, a statistician at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, and Peter Dodson, a palaeontologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, at least 70% of the dinosaurs that once existed have yet to be found. They arrived at this figure by taking the known dino discoveries and plugging them in to a mathematical model that has proven successful in extrapolating data.

The scientists estimate that about half of the missing dinos will probably never be found. They lived in upland areas where fossilization is rare. Or the rocks that held their bones have been destroyed by glaciers or other Earth processes. But that leaves some 700 types of dinosaurs yet to be discovered.

Dinosaur discovery has accelerated in recent years. Nearly half of all dinosaurs known today have been dug up in just the last 20 years. Countries like China and Argentina – long inaccessible to paleontologists – have been producing many new finds. But there are plenty of other countries, particularly in Africa, that have yet to be fully explored. Wang and Dodson figure that most of the remaining dinosaur discoveries should come to light in the next 100 to 140 years.

I breathed a big sigh of relief when I heard that the space shuttle Discovery landed safely this morning at about 9:14 EDT. Thank goodness.