Archive for January, 2016

Buzz Aldrin: ‘Planet 9’ Proves How Important Space Exploration Is

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Dr. Buzz Aldrin served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission.
‘A potential new planet offers great satisfaction for those of us who look for things out there’

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The recent big news in space is that our solar system seems to be bigger than we thought.

Evidence for a giant planet lurking far away from our sun in the murky and cold real estate of the outer solar system is enlightening—arguably for good and bad reasons.

I’m reminded of an axiom we’re all familiar with: objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are. But in this case the nicknamed “Planet 9” may be more in our face than we realize.

Planet 9 is a should-be-there world. That is, nobody has yet spotted the object directly. But thanks to mathematical modeling and computer simulations, this distant world could have a mass about 10 times that of Earth. If truly a resident of our neighborhood of planets, this supposed planet would make one full orbit around the sun that takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years.

Given that a few years ago we demoted Pluto from its planet status, the claim of a “Planet 9” adds up to one fact: the planetary census of our solar system is clearly unfinished business.

That’s what space exploration is all about—defining new boundaries. A potential new planet offers great satisfaction for those of us who look for things out there.

The good news is that we finally have the ability to detect large objects remote from our home planet. But “Planet 9” is also a reminder of all the solar system’s unknowns, which include asteroids that could hit Earth. NASA recently formed a Planetary Defense Coordination Office to coordinate U.S. agencies and intergovernmental efforts to respond to future near-Earth objects that threaten Earth. Evidence for a possible additional planet is sign we must stay vigilant.

As the world discusses the potential of “Planet 9,” I’ve just begun my 86th trip around the sun—a birthday celebration made all the more meaningful by recently forming the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, where we’re developing a complete plan for the future called Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars. Gaining that foothold is prerequisite, I believe, to furthering humanity’s advances ever-deeper into the solar system.

It’s a big universe out there. The prospective “Planet 9” in our own backyard reminds us of that—and assuredly more surprises are in the offing.

Buzz Aldrin, best known for his Apollo 11 moonwalk, holds a doctoral degree in astronautics and continues to wield influence as an international advocate of space science and planetary exploration. Aldrin and co-author, Leonard David, wrote Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration, published in 2013 by the National Geographic Society. Aldrin’s new children’s book, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, co-authored with Marianne Dyson, is available in September.

Congress Just Gave NASA A Massive Budget For Next Year

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Good news, everyone. NASA’s latest budget has just been put forward by Congress – and they have allocated the agency $750 million more than they requested. This means the agency’s full budget for 2016 is $19.3 billion, which incredibly – in an age of cutting costs – is almost $1.3 billion more than last year.

The budget increases funding to several key programs at NASA, including its Commercial Crew program, its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and the Orion spacecraft. “We are going back into space with Americans on American rockets, and we are going to Mars,” Senator Bill Nelson said yesterday.

Perhaps most interestingly, $175 million of the budget has been set aside for the Europa Multi-Flyby Mission, a spacecraft that will be sent to Europa in the early 2020s, and the budget dictates that NASA must include a lander for the surface of this icy moon of Jupiter. “This mission shall include an orbiter with a lander that will include competitively selected instruments and that funds shall be used to finalize the mission design concept,” it reads, reported Ars Technica.

A lander has been touted for the upcoming Europa mission before, but NASA has not been keen to firmly commit to anything yet, as there are many unknowns about undertaking such a landing. It remains to be seen how they’ll go forward with this request.

Nonetheless, the large amount of funding essentially allows NASA to meet most of the other goals it has set itself. Crucially, they were given the $1.243 billion of funding for the Commercial Crew program that they have been pushing so hard for. Administrator Charlie Bolden recently told IFLScience that he counted this – getting SpaceX and Boeing’s manned spacecraft up and running – as one of the key goals of his time in office.

Wish you were here? Congress has told NASA they must send a lander to the surface of Europa. NASA

Elsewhere, planetary science has received a boost in the form of $1.631 billion – $270 million above what the President requested. According to The Planetary Society, this “allows both the MER Opportunity rover and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to continue science operations.” The upcoming Mars 2020 rover, meanwhile, gets a $22 million boost.

The huge SLS, which Congress seems very keen to overfund, has been given $2 billion, $640 million above the $1.36 billion requested by the President. The SLS, if you aren’t aware, will eventually be used to take humans to Mars with the Orion spacecraft, which has been given an increase to $1.91 billion.

Of the areas to miss out on their requested levels of funding, one is the Earth Science Division, which received $1.921 billion – less than the President’s request but $149 million more than last year. Another is the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which gets $686 million – $39 million less than requested, but $90 million more than last year.

The budget still needs to pass a vote in Congress this week, which seems likely at the moment, although a controversial surveillance bill was snuck in along with it. If it gets by this test, the White House will almost certainly sign it into law.

GLOBAL LECTURE SERIES TO HOST BUZZ

Monday, January 25th, 2016

The Mississippi State University Student Association is hosting in Buzz Aldrin to be the keynote speaker for the 2016 Global Lecture Series. This event will be held on Feb. 9 in the Bettersworth Auditorium of Lee Hall at 7 p.m., doors opening at 6:30 p.m.
The Global Lecture Series (GLS) is an annual organized lecture event organized by the Student Association.
JoJo Dodd, SA President, said the purpose of this series is to create opportunities for students to hear from people who have helped shape the world.
Audrey Anne Estes, GLS director of special events said the SA makes this event free so that every student has the opportunity to experience it.
“My goal for the Global Lecture was to provide Mississippi State students with an experience that they would never forget, and that they could not get anywhere else,” Estes said.
Mississippi State students with an experience that they would never forget, and that they could not get anywhere else,” Estes said.
The GLS is primarily planned and organized by students. The speakers are chosen by the SA who desires to get someone who the other students are interested in. The past three Global Lecture Series speakers have been Condoleezza Rice in 2013, who was the 66th Secretary of State, Dan Rather in 2014, who was a CBS Evening News anchor, and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Nominee for President.
Buzz Aldrin is different because he is not a political figure as many of the past featured GLS speakers have been.
“This year we wanted to bring in someone whose work in the STEM fields has made a lasting and world-shaping impact,” Dodd said. “It’s hard to imagine a more iconic person alive today who fits that description than Buzz Aldrin.”
Buzz Aldrin created history by being one of the first men to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969, along with his partner, Neil Armstrong. Aldrin and Armstrong with Michael Collins were apart of the Apollo 11 mission whose purpose was to land men on the moon and return them safely to earth. The mission lasted for eight days. The walk on the moon was broadcasted to a world-wide audience on live TV.
Aldrin was born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. on Jan. 20, 1930. Aldrin made Buzz his legal first name in 1988 after his two older sisters called him “buzzer” instead of brother, which was then later shortened into Buzz. Aldrin attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York graduating 3rd in his class in 1951 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
After his mission to the moon, Aldrin was assigned as the Commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. He retired in March 1972 after 21 years of service. In 1987, Aldrin founded the Space Studies graduate program at the University of North Dakota. He has also written nine books including his biography Magnificent Desolation, which was a New York Times Bestseller and his recent children’s book, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet. Aldrin received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Aldrin currently resides in Satellite Beach, Florida. He started the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Tech in 2015. He now spends his time lecturing throughout the world to promote his vision for our role in the future regarding space.
The GLS funding is set aside each year in the MSU general fund. This money is managed by students in the SA. For it to be possible for Aldrin to come to MSU, the SA partnered with the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Engineering. With their financial support, this year’s event was made possible.
Natalie Jones, director of programing and on the Executive with the SA, said the SA is very excited to host Aldrin.
“The Student Association is extremely excited to have a man who has contributed so much to the advancement of science and space exploration. Buzz Aldrin is an American icon, and his life and contributions to the fields of engineering and science have defined him as a legend in history,” Jones said. “His bravery and passion for exploration is inspiring and we couldn’t be prouder or more excited to have him coming to campus! All in all, we can’t wait to hear his amazing story and we look forward to his visit to campus!”

MSU Student Association hosts Buzz Aldrin for Global Lecture Series

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University’s Global Lecture Series is continuing as the Student Association hosts Buzz Aldrin in Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium next month.

The February 9 event will begin at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Though admission is free, tickets are required and will be available in Colvard Student Union Suite 314 starting today [January 19] for students. Faculty/staff and general public tickets are available beginning January 20.

Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong, was one of the first men to walk on the moon. On July 20, 1969, Aldrin, Armstrong, and Michael Collins made history with their historic Apollo 11 mission. This heroic endeavor was witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history.

Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on January 20, 1930. He is the son of Marion Moon and Edwin Eugene Aldrin, who was an aviation pioneer and a student of rocket developer Robert Goddard. Buzz Aldrin attended the Military Academy at West Point and graduated with honors in 1951, third in his class.

Upon receiving his wings, Aldrin flew F-86 Sabre Jets in 66 combat missions in the Korean Conflict. He then earned a doctorate in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Manned Space Rendezvous. Aldrin devised techniques used on all NASA missions, including the space docking of the Russian Cosmonauts.

Aldrin has been given numerous awards and titles throughout his career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honors among more than 50 distinguished awards and medals from the United States and numerous other countries.

After retiring from NASA, the Air Force, and his position as Commander of the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Aldrin has remained at the forefront of efforts to ensure a continued leading role for America in manned space exploration. To advance his lifelong commitment to venturing outward in space, he created a master plan of evolving missions for sustained exploration using his concept, “The Cycler,” a spacecraft system that makes perpetual orbits between Earth and Mars.

In 1983, this system received a patent for a permanent space station he designed. Aldrin also has written nine books including his 2009 autobiography, NY Times Bestseller Magnificent Desolation, and his two most current books published by National Geographic, Mission to Mars released in May 2013 and his children’s book, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, released in September of 2015.

Today, Aldrin lives in Satellite Beach, Florida. This past year, he launched the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Institute of Technology which focuses on his concept for Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars. He lectures and travels throughout the world to promote his vision for our future in space.

For more information about the Global Lecture Series or the MSU Student Association, contact Karen Chan at 662-325-2930 or khc46@sa.msstate.edu. Updates and information will be available via Facebook under MSU Student Association and Twitter and Instagram under the handle @msu_sa.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

First Buzz Aldrin Space Institute workshop takes on Mars mission

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Florida Tech Buzz Aldrin Space Institute group photo 1-19-2016
MELBOURNE —
Space experts at the Florida Institute of Technology are putting their heads together to talk about man’s greatest upcoming journey: a trip to Mars.

On Tuesday, the first workshop of the newly formed Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Tech met near the campus to talk about the effects of long-term space travel on humans, developing better spacecraft and how to develop a Martian colony.

Aldrin is the second man to walk on the moon and is now a faculty member at Florida Tech in Brevard County.

His son, Dr. Andy Aldrin, is the director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute.

“This university is about space, so I think what we’re doing here I hope is going to help increase the capabilities and make Florida Tech an even more important national and global player in space exploration,” Andy Aldrin said.

Florida Tech was founded in 1958, the same year as NASA.

The space agency is working to launch a mission to Mars in the early 2030s.