Daily Archives: August 24, 2011

NASA technology (2)


Earth, Moon and Gravity

NASA will host a news conference at 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT), on Thursday Aug. 25, to discuss the upcoming launch of the Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. more> http://tinyurl.com/3hsz8k5

GRAIL Operation
NASA – Scheduled to launch Sept. 8, GRAIL will help answer longstanding questions about Earth’s moon and provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in our solar system formed.

GRAIL spacecraft
NASA’s lunar-bound GRAIL twins were mated to their Delta II launch vehicle at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station‘s Launch Complex 17 at 8:45 a.m. EDT (5:45 a.m. PDT).

Now that the GRAIL spacecraft are atop their rocket, a final flurry of checks and tests can begin to confirm that all is go for launch. The final series of checks begins tomorrow, Aug. 19, with an on-pad functional test. The test is designed to confirm that the spacecraft is healthy after the fueling and transport operations. Next week, among all the upcoming final tests, reviews and closeout operations leading up to liftoff, the GRAIL team will install the launch vehicle fairing around the spacecraft. more> http://tinyurl.com/3swd7tj

GRACE spacecraft
The primary goal of the GRACE mission is to accurately map variations in the Earth’s gravity field over its 5-year lifetime. The GRACE mission has two identical spacecrafts flying about 220 kilometers apart in a polar orbit 500 kilometers above the Earth.

GRACE spacecraft-2
It maps the Earth’s gravity fields by making accurate measurements of the distance between the two satellites, using geodetic quality Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and a microwave ranging system. This provides scientists from all over the world with an efficient and cost-effective way to map the Earth’s gravity fields with unprecedented accuracy. The results from this mission yield crucial information about the distribution and flow of mass within the Earth and it’s surroundings. more> http://tinyurl.com/3gf6ae3


No tripwire making government debts “unsustainable”

Reuters – In a year in which governments across the world have either warned or been warned about debt sustainability, their electorates — many now conversant in everything from basis points to bond haircuts after years of credit crisis — have some right to puzzle on what point debts become too much.

Just ask Greece — or Ireland or Portugal. The point at which the euro crisis went into overload was when creditors refused to lend at rates that squared that circle. They lacked confidence in government budget and growth assumptions, and the political and central bank structures had no instant mechanism to restore it. The interest rate was the decider.

That seems to be how the United States and Japan are getting away with similarly scary — more scary in Japan’s case — deficit and debt projections than the euro zone casualties. more> http://tinyurl.com/3l7w98j


The GOP will raise taxes — on the middle class and working poor

By Harold Meyerson – America’s presumably anti-tax party wants to raise your taxes. Come January, the Republicans plan to raise the taxes of anyone who earns $50,000 a year by $1,000, and anyone who makes $100,000 by $2,000.

Their tax hike doesn’t apply to income from investments. It doesn’t apply to any wage income in excess of $106,800 a year. It’s the payroll tax that they want to raise — to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent of your paycheck, a level established for one year in December’s budget deal at Democrats’ insistence. Unlike the capital gains tax, or the low tax rates for the rich included in the Bush tax cuts, or the carried interest tax for hedge fund operators (which is just 15 percent), the payroll tax chiefly hits the middle class and the working poor. more> http://tinyurl.com/423wl9s

Keep Your Engineering Skills up to Date

By Jon Titus – I like trade shows and conferences, because they let me see what companies have to offer, and smart marketing people ensure they have knowledgeable engineers available to explain products and answer technical questions. Some time ago I wrote a short article, “How To Work A Trade Show,” for Test & Measurement World magazine.

If your company cannot pay for you to attend a show or conference, use vacation time and your own money to attend at least one show a year. A small investment in staying current with products and technologies sounds better than unemployment.

Join a local engineering group. Professional societies have regional sections and might have a smaller group in a nearby city. I checked out the Utah Section of the IEEE and found no announcements of regular meetings and no upcoming events. With a local group, you’ll have to put in time and effort if you want to meet with engineers. more> http://is.gd/N9iifd

Obama effort to woo independents derailed by debt-ceiling deal

By Ian Swanson – The unpopular debt-ceiling deal has significantly hampered President Obama’s effort to win over independent voters.

Since Democrats were thumped in the 2010 midterm elections, Obama repeatedly has sought to burnish his reputation with independents, often at the sake of his Democratic base.

Yet a Gallup poll this week found Obama trailing not only leading GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry among independent voters, but long-shot candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) as well. The poll found that Obama leads Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), but only by a six-point margin, 48 percent to 42 percent. more> http://tinyurl.com/3w5o67m