Daily Archives: October 29, 2013

Views from the Solar System (167)


Sunlit Side of the Planet Mercury

NASA – Another day, another beautiful view of Mercury’s horizon. In this scene, which was acquired looking from the shadows toward the sunlit side of the planet, a 120-km (75 mi.) impact crater stands out near the center. Emanating from this unnamed crater are striking chains of secondary craters, which gouged linear tracks radially away from the crater. While this crater is not especially fresh (its rays have faded into the background), it does appear to have more prominent secondary crater chains than many of its peers.

This image was acquired on Oct. 2, 2013 by the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) aboard NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, as part of the MDIS’s limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury’s limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury’s shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury’s northern hemisphere.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft’s seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the solar system’s innermost planet. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Our Fear of Al-Qaeda Hurts Us More Than Al-Qaeda Does


By David Rohde – The United States is losing its way in the struggle against terrorism. Sweeping government efforts to stop attacks are backfiring abroad and infringing on basic rights at home.

“The perception here is of a United States where security has trumped liberty,” New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote from Berlin on Thursday (Oct 24), “intelligence agencies run amok (vacuuming up data of friend and foe alike), and the once-admired ‘checks and balances’ built into American governance and studied by European schoolchildren have become, at best, secret reviews of secret activities where opposing arguments get no hearing.” more> http://tinyurl.com/mlg4ez5

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Why There’s No Financial Advice for Most Americans


By Ben Steverman – America’s middle class needs a lot of help managing its finances. The financial industry isn’t providing much.

Most financial advice is really only available to people who have amassed over $250,000 in investable assets — a very small percentage of the population.

When people don’t understand the risks of investing, they invest money they ought to save. Our industry has a tendency to focus on producing the absolute biggest investment return. What middle class people need is predictable outcomes. more> http://tinyurl.com/olmbjmd

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Historic demonstration proves laser communication possible


R&D – In the early morning hours of Oct. 18, NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) made history, transmitting data from lunar orbit to Earth at a rate of 622 Megabits-per-second (Mbps). That download rate is more than six times faster than previous state-of-the-art radio systems flown to the moon.

LLCD not only demonstrated a record-breaking download rate but also an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps. The laser beam was transmitted the 239,000 miles from the primary ground station at NASA’s White Sands Complex in Las Cruces N.M., to the LADEE spacecraft in lunar orbit. This breakthrough technology has a laser-based space terminal that is half the weight of a comparable radio-based terminal while using 25 percent less power. more> http://tinyurl.com/netjsyz

What about Social Security’s rollout?


By Bruce J. Schulman – If history is any guide, nobody will be able to decide authoritatively for years, maybe even decades — certainly not until after the program evolves significantly from its original conception.

Implementation of massive public programs on a national scale takes time — especially in the United States, when responsibility for administering them is divided not only among local, state and national governments, but between public agencies and private actors like insurance companies, hospitals and doctors.

Social Security, that now beloved centerpiece of the nation’s social safety net, offers a case in point. Created in 1935, the program took 40 years just to include all working Americans in its basic coverage. more> http://tinyurl.com/nmp5fdt

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