Neuralink - Or, the 1,000 Steps to eVis

Most great technological advances are actually the culmination of 1,000 baby steps, each one pushing against the limits of our capabilities until those limits nudge a little further out and punctuated by breakthroughs that solve 50 or 100 of those steps in one fell swoop. My feeling is that we're about 1/3 of the way through the thousand steps required to get to eVis, and we're due for one of those breakthroughs to leap us closer (this isn't one, though the work these companies are doing will likely trigger one, hopefully soon).

"Elon Musk unveils Neuralink’s plans for brain-reading ‘threads’ and a robot to insert them": https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/16/20697123/elon-musk-neuralink-brain-reading-thread-robot

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Originally posted on Facebook.

The View From LightSail 2

Crowdfunded spacecraft LightSail 2 snaps amazing photos ahead of solar sail deployment: https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/17/crowdfunded-spacecraft-lightsail-2-snaps-amazing-photos-ahead-of-solar-sail-deployment/.

LightSail 2’s development was funded in part via a successful crowdfunding campaign run by the Bill Nye-led Planetary Society. Its goal is to test a spacecraft’s ability to fly powered only by the force of photons from the Sun striking a solar sail constructed of Mylar. This method of space-based transportation is extremely slow to get started, but thanks to the inertia-free medium of outer space, it could be an extremely energy-efficient way for research craft to travel long distances.

It launched on June 25 as part of the shared payload of SpaceX’s most recent Falcon Heavy launch.

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Originally posted on Twitter.

ISS Crossing a Spotless Sun

The Space Station Crosses a Spotless Sun (by Rainee Colacurcio): https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190715.html

I saw this image yesterday morning, and I continue to be transfixed by it. Obviously, there is one heck of a visual illusion going on here, as the ISS is in low Earth orbit and the sun is 93 million miles away, but it's powerful nonetheless.😯

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

To the Moon and Beyond

Everything you ever wanted to know about Artemis, the lunar gateway and other lunar plans - and then some: https://www.bbc.co.uk/…/e…/nkzysaP3pB/to-the-moon-and-beyond.

I do feel like the article minimizes the near-certain role SpaceX and/or Blue Origin rockets and modules are going to play, in favor of presenting the official NASA line (Orion, SLS). But otherwise it's an informative, wide-ranging article (without getting into the nitty-gritty technical details).

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Map of 4,000+ Exoplanets

NASA has dropped an insane map of 4,000 planets outside our solar system: https://www.cnet.com/…/nasa-drops-insane-map-of-4000-plane…/

The video is absolutely worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=aiFD_LBx2nM. It's only a minute long and is a great visualization of how exoplanet discovery just exploded in the last decade (go Kepler!📡✨).

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter.

New Lease on Life for the Voyagers

Voyagers 1 and 2 have the distinction of being in space for 42 years and still operating. And even though they’re 18 billion km (11 billion miles) from the Sun, they’re still valuable scientifically. But they’re running out of energy, and NASA has been working on how to stretch their remaining power for as long as possible.

https://www.universetoday.com/142802/nasa-has-figured-out-how-to-extend-the-lives-of-the-voyagers-even-longer/

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Hunting Mirror Universes

“Scientists Are Hunting For a Mirror Universe and Attempting to Open Portals Into it”: https://www.disclose.tv/scientists-are-hunting-for-a-mirror-universe-and-attempting-to-open-portals-into-it-370794

Just so long as MirrorMe doesn't have a goatee. Because that would be...bad.😟

...Obviously, the headline is a bit sensationalistic, as they so often are, and the experiment is being conducted on the tiniest scale. But the science is still cool and thought-provoking.👍

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Originally posted on Facebook.

Fun With Acronyms

One of the fun(?) aspects of spinning up a new series is giving new names to things. I have found myself in need of an acronym this morning. Without disclosing the purpose of the entity behind the acronym, so far I have such candidates as:

- HUG
- HARD
- CHUMP
- MUSE (I actually like this one 😉)
- CHUG
- LEAP
- LAME
- HUMID
- HALP

...I'm not sure I remember how to do this right.🤔

*

Originally posted on Facebook.

Website Redesign FTW

The website got a minor (visual) and fairly major (structural) redesign this week. If poking around webpages, menus and links is your idea of fun - or if you just want to check it out 😁 - feel free to look around and let me know if anything is broken or wonky: https://www.gsjennsen.com.

Visually, the redesign is not as dramatic as the one I did 2 years ago. But it should be (a) easier to navigate, with clear pointers to important information, (b) less overwhelming for newcomers, and (c) perhaps most importantly, look great on mobile devices. Hopefully, all those things are true. 😋

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Originally posted on Facebook.

Dragonfly is Headed to Titan

NASA has announced its next big "New Frontiers" mission: DRAGONFLY, a nuclear-powered drone/rotorcraft lander, will visit Titan, the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere rich in nitrogen and carbon (and one of the coolest stellar bodies to boot), to search for the molecules of alien life.

Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034.

Much more at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-nasa-mission-will-fly-titans-frigid-skies-to-search-for-lifes-beginnings/

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Originally posted on Facebook and Twitter (additional tweets: here and here.

Falcon Heavy Fireworks

The good kind ;). From the hugely difficult - and - hugely successful - SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch this week, an incredible image by astrophotographer Erik Kuna. In the photographer’s own words: “Cannot believe this happened just above the earth on the edge of the Mesosphere and Thermosphere around 85-120km in altitude yet it looks like something from a deep space Hubble telescope image.”

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Initially posted on Twitter.

Tumultuous Clouds of Jupiter

This stunning image of Jupiter's stormy northern hemisphere was captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet. Some bright-white clouds can be seen popping up to high altitudes on the right side of Jupiter's disk.

Juno took the four images used to produce this color-enhanced view on May 29, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 20th science pass of Jupiter. At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was between 11,600 miles (18,600 kilometers) and 5,400 miles (8,600 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops.

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/tumultuous-clouds-of-jupiter/

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Initially posted on Twitter.

2 Earth-mass Planets Orbit Teegarden's Star a Mere 12.5 Light-years Away

Astronomers have found two Earth-sized and *potentially Earth-like* planets orbiting a star just 12.5 light years away. The planets were found using an instrument called CARMENES, which stands for Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs). That's a mouthful, but it means an extremely sensitive detector mounted on a telescope at the Calar Alto observatory in Spain that looks for alien worlds like Earth orbiting very cool red dwarfs.

http://edit.syfy.com/syfywire/two-earth-sized-planets-found-in-a-nearby-stars-habitable-zone

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Stunning Close-Up of Asteroid Bennu

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Takes Stunning Photo of Asteroid Bennu From Just 0.4 Miles Away. This image of asteroid Bennu was captured on Jun. 13, 2019, shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft executed its second orbital insertion maneuver. From the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit, half of Bennu is sunlit and half is in shadow. At this distance, details as small as 1.6 ft (0.5 m) across can be resolved in the center of the image.

https://gizmodo.com/nasas-osiris-rex-spacecraft-takes-stunning-photo-of-ast-1835601275

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Originally posted on Twitter.