Two cool space-related news items

I have a passing interest in space and space exploration (just how passing will soon become apparent) and I like to share the wonder of space when I see something cool.  Two events just came to my attention that I think are worth mentioning.

  • First, this Saturday, a privately funded rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral and dock with the International Space Station for a resupply mission.  It will be a robot-controlled/automated flight (so no private astronauts. . . . yet).  There a few things about this that I like.  First that it is privately funded and the company is specifically aiming to get private astronauts/space-tourists into space.  The other thing that is neat is the automated aspect of the flight.  While automation has always been a part of space exploration, once I start thinking about how embedded and advanced the automation is, it blows my mind.

  • The second neat thing, is something that had fallen completely off my radar:  the Mars Rover.  It is just now coming out of its fifth Martian winter (eight Earth years) and now is back to exploring.  It will now add to the 21.4 miles of territory it has thus far explored.  This is an ultimate robot.  It is solar powered, remote controlled, and controlled with an embedded system.  It boggles my mind that it only was supposed to be a three month mission and it is still operating eight years later.  This is especially true, when it was necessary to re-format its memory and upload a new program to solve a memory-conflict problem. . .  from 150,000,000km away.  I love it when a plan comes together.

  • Bonus Item – Don’t forget that this Sunday at 6:23pm PST there is a solar eclipse that can be viewed on the West Coast.

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