There was good-natured snark from SarcasticRover and from Matthew Inman, the Seattle cartoonist behind The Oatmeal (following up on his terrific preview of the landing). And there were heartfelt congratulations from the space community’s celebrities, including SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
“Two beautiful little Chinese girls, named Lulu and Nana, came crying into this world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago. The girls are home now,” He Jiankui, a researcher at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said in a YouTube video.
If confirmed, the report is certain to bring the ethical issues surrounding human genetic engineering into sharp focus, and could lead either to rapid developments in the technology or regulatory limits.
As NASA prepares for its next Mars landing, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is giving himself a 70 percent chance of moving to Mars. But in an Axios interview airing tonight on HBO, he emphasizes that it won’t be a billionaire joyride.
“Your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than Earth. Really, the ad for going to Mars would be like Shackleton’s ad for going to the Antarctic,” Musk said, referring to explorer Ernest Shackleton’s harrowing 1914-1917 expedition. (The apocryphal ad supposedly was headlined “Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey.”)
“It’s going to be hard,” Musk said. “There’s a good chance of death, going in a little can through deep space. You might land successfully. Once you land successfully, you’ll be working nonstop to build the base. … There’s a good chance you die there. We think you can come back, but we’re not sure. Now, does that sound like an escape hatch for rich people?”
If you’re going to give somebody a book for the holidays, why not go big?
In this age of ebooks, smartphones and tiny houses, there’s less need (and less room) for shelves of inch-thick volumes lining the walls. But it’s still nice to have a colorful, glossy-paged book to peruse during the commercials while you’re watching the latest episode of “Mars.” And if it’s a big book about a big subject, that’s even better.
Here are five big-format books on out-of-this-world subjects to put on your gift list, or to consider giving to folks who are crazy about the cosmos.
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for big gatherings around the dinner table, but this year’s feast on the International Space Station will be served to only three people. And only two of them have the day off.
That’s because two spacefliers who were supposed to be in orbit at this time of year missed out on their ride: NASA’s Nick Hague and Russia’s Alexey Ovchinin had to return to Earth just minutes after their launch on Oct. 11 due to a Soyuz rocket malfunction. The next crew won’t arrive until next month.
As a result, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor is the only one on the station who has traditionally observed American Thanksgiving.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst is getting the day off as well, even though the closest thing to Thanksgiving in Germany, a harvest festival known as Erntedankfest, is usually celebrated in September or October. And for the third crew member, Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev, it’s just another workday.
After a 300 million-mile, six-month interplanetary cruise, NASA’s Mars InSight robotic lander is heading for a plain-vanilla arrival at the Red Planet on Monday — and the team behind the mission couldn’t be more pleased.
“We’re expecting to have a very plain day on Mars for the landing, and we’re very happy about that,” said Rob Grover, the engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who’s in charge of Mars InSight’s entry, descent and landing.
That’s not only because the weather is relatively clear, but also because Mars InSight is on track to land in a no-drama region of Mars known as Elysium Planitia, which is Latin for “Paradise Plain.”
“It may not look like paradise, but it is very flat. … It’s an excellent place for landing,” Grover said today. “As landing engineers, we really like this landing site.”
Not that anyone’s planning on setting up shop there soon: Unless there’s a breakthrough that allows us to travel at a significant fraction of the speed of light, it would take hundreds of thousands of years to get to TRAPPIST-1. But the climate modeling methods developed for the TRAPPIST-1 system could help scientists decide which planets to target first with telescopes capable of analyzing alien atmospheres.