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Kate Rauner's short stories of scifi & fantasy

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That’s What I Call Computer Support! Voyager 1 is back #NASA #space

A computer from the mid 1970s had a glitch. If this was my machine, I’d be doomed, because who supports such old equipment? NASA does! At least, it does for the Voyager spacecraft. Even when the probe is 15 billion miles away, outside our Sun’s influence, traveling through the interstellar medium.

In May, 2022, Voyager 1 began reporting weird, garbled nonsense instead of telemetry data. Luckily, the radio signal from the ship remained strong and steady, which meant the antenna was still pointed at Earth, so NASA got to work. inverse.com

Voyager actually has multiple ancient computers. One croaked years ago, but somehow got switched on again and was corrupting the outgoing data. NASA engineers sent a command to use the correct computer, and proper data is again arriving at Earth. They hope to figure out exactly what caused Voyager to switch computers in the first place, so the problem doesn’t return. Could have been cosmic radiation…

In December 2004, Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock, where the solar wind is slowed to subsonic speed. In 2010, the outward velocity of the solar wind dropped to zero, but the transition to interstellar space was not smooth. The zone is filled with giant magnetic bubbles (surprise!)

There’s lots more about the decades-long Voyager 1 mission on Wikipedia: click here.

The Moon Like Never Before #moon in enhanced reality and in #sciencefiction

Two years and 200,000 frames in the making! The Moon like you could see it if your eyes were more sensitive.

See the Moon tinged red and gunmetal blue, illuminated on the right-hand side as it faces Earth. The red patches are iron and feldspar oxidized by errant oxygen atoms from Earth, McCarthy explained to inquisitive viewers on Twitter.

Though the colors may look false, they are technically the Moon’s true hues, only that our eyes are not sensitive enough to see them, and so McCarthy gave the image a saturation boost to bring out the colors in all their glory.

Reality is more awe inspiring than fiction, but if you want to travel to the Moon today, science fiction will give you a lift. The final kindle in my trilogy, Winnie Bravo, Space Pilot will be released tomorrow. That’s also the last day for the special launch price of 99 cents per kindle for each book. Hurry and claim your copies: click here now.

Outside the USA? Here’s your link to click on.

Humanity’s future in space depends on audacious pilots, and it may help if they’re a bit crazy.

Winnie Bravo is brash, reckless, and more than a little annoying as she sets out to prove herself, careening from adventure to adventure with her partner Bertie never far away.

In orbit, across the Moon, and on Earth, she pursues the truth about a nefarious probe and a scoundrel who will stop at nothing. What she discovers brings her closer to the truth than she bargained for, and may get her killed, or worse, fired.

If you love traveling to the future for rollicking adventures, you won’t be able to put Winnie’s story down. Binge on through, because the complete trilogy is available.

Available in Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and Kindle Unlimited

Asteroids Skim By Earth #asteroid #science #scifibooks

NASA tracks asteroids! See thousands plotted on a diagram of the solar system by clicking here. But you’re most interested in those that pass close by Earth, aren’t you? Two are passing us September 11th, and an even bigger one September 12th.

The Asteroid Watch dashboard tracks asteroids and comets that will make relatively close approaches to Earth. The dashboard displays the date of closest approach, approximate object diameter, relative size and distance from Earth for each encounter. JPL/NASA Next Five Close Approaches

Holy smoke. A rock at least the size of an ordinary commercial jet that comes close – within 20 times the distance to the Moon – is potentially hazardous. While NASA can predict an asteroid’s current path, the calculations are complex, affected by all the planets, and things change thanks to collisions with other space rocks. Small bits of space debris rain down harmlessly on Earth every day, but someday, one of these big ones will hit, causing massive destruction.

Or not.

Maybe we can protect ourselves.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft just beamed back the first image of its target, the moonlet Dimorphos, as well as its body it orbits, the asteroid Didymos. DART is a planetary defense test mission designed to impact the moonlet to alter its trajectory around Didymos. If proven effective, this spacecraft design could potentially be scaled up to deflect an Earth-bound asteroid. space.com

Asteroids skip safely past Earth so often, even the media can’t maintain a state of panic. Hopefully, we have time to create Earth defenses.

In the meantime, science fiction shows us what could happen. Asteroid is the second book in my Winnie Bravo, Space Pilot trilogy. If a future space industry brings asteroids into lunar orbit, what could possibly go wrong? Click here now and join the adventure.

Special price through September 15th for all three kindles! Only 99 cents each, so claim your copies today. Click here now and don’t miss out.

Humanity’s future in space depends on audacious pilots, and it may help if they’re a bit crazy.

Winnie Bravo is brash, reckless, and more than a little annoying as she sets out to prove herself, careening from adventure to adventure with her partner never far away.

In orbit, across the Moon, and on Earth, she pursues the truth about a nefarious probe and a scoundrel who will stop at nothing. What she discovers brings her closer to the truth than she bargained for, and may get her killed, or worse, fired.

Is Life on Earth a Subset of Lyfe? We won’t know unless we expand our horizons #Mars #biology #space

As we explore the solar system, one of the things we’d most like to find is alien life. But with life on Earth as our only an example, what will we miss?

Curiosity rover on Mars - artist's image
Searching on Mars – but, for what, exactly?

That’s why new research supported by Nasa’s astrobiology programme has developed a novel and broader definition of life – a definition that encapsulates life on Earth but also the possibility of “life not as we know it” elsewhere on the board. They call it lyfe. The Guardian

We’re hoping to find lyfe – current or fossilized – on Mars, and also suspect the cold ice-crowned oceans of the outer solar system moons could contain their own denizens. But if we don’t free our imagination, we could step right over a lyving being without seeing it, and the line between alyve and not could be hazy. So what is lyfe?

A “lyving” organism will satisfy four criteria: dissipation (the ability to harness and convert free energy sources); autocatalysis (the ability to grow or expand exponentially); homeostasis (the ability to limit change internally when things change externally); and learning (the ability to record, process and carry out actions based on information). With this definition, life is just one specific instance of lyfe. The Guardian

The words we use restrict our thoughts, so I like this new sciency word. For more sciency words, including this week’s post on life (or lyfe) visit one of my favorite sites: Click here for Planet Pailly’s Sciency Words: Flora and Fauna.

Thanks to NASA for their open access article, Defining Lyfe in the Universe.