Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A U.S. 'Space Force' ?

                         

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Last Friday marked the 49th anniversary of the first landing and walking by humans on Earth's Moon. And, next Sunday will mark the 60th anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the nation's first civilian space agency (signed into law by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 1958 July 29, after Congressional passage on 1958 July 16; NASA became operational on 1958 October 1). The Trump Administration and the National Space Council are now calling for the establishment of the nation's first true military space agency, the U.S. Space Force.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced his proposal for a Space Force on 2018 June 18, during an address to the newly reconstituted National Space Council. In the address, the President said, “I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. That’s a big statement.” He further said that the Air Force and the Space Force would be two "separate but equal" branches of the United States Armed Forces.

The President had floated the suggestion for a Space Force during an earlier speech in March of 2018. Apparently, he felt that few people, particularly in the Pentagon, had taken the suggestion seriously, which resulted in the National Space Council address and official proposal.

Last year, a new U.S. Space Corps within the U.S. Air Force (as the U.S. Marine Corps is within the U.S. Navy), had been proposed by the Trump Administration. As the Pentagon showed little support for a Space Corps, the initiative went unfunded by the Congress.

Russia is the only nation that has had an independent Space Force. The Russian Space Forces operated as an independent branch of the Russian military from 1992 to 1997, and again from 2001 to 2011. The Russian Space Forces became a part of the Russian Aerospace Forces in 2015, similar to how the U.S. Air Force Space Command is part of the U.S. Air Force.

Currently, only three other nations have space-related military agencies:

  • China: People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force
  • France: French Joint Space Command
  • United Kingdom: Royal Air Force Air Command

Although he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War II, President Eisenhower preferred creating a civilian space agency, which became NASA, for most scientific research into space exploration. In a Presidential Memorandum of 1958 March 5, it states the following:

The President...said he has asked himself how we should use space activities for our national purposes. It seems to him that military activity on space projects is acceptable in the area of application of knowledge. He feels certain, however, that discovery and research should be scientific rather than military. He felt that there is no problem of space activity (except ballistic weapons) that is not basically civilian, recognizing that application of findings may be made to serve military purposes.”

For military space activities, a new Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was set-up within the Department of Defense on 1958 February 7. Today, this agency is known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and advances scientific research that often has civilian applications. The Internet and the Global Positioning System (GPS) originated with DARPA projects.

Since 1958, responsibilities for military activities in Outer Space has been reorganized a few times. A U.S. Space Command, which was a Defense Department Unified Combatant Command, operated from 1985 to 2002. In an attempt to streamline Defense Department commands, the U.S. Space Command was absorbed into a larger U.S. Strategic Command in 2002.

Additionally, three armed services-based commands, related to military space activities, continue to exist:

  • Naval Space Command which was merged into the Naval Network and Space Operations Command in 2002;
  • Air Force Space Command;
  • Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that stated that, as of 2016, there were "60 distinct entities that deal with (military) assets in space." Although details for the organization of a new Space Force are not yet available, it seems that these would all be absorbed by the new, separate Space Force.

Following President Trump's official Space Force proposal, before the National Space Council, the Congress has commissioned two studies to consider the feasibility of such a new military service. The first study, which is due next month, would determine whether such a Space Force would be necessary. The second study, due in December, would examine the nature, implementation, and costs of a Space Force.

Supporters of a Space Force contend that American military space efforts are fractionalized among several different commands and other agencies. This leads to uneven implementation of military space goals and objectives.

Further, Space Force supporters believe that the Navy, Air Force, and Army have their expertise in sea, air, and land (respectively) activities, that does not transfer well into the realm of Outer Space; the Navy, Air Force, and Army just have other priorities. They believe that a single Space Force, which can completely concentrate their efforts in activities related to Outer Space, would be a much more efficient and effective manner to implement the nation's military efforts in Outer Space.

Mark Albrecht, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council from 1989 to 1992 has noted that “Space is a place where there is now tens of billions of dollars” in infrastructure, from the International Space Station to the the Hubble Space Telescope, to GPS and military surveillance satellites. He adds, “Everything from financial transactions to the GPS that guides your car is controlled from space, or at least facilitated by space.” He believes that we have such a huge financial investment in Outer Space today, we do need something such as a Space Force to protect that investment.

Recently, perhaps surprising support for a Space Force came from a well-known, science popularizer, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, long-time Director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium and host of the most recent Cosmos television series. He insists that people should not dismiss the Space Force proposal out-of-hand, simply because it was proposed by President Trump. Dr. Tyson believes a Space Force may be the best way to organize protection against possible asteroid strikes on the Earth.

People opposed to a new Space Force see the new military service as a new, unnecessary expense. They see a new enlarged and costly bureaucracy that will be a rival to the other military branches. They contend such an additional rivalry for military resources would be inefficient, and during a time of national crisis could be harmful.

Last year, when a U.S. Space Corps was being considered, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said, “The Pentagon is complicated enough...This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart, and cost more money. If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis also wrote to Congress in opposition to the Space Corps proposal.

On 1967 January 27, most nations of the world, including the United States, Russia (then, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), and China, signed the Outer Space Treaty. The treaty forbids weapons of mass destruction in Outer Space, but does not forbid conventional weapons. The treaty, however, does forbid the use or testing of any type of weapon on another planetary body.

The Outer Space Treaty also forbids military installations or military maneuvers on other celestial bodies, as well as any nation claiming land on a planetary body. Space analysts have long suggested that this portion of the treaty may some day need to be amended, to promote economic development and resource exploitation of other planetary bodies, including asteroids.

Few private corporations will be willing to make huge investments in Outer Space, if they do not have property rights on certain portions of planets or asteroids. Further, when such planetary and asteroid development begins, the nations from which the corporations come from will want to provide some type of military protection for the corporation's celestial activities, as our military currently protects corporations within our legal boundaries.

In the popular, science-fiction television series, Star Trek, to justify military action in a distant part of our Milky Way Galaxy, Star-Ship Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk (who led the Flag-Ship of the United Federation of Planets' “Star Fleet”) sometimes said something to the effect, “We are the only cops out here!” The question is: how soon will true “space cops” be needed?

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Memorandum of Conference with the President (Eisenhower) - regarding establishment of NASA - 1958 March 5
Link >>> https://eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/nasa/Binder12.pdf:

Space Forces Around the World: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_force

Proposed U.S. Space Force: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Space_Force

20th Century Space Race between U.S. and Russia:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Race

1967 UN Outer Space Treaty: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty

Related Blog Posts ---

"45 Years Ago: Man Lands on the Moon !" 2014 July 20.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/07/45-years-ago-man-lands-on-moon.html

 

After 30 Years, New "Cosmos" Science TV Series Airs on FOX." 2014 March 7.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/03/after-30-years-cosmos-science-tv-series.html

 

"JFK: Loss of the Man Who Sent Us to the Moon." 2013 Nov. 22.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/11/jfk-loss-of-man-who-sent-us-to-moon.html

 

"Moon Day - A National Holiday ?" 2013 July 20.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/07/moon-day-national-holiday.html

 

"The Historic Mission of Apollo 11, Man Walks on the Moon for the First Time; A Personal Remembrance From 40 Years Ago By Glenn A. Walsh" 2009 July 20.

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/bio/Apolloremembrance.htm


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              Tuesday, 2018 July 24.

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           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
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        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mars: Bright Beacon in the Night Sky in July & August !

Earth and Its Moon, as Seen From Mars
The Earth and the Earth's Moon as seen from Mars on 2016 November 20, using NASA's largest telescope in orbit of Mars, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. For the next two months, Earthlings will have the best view of Mars available in the last 15 years! (Image Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory / NASA)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Now, through the beginning of September, will be the best time in the last 15 years to view the Planet Mars from Earth. Earth will make its closest approach to Mars in 15 years on July 31 [at 4:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 8:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)] !

The reason Mars will appear so close is because this year's Mars Opposition (Mars Opposition, when the Earth comes directly between Mars and the Sun, happens every 2 years and 50 days - the last Mars Opposition was on 2016 May 22) occurs near the same time as the Mars Perihelion, or the closest point in the Martian orbit that Mars ever comes to the Sun.  The last time Mars was this close to Earth was in 2003 (distance of 34.6 million statute miles / 55.7 kilometers), when Mars was the closest it had come to Earth in 59,635 years (since the year 57,617 B.C.). This year, the Mars Perihelic Opposition will only be 1.2 million statute miles / 2 million kilometers shy of the 2003 record!

The Earth comes close to Mars about once every two years (along with Mars Opposition), as Earth's one-year orbit of the Sun and Mars' approximately two-year orbit of the Sun (exactly 1.88082 Earth years) coincide. The next time Earth approaches Mars as closely as this year will be in the year 2035.

If you have never seen Mars in a telescope or binoculars, this Summer is the time to do so! Although, regrettably, due to a global-wide dust storm that continues plaguing Mars, it may be difficult to see details on the Red Planet.

However, you need to plan where and when to look for Mars. Due to what astronomers call Mars' current declination (one of two angles in an equatorial coordinate system, sort-of like astronomical longitude), Mars will be passing fairly low in the sky each night this Summer.

Today (July 11), the Mars declination is –23 degrees 51 minutes south of the celestial equator (all negative values are south of the celestial equator, while positive values in declination are north of the celestial equator). And, as the Summer goes along, Mars will continue to be even lower in the sky, with the Red Planet appearing –25 degrees 58 minutes 14 seconds on July 31 (Earth's closest approach to Mars) and -26 degrees 30 minutes on August 21. However, during the last weeks of August, as Earth moves farther away from Mars, Mars begins to start appearing higher in the sky – on September 1 it will appear exactly -26 degrees in declination.

So, to look for Mars, you will need an unobstructed view, away from buildings, trees, and hills. It would be best to try to find the highest hill easily available to you, to look for Mars.

Of course, there are specific times when Mars will be available for viewing.

On July 27 [at 1:00 a.m. EDT / 5:00 UTC], just four days before Earth's closest approach to Mars, Mars will be at astronomical Opposition from Earth's perspective, when the Earth is directly between the Sun and Mars. At this time, Mars will rise in the southeast at approximately local sunset, stay in the sky all-night long, and set in the southwest at approximately local sunrise.

At Mars Opposition, Mars will be 0.39 Astronomical Units [1 Astronomical Unit (a.u.) is the average distance between Earth and the Sun (average of aphelion and perihelion distances) = 92.9558072730249 million statute miles / 149.597870700million kilometers] from Earth. This will be a distance of 3.2 light-minutes - it will take 3.2 minutes for light, or radio signals, to travel from Mars to Earth (or visa-versa). At this time, the Apparent Visual Magnitude of Mars will be -2.8.

About a half-day after Mars Opposition, in Earth's Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia) a Total Eclipse of the Moon / Total Lunar Eclipse will occur 6 degrees north of Mars [longest Total Lunar Eclipse in the 21st century (lasting approx. 1 hour, 43 minutes), as it occurs within a little more than a half-day of Lunar Apogee (July 27, 2:00 a.m. EDT / 6:00 UTC: 252,415.26982 statute miles / 406,223 kilometers)] - time of Primary Moon Phase of Full Moon: July 27, 4:20 p.m. EDT / 20:20 UTC (which will be the smallest appearance of the Full Moon for the entire year); time of greatest Lunar Eclipse: July 27, 4:21:43.5 p.m. EDT / 20:21:43.5 UTC (Eclipses of the Moon / Lunar Eclipses are the only types of eclipses safe to look at with the naked-eyes, binoculars, or telescopes).

At the present time, Mars rises in the late evening and sets about an hour and a-half after sunrise. By early September, Mars rises just before dinner-time and sets in the early morning.

Although very bright this Summer, on and after July 27 you do need to wait until Dusk to start looking for Mars. And, Mars will be visible through Dawn, on and before July 27.

A great Internet web-site to learn the daily rise and set times of Mars, and all of the other planets in Earth's Solar System, for your particular location, is Heavens-Above:

Of course, as Mars rises you will find the Red Planet in the southeastern sky. At the time of Mars Transit (i.e. the point in time when Mars is the highest in the southern sky, half-way between Mars rise and set times), Mars will be in the southern sky. As it nears the time of setting, Mars can be found in the southwestern sky.

If you find a good location, and look in the right direction at the right time, you will have no trouble finding Mars. It will appear as the bright reddish-orange beacon in the night sky.

Usually, Mars is the fifth brightest celestial object that can be seen in the sky. The brighter objects, in rank of brightness, are the Earth's Sun (Apparent Visual Magnitude -26.74), Earth's Moon (Apparent Visual Magnitude during Primary Moon Phase of Full Moon -12.90), Planet Venus (second planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude -4.0), Planet Jupiter (fifth planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude -2.1), and then the Planet Mars (fourth planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude -2.5). However, now through the first week in September, for about two months, Mars will shine brighter than Jupiter!

Mars is not the only planet visible in the night sky, this Summer. At the present time, the bright Planet Venus can be seen dazzling for a couple hours after sunset in the western sky. The Planet Jupiter, almost as bright as Mars this Summer, is high in the southwestern sky after sunset, setting in the early morning. And, the Planet Saturn, which is much dimmer (sixth planet from the Sun - July 11 Apparent Visual Magnitude +0.1), can be found at about the same declination as Mars, approximately between Mars and Jupiter.

Internet Link to Additional Information ---

Mars: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars

Good Photograph of Mars:
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/07/astronomical-calendar-2018-july.html

Declination: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declination

Apparent Visual Magnitude: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apparent_magnitude

Opposition: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_(planets)

Perihelion: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perihelion_and_aphelion

Related Blog Posts ---

"NASA InSight Space Lander on Way to Mars." 2018 May 7.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/05/nasa-insight-space-lander-on-way-to-mars.html

 

"Beautiful Celestial Grouping in Pre-Dawn Sky Mon., Tue." 2016 April 25.

 Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/04/beautiful-celestial-grouping-in-pre.html

 

"Help Design Manned Spacecraft to Mars!" 2014 Sept. 25.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/09/help-design-manned-spacecraft-to-mars.html

 

"April Best Time to See Mars." 2014 April 8.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/04/april-best-time-to-see-mars.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              2018 July 11.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Astronomical Calendar: 2018 July

   Mars appears as a red-orange globe with darker blotches and white icecaps visible on both of its poles.
Image of the Planet Mars, in natural color, from 2007. Mars will make its closest approach to the
Earth in 15 years on July 31 !  July and August would be excellent months to view Mars with a
telescope or pair of binoculars, when Mars will be brighter than Jupiter !
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org, European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team: By ESA - European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team ESA/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA - http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2007/02/True-colour_image_of_Mars_seen_by_OSIRIS, CC BY-SA 3.0-igo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56489423)

Astronomical Calendar for 2018 July ---
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2018.html#jul


 Related Blog Posts ---

"Science Experiments Children & Teens Can Do At Home !" 2018 June 5.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/06/science-experiments-children-teens-can.html

 

"Astronomical Calendar: 2018 June." 2018 June 1.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2018/06/astronomical-calendar-2018-june.html


Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2018 July 1.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh --- < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >