Astronomers may have downgraded Pluto to dwarf planet status – not that there is anything wrong with that – but this denizen of the distant fringe of our solar system never stops triggering our imaginations. Check out these images from … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Dwarf planet, Hubble Space Telescope, Marc Buie, Marc W. Buie, Pluto, Solar System, Southwest Research Institute
The WISE guy has hit some pay celestial pay dirt. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, launched in December – took this shot of a near earth asteroid on January 12th. Designated 2010 AB78 – (comets have much more fun names…) … Continue readingTagged Asteroid, Astronomy, Earth, NASA, National Research Council, Near-Earth object, Solar System, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
Whether they carry a badge signed by Charlie Bolden or Elon Musk, rocket scientists are genetically hardwired to obsess about the future. In the course of turning their visions into reality, they sometimes forget the importance of history. Such was … Continue readingTagged Apollo 11, Astronomy, Earth, ElonMusk, Moon, Solar System, Space, Technology
If Hubble is Benjamin Button, the Kepler Space Telescope might be called Goldilocks - as it is designed to find the planets that are just right for harboring life as we know it. And the Kepler team has rolled out … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Earth, Extrasolar planet, Gas giant, Hot Jupiter, Jupiter, Kepler Mission, Planet
I just finished a great Skype interview with Mr. Hubble Space Telescope himself, astronaut (ahem! now former astronaut) John Grunsfeld. Fresh off last summer’s hugely successful STS-125 Hubble Servicing Mission, Grunsfeld has stepped down from the astronaut corps to join … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Baltimore, Hubble Space Telescope, Institutions, Observatories, Optical and Infrared, Space Telescope Science Institute, STS-125
Somewhere up there Curly Howard is nyuck nyuck nyucking over this one. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer – or WISE – spacecraft left the pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base – is now on its way to scan the heavens … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Infrared, NASA, Near-Earth object, Solar System, Space, Spacecraft, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
The Benjamin Button of Space Telescopes…old/young man Hubble is wowing us once again… this time going back back back – further in time than ever. Astronomers trained the new Wide Field Camera 3 on the same patch of sky where … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Big Bang, Galaxy, Hubble Ultra Deep Field, Images, Wide Field Camera 3
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Hubble Repair Missions. After all, I cut my teeth on the space beat covering the legendary STS-61 mission in December 1993 – the first, the most dramatic – and … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Florida, Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, Lagrangian Point, NASA, Space, Spacecraft, Technology
Held up by a stripped screw, spacewalker Michael Massimino applied brute force muscle power to an otherwise delicate operation, breaking off an offending handrail and then carefully unscrewing more than 100 small fasteners to get inside a dead science instrument … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Hubble Space Telescope, Institutions, Michael J. Massimino, NASA, Observatories, Space, STS-125
So where were you nineteen years ago today? That is when the Hubble Space Telescope arrived in space. After a very rocky start, it is still going, wowing scientists and the masses alike – and getting ready for it’s final … Continue readingTagged Astronomy, Hubble, Hubble Space Telescope, Lyman Spitzer, NASA, Shuttle, Space, Space observatory, STS-125
HINKLEY, Calif. – We all love a neat, tidy Hollywood ending to a David and Goliath story. Sadly, in the real world, they are hard to come by. More often than not, the little guy might win a battle, but Goliath prevails over the long haul — winning the war.
Before I went to Hinkley, I did, of course, watch the movie once again. As it turns out Erin Brockovich is accurate in many respects.
You might remember the woman who gets a big check at the end of the movie after the down-on-her-luck, crusading legal assistant has brought a giant utility to its knees for polluting the groundwater beneath the tiny desert town half way between L.A. and Las Vegas.
In the movie, she was known as Donna Jensen (and played by Marg Helgenberger). There is no real-life Donna Jensen — the details of her story are a composite of several real-life travails.
But Roberta Walker was the main inspiration. Naturally, it was not long after I met her that I asked her what she thought of the movie.
Miles O’Brien is a veteran freelance broadcast and web journalist who focuses on science, technology & aerospace.
He is the Science Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, and a regular correspondent for the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE and the National Science Foundation Science Nation series.
For nearly seventeen of his thirty years in the news business, he worked for CNN as the Science and Space Correspondent and the anchor of various programs, including American Morning.
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E-mail Miles: miles [at] milesobrien [dot] com