Thursday, January 12, 2012

Voyage to Mars

Under President George W. Bush, the United States and specifically NASA, saw an increase in space exploration. Bush even mentioned the possibility of revisiting the moon, and NASA obliged with plans for a new class of space shuttle that could make the trip on it's own. Enter President Obama, who not only scaled NASA back, but ended manned exploration of space. To start the year of 2012, China announced that it will have a man on the moon by 2018. In response to that, Buzz Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon (in case you didn't know) wrote this extremely well put and thought out article, that we all should read. Not only does he go into why we should go to Mars, but details what kind of space craft we would need.

Personally, I think we've more important things to worry about right this moment. However we must be sure never to lose our wonder and desire to explore. Maybe now is the time. We definitely should begin planning as if we don't start, we'll never get there. Would truly be depressing to see the US lose it's edge.

Missing Your Snow? Alaska Isn't

Missing your snow this year? Alaska is taking it for you. Whilst most of the United States is having a drier than normal winter, Alaska is having one of the snowiest on record. So far this season Anchorage has seen eighty-eight inches, almost three times the normal thirty. The record for snow in this point in the season had been seventy-seven. And the all time record for the whole season is in danger, at one hundred and thirty-two, set back in 1954-1955. Cordova has already seen over one hundred and seventy-two inches, and the town of Valdez has totaled over three hundred and twelve.

The Alaskan National Guard has already been at the scene for awhile, trying to help keep communities alive. Unfortunately there is a snow shovel shortage, and many of the Guardsmen have been forced to use standard shovels, wearing themselves out all the faster. Piles of snow have reached monumental levels, and places that have them are using load haulers to dump the snow in front of machines that are specifically designed to melt snow. To add to the problems, temperatures have warmed up to the mid thirties. Not enough to help melt the snow, but enough to make avalanches likely.

Down in St. Paul Harbour, on Kodiak Island, part of the Aleutian Islands, three boats sank due to the excessive weight of the snow on them. Meanwhile, a US Coast Guard icebreaker is doing it all it can to make a way for a Russian oil tanker to get to Nome. The city is almost completely out of gasoline reserves, that have only been kept going through airlifts. Hopefully sometime Friday the ships will make it through the last fifty miles of ice and supply the beleaguered city.

You May Suck as a Pirate

Piracy has been more and more of a problem the last few years. The main area of issue has been off southeast Africa. Generally they attack a large cargo ship, which is lightly manned, from a small boat carrying from six up to a full dozen men. Whenever possible the navies of the world arrest the pirates, hopefully before, but sometimes after they attack ships. Rescues, like the one carried out by the United States Navy last week are not that uncommon anymore.

Early Thursday pirates attacked a ship off the coast of Mogadishu. This time it didn't go so well for them. When the pirates attacked the ship with small arms fire, they were shot back at and then surrendered when the ship's helicopter launched. Seems that they failed to notice that this was a Spanish naval vessel, the Patino (pictued above). To any pirates out there, you may want to be more careful than these guys, when picking a target.