Russian Poison From The Sky

This time, it’s the Russian’s turn to randomly drop a spacecraft to Earth from orbit, only this one is loaded up with ten tons of highly toxic chemicals. When you duck, don’t forget your umbrella.

Toxic Russian Mars Probe Heads Back to Earth

It’s hard to believe that only last week we were getting excited for Russia’s first interplanetary mission in 15 years to launch. By now, we should be happy in the knowledge that the ambitious — and awesome — mission is powering through space, toward the Martian moon Phobos.

The reality is that we are now discussing uncontrolled reentry scenarios.

As if that wasn’t enough bad news, we are looking at an uncontrolled toxic reentry scenario. Phobos-Grunt — correctly written “Fobos-Grunt,” meaning “Phobos-Soil” or “Phobos-Ground” — is fully-laden with unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide; that’s ten tons of fuel and oxidizer. The probe itself weighs-in at only three tons.

The majority of the fuel will likely vaporize during reentry, but everyone will be hoping for a splash-down in an ocean (which covers two-thirds of Earth, fortunately), as the wreckage will still be hazardous. There’s also a small quantity of radioactive cobalt-57 in one of the science missions housed in the probe — a fact that will most likely cause a media frenzy.

It is for these reasons that the Russian media is dubbing Phobos-Grunt “Most toxic falling satellite ever.”

See also:
Russia’s Phobos-Grunt Spacecraft Goes AWOL
Russian Mars Probe Will Likely Come Crashing Back to Earth
Toxic Russian Mars Probe Likely Heading Back to Earth
Mood grim over Mars probe faultRussia Running Out Of Time, As Mars Mission Seems Destined To Fail
Report: Russians Believe Martian Moon Probe is ‘Lost’
Source: Russian Space Probe Unlikely to be Saved
Phobos-Grunt Mars probe remains silent in Earth orbit
Now Russians can’t even contact their busted Mars probe
Contact with Russian Mars probe ‘unlikely’ – expert
Failed Russian space mission shows difficulty of exploring Mars
Salvaging Science from Stricken Mars Moon Probe: A Scientist’s View
Phobos-Grunt mission
Fobos-Grunt

Man, the Russians just can’t catch a break. This is their fourth launch failure just this year and now they’re 0 for 18 at Mars missions.

/and we trust the Russians with our U.S. astronauts, it makes me nervous

A New League Leader

Japan puts China in the supercomputing back seat and, unlike China, Japan didn’t have to steal the technology to do it.

Japan’s ‘K Computer’ takes supercomputer crown

Japan’s K Computer, which can crunch more than 8 quadrillion calculations per second, is the top supercomputer, according to the Top 500 list of high-performance systems.

The K Computer, housed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, puts Japan back in the top spot for the first time since Nov. 2004.

. . .

Japan’s K Computer bumped the previous top dog—China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer. The K Computer is built by Fujitsu and has 548,352 cores, or 68,544 SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs with eight cores each. It’s also notable that the K Computer doesn’t use graphics processors or accelerators.

See also:
Japan back on top in supercomputer race
Japanese supercomputer is world’s fastest
Japan’s “K Computer” is Now the Fastest Supercomputer in the World
Special ‘K’ fastest computer ever
If No. 2 was OK, No. 1 is better / Supercomputer impresses all, including skeptical politician Renho
Riken nabs supercomputer title
Supercomputer “K computer” Takes First Place in World
Japan Takes No. 1 Spot on Top500
Japan King Of Supercomputer Hill Again After 7-Year Hiatus
Japan Rises to Reclaim Top 500 Supercomputing Title
K Computer Makes Your Gaming Rig Look Lazy
K computer
K computer

The Japanese K computer is quite impressive, massively large, and it looks like it sucks an enormous amount of electricity. All that computing power and they still can’t accurately predict the weather.

/gee, I sure hope it doesn’t run Windows

E.T. No Phone Home

Now space aliens can call Earth all they want, no one’s listening anymore.

SETI Shutters Search For Alien Life

Diminished funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the state of California has shut down the SETI Institute’s search for extraterrestrial life.

The institute has taken its Allen Telescope Array (ATA) offline while it seeks other sources of funding, it said in a letter to donors last week. In operation since 2007, the 42-radio antenna array–housed at the University of California Berkeley Hat Creek Radio Observatory–scans space for signs of extraterrestrial life.

See also:
SETI Institute suspends search for alien signals
SETI Institute to shut down alien-seeking radio dishes
Search for extraterrestrial life faces setback with SETI telescope ‘hibernation’
SETI shelves search for intelligent life
SETI puts E.T. on hold
Budget Cuts Shutter SETI’s Search for Aliens
SETI hunt for alien life put on hold
Alien finding institute Seti runs out of cash to operate telescope
SETI Search Halted as Allen Telescope Array Lacks Funding
Budget Cuts Shutdown SETI’s Alien-Seeking Telescopes
SETI Institute to shut down alien-seeking radio dishes
SETI Institute
SETI Institute

SETI Institute has been in existence for over 25 years and, so far, haven’t found any evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. California has enough of a gigantic budget shortfall without having to spend money on, arguably, frivolous programs like SETI. If private donors want to pay for it, fine, more power to them, just leave the taxpayers’ public teat out of the funding equation.

/let’s hope E.T. doesn’t now suddenly decide to phone home and then get pissed off at us when there’s no answer