Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Curiosity Right Over

Unlike the Russians, at least we can get our Mars missions out of Earth’s orbit.

NASA launches super-size Mars rover to red planet

The world’s biggest extraterrestrial explorer, NASA’s Curiosity rover, rocketed toward Mars on Saturday on a search for evidence that the red planet might once have been home to itsy-bitsy life.

It will take 8½ months for Curiosity to reach Mars following a journey of 354 million miles.

An unmanned Atlas V rocket hoisted the rover, officially known as Mars Science Laboratory, into a cloudy late morning sky. A Mars frenzy gripped the launch site, with more than 13,000 guests jamming the space center for NASA’s first launch to Earth’s next-door neighbor in four years, and the first send-off of a Martian rover in eight years.

See also:
NASA Rover Begins Long Cruise to Mars
For NASA’s rover Curiosity, it’s ‘Mars or Bust!’
NASA Launches Hefty Curiosity Rover to Mars
NASA launches $2.5 billion rover to Red Planet
Super-size Mars rover blasts off, biggest robotic explorer ever built to roam another planet
Launch of Nasa Curiosity Mars rover could lead to human mission by 2030
NASA launches super-size rover to Mars: ‘Go, Go!’
NASA rover launched to seek out life clues on Mars
Nasa rover begins journey in search of life on Mars
Curiosity on its way to Mars – November 26, 2011
NASA Rover to Begin Journey to Mars
Curiosity Starts Nine Month Journey to Mars
NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Off
Will NASA’s Curiosity rover find signs of life on Mars?
Mars Science Laboratory
Mars Science Laboratory
Mars Science Laboratory

Well, so far so good, the mission is off to a good start. Of course, there’s still plenty of thing that could go wrong, the landing sequence for setting Curiosity down on the Martian surface looks to be extremely complex, like something Rube Goldberg would come up with.

/for $2.5 billion, Curiosity had better perform as advertised and discover something spectacular

Whitewashing The Jihad

So, the Park Police find Yonathan Melaku lurking near the Pentagon and he tells them that he’s carrying explosives. When they search Melaku’s car, the police find written material sympathetic to al Qaeda. What little tidbit of information is missing from almost every mainstream media news account? The fact that Yonathan Melaku is a Muslim is systematically omitted. Why might that be?

Losing His Religion

There was a terror scare at the Pentagon this morning. As CBS News reports, it started when the U.S. Park Police “came upon” 22-year-old Yonathan Melaku wandering around Arlington National Cemetery, which was closed. “The Park Police then launched a search for a vehicle, which was found near the Pentagon.”

A search of the car turned up “no suspicious items,” but Melaku told the cops “that he was carrying explosive materials.” They checked his backpack and “found what appeared to be an unknown quantity of ammonium nitrate,” a chemical “that is widely used in fertilizers and can be used in explosives with the correct concentration.”

We learn from the CBS story that Melaku is a lance corporal in the Marine Reserves. The Associated Press adds that he is a naturalized American citizen, originally from Ethiopia. CBS also reports that “Melaku was carrying a notebook that contained the phrases ‘al Qaeda,’ ‘Taliban rules’ and ‘Mujahid defeated croatian forces’ when he was detained,” but “that the suspect is not thought to have been involved in a terrorist act or plot.”

All of which raises an obvious question–but one that goes unanswered in the reports from CBS and AP, as well as others from ABC News and the Washington Post. We could only find one news organization that had the answer: Fox News Channel, which reports that Maliku is Muslim.

See also:
Suspect in Custody for ‘Suspicious’ Backpack Is Marine Corps Reservist
Marine Identified as Suspect in Pentagon Terror Scare
Pentagon Bomb Scare: Is the Suspect a Lone-Wolf Terrorist?
Marine reservist held in suspicious materials investigation near Pentagon; no explosives found
Yonathan Melaku: Suspect in Pentagon scare
Suspect in Pentagon scare is in Marine Reserve
Marine reservist detained near Pentagon; materials in pack non-explosive
Pentagon ‘bomb plot’ man held
Police Arrest Marine Reservist in Pentagon Bomb Scare
Pentagon Bomb Scare Suspect a Marine Reservist
Pentagon Bomb Scare Suspect, Yonathan Melaku’s, Franconia Home Searched
Police Detain ‘Suspicious’ Man, Search Vehicle Near Pentagon
Marines reservist held in incident near Pentagon

Al Qaeda is a Muslim terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization. Virtually all terrorism worldwide is carried out by Muslims. Yonathan Melaku is found near the Pentagon, carrying “explosives” and written material referencing al Qaeda, and yet every single news organization, save one, blatantly ignores the fact that Melaku is a Muslim. How is that fact not relevant to the strory?

If Melaku had been a Christian, you can bet your ass that it would be first paragraph, front page news. When does news journalism become agenda driven, politically correct propaganda and deliberately biased misinformation? Perhaps the bigger question is why the news organizations engage in this deception by omission, what drives it, is it coordinated and, if so, by who or what and on what level and for what purpose?

/willfully ignoring and whitewashing the very real existential threat of Islamic terrorism does not make it go away, it only makes it harder for us to defend ourselves

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

Goldilocks And The Five Planets

Book your travel plans early, the closest one is millions of years of travel time away.

NASA finds dozens of planets that might support life

A catalog of possible planets discovered far out in space includes more than 50 candidates that could possibly support life, NASA scientists said Wednesday. If, as expected, most of the planets are confirmed as real, the Kepler mission — now finishing its second year — would nearly triple the number of planets discovered over the last decade and a half.

With 1,235 planetary candidates surrounding a collective 997 stars in an area 500 to 3,000 light-years away, the tally to date provides a wealth of data for scientists to sift through in search of Earth-like planets.

“This is the first step in understanding the possible distribution of life in our galaxy,” said William Borucki, principal investigator for the Kepler mission at NASA Ames Research Center in the Bay Area’s Moffett Field.

He noted that of the candidate planets, 54 reside in the so-called Goldilocks range — in a “just right” distance from its star to be neither too hot nor too cold to permit liquid water and therefore the presence of life as we know it. Five of those 54 are close to Earth’s size.

The space-based Kepler telescope, which circles the sun trailing Earth’s orbit, observes more than 155,000 stars and every half-hour measures the amount of light they give off. If a planet is orbiting a star, it is detectable because it temporarily blocks a bit of light each time it crosses in front of its star.

See also:
5 Earth-sized planets spied in ‘habitable zone’
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
1,235 alien planets out there?
Kepler space telescope is finding a cornucopia of possible planets
NASA reveals more than 1,200 potential planets
Hunt for planets yields surprises
Kepler space telescope spots five Earth-sized planets in our galaxy
NASA Detects Potential ‘Habitable Zone’ Planets
Kepler: Home Page
Kepler (spacecraft)

Well, this is a great scientific achievement, but I’m not sure what practical value there is in it. Okay, so there’s all these possibly habitable planets, so what?

/we’ll never get there to find out for sure.

Typical Government Efficiency

And remember, this is the FBI, they’re on our first line of defense against terrorism.

Audit Cites FBI Technology Problems

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s struggles with technology are expected to continue to eat up millions of dollars and still leave agents and analysts wanting for a seamless electronic system to manage investigations, according to a federal audit released Wednesday.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI has already spent $405 million of the $451 million budgeted for its new Sentinel case-management system, but the system, as of September, was two years behind schedule and $100 million over budget.

Thomas Harrington, FBI associate deputy director, said the audit uses an outdated and “inflated cost estimate” that is “based on a worst-case scenario for a plan that we are no longer using.”

The FBI’s technology problems aren’t new, but they have potential consequences for the bureau’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, particularly at a time when the domestic terrorist threat is growing.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks exposed the FBI’s troubles with information sharing, and the bureau accelerated plans to replace its unwieldy case-management system with new software.

That technology project was called Trilogy and was supposed to deliver software called Virtual Case File that was to help FBI agents share investigative documents electronically. The inspector general called the project a fiasco and said the FBI and its contractors wasted $170 million and three years.

FBI Director Robert Mueller canceled Virtual Case File in 2005 and started a new project called Sentinel to be completed in 2009.

The system is supposed to provide agents and analysts with a secure Web-based system to search and manage evidence and get approvals for documents.

According to Mr. Fine’s audit, the system is still far from completion.

In July 2010, the FBI issued a stop-work order to contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and decided to take over management of the completion of Sentinel.

FBI officials now say they can complete the system by September 2011, with additional spending of $20 million, according to the audit.

Mr. Fine found cause to doubt those estimates. He cited a review conducted by Mitre, a research group that is funded by the federal government, that estimates it will cost another $351 million to complete the system.

Read the report:

Status of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Implementation of the Sentinel Project,
Audit Report 11-01, October 2010

See also:
FBI Sentinel project is over budget and behind schedule, say IG auditors
FBI behind schedule, over budget on computer system
Report sharply critical of delays, costs of FBI case management system
IG report hits FBI Sentinel program
FBI Computer System Behind Schedule, Over Budget After $405 Million Spent
FBI computer system years late and way over budget
More Computer Woes at FBI, New System Late Over Budget
IG: FBI’s Sentinel program still off-track, over budget
FBI’s computer woes continue, auditors say
Report: FBI case management system still falls short
FBI’s Sentinel project $100 million over budget, 2 years behind schedule
Report Finds FBI Computer System Over Budget, Behind Schedule

Are you telling me that it takes more than five years and over a half billion dollars to design a case management system and it’s still not finished? And why is Lockheed Martin designing the software, when did they become known as software designers? Even Microsoft, as crappy as they are, could have probably put out a product that works in less time and for less money.

/if this FBI computer system disaster is an example of how the U.S. government operates in this arena, I can only shudder to think what will happen and how much it’ll cost when they decide to upgrade the homeland security and military computer networks