Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Carnival of Space #6 - ISDC Edition

This may be a space blog carnival, but the recent International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2007) in Dallas was a veritable space circus, with at least eleven rings and various side shows. Truly a feast of a space conference (if I may mash up a few metaphors). So the main dish of this week’s Carnival of Space is ISDC, with a generous serving of non-ISDC posts for your reading pleasure.

After co-chairing this year’s ISDC, Ken Murphy decided to find out what really went on at his conference. What he discovered on the web was a blogsplosion of stories about the staggering potential of space and about how much fun everyone had at ISDC, the largest citizen space conference in the country (and maybe the world). Ken also picked up a lot of great conference freebies to add to the Lunar Library. The Exploring Meteorite Mysteries teacher guide from NASA has proven to be a very popular addition.

With Ken’s comprehensive listing as a framework, we can start to drill down and extract core samples from selected ISDC presentations and events. My own ISDC Wrap-up concentrated on a few of ISDC’s “greatest hits,” including Buzz Aldrin, Dr. Steve Squyres, a SpaceShipTwo preview from Virgin Galactic’s Alex Tai, and more. Private space was big in Dallas, as MSNBC’s Allen Boyle discussed in his Cosmic Log post Coming Attractions in Space. A Babe in the Universe sat next to Buzz in one session and reported on a private Moon flight scoop from Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson’s lunchtime speech at ISDC. I was there too, but she managed to pick up on a few details that I missed.

I met a few fellow space bloggers in non-cyberspace at the ISDC space blogger “summit,” which is cool, since blogging is normally a rather solitary activity. Megablogger Glenn Reynolds, a.k.a. Instapundit, was there, amazingly enough, and wrote about it here (so now I’m blogging about talking about blogging about space blogging, more or less).

I've enjoyed Astroprof's ISDC posts (and many others), and I actually got to talk with him there. His Astroprof’s Page discussion of Dr. Robert Zubrin’s “going straight to Mars” presentation is a nice summary. I also liked his blogging about space blogging” post in which he asked readers why they read his blog, and they told him! I spoke briefly with Jeff Foust, who organized the space blogging events and claims to not actually have a million blogs. Among other things, he reported on SpaceDev’s revised Dreamchaser spacecraft design in Personal Spaceflight.

One of the many afternoon presentations I attended at ISDC was one by Jerome Pearson, who discussed the use of orbiting reflectors and similar sun-shading ideas to reduce global warming. But Universe Today points out that such geoengineering comes with huge risks. Policy makers hoping that a technological silver bullet will hold off rising temperatures from global warming need to consider those risks. While this was not an ISDC post, it was closely related to Pearson's presentation - I raised a question along these lines after his talk, but he was out of time.

Those are just a few of the many posts and articles that came out of ISDC. It really was a great event, but it’s not the only thing in the universe worth talking (or blogging) about. I mentioned that Buzz Aldrin was at ISDC, and of course he flew on both Gemini and Apollo missions. But Halfway There reminds us in Hurrah for Schirra that the late Wally Schirra was the only NASA astronaut to fly aboard all three of the Moon project's spacecraft: Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. He epitomized the astronaut spirit and was one of NASA's key players in the success of the manned space program.

There were quite a few NASA people and presentations at ISDC (NASA was also the main sponsor), and many speakers and attendees could be heard wondering aloud about NASA’s future and about the Vision for Space Exploration. The conversation continues in the blogosphere with OK, smart guy, so how SHOULD the VSE be done? in which Robot Guy asks,
what should NASA be doing, beyond just developing enabling technologies? If they are going to go about doing the Vision for Space Exploration, then what is the better way to do it? He says the solution is to decouple the mission from the implementation.

Meanwhile the Space Cynics wonder, So What IS Their Mission? They point out that in Mike Griffin's recent interview in Space Daily, he essentially dismissed any more detailed action studying global warming because it wasn't in the NASA Authorization. The question that comes to mind is, what other activities are not in the Authorization, and will he be doing some trimming of NASA based on this criteria... or was it just a cop out?

It turns out that ISDC was not the only cool conference taking place in the last couple of weeks. Fellow JPL Solar System Ambassador Steve Hammond attended Where 2.0 2007 in San Jose and reports in Ridiculous Thoughts that it was about much more than location, location, location on Earth. He even discovered several astronomical applications of Google Earth. And while there is no Google Venus (yet?), in A Watery Venus, Chris Lintott of Chris Lintott’s Universe (none of this dodgy FlyingSinger/Astroprof/Robot Guy stuff for Chris) talks about an interview that got him thinking about how what we know about Earth tells us about Venus and vice versa.

I can also recommend two fine tributes: one to a late and sorely missed astronomer, author, and science educator, the other dedicated to an up-and-coming outer solar system body. To retain her spare e e cummingsesque typography i will quote astropixie directly on her slightly older but well worth remembering remembrance:

pale blue dot
this one comes from last december for the 10th anniversary of carl sagan's death. i talk about his contributions to astronomy, space exploration, skepticism and science public outreach. i tell the story of how i decided to go into astronomy.

And last but not least, Stuart Atkinson of Cumbrian Skies explains why a pale-orange-dot in the vicinity of a ringed giant has been rising on his personal solar system hit parade in Titan - the new New World. But not content to honor smoggy Titan in prose alone, Stuart also wrote a rather nice poem about her (him? it?) entitled TITAN. This is one of many astronomical subjects that Stuart explores poetically in The 'Verse.

I hope you have enjoyed this ISDC (and other) edition of the Carnival of Space. If you wish to submit posts for future carnivals, the guidelines are here. Next week's carnival will be hosted at Dr. Pamela Gay's Star Stryder blog. Until then, Clear skies! Ad astra! On to Mars! And as Homer Simpson says, "Mmmmm... forbidden donut" (scroll to the bottom of that page for more).