Friday, March 18, 2011

MESSENGER Arrives to Orbit Mercury

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft arrived at the planet Mercury on Thursday, this time to remain in orbit for the conduct of extended exploration of that planet. The probe was launched in 2004 and has already made three fly-bys of Mercury. The mission is being controlled by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory here in Maryland.

The above image was acquired during the second fly-by in October, 2008. Images from MESSENGER in orbit around Mercury should be available here after March 29.

Judicial Wisdom

While judicial activism is a matter of serious concern in American politics, in some cases, judges have shown more sense than some legislative bodies. For instance, a law passed by the County Council here in Montgomery County, MD, forcing pregnancy counseling centers to post notices that could discourage women from using their services, was put on hold by a federal court while the law's constitutionality is contested in further court proceedings.

Not that this ruling or a similar ruling on a similar law in Baltimore stopped the NYC City Council and Mayor Bloomberg from enacting a similar folly in their city.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Artist unknown, Link by

Thursday is March 17, St. Patrick's Day. Be blessed, safe, and happy however you are celebrating Ireland's patron saint.

Catholic Forum provides links to descriptions of St. Patrick here and here.

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort me and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

In the spirit of the holiday, check out for webcasts of Irish music and other media direct from Ireland.

Also, here's an ad featuring the singing and music of Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers that those of us who remember watching the Apollo missions to the Moon will recall. (Gulf Oil sponsored NBC news coverage in that era.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Storm Forecast for Capitol Hill

ProSpace's annual March Storm will have teams of citizens briefing Congressional offices Monday and Tuesday on innovative ways to spur the economic development of space. This year's agenda includes introduction of a major tax policy to spur new space industries and support for NASA's commercial crew & cargo to orbit programs.

Seismic Devastation

The news and images from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan yesterday are so horrifying to witness. The tsunami waves traveled all the way across the Pacific to have a major impact on the US West Coast. Now there is also growing concern about the impact on two Japanese nuclear plants.

Here is a short list of some organizations providing assistance to the people in the devastated areas in Japan.

States Overturn Conventional Wisdom

In Wisconsin this week, the stalemate over public employee unions, collective bargaining and state benefit expenditures was broken with the enactment of legislation that will allow that state to move forward in addressing its fiscal situation. Despite continuing passionate protests, the new law and similar legislation in other states will likely herald big changes not only in labor relations but in state and national politics.

Closer to home in Maryland, same sex marriage (SSM) proved too much even for the Circus on the Severn, where a SSM bill, deemed a slam-dunk a few weeks ago, was pulled when it was clear there were not enough delegates willing to support the radical alteration of marriage as practiced by societies for thousands of years. Opposition from the Catholic Church and many black evangelical churches helped to galvanize a strong grassroots movement that was effective in defeating this bill.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, marking start of the Lenten period of reflection and penance between now and Easter.Pope Benedict XVI marked the observance in Rome.
Wishing all Christians a "happy Lenten journey", Pope Benedict XVI said today that fasting, almsgiving and prayer are traditions for Lent because they are effective tools for conversion.

At his weekly general audience on Ash Wednesday, the Pope said Lent is a time "to accept Christ’s invitation to renew our baptismal commitments" to arrive at Easter in a new and stronger state.

One recent activity that has become aligned with Lent is the 40 Days for Life campaign, which organizes prayer vigils at local abortion facilities. I'll be participating in the event here in Silver Spring, MD.

Discovery Home To Stay


Space Shuttle Discovery completed its final flight by landing safely in Florida today. The ship's permanent home will be an as yet unnamed museum. In the mean time, the end of Discovery's cosmic journey's is cause for much reflection in the space and general media.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Times They Are A Changing!

Kirsten Powers is most known for being a TV commentator who generally takes a liberal Democratic point-of-view. Thus she made some serious waves this week when she broke with the party line on the subject of Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood officials are allowed to believe whatever they want and to pursue whatever goals they choose. But their dishonesty in how they present their organization to the public, along with ignoring basic statistics about their area of expertise, makes you wonder what else they are hiding. It’s also hard to deny that they are at core a blindly ideological organization, not a run-of-the-mill charitable nonprofit.

Whatever you think of abortion rights, this is not the kind of organization that taxpayers should be funding.

One more hint that the end of the abortion culture may be closer than most people realize, as Peter Heck writes.
All this trickery, misdirection, obfuscation and corruption within the so-called "pro-choice" movement are causing an increasingly large number of Americans to reassess their position on the issue. That, coupled with a reinvigorated pro-life movement infused with a youthful energy and a refocused approach that addresses humanness rather than politics, convinces me that the day is fast approaching when our society finds the moral courage to end the killing.

Space Round-Up

Discovery's crew boarded their Shuttle after a very productive stay. The ship departs from the International Space Station on Monday to return to Earth to stay (scheduled for Wednesday).

Two other launches took place in the past week, the unsuccessful Glory satellite launch and the apparently successful launch of the second USAF X37B robotic spaceplane.