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Gerald north graduated in physics and astronomy. A former teacher and college lecturer, he is now a freelance astronomer and author. A long-term member of the British Astronomical Association, he has served in several posts in their Lunar Section. His books include the acclaimed Advanced Amateur Astronomy, which has become a classic guide for astronomers wishing to raise their observing to the next level.
Just before I left to attend the June 2001 Geologic Society of London Geologic Society of America Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, I received two e-mail messages. The first was from a UK-based freelance science writer, who was producing a proposal for a six-part television series on various ways that studies of the Earth produce clues about Mars. He requested locations where he might film, other than Hawaii. I was amazed that he seemed not to be aware of all of the locations on Earth where planetary researchers have been studying geologic processes and surfaces that they believe are analogous to those on Mars. In retrospect, his lack of knowledge is understandable, as no books were in existence on the topic of collective Earth locales for Martian studies and no planetary field guides had been published that included terrestrial analogs of the newly acquired data sets Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rovers, and Mars Express. Historically, NASA published a series of...
California, concerning one of the Mars Mariner missions, freelance writers Eric Burgess and Richard Hoagland approached Sagan with the idea that a message should be placed aboard the Pioneer 10 mission, which was slated for launch in March 1972. They reasoned that, once Pioneer's job taking readings from Jupiter was completed, it would continue out of the solar system, becoming the first Earth probe to venture beyond the known planets into the unknowns of deep space without a set trajectory. Pioneer 10 would continue to function for 20 or more years, since it was powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs, which produce electricity from decaying plutonium. (RTGs are used when a spacecraft will be traveling too far from the Sun to warrant the use of solar power.) In other words, no one knew where it would end up no one knew how many eons it would continue to coast in space and no one knew what other beings it might meet out there if any.
Although not strictly attached to either shift, Hartsfield and Ockels tended to align their work schedules with that of Nagel's blue team. Wubbo decided to freelance, remembered Hartsfield. He didn't have a fixed shift. His shift would overlap the other two shifts. It was kind of a weird arrangement. He chose to sleep in the airlock. He had a sleeping bag - a design of his own - and the only trouble was people going back and forth would bump him as they went through there.
At 1 50 pm, with the computers still flying the vehicle, Columbia's right-hand RCS jets automatically fired to adjust the position of her nose. This was one of several manoeuvres designed to bleed off speed. Three minutes later, precisely on time, she crossed the California coastline and ground-based observers were able to watch her streaking, meteor-like, across the night sky, ''at incredible speed'', according to freelance photographer Gene Blevins. It was around this time, however, that he and colleague Bill Hartenstein saw something strange ''a big red flare came from underneath the Shuttle and was forced downward something came off the Shuttle
In a similar vein to the Teacher in Space effort, STS-6 ll's second Payload Specialist seat would also have been granted to an 'ordinary' civilian - this time a journalist - and, at the time of the disaster, the applicants had been winnowed down by NASA to a list of 40 semi-finalists. These included NBC News' Theresa Anzur, Pulitzer prizewinners James Wilford and Peter Rinearson, James Asker of the 'Houston Post', freelancers Jay Barbree and Marcia Bartusiak, ABC's William Blakemore, 'Time' magazine's Roger Rosenblatt, reporter Rob Navias (later to become the Johnson Space Center spokesman for NASA) and 69-year-old CBS veteran anchorman Walter Cronkite. At the time of the disaster, the screening of those 40 semi-finalists was scheduled to take place at JSC on March 31st 1986 and the successful primary and backup candidates would have begun formal training in May. All 40 lost their chance that cold January day when not only the Shuttle was suspended, but so were its commercial ventures...
Mills is a freelance writer and practicing veterinarian. She has written articles for The Sciences, Health, Muse, Discovery.com, and others. Her article Breeding Discontent (The Sciences, May June 2000) was selected for The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2001, guest-edited by E. O. Wilson.