Comfort food books

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1)Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

10/20/19: I’ve been in a weird mood lately with my reading. A lot of my recent choices have left me cold, and when those have been purchases instead of library books, that makes me gun-shy about buying new books. Also, I often buy books only to see them in the library offerings a month later.

So I’ve been going back to the books already in my personal collection, re-reading. With audiobooks, you don’t have to put a book down to walk across a room, or do the dishes, or drive to work. You just keep listening. And listening, to me, has become a security blanket. I get edgy when my brain’s not otherwise occupied and I’m not listening to a book.

When books are your comfort food, you want to read the ones you enjoy most. I figure with… 8 books? in the Expanse series, I will have something to read until my library wait list finally coughs up its next book, or The Expanse season 4 starts, or both.

View all my reviews

OSIRIS_REx

 

Space is hard. Sometimes, the Old School folks–NASA, JPL–make it look so easy we forget that. We all “Ooohed” and “Aaahed” at the mammoth achievement that was the Juno craft’s close shave of Jupiter on July 4th, which put it in position for its regular orbits.

Then we cringed last week when new kid on the block, SpaceX, had the second disaster in their hit-and-miss history.

So I was pretty nervous this week when OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s long-awaited asteroid sample-return mission vehicle, sat on a launch pad rocket. I saw a comment on Twitter asking if there was a way to salvage the probe if something were to go catastrophically wrong with the rocket as it had with SpaceX.

…Um, no?

Rockets launch things out of Earth’s gravity because they are big, huge, carefully controlled bombs. “Carefully controlled” most of the time.

This time, though, it was a picture-perfect launch:

http://www.popsci.com/nasa-asteroid-mission-osiris-rex-launch

After launch, the rocket hurtled the craft into Earth orbit on a trajectory that will take it towards the asteroid Bennu, where it will orbit for a year, studying the space rock, before landing, collecting samples, and bringing those samples back to Earth.

An unmanned spacecraft that actually comes back to us is kind of a big deal. Usually, once they leave Earth orbit, they’re gone forever; it’s too expensive to give them enough fuel to bring them home. But if we ever hope to understand asteroids, we need to study the materials they are made of. And short of going to one ourselves, or bringing one to us, this is the cheapest alternative… for now.

 

Juno at Jupiter – July 4th, 2016

 

Juno_JOI_Still_2After a five-year journey through the solar system, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is scheduled for orbital insertion on Monday, July 4th. Due to the time delay between Earth and Jupiter, the insertion will be in the hands of the computers aboard the spacecraft, and mission specialists will have to wait 48 minutes to know if it was a success.

Sounds a lot like those long moments of terror when Curiosity plunged towards Mars four years ago.

If all goes well, Juno will study Jupiter (less so its moons) using orbital maneuvers much like the spacecraft Cassini has used in the Saturn system for the past twelve years.

Here is the Juno arrival timeline in EDT and GMT:

http://www.space.com/33333-juno-spacecraft-jupiter-arrival-timeline.html

Here is the official NASA page on the mission with a countdown and info on using the awesome NASA Eyes app:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html

Also, some helpful what-to-expect/how to watch info from Space.com and the Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla:

http://www.space.com/33333-juno-spacecraft-jupiter-arrival-timeline.html

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2016/07011514-how-to-watch-junos-orbit.html

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2016/06090600-what-to-expect-from-junocam.html

 

Image courtesy of NASA.gov

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, InterruptedGirl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book never quite takes a stand on anything. On the one hand, the author implies she was institutionalized for very little reason, then we slowly learn she really did have symptoms of borderline personality disorder, at least as they were understood in 1967. She shows the repeated incompetence of the hospital structure of the time, but this does not seem to be an expose of that. It seems to be a moment-in-time memoir cast with colorful characters, never quite sad enough, or angry enough, or satisfied enough, or anything enough.

View all my reviews