The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Magazine features an excerpt from Jonna Doolittle Hoppes’ book Just Doing My Job: Stories of Service from World War II in We Represented All Women, a profile of Women Air Service Pilot (WASP) Violet Cowden.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Phobos Even Closer

Earlier this month, we discussed the Mars Express close approach to Mars’ larger moon Phobos (see Phobos Up Close). Now, the European Space Agency has released several intriguing images of Phobos, including the likely target landing area for the Russian Phobos Grunt mission. Here’s a sample:

Phobos (ESA Mars Express March 2010)

Phobos (ESA Mars Express March 2010)

Phobos Landing Sites (ESA Mars Express March 2010)

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

A History of the Federal Debt Limit

“Total debt of the federal government can increase in two ways. First, debt increases when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and acquire the financial resources needed to meet its obligations. This increases debt held by the public. Second, debt increases when the federal government issues debt to certain government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds, in exchange for their reported surpluses. This increases debt held by government accounts. The sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts is the total federal debt. Surpluses generally reduce debt held by the public, while deficits raise it.

“A statutory limit has restricted total federal debt since 1917 when Congress passed the Second Liberty Bond Act. Congress has voted to raise the debt limit ten times since 2001.”

With the current recession, federal debt and budget deficits have become increasingly contentious topics.

The Congressional Research Service has issued a 25-page study by D. Andrew Austin and Mindy R. Levit on The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases. The study is of considerable value for those who wish to attain a more detailed and nuanced understanding of the issues surrounding this topical question.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Long-Sulfuring Microbes on Mars?

Chocolate Hills Rock on Martian Surface (NASA)

Planetary scientists speculate whether abundant sulfur on the Martian surface may provide us with evidence of microbial life in New Scientist’s Evidence for Life May Be Staring Us in the Face.

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment