“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Asteroid Vesta

NASA spacecraft orbiting the huge asteroid Vesta has snapped amazing new photos of the colossal space rock, images that reveal strange features never-before-seen on an asteroid, scientists say.
The new photos of Vesta from NASA's Dawn spacecraft highlight odd, shiny spots that are nearly twice as bright as other parts of the asteroid — suggesting it is original material left over from the space rock's birth 4 billion years ago, NASA officials said today (March 21).

With a width of about 330 miles (530 km), asteroid Vesta is one of the largest and brightest objects in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. NASA's Dawn probe has been orbiting Vesta since 2011 to study the space rock in unprecedented detail.
"Our analysis finds this bright material originates from Vesta and has undergone little change since the formation of Vesta over 4 billion years ago," said Jian-Yang Li, a Dawn participating scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park, in a statement. "We're eager to learn more about what minerals make up this material and how the present Vesta surface came to be."
Asteroid Vesta unveiled
Li and his colleagues unveiled Dawn's new views of Vesta today at the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.
The photos show surprisingly bright spots all over Vesta, with the most predominant ones located inside or around the asteroid's many craters. The bright areas range from large spots (around several hundred feet across) to simply huge, with some stretching across 10 miles (16 kilometers) of terrain. [Video: Vesta — Asteroid or Dwarf Planet?]
"Dawn's ambitious exploration of Vesta has been going beautifully," said Marc Rayman, Dawn chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which oversees the mission. "As we continue to gather a bounty of data, it is thrilling to reveal fascinating alien landscapes."
Dawn mission scientists suspect the bright patches on Vesta were exposed during violent collisions with other space rocks. These impacts may have spread the bright material across the asteroid and mixed it together with darker material on Vesta's surface, researchers said.
Astronomers have known about variations in Vesta's brightness for some time. Photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope before Dawn arrived at the asteroid also revealed the bright patches.
Never-before seen asteroid melt
But only the close-up photos from the Dawn probe have revealed the surprising variety of dark blotches on Vesta, which appear as dark gray, brown or reddish blemishes, NASA officials said.
In some views, these darker spots are small deposits near impact craters, while in other photos they appear in larger concentrations. These darker spots on Vesta may also be the result of collisions on the asteroid, researchers said.
Slow carbon-rich asteroids may have created some of the smaller dark material deposits without carving out a big crater. Meanwhile, faster objects may have potentially slammed into Vesta so hard they melted the big asteroid's crust, which could have also created the dark spots.
"Some of these past collisions were so intense they melted the surface," said Brett Denevi, a Dawn participating scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "Dawn's ability to image the melt marks a unique find. Melting events like these were suspected, but never before seen on an asteroid."
NASA launched the $466 million Dawn spacecraft in 2007 and Vesta is only the first stop of the spacecraft's two-asteroid tour. Dawn arrived at Vesta in July 2011 and is expected to spend about a year there before heading off to its next target — the even larger asteroid Ceres, which is also classified as a dwarf planet.
Dawn is expected to arrive at Ceres in February 2015.

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  1. But the second impact basin, which sits under and slightly to the side of Rheasilvia, is a newly named structure. Called Veneneia, the basin — described by Paul Schenk from the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston — is older than Rheasilvia and about 395 kilometers across.


    Even so, the impacts probably penetrated Vesta’s crust and scattered minerals that normally live deep underground over the surrounding surface. Scientists will continue studying and characterizing these details because even though Vesta might resemble Earth, it embodies one crucial difference: Instead of erasing pages from its history, the asteroid’s biography still contains records of its evolution dating back to the dawn of the solar system.


    Dawn will hover near Vesta until August, continuing to transcribe the tales it tells. It will then head toward Ceres, the most massive body in the asteroid belt, with a planned arrival in 2015.

  2. I want Dawn to hover near Uranus.

  3. She is believed to have suffered a heart attack while alone in the bath, before slipping under the water and drowning. Though the cause remains unclear, cocaine use can act as a trigger in such cases and also causes arteries to harden, exacerbating the effects of an attack.

    Houston died on the eve of the Grammy awards, after spending previous days attending a selection of related events.

    The news confirms that her death was an accident. Beverly Hills police, who were handling the investigation into the affair, said in a statement that they had uncovered no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

  4. .

    Fires Most Powerful Laser in History

    The result: from a tiny 1/billionth of a joule laser, the scientists at the National Ignition Facility obtain rays "a foot on their side" with a combined "2.03 million joules of ultraviolet energy," 1,000 times the energy of all the power plants in the United States combined, even while it's only for a fraction of a second.


  5. If Obamacare is upheld, it fundamentally changes the nature of the American social contract. It means the effective end of a government of enumerated powers — i.e., finite, delineated powers beyond which the government may not go, beyond which lies the free realm of the people and their voluntary institutions. The new post-Obamacare dispensation is a central government of unlimited power from which citizen and civil society struggle to carve out and maintain spheres of autonomy.

    Figure becomes ground; ground becomes figure. The stakes could not be higher.

    This is what good hearted socially concerned Rufus just doesn't get, try as he might, he just can't get his head around it, can't fathom it, can't go that deep.

    It's not about medicine at all - it's about the nature of the social contract.

  6. A government that can draft you, and send you off to die in Vietnam, or any other clusterfuck of an elective military occupation, already has "unlimited" power.

    It's time to use that power to save some lives instead of taking lives.

  7. The Republicans said the same thing about Social Security, Medicare, the FDA, TVA, and the Civil Rights Act.

  8. But Krauthammer would have no problem with borrowing another couple of $ Trillion from China to piss attacking Iran for Israel.

  9. .

    The Republicans said the same thing about Social Security, Medicare, the FDA, TVA, and the Civil Rights Act.

    Just a clarification. I don't know how the votes went on the other items, but the GOP voted 'yea' on the Civil Rights Bill in overwhelming proportion, much larger proportions than the Dems.

    The filibuster against the bill was lead by 18 Dems and 1 Pub.


  10. It wasn't a good ex, Q. But, the interesting factoid is that "both" side voted, heavily, in favor of the original legislation.

    Vote count

    President Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks at the signing of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965.
    The two numbers in each line of this list refer to the number of representatives voting in favor and against the act, respectively.

    Senate: 77–19
    Democrats: 47–17 (73%-27%)
    Republicans: 30–2 (94%-6%)

    House: 333–85
    Democrats: 221–61 (78%-22%)
    Republicans: 112–24 (82%-18%)