Sirius History & the Future of NASA

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On Starts With A Bang, Ethan Siegel presents us with an interstellar mystery. As the single brightest star in the sky, Sirius has been well-known since ancient times. But while Sirius is unmistakably blue, several historical records describe Sirius as red. Two thousand years is not enough time for a normal star to change color, so what could have happened? Simple human error? Changing atmospheric conditions? A roving Bok Globule? Or does Sirius's companion dwarf star suggest an even more incredible explanation? In a separate post, Ethan says he won't miss NASA's Constellation program, a Bush-era plan to establish "an extended human presence on the Moon." Ethan writes that returning to the moon "has no clear scientific merits," and funding should go to more awe-inspiring pursuits such as "landing humans on other planets," or "perhaps even reaching for another star system." Meanwhile Matt Springer on Built on Facts finds that Constellation's cancellation leaves NASA's glass half-empty, with nowhere to go but down. Matt warns that NASA may soon be "strangled to death in bureaucracy," stripped of "the inspiration that keeps the agency in the public eye."

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