State Fair purging history from its grounds?

There seems to be precious little space in Minot for old things these days, but you’d think one thing that wouldn’t be going anywhere is the Pioneer Village at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

Whatever it is that the State Fair would rather do with the land, I doubt it’s sufficiently charitable to excuse the hostile eviction of a non-profit tenant.  The Pioneer Village ought to stay right where it is.

Inspiration Mars ought to do sample return

1390604225-526809A sample return mission is the best bet for adding science to Inspiration Mars, Dr. Mike Gaffey said at the UND Space Studies Colloqium on January 27.

Inspiration Mars is the ballyhooed effort lead by space tourist Dennis Tito to fire a pair of astronauts straight to Mars, around, and back.  The ambitious space shot would blast-off in January 2018, followed by a 7-month cruise.  The craft would speed over the night side of Mars in August 2018, then splash down back home in May 2019.

In the cruise phase, onboard detectors could help gather information on solar and cosmic radiation, including being a help in locating the source of fleeting gamma-ray bursts.

For Martian science, the ship will just be moving too fast!  Most Mars missions are robotic probes that can spend months to carefully study something.  In just a handful of hours, the best bet would be to scoop up as much dust and upper atmosphere as possible from the vicinity of Mars.

For the biggest value of the mission, Gaffey points to the human factor: the stunning potential of humans seeing the sun set and rise over a new world — and the teachable moment that will come if an intrepid pair manage to circuit the Red Planet just 55 months from today.