Tag: NASA

Catstronauts: Buddy Leads Exploratory Expedition To Epsilon Eridani

STAR COMMANDER BUDDY’S LOG, STARDATE 12142022, Aboard the USS Fowl Play

Lt. Commander Freddie Ferocious has command of the bridge while I’ve retired to my ready room for the important task of answering video messages from kittens in Mrs. Meowmore’s Kittengarden class.

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Lt. Commander Freddie Ferocious, executive officer of the USS Fowl Play.
Catstronauts!
Star Commander Buddy, commanding officer of the USS Fowl Play.

Myles, a three-month-old tuxedo who wants to be a catstronaut when he grows up, has asked me how catstronauts eat and use the litter box in zero gravity.

“Well, Myles,” I tell him, “as you may have guessed, regular litter is no good without gravity! You can’t bury your business, obviously, and you run the risk of free-floating poops and granules of litter escaping into the ship’s habitable areas, so a litter box is out of the question. That is why we have a sealed Litter Chamber and a special suction device. It takes some getting used to, especially since it tends to pull on your fur while you’re doing your business!”

Sophia, a five-month-old Calico, asks us what we eat in space.

“This morning at 0100 hours I was informed that our food replicators are malfunctioning, which means the entire crew has had to make do with freeze-dried kibble and pate MREs. No wonder we’re all so cranky! I have ordered the engineering department to devote all available resources and catpower toward the repair of the replicators. This simply cannot be allowed to go unresolved, for a cranky crew can easily become a mewtinous one, and I don’t want to have to start spacing kitties out of the airlock. Er, I mean throwing ’em in the brig! Chief Engineer Meowdi LaForge tells me the replicators should be back online by breakfast.”

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Chief Engineer Meowdi LaForge

Simba, three and a half months, asks: “Dear Commander Buddy, how far are you from the place you’re traveling to, and what will you do when you get there? Is it true there might be monsters? That would be scary!”

“Thanks for writing, Simba! It’s 10.47 light years to the Epsilon Eridani star system, which is a long ride! Fortunately the USS Fowl Play is a pretty big, comfortable ship, with lots of stuff to do to keep her running, and some pretty cool options for entertainment and R&R when we’re off duty. We’re less than two light years away from our destination now, which means the Fowl Play has already flipped and is engaged in a prolonged deceleration burn. We have to do that, see, so we don’t sail right on past Epsilon Eridani!

“Where did you hear about the thing with the monsters? It’s not true, okay? I don’t know what anyone told you, probably that jealous jerk Commander Calvin, but I totally did not run screaming from a monster during the expedition to Luyten 726-8, okay? That’s fake news!

“What happened was, I saw the monster and issued a blood-curdling battle cry, but then I hit the wrong button on my Planetary CatRover, which caused it to spin around and run in the other direction. I was trying to inspire my team, not abandon them. I would have turned around and battled the monster too, except by the time I realized my mistake I was already more than half way back to the lander and the others had scared the monster away with their laser pointers.”

That’s my rover on the left, and the Scary Monster on the right. As you can see, I’m very brave for facing the Scary Monster:

Five-month-old Pepper asks: “Star Commander Buddy, do you think smart aliens are out there? What do they look like? Will they be nice when you meet them?”

“Hi, Pepper! Those are good questions. Well we should remember that we cats are not only a super intelligent species, but we are intimidating too! We have sharp teeth and claws, some of us can roar, and we look really strong and tough! So maybe the aliens will be scared of us!

“I think there will be smart aliens even though we haven’t found other intelligent life on Earth. I mean, there’s humans, but they’re simple-minded creatures, aren’t they? That’s why they’re our servants! LOL! Maybe the aliens will only have fur on their heads like humans. Maybe they’ll look like dogs. Gross, I know! Or maybe they’ll look like a cross between elephants, manta rays and aardvarks.

“We just don’t know, which is why we’re trying to find out. Picture it: Star Commander Buddy, fearlessly leading the first expedition to make contact with smart aliens. It’ll be pretty cool to be in the history books. Tell ya what, Pepper. If we find smart aliens, you and the rest of Mrs. Meowmore’s class will be the first to know. After NASA, of course. We’ll send you pictures. Deal?”

Catstronauts!
Lt. Loki pilots our lander, and he’s a good example of how intimidating our species can look! Will aliens be scared of him?

 

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Vice Admiral Yo’oko Nahsuareo. Did you know jaguars make up only 4% of the Catstronaut Corps? They are usually sleep specialists, designing cryosleep pods for space travel and constantly improving comfortable napping spots on our ships.

 

NASA Photo Shows ‘Cats’ Got To Mars Before Humans Did

Cats are sneaky, quiet as a ghost when they want to be and have a habit of seemingly teleporting between spots, but could they somehow use their feline superpowers to beat us to Mars?

As the Perseverance rover continues to chug along and take photos as well as samples of rock and soil, people following the rover’s progress can vote for “image of the week,” and this time around they picked an image that, when seen from a distance, appears to show a crouched cat with its behind raised, in mid butt-wiggle as it prepares to pounce on some unfortunate Martian.

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A Martian Desert Cat spots a rich vein of Temptatiums in a natural deposit and is ready to pounce.

This isn’t the first time Mars enthusiasts have spotted a “cat” in an image from the red planet. In 2015, some people said a group of rocks resembled a “giant cat statue” poking out from the Martian soil in a photo taken by the Curiosity rover.

I don’t really see it. YMMV:

Perseverance is exploring the site of a former crater lake and an adjoining former river delta. The Bad Astronomy blog says it was “very clearly a lake of standing water at some point in the past.”

The blog provides a breakdown of the geography of the crater and what it can tell us about the Mars of the past. Knowing there was water on Mars makes the idea of life elsewhere in the solar system seem possible. Astronomers believe Jupiter’s moon Europa, for example, potentially hosts life. The satellite exists so far from the sun it’s in a permanent deep freeze and would normally be inhospitable to life, but the evidence strongly suggests there are oceans beneath Europa’s icy surface, and those oceans are heated by massive vents on the ocean floor.

Water, warmth, energy. The conditions for life are there. If Mars was covered with lakes at one point, what’s swimming in the oceans of Europa?

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Credit: NASA

So Mars had water and the entire planet was pristine litter box. If it had some prey to hunt and an atmosphere, the red planet could have been the perfect homeworld for felis sapiens, who would rival humanity in technology if not for the tragic fact that their species is only awake eight hours a day.

Now that’s a scary thought!

NASA: We’re Pretty Sure Cats Can’t Commandeer Our Spacecraft

If you’re a cat servant working from home in the social distancing era, you know cats have given themselves a new job: Supervising their humans’ professional activities.

It comes naturally to curious felines, who normally supervise mundane household chores like cleaning the litter box.

Among those working from home these days are NASA and ESA engineers, physicists and anyone else whose primary work responsibility is dealing with data rather than hands-on technical work. Many of them have cats and, well, cats are naturally helping themselves to the work:

Daniel Lakey was in the middle of an important meeting when an unauthorized participant decided to chime in.

“He appeared at the door, jumped on the table, meowed in my face, walked across the keyboard, put his furry ass in my face, and eventually curled up sweetly on the desk next to the laptop,” Lakey recounted to me recently.

It was Sparkle, Lakey’s fluffy brown-and-white cat. Sparkle stuck around for the rest of the virtual meeting, in fact, mewing every time Lakey stopped petting him.

Like many people in the pandemic era, Lakey is doing his job from home, with a new set of colleagues who might be less cooperative than his usual ones; his new workspace is now wherever his two young kids and two cats aren’t. Lakey is a spacecraft-operations engineer who works on the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, which means that he spends his days managing a spacecraft flying millions of miles away from Earth. The work is complex and precise, and usually doesn’t involve feline input. Sparkle interrupted a teleconference only that one time, but what else could he do?

That thought recently became a point of public discussion when Amber Straughn, an astrophysicist at NASA, tweeted:

 

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The Atlantic’s Marina Koren reached out to Straughn, who assured her “commanding spacecraft is a labyrinthian process from start to finish, with all kinds of checks and fail-safes along the way.”

“As absurd as the scenario might seem, it would be nearly impossible for a cat to briefly become a spacecraft-operations engineer, whether at NASA or ESA,” Koren wrote, after speaking to several NASA employees who assured her cats aren’t capable of flying the complex vessels.

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LOL humans think we can’t fly spaceships.

Most operations require physical access to control rooms and can’t be operated remotely, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory spokesman Andrew Good said

“Some of those commands require a mouse clicking on certain options, so it’s not just an issue of commands being written and sent up with typos,” Good told The Atlantic. “A person has to make conscious choices for spacecraft commands to go up.”

While NASA says it would be “nearly impossible” for cats to hijack spacecraft normally used to service orbital telescopes or make supply runs to the International Space Station, cats love a good challenge. And what is the ISS, really, but a big metal box that would be fun to play in?

With at least one alien race recognizing cats as the supreme rulers of Earth — sorry, Felinia — is it really far fetched to imagine cats commandeering spacecraft to explore the final frontier and the Great Big Litter Box in the Sky?

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