Book Review: Europa’s Lost Expedition

“Europa's Lost Expedition” by Michael CarrollIn the epoch in which this story is set the expansion of the human presence into the solar system was well advanced, with large settlements on the Moon and Mars, exploitation of the abundant resources in the main asteroid belt, and research outposts in exotic environments such as Jupiter’s enigmatic moon Europa, when civilisation on Earth was consumed, as so often seems to happen when too many primates who evolved to live in small bands are packed into a limited space, by a global conflict which the survivors, a decade later, refer to simply as “The War”, as its horrors and costs dwarfed all previous human conflicts.

Now, with The War over and recovery underway, scientific work is resuming, and an international expedition has been launched to explore the southern hemisphere of Europa, where the icy crust of the moon is sufficiently thin to provide access to the liquid water ocean beneath and the complex orbital dynamics of Jupiter’s moons were expected to trigger a once in a decade eruption of geysers, with cracks in the ice allowing the ocean to spew into space, providing an opportunity to sample it “for free”.... [Read More]


This Week’s Book Review – The Vanishing Woman

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Seawriter... [Read More]


The Zuma Mystery

Zuma (spacecraft) mission patchEarly Monday, January 8th, at 01:00 UTC (20:00 EST on January 7th at the launch site in Florida), SpaceX launched a spacecraft identified only as “Zuma”.  This mission has been a mystery since word of it first became public, and the mystery appears to have just deepened even more.

In October 2017, SpaceX filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission requesting permission for a “Mission 1390”.  This was unusual, as no mission for the range of dates requested appeared on the SpaceX mission manifest statement.  A few days later, several sources reported that the flight would launch a payload built by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. government.  A Northrop Grumman spokesman confirmed this, but said nothing further about the payload or its government customer.  This is already unusual: classified payloads launched by the Air Force or the National Reconnaissance Office are usually identified by at least the name of the contracting agency.  All that is known about this payload is that the customer is an unnamed part of the U.S. government.... [Read More]