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Space is the new frontier of the 2012 presidential campaign

September 25, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The decidedly human undertaking that is the 2012 presidential election has taken a cosmic turn. On Saturday, at a campaign event on Florida's "Space Coast," Paul Ryan derided President Obama's handling of space exploration. "We have presided over a dismantling of the space program over the last four years," the ...

Video: NASA satellites capture the ground impact of droughts, from 2002 to today

September 24, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow While the effects of droughts reveal themselves in the short term through arid fields and withered riverbeds, their ongoing impact reveals itself most readily below the crust of the Earth. Ground water, both right under the surface and deep underneath it, suggests how months and years of dryness will affect ...

Google News at 10: How the algorithm won over the news industry

September 21, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In April of 2010, Eric Schmidt delivered the keynote address at the conference of the American Society of News Editors in Washington, D.C. During the talk, the then-CEO of Google went out of his way to articulate -- and then reiterate -- his conviction that "the survival of high-quality journalism" ...

What sequestration would do to the country's science budgets

September 17, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Last August, to end the bitter debt ceiling crisis that led to a downgraded U.S. credit rating and a deeper decline in Americans' esteem for their leaders, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011. The legislation -- a stopgap measure meant to allow the country to ...

Swabbing and hoping: How NASA keeps germs from colonizing Mars

September 11, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In 1967, the United States joined the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union in signing the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. The agreement, more casually known as the "Outer Space Treaty," remains ...

The World Wide Web, by the numbers

September 5, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Tim Berners-Lee's vision for the World Wide Web was predicated on two core ideas: universality and connectivity. But now that the web has been around for a generation -- and, you know, changed the world, revolutionized information, etc., etc. -- how has it actually been adopted? Is the web, its ...

The Martian landscape, in wacky 3D

September 5, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The surface of Mars has become, at this point, one of the most photographed celebrities in the world. Via its dedicated paparazzo, the Curiosity rover, the Red Planet has been depicted as, variously, black-and-white blobs; high-def images, in striking color; panoramas; interactive panoramas; pseudo-Instagrams; and cheeky GIFs. Thanks to Curiosity ...

President Obama's Reddit AMA: The numbers are in, and they're huge

September 5, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow When President Obama took to Reddit for his "Ask Me Anything" session this week, he pretty much immediately brought down the site. Visitors trying to read the president's answers to questions posed by the Reddit community were, for a time, greeted with this: Reddit recovered, though, and was able to ...

Apollo 11's astronauts received an $8 per diem for the mission to the moon

August 28, 2012 The astronauts of Apollo 11: Intrepid explorers. Inspirational heroes. Government employees. When it came to payment for the moonwalkers' work, it turns out, the last of these trumped the other ones. In his book Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth, Andrew Smith detailed the expense policies ...

Curiosity takes its first drive, leaving Morse code on Mars

August 23, 2012 FROM NEXTGOV arrow When the creators of Curiosity built the rover that would explore Mars, they gave its wheels special treads. The marks left by Curiosity's tires as they tool through the dust of the Martian soil won't just serve as visual odometry markers, allowing Curiosity's engineers to determine the rover's orientation and ...