Tag Archives | Outer Space

Images Which Will Be Found By Aliens Billions Of Years From Now

More on MIT artist in residence Trevor Paglen’s previously discussed Last Pictures project, which involves sending a satellite into permanent “graveyard orbit” whose cargo is a “nano-etched silicon disc” which will not deteriorate for billions of years. The disc will contain a hundred images to be seen by beings of the distant future, offering a window into the existence of humanity and planet Earth. Via Wired, the images selected for immortality are rather macabre, including:

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NASA Building A Prototype Deep-Space Habitat In Texas

Living in the deep reaches of outer space, in Texas. Via Popular Science:

It’s not going to send anyone to deep space. But it does give us a tantalizing look at what it’ll look when NASA does take the next steps in space travel.

Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center and experts Johnson Space Center in Houston are tinkering with the spaceship mockup, deciding the right size, necessary equipment, and everything else that’s going to make a mission to Mars, a near-by asteroid, or the second Earth-Moon Lagrangian point (277,000 miles away from Earth) as pleasant as possible.

The team’s also planning what [devices] will be sent along and built in. One is a 3-D printer, which would allow astronauts to create any tools they need right on the spot. There’s also greenhouse for astronauts to grow their own and food, and a barrier of water on the outside that could be used to shield explorers from cosmic rays.

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Scientists To Put Genome-Sequencers On Mars To Find Alien DNA

The hunt for extraterrestrial DNA is on, Technology Review writes:

Two high-profile entrepreneurs say they want to put a DNA sequencing machine on the surface of Mars in a bid to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life.

In what could become a race for the first extraterrestrial genome, researcher J. Craig Venter said Tuesday that his Maryland academic institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics, would develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from the planet. Separately, Jonathan Rothberg, founder of Ion Torrent, a DNA sequencing company, is collaborating on an effort to equip his company’s “Personal Genome Machine” for a similar task.

Venter said researchers working with him have already begun tests at a Mars-like site in the Mojave Desert. Their goal, he said, is to demonstrate a machine capable of autonomously isolating microbes from soil, sequencing their DNA, and then transmitting the information to a remote computer.

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Space Satellites As Humanity’s Final Monuments

The spacecraft EchoStar XVI will beam trillions of images into the darkness and then enter an eternal "graveyard orbit". Artist in residence at MIT Trevor Paglen on satellites as the new pyramids:
Currently, more than 800 spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit form a man-made ring of satellites around Earth. The dead spacecraft in orbit have become a permanent fixture around Earth, not unlike the rings of Saturn. They will be the longest-lasting artifacts of human civilization, quietly floating through space long after every trace of humanity has disappeared from the planet’s surface. Presented by public art organization Creative Time, The Last Pictures is a project to acknowledge these spacecraft as the monuments of our historical era. They are our Pyramids, our Stonehenge, and our Nazca lines.
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World’s First Space Tourism Port Nears Completion In New Mexico

Is sending rich people into space the future of our economy, or a disaster in the making? The $200 billion Spaceport in the New Mexican desert is ready to open its doors, although the first voyage from Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been pushed back for another year at least. The Herald-Sun writes:

New Mexico Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson says it will be New Mexico’s Sydney Opera House. Virgin Galactic Chairman Richard Branson has hinted it will host the first of his new brand of lifestyle hotels. And the eclectic hot springs town of Truth or Consequences has been anxiously awaiting all the economic development the $200 billion project is supposed to bring to this largely rural part of southern New Mexico.

Currently, the Spaceport can count on two rocket companies that send vertical payloads into space and Virgin Galactic, the Branson space tourism venture that says it has signed up more than 500 wealthy adventurers for $US200,000 ($192,000)-per-person spaceflights.

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The Catalog Of Habitable Outer Space Planets

Curious about where to go next? The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog is a project to grade and rank the planets outside of our solar system which offer the most livable conditions, were humanity to ponder a move.

At right is a rendering of sunrise on one of the planets in the Gliese 581 planetary system, a top contender. As of now, there are 6 confirmed potentially habitable planets, 27 unconfirmed potentially habitable planets, and 30 predicted potentially habitable moons:

The exoplanets Gliese 581 d, HD 85512 b, Kepler-22 b, Gliese 667C c, Gliese 581 g, and now Gliese 163 c are the only current six planets that are considered potentially habitable or object of interest for the search of extraterrestrial life (image above). The image shows these objects approximately to scale and compared with Earth and Mars. They also are ranked with the Earth Similarity Index, or ESI (number below the names).

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Ultra-Rare Quasicrystals Came To Earth From Space

A strange crystal with a molecular structure that should be impossible can be found only on a remote Russian mountain where a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite housing it fell to Earth. In short, if you are a rich eccentric looking for a rare substance to hoard, this is it. Via New Scientist:

Evidence is mounting that the only known natural form of a bizarre type of crystal known as a quasicrystal originated in space.

Like standard crystals, the atoms of a quasicrystal are ordered, but their arrangement lacks translational symmetry: a shifted copy won’t ever quite match its original. Such a pattern on the atomic scale was long thought impossible, until the Nobel-prizewinning work of Daniel Shechtman of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, who was the first to spot an example in an alloy.

Since then, the strange arrangement has also been discovered in a rock dug up in the Koryak mountains in eastern Russia in 1979, which is now part of the collection of the Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy.

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Scientist: Life on Mars Could be Our Cousins

Picture: NASA (PD)

Via CNN:
Life on Mars? Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss says that not only is it possible, it’s very likely. Further, the scientist says that if those lifeforms do exist, they could very well be our cousins. Krauss theorizes that Earth could have been struck by a Martian meteorite, spreading life in a process called “panspermia”. Check out the video from CNN below:

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Alien Life May Resemble Giant Jellyfish

A compelling if fantastical vision of soft pod creatures floating on gas currents through the soupy atmospheres of exoplanets. Via India Today:

Aliens may not actually resemble the little green creatures Hollywood loves to portray them as. Rather, they are more likely to look like ‘giant jellyfish’, if a leading British space scientist is to be believed.

“My vision of aliens is an inhuman, silicon-based life form that looks much more like a jellyfish… It is likely that there is extra-terrestrial life – it is just more alien than you’d imagine,” Maggie Aderin-Pocock, satellite expert and government adviser in UK, said.

“But while they might resemble jellyfish, they will live not in the sea but in the atmosphere of a Jupiter-like planet, where they float around,” Aderin-Pocock said. Rather than surviving on carbon, which is the basis of all life, the “silicon generated” creatures are able to live off light absorbed through their ‘skin’ and chemicals sucked in through their giant mouths.

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Moon Communion And Religion In Space

One might assume that conquering space would undermine belief in God, but faithful fervor seems, if anything, to strengthen in space, albeit in mutated forms. Via the Atlantic:

Before the launch this weekend of three human beings into the ether of space around the Earth, before they boarded their Soyuz spacecraft, and before the rockets were fired, precautions were taken. Not the humdrum checklists and redundancies of space exploration — assessing the weather, the equipment, the math — but a preparation with a more mystical dimension: the blessing, by a Russian Orthodox priest, of the spacecraft, as it sat on the launchpad on the Kazakh steppe.

The discordance is obvious: Here we are, on the brink of a new expedition to space, a frontier of human exploration and research that is the capstone of our scientific achievement. “The idea of traveling to other celestial bodies reflects to the highest degree the independence and agility of the human mind.

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