Tag Archives | Space Exploration

The Land Grab In Space

The US has space experts worried about an extra-terrestrial land grab, reports Quartz (and lest you should think that’s a joke, first check out leading property sales firm Knight Frank’s Asteroid Index):

asteroid index

Plans to make money in space are missing one of the fundamental ingredients to any business: property rights.

If you go mine an asteroid, as several companies plan to do, and bring some minerals back to earth, can you sell them? If you build a moonbase, as entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is contemplating, and someone else wants to land a rocket there, what’s to stop them?

Asteroid miners eager to raise funds to raid space rocks—some of which are packed with minerals valued in the trillions of dollars—are faced with a legal code that was never meant to apply to private enterprise in space, since it was written well before it took anything less than the resources of a national government to get to orbit.

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This Is The International Flag Of Planet Earth

earth flag

Now that we’re planning missions to colonize other planets, Earth needs a flag, don’t you think? Oskar Pernefeldt, a student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, has come up with this design for an International Flag of Planet Earth and it seems like it’s catching on if the positive media reaction is anything to go by. His website explains his rationale for the flag’s design:

THE DESIGN

The scientific study of flags is called vexillology, and the practice of designing flags is called vexillography. Both of these are an outcome of heraldry. In these practices there are different unofficial design rules/costums, about colors, placement, proportions, typography, and aestethics in general.

This proposal is accurate according to the regulations regarding flags.

SYMBOLIC EXPLANATION

Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. 

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Space Ventures Will Spawn First Trillionaire

One can almost imagine TV scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson saying “Go into space, young man” as a latter day Horace Greeley. NBC News reports on his prediction that space pioneers will be the first trillionaires:

A passion for exploration is the fuel to an innovative economy, says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

In an interview with CNBC’s On the Money, the host of the new National Geographic Channel show StarTalk — based on Tyson’s podcast and Sirius XM radio show of the same name — described the dynamic implications of scientific discovery.

“You have to innovate,” said Tyson, arguably the most famous astrophysicist in America. When “an engineer comes out with a new patent to take you to a place — intellectually, physically … that has never been reached before, those become the engines of tomorrow’s economy.”

When it comes to space innovation, many of the headlines about exploration beyond Earth have been generated by private enterprises like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, tech giant Google and even Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

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Space travel may be bad for your brain – here’s why

I really hope this is the right flag. NASA/flickr, CC BY

I really hope this is the right flag. NASA/flickr, CC BY

Magdalena Ietswaart, University of Stirling and Paul Dudchenko, University of Stirling

There is bad news for those planning to go to Mars in the near future: a study in mice has suggested that radiation in space could cause cognitive decline in astronauts. However, we know from past research that mental, social and physical exercise can boost cognitive functions. With planned Mars missions moving ever closer, it might be be worth exploring activity as a way to counter radiation damage.

There are many hurdles to overcome to get to Mars. The obvious one, of course, is the amount of time it takes – about eight months. But for those brave enough to attempt such a journey, this may well be acceptable. What could be harder to accept, however, are the harmful galactic cosmic rays you’d be subjected to, produced by supernovae far away from Earth.… Read the rest

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Hubble Space Telescope: 25 Years Exploring the Cosmos

Hubble captured this mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks. Photo by NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Hubble captured this mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks. Photo by NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Jasmine Wright and Margaret Myers Via PBS.org:

Hubble’s contributions to space exploration are countless. Its images, explains Hubble Space Telescope Senior Project Scientist Jennifer Wiseman, have shown the first definitive detection of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. They also have provided measurement of the expansion rate of the universe, and detection (along with ground-based telescopes) of acceleration in that expansion, caused by mysterious “dark energy” that appears to be pushing the universe apart.

“Hubble will go down in history as having changed the textbooks by totally revolutionizing humanity’s view of the universe, and our place in it,” Wiseman says.

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NASA’s Chief Scientist Certain We’ll Find Alien Life in 10-20 Years

The cynic in me says NASA has probably already found evidence of alien life but it will take 10 to 20 years to persuade the US Government to let them reveal it… Popular Science reports on the surprisingly forthright statement from Ellen Stofan, NASA’s Chief Scientist:

NASA is certain: We’re not alone in this universe.

Speaking at a public panel on Tuesday in Washington D.C., NASA scientists discussed the likelihood of finding organic life in our solar system. Given the surprising number of oceans residing throughout our celestial home, they say “it’s definitely not an if, it’s a when.”

640px-Messier51_sRGB

“I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years,” Ellen Stofan, NASA’s Chief Scientist, said at the panel.

Of course, the space agency isn’t talking about deadly xenomorphs or intelligent beings that can take on the personas of hot teenagers.

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Apparently, Mars One is All a Big Scam

Not Mars, just a rusty car door.

Not Mars, just a rusty car door.

Joseph Roche is an astrophysicist who applied for Mars One on a lark. His experience suggests that the organization is all about making bank on the hype it generates, rather than an earnest attempt to explore space. This from a piece by Elmo Keep at Medium:

As Roche observed the process from an insider’s perspective, his concerns increased. Chief among them: that some leading contenders for the mission had bought their way into that position, and are being encouraged to “donate” any appearance fees back to Mars One — which seemed to him very strange for an outfit that needs billions of dollars to complete its objective.

“When you join the ‘Mars One Community,’ which happens automatically if you applied as a candidate, they start giving you points,” Roche explained to me in an email. “You get points for getting through each round of the selection process (but just an arbitrary number of points, not anything to do with ranking), and then the only way to get more points is to buy merchandise from Mars One or to donate money to them.”

“Community members” can redeem points by purchasing merchandise like T-shirts, hoodies, and posters, as well as through gifts and donations: The group also solicits larger investment from its supporters.… Read the rest

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NASA Wants To Give The Moon A Moon

Why on earth would NASA want to give the Moon its own moon? Wired reports:

It sounds almost like a late ’90s sci-fi flick: NASA sends a spacecraft to an asteroid, plucks a boulder off its surface with a robotic claw, and brings it back in orbit around the moon. Then, brave astronaut heroes go and study the space rock up close—and bring samples back to Earth.

Except it’s not a movie: That’s the real-life idea for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which NASA announced today. Other than simply being an awesome space version of the claw arcade game (you know you really wanted that stuffed Pikachu), the mission will let NASA test technology and practice techniques needed for going to Mars.

The mission, which will cost up to $1.25 billion, is slated to launch in December 2020. It will take about two years to reach the asteroid (the most likely candidate is a quarter-mile-wide rock called 2008 EV5).

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Mars One Announces The 100 Candidates To Fly To And Die On Mars

Bas Lansdorp.jpg

Bas Lansdorp by Joe Arrigo (CC)

Most of you will have read about Mars One, the project to colonize Mars. The last 100 people from whom the astronauts will be drawn have just been announced:

From the initial 202,586 applicants, only 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process. These candidates are one step closer to becoming the first humans on Mars.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

The Mars 100 Round Three candidates were selected from a pool of 660 candidates after participating in personal online interviews with Norbert Kraft, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. During the interviews the candidates had a chance to show their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit and their motivation to be part of this life changing expedition. 

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Stephen Hawking warns that attempting to contact aliens could invite disaster

josef.stuefer (CC BY 2.0)

josef.stuefer (CC BY 2.0)

via Cambridge News:

Professor Stephen Hawking has warned that trying to make contact with aliens by calling out to the cosmos could invite disaster.

It comes as a scientist, leading plans to seek out ET, believes that one way he could convince advanced aliens that we’re an intelligent species by teaching them the rules of cricket.

But, if his critics are right, there is a chance that who or whatever picks up the signals will want to take us on – or even invade Lords.

Members of Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) are preparing for the next step in actively calling out to aliens – instead of just listening.

What is known as Active Seti will be under serious discussion this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, California.

Seti spokesman Dr Seth Shostak outlined methods being explored of conducting Active Seti within the next two years – including the possibility of nurturing an alien interest in cricket and rock music.

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