Tag Archives | Space Exploration

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.”

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“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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Meet the people who have volunteered to die on Mars


Walker Lamond via BoingBoing:

Thousands of people are competing to be the first humans to travel to Mars and colonize it. The only catch–they can never come back. Ever.

Mars One, an interplanetary travel nonprofit, will soon select the next round of wannabe astronauts from the nearly 700 current finalists. While making a short movie about the competition for The Guardian, we at Stateless Media had a chance to speak to a few people vying for one of the coveted seats on a Mars One Spaceship. I learned the following: they are all really smart, incredibly brave, and a little bit crazy.

Actually, they’re a lot of bit crazy. And that’s a good thing. Because it takes a certain kind of person to choose to live the rest of their lives stranded on a desert planet with no breathable air, no Netflix, no Snapchat, no Game of Thrones, no General Tso’s Chicken, and no long, romantic walks on the beach.

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The Moon Cannot Be Stolen: The FAA is regulating business on the moon

Via Reuters:

(Reuters) – The United States government has taken a new, though preliminary, step to encourage commercial development of the moon.

According to documents obtained by Reuters, U.S. companies can stake claims to lunar territory through an existing licensing process for space launches.

The Federal Aviation Administration, in a previously undisclosed late-December letter to Bigelow Aerospace, said the agency intends to “leverage the FAA’s existing launch licensing authority to encourage private sector investments in space systems by ensuring that commercial activities can be conducted on a non-interference basis.”

In other words, experts said, Bigelow could set up one of its proposed inflatable habitats on the moon, and expect to have exclusive rights to that territory – as well as related areas that might be tapped for mining, exploration and other activities.

However, the FAA letter noted a concern flagged by the U.S.

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Google’s ‘Back To The Moon For Good’

For those of you who don’t believe that man ever set foot on the moon (i.e. the moon missions were a hoax), this may not be too compelling, but for those interested in Google’s space plans, this Tim Allen-narrated mini-documentary from Google is some great eye candy:

Here’s the official description:

Watch our cool movie about going back to the Moon. In case you haven’t heard, the Moon is trending again… and in a big way. Narrated by Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear), this is a complete behind-the-scenes feature on the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the largest incentivized prize in history. Adapted from the award-winning digital planetarium show, the 24-minute movie chronicles 18 teams from around the world looking to make history by landing a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the Moon. This global competition is designed to spark imagination and inspire a renewed commitment to space exploration, not by governments or countries – but by the citizens of the world.

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