Tag Archives | Space Exploration

James Cameron & Google’s Eric Schmidt Plan To Mine Space

RCW 86Space: The final frontier. Hollywood and Silicon Valley superheroes Cameron and Schmidt plan to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before… Emma Rowley reports for the Telegraph:

Power players including Eric Schmidt, the Google chairman, and James Cameron, the film director, are planning to mine the final frontier: space.

They are among the backers of a new venture that will reach for the riches lying elsewhere in the solar system. Planetary Resources will be a “space exploration company to expand Earth’s resource base” according to scant information released ahead of the start-up’s launch in Seattle on Tuesday.

“The company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP,” was the bold claim. “This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.”

Mr Schmidt and the internet giant’s co-founder Larry Page are listed alongside Mr Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar, among the venture’s investors and advisers.

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Mars Viking Robots ‘Found Life’

Viking LanderReports Irene Klotz on Discovery News:
New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week. Further, NASA doesn't need a human expedition to Mars to nail down the claim, neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told Discovery News. "The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move," Miller said. "On the basis of what we've done so far, I'd say I'm 99 percent sure there's life there," he added. Miller's confidence stems in part from a new study that re-analyzed results from a life-detection experiment conducted by NASA's Viking Mars robots in 1976.
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Interview With A Man Who Went To Mars

1971japanspaceencyclopedia08Or so he claims—there’s no proof of veracity, but a gripping read nonetheless. Morgan Kochel’s conversation with a A Man Who Went to Mars:

Training lasted twelve months, very intense, including psychiatric tests. It took us about 230 days to get there, and slightly less back. We used rocket technology regularly available now. Just bigger tanks and more thrust. Nothing unusual in equipment to get there, but better radiation protection, as you can imagine, due to journey time.

We landed near Ares Vallis. Our employers got some data about the Sojourner landing, and this was the place they wanted to explore. We took the same type of collecting devices used by geologists, which is why this had to be a manned mission, as no robot could do this. There were plenty of minerals that we analyzed on the way home: metals, particularly gold(?), and some other substance that was a form of composite like carbon fiber, but already in a usable form.

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A Universe Without Purpose

Disc CloudLawrence M. Krauss writes in the LA Times:

The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world was designed so that we could flourish.

The position of the Earth around the sun, the presence of organic materials and water and a warm climate — all make life on our planet possible. Yet, with perhaps 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy alone, with ubiquitous water, carbon and hydrogen, it isn’t surprising that these conditions would arise somewhere. And as to the diversity of life on Earth — as Darwin described more than 150 years ago and experiments ever since have validated — natural selection in evolving life forms can establish both diversity and order without any governing plan.

As a cosmologist, a scientist who studies the origin and evolution of the universe, I am painfully aware that our illusions nonetheless reflect a deep human need to assume that the existence of the Earth, of life and of the universe and the laws that govern it require something more profound.

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Exploding H-Bombs In Space: Operation Starfish Prime

Starfish PrimeIt was hypothesized at the time, the radiation might provide a defensive shield above the U.S. against Soviet nukes, but aside from the light show, it ended up frying many of our satellites. The radiation took 10 years to dissipate, which made study of our natural radiation belts, the Van Allen belts, problematic during that period. Wikipedia has a good article explaining the test and NPR has a good article and video about it from a few years ago:
Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will:
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Outer Space Is Closer Than You Think

1971japanspaceencyclopedia03 Sometimes strange and wondrous things are closer than we realize. For instance, did you know that space is only an hour's drive away, if you somehow drove your car straight upwards? Perhaps someday you will. Via kottke.org:
Space always seems so far away and much of it actually is. But space is actually quite close to where we are all sitting right now. The Kármán line, the commonly accepted boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, is only 62 miles above sea level. A distance of 62 miles can covered by a car on the interstate in less than an hour. Stable Earth orbits are achievable at only 100 miles above the Earth, with the ISS and Space Shuttles usually orbiting at a height of ~200 miles.
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NASA Astronauts’ Brain Scans Reveal Serious Deformities

DeMonchaux30Space travel changes you, and not in a good way. If this is the effect of only a couple weeks, it definitely puts a damper on the idea of attempting a ten-year voyage to another galaxy. The Irish Times reports:

Brain scans of Nasa astronauts who have returned to Earth after more than a month in space have revealed potentially serious abnormalities that could jeopardise long-term space missions.

Doctors examined 27 astronauts who had flown long-duration missions and found a pattern of deformities in their eyeballs, optic nerves and pituitary glands that remain unexplained.

Astronauts who had flown on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station reported changes to eyesight, with some seeing worse and others better. Brain scans revealed that seven of the 27 astronauts had a flattening of the back of one or both eyes.

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Oxygen Discovered Around Saturn’s Icy Moon Dione

DionePallab Ghosh reports on BBC News:
A NASA spacecraft has detected oxygen around one of Saturn's icy moons, Dione. The discovery supports a theory that suggests all of the moons near Saturn and Jupiter might have oxygen around them. Researchers say that their finding increases the likelihood of finding the ingredients for life on one of the moons orbiting gas giants. The study has been published in Geophysical Research Letters. According to co-author Andrew Coates of University College London, Dione has no liquid water and so does not have the conditions to support life. But it is possible that other moons of Jupiter and Saturn do ...
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