Tag Archives | Space Travel

Star Trek Warp Drive Could Really Enable Interstellar Travel

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(C) Mark Rademaker

Continuing the theme of Star Trek tech becoming a reality, NASA scientist Dr. Harold White has designed a model, the ISX Enterprise, using a space-time bending Alcubierre drive, which is not dissimilar to Gene Roddenberry’s legendary warp drive, reports the Daily Mail:

Last month, Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan unveiled his next science-fiction blockbuster.

Called Interstellar, it envisages a future where travel to other stars is not only a possibility but a necessity, and tasks actor Matthew McConaughey with leading the main mission.

But a Nasa scientist claims such a mission isn’t necessarily just something reserved for science fiction – and has revealed a Star Trek-style ship that could make interstellar travel a reality.

Dr Harold White is famous for suggesting that faster than light (FTL) travel is possible.

Using something known as an Alcubierre drive, named after a Mexican theoretical physicist of the same name, Dr White said it is possible to ‘bend’ space-time, and cover large distances almost instantly.

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Best Way To Colonize Planets? Send Our DNA And Print New Humans When It Gets There

PIC: Webridge (CC)

PIC: Webridge (CC)

Sounds far fetched, but we’ve been delivering DNA and “printing” new humans on this planet for a long while. Oh, and to our new future alien friends: I’d return to sender if I were you. This particular batch of Sea Monkeys can get out of hand pretty quickly

Assuming human deep space travel turns out to be not just incredibly dangerous, but perhaps “crazy idiotic” and “laughable,” as Harvard biologist Gary Ruvkun put it, the tenacious dream of an interstellar civilization forces some out-of-the box thinking. What if, instead of rocketing humans to other planets, we made an exact copy on site?

Adam Steltzner, the lead engineer on the NASA JPL’s Curiosity rover mission, believes that to send humans to distant planets, we may need to do one of two things: look for ways to game space-time—traveling through wormholes and whatnot—or rethink the fundamental idea of “ourselves.”

“Our best bet for space exploration could be printing humans, organically, on another planet,” said Steltzner on stage at Smithsonian Magazine’s Future Is Now conference in Washington, DC this month.

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Space Travel Can Cause Alzheimer’s, Study Warns

A hidden danger of attempting to establish a colony on another planet — many of the pioneering colonizers could be feeble-minded or demented upon arrival. Via Space Daily:

Long journeys into deep space, including a mission to Mars, could expose astronauts to levels of cosmic radiation harmful to the brain and accelerate Alzheimer’s disease, said US research Monday.

The NASA-funded study involved bombarding mice with radiation doses comparable to what voyagers would experience during a mission to Mars, and seeing how the animals managed to recall objects or locations.

Mice that were exposed to radiation were far more likely to fail those tasks — suggesting neurological impairment earlier than such symptoms typically appear. The brains of the mice also showed signs of vascular alterations and a greater than normal accumulation of beta amyloid, the protein “plaque” that is one of the hallmarks of the disease.

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First ‘Alien Earth’ Likely To Be Spotted In 2013, Scientists Say

Finally, we’ll have a spot for humanity to open a second franchise? Live Science writes:

The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe. “I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” said Abel Mendez, who runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

Astronomers discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star in 1995. Since they, they’ve spotted more than 800 worlds beyond our own solar system, and many more candidates await confirmation by follow-up observations. A number of exoplanets found over the last few years share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — but they have yet to bag a bona fide “alien Earth.”

NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope, for example, has flagged more than 2,300 potential planets since its March 2009 launch.

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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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GOD IN SPAAAAAACE! Does Religion Have a Place Among the Stars?

Picture: Ezekiel's Wheel, Artist Unknown (PD)

Via LiveScience:

If and when mankind develops the capacity for interstellar voyage, should religion com along for the ride? A group of religious leaders recently tackled the topic at a symposium in Texas, and opinions were more varied than you might think.

Some argued against it, including a California-based Southern Baptist minister (who has apparently never met his Deep South brethren):

“The only way humanity can survive is if they leave behind the Earth-based religions,” charged Rev. Alvin Carpenter, pastor at First Southern Baptist Church West Sacramento. “If there’s any way to make this fail, bring Earth-bound religions.”

Religions, he argued, breed aggression and conflict, citing the violent history of his own faith, Christianity, in episodes such as the Inquisition and the Crusades. Many religions’ negative stance on homosexuality has driven young gay people to commit suicide, he said.

“When you bring a religion on a starship, you bring the toxicity that we have seen on Earth,” Carpenter argued.

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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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Private U.S. Company Plans ‘Space Elevator’ to the Moon

Picture: Pat Rawling, NASA (PD)

With the recent passing of Neil Armstrong forty-three years after (supposedly) stepping foot on the moon; coupled with NASA’s successful venture to Mars by the Curiosity Rover, the question of why we haven’t begun to colonize our closest celestial neighbor has been raised. A simple, cost effective method of transporting people and equipment to the lunar surface, away from the Earth’s gravity would lead to untold possibilities in research and further space exploration.

One company, the U.S. based LiftPort Group is seeking to create such a method. They have created a Kickstarter account in an attempt to crowd-source a tether which would reach 55,000km above the moon’s surface. Of course, any vehicle would first have to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and rendezvous with the tether, but it would certainly make lunar travel a far less expensive and troublesome process. From LiftPort Group’s official website:

Once the Lunar Elevator is fully functioning, astronauts and equipment will be able to soft-land cargo on the Lunar surface.

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Did Germany Launch A Manned Rocket Into Space In 1933?

medium2Could there be any truth to tales of early space travel success in 1930s Germany? Just imagine how different the World War II outcome could have been had it involved Astro-Nazis. Via io9:

On October 29, 1933, the London Sunday Referee published a report from Rugen, an island in the Baltic Sea, just off the coast of Germany. Someone named Otto Fischer had flown inside a 24-foot steel rocket, to an altitude of six miles. Were the Germans really testing out a rocket that could carry people, nearly three decades before Yuri Gagarin?

Reports said that Otto was the brother of the rocket’s designer, Bruno Fischer. The flight had been made in total secrecy because of a fatal attempt at a launch the previous year, combined with the fact that the flight had been made under the auspices of the Reichswehr, the German War Ministry.

“It was a tremendous sensation,” Fischer reported.

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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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