Tag Archives | Space

We Have to Clean Up Outer Space Now in Order to Safely Launch New Spacecraft

Space JunkVia the BBC:

Scientists in the US have warned NASA that the amount of so-called space junk orbiting Earth is at tipping point. A report by the National Research Council says the debris could cause fatal leaks in spaceships or destroy valuable satellites.

It calls for international regulations to limit the junk and more research into the possible use of launching large magnetic nets or giant umbrellas. The debris includes clouds of minuscule fragments, old boosters and satellites.

Some computer models show the amount of orbital rubbish “has reached a tipping point, with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris, raising the risk of spacecraft failures,” the research council said in a statement on Thursday.

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The Apollo 18 Moon Conspiracy

apollo 18It’s probably just hype around the release of the “documentary” Apollo 18 that just opened in theaters across America, but Space.com is reporting on a purported conspiracy about the astronauts finding signs of alien life and that being the reason we never again sent humans to the moon:

Apologies to anyone whose bubble will burst, but “Apollo 18,” the film opening Friday (Sept. 2), is fictional.

The film, purporting to be produced from footage kept secret by NASA and leaked to the media, chronicles a NASA mission to the moon that went awry when astronauts encountered signs of alien life there.

Whether because the studio actually believes anyone will be fooled or simply because it makes for a fun marketing angle, the Weinstein Co., which produced the picture, is calling it a “documentary.”

“Decades-old found footage from NASA’s abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the U.S.

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DARPA Wants To Send Humans To The Stars

Mitra (Alpha Centauri)Is this a good way to spend the money we’re borrowing from Chinese investors in U.S. Government debt? The New York Times‘ Dennis Overbye reports on DARPA’s bold step:

Alpha Centauri or bust.

The government agency that helped invent the Internet now wants to do the same for travel to the stars.

In what is perhaps the ultimate startup opportunity, Darpa, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, plans to award some lucky, ambitious and star-struck organization roughly $500,000 in seed money to begin studying what it would take — organizationally, technically, sociologically and ethically — to send humans to another star, a challenge of such magnitude that the study alone could take a hundred years.

The awarding of that grant, on Nov. 11 — 11/11/11 — is planned as the culmination of a yearlong Darpa-NASA effort called the 100-Year Starship Study, which started quietly last winter and will include a three-day public symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Sept.

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Russian Firm Reveals Plan To Build Hotel In Space

768px-Earth_&_Mir_(STS-71)Looking for a real getaway? It sounds more sci-fi than real, but outer space may be a future vacation spot. Daily Mail reports:

Russia yesterday announced plans for a hotel in orbit 217 miles up which would house seven guests in four cabins and have huge windows for views of the Earth turning below.

Just getting there will be an adventure in itself – it will take two days aboard a Soyuz rocket – and it won’t exactly be a budget holiday: A five day stay will cost you £100,000, on top of £500,000 for your journey.

The hotel, or the Commercial Space  Station to give it its proper name, is due to open by 2016 and, according to those behind it, will be ‘far more comfortable’ than the International Space Station used by astronauts and cosmonauts.

In the weightlessness of space, visitors can choose to have beds that are either vertical or horizontal, while showers will be sealed affairs to stop water going where it shouldn’t (those aboard the International Space Station must make do with sponge baths until they return home).

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SETI Is Back!

300px-SETI@home_Multi-Beam_screensaverGood news for those hoping to find aliens, reported by Deborah Netburn for the LA Times:

Citizens of the world: You are awesome. This week the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute announced that it had raised more than $200,000 from a crowd-sourced fundraising effort that launched this spring. The money, which came from just over 2,000 people who want to keep the search for alien life alive, will help the institute put its Allen Telescope Array back online.

“We are so grateful to our donors,” said Tom Pierson, who co-founded the SETI Institute with Jill Tarter (the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in “Contact”). “We believe we will be back on the air in September.”

On the Setistars website, where the call for donations was originally placed, large red type proclaims: “Thank You for Your Support to Resume the Search!”

The Allen Telescope Array, or ATA, is a series of 42 linked radio-telescope dishes funded by a $30-million gift from Microsoft Corp.

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Black Hole Hosts Universe’s Most Massive Water Cloud

Photo: NASA

Photo: NASA

A giant quasar billions of light-years away is surrounded by water vapor that could fill Earth’s oceans over 140 trillion times. Via National Geographic:

In a galaxy 12 billion light-years away resides the most distant and most massive cloud of water yet seen in the universe, astronomers say.

Weighing in at 40 billion times the mass of Earth, the giant cloud of mist swaddles a type of actively feeding supermassive black hole known as a quasar.

Among the brightest and most energetic objects in the universe, quasars are black holes at the centers of galaxies that are gravitationally consuming surrounding disks of material while burping back out powerful energy jets.

“As this disk of material is consumed by the central black hole, it releases energy in the form of x-ray and infrared radiation, which in turn can heat the surrounding material, resulting in the observed water vapor,” said study co-author Eric Murphy, an astronomer with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California.

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The Space Colony That Should Have Been

space-colony-2000As we close the book on the final U.S. space shuttle mission ever, it’s heartbreaking to watch NASA videos from the groovy 1970s, a time of incredible optimism regarding the final frontier in the aftermath of humankind’s first walk on the moon. Preliminary plans and concepts were being outlined for self-sustaining space colonies where people could live and work. A space station called Taurus would be home to 10,000 people, with dairy farms, manufacturing, vegetation, solar power stations… and then somewhere along the way we became sidetracked.

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Asteroid Travels Close To Earth Today

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sometimes asteroids come very close to home, about every six years. The latest asteroid to come closer to Earth than our own satellites appears today. Via Space.com:

An asteroid the size of a tour bus will fly past Earth today (June 27) so closely it will be beneath some of the planet’s satellites.

The rock, named asteroid 2011 MD will zoom by just 7,500 miles (12,000 km) above the planet, making a sharp turn forced by Earth’s gravity before winging off into space again. The flyby will occur at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

There is no risk of an impact, NASA scientists said. The space rock, estimated to be between 29 to 98 feet (9 to 30 meters) wide, is likely too small to survive a plunge through our atmosphere anyway. An asteroid this size, if it were mostly stony, would break apart and burn up before hitting the surface.

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Canadian Meteorite Has All the Building Blocks for Life

MeteorInteresting article from Tim Barribeau on io9.com:

The argument that life on Earth may have been seeded from the stars just received a major boost, as scientists have found the building blocks of life inside a meteorite that landed in British Columbia in 2000.

The Tagish Lake meteorite landed in January of that year, a streaking fireball that burst into more than 500 fragments which rained down on the lake. In its trip from the outer reaches of the asteroid belt it burned down from 56 tonnes to 1.3, and deep inside the fragments there are the basic building blocks of life, including the amino acids, sugars and hydrocarbons that could have jump started life on our planet.

This meteorite is the only uncontaminated example we’ve ever found, thanks to the quick actions of the people who spotted it. What the researchers have found is that the organic compounds in the rock date back to the early days of the solar system, or possible predate it.

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