Tag Archives | Space

Google’s Elevator To Space

Google's Driverless Car. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

Google's Driverless Car. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

I kid you not, some of the geniuses at Google are working on an elevator to space, as reported by Clare Cain Miller and Nick Bilton for the New York Times:

In a top-secret lab in an undisclosed Bay Area location where robots run free, the future is being imagined.

It’s a place where your refrigerator could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low. Your dinner plate could post to a social network what you’re eating. Your robot could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas. And you could, perhaps, take an elevator to outer space.

These are just a few of the dreams being chased at Google X, the clandestine lab where Google is tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas. In interviews, a dozen people discussed the list; some work at the lab or elsewhere at Google, and some have been briefed on the project.

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In 1883, Did Earth Narrowly Miss Comet That Would Have Destroyed All Life?

Schwassmann-Wachmann 3“If they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.”

The biggest event which never happened and no one knows about? Offering a novel reinterpretation of some forgotten historical data, several Mexican researchers say a billion-ton comet may have passed a few hundred miles from Earth in 1883. Via Technology Review:

On 12th and 13th August 1883, an astronomer at a small observatory in Zacatecas in Mexico made an extraordinary observation. José Bonilla counted some 450 objects, each surrounded by a kind of mist, passing across the face of the Sun.

Bonilla published his account of this event in a French journal called L’Astronomie in 1886. Today, Hector Manterola at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and a couple of pals, think that Bonilla must have been seeing fragments of a comet that had recently broken up.

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Around The World In One Minute Space Video

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line), a satellite (55sec) and the stars of our galaxy.
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You Have A 1-in-3,200 Chance of Being Hit By A Falling Climate-Change Study Satellite This Month

UARSAnd I thought all this space junk would just crash into itself up there. If you are struck, you can blame global warming! Andrew Hough writes in the Telegraph:

The $750 million (£468 million) Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) satellite, launched 20 years ago to study climate change, is set to breach the atmosphere within weeks.

In a new alert issued this week, officials warned pieces could land in densely populated areas on six continents including parts of Britain, Europe, North and South America and Asia.

Nasa claimed the risk to public safety from the “dead” satellite — which is orbiting just over 155 miles above the earth with an inclination of 57 degrees — was “extremely small”.

But senior space agency officials admitted they were “concerned” about the risk to billions of people when it starts falling uncontrolled out of orbit at any stage from later this month.

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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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