Archive for the ‘Space Exploration’ Category

Road Trip: Kepler 452b

Friday, July 24th, 2015

NASA’s timed announcement yesterday got quite the bump from social media. It’s only one of 1,030 exoplanets, so let’s not get too excited.

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.

“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”

It’s also worth noting this planet is 1,400 light years away. Pluto, for comparison, is 4 light hours away. That’s why it took 4+ hours to send commands to the New Horizons spacecraft. So if we send a signal to Kepler 452b, it would take 1,400 years to get there.

To get to Kepler 452b at the same rate it took New Horizons to get to Pluto (10 years), it would take us approximately 30 million years. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The only way we could make this kind of trip is to be able to “fold space” or change dimensions. Heim Quantum Theory may help us get there by changing dimensions. Fascinating.

11+ Years of Mars Roving in 8 Minutes

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Brilliant time-lapse video covering NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover’s 26-mile trip over the last 11 years.

Taco Tuesday in Space!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Putting together a taco on the ISS is not a simple matter. With mackerel, leek cream, dried tomatoes and quinoa salad? Interesting.

Big Bang Monday: Huge Plasma Tubes

Monday, June 1st, 2015

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Sir Arthur Clarke

What Sir Arthur said many years ago is certainly true today. So many wonderful ideas come from younger generations of scientists, marketers, writers, etc., that we sometimes forget to open our minds to new ideas and ways of thinking. This was certainly the case in Australia.

As an undergraduate student in astrophysics at Sydney University, Cleo Loi came up with an idea for using radio telescopes to “see” something noone has ever been able to visualize.

Via Fairfax Media’s WA Today

A Sydney University student has for the first time used radio telescopes like a giant pair of electronic eyes to locate huge plasma tubes in the atmosphere that interfere with astronomy observations and which could affect some civilian and military navigation systems.

Scientists have long thought that the interaction of the earth’s magnetic field with energy from the sun would create huge tubes of plasma. But they have never been able to directly observe them over large scales or determine their shape. Until now.

While still an undergraduate, Cleo Loi, 23, used the Murchison Wide Field Array in the Western Australia desert in a way that no other radio telescope has been used before.

The wide field array consists of 128 antenna “tiles” over a seven-square-kilometre area. Ms Loi divided the array’s tiles into two halves using the western half like a right eye and the eastern half like a left eye. Similar to the way humans use sight, she used triangulation to build a three-dimensional dynamic map of the plasma tubes over a large area.

Ms Loi, who graduated in March, had to overcome the initial scepticism of senior colleagues who thought her observations were too good to be true.

Her undergraduate supervisor, Dr Tara Murphy, said: “It is to Cleo’s great credit that she not only discovered this but also convinced the rest of the scientific community. As an undergraduate student with no prior background in this, that is an impressive achievement.

“When they first saw the data, many of her senior collaborators thought the results were literally ‘too good to be true’ and that the observation process had somehow corrupted the findings. But over the next few months, Cleo managed to convince them that they were both real and scientifically interesting.”

The tubes are in the earth’s upper atmosphere, known as the ionosphere, which largely consists of ionised oxygen. The ionosphere is so called because photons from the sun dislodge electrons from otherwise neutral atoms in this layer of the atmosphere, creating a soup or plasma of electronically charged particles. This plasma interacts with the earth’s magnetic field, creating field-aligned ducts of the plasma.

The free electrons also interfere with astronomers’ observations and can potentially affect satellite navigation systems.

Putin: “I Fucking Hate Science”

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Chalk up another loss for space/launch insurance underwriters. A Proton/Briz M launch’s 3rd stage failed and lost MexSat-1 (a.k.a. Centenario) — a huge Boeing 702 intended for mobile and fixed services (L- and Ku-band).

What happened? Anatoly Zak gives the best, most-qualified explanation. Probably fuel line problems.

Add this to a Soyuz launch anomaly earlier this month and you would think this may be a pattern. Is it technical or is it systemic? Probably both.

One could argue there’s a lack of enthusiasm and a brain-drain of top Ukrainian engineering talent in the Russian space business. Or it could be the return of the “old Soviet work ethic,” where nobody really cares. People get promoted to positions of authority without really being qualified, just so they can be “controlled” by others at the Kremlin. That’s what I think is happening.

It goes back more than 10 years, around the time Putin started going after complete control of Russia. In 2006, Mario Lemme’s Space Transport Inc. was created to take control of International Launch Services, the joint venture created to market Proton and Atlas launches. Since then, the market for commercial launches has changed (thank you, SpaceX), but the prices for launch services has gone up. But the technical success helps further development of non-commercial and space-exploration systems. With the world still dependent on getting humans to/from the ISS using the Soyuz launcher, we’re in a spot of trouble.

Meanwhile, how are we to substitute our supply source for RD-180 engines? We need to make this a priority. Rather, the big boys in the U.S. are more concerned about corporate headcount (read about the “mothers day massacre”).

Science likes to explain things with facts. Political views tend to use some facts. But outright liars and social manipulators such as Putin and his fellow KGB remnants don’t get along with any facts they don’t like. They just want control. Control of people, money and probably access to space from Russian territory (hence the pressure to build Vostochny).

Succeeding in space will further popularize Putin in Russia and that’s what he’s after. Fuck science: Russia’s space industry is failing due to “moral issues,” according to Rogozin.

Big Bang Monday: DNS Pulsar

Monday, May 4th, 2015

DNS in this case stands for “double neutron star” and a pulsar in the widest known orbit around another neutron star was discovered by two high school students.

In the summer of 2012, during a Pulsar Search Collaboratory workshop, two high-school students discovered J1930−1852, a pulsar in a double neutron star (DNS) system. Most DNS systems are characterized by short orbital periods, rapid spin periods and eccentric orbits. However, J1930−1852 has the longest spin period (Pspin∼185 ms) and orbital period (Pb∼45 days) yet measured among known, recycled pulsars in DNS systems, implying a shorter than average and/or inefficient recycling period before its companion went supernova. We measure the relativistic advance of periastron for J1930−1852, ω˙=0.00078(4) deg/yr, which implies a total mass (Mtot=2.59(4) M⊙) consistent with other DNS systems. The 2σ constraints on Mtot place limits on the pulsar and companion masses (mp1.30 M⊙ respectively). J1930−1852’s spin and orbital parameters challenge current DNS population models and make J1930−1852 an important system for further investigation.

A P–P˙ diagram showing all pulsars in DNS systems (stars/squares) and all other known pulsars (dots). Measured P and P˙ come from the ATNF Pulsar Catalog (Hobbs et al. 2004) and lines of characteristic age and surface magnetic field are shown with dot-dash and dashed lines, respectively. Recycled DNS pulsars (stars) appear between the normal and millisecond pulsar populations and are listed in Table 2. Despite its significantly longer spin period, J1930−1852 clearly belongs in the population of recycled DNS pulsars, unlike J1906+0746 and J0737−3039B (squares) – neither of which have undergone recycling.

With so many astronomers engaged in this type of work, it’s inspirational to find younger ones with no inhibitions and lots of hope continues to reap the rewards of discovery.




A Message to Space

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

This is absolutely brilliant.

An astronaut’s daughter sends her father a message — physically, in writing — while he’s orbiting in the ISS.

It’s emotional, social and very cool. Good marketing on Hyundai’s part, too.

Hyundai made a little girl’s wish come true for the whole world to see.
A team of eleven Genesis cars united to create “the largest tire track image” on the Delamar Dry Lake in the Nevada desert, United States. (Image size : 5.55 sq. km.) This extraordinary message has made it to the Guinness World Records® 2015.

I hope they sell a bunch of cars to rocket scientists!

Orion EFT-1 Launch

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Russian Lie of the Week: We Build Base on Moon

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

You will go and plant Russian flag. Rename it “Mootin.”

With all the sanctions in place against major industries in Putin’s Russian Empire, it’s become increasingly difficult to sell $65 million Proton launches. Add that to illusion of “Russian quality” in manufacturing, and you’ve got a direct route to failure.

So what’s psycho dickhead’s master plan for his space industry? Plan a manned mission to the Moon! Via ITAR-TASS, the drunk derelicts who can’t get a decent translator for their site…

Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) plans to begin full-scale exploration of the Moon in late 2020s-early 2030s, Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko said on Tuesday.

“At the end of the next decade, we plan to complete tests of a super-heavy-class carries rocket and begin full-scale exploration of the Moon,” he said at a government meeting chaired by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. “By that time, based on the results of lunar surface exploration by unmanned space probes, we will designate most promising places for lunar expeditions and lunar bases,” Ostapenko added.

Let’s hope it’s not another Foton-M 1 launch. That was “bloody hell.”

It’s probably a reaction to plug holes in the Russian brain bucket, which is leaking journalists and middle-class professionals. Pussy Riot confirmed this while visiting Harvard.

Aurora Space Vine

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Nice vine from Reid Wiseman. Here’s the full version…