Showing posts from December, 2016

The Next Frontier: Space Miners Are the Universe's Future Tycoons

The next gold rush will be intergalactic.
In 2009, a collection of astronauts, academics, and aerospace industrialists convened to review NASA's present and future plans for manned space flight. Informally dubbed the "Augustine Commission," the more-stuffily named Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee determined that our ultimate goal ought to be nothing less than "to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system."

Considering that Earth's resources are finite and that the well of human desire knows no bottom, a continued future for our species will likely require robust manned spaceflight to leave the planet. But it remains incredibly expensive and logistically complex to see humans break the planet's escape velocity, let alone with any regularity. The ostensibly modern spacecraft of today carry all their fuel with them from the start — a lot of that fuel is required simply to transport other fuel. It's comically incon…

China expects major breakthroughs in space science: white paper

China plans to achieve major discoveries and breakthroughs in the frontier areas of space science, according to a white paper released on Tuesday.
Targeting major frontier areas of space science and technology, China will implement a series of new space science satellite programs in the next five years to further mankind's knowledge of the universe, said the white paper.
Scientists will seek evidence of the existence of dark matter by using dark matter particle exploration satellites to detect high-energy electrons and high-energy gamma rays in the universe.
China also plans to launch a hard X-ray modulation telescope to study the matter dynamics and high-energy radiation processes in the strong gravitational field of compact celestial bodies and black holes.
Scientists will research large-scale structure and interaction models of solar wind and the magnetosphere, and the response to magnetospheric substorm change process.
Shijian-10 recoverable satellite, Chang'e lunar probe…

China claims successful EmDrive testing in space

EMDrive electromagnetic drive is used in a spacecraft as an engine EMDrive works with electromagnetic radiation. The people’s Republic of China has tested the space tech in labs, and its proved successful, as reported by Dr. Chen Yue, the Director of China Academy of Space Technology on December 10, 2016.

The traditional engines expel mass to move, but the EMDrive uses electricity to produce movement. It was first built by Roger Shawyer and was a microwave cavity that has a shortened cone that has an end bigger than the second. Electromagnetic energy enters the narrow end with the microwaves that hit the cavity walls and produce electromagnetic resonance.

EMDrive has a low impulse, and because of lack of friction and gravity in deep space, it would cause EMDrive to work at high speed. Engine performance depends on cavity material as well as temperature that impacts the electromagnetic field. This shows that the EMDrive would be relatively successful in the future because they’re buil…

A New Approach to Detecting Earth-Like Worlds

Researchers from Yale University have developed a new approach to detect distant planets and refine the search for worlds similar to Earth.

The new approach, outlined in a study published December 20 in The Astronomical Journal, relies on mathematical methods that have their foundations in physics research. Rather than trying to filter out the signal “noise” from stars around which exoplanets are orbiting, Yale scientists studied all of the signal information together to understand the intricacies within its structure.

“It requires nothing but the data itself, which is a game changer,” said senior author John Wettlaufer, the A.M. Bateman Professor of Geophysics, Mathematics and Physics at Yale. “Moreover, it allows us to compare our findings with other, traditional approaches and improve whatever modeling assumptions they use.”

The search for exoplanets — planets found outside our own solar system — has increased dramatically in recent years. The effort is motivated, in part, by a des…

Holidays in Space: An Astronaut Photo Album



It's a piece of space tech that sounds almost too good to be true. The "reactionless" Electromagnetic Drive, or EmDrive for short, is an engine propelled solely by electromagnetic radiation confined in a microwave cavity. Such an engine would violate the law of conservation of momentum by generating mechanical action without exchanging matter. But since 2010, both the United States and China have been pouring serious resources into these seemingly impossible engines. And now China claims its made a key breakthrough.

Dr. Chen Yue, Director of Commercial Satellite Technology for the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) announced on December 10, 2016 that not only has China successfully tested EmDrives technology in its laboratories, but that a proof-of-concept is currently undergoing zero-g testing in orbit (according to the International Business Times, this test is taking place on the Tiangong 2 space station).

Unlike traditional engines (such as combustion and ion …

Real Science Inspires Voyage to the Stars in 'Passengers'

The new space flick "Passengers" takes place in a far-off, science-fiction future, but modern-day science is laying the groundwork to turn some of those fictional elements into reality.

At a panel discussion Sony Pictures held earlier this month, two real-world scientists talked about two key scientific elements that were portrayed in the film: the search for Earth-like planets around other stars, and placing humans into temporary stasis (a state that's like hibernation) for trips through space.

The scientists were joined by "Passengers" screenwriter John Spaights, who talked about some of the real science that inspired the movie.

The story of "Passengers" revolves around a spaceship full of more than 5,000 people who are placed in a state of hibernation for the duration of a 120-year-long journey to a distant planet. When two of the passengers wake up 90 years too early, they have to find a way to accept their fate.
John Bradford is an aerospace eng…

Apollo 8 - Book Of Genesis Reading (December 24, 1968)


John Grunsfeld has a plan that uses Red Dragon to return Mars rocks to Earth

Former astronaut suggests Mars sample return more palatable than asteroid retrieval.
NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission has always been a bit of an ugly duckling. It was not out of love that the space agency came up with the plan to scoop a small boulder off the surface of an asteroid and bring it back to a location near the Moon. Rather, after President Obama’s call to have humans visit an asteroid in the mid-2020s, this was the only way NASA could afford to meet such a mandate.

Since the mission’s formulation, Congress has generally dismissed sending astronauts to fly formation with a small boulder around the Moon as a stunt. Many planetary scientists, too, have never really embraced the plan, uncertain of its value when NASA already was flying a robotic sample return mission to an asteroid, OSIRIS-REx.

The aerospace community generally believes the Trump administration will sweep aside the asteroid mission in the coming months. Further confirmation of this came in late November from…

Senate unanimously passes NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016

On September 16, 2016, United States Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL.), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced S. 3346, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Transition Authorization Act of 2016. The legislation sought to provided stability for NASA to sustain and build upon existing national space investments designed to advance space exploration with an overall authorization level of $19.508 billion for fiscal year 2017.

On December, 10, 2016, the United States Senate passed the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 unanimously. The NASA Transition Authorization Act would reaffirm existing policy regarding use of the International Space Station (ISS) and would require NASA to develop a transition plan that would enable greater participation in the ISS and would require NASA to develop propulsion technologies intended to reduce travel time to Mars, as well as develop a strategic framework for hu…

Earth-like Planet Discovered 12 Light-Years Away

A recent discovery might have located a nearby solar system with up to five planets, one of them could be in just the right distance from its star to hold liquid water which is considered essential to life as we now them.
Another day, another planet discovered outside our solar system. This time the discovery happened on one of Earth’s closest neighbors – Tau Ceti – located only 12 light-years from our sun. A group of astronomers from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom lead by Astronomer Mikko Tuomi, analyzed more than 6000 observations of Tau Ceti conducted in the past using telescopes in Chile, Australia, and Hawaii and concluded that Tau Ceti exemplifies

Despite locating over 850 planets around distant stars since the mid 1990’s (when the first Extrasolar planet orbiting 51 Pegasi was discovered), the task of discovering small – Earth-like planets around distant stars is still extremely challenging. Unlike stars, planets do not emit light and when watched from a…

John Glenn, American hero, aviation icon and former U.S. senator, dies at 95

His legend is other-worldly and now, at age 95, that’s where John Glenn has gone.

An authentic hero and genuine American icon, Glenn died this afternoon surrounded by family at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus after a remarkably healthy life spent almost from the cradle with Annie, his beloved wife of 73 years, who survives.

He, along with fellow aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright and moon-walker Neil Armstrong, truly made Ohio first in flight.

“John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio’s ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve," said Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich. "As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.

"Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots. Godspeed, John Glenn!" K…

How will we get to Alpha Centauri? Researchers work on an antimatter drive

Project Blue’s scientists still have to raise more than $800,000 over the next 15 days to reach their initial crowdfunding goal for a mission to observe Alpha Centauri’s alien planets, but they’re already thinking about how future explorers could get there.

It would take tens of thousands of years to make the 4.37-light-year trip using the best rocket propulsion that’s available today.

But a video created by Speculative Films, with input from Project Blue as well as Positron Dynamics, focuses on how antimatter propulsion could reduce that travel time to 40 years.

Antimatter drives have been a science-fiction standby since the original “Star Trek” TV series. They’ve also been the subject of real-world research. Almost two decades ago, researchers were talking with NASA about an antimatter-driven sail that could send a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in the 40-year time frame.

Positron Dynamics’ concept calls for cooling down a stream of positrons — the antimatter equivalent of electrons …

Let's Colonize Titan

Saturn's largest moon might be the only place beyond Earth where humans could live
The idea of a human colony on Titan, a moon of Saturn, might sound crazy. Its temperature hovers at nearly 300° below zero Fahrenheit, and its skies rain methane and ethane that flow into hydrocarbon seas. Nevertheless, Titan could be the only place in the solar system where it makes sense to build a permanent, self-sufficient human settlement.

We reached this conclusion after looking at the planets in a new way: ecologically. We considered the habitat that human beings need and searched for those conditions in our celestial neighborhood.

Our colonization scenario, based on science, technology, politics and culture, presents a thought experiment for anyone who wants to think about the species’ distant future.

We expect human nature to stay the same. Human beings of the future will have the same drives and needs we have now. Practically speaking, their home must have abundant energy, livable tempera…