Henceforth I spread confident wings to space I fear no barrier of crystal or of glass; I cleave the heavens and soar to the infinite. And while I rise from my own globe to others And penetrate even further through the eternal field. That which others saw from afar, I leave far behind me. Giordano Bruno "On the infinite Universe and Worlds" 1584

Space Manufacturing Conference

Via Space Studies Institute:

Space Manufacturing 14: Critical Technologies for Space Settlement will be held at NASA Ames Conference Center in Mountain View, CA, October 30 and 31, 2010.
Thirty five years ago, NASA Ames Research Center was the site of the first large technical study of space settlement. We have made significant progress since then, but with the prospect of low cost space transportation in the near future, now is the time to reinvigorate research and collaboration on the critical path technologies needed for space industrialization and settlement. The 14th Space Studies Institute conference on Space Manufacturing continues in the spirit of the Princeton Conferences initiated by Prof. Gerard K O’Neill in 1974.
The Space Manufacturing and Space Settlement Conferences have always given SSI great value. This conference is the only one solely concerned with the science and engineering of humanity’s expansion into the solar system. Its most important function is to bring together the engineers, entrepreneurs and researchers who do the real work. New space companies and new institutions have formed from collaborations forged at earlier conferences. We hope that this and future annual SSI conferences will be as fruitful.

Aan bod komen o.a.de volgende onderwerpen:

  • Session 1: Space Transportation Architecture
  • Session 2: Closed Environment Life Support Systems
  • Session 3: Robotics and Space Manufacturing
  • Session 4: Extraterrestrial Prospecting
  • Session 5: Engineering Materials from Non-Terrestrial Resources
  • Session 6: Space Solar Power and Space Energy Systems
  • Session 7: International, Legal and Economic Considerations

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Don't Forget Deimos

Via Marsdaily
by Morris Jones
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Sep 13, 2010

Next year, Russia plans to launch a mission to Phobos, the largest moon of Mars. This spacecraft, called Phobos-Grunt, will be the first spacecraft to land on this moon, and also the first mission to return samples of Phobos to Earth.

Phobos is an interesting object, and it's been studied a lot by orbiting spacecraft. The moon is in a fairly low orbit around Mars, which makes it easy to see from spacecraft placed in orbit around Mars. Earlier this year, the Mars Express orbiter got close enough to feel its gravitational tug, allowing us to explore the mass and density of this world without even landing.

This upcoming mission to Phobos is the culmination of decades of close study of this strange, irregular moon, which could be a captured asteroid or an aggregation of rock that formed in Martian orbit.

But Phobos has a twin. It's the small moon of Deimos, which lurks in a much higher orbit. Deimos has also been photographed regularly, but it's still relatively unknown.

Let's size up the two moons for comparison. Phobos is roughly 28 kilometres long and 23 kilometres wide, extremely small for a planetary moon. Deimos comes in at 16 by 12 kilometres.

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Mars cave opening found by 7th graders

Via CNet News:

Summer vacations for a class of California seventh graders might pale in comparison to the class trip they recently took to Mars.
At least that's what astronomers might say after the class' discovery of an opening into a cave on the Red Planet.

"The students developed a research project focused on finding the most common locations of lava tubes on Mars," said their teacher, Dennis Mitchell. "Do they occur most often near the summit of a volcano, on its flanks, or the plains surrounding it?"
To answer that question, the students examined more than 200 images of Mars taken with the Thermal Emission Imaging System (Themis), an instrument on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Using that camera, the students focused on the area around the planet's Pavonis Mons volcano. The only other similar opening near the volcano was found in 2007, when Glen Cushing, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, published a research paper on the surface anomalies.

Meer water op de Maan dan aanvankelijk gedacht

Nominally hydrous magmatism on the Moon

For the past 40 years, the Moon has been described as nearly devoid of indigenous water; however, evidence for water both on the lunar surface and within the lunar interior have recently emerged, calling into question this long-standing lunar dogma. In the present study, hydroxyl (as well as fluoride and chloride) was analyzed by secondary ion mass spectrometry in apatite [Ca5(PO4)3(F,Cl,OH)] from three different lunar samples in order to obtain quantitative constraints on the abundance of water in the lunar interior. This work confirms that hundreds to thousands of ppm water (of the structural form hydroxyl) is present in apatite from the Moon.

En dat terwijl Robert Zubrin in "Entering Space" beweerde dat er zo weinig water op de maan is, dat je bereid zou zijn het water uit beton terug te winnen om daar een kpje thee te zetten.
Het volledige artikel is gratis van de PNAS (=Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA) website te downloaden!

Andere links:

UK Space Agency Funds International Mars Rover

The UK Space Agency is announcing Pounds 10.5M for the development of instruments to search for signs of past or present life on Mars. The instruments are part of the scientific payload on the ExoMars rover to be launched in 2018 as part of a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and US space agency NASA. ExoMars is a flagship project in the UK Space Agency's science and exploration programme.
A two-step programme, the adventure begins in 2016 when NASA will launch an ESA-led orbiter to try to understand the origin and distribution of trace gases in the atmosphere of the Red Planet. In particular, it aims to explain why methane - a gas which scientists know should be destroyed in the atmosphere within a few hundred years - seems to be continuously forming at certain places on the planet.

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NASA - Hayabusa Asteroid Mission Comes Home


The Hayabusa capsule and bus entered the Earth's atmosphere over Woomera, Australia, on June 13 at 11:21 p.m. local time. From the perspective of NASA's DC-8 airborne observation team, the capsule moved below and slightly ahead of the bus and stayed clear of the spectacular breakup of the bus. After the bus had disintegrated, the capsule continued to create a wake, before reaching peak heating and then fading gradually. That's when the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) expects the sample return capsule of the agency's technology demonstrator spacecraft, Hayabusa, to boomerang back to Earth. The capsule, along with its mother ship, visited a near-Earth asteroid, Itokawa, five years ago and has logged about 2 billion kilometers (1.25 billion miles) since its launch in May 2003. With the return of the Hayabusa capsule, JAXA concluded a remarkable mission of exploration -- one in which NASA scientists and engineers played a contributing role.

The Case for Mars

"The Case for Mars" is een geweldig boek van Robert Zubrin, waarin hij uitlegt hoe haalbaar het is om naar Mars te gaan - "The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must".
Helaas: het zit er voorlopig nog niet in, terwijl het boek al in 1996 uitkwam", en Zubrin de inhoud daarvoor al menigmaal tijdens lezingen gepromoot had.
Nu zijn Zubrin's vurige toespraken op muziek gezet, met behulp van een autotune, door John Boswell, AKA "Symphony of Science". En met beelden natuurlijk.
Eerder maakte Boswell indruk met zijn "Glorious Dawn", waarin we Carl Sagan horen zingen. Sagan komt ook in deze "Mars"-clip voor, maar dat is niet de enige overeenkomst: de musicus in mij is wat teleurgesteld omdat het in alle opzichten een beetje meer van hetzelfde is. Maar vooruit: als de toegankelijke muziek helpt de Mars-gedachte weer verder uit te dragen, mag het van mij.

Japan gaat Maanbasis bouwen bemand door robots.

Via: CNet news:

Just as the Obama administration ditches NASA plans to return to the moon, a group in Japan is vowing to send humanoid robots there by 2015. Call it a giant leap for droidkind.
The Space Oriented Higashiosaka Leading Association (SOHLA), a satellite-manufacturing consortium in the Osaka area, has vowed to put bipedal humanoid bots on the moon in the next five years, according to a Jiji Press report. SOHLA is now developing a prototype astro-bot called "Maido-kun" that it hopes will follow in the steps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (minus the "Dancing with the Stars" part).

Weighing about 660 pounds, the droids will roll on treads and operate within a 60-mile radius of the base. They'll be equipped with solar panels, seismographs to investigate the moon's inner structure, high-def cameras, and arms to gather rock samples, which will be returned to Earth via rocket. (source: jaxa/cnet) Line in the sand: Japan's SOHLA group seems to want to send robots to the moon to record astronomical observations--and draw pretty pictures.
(Credit: SOHLA)

The robot will be smaller than a person and, if it makes it onto the moon, may do things like record astronomical observations and take geological surveys (and maybe do a bit of robot moonwalking).

Wat vooral verbaast is de voortvarendheid en het bedrag waarvoor de Japanners het gaan doen - $ 2,2 miljard - en hoe spijtig het toch opnieuw is dat de US het zo laten afweten.
Op Slashdot staat een aardige inzending van iemand over geldverspilling van andere landen voor zaken die belangrijker gevonden worden dan ruimtekolonisatie:

For comparison, here are some expenditures from groups that "can't afford" to go to the moon:
* Canada will spend half that amount [www.cbc.ca] on a meeting of 20 world leaders next month.
* South Africa will spend that much and half again [blogspot.com] on a soccer tournament.
* ThyssenKrupp will spend four times that amount [reuters.com] on a steel mill.
It's such a small amount of money, I can't even believe it's true.

The 40-year mystery of the Martian ice cap solved

Op Yahoo News.

PARIS (AFP) – Astronomers on Wednesday said they could explain a nearly four-decade-old enigma surrounding rugged troughs and a chasm in the northern ice cap of Mars that could comfortably house the Grand Canyon.
The Red Planet's northern cap measures around 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) across, with layers of ice and dust stacked up to three kms (two miles) deep.
It also has two remarkable features that have bedevilled scientists ever since they were exposed in detail by US probes almost 40 years ago.
One is the Chasma Boreale, a depression 500 kilometers (310 miles) long, up to 100 kms (60 miles) wide and two kms (1.2 miles) deep.
Many experts have surmised that the Chasma Boreale was created by volcanic action that melted the bottom of the ice sheet, triggering a flood that gouged out this mighty gash in Mars' surface.
Another mystery is a spiral of troughs that radiate out through the polar cap, rather like a pinwheel.
Its strange symmetry caused some experts to wonder whether the troughs were formed by a centrifugal force caused by the spinning of the planet.
The Chasma Boreale, far from being born in a catastrophic event, occurred through an aeons-long process, the scientists believe.
Wind eroded a gap in a base layer of soft sand and ice, rather like a river on Earth cuts its way through a valley, relentlessly exploiting the softest rock.
Further deposits of ice and dust then accumulated on either side of the gap, creating the slopes of the canyon.
As for the spiral troughs, the distinctive swirl was created by the Coriolis force, a well-known phenomenon on Earth in which winds are deflected by the planet's spin.

Zie ook:

Japanese craft to deliver space rock to outback

Via The Age - Technology.

A JAPANESE spacecraft will land in Australia in June, bringing with it samples from an asteroid found 300 million kilometres from Earth.

The unmanned Hayabusa spacecraft, launched in May 2003, will become the first spacecraft to bring asteroid material to Earth when it lands in Woomera, South Australia, later this year.
''This is the first sample of a solid solar system body brought back since the moon missions some 40 years ago,'' said Jonathan Nally, editor of spaceinfo.com.au. ''It's a tremendous achievement by the Japanese.''

Het is zeker, gezien de vele tegenslagen die dit project heeft gehad, een prestatie van JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), maar of er ook daadwerkelijk samples van de asteroïde meekomen, dat is toch nog maar de vraag: de Hayabusa is immers waarschijnlijk niet op Itokawa geland.

On November 19 (2003), Hayabusa landed on the asteroid. There was considerable confusion during and after the maneuver about precisely what had happened, because the high-gain antenna of the probe could not be used during final phase of touch-down, as well as the blackout during handover of ground station antenna from DSN to Usuda station. It was initially reported that Hayabusa had stopped at approximately 10 meters from the surface, hovering for 30 minutes for unknown reasons. Ground control sent a command to abort and ascend, and by the time the communication was regained, the probe had moved 100 km away from the asteroid. The probe had entered into a safe mode, slowly spinning to stabilize altitude.[29] [30] However, after regaining control and communication with the probe, the data from the landing attempt were downloaded and analyzed, and on November 23, JAXA announced that the probe had indeed landed on the asteroid surface. [31] Unfortunately, the sampling sequence was not triggered since a sensor detected an obstacle during descent; the probe tried to abort the landing, but since its attitude was not appropriate for ascent, it chose instead a safe descent mode. This mode did not permit a sample to be taken, but there is a high probability that some dust may have whirled up into the sampling horn when it touched the asteroid, so the sample canister currently attached to the sampling horn was sealed. (Via Wikipedia)

De terugkeer wordt verwacht op 13 juni 2010 en dan zullen we weten of er wat asteroïde-stof is opgepakt.

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