Posts Tagged ‘Space’

Posted: December 4, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Sir Richard Branson wants his tourist spaceship also to become a high-altitude science platform. The billionaire’s rocket plane will carry six fare-paying passengers just above the atmosphere to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. But the vehicle has been designed so that its seats can be removed easily and the space filled with science gear. Passenger flights should begin in 18 months or so; research sorties could start soon after. The US space agency (Nasa) has already chartered the rocket plane. “It’s likely we might do some science flights quite early in the programme,” explained Will Pomerantz from Virgin Galactic. “Nasa is certainly eager to get their flights conducted; the ones they have already purchased. “It may also give us some additional time to show off the reliability and the operations of the vehicle, which would give our tourism customers even more confidence. “I think that if they see a Nasa flight has gone up and gone well, that will make them feel better about their purchase,” he told BBC News. (via BBC News – Virgin spaceship aims to be science lab)


After two decades of satellite observations, an international team of experts brought together by ESA and NASA has produced the most accurate assessment of ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland to date. This study finds that the combined rate of ice sheet melting…

FUTUREJAM: Melting ice – the proof. Sea levels rise by 20%.

Posted: December 2, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Shipping stuff to space is expensive. It’s a significant barrier to any form of manned space exploration, let alone colonization. 3-D printing has been suggested as a way to save on weight — if you need a wrench, you print it out, rather than carrying a wrench. But even 3-D printing requires carrying raw materials. At least, it did. Amit Bandyopadhyay and his collaborators published recently in the Rapid Prototyping Journal an experiment in which they used a high-powered laser to liquefy and 3-D print moon rocks. Well, not moon rocks exactly. NASA sent the team a bunch of fine, black powder that was compositionally similar to what you’d find on the moon, and asked if they could 3-D print it. “We had a system,” says Bandyopadhyay, a professor at Washington State University’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “Before doing this we did some work with ceramic powders. That was published, and quite successful, so I guess that was the reason we got the call.” Extraterrestrial bodies often contain iron, aluminum, titanium, and other materials that can be extracted from the crust — Planetary Resources, Inc. has even proposed mining an asteroid — but it would be a lot easier and cheaper to use the crust itself as the raw material. That’s a tough proposition because the material often contains a lot of silicon and oxides, and those are hard to melt uniformly. (via Moon-Based 3-D Printers Could Create Tools From Lunar Dust | Wired Design |


NASA reports that a community of bacteria has been uncovered from some 65ft below the icy surface of Lake Vida, the largest of several unique lakes found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Why is this so exciting? Lake Vida contains no oxygen, is mostly frozen and possesses the…

FUTUREJAM: Why deep hidden bacteria may lead to alien life discovery

Posted: November 28, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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Between the times of Aristarchus and Huygens, humans answered the question that had so excited me as a boy growing up in Brooklyn: What are stars? The answer is that the stars are mighty suns, light-years away in the vastness of interstellar space.

Carl Sagan – Cosmos (via ikenbot)

Elon Musk doesn’t just want to send a person to Mars — he wants to send 80,000. According to, the billionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX spilled details about his hopes for a future Mars colony during a talk at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Nov. 16. Earlier this year, SpaceX became the first private U.S. company to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. Musk has never been shy about his ambitions to take human colonists to another planet, mentioning in the past that he wants to provide flights to Mars for about $500,000 a person. But now he’s talking about building a small-city-sized settlement on the Red Planet, starting with a 10-person crew in the coming decades to begin establishing and building infrastructure. That first flight would be expensive and risky but “once there are regular Mars flights, you can get the cost down to half a million dollars for someone to move to Mars,” Musk told ”Then I think there are enough people who would buy that to have it be a reasonable business case.” Musk added that he sees the future 80,000-person colony as a public-private enterprise costing roughly $36 billion. Science-fiction inspired plans are one thing. Musk still has many challenges ahead of him before such a scheme could become reality, including figuring out exactly how to deal with radiation on the way to Mars, how to land humans on the planet’s surface, and how to keep them alive once there. Wired Magazine Editor Chris Anderson interviewed Musk in the November issue, where he outlines a few ways that could help us get there:

Elon Musk Wants to Build 80,000-Person Mars Colony | Wired Science |

Posted: November 27, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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The discovery of microbes thriving in the salty, sub-zero conditions of an Antarctic lake could raise the prospects for life on the Solar System’s icy moons. Researchers found a diverse community of bugs living in the lake’s dark environment, at temperatures of -13C. Furthermore, they say the lake’s life forms have been sealed off from the outside world for some 2,800 years. Details of the work have been outlined in the journal PNAS. (via BBC News – Antarctic lake’s clue to alien life)