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Thread: What's NASA Up To And Other Space Stuff

  1. #451
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    Another Tabby's star like mystery uncovered. HD139139, some 300 light years away showed 28 light dips over an 87 day period - the weird bit is that these transit were totally random, i.e they are unlikely to have been planets.
    Perhaps a fleet of dreadnoughts assaulting the local rebel base.
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  2. #452
    Any thoughts on Trump's Artemis program to build the Lunar Gateway space station and return astronauts to the Lunar surface by 2024? (I mean, aside from no fucking way is it ever going to happen...). For me, I'd like to see a Lunar orbital station and a surface base, but I have almost zero confidence Artemis is getting done. Probably the next boot on the Moon will be Chinese, or a private company.

    How about Artemis, the follow-up book by Andy Weir, author of The Martian? I've never read The Martian, but I thought Artemis was meh, at best. Yes, he's good with sticking to realism, but that's about it. Characters are uninteresting and the story not very.
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  3. #453
    The Apollo 11 50th anniversary google doodle is great.
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  4. #454
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    The Apollo 11 50th anniversary google doodle is great.
    Today I learned that a guy in my neighborhood I've known for a good 7 years or so was part of the team that was working on guidance & navigation for the Apollo program - he worked on gyroscope based guidance systems for the spacecraft. That was pretty awesome, and my daughter was super impressed.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  5. #455
    The Mars 2020 rover will be equipped with a helicopter drone. That's pretty cool. Judging from the rover wheel size, see picture in linked article, that's a pretty big vehicle. Maybe it's the same size as the current, given, iirc, the current was more or less at the size limit for landers with uncontrolled descent (if you regard the 'sky crane' as uncontrolled...).

    https://www.space.com/mars-helicopte...020-rover.html
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  6. #456
    Is this the barest, most tentative, yet tangible, beginnings of actual for-profit, orbital manufacturing? Interesting stuff, anyway. I like the 3D printers on the ends of robotic arms, under development. Coooooool.



    Made In Space to Step Up Off-Earth Production of Valuable Optical Fiber
    A slightly bigger ZBLAN-manufacturing machine will be going up to the space station soon.

    Off-Earth production of the valuable optical fiber ZBLAN will soon reach Phase 2, if all goes according to plan.

    California-based company Made In Space has already produced ZBLAN in orbit on four separate occasions, using a microwave-size machine that traveled to and from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX Dragon cargo capsules.

    The results of these early tests were promising, Made In Space representatives said, so the company intends to ratchet things up.

    "We're going to launch a slightly larger facility to the space station in about the next year or so to produce more material, both for additional study and for potential sale," Andrew Rush, Made In Space president and CEO, said late last month during a media event at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, which featured a visit by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. (Made In Space has facilities on the Ames campus.)

    "We have some good potential customers lined up already," Rush added.

    One of Made In Space's main goals is to help establish a robust off-Earth economy, which, in turn, could enable humanity to extend its footprint out into the solar system. The company views ZBLAN production as an important early step in that direction.

    The material has the potential to be markedly superior to traditional silica-based optical fiber, but it's difficult to make on Earth because our planet's strong gravity induces imperfections in the ZBLAN crystal lattice, Made In Space representatives have said.

    And ZBLAN is both lightweight and valuable, selling for about $100 per meter, Rush said. So it could be a good gateway product, demonstrating the commercial viability of off-Earth manufacturing and allowing Made In Space to turn a tidy profit at the same time.

    But the company isn't putting all of its eggs in the ZBLAN basket. Made In Space has also launched two 3D printers to the ISS, one of which, the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), is available for commercial use.

    And another machine should be going up soon, before the second-generation ZBLAN facility launches: Made In Space aims to loft its Plastic Recycler to the ISS sometime this fall, Rush said. The Recycler will process waste plastic into feedstock filaments the AMF can use, demonstrating technology that could increase the efficiency and sustainability of exploration missions.

    Then there's Archinaut, Made In Space's spacecraft-assembly technology. The system consists of a 3D printer and robotic manipulator arms, which together could repair and augment existing satellites as well as build entirely new structures on orbit.

    NASA recently awarded Made In Space $73.7 million to give Archinaut its first orbital test. The Archinaut One demonstration mission will launch aboard a Rocket Lab Electron booster as early as 2022.

    NASA thinks the return on that investment could end up being huge.

    "If we can actually manufacture in space rather than manufacturing on Earth and launching everything, it can be an absolute game-changer that enables us as an agency to optimize what we're trying to achieve," Bridenstine said.

    "We think about larger antennas, or larger [space telescope] apertures or the ability to print things in three dimensions in space and then robotically assemble those things — that has capabilities that are going to be absolutely game-changing for NASA but also really for our other partners in the U.S. government and commercial industry at the same time," he added.

    https://www.space.com/made-in-space-...e-factory.html
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  7. #457
    Cool glimpse of what we may be capable of, even if the discovery is being hyped way too much:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49648746
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  8. #458
    Once you look past the article's sensational title, the research is interesting. Venus takes about a year to rotate, iirc, so it would have been an interesting place if it had a temperate climate. I'm curious what the "global resurfacing event" was 700 million years ago. Probably interstellar warfare with the Martians is most likely. Mars didn't get, uh, resurfaced, but it nevertheless got sterilized too. Let it be a lesson to the rest of us.

    https://www.space.com/planet-venus-c...rted-life.html
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  9. #459
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    Cool!

    BBC also has a pretty interesting documentary series going about the planets.
    Keep on keepin' the beat alive!

  10. #460
    On the one hand, it's irresponsible to say NASA found life on Mars with that Viking experiment. On the other hand, lacking any evidence that it didn't, other than lack of confirmation in other experiments, there's a solid argument that they ought to run the damn thing again, with improvements. On the surface, seems odd that they never did.

    That said, I have mixed feelings about what a positive result would mean.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/15/us/na...cli/index.html


    We may have already discovered the essence of life on Mars 40 years ago, according to a former NASA scientist.


    Gilbert V. Levin, who was principal investigator on a NASA experiment that sent Viking landers to Mars in 1976, published an article in the Scientific American journal last Thursday, arguing the experiment's positive results were proof of life on the red planet.

    The experiment, called Labeled Release (LR), was designed to test Martian soil for organic matter. "It seemed we had answered that ultimate question," Levin wrote in the article.

    In the experiment, the Viking probes placed nutrients in Mars soil samples -- if life were present, it would consume the food and leave gaseous traces of its metabolism, which radioactive monitors would then detect.

    To make sure it was a biological reaction, the test was repeated after cooking the soil, which would prove lethal to known life. If there was a measurable reaction in the first and not the second sample, that would suggest biological forces at work -- and that's exactly what happened, according to Levin.

    However, other experiments failed to find any organic material and NASA couldn't duplicate the results in their laboratory -- so they dismissed the positive result as false positives, some unknown chemical reaction rather than proof of extraterrestrial life.

    "NASA concluded that the LR had found a substance mimicking life, but not life," said Levin in his article. "Inexplicably, over the 43 years since Viking, none of NASA's subsequent Mars landers has carried a life detection instrument to follow up on these exciting results."

    But now, decades later, there are more and more promising signs. NASA's Curiosity rover found organic matter on Mars in 2018, and just last week it found sediments that suggest there were once ancient salty lakes on the surface of Mars.

    "What is the evidence against the possibility of life on Mars?" Levin wrote. "The astonishing fact is that there is none."

    Levin, a maverick researcher who has often run afoul of the NASA bureaucracy, has insisted for decades that "it is more likely than not that we detected life." Now, he and LR co-experimenter Patricia Ann Straat are calling for further investigation.

    "NASA has already announced that its 2020 Mars lander will not contain a life-detection test," Levin wrote in the Scientific American article. "In keeping with well-established scientific protocol, I believe an effort should be made to put life detection experiments on the next Mars mission possible."

    He proposed that the LR experiment be repeated on Mars, with certain amendments, and then have its data studied by a panel of experts.
    "Such an objective jury might conclude, as I did, that the Viking LR did find life," he wrote.

    NASA's Mars 2020 rover is set to launch next summer and land in February 2021. It carries an instrument that will help it search for past signs of life on Mars -- the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals instrument, dubbed SHERLOC.

    The rover will look for past habitable environments, find biosignatures in rock and will test those samples back on Earth.

    But if scientists fail to find evidence of life, that won't end the hope for human exploration. Mars 2020 will also test oxygen production on the planet and monitor Martian weather to evaluate how potential human colonies could fare on Mars.
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  11. #461
    NASA has been talking a little bit about what they're planning to do on the Moon in the Artemis Program. I'm hugely skeptical this will actually happen, but you never know. Interesting to read, though.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2019...e-pretty-cool/
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  12. #462
    Interesting, NASA has observed seasonal O2 level variation in Mars' atmosphere, at least in Gale Crater, that corresponds with the previously identified methane spikes. So now there are are two biosignature gasses fluctuating seasonally in Mars' atmosphere, and in proportion to each other. Hmmm....

    If there is life on Mars, one would think there must be life everywhere. Or, perhaps the life on Mars was seeded from Earth, or vice versa, meaning we still wouldn't have firm evidence that life is commonplace in the larger universe. We would have to get a sample and puzzle out if it's different life, or of similar function as life on Earth. A sample return of living material to Earth would be dangerous, and the risk of contamination of Mars by astronauts would also be an ethical problem. As would any plans to terraform, or even colonize, Mars.

    https://www.space.com/mars-oxygen-my...ity-rover.html
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